Author: Moritz Laass

Business

Pivoting from Mobile to Desktop

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.

Starting small

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

Creating a Space scenario

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.

Business

What am I writing about

I started this blog to write about the progress I am making with the game and to keep everyone up to date about what is happening. Apart from that, I believe the blog should also be interesting in terms of the content I present. I will be writing about the Game Development Process which in itself is a very varied and creatively challenging endeavor. I suspect there will be bits in here that are interesting to players but also lots of things that might be more interesting to developers or people that are aspiring to become (better) developers themselves.

I sincerely hope that I will be able to talk about things that are relevant to anyone that either work in a technical or creative field. I will try to dive into what it means to be creative, how I see inspiration and how I approach that part of the creative process.

The following list is the first set of topics I came up with:

  • Showing off new features, systems, and graphics
  • Reflecting on the development process, code or tools
  • Talking about game design choices, experiments, fallacies and learnings
  • Challenges and solutions in the creative process
  • The Business side of making a game, facts, numbers, PR and the like.

Features, Systems and Graphics   

Lazzzers Icon

Writing a game means writing systems, the common way we talk about those systems is in terms of features. When you tell people about your game or you put it into the app store at some point there is usually a list of features that gets mentioned.

One of the features I currently mention a lot is the ability to redirect colored laser beams and mix them. In order to do that I wrote a system that traces laserbeams across the playing field and makes decisions based on the game elements, it comes across.

this system is at the core of the game and I could probably spend an entire post if not more going into the ins and outs of that system, the algorithm I had to come up with and other decisions I had to make and why I made them.

Another thing that falls into this category are graphics, whenever new graphics make their way into the game its an opportunity to show them off.

That being said, I don0t want this blog to be a big spoiler, so I will try to curate posts in a way that present meaningful information without spoiling the game.

 

Development process

In the posts focused on the development process, I will get more into the technical side of things, this will be different than writing about a feature or system in the game as it will revolve more around the tools and processes I am using that are not necessarily relevant to the game.

Early Lazzzers Development Screenshot in Unity3D

For example, at the moment I am using Blender in my workflow to create 3d graphics and geometry and there are certain ups and downs that come with using this tool. I will go into a reflection of how I am using it at the moment and what are the benefits of my approach, but also what could be done better to improve my process in this area.

In the case of Blender, there are a lot of things I don’t know how to do with the tool, as I am making everything myself at the moment this would be an opportunity to reflect on using my time to get to know blender in more depth or if I might be better off, hiring an artist to do it for me.

Game Design

Schematic for merging colors using the merger element in Lazzzers

I will talk about game design, or to be more precise, my take on it. There are quite a few Game design decisions I had to take in Lazzzers and I will try to take those and expand them into a more general exploration of the topic, I might go on a rant every once in a while when it comes to game design. because I seriously believe there is a lot of lazy, bad and even harmful game design out there, and I find it outrageous at times.

Game Design is a new discipline, but that does not mean it is a place for immaturity. Unfortunately, though there is great immaturity in games and game design today, and I do not see a substantial change coming to the field. In fact, my view is that there is a general immaturity cultivated in today’s society which is a far bigger problem that cannot be addressed within the domain of game design.

It is my humble goal though to bring a maturity of thought to my game design musings and infuse them with the proper sense of responsibility that anyone who develops any kind of product should bring to his work.

Creative Process – Challenges, Solutions

Space skybox texture

The creative process can be obscure, frustrating, elating, rewarding and mysterious. Again and again, it is something that evades the grasp of our mind trying to define it and our attempts to repeat patterns that worked in the past often don’t lead to the result we wish for. As a creative person we are caught in the dilemma of being defined by our own creations, that can catch us in a cage of old ideas, while at the same time bringing new impulses into the world that can surprise and scare us

and break with the conventions that were created by our past selves.

We are the bridge between the past and the future, the manifest and the unmanifest. We are the interface between the world of matter and the world of ideas. This is not always an easy thing to do and yet it is so rewarding. I wanna present my insights into my own creative process and share the things that I have learned over the years that help me keep a flow going.

 

Business

The business side of things is certainly not the thing that comes easiest to me, but as a solo developer, I have to think about this a lot. I want to make my work financially viable and having a solid strategy to go into business is paramount to achieve that goal.  I am certainly not an expert when it comes to running a business even though I have started several businesses in the past.

I am looking forward to learning much more about this as I move forward. As with any discipline that you are new in I will expect to make mistakes, but I hope I will be able to see and correct mistakes as I go along. this is definitely an area where I could use mentoring.

I will need to do more research and effort in this area and as I go along I will share my findings, share my insights and discuss my strategies.

Early Concept for Space vehicles in Lazzzers
Lazzzers

Lazzzers

This is the first post on Lazzzers, the game I’ve been working on over the last 2 months.
Developing this game has given me great joy so far and I think it has the potential to become a great game.

Lazzzers is a puzzle game in which you solve levels by manipulating colored laser beams to hit targets in the right color.
The laser beams come in the colors red green blue and white and can be mixed, split, filtered and redirected.

The first month I spent making the elements work and flesh out the core design I then started building a few levels, a menu system and a built-in level editor, which I might write more about at some point.

I presented the game on 14th of May at PGC in San Francisco, which was an interesting experience, to say the least.

I am planning to release the game on Desktop and mobile.