FiTC: Notes from Building Casual Games in Flash

Building Casual Games in Flash
Philip Kerrman

Built most of these games for MSN messenger.

Casual Game: “Carefree game”

<50 megabytes
try -> explore -> buy

-either fully sponsored (branded up the wazoo) or maybe a subtle watermark, or an ad you have to see before you play

casual games are not usually done in Flash—more often director/java, etc.

Casual game -> you pay for
advergame -> client pays for it

casual game market is HUGE, >50% women

a casual game will sell for ~$20

try/buy conversion rate:
>2% is a hit
1-2% is the norm
<1% is poor

portals will pay the author ~30%

-usually work for hire
-simply skinning an existing game isn’t popular
-wide range of money-making opportunities for free games with advertising
-banner ads
-in-game sponsorship
-pre game ad
-in-game (break-time) ad

-more and more advanced graphics
-increased user expectations

XBLA—6m xbox users
-try but — very frictionless
-they say 75k – 300k to produce a game
-games sell for $10
conversion rates around 30-35%
-better revenue share: 50/50 or better

-250m users
15 unique game users per month
-potentially 30-35m players
30% average yearly growth

-ad revenue

Up sell — try version gives you a nag screen to buy the full version

frictionless —

Portals — “publishers” for your casual games.
-big portals take a bigger cut, but tend to be more stable and more trustworthy

badges/achievements — visible “pride” based declaration of your awesomeness at a game

-use the appropriate tools for the target market


2. user experience
2. user experience
4. user experience

MS Games prototyped using PAPER mockups of all the screens

Casual games often have to live within a framework, which YOU have to adjust to, because THEY won’t change it for you.

You will need to include “ad breaks” functionality in your game

You are living in reality
-lean toward the lowest common denominator

-griefing situations
-race conditions
-technical limits
-home-made random seed
-turn-based is MUCH easier
-don’t underestimate difficulty involved
2 player game > single player game * 2

-many different ways of thinking about it

-many many many venues in which a game can live

LOCALIZATION — allow for many different fonts, lengths of words
-this could be the hardest/most frustrating part of the development

-think of them as “hints”

-Keep the number of server requests to a minimum.
-synchronizing is difficult, but very important
-if two people perform an action on an object at the same time, before the info is sent to the server
-learn ways to make data smaller so it gets sent faster, especially in situations where a lot of info is constantly going back and forth

GRIEVING — one person quits, the other stays on, expecting to play

Games need to be bulletproof, and they need to talk loudly but briefly to the server

[jigsaw game] — every piece has the same registration point: 0:0. Even if it is visually all thee way across the stage, it is a small visible portion of a big empty movie clip

-international portal games can have a long development process

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