Wireless Game Design Games Anywhere, Anytime Greg Costikyan www.ungames.com www.costik.com [email protected] Who Am I? 30 Commercially Published Games Online Games Since 1989 First online game with 1m+ users Journalist, Analyst & Consultant Founder & Chief Design Officer, Unplugged Games
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First online game with 1m+ users
Journalist, Analyst & Consultant
Founder & Chief Design Officer, Unplugged Games
Consultant & Advisory Board Member, The Themis Group
11:15-12:30: Game Design Theory
2-3: SMS & MMS Game Design
3-4: WAP Game Design
4:15-6: J2ME & BREW Game Design
Should Have Time for Discussion
Presentations at www.costik.com/presentations/
I talk too fast, and too softly
Stop me before I sin again.
Primarily Geared for Voice
Can Send & Receive Other Data Types
A Small Computersome processing power local RAM typically 128-500k
Limited Mediasmall form factor screen, often b&w input geared to voice calls with some additions sound handling limited
...with tiny screens
Networked from the start!
It’s a Social Device
A New Style of Game: Media Poor, Communication Rich
Network Access the Primary Strength
Gameplay is not a function of whizz-bang graphics
It’s a function of quality of interaction.
Nothing is as satisfying as interaction with other people
why was a primitive platform like Gameboy so successful?
you take your cellphone everywhere
It’s Always There
play anytime you have a moment free
--Dani Bunten Berry
“It’s not the motion, it’s the meat.”
“It’s the people, stupid.”
--Dani Bunten Berry
“It’s a service, not a product.”
it’s a “spare moment” platform
persistent, short session games as well as short complete
Play on Their Schedule, Not Yours
Majestic is an example of what not to do
Persistence: a Key Component for Networked Play
Use the Network
...even for soloplay games
MUD in 1979
the COLS in the mid-80s
both light & hard-core games today
Current Technology Makes it Hard:
no simultaneous voice-and-data
neither WAP nor J2ME provides intrinsic messaging
latency makes multiplayer beyond head-to-head a problem
Clan Messaging (UPOC)
When people paid by the hour, hardcore ruled (and even today, bring in more money)
This is an early-adopter market
Fighting, combat, sf/fantasy—and sports
Stay away from “gameshows” and classic games
Community part of that...
Deck building & card trading in CCGs
The baseball season
Metagames lead to obsessive, repeat play
...and your income derives from continued play, not a one-time sale
Leaderboards are a start...
Ways for Players to Reward Each Other
Offline Activities (deck construction)
Stable Strategies (Chess, Diplomacy)
Small (and variable) form factor
...and inconsistent implementation of standards
Inputs designed for non-game use
...of course, that’s true of PCs, too...
...and likely to remain so
Games were a second thought when standards were established
...but no longer are
...but they still don’t understand networked games
...but has to happen ultimately
“Slow update” games.
“Giants maneuvering in the mist.”
Avoid Text Entry when feasible
Arrows plus “select”
Nethack/Ultima III keypresses
Is it a service or a product?
What drives your revenue?
How can you maximize player satisfaction and minimize support cost?
Does play style dovetail with business demands?
Exploit its strengths
Design around its weaknesses
Demonstrate what’s compelling
Don’t get stuck with the preconceived
Nobody Knows what Works—You’re free to innovate!
Dev cycle (and costs) are low—You’ll see your work live within months
Someday, soon, a wireless game will blow us away...
Show us something we’ve never seen before
Demonstrate how this medium enables game styles we haven’t seen on consoles, PCs, or in the arcade
load of imitative crap
rock-paper-scissors, text adventures, fucking HUNT THE WUMPUS, for god’s sake.
Innovation is what blows markets open
Don’t Be Constrained by video and PC games of the last 5 years
“The game” is an amazingly plastic medium; software is infinitely plastic
wargames, RPGs, CCGs, party games, trivia, German boardgames, LARPs, miniatures, PBM, improvisational drama
puzzle games, sidescrollers, “maze” games, Robotron
academic games, Balance of Power, M.U.L.E.
MUD, multiplayer air sims, “game shows”, Bingo
RealArcade, the indy game movement, Sissyfight, Cheapass
designer of Magic: The Gathering
Steal a la carte, not whole cloth
If you can’t make yourself a Parker, Roberts, Gygax & Arneson, Garfield, Baer, Bartle, Miyamoto, Yeo, or Wright
--at least innovate at the margins
for this new medium.
Don’t blow it.
Beer or die.
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