Game Development Reference
came from play-testers who were most like our target audience . Sometimes it was really depressing to watch
these players get tripped up on designs that we thought made learning the game easy.”
“We refined the opening levels of Spider and Mars over and over and over again until they were as tight
and economic as possible while still easing casual players into an exciting, new experience. This all happened
before we shipped the game, so we can never be sure how it impacted sales, but our guts tell us this emphasis
on reaching the casual audience is one of the major contributors to our success on iOS.”
Waking Mars originally featured a seamless world that would stream in as you explored (see Figure 13-6 ).
This made the caves seem vast and rambling and very believable. It soon became evident that the trade-off was
player clarity. Players didn't know when one experience was starting and another was over. It was hard for them
to tell if they were winning or losing; instead, they just kept stumbling forward into new things. By contrast,
discrete levels that you have to finish one at a time helped with pacing and clarity. It gave players the sense of
accomplishment and an understanding of the game.
Spider was a simple game based around the one core action-drawing mechanic for building webs. To provide
more dimension, Tiger Style added leaderboards, achievements, and different game modes. “Waking Mars was
a much larger game with more gameplay variety, so we felt those would be unnecessary additions,” says Smith.
“In retrospect we were probably wrong. Some players really got attached to the leaderboards, and most players
had fun questing after the achievements. Without them, the game feels akin to a movie that you watch once.
With them, the game feels more like a hobby that's worth coming back to.”