Designing for Hardcore Gamers and Casual Gamers
January 11, 2011
There are so many different potential players of your game and it can be hard to make your game suit different tastes. Here I examine two broad gamer definitions that can be expand into many more.
You can always pick one out of a group of people; they eat, sleep, dream, and talk game experience. One thing and one thing only is what hardcore gamers believe – The Game Is The Life. These people want to have the most out of your game; every penny they pay has got to be worth it. Hundreds of hours spent on one game are what they want, extra secret quests, weapons, areas – you name it.
The more times they can replay to get the highest score on the toughest level, the most unlocks, the more easter eggs they can find the happier they are. If your game doesn’t have different levels of difficulty or another way to make it more challenging you should add this.
It could mean creating sub quests, secret areas or items, anything that does not have to be used for the main game. This way they can spend extra time on these and you can make them incredibly challenging. It doesn’t matter to your average gamer whether or not they are accomplished or not but with these hardcore gamers are able to meet the challenge with out leaving the main game.
Include easter eggs in your game to encourage hardcore gamers to return and replay your game to find that one thing they missed or get another higher then previously outrageous high score. They might want to go back and find another area. If a hardcore plays for replay value and not some easter egg, they may be quite happy with your game play and that is always a plus to the developer.
Detail Detail Detail! This is incredibly important to any game that hopes to please a hardcore gamer. Your character had better be more than a stickman walking around a world made with lines and circles. You have to be more than simple graphics and calculations and colors. They want to feel as though they are playing the game as the character. Be the character. Would you like to live in Stick guy world or Super Mario World? Allowing them to customize their character is even better but can be confusing for many people if it is right at the beginning.
Numbers. Hardcore gamers will eat these things up like a vending machine and quarters. If you are done with your game and before you release it, send a beta out and have some friends fill out a questionnaire. Use the beta testers to discover which tips or hints a player might want to know. Use all of this data and maybe some of your own tips and tricks to add in and create a game guide, or a game manual.
Hardcore gamers want:
- Extended Hours of Gameplay
- High Levels of Customization
- Side Quests and Missions
- Branches off the main tree of gameplay and story
- Extreme Levels of Gameplay
Whether this is the flag football in the backyard or weekend halo nights everyone is, at some point, a casual gamer. For a casual gamer games are what they are: games. Nice distractions from life that allow a player to train, fight, and live their electronic alter ego.
Simplicity is all they need. Detail is nice for the eye but too much can turn them away. The game has to be welcoming and simple at the beginning. If they have to raid castle Macindaw 5 times over and the level is 30 minutes of playing each time and there aren’t any save points or it’s just the first level they may be discouraged and return, throw away, or shove into some desolate folder on the hard drive your hard labor on your game. Nobody wants that, so remember: Simplicity.
If they don’t get rewards for their efforts they will turn into the unhappy puppy that won’t do anything for you. So give them frequent rewards and advancements. Give them save points or tokens or some other form of reward or unlockables. Don’t have some cloak and dagger system of goals and objectives. Casuals are not hardcores who will spend hours searching through the world of your game looking for the one person who can help them out. If you absolutely have to put this in don’t make it costly. If they find the person in the deepest corner of your game’s hell, don’t make the non-playable character demand money or something that the player will have to give up that has value. Balance the challenge with the reward and the effort.
Effort + price to pay = reward
Effort + price to pay < reward
Casual Players do not want overly extensive game play. Over about 100 hours will not suit very many players. Casual gamers may also want re-playability. The best type of replay is one where the player enjoyed the story/game play etc. if they are replaying for Easter eggs; you can categorize them under Hardcore or maybe somewhere in between. Casual players are just your everyday person.
Remember, Casual Gamers want:
- Easy Going Story and Game-play
- Non-extensive Gameplay
- A main story line
Try to keep both gamer types in mind while designing your games. Add side stories so hardcore gamers can pursuer them while casual can take the regular road and provide different difficulties of game play for the player. Hope you liked my input to the gaming world – have fun designing your game for both audiences.