Keys to Successful Game Development
The three most frequently mentioned keys to developing a successful game: 1) stability; 2) scalability; and, 3) social interaction.
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To gather insights on the current and future state of Game Development, we talked to eight executives involved in game development in some form or another. Here’s who we spoke to:
- Sid Sharma, Lead Developer Evangelist, Agora.io
- Joseph Lieberman, Director of Marketing, Antlion Audio
- Otakar Nieder, Senior Director, BISim
- Perry Krug, Principal Architect, Couchbase
- Patric Palm, CEO and Co-founder, Favro
- Doug Pearson, CTO, FlowPlay
- David Lord, CEO, JumpStart Games, Inc.
- Brian Monnin, Co-founder and CEO, Play Impossible
- George Buckenham, Lead Programmer, Sensible Object
- Grant Shonkwiler, Commander and Shonk, Shonkventures
Here's what they told us when we asked, "What are the keys to developing successful games?"
- 1) Performance with the ability to get players on-board quickly with a fast, responsive game. 2) Personalization with new features and individual customized play. 3) Availability with no downtime due to maintenance or outages. Scales horizontally. Most games are not wildly successful, as such you do not want to over-invest in a large database infrastructure but you must be able to meet demand if your game goes viral. Then you need to be able to scale back down as popularity wanes.
- Stability and scalability so people can train for several hours. High frame rate performance – 60 frames per second to 90 frames per second for VR F-18 training.
- Games follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the work takes 20% of the time. However, the successful games follow the "good isn't good enough" rule, the 20% that takes 80% of the time is what weeds out the winners and losers. With that in mind, it is all about two things: A hook to make it grab people's attention and interest and polish to a sparkle in graphics, audio, input and, of course, gameplay.
- Provide a social gaming experience with more interactivity with friends and gaming partners. This increases the amount of time played and the stickiness of the game. We saw this with Xbox.
- Getting players to become emotionally connected to the game. Adopt Agile best practices so you can learn fast and iterate. Organize in more autonomous teams with good alignment to provide a tight gaming experience.
- Know your target audience. Our first and most prominent philosophy as a children’s gaming company is understanding what is attractive to our users and ultimately, what makes a game fun. Understanding and completing market research into what types of games and features are attractive to our end users is critical. Balancing education in a fun gaming environment is something we pride ourselves on. Infrastructure. Building a scalable cloud-based global infrastructure makes our games successful. As JumpStart has multiple products, growing more each year, scalability is the first thing that comes to mind. Scalability and flexibility in today’s fast-changing technology and gaming space, moving away from a native style game development is key. As a developer that targets children, security is a prime concern of ours as well. Make real-time changes based on analytics and user feedback. This is no easy challenge and we have such a great production/development team that understands that value and prioritizes it. Our fans are vocal and so prideful of the products and we truly leverage that internally. And, of course, having a great development team who is passionate about what they do.
- The key to developing successful games really varies by the market segment and player base you’re attempting to reach, but, for us, it’s all about community. Successful games for us are ones in which we manage to create an environment where players form strong ties to each other. Thinking about a game as a form of entertainment enjoyed over a span of time, you’re not going to stay entertained for that long but you can stay connected to a community forever. This community-centric strategy really allows for the long-term success of games, with players engaging for years as opposed to just hours or days. For example, we have players of our first game ourWorld that have been playing for upwards of eight years, which is extremely rare in the games space.
- It’s probably harder than any other industry because you are looking to entertain in a novel way rather than trying to solve a specific problem. You’re always looking for something new, special, and surprising. What is new and exciting that you can provide that your competitors are not providing? There are a number of different trends and aspects to consider.
- Active gaming system. Transform familiar objects into game controllers that connect with your favorite devices. 1) Build on familiar patterns with players. 2) Progressive difficulty to master is critical. 3) How to create/facilitate meaningful opportunities for face-to-face play, as well as monthly or periodic events or tournaments.
- Good people, good ideas, and good execution. Your first challenge is to have a team of people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the project they are making. These people need to be diverse and have a good understanding of the game industry, games, and, of course, players. Ideas are key, and when I say ideas I don’t just mean one simple idea for the game but being able to come up with interesting solutions as problems arise during development. You are constantly coming up with new mechanics, gameplay, and story solutions when working on a game. The last one is where a lot of new teams struggle, the execution. If you have a good team and good ideas but you can’t finish then your game won’t ever succeed. You need to be able to battle through the tough times and execute well on the vision to finish a game. Once you have the game complete then you have to market and sell it.
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