Game Development

How to evaluate game concepts

As a game development studio, it is important for us at Frying Jelly to carefully evaluate the potential success of our game concepts before we dedicate resources to it. We generally use paper and pencil and immediately prototypeof the core loop to test an idea. We then consider a number of different aspects when evaluating a game concept, including marketability and potential virality, how fun it’d be to stream and watch, the quality of the game’s gameplay loop, the gameplay’s level of difficulty and depth, the game’s genre and niche and more.

Gameplay Loop

So first and foremost, it’s about designing a compelling and engaging gameplay loop. A well-designed gameplay loop can keep players coming back to the game again and again, while a poorly designed gameplay loop can quickly become boring and have them leave to never come back again. We strive to create gameplay loops that are challenging and rewarding, while still being accessible to players of all skill levels. It’s our core game design philosophy: aiming to create games that are easy to play but hard to master, providing players with a satisfying and rewarding experience that keeps them coming back for more. We also carefully consider the gameplay’s level of ultimate difficulty and depth, as this can have a major impact on the enjoyment and replayability. Can you keep coming back to more to better your score, discover secrets, again and again? But above all, we make sure the core gameplay loop has a hook – that you either wanna keep going, go at it again when you die, etc. This is the single thing you should look for when prototyping and it should stand on its own without any bells and whistles.

Marketability

We pay particular attention to marketability and virality, as these factors can have a major impact on the success of our game in the market. A game with strong marketability and the potential to go viral can attract a large and dedicated audience. Marketability can seem like magic, but it comes down to things like: “is it easy to share exciting gifs of this game?”,.. does it evoke strong emotions, humor, shock, sadness, awe? Anything at all? Is it conceivable we can combine trends with the game theme? Many developers don’t like marketing, but thinking about these things from the get-go, is super important. It could be that your game loop is fun and satisfying, but it isn’t obvious through the visuals – something you really do want to realize early on. In addition, we specifically make sure our games are fun to stream and watch, as this is an ever-growing trend among players and can be an important source of exposure and thus revenue. A game that is engaging and enjoyable to watch can attract a dedicated audience of viewers, which can significantly help to drive sales. In recent years, this is how some games became a huge success. Bonus points for implementing interactivity between the streamer and audience, using for example the Twitch API, something we’ve done with 99 Fails as well.

Genre & Niche

Another consideration is the game’s genre and niche when evaluating a game concept. Knowing the genre and niche of your game allows you to better understand its potential audience and competition, and can help you to identify opportunities for success in the market. By creating unique and innovative games within a genre and niche, you can hope to stand out from the competition while still appealing with core features the audience in a particular genre or niches craves. Fun combos between genres are often a good idea that can be relatively safe. However, always get player feedback, as things may not be perceived as you think. The earlier the better.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the game is an important factor to consider, as it can have a major impact on the overall enjoyment and immersion of the game, as well as it appeal. We carefully consider the music and visuals of our games, aiming to create an atmosphere that is engaging and immersive for players. What we generally do is put our feelers out on social media and see if people like snippets of the music, art and animation, like we did for 99 Fails where several videos went viral on TikTok, reaching over 1 million views each. You really wanna know if your your game can attract attention, if people care at all. Do the visuals impress? Intrigue? Do people like the tunes? Our your marketing design pillars hitting the right notes? If your game is supposed to be scary, yet snippets make people laugh – you know you need make an adjustment. Though we hasten to add that in some cases unexpected reactions can help make a game as well. But in general you’ll not want people bored by a game that’s supposed to be exhilarating, upset over your game if it’s supposed to be calming and meditative, so on and so forth. You may think it speaks for itself, but few people really properly define 2-3 main qualities of their atmosphere and test them.

Branding & Franchise

We also consider the potential for future development of the game’s intellectual property and brand. A game with strong potential for future development and growth can be a valuable asset, allowing us to expand and build upon the game’s success in the future. Building rich worlds and IP is in our DNA, so we pay more attention to this than most. When we started building 99 Fails with the protagonist Zeebo, his world Neebota was a natural addition and franchise name – where we immediately envisioned possible future games in the franchise and Zeebo’s overarching story. This may not be important if you’re a solo dev or tiny indie studio, but could still be helpful in envisioning a future for your game and perhaps issues with the name/brand you might want to avoid.

Speaking of which, be sure your name is unique and searchable. No name conflicts, no popular products with the same name, and preferably usernames and domains available to you on all major social media platforms and for important extensions (usually just .com). If your game becomes quite popular and 30% of traffic goes to some other game with a very similar name, you’ll be wishing you had heeded this advice. Create a good name that rolls of the tongue, is easily spelled by most people in the world, and doesn’t have any obvious similarities with games, other either entertainment products or brands/products that dominate search results.

Acessibility

Another consideration is accessibility refers to the degree to which a product or service can be used by people with disabilities. Accessibility often involves making products and services more usable for people with disabilities, such as providing text-to-speech for people who are blind, or providing audio descriptions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 99 Fails is a rage quit precision platformer you can play with mouse, keyboard or touch screen as it has a single action you can at a time. It really depends on the genre and gameplay with what aspects can be made more accessible, but it should definitely be a consideration. In our case, you really do need at least vision to play the game.

Last but certainly not least, we consider whether we personally find the game fun. As game developers, we are passionate about what we do, and we want to work on games that we are excited about and enjoy. If we don’t personally find a game fun, we are unlikely to be motivated to work on it, and it is unlikely to be successful. It’s also important to get the genre you’re making. What makes the type of player that plays your game tick. This games more naturally if you enjoy the game you’re making.

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