14 low-budget, highly successful story games

Device 6 cover image

One of the reasons why hyper-casual games are so popular is due to how quick and easy they are to make. Simple controls, artwork, and game design make it easy for any developer to pick up. But hyper-casual isn’t the only way to go. There are other ways to build a game on a budget. One way is narrative. We’ve talked a lot about how to add new layers to your games by simply layering in a story. And we discussed how you need three Cs: character, conflict and change for your narrative. This time, we’ll look at the top games that use storytelling as a core mechanic and show you that you don’t need sparkling design and intense gameplay to create a hit. You just need an extra C: Choice. Because choice is how you can differentiate a book…

When is the earliest moment a game will get put on a disc/blu-ray these days? Some prototype? A test build? Review copies? A test before manufacturing begins? Historical examples of old CD and cartridge games from pre-production are around, so I wonder if any from this era even exist to show up like that.

T'challa says ALT

We don’t really do discs anymore. We used to do them for builds on dev machines, but now that we’ve all got sufficiently fast internet connections and sufficiently large hard drives, all we do are digital builds now. Even our submission candidates are digital now. To my understanding, we really only make discs when we’ve passed cert and we’re going to gold master. Even the physical discs you get today often just contain the same internet-based installer that you’d download from the digital store.

A storybook flips openALT

I don’t think disc builds have been a thing since two console generations ago, the X360/PS3/Wii era. We actually made regular disc builds back then because we had to test things like streaming data off of the optical disc. I remember having to come up with solutions for desynchronized audio issues because data were still being streamed from the disc when we loaded a saved game from a cold boot at a particular place in the game I was working on. Nowadays we can fully install the game to the SSD and we no longer have to worry about those kind of technical issues.

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Balance adjustments in the long term: You have a unit/option/weapon that is too strong/too weak in a way that is negatively affecting the game. What are some of the pros and cons of making a single larger adjustment versus making a serious of small adjustments over multiple updates ?

I think you’re missing something important here. Our overall goal with these balance updates isn’t necessarily to achieve perfectly balanced matchups. It isn’t even to achieve game balance that is “good enough”. The real purpose of balance updates is to keep the game interesting to the community so they want to keep playing it. We’re going to make balance changes even if the game is perfectly balanced already, because an unbalanced game that is interesting is infinitely better than a boring game that is balanced.

From Inception, Eames tells Arthur ALT

Because our goal is player engagement (that is, maintaining interest over time), it behooves us to make periodic large game adjustments so that players have more interesting things to research, experiment with, and discover. We combine these changes with new content (e.g. introducing a new playable character, character class, new kind of build, etc.) that will shake the existing meta up in order to excite and interest players, as well as entice lapsed players to come back and have a look at the new hotness. Whenever we put out a balance update, there’s usually a flurry of testing and theorycrafting to figure out what changed, how much has changed, what the new matchups are, what kind of new play is optimal, and so on.

A time lapse scene of clouds floating over a lake and a mountain.ALT

Player churn over time is normal — even for a perfectly balanced game. Life circumstances change, people drift away or lose interest, these are all normal and expected situations. This is also why it’s perfectly fine for some characters/classes/builds to be low tier. I’ve found that a significant percentage of players like playing with underpowered builds, often because they have something to prove, or they just like the play style even if it is underpowered.

Leslie Knope says ALT

We really only make emergency changes when the meta becomes so unbalanced that it causes the game to lose player engagement — i.e. if the unbalanced gameplay causes players to start quitting the game at a faster rate than normal. In that kind of situation, we try to remove the toxic element and return things to a more stable level of player engagement.

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Never really played Final Fantasy until recently. Ran into my first ever Tonberry. Do me a favor? Change your avatar. Please and thank you. :)

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Top gamification examples in mobile apps

Gamification in apps cover

We learn by playing. When we enter the world, we’re full of curiosity, and play has always been at the centre of how we satisfy that curiosity. Sadly, it’s beaten out of us when we go to school, and taking tests suddenly becomes a chore. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s possible to learn while having fun. In fact, that’s exactly what some apps are doing. And it’s working. Games are the most popular genre on the app store. They’re masters in the art of keeping users engaged and happy. So how can we learn from them? What is gamification? You’ve probably heard the term ‘gamification’ before. But if you haven’t, it’s the act of taking gaming elements and mechanics and applying them to your non-gaming app. Often to ramp up retention and engagement. And it works. If we…