Tide Dawn Stainscrubbers
The original concept for this game started out as a fun sounding idea. You were a bubble, inside a washing machine. You’d naturally cling to the edges, but could leap out into the spinning drum where you’d clean anything you passed over in your jump. The jump would be affected by the tides, centrifugal force and so on.
After prototyping this, the client didn’t like it. It wasn’t a bad game, but it was pretty hard to pick up at first. We offered to make it easier (it was just a prototype after all), but they instead wanted a completely different gameplay mechanic. Their suggestion was close to what you now see.
I built the new mechanic, and discovered it was dull! Boredom isn’t a good basis for a game, so I set it up to be pretty short on the theory that players might stand a chance of getting to the end. Also, the game has few special tricks (basically, slow mode, fast mode and bonus mode), so I spread these densely across three levels so that the player would constantly have something new happening, if only for a short period of time. It wasn’t an awful game at this point, but wasn’t great either. Most people who playtested it at least got to the end which was the point, as that’s where the datacapture and competition elements came into it at that time.
The client liked this version more, but wanted the experience to last longer. Much longer. At their request, we extended the game to ten levels each as long as the previous, with a chance to drop out at any point if you failed to clean the super-stain or collect one of the boost bonusses. Now, not even the in-house quality testers would play to the end. For a couple of levels it was interesting, but after that it was just repetitive and dull.
The client liked this version lots, and that’s what you see today!
- Sometimes, a client’s demands will simply wreck your project! You can try to direct them towards a better solution, but you need to be prepared to back down and let them break it if that’s what they really want
- Don’t get too attached to your creation if you have any form of external client to answer to!
- Repeated itteration doesn’t always lead to a better game
- It’s not advisable to stick too closely to the product’s concept in an advergame. Often it’s better to make a good game, and find a way to shoehorn the product into it rather than the other way round – extruding a game from a product that isn’t really a good basis
- Games MUST be fun!