Daniel Guertin on crafting engaging experiences for different platforms
Behaviour’s Studios division works with some of the biggest names in the entertainment business to release games on all major platforms. Our design teams have developed an expertise in shifting the mindset when developing on PC, mobile, and console. Creative Director Daniel Guertin explores some of the challenges faced when crafting game experiences on these platforms, each with their unique creative needs.
Different platforms mean designing games with different play habits in mind. For example, the creative process behind producing a mobile game must take into account the platform’s unique features. One of which is that players commonly attempt to squeeze in a quick game while on the go. Designers need to show their game’s potential as fast as possible, rapidly chaining tons of satisfying moments within these short sessions. On the flip side, console or PC players tend to spend a couple of hours per session. Crafting an experience that keeps an audience engaged for a few hours straight requires the designers to properly pace the experience, carefully building up the satisfying moments without players losing interest or becoming over-stimulated. No matter the platform, designing a game with play habits in mind requires great knowledge of game design, as well as what gives a title its “it” factor
A project’s business model has a tremendous impact on a game’s design. Because it dictates the way players consume gaming products, it is important to build a game based on how it will be sold to the players. This creates multiple challenges for the design team, as different models have completely different sales philosophies. For example, a design team building a mobile free-to-play game needs to strike the perfect balance between giving players moments of completion and offering new goals. In other words, placing the players in a constant state of partial satisfaction, leaving them happy but feeling they still have much to do. Different challenges rise when designing fully premium games. A player who just spent 80 dollars on a new game has very different expectations. Designers working on these games need to find ways to make the initial thrill of discovering a new game last for hours.
Players have different expectation of what makes a high-quality game based on the platform’s purpose. PC and console players tend to regard games for these platforms as top-of the-line, cutting-edge projects developed with massive budgets. This perspective greatly affects the way they will play these games, as their expectations can make them highly critical of little details. Unfortunately, not all games are developed equally, so and console designers need to craft their games to alleviate this player mindset right from the moment the game is first started. But for mobile players, their expectations for a game on a non-game dedicated platform is far lower. What will matter to them is how quickly they can play the game; often an initial loading screen that lasts more than a few seconds will lead them to delete the game completely. In both cases, designers need to truly understand what players expect from a quality game on their platform and design their systems accordingly.
Same expectations of fun and streamability
One thing that unites all players regardless of who they are or their preferred platform is the expectation that a game be fun, engaging, and memorable. Everybody loves to be entertained and video games are expected to provide joy and excitement. There is now also a new expectation for computer-based entertainment: streamability. A fair share of players, especially the younger generation, want to stream their play experiences to others who enjoy watching the games they love being played. This desire extends beyond the realm of video games; these players seek the instant gratification and live feedback that also fuels our modern social media platforms. These expectations need to be embraced by all game designers in order to ensure their games are truly adapted to their audience and resonate across the entire game industry. This could mean rethinking how they approach the classic 3 Cs (character, camera and controls) so players watching a session can understand the game as easily as the player. This could also entail more attention to exposing the game rules through the game’s world, rather than tutorials, so someone jumping in to watch can easily follow the action.