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Finding a gaming niche worth it to develop for

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Xaron, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. Ryiah


    Oct 11, 2012
    Narbacular Drop was the class project of the team that eventually went on to make the Portal series. Valve saw it and hired them on.
    AndrewGrayGames and GarBenjamin like this.
  2. runner


    Jul 10, 2010
    So recently i found this unique "niche" game on Steam.

    The sandbox survivalist mode that early release has is especially challenging and fun

    The Long Dark
    which was developed using Unity!
    steam greenlight - Read Here to see mention of Unity
  3. RJ-MacReady


    Jun 14, 2013
    I've spent a great deal of time considering this very question, as of yet I have no clear answer. I will share some of my observations, though.

    I see a lot of Indie developers fall into a sort of trap. It usually begins with fear of spending too much time and effort on something that may fail. This leads to not wanting to spend too much time on any single project. This leads to an effort which is below what that developer is capable of, which in turn results in something that even they aren't too happy with. This is reflected in public reception, as well. When one project doesn't really yield the success they were hoping for, they begin again even more fearful than when they began the first time.

    I will also say that any one person's individual efforts are not likely to be as great as the combined efforts of even two developers working together. I am the guy who always says graphics != gameplay, but graphics are the cornerstone of presentation and so at the very least, each team needs someone who is artistically talented.

    A gem from my non-game developer brother, since he plays many more games than most people I have ever known... if you have good music, you're more than halfway to success.

    It's annoying for programmers to think about. But programming alone is not enough. No programmer, no game. But a PC/Console/Mobile game is still a multimedia presentation. Sound matters. Graphics matter. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, but since people keep bringing up Minecraft... remember, Minecraft does have a definite artistic style that looks interesting and bold. It may stem from low-end graphics, but that doesn't mean it looks bad. It looks very good, in fact, the same way 8-bit era pixel art still looks good. Minecraft has good sound effects, digging, using items, everything has well-tuned audio that fits the action. Crunchy things are crunchy, clangy things are clangy... and Minecraft has music that all sounds quite good.

    This sort of derails the topic, but its not the niche that matters its whether or not you can do that type of game well. Sure, nothing quite explains Minecraft's success... but Minecraft couldn't have been as successful as it was if it hadn't done many things right that most devs simply do wrong, and that's just a fact.
    Gigiwoo and GarBenjamin like this.
  4. Gigiwoo


    Mar 16, 2011
    ^ This.

    My home life is pretty full, so I chose to develop solo. I decide on a new product design, throw all my spare time at it until it's done and once released, I take a break. Wash, rinse, and repeat. And, because each project is only 8-14 weeks, I've been able to experiment with a lot of different ideas and technologies. Each one individually is a HUGE risk, and yet, also gives me more confidence and a larger portfolio. As an example, when I set out to make Tap Happy, I took a male-oriented-mechanic (clicker games) and wove it into a female-oriented-experience using bright colors and family friendly stories. Mistake or brilliance ... either way, I've tried it and am free to move onto something new.

  5. pKallv


    Mar 2, 2014
    "Finding a gaming niche worth to develop for" is a really good question that I have been thinking about since i started development. In my case it all started by reading about Notch (Mine Craft) earning insane money for a game that was not even in GA at the time and decided that i also wanted to do that :) Well, at least try to develop games as i never done that before.

    Even if i had to learn to programming i decided to give it a try. As i always try to take decisions based on facts i actually started to ask myself the same very question that this thread is about. Looking at the market i realized there was trillions of different versions of shooter and runner games, or at least very similar games in Apples AppStore, which i targeted at the time.

    I ended up asking my self two questions:
    - What gaming niche is worth spending time on if i want to sell my game?
    - What do i need for people to find, and want to find, my game(s) on AppStore?

    I started, based on Ray Wenderlich tutorials, my first development and programming via one of his tutorials (Whack a mole). During the painful development of my own version I realized that the game would just disappear in the myriad of games in AppStore, noone would look for it. I immediately canceled the project as it was not worth the time and pain to develop.

    However, i then thought about the two questions, above, and decided to do a quiz game based on:

    1) It is a niche that a appeal to many people in all ages, if it is good
    2) I decided to do a family based quiz game, people of different ages can compete, with an attractive name for all kinds of ages. This was the design criteria.
    3) For a person with no, or very limited experience of development, it seemed as a pretty "simple" design/programming project! I was wrong.

    This was like 2.5 years ago and after a lot of struggle i did publish the game and it sells, from my standard, really well. I now have a number of versions of the same game like: Swedish & English versions, two children versions and a version that i did for a local school. All based on the same platform. I was very lucky and got even a good review in one of the national news papers here. Surprisingly I also have had two people asking me if i would be interested in selling the name :) dunno if that is possible.

    Even today i have a run-rate of between 70 - 100 games per week and during public or school holidays, like this week, sales increases significantly.

    However, as I decided to make another type of game and by that learning C# and Unity I needed to ask myself what niche to focus on. For me it is not just the niche but also what would give me the highest potential sale. Based on the two questions I spent about a month to look at the market, looking for niches, names etc. and came up with an idea that i tested on a lot of people. It is a given that I do not know if it will fly but i do think there is a good potential as i have not find anything similar It is a niche that i think is appealing and given my experience in programming it is not to complicated. I have a friend that is an graphical artist that is doing the graphical design as i think that is very important for success.

    Not that i know but i believe a lot of people, as my self, are so impressed of everything you can do with a tool like Unity and want to do something cool that leverage the graphics and other impressive capabilities and somewhat forget the basics, game play and commercial potentials. ....given that this is why they do games. A "boring# game idea without fancy graphics may not be as appealing to develop I guess.

    Again, "what niche is worth develop for" and "who and why would someone look for your game" is key for success!. least for me.
    Gigiwoo, Xaron, Ryiah and 1 other person like this.
  6. dreamlarp


    Apr 22, 2011
    I have to say this is our aim also. Mix genre game done well are rarely done. One of the oldest Ultima Online witch has for the most part a MOBA component (kind of) with it's champion spawns is still going after something like 17 or 18 years. Most credit it as the first true mmo. And it has some terrible graphics in my opinion.

    In fact the whole genre MOBA came from modding one type of genre and combining two types of game play.
    I am not saying you will invent the next MOBA genre by mixing genre's but I think this approach is it's own niche.
    Xaron likes this.