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The Myth of the King Tech

December 1, 2007

I may have inadvertently gotten an answer to a question I posted the other day. That question was this: how would Super Mario Bros. do if it were released new and for the first time today? Would it get left in the dust by all the amazing new and technologically amazing games that are being released? Would it even be noticed? According to some points raised in this article over on Gamasutra, Opinion: ‘Cloning Created The Casual Game Business’ , one can infer that it might have done pretty well.

The complexity level of casual games is a return to simpler 2D gaming (there are no hit 3D casual games),” the article said. That last part in parentheses really hit me.

“The games haven’t become more complex over the years,” it continues. “They focus on single-button mouse control and easy accessibility. There has been relatively little increase in complexity as we’ve moved from Bejeweled to Zuma to Diner Dash.” This, the Casual Games Association figures, is the reason the industry has been growing at 20% each year.

This got me thinking that maybe this concept of a super-fueled, polygon drunk industry is just that – a concept, and not a reality at all – and that the bigger industry is presently the non-blockbuster games industry. Dollar for dollar, there’s no question that the big games like GoW2 and Gears and Halo 3 and CoD4 make the small dogs cry. Play for play, though, I wonder how that equation works out.

I doesn’t matter to me except to say that it’s reassuring that there is an extremely vibrant market for smaller games developed by smaller teams. I do hope that future devs out there will consider this as they being to work on games in their college years.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2007 1:05 am

    3D is often confusing and can easily irritate people when they are not a regular to playing games. A Casual game is so incredibly easy to just grab and play. I have watched my girlfriend play 3D games, recently Mario Galaxy, and just become extremely frustrated with the control system and the strange feeling of the camera. Often losing patience after just a few minutes.

    Now, when I watch her play a casual game, like a 2D hunt and find game, she could play for hours. Because the idea is simple enough, and there is nothing crazy going to happen. The player, can just play. All the game is going to do, is sparkle, and carry on to a new level.

    From seeing this, I’ve given a lot of thought to making a casual game. The only thing that is stopping me right now is that I’ll be graduating in a year and I need to focus on learning things that will get me a job as a programmer.

    But, yeah, without a doubt, the casual game market is massive… And now we have the Wii bringing casual to the living room (instead of the 360 and ps3), increasing that casual game market at a really fast rate… Put Diner Dash on the Wii, and watch it all explode.

    Headline: “Nintendo moves 1M consoles in 1 WEEK”…

  2. aortiz permalink
    December 1, 2007 5:23 pm

    Wasn’t one of Mario Galaxy’s goals to remove the sense of confusion, vertigo and frustration in games?

    But it seems that it failed in some aspects. Casual gamers would rather play Bejeweled or Peggle.

  3. December 1, 2007 7:38 pm

    “Wasn’t one of Mario Galaxy’s goals to remove the sense of confusion, vertigo and frustration in games?”

    Just the fact that it was actually 3d is enough to throw people off. Think back to the first time you played a 3d game. It was probably Tank! or Doom or Wolfenstein 3d: all of which bridged the gap between 2d and 3d for you. For most gamers, it’s a gradual movement from one mindset to another, and the evolution of games went hand-in-hand with the evolution of gamers. Similarly, children who weren’t around for games like Doom substitute partly-3d games like Smash Brothers, where the controls are entirely 2d but it acclimates the player to seeing and thinking in 3d.

    Even hardcore 3d gamers tend to stay within one control scheme; I’ve seen many veteran first-person-shooter players trying to play a flight simulator and being thrown into a state of vertigo when yaw was thrown into the mix. They’re taken from their comfort zone and their immediate reaction is to try their tried-and-true interface, which creates a different reaction (pressing left rotates the camera counter-clockwise, rather than turning left, for example) and makes the vertigo worse.

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