[casual_games] surprising stats about casual gaming
jamiecarlson at gmail.com
Wed Jul 26 13:35:52 EDT 2006
>Casual users are not turned off merely by the perception that a game can
>offer a long play session (I would argue this may even be considered
>valuable) but rather by the perception of the overall complexity that
>must be mastered in order for them to achieve a feeling of competence
This was always my assessment of Oasis (http://www.oasisgame.com/)...
a game which I REALLY enjoy (even to this day, 2-3 years after it's release).
I thought the folk(s) at Mind Control (i.e. Andrew Leker) really
created something that was easy to play (i.e. every action in the
game only takes "one click" depending on the context/current_state of
what you were clicking on) yet the game had tremendous strategic
depth in it's overall implementation.
However, after having played it for 4-5 hours initially, I took a
step back and asked myself "Who is most likely going to buy this?" -
in other words, is it too simplistic "looking" for the core gamer,
yet too strategically complex for the casual player?
Andrew said as much in his Gamasutra postmortem
>The first person with whom I shared the design principles of Oasis
>loved it. He didn't think that the game would be commercially
>viable, but he said he'd be the first to play it if it was
>available. This was to be the catchphrase of Oasis, "I don't know
>who'd buy this game besides me and my friends." As a businessman, I
>thought it best that I put Oasis on hold...
The fact that Andrew recognized this fact is a tremendous credit to
him and his team because (in the end) I thought that he took some
excellent steps in the game's final implementation to try and ease
the "learning curve" and to teach the game's core mechanics gradually
to the players. However, even today, people are constantly arguing on
the game's forums about the formulas for success are in playing the
game and what the "sure fire" tactics/strategies to success are...
See this forum:
That general debate over the game's underlying systems/rules probably
lends itself to the average player NOT possessing that "perception of
the overall complexity that must be mastered in order for them to
achieve a feeling of competence and accomplishment" (as Dave said)...
It's not entirely obvious to the player as to the interdependencies
of certain actions and the expenditure of resources in the game... it
takes quite a bit of trial and error before the player learns the
strategies which "usually" work in the game, and depending on how the
game board was generated (at random) sometimes those strategies won't
pan out, so there often is failure there. In the end, learning these
strategies and becoming a decent player at Oasis most likely will
longer than the 60 minute trial period, I would say... and perhaps
that hurt Oasis in the Casual Gaming space?
I don't know, because I'm not sure how well the game performed for
Andrew and Mind Control Software in the marketplace. Either way, I
love the game and I think there is a place for strategic games of
Oasis' ilk in this space, when implemented properly, I have no doubt
about that... and Oasis did MANY things right, because I know that I
learned an awful lot *from* playing it.
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