Hello Everyone I frequent this Game Design forum because the most eye opening discussions about topics I have little experience in or have even thought about happen here. This forum has made me think about specifics I’ve never even considered and provided interesting opinions and advice – many of which I have written down, duplicated, typed, copied, documented and attempted to infuse into my brain – so I can one day develop a game that is compelling, provides just the right balance of choice, flow, simplicity, juice, reward & consequence, difficulty, complexity, all geared towards the right demographic on the right platform. So – Over the past two months I’ve been actively developing my first game with an old college and work colleague. He’s not old we’ve just known each other since 99’. I was finally able to break him down and submit to my yearly badgering (I got some dirt on him) to join me in developing a game. Really he has always wanted to develop games, but job security and economic stability have taken priority over his desire to develop games, as has mine. I won’t go into much detail about us because it’s not relevant for this post, although I will say we compliment each others strengths pretty well by taking on separate but equal responsibilities, he codes, I art, he musics, I market, he shaders, I design and research and paper work, etc. etc. (I’m vague about the specifics of the game – only because it’s not important to the discussion and we’re on schedule to reveal the first week in April) Our design is targeted primarily for mobile and because of this, our core mechanic has been designed in a very specific way to be very “pick up and play” able. The game is not overly easy (I think), but I wanted the core of the game to be easily recognizable to EVERYBODY. Familiar to everybody like solitaire, hop scotch, mahjong, or any match3 game is , the core is based on tic-tac-toe, with an interesting twist. I’ve made design decisions geared towards the demographic that commonly plays match3 games, however I think there is potential to address the match3 players who enjoy games that are less cutesy – are more adventure like, those who enjoy Puzzle Quest like games. Keeping in mind the platform and our audience we’ve iterated on the design and have limited expanding complexity specifically because we believe a mobile game like this should be playable in 30 second to 5 minute play sessions, depending upon the players ability to play for very short sessions or just – short sessions. Once the mechanics of the game are learned (in approximately 1 minute) the game stays true to this core mechanic and does not add additional complexity to the mechanic – like adding double jumps when the power boots are acquired, or providing the player with a dash bash attack when the boots of Icarus are found. We’ve also steered away from creating special actors/effects that have special abilities that could result in the player, having not played the game in 2 weeks, not remembering what ‘special’ abilities do when they pick the game up again to continue the adventure. Instant pick up and play ability in my humble opinion is one of many elements that ‘can’ make a mobile game successful. The game will also offer (hopefully) a rich and entertaining story element that extends the value of the game to those who find entertainment in it. Although the game has a strong 'hook', I believe the game is fun and will be ‘enough’ for mobile players to experience value in the game, there is a real risk of the game being too repetitive, or even considered shallow. To this point we are prepared to modify/expand the core mechanics after we’ve gauged reaction to the game beginning in April. We will be attending a small local games conference and plan to release a portion of the game on web portals to gain user input. I believe sticking to this minimalistic core mechanic is smart design, although this could be faulty logic, I’m honestly only basing this belief on my gut and deducing from other games – that could be considered ‘similar’ to our game genre. MVP – (touchy subject round these parts) We could have released the game two weeks ago. We could have released the game three weeks after starting the game. However – I believe MVP games, similar to our core design – offer limited entertainment value to gamers who – like me look at the entire package of a game and see where content was purposefully limited to push the game out the door as fast as it can be once the core is in place. I also think (circle, square, triangle) games have stiff competition to be even considered or given a second look – because there are 50 (my guesstimate) new MVP games a day being pushed onto every store by new developers and – others who think that saturating the market with these type of games will eventually result in 1-2 hits out of 50 if they keep pumping simple mvp games out at a rate of 1 per week, or more. Honestly I'd rather pound sand than create a game without visuals that are 'fun' for me to look at and I believe I'm part of the majority of gamers - even mobile/casual gamers with respect to this point. Plus – my own specialty is art - animation specifically - so the game we are making is a game I would play. Nuff said bout that I think. I also have strong opinions about in-game advertising (ads) and the free game market. Because of these opinions (rightly or wrongly) our final game will be a free to try premium game. I’m not interested in developing a game based on the hope of ad driven success. I don’t care or believe about statistics that say free with ads is the only option for success, nor do I consider sales statistics of other games a measure of success for our game. Since my colleague and I are career employees not working in the game industry our measure of success is a lot lower – and less glamorous than others. We will not go out of business if the game only sells 500 copies, we will not stop creating games if the game only sells 100 copies, and we will not go into deep despair if the game only sells 10 copies. If our game sucks (working hard so it doesn’t) and I’ve made design and development mistake after mistake – I might be a little grumpy for a week, but we’ve released a game and I've learned a S*** ton! Truthfully releasing a game is success to us, and if 10 people we don’t know buy our game – that is really going to be friggin awesome! If more do – that will be truly something special. But we are shooting for no less than 500,000 downloads in the first week! No need to set expectations low right? So that is our design and my opinions about the decisions I’ve struggled with and made along the way. I’d really like to hear any opinions about the choices we’ve made so far, and theories/considerations about developing core mechanics for a specific gamer, demographic, belief or reason. Critical opinions are welcome also – however my decision not to go free with ads is pretty much chiseled in stone right next to where that sword was once stuck. It won’t be changing unless we release the game completely for free. No ads. Sorry for length of the post but I think context is important when expressing opinions others may find disagreeable or provocative.