How to create an addictive puzzle game? part 3

Hello and welcome to the third and last part of my article! In case you haven’t read, the first part is here and the second is here.

Previously I have talked about elements which are essential for successful puzzle games, and now there’s time to talk about some extra things! It doesn’t mean those things are less important, not at all! You can publish a game without them, and it’s still will be a complete game, it just won’t be addictive enough and we don’t want that, do we? 🙂 So, what is left?

Moving crystals here and there isn’t exciting, unless the game provides some sort of a feedback, be it sounds or animation. Don’t be afraid of being creative and funny! We all remember a very deep voice from Candy Crash Saga, saying Delicious, Sweet, or Divine. This voice is very distinctive and this is what it’s all about – to stand out, so the players recognize your game 😉 There are thousands of puzzle games in mobile market already, so try to be different in some way!

One thing to remember about animations – is not being intrusive. Even if the animation is very beautiful and you’re sure the player will love it, after seeing it for 10th time, he will probably skip it. So, don’t make it long, and ideally – enable whatever action the player might take, without delaying it more than for 1-2 seconds. I personally hate when I have to wait, and I doubt I’m the only one.  Special offers

People like sale and special offers, so make use of it! Either it’s St. Valentine’s, Easter, Halloween or Christmas, – don’t forget about your committed users. Not only they will appreciate your effort, you can also count on new ones, which is… great!

Both Best Fiends and Diamond Digger Saga have succeed in making great in-app purchase’s sales. What makes them special is their value and a time limit. The first one should be high for all users, and the second shouldn’t be long, – a few days will be enough, although on holidays it might be a bit longer. Also, remember about putting the sale info in the most visited screens, but don’t make it annoying – it will only frighten players. The information should look encouraging, like with a sparkling animation, for instance. Adding timer makes it even more exclusive and seeing decreasing values draws player’s attention.

Gambling in games

In the end, it’s all about reward and the satisfaction of accomplishing something. Passed a level? Get coins, diamonds, and… a choice! After all, we all should have a little freedom in choosing a present, shouldn’t we? Best Fiends is a good example here. They reward you with keys and you can use them at any point of time to open nine boxes, each of which has something in it, but only a few offer an excellent value. Although Jatpack Joyride is not a puzzle game (it’s arcade :), it has a wonderful slot machine simulator. Every time I pull a lever, I feel an excitement! And if I don’t feel lucky, I can always cash in my X spin tokens. Still, you can either win or… win! And with a choice, the frustration level is reduced to a minimum. Developer gets a good place for a Buy button, and a player gets his reward. Everybody’s happy.

On the first screenshot, notice a Twitter follow button with a key. Isn’t it great when you actually get something for following somebody, not only Thank You? I think it’s great 🙂

Special items to receive

Remember I talked about being stuck? In Best Fiends they use a strategy which I call unstuck. It lies in the fact that you can always improve in order to pass levels (tune up your fiends or get extra things by opening boxes), and there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. How many times I have uninstalled a game, because it suddenly became complicated and it was obvious I need to pay.. Or how many times I was forced to walk though the tutorial, by clicking allowed things only and wasting precious diamonds in order to show me that I can boost something with it. Gosh, I hate it! Why? Because I guess everybody knows that diamonds are either for buying or boosting things, don’t make me waste it at the very beginning!

Basically, when I see that the game forces me into something, it only creates a negative impression and I won’t buy anything later. Unfortunately, there are plenty of such games. I suppose the reason lies in fear of not earning money. That’s why the developer (or publisher) makes tough levels, and hopes that players will buy golden bars or whatever else, in order to pass them. This doesn’t work on me. Best Fiends, on the contrary, evoke very positive emotions. If you don’t have enough diamonds, just re-play the previous levels or the current one, and eventually, after few rounds, you’ll gather enough to boost your creature or unlock a box with a valuable deal, and finally make it through.

For me, the understanding of good and bad intentions in games, was crucial. When the game literally begs me for money, it causes only revulsion. When it’s friendly and gives me a choice, I can think of paying for some extra things, just to make it all faster. What you can imagine is two sellers: one being rude and telling you what to do, and another – willing to help and showing you possibilities, giving something for free and being very nice to you. From whom would you eventually buy: from the first or the second one?


And… that’s it! What I wrote isn’t a complete guide, it’s not a tutorial and not a list of points which will for 100% make your game successful. It’s just a bunch of advises on how to make your match-three game more exciting and make me and many other players eager to come for more 🙂

Summary:

  • In the world of changing things, we get distracted all the time. You only have a few seconds to draw attention to your game. If it isn’t exciting or somehow exceptional, you gonna fail.
  • Group levels into so-called worlds and make those worlds distinctive and unique in some way. Also, think about attractive Coming Soon section.
  • The game should be constantly maintained and polished. Change it with a season and publish updates regularly.
  • Daily bonuses and small presents should be offered as a reward for a returning player. Think of it as offering a coffee or a tea to your guest.
  • Make in-app purchases as easy and natural as possible. Pay & Play button should be in the most convenient and frequently pressed place.
  • Do not force your players and always provide them with a choice. Try to cover all places where the player can get lost, and make the game helpful in such moments.
  • Matching 3 crystals shouldn’t be tedious. By adding some animations, music or sound you can make it really enjoyable. This can be a place to show off as well.
  • Make use of special offers and sales. Pay attention when there’s a holiday and lower prices on selected goods. You can use a count down timer for the most exclusive ones.
  • You can always choose on which side you are: on a light or a dark one. Even if begging for money can work at the very beginning, eventually, it’s a good play that will be more rewarding.

The games in this article were picked for example purposes only. I’m not working for any game company nor I am a marketer.
This article war originally posted on my blog in three parts: first, second, third.

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Tonia Tkachuk

I'm an Android Developer, writing code for living and for fun. Love beautiful apps with a clean code inside. Enjoy travelling and reading.