Free-to-play games. The ol’ f2p. “If they’re free to play, then why do they have a store,” I hear my shoulder demon ask, in a poor impression of Jerry Seinfeld’s worst standup.
And yet, stores they have. We take for granted that there’s a place where you can buy soft currency for hard currency, hard currency for real money, and loot crates. After all, that’s where f2p games make their money, and those devs gotta eat. Right?
Well, not exactly.
I mean, sure. The devs have to eat. Nothing against that. But is the store where f2p games make their money? No. And that shouldn’t be surprising.
The primary purpose of the store in a f2p game isn’t to explicitly sell the player anything.
I’ll go one further:
If you’re using your in-game store as though it’s the primary point of commerce in your f2p game, you’re minimizing the odds that you’ll successfully sell anything within your game.
The moment you are in a leadership position, even if you don’t have any explicit authority, you are responsible for setting performance goals and standards for your group, be that a team of 3 or a department of 100. Even without explicit authority, a power dynamic is established that affects how you will interact with your team and how your team will interact with you.
Throughout my career, I’ve heard that lead designers should be the visionaries for their projects. That statement contains truth, but it doesn’t contain the whole picture. The lead designer for any project must know what they wish to make, yes. Heck, the lead designer should know what they’d want to make if they had an ideal set of development circumstances.
Knowing what you’d like to make in an ideal world, however, isn’t the same as knowing what you can make in the real world.
I’m getting ready for a possible move. How possible? It’s incredibly likely at this point, unless something magical happens within the next week or two.
That move and where I land (wherever that might be) are topics for another discussion. The great part about getting ready for a move is running across things you thought you’d lost long ago.
One of the most important production tasks is that of prioritizing work. Prioritization takes place throughout a project’s life cycle, from determining the importance of items in the ever-growing backlog to determining which elements of a given sprint should take precedence, all things being equal. Making these choices can have a profound effect on the success of a project.
You, as a producer, can certainly prioritize a set of features on your own. Your leads should be able to do the same. Yet, how do you approach and justify your prioritization when an external actor applies pressure to your project?
When you have a blog, it’s easy to talk from a position of assumed authority. After all, writing something down makes it seem like the author must know something. If that author has a pedigree of any sort — say, a career of any significant length or certain accolades and honors — then we give their words even more weight.
It’s easier to trust someone we consider to be an expert, after all.
During my current job search, I’ve had to create two presentations.
One of these presentations was… oddly enough… a presentation on me. Now, given how much I really dislike talking about myself (and trust me, I really dislike talking about myself), that was a particularly difficult experience.
I created another presentation, though, to discuss game production for free-to-play invest-and-express games. This is the presentation that I’m going to share with you today! Huzzah!
If you’re interested in listening to me yammer on about game production for about 20 minutes, feel free to follow this link.
I apologize in advance for the handful of plosives in the file, as well as the occasional vocal stumble. I’m sure this would land me no better than a B- from Doc DeYoung in his Vocal Instrument class. Still, it’s an opportunity for me to talk a little more about the process of production for a particular type of game.
I need to get a few things done today. Among them, I need to get a few more job applications out and I need to practice some programming. I woke up this morning wanting to talk a bit about the value of ideas.
When we were working on Ultimate Chef, the initial design was a bit… loose. The design team spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between fine dining, restaurant management, celebrities, and the order board mechanic that sustains the core loop of so many crafting economies.
Production for any form of development, regardless of method, is focused on addressing a series of solvable problems. Every problem has a solution, although it may not be the solution you want or expect. It is important to remember this, as it is easy to become caught up in a particular way of addressing problems.