KoolAid's forum posts

#1 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

uhhh... did you mean to bump this thread exactly one year later?

I got really confused when the date on the thread said august 18th but it said it was posted a year ago.

#2 Edited by KoolAid (890 posts) -
@thatpinguino said:

But making the monetization scheme on a game that was already floundering "friendlier" is not the same as designing a game with the monetization scheme in mind. One example of how to build the monetization into the gameplay is highlighted by Extra Credits here. You say you can experiment more but, based on what you've said, all of your experiments were with the goal of tricking more people into paying your fun tolls, rather than trying to engineer a payment system that doesn't erect fun barriers in the first place. There are ways to blend payment with gameplay other than stopping gameplay until you get paid. Acquiescing to the status quo for fear of changing is a great way to never progress.

I think you are picking and choosing what I said. I said we produced a lot of games, with all kinds of structures.

But full priced games with micro-transactions tend to at least be fun games without paying! I mean I never even played Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and I had a great time because the main game was fun. Driving in Fortza is still fun even if the progression is messed up. The progression in both of those games is messed up, but the core game is a streamlined and enjoyable experience. The jankey games you don't feel bad about making are all about making clunky and annoying experiences part of the main gamplay loop in the hope that people will pay money to get around that crappy experience. Extra Credits has another great explanation on how the turn and burn model of free to play is killing mobile here.

Both free to play and full priced games are fully capable of being fun or not fun on their own. The only difference is that one costs nothing to start playing and the other does not. If a game purposely weakens my ability to gather resources with the intent to "starve" me so that I will be temped to pay more, I feel that is much more damning when I paid to start playing in the first place.

Other games making a mistake does not mean repeating the mistake is smart or ok.

No one is trying to repeat or make mistakes on purpose. That's why they are called mistakes. The conclusion I drew from this video is taking a successful design element from a past game and shoving into a new game without thinking about the ramifications is a common mistake. And I will see F2P concepts that worked in one game get shoehorned into another (like an energy bar) with little success.

Why the heck would you design the monetization scheme FIRST and then design the game around it! Ideally both should be done in tandem so that the design and the monetization scheme fit together smoothly. Shoehorning a monetization onto a design or vice versa is really inelegant design. (FYI it sounds really shady when you say that you were figuring out how to shake people down for money BEFORE YOU EVEN HAD A GAME CONCEPT).

I think you are misunderstanding me. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word 'extra step' or 'design the game around it' What I am saying is putting mircotransactions in your game is absolutely ingrained in your design and has to be accounted for. You don't just make a fun game and then throw in the ability to buy coins. So making a game with or without microtransactions is not a one to one experience. But for the most part, you are still making games. You still have to make game loops. You still have to balance everything. You have to "find the fun."

These are essential skills for any programmer and they are not gaming specific. Just working for a tech company would teach you a lot of these skills.

No. It won't. EDIT: Also, the question was if the experience was helpful. Not if it was the only place you could learn the skills to make games.

Yes doing game work on the side is hard, but you get the benefit of making money while you are working on your game rather than losing. I'm personally doing this right now and it isn't easy, but it is possible.

Well, then it's too hard for me. I don't enjoy the idea of devoting all my waking moments to making games. I'll have to devote enough of my time working on my game full time as it is. I can also take temp contracts to make some cash if I need it. I wish you all the luck in balancing the two, but honestly, to me, that sounds like hell on earth and a fast track to a mental breakdown.
#3 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

That Thomas Henshell piece was fucking incredible. There is so much truth there. It's amazing. If anyone wants to know what it is like to make games, this guy nails it.

#4 Edited by KoolAid (890 posts) -
@thatpinguino said:

@koolaid: So when you were working for a free to play company, how did design meetings go in your company? You mention that you think that gameplay relevant microtransactions "are a cancer on gaming," but did anyone in your design meetings actually attempt to find an alternative? Did you explore different monetization schemes to match each individual game according to what the game needed? Or did you just make games with energy bars and boosters and fun bucks that already have a clear design and monetization template? Did your company just not allow you to attempt different design schemes?

I mean, sure we are always trying to explore different ideas. I said in my blog post that I unsuccessfully attempted to change one game to be friendlier, but I only had that opportunity because the game was floundering. And we try new games a lot. A great thing about mobile is quicker turnaround, so you can experiment more. Also, I'm not in charge by any means. And as I said before, gameplay relevant microtransactions make much more money. I'm not really going to argue for an alternative unless I think it can be at least as successful. Hell, if I was in my CEO's position, I don't think I would change anything. Pretty sure the investors would pull support if I did anyway. I don't envy his position. That's why my strat is no investors!

EDIT: Also, I should point out that while mircotransaction cause problems in both free and full priced games, I think its a bigger problem in the full priced games because you paid with the assumption you are going to get a great experience. I don't feel as bad if the free version of the game is janky because, well, it's free! Still causes a lot of design problems though.

And no, there really isn't some kind of design template we have. Although, taking elements from other games and shoving them into later games without thinking about the ramifications is a tradition as old as games themselves.

