At Gamelab last week we saw six indie game developers battle it out to win the Chartboost Indie Developer Competition. On the jury was our very own Alex Besenval, Head of Mobile.
We asked Alex to share what he thought about the contestants… and what it was about the winning game that made it just that little bit more awesome than the rest.
Alex, you were part of the jury that decided on the winner of the Chartboost Indie Developer Compeitition. You saw six games – what was the overall standard like?
Very good! We were pleasantly surprised by the level of polish and care given to each project, even though we could only see small portions of each game. But the projects we reviewed almost all had an AAA-quality, which is even more surprising when you figure out how small the teams are (2 to 5 people at best, sometimes not even working full time on it, doing it as a side-project).
The jury unanimously voted for Headnought’s Woodchopper game. What made this game the clear winner?
It was a tough choice, but WoodChopper nailed it thanks to its innovative-yet-intuitive game mechanics, finely tuned puzzles with physics and its super cute aesthetics.
In a less-than-a-minute trailer you could see a very nice sample of the possibilities the game would eventually offer, and it made you think: “I DO need to play this game, it looks awesome! When is it out?”
What 3 things does a game have to have to be awesome?
There is no magic recipe here, but some of the key questions are:
- Is my game unique or do I have competitors? If I have competitors, what am I doing better?
- Did I already test my game on the market? It is good to have the opinion of your friends and families, but in the end the market will judge you, and you may be surprized by the feedback you get. The sooner you can get quantitative feedback about your game, the sooner you will assess possible issues and improve the quality of your games.
- Is my game stable? Does it have any showstopper bugs? It is a critical aspect of game production nowadays, especially with the boom of mobile platforms…Each phone model is a world of specificities and potential problems for developers. As a game maker you have to ensure that your game is good and smooth on each platform you support, and ensure that it doesn’t crash. Players today are very volatile, because most games are free. Therefore your players will not hesitate to stop playing your game if they encounter a problem. You have to give your game a chance to being played.
Any advice you would give to anyone out there thinking of getting into game design?
Go for it
More seriously the only advice I would give would be to never get disconnected from production (code, art) and always be open to feedback on your work, when given in a constructive way.
Designing games is not about having a grand vision about what is supposed to be fun or about telling epic stories. It is about defining mechanics that eventually tie together in a coherent way, with a high set of constraints (limited team, platform-related restrictions, limited time, etc…). It is a much harder job than what it sounds, and requires a super versatile skillset, from technical background to team leadership.