What should be a popular game

    Re-publish material a year ago. Previously, I was forced to hide at the request of the company in which I was working at that moment. The material is outdated to a large extent, given the development of the market and Hearthstone itself, but nonetheless you can read it.

    Continuing the series of articles on game design, let's talk about what is now gaining the most popularity in the entertainment industry, namely in the video game industry.

    The most telling example of recent times is undoubtedly the Collecting Card Game - Hearthstone. We can say that before its release there were no really massive popular card games on the PC. Yes, there is Magic the Gathering and other attempts to occupy this niche, but their attempts have been many times less successful than Blizzard's.

    What made this game so popular? The so-called “Easy to learn, hard to master” scheme (the most correct translation is to easily start playing, it is difficult to reach heights). Those. first of all, any player can install this game for himself and he will be met by a colorful tutorial, with interesting characters (many familiar from the Warcraft universe), voice acting and scripts. After completing the tutorial, the game for the most part releases the player into free swimming, but this is enough to take hold of the hearts of the players.

    It is easy to begin to “understand” this game at that level so that it becomes interesting to you not only to play, but also to look at it. She has changed a lot in the world of streamers, because everyone can start playing such a game, and most importantly, everyone can watch it! After all, it is so simple to figure out what is happening on the field and what each unit is doing. For the sake of this, each map in the development process has been changed and improved dozens of times, so that in the final version it turns out simple and clear.

    Sometimes, for the sake of simplicity, you need to sacrifice the depth of the gameplay, but it is a worthwhile sacrifice, if because of this, the players will not run away from your game, headlong, not understanding what is happening and why this card has THESE MANY CONDITIONS for use!

    If you take as an example games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Starcraft 2, which are also very popular, they are very different. You have to go a long way to begin to understand what is basically happening: what to buy for your hero and what spells to use in the case of games of the MOBA genre or which units to build, and who is effective against whom in the case of strategy.

    So in Heartstone, the player does not feel inferior, not understanding all the secrets and subtleties of the game, when in the above games this is often the case. In hearthstone no one punishes you for losing, you don’t even have statistics of victories for defeats, there are only statistics of victories. Thanks to such psychological elements, the game tries to give the player only positive emotions.

    Not knowing what cards are combined with each other, not knowing the vulnerabilities and advantages of other classes, the player will not feel hurt, as when opening the store for the first time in League of Legends gameplay. In Hearthstone, on the contrary, the player will experience a positive experience when he will discover these secrets for himself.

    It is in positive emotions, in the ease of entering the game and a pleasant pastime in it, that is the success of modern games. At the same time, one should not forget about the “hard to master” part. The game must store in itself all the subtleties mentioned above, the player must constantly open up new opportunities, new knowledge. Not for nothing that some players confidently sit on the top lines of the legendary rating, while playing the same decks as the rest. They know something that others do not know.

    It is with this balance of the threshold of entry into the game that the ideal is achieved.

    On the way from Blizzard - Heroes of the Storm, which is likely to be able to make the same revolution in the MOBA genre, because they promise that in their game matches will last no more than 20 minutes, and the main problem of games of this genre is the duration of one match. Want to play during lunch at work or in the evening at home before going to bed? No one can guarantee that one game will not last 60-80 minutes, and expect that it will end faster than after 30-40 and not worth it at all.

    Short sessions are one of the main trends that modern online games should follow if they want to reach the maximum audience. Modern people every year decreases the time of the "focus", which they are ready to devote to a particular product. If 50 years ago, people read a book for hours to get acquainted with it, but thanks to television, a computer, and mainly mobile platforms, this time is reduced.

    New people who previously did not play games at all or played to the extent that, thanks to the latest trends, start playing everything that has a low entry threshold. That is why, after playing a mobile game, most users exit it without even having passed the tutorial. After all, they did not pay anything. Didn’t they show anything interesting while the person was standing in line? You have lost a player, because there are so many other games of similar content.

    The same simplification happens with another Blizzard project. Yes, yes, World of Warcraft, who just did not write about it. It is worth recalling what happened to the game during the classic War II and Burning Crusade, when the player, in order to just get into the dungeon, had to complete a huge chain of tasks that he had to perform in the group.

    Want to play WoW now? Please wait for the next addon and your character will become 90th instantly! After all, we do not have time to play so long to reach it ourselves. Yes, someone will say that this is for those people who already have a level 90 character. I think that a large portion of new players will come to the game. Those who put off this decision all the time due to the fact that it is too difficult to catch up with the others. Now, with a snap of his fingers, the player will feel on an equal footing with those who have played this game all their lives. After all, every addon levels all previous “physical” achievements.

    Finally, let's talk a little about mobile games. After all, it was they who became the pioneers in this field, trying to simplify everything that is possible, but at the same time, without losing their gaming interest. We will miss games that earn huge sums in Asian markets, let alone Puzzle & Dragons, which is the only one among all mobile games to earn $ 1,000,000,000.

    As for the American market, as in principle, the Canadian, European and Australian, the mentality of people is very similar and these markets require a different approach to themselves.

    First of all, nice graphics, because you should like the game. Pleasant - does not mean high-quality with an abundance of polygons and textures with high resolution. It is necessary that the player was pleased to look at what he sees and that the graphics reflect his expectations:
    • Clash of Clans, Boom Beach - a unique and interesting character design
    • Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes Saga - colorful levels, colors and “characters”
    • Game of war, Kingdoms of Camelot - graphics are designed in the style that strategy lovers expect
    • Deer Hunter 2014 - simple graphics with low quality textures, but with a very nice picture. The

    list can be continued endlessly, but after the player has familiarized himself with the visual style of the game, the gameplay comes into play. The first step is a Tutorial, which should not be reminiscent of itself. His role is to smoothly bring the player to the point where he is not lost in the game, but will repeat the learned actions and discover small new opportunities.

    At the same time, it should last as short as possible. Players do not like it when they are all the time intrusively recommended where to click. The main thing here is never to bring down on the player an infinite amount of content and opportunities, the player must always understand what is happening around him, to control the situation. But at the same time, the game should not be monotonous.

    There is a good example of the game - Rival Knights from Gameloft. The game was very enjoyable in terms of graphics with a perfect immersion of the player in PvE and PvP, as well as with good monetization. But due to the lack of content and the uniformity of the gameplay, its ratings began to fall very quickly a few weeks after the release.

    More on this in the following articles, but for now ask questions and share opinions.

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