When people see our finished games they often ask, "how did we come up with something like that?" Sometimes they also ask, "why we would come up with something like that?" Our ideas come from many places: a lunchtime doodle that blossomed into Little Broken Robots or setting out from the get-go to make the most action-packed, one-handed tower defense game we could with Defend the Dam — or maybe just highlighting our furry friends with Bork n’ Sniff. While the ideas always come from different places, how we make fun, engaging experiences that Inspire Happiness always go through the same process: playtest often, iterate constantly and add a whole lot of charm.
Always be playtesting! It is never too early to get feedback, and your first line of defense is your team. While Dragon Army works on a game, we always set aside time during the week (usually Fridays) so everyone can stop working on the game and just play it. Finding out early what is working and what isn’t allows you to prioritize what your team should be iterating on!
Change this, cut that! Always be willing to make drastic changes or cut systems if it is getting in the way of fun. Often times, teams get attached to the systems or mechanics they have spent so much time working on, but games are complex ecosystems and that feature the team really loves could be polluting the whole game. You have to always be willing to try different things, and (if all else fails) be willing to remove the system entirely.
Add the charm! Draw attention to the "possibility" space and reward exploration! We love polish at Dragon Army, but we always want it to serve a purpose. Maybe it’s to draw the players eye to something important like the clock slowly ticking down in Little Broken Robots or to provide an extra layer of feedback and direction for the player, as they navigate the level in our latest project, Tumble Totem.
These three simple parts of our process help us find the fun in every project, and if we stick to them, we should always achieve our goal of Inspiring Happiness. If you’d like to learn more, hit us up on our contact form!
By: Patrick Rossetti, Developer at Dragon Army