General discussion

Game clones – Where is the difference?

In the casual game industry it is very common to clone games. In fact it is difficult to introduce a complete new game mechanic to users. Casual Gamers don’t want to spend a long time learning a game and one key aspects of casual games are that they are easy to learn. So many Game studios and indi game developers take a popular game mechanic and add variations to it. Sometimes the game only varies in some graphical aspects and detail. But today I want to talk about 3 examples of very similar game clones. I chose a recently quite popular game mechanic known as “Hidden Object”. I chose this example because it is a game-type that doesn’t allow many variation to the mechanics. So what is the difference between clones? Why do we buy or play a particular game and don’t play another similar one ? More »

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casual connect magazines now online

Casual Game Association (casual connect) magazines are now available online and for pdf download.

The Casual Game Association publishes 3 magazines a year featuring new game reviews, interviews, statistics, technology and company insights. Worth having a read, and it is free.

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Making Money (3)

This is just and update, as I have seen a new way how companies make money out of their games today.
Well it isn’t really new since it is advertising, but the way they implement it is quite clever.

So you play a free game, and in order to get boosters you have to watch an add, you can’t skip it you have to go through the full video to get your booster.
Bubblespeed on Facebook.

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Music in Games

Remember my last post said “not every game needs music” .
Well I’ve started a discussion on this because I realised that many Developers but especially sound designers of course would say “always add music”!

So here is the disccussion

Basically what it comes down to is

In other words, if the audio experience is complete, you can take enough focus away from the music to not require it. Certainly, you don’t have to make a game with bad music, ever.

Here is a very good and very popular example for a game with no music.

Here is a very good and very popular example for a game with no music. Bejeweled Blitz
I believe it is up to the players preferences. But whether you add background music or work with audio only, make sure you always include a clear visible Mute button.

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5 “dont’s” creating casual games

This is just 10 tips to consider when designing casual games.

1. Not every game needs music
Consider how people will play your game. Will they be fully engaged and concentrate only on the game or will they be doing other things in the background. A lot of people will play games during work or will listen to music while playing. So make sure they have the opportunity to turn the sound and music off as well.

2. Don’t create long intro stories for every game
Even hardcore games like Word of Warcraft struggle to get their players read or even watch the intro. Why would they read yours? A long, text-based intro story might put players of. If you decide you still need one, make sure you provide them with a Skip button

3. Don’t use custom keys
Most casual game players will be used to using the mouse, they can handle the arrow keys and probably the spacebar. Some more advanced players are used to WASD but if your introduction states: press U and Z and O they are probably not willing to spend that much time on your game.

4. Don’t go for “whatever is free”
Yes, there are a lot of free cliparts and graphics out there, but…
Most of them are only for non-commercial use but more important: they won’t be consistent and the graphics are very important for games.
The best option is still to get a designer to create all the game asssets you need. If you don’t have a great designer to help you, check there you can propose a project to designers and they will bid on it. If you don’t have any cash but your game is very good they might offer to be paid by % of the money you make from the game.

5 Less is more
Rather focus on creating a clear and structured game interface than providing several different features and specials. As mentioned in 3, the casual gamer will most likely not be willing to spend hours to learn the game.

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Humble Bundle

The Humble Bundle 3 is there.

What’s that?
It’s pay what you want, cross-platform game casual game bundle. Really, you can pay what you want, whatever it is worth to you and you can even decide who should get your money. The developers? Or  a charity ? Or split it?

I believe it is a brilliant concept for selling games that should be adopted more often.  I mean once you created the game there are no additional costs for duplicating it, so why not let people pay whatever they want!

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Two excellent themed game examples

So in my earlier post I was talking about themed games, but it is easier to imagine if you have an example. I will take 2 games that have the same game mechanic: A match three game (aka Bejeweled). The first game is a fast-paced version where you only have one minute to complete the game. The second one will be a slower paced version where you have 3 minutes and rather focus on creating “special matches” than completing the game quickly.

Fast-paced game: Miner Speed

Ok, so let’s have a look at the theme here.
More »

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EA buys PopCap

Electronic Arts just signed the deal to take over casual game publisher PopCap for ~$850 million (Source:

So now we know what the publisher of casual games like Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies a.m.o. is worth… 850 Million Dollar … It’s going to be interesting to see how this effects PopCaps new game realeses.

Just 1 1/2 years ago EA took over social game developer Playfish ( Playfish was known for it’s Facebook Games such as Pet Society, Restaurant City and Who’s got the biggest brain. After being taken over by EA they published some new social games that evoked from former EA games like EA Sports FIFA Superstars and Madden NFL Superstars. Currently they are developing a facebook version of the sims. Makes you wonder what PopCap will publish now,  a new Sim City version maybe? Or Hidden Objects – Medal of Honour ..


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Themed Games

It’s not about the game mechanic anymore it is a lot about the game design, the user experience.

Casual Gamers don’t want to “learn” a game before they can play it. So many game publishers nowadays use a common game mechanic and just twist little aspects. You can play the classic Bejeweld, but also a faster paced version, a strategy version or get different “specials stones” in different games.  But why would people play exactly THIS imitation of Bejeweld? A good and common way to make a game enjoyable is to “theme” the game. I will post another article where I give 2 nice examples of theming the same game, but firstly I want to explain themed games.
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Making Money (2)

This one will be a little shorter, and focus on how to make money out of casual games for game developers.

First option of course is to get a job at a game development company. But sometimes you prefer to work independently, or you have a great idea that you want to sell.

So here is a good way of getting some cash out of your games: More »

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