How to create an addictive puzzle game?

Hello!

Today I’m gonna share my experience regarding match-three puzzle games and different kind of consumer’s attraction strategies that are used in such games. Although, I had thoughts about writing this article a few months ago, this is the first time when I actually do it. And I’ll do my best to explain everything in a simple and a brief form. Let’s begin!

First of all, why did I pick puzzle games and not a different kind? The answer is simple – I play puzzle games most of the time, be it on my way to work, during breaks, or while travelling further away. Such games are usually lightweight, have a clear goal, and are not difficult to play. Even though, they require you to stay focused most of the time, it’s not like you must respond right away, like in racing games, for example. This is a good thing when played in a bus, train, or any other vehicle where you get distracted by other people, or think about getting out in the right moment. In such cases you can safely pause and resume the game later.

When I reflect about mobile game studios, King is one of the first to come to my mind. It is really a king of puzzles – it’s hard not to agree to this statement after their success with Candy Crush Saga. I’ve played this game for quite a long. I even had a habit – go to bed and play Candy Crush till I waste all my lives 😛 Then there was Candy Crush Soda Saga, Diamond Digger Saga, and now… Best Fiends. Yes, the last one was developed by Seriously, not King, but it’s just as addictive.

Now, we’ll talk more about specifics! The above mentioned games are good examples of a successful match-three puzzle stories. They all possess the qualities that are worth being noticed and used in your very own game strategy. I will talk over those qualities using screenshots, – it should be easier like that, both for me and the reader.

Digger Saga levels

The screenshots above illustrate a main view of Diamond Digger Saga. Here you can see a list of levels, grouped into worlds. Now, this is quite a common practice and there are reasons why. First of all, when having dozens of levels and where the goal is to either get some special elements or beat a high score, one must think about some kind of categorization, otherwise there won’t be any satisfaction when moving from 5th to 15th level, after all, it is just another level on 200 levels list. But when separated, and separation means new and exciting functionality, it changes a lot.

Another worth mentioning thing here is the Coming Soon! section. It fulfills the curiosity of what’s next and reveals some details, but never shows everything. What about appearance, the clouds look bright and glowing. The fireflies have a light flying animation and the text sparkles. This is a very interactive way of saying Hey, we have new exciting levels getting prepared for you!

And the last thing I would like to add is a difference between those two screenshots. The one on the left is a Christmas version of the game. You can notice presents, candies, a bit of snow on the top bar, and a few snowflakes. Another screenshot on the right is a Halloween version. Game color scheme has changed and there are pumpkins scattered here and there, with fancy bats flying.

What is the conclusion here? It’s always nice to see holiday-refined games, as it creates a feeling that the game is constantly supported, and you can expect new levels, new bonuses and the like. If you think it’s enough to publish a puzzle game and do nothing afterwards – you’re wrong. A game is a living organism and the developer should feed it with updates, be it new levels, gameplay changes or bug fixes. Players will always appreciate this and come back for more.


This was the first part of an article. I’ll publish more soon!

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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.