Saturday, March 22, 2014



Promise of glorious future welcomes the hopeful mayor-to-be in the loading screen. Nice use of colors with plenty of contrast. Extremely friendly, so if you want to set the player into the right kind of buying mood then relaxed and happy people are easier to sell to than nervous and angry people. You can't sell even angry birds to angry people because they need something stronger.

Anyway at this stage the player needs to feel secure and they absolutely must have the feeling of fast development so make the start of the game as comfy and funny as possible. That is the key to make them stay for a longer time. That time will work for your application as the player will grow mental roots to the game setting. This is especially important in simulation games. Keep the rules as simple as possible and limit choices to minimum.  


We have this hot doctress who presents the case. Those poor dolphins and other cuties are going to have it tough and dry without some player help. Everybody and my downstairs neighbor love dolphins and other cuties especially cuties like Samanth Ruth or Jennifer Lawrence - so, of course we want to save them. That would really make us feel nice and Jim (don't tell me you don't know Jim Dandy).

You need to present a noble purpose for the player to turn them into devotees. Have you noticed how long this mission in the image is? You lure the player in with an idea and seemingly easy fulfillment. However, when the idea is sold and the player jumps in it is time to turn the screw and increase difficulty. Nobody wants to be a looser nor failure so in order to reach the goal real money is used. Nicely done Megapolis!

Let's just go through the steps of tightening the screw. First of all you have an adorable doctress explaining the situation and showing the steps. Then you get the actual requirements in every separate stage. And those requirements grow every step of the way. They become so complex that obtaining needed materials becomes impossible. Finally the task expands with several upgrades. The most stressing fact is the timer that runs down like a zombie snail on steroids and we all know what is the faith of those poor lil dolphins if the snail hits the frying pan.  

An important part of this squeeze is the involuntary nature how this task is presented. Essentially it is a scripted mission, which touches that special part in our heart. If you are a developer you should use this kind of psychological triggers to focus on specific gamer groups like dog owners, cat owners, bird watchers, scuba divers etc. 

What Megapolis misses here is a huge opportunity. If the player steadies her chest and waits until silicone fillings stop bouncing... wait... wait... nothing happens, no drama, no mourning, no indication of devastation of any kind. What happened to those marine mammals? Are they now in my fridge as cans? How will it influence to later activities in the game? If you really want to make this work then you need to apply some bad consciousness on the player. How about some footage of chemical carnage or demonstrating crowds that need calming with some tax cuts etc.


Finally we have the pressure of the crowd. Everybody wants to do well when compared to other people. Different kind of standings and lists give us perfect conditions to set arbitrary goals for standings like for example I'm set to reach 500 000 mark in experience. After that checkpoint I'll probably set some new goals for myself.

Playing these games with friends or other people you know do generate that extra need for competition. No wonder all these smart phone games want to link you to Facebook or Google Play or similar networks. Wonderful way to attract new flesh and extra motivation for doing well in the game.

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