Having worked at larger game studios, and just reading the gaming press it’s often talked about how the bigger the game the better. The more bells and whistles you have the more people will buy it. The more features you add the better. More blah leads to more bucks. Sometimes this is the case, but for my tastes – not so much. I used to be all about the next big game, but now I just want a solid 1-4 hour experience. Even games like Today I Die Again where you can play through it in a matter of minutes is fine by me. I’d rather have a short, tight game than a long and drawn out experience that gets boring. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet took me maybe 2.5 hours to finish. After playing for an hour the game said I was 45% finished. At that point I thought, man that $15 sure sounds like a lot for this game, but after having finished the game I can say it was well worth the money. That’s exactly the type of game I want to play.
The app store is a completely different beast from traditional AAA or XBLA/PSN games. You see some great, highly polished games like Battleheart sitting right next to horrible games and apps where the developers spent a few hours throwing something together and for some dumb luck they get blasted to the top of the charts. Most apps don’t make hardly any money, but the possibilities are huge if it takes off. Is it worth spending a year making a super polished game, or should you go for 12 small games? There’s a lot to consider.
I keep thinking about whether or not I want to make a bunch of really short games or go for more fully featured “AAA” iphone games. On one hand by making smaller games you can crank out a bunch of ideas and see what people like, and on the other hand if you go for a unique, content rich game you’re more likely to get featured by apple (or any of the major Android markets) and have it take off.
It’s a tough decision. Right now I’m making projects that are right in the middle. They have fairly short development cycles with a decent amount of content. I’ll make a couple more in this fashion, but at some point I’d like to make a handful of really small projects, get them out there for people to try, and pick one to use as a starting point for a larger game. It’d be fun to let people vote after making several games. Let the players choose since they’re the ones that will be playing the game.