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Game Design Secrets by Wagner James Au

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Conceiving and Branding Your Game

Because web gamers tend to be casual and young males, it’s challenging to convince would-be players that your game is for them, and is worth playing—if you can even find them. To help you increase your odds of both, the following sections describe some design approaches that some of the better developers take.

Match Game Theme to Gameplay—or Wrap Gameplay into a New Form

Players judge the games they are about to play from the very first loading screen, deciding second by second whether they should continue or just click away to another page.

KIXEYE game designers Paul Preece and David Scott make a point that’s generally applicable to all game platforms, but probably applies most directly to web games—from the very point a player hits a game’s site, everything about the game should suggest the kind of gameplay it promises. Unlike iOS, on which a game must first be downloaded from a descriptive App Store page, and unlike Facebook, on which players become aware of most games through descriptive ads and friend updates, many web gamers will randomly visit a game’s site with little expectation. It’s important that the game’s theme (as conveyed in the art, title, music, and so on) always be conveyed, from the very moment a potential player visits the site.

Preece and Scott cite the example of Angry Birds (see Figure 8-1). Before Rovio’s game launched, there were a number of other casual games involving projectiles and physics; however, most of ...

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