Written by Sergei Terekhov | Monday, 21 January 2013
My dear readers, let’s continue discussing principles of creating a popular mobile game that would hit the tops of Google Play and App Store and bring its developer world-wide fame and an impressive account in some Swiss bank. I hope that this article may help you make at least one further step on this way. In two previous parts (How to create a successful mobile game. Part 1; How to create a successful mobile game. Part 2) we considered some general principles about game world, characters, users’ motivation etc. Today, let’s take a closer look at gameplay, design and mechanics and take popular casual games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Ninja Jump, World of Goo and some others as examples of a successful mobile software development.
Did you notice that all games mentioned above are inherently monotonous? I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just want to say that the game controls and levels passing are extremely easy in the most cases. You’ve learnt some basic principles how the game characters/objects move – and go on! All levels are also based on the same mechanics and sometimes diversified using additional items. It is almost impossible to get stuck on some level; all of them may be passed in a couple of attempts. But if you still can’t move on, a lot of useful helpers are provided like Mighty Eagle in Angry Birds (of course, not for free ;) ).
This monotony is very easy to explain if we think of reasons making people play mobile games. These reasons are boredom and tiredness. People sit at boring lectures, or in the subway, and they get a desire to play some nice mobile game just to kill time. But mobile software developers shouldn’t forget that users are already tired – and shouldn’t force them to become more tired from a small mobile game. A monotonous gameplay makes a user feel comfortable: once adapted, he feels "like a duck to water." So, develop an interesting gameplay originally and don’t overload it further.
A small tip how to create an involving gameplay: make funny physics. I've recently played "Shark Dash" and couldn't just stop because of amazing game mechanics, all these pipes and bath sponges affecting movements of a small shark. However, using special physics in a mobile game is a proven way to make it successful since Angry Birds.
Use the most basic game mechanics such as matching, seeking, hitting, chaining items and some others; they can also be combined with each other.
2. Simple movements
In the most top casual games user makes only one move (touch) on the screen: a slide (Angry Birds, Shark Dash), a simple tap (Ninja Jump), or a slide (Fruit Ninja). Mobile software developers made it in order to simplify the gameplay and to make the game not depending on different kinds of smart phones whether they have physical buttons or not. Essentially, the whole game control is reduced to a periodic touching (or not touching) the screen and waiting for the outcome. After you’ve made your move, you just watch the situation on the screen, like in Angry Birds. You shot a catapult at evil pigs and just observe how birds are crushing everything on their way.
Let’s make a small break ;) Next time we’ll talk about such important elements of mobile game development as graphics, music and sounds.
P.S. You can read more about mobile apps development.