I started Lazzzers with the idea of making a casual mobile Puzzle game, it was going to be Free 2 Play with ads and the option to buy the ad-free premium version. After building the game in my spare time for 2 months I changed my mind. This Post will be an exploration into the thoughts behind that move.
I have a history of unfinished or half finished projects and I know that I get easily bored with a project after a while, so I decided I was going to do a project that would be simple and could be finished within a few months in my spare time. I have played some casual f2p games on my phone and I thought it would be a good way to publish the game.
I wanted to make a puzzle game and the ideas of redirecting laser beams had been in the back of my mind for a while. One day the connection with RGB color mixing sparked and I came up with the core concept in a matter of minutes.
Started building the game with a vertical layout, aimed at mobile screens and kept things as simple as possible. After 2 Months I had the opportunity to demo and pitch the game at a mobile game conference in San Francisco (Pocket Gamer connects). which was a great experience, and I realized a few things that had not been obvious to me before.
Failure to be casual
One of the first realizations I had was my complete and utter failure to be casual. Many people found the game to hard, much harder than I expected, which was a welcome surprise, but it also broke my original assumption and associated strategy. Using an f2p model with ads for monetization, I would have a conflict between the business model and the game design.
To be financially viable Ad based games focus on retention, ideally getting players caught up in a loop of repeatedly playing the game. Many Games do that quite well without actually providing much value in terms of content. That was not a road I wanted to go down.
Other feedback I got was to go deeper in terms of theme, as I kept the game quite abstract to that point. I started thinking about all the games I enjoyed most, which all had a strong story element. I came to the conclusion, that setting the game in the context of a story would be something I would enjoy and that could add another layer of depth and meaning to the game and give me room to explore more variations on the initial concept.
Freedom of the desktop
Looking at the desktop and platforms like itch.io and jolt, I concluded that going for the desktop might be the better path for me to take. There seems to be more freedom on the desktop for the type of games and experience that people enjoy. Also, there seems to be more opportunity to release and test early versions to a broader audience without ruining your ratings. The desktop is a huge market and there are many games that can find their niche in that market. With a somewhat difficult puzzle game, I feel more confident to find my audience on the desktop.
Expansion to other Platforms
Making a game for the desktop is hard enough, without the restrictions of mobile. Having the freedom and accessibility of that platform I am confident, that I can work on the details of the game design to a point where expanding to other platforms becomes a viable option. Using Unity I feel like I have a good foundation to create versions on different platforms, once the core content of the game is stable and available on the Desktop.