Unstoppaball made the 37th spot in the Kongregate/Unity-Contest of 2011, against over 600 competitors. Seeing as I was up against professional teams of paid designers, I call this a success.
It also gave me a chance to see and study the works of my rivals, and while there were some really fun and amazing titles, the amount of amature-mistakes is staggering. So I compiled a list of dos and don’ts for creating games of that venue.
DO let me start the game.
Now. As in “right now, this instant, in 0.0 seconds”. DO NOT show me a cutscene. DO NOT show me credits (even before I figured out what this game is about). DO NOT have multiple, non-interactive screens containing exposition or tutorials. NOBODY reads the second screen. Let me start the damn game.
DO keep your interface clean
Let me find quickly what I want. I don’t want to have to spend 5 seconds (4.5 seconds too much) to comb through the clutter on your screen, which undoubtedly includes advertising for the iphone-version of your game, and facebook/twitter-buttons, to find what I am looking for.
DON’T give me an incomplete game
And then say “full version on iphone”. Well it’s not a game then. It’s a demo. An incomplete part of a game, given away for free, made specifically for marketing-purposes.
DON’T use any of these words or phrases in your title or description of your game:
“reinvention of the genre”
DO lay off the clichés
I have no interest whatsoever in playing “the last survivor of the whats-its-called, fighting against the undead hordes”. Or the terrorists. Or aliens. As soon as I’ve
read this cliché-rife introduction, the game already has a negative reputation with me.
DO try to get rid of all basic assets from unity
Seriously. Every terrain I recall playing used a basic texture already present within unity. Get a new one, it’s quite easy. And then replace all assets. Change the font. Avoid basic particle effects. Remove the “basic blue background” (which, funnily, is also the basic background for videos from the Windows Movie Maker).
DON’T include obstrusive in-jokes. Nobody but you alone will get them. Everyone else will be pissed.
DON’T make your game “bad on purpose”. It is still “bad”. There is a fine line between “so bad it’s good” and “plain bad”, and you will not be able to control it.
There will be games which are worse than yours, show less production-values, have glaring bugs and are blatant rip-offs, which will get more attention and be valued more. This will happen, always. There is nothing you can do about it. DO deal with it.
It’s not “failure” if your game somehow performs under your expectations. You just figured out a way that doesn’t work. DO it better next time.
Let there be a next time. DO start now, immediately.