I understand that people need to get paid and that many of the people working at free-to-play studios are new game designers who are looking to crack into the industry, but I honestly feel that the lessons you learn at a free-to-play company would not be especially helpful when developing a traditional game. It would be like getting a job working at McDonald's in order to make a living cooking burgers so you can work up to cooking at a 5 star burger restaurant. Though you would be making burgers, the process couldn't be anymore different and the skills required to create a new menu item are not the same as the skills required to cook a pre-constructed burger. Am I wrong about that analogy? Also, why not work a regular programming job and make your own games on the side rather than contribute to the gaming cancer that you see devastating mobile gaming?

Absolutely it is helpful. Creating free to play games is not particularly different. There is just a extra design step where you design microtransactions and a pricing structure ( and design the rest of your game around it). But even if it was super different, the real experience isn't in game design skills. You can learn game design concepts from a book or a class. But the real experience is in making games.

Prototyping, design documents, technical documents, working on a budget, working on a schedule, working with people with different disciplines, working with people with different personalities, playtesting, learning how a business works, learning how to make games for other people. These are the real skills that turn your ideas from theories into games.

And to answer 'your games on the side' question, you are describing taking on two full time jobs. Having the one job is already pretty exhausting. Didn't Notch make the Minecraft Alpha on the side and it took him like 7 years or something?

#5 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

@koolaid said:

@sinusoidal: Yes. They are gameplay relevant.

But unfortunately, gameplay relevant mircotransactions make so much more money than purely cosmetic ones. I either said in my original post or one of my follow ups that sometimes you have to make hard choices. When I'm the employee of a company, it's my job to look out for the company's interests. Sometimes that alines perfectly with making the "purest" game. Sometimes that does not. And it sucks. But I get a paycheck to do a job. I'd feel like more of a scumbag if I were to accept that money but secretly preform sabotage. If it really bothered me, than I'd quit.

Which is why I did quit! And I'm trying to make an indie game with my own money. No investors. No employees. I don't have to make those hard choices. I can just focus on making the best game possible. We'll see if it works.

Wait. I'm confused. Are you currently getting a paycheck for making reprehensible games or did you quit? Did you quit while you were writing this post?

Wait a min... that's a leading question! But I'll answer anyway. Yes I did quit. Though I still do take some contracts to have income before I start living completely on savings. I mentioned this at the end of my blog, but I'll admit that post is a great wall of words and I don't blame you for missing it.

#6 Edited by KoolAid (890 posts) -

@sinusoidal: Yes. They are gameplay relevant.

But unfortunately, gameplay relevant mircotransactions make so much more money than purely cosmetic ones. I either said in my original post or one of my follow ups that sometimes you have to make hard choices. When I'm the employee of a company, it's my job to look out for the company's interests. Sometimes that alines perfectly with making the "purest" game. Sometimes that does not. And it sucks. But I get a paycheck to do a job. I'd feel like more of a scumbag if I were to accept that money but secretly preform sabotage. If it really bothered me, than I'd quit.

Which is why I did quit! And I'm trying to make an indie game with my own money. No investors. No employees. I don't have to make those hard choices. I can just focus on making the best game possible. We'll see if it works.

EDIT:

If I want to sum up everything I'm trying to say, it's this:

I made Free to Play games for a couple years. In that time, I formed the following opinions.

Generally speaking, Microtransactions are bad for games. They can really make your game design super funky. And affects the relationship the game has with your players in ways that are a little uncomfortable, even if that discomfort is sometimes one sided.

That being said. I don't feel like our practices where immoral or outrageous. They just led to some less than stellar games. I think this section of the industry is viewed more harshly and we get flank for attitudes that most game companies share. And I think there are critiques made that are frankly unfounded or incredibility reaching. And I think we do make generally fun games that people do enjoy, though they could be better without mircotransactions.

#7 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

@jimbo: So... did you read the part where I agreed with you? The part where I said gameplay relevant mircotransactions are a cancer on gaming? From your tone, it doesn't quite feel like you did.

I love when I have a traditional game and build an engaging game loop, it’s called “fun”. But when I’m making free to play games I’m suddenly this psychological mastermind making all these puppets dance on my dopamine strings.

#8 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

@president_barackbar: I appreciate the edit. Don't worry, I wouldn't put myself out there like this if I couldn't take criticism.

And from my perspective, we are constantly updating our games and putting out new content. And we sell that content. Games as service is kind of odd when you compare it to a stand alone work. But it really is as simple as we are constantly creating new digital goods, and players are buying those goods. I mean, most games have DLC. Isn't that just the same concept but in larger, stand alone chunks?

#9 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

How about castle crashers? Not too hard to play and you can play it together?

#10 Posted by KoolAid (890 posts) -

@rebel_scum: Honestly, I not a big fan of playing mobile games either. If I want an involving gaming experience, I’ll go to my PC or console. It’s just better there. Maybe better than it will ever be on a little touch screen. And if I’m not by either of those things, I’m looking for a game on the go, something quick and easy that I can pick up and put down fast. Some of these games have long load times, so whatever I don’t even bother. Honestly some of the best mobile games I think are Super Hexagon and Flappy Bird. Whenever I want to play Flappy Bird, I press a button and BAM!