OIA - a system for evaluating ideas and prototypes of game projects

Original author: Markj.net
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The problem of choice is relevant in absolutely everything. Even when it comes to game development, the number of options is many times higher than the possibilities, and as a result, any development team has to compare ideas with each other in order to select the most promising ones. But how to understand which idea is better? What are the criteria for selecting? In this article, we will talk about the methodology used by the Focused Apps team, known for such developments as Hit Tennis and Super Txt (more than 20 million installations in the App Store).

Since Focused Apps employs only two people on an ongoing basis, the guys decided to approach the choice of ideas as simply as possible: an idea is evaluated according to three criteria, each of which has a maximum weight of 3 points (0 = bad, 1 = normal, 2 = good, 3 = super). One additional point may be awarded if one of the assessment factors is so good that three points are not enough. Thus, we have a ten-point scale for evaluating ideas for development. The system itself got its name from the first letters of the evaluation factors: Pleasure, Opportunity, Market. Next, we consider each of these factors in more detail.

This factor is fundamental. Even the most ingenious monetization system and the most extensive advertising campaign in no case will pay for the game if it does not give the user pleasure. To maximize pleasure, we consider the following:

• Simplicity and intuitiveness. Is it possible to do with a simple short instruction or without it at all?
• Can the user in the first 20 seconds of the application understand the basic principle and begin to enjoy using it?
• Does the user always have what to do in the game world?
• How sad is it to lose?
• Is it convenient to play on public transport?
• How do game actions mimic reality? Are they intuitive? How rhythmic are they?
• Does the complexity of the game adapt to the skills of the player?
• Are there any tasks in the game that require special skills?
• Is there anything really fun and interesting about her?
• In the game, something can happen by chance (what happens regardless of the player causes more adrenaline)?
• How easy is it to evaluate your game progress? Is there a special checklist for this?
• Does the user have reasons to log into the application at certain intervals?
• Is there a connection between the game plot and things that encourage people to act in real life (for example, the desire to get rich, become famous, become the best at anything, drag someone into bed)?
• Are kittens present in the game? Or pretty girls? Or at least guys? Or cars ...
• Does the game cause nostalgia?
• Is it interesting to discuss it with friends?
• Or maybe you can play it with friends or against them?
• Or even not with friends, but with random players from the Internet?
• When we test the prototype on our friends, can they understand what to do without explanation from our side?
• When we test for adults, do they really play or briefly describe their experiences and change the subject?
• When we test on children, do they continue to play or immediately switch to another application as soon as we turn away?

Given our strengths and weaknesses, some products are easier for us than others. The meaning of “Opportunities” is to evaluate how much we ourselves want to engage in a particular project. We want to do only what we love, and therefore we answer the following questions:

• Do we like to do this? Are we enjoying the process?
• How large is the project? To produce small products is much easier.
• Does it make sense to first release a beta version, and then supplement it by constant updates aimed at improving gameplay and monetization?
• Can we draw a game ourselves? Can we buy ready-made drawn models or is it better to hire a person who will do this under our strict control?
• What is the balance between the software part (our strengths) and visualization (our weaknesses)?
• Can we generate new game levels programmatically? Or will you have to register everything with “pens”?
• If the game comes out, will we be proud to have created it?

This is a business. This is our job. We make money on entertainment. We do not position ourselves as artists, especially considering that a real artist should be hungry. For us, a game is a sales funnel. We want every detail, from the title and screenshots in the App Store to the finest details of the gameplay, to be as positively correlated with profit. To achieve financial viability, we want to maximize short-term conversion and improve long-term conversion measurement and conversion tools. We operate in the Market and follow its laws:

• How attractive will the game in the mass market be?
• How popular are searches containing keywords for our product?
• Does the name and icon of the application give a clear idea of ​​its essence? Looking at them, can the user suggest that this game will be to his taste?
• Will there be any national barriers? Will the game be in different demand in different parts of the world?
• How cool will the screenshots look like?
• How well do the screenshots reflect the gameplay?
• Is the game interesting for the press? Is it possible to somehow make it so?
• Is there anything new and unique in the game?
• Is there any chance that Apple will help in promoting the game?
• Does the target audience overlap with our other products? Is it possible to conduct joint marketing campaigns?
• Can we come up with effective advertising for the game?
• Will users recommend the game to their friends?
• Is the name of the game simple and memorable?
• What purchases can users make inside the app?
• Is the pricing policy for advertising within the application considered?
• Is there a decent bonus system?
• How can a game play on human vanity? Will this play a cruel joke?
• Can we sell new levels, characters, equipment?
• Will there be a segment of clients for advertising within the application?
• Does the game contain user-generated content?
• Is the game design suitable for full-screen banners?
• Will the investor be interested in this project?
• Does the game have any age restrictions?
• Is there a risk that the App Store will not allow the application to be published?
• Is there a bridgehead to upgrade to the new version? Do we have a strategy for moving players to the new version of the game? How will monetization of the second version be better than the first?

In conclusion
At the time of writing, Focused Apps released two games: Hit Tennis 2 and Santa's Lil Zombies. Hit Tennis 2 turned out to be a very lucrative project, while Santa's Lil Zombies made no profit at all. According to the OVR system, Tennis scored 7 points, and Santa - 4 (the assessment was made after the fact, both games were released before the OVR system appeared).
Today, the guys at Focused Apps use their system to evaluate all ideas and prototypes. It helps them structure their thoughts on projects, put everything on the shelves and make important decisions. Moreover, the developers claim that they are not the target audience of their own applications (they prefer computer games like Civilization IV), and the OIA system helps them better understand the market and draw a line between what they like and what the market expects.

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