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How to keep a player's attention on a game long enough so they can play an update

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by PixelGX, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. PixelGX

    PixelGX

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2015
    Posts:
    98
    When I began working on the design document for my game, I realised a problem. I was planning to release the game to the public before completing all of the stages since developing takes a long time. But players could toss my game away and play a more developed game.

    And thus, the main solution I came up with is to add a riddle to the end of the first stage, and make it complicated enough to when the community solves it, the update is ready, and I get to keep most of my players.

    Is this a proper idea, or does it require tweaking? BTW, this is a horror/rpg game.
     
  2. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2017
    Posts:
    460
    Do you have an established community? I would think community-driven goals only work with an already active game community. Personally, I wouldn't stick around, I'd just consider that the end of the game and forget about it. Sounds more appropriate to use a riddle/cliffhanger is for a sequel, not to go from demo to full version.
     
  3. TonyLi

    TonyLi

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Posts:
    8,463
    Horror and RPG games, such as Amnesia, usually have authored stories -- that is, stories written by the developer -- rather than stories that emerge from the player's actions, such as Minecraft or Spelunky.

    Games with emergent stories have a lot of replayability, and they often provide good material for Twitch and Youtube. Even if the game is short and doesn't have a lot of content, players will still enjoy it as long as it's a fun, fully-functional toy.

    Games with authored stories are at a greater disadvantage in early release. Your first episode (stage) will need to be a satisfying, complete experience by itself. It's possible that a very compelling riddle at the end could gather a community of people trying to solve it, but the first episode would need to be strong enough on its own to make people care about the riddle. However, even if you don't have a riddle at the end, if the episode is good, people will remember. You can try to get them to sign up to a mailing list or other notification system to learn when the next episode is available.

    Do you feel like your first episode is strong enough to stand on its own as a game, even a very short one?

    If so, then the riddle would be a fun little bonus at the end. If your first episode isn't strong enough yet, maybe you need to polish up the design a bit more, or extend the story so it gives the player a complete story arc.
     
  4. verybinary

    verybinary

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    I wouldn't underestimate a communities ability to solve anything.
    It could be solved a week later, and you have nothing to show for it.
    Id recommend releasing it under a beta and/or like tony touched on, a mailing list for those interested in being updated on game updates.
    And also...
    Are you planning on releasing a story, then the rest of the game?
    Or releasing a story and another story later, followed by another one
    (if the second, ignore my beta suggestion but a regularly scheduled story will definitely hook a mailing list for those interested)
     
    EternalAmbiguity likes this.
  5. PixelGX

    PixelGX

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2015
    Posts:
    98
    I plan to use multiple perspectives on different characters, which is similar to releasing stories.
     
  6. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    3,830
    Something to also be aware of is that it is actually pretty rare for a player to finish a game, even if they later go on to buy DLC or the next release of the game. So it is likely very few players will ever see the riddle themselves.

    I think the riddle idea does sound like a lot of fun though. Just don't count on it hooking many players into your next release.
     
    TonyLi likes this.
  7. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Apr 10, 2012
    Posts:
    8,463
    That's a good point. Maybe the riddle can be there from the beginning, and as the first episode progresses it can reinforce the mystery.
     
    Joe-Censored likes this.
  8. LeftyRighty

    LeftyRighty

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Posts:
    5,129
    Might be worth checking out what DICE has done with the battlefield AR games/mysteries, they have built quite a following of people who spend truely silly amounts of time scouring maps for the little clues then piecing it all together to open a door.
     
  9. SirKibbler

    SirKibbler

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2018
    Posts:
    5
    Starting the riddle too early on could lead to frustration among some players if it isn't answered at the end of whatever content they make it through. It could feel anticlimactic, as would any other kind of loose ends at the effective end of a story (i say effective, because there is no physical way for them to continue in that moment). If you want to attract a community, don't make it to solve something, because that's just setting up another deadline for you to meet. Effort is always expectant of a reward, so make sure that you can satisfy whatever they need, be it with frequent updates, or loads of content.

    I can't suggest a specific course of action to take because i lack the information to do so, but based on what you were saying I can assume it is a story based game. This is probably the hardest genre to keep people interested in for long periods of time. A common practice in story heavy media with large followings is to drop "bombs" (not sure how common that term is but i think it's accurate here). So say you release episode 1; great, some people like it, maybe they tell some friends, maybe you advertise a bit, more people come in, but then they get bored and leave. That's okay though, because then you drop episode 2, and everyone who liked or played episode 1 gets excited, and people are bound to hear about it if their excited in the right places.

    Sounds appealing right? Well, it's hard to pull off correctly. Wait too long and even your diehard fans will lose interest. Release it too early and it won't be as cathartic, or maybe you didn't give yourself enough time to improve and polish it, so people aren't nearly as excited. Leaks will stop you dead in your tracks as well, assuming you have a big enough fanbase for someone to attempt leaking something. There's a lot that goes into marketing, encouraging and enticing a community, and overall public relations, all the while making the game in the first place.

    I know i didn't really give any advice, or at least it feels like i didn't. TBH, this was more of a "do's and don'ts" post. Good luck, and consult me with whatever details you are willing to share if you think i could be of any further assistance.
     
    verybinary likes this.