Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
the highest level completed. Interactivity may be possible within chapters, in so far as
there may be more than one way for the player to reach the end point, but it cannot
carry over between chapters. If the player starts Chapter Three with the BFG, then
the player must not be allowed to complete Chapter Two without it—or there must
be some explanation at the start of Chapter Three as to how the BFG came into the
player's possession.
Choice of Words
Always favor short words over long ones. This isn't because phone game players
are simple—they're not—but because breaking words across two lines is unsightly
and adds another character in the dash used to indicate that the word continues on
the next line. In the same spirit, keep character and place names short and keep
resounding titles, like Zog the Unspeakable, Invincible Overlord of the Universe, to
a minimum—otherwise there won't be room on the screen for anything other than
the name.
18.5 Must-Dos
Line and Character Counts
For each piece of text (or at least each type of screen), get a firm line and character
count from the producer or the lead programmer and stick to it rigorously. There is
simply no room for going over length, and going under can be unsightly—not that
having too much space is likely to be a problem.
Payment Terms
No writer should accept a contract that pays by the word—most of the writer's time
will be spent paring down the text, therefore reducing the fee. The writer must insist
on payment by the hour, or by the project (most phone games are single-milestone
affairs, because of their short development cycle).
Market Research
As always, the writer needs to look at competing games—especially those in a sim-
ilar genre of gameplay. This lets the writer see what restrictions and difficulties the
writers of these games have faced, how they have dealt with them, and how well their
solutions have worked. Often, looking at other people's solutions to problems can
inspire different and better solutions.
As well as playing games on their own phones, writers can go to the websites
of prominent developers and look for demos. Sometimes these are playable on a
PC (which is still the main development platform), and sometimes they can even be
played right in a Web browser. It is useful to look at the range of phones for which
each game is available; this reflects both the installed base of each model and the ease
of developing games for it. If multiple versions of a game demo are available, they
can give an indication of the different capabilities of different handsets.
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