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Today we discuss the topic of game research, not the high level scientific stuff but the nitty gritty mechanical stuff.To make a good game one has to understand what makes games good. Of course, just knowing what’s good doesn’t mean you can just cram all those things into a game and expect it to be good. Hence, one has to research a whole lot of games to find the good parts as well as the bad ones. A huge treasure trove of games to try is the Flash games market, plenty of simple games playable for free in a variety of genres. A mixed blessing with the Flash game market is that it’s comparatively easy to produce games in Flash. This lets creative hobbyists produce games which is good because there are some seriously talented individuals out there cranking out high quality games. The less good aspect is that there are a lot of lesser quality titles flooding the market. This makes it hard to actually find the good ones, especially since it usually takes a few minutes of play to fully grasp what the game is like, discarding it due to low production values means risking missing ingenious game mechanics.

So, how does this relate to mobile development? The Flash game market and the mobile game market are surprisingly similar; games can be made on shoestring budgets, customers don’t expect AAA title production values and most are simple enough to be played in short sessions. Thus, by researching both Flash and mobile games a developer can save a lot of time and effort in trying to find the basic mechanics for a particular game design, as opposed to reinventing the proverbial wheel. Of course this has its inherent dangers, staring too intently on other games might make one more inclined to imitation as opposed to innovation. In my experience, as long as you keep an open mind, focus on the raw mechanics and make sure to note what works and why, you’re probably doing it right.

Thus, as a mobile game developer I find myself playing a lot of games in my work. This means I have to play a lot of games I truly dislike. That’s not to say that it’s all bad, there are hidden gems that makes it all worthwhile, as well as the pure luxury of playing games for a living.

That’s all for today!

- Peter