A New Hexagon
It's no secret that designing a successful game requires a lot of talent, organization, and luck.
A "New Hexagon" is our attempt to effectively combine business, design, and documentation in game development. While there are a handful of best practices for increasing the probability of success of your project, there are still some extremely useful assets and strategies that many teams overlook. Utilizing a design document for organization, consistency, and transparency is key to successful pre-production (something we specialize in), but creating the document yourself can commonly fall victim to reinforcement theory. Once the project is underway, frequent playtesting can prove to be invaluable, but very rarely will your team receive sophisticated and specific feedback with the clarity a fellow designer would provide. A design audit addresses that lack of clarity and sophistication but rarely steps back far enough to see how the game succeeds or fails in its accessibility, connectivity, and visibility online.
With our unique auditing process we break down the entire project into two core components: the characteristics of a successful game and the characteristics of a popular game. By maximizing either you will be sure to find some success, but by maximizing both you almost completely eliminate the need for “a lot of luck”. Typically, some form of hexagon chart is used to quickly illustrate the general feedback and category-based strengths and weaknesses. You may have even seen this type of chart in a stat-based video game (probably something within the RPG or MOBA genres). While familiar, our approach takes more holistic and full-service approach, giving necessary attention to the external factors that ultimately determine a game’s success.
The New Hexagon, as we’re calling it, is a binary graph that focuses on the two components previously mentioned: the successful game and the popular game. While similar, these two have unique properties and core tenets that need individual attention. The successful game needs powerful gameplay, polish, and monetization, while the popular game needs to be visible, sociable, and monetized. Ultimately, our categories are Gameplay, Accessibility, Visibility, Sociability, Polish, and Monetization.
Breaking down the Hexagon
For brevity’s sake, we’d like to break down just two significant elements from each half of the New Hexagon. If you’re interested in learning more, however, please contact us directly or through social media!
Gameplay is simply the most important factor in a game’s success. While our definition of gameplay covers half a dozen key categories, some of the most obvious remain our top priority when evaluating gameplay: a smooth learning curve and compelling mechanics. While we touch on other significant elements, like level design, we think the learning curve and mechanics are the most defining factors to indicating successful gameplay as a whole.
Sociability is less commonly a priority for small teams (and we’re afraid to say many large ones as well!) which unfortunately plays a large part in the potential for a game. While many games have leaderboards and some form of social media sharing feature, few games incorporate being social as well as they should. While dreadfully annoying to many of us, Candy Crush’s social integration with asking friends for resources was an immensely powerful tool. Even games that reward players for liking their facebook page are taking a step in the right direction, as Facebook will retain interest through repeated interactions and natural distribution of content (look at Call of Duty’s page for example).
As a fun little glance at our approach, the above is quick display of the Call of Duty franchise using our system. It’s clear at a quick glance that the franchise is more powerful in its branding than the quality of the games, which is something most of us would agree with. The brand is extremely powerful, mostly due to its tireless promotions and constant stream of fresh online content (in other words, its Visibility and Social qualities). However as far as accessibility goes, it neither fails nor excels.Despite being available on multiple platforms, the only way for those with visual or physical limitations to enjoy the game is to set the difficulty lower. Unfortunately, this still prohibits those audiences from online gameplay, which is the majority of the franchise’s content. If you feel up to it, leave a comment with why you think we rated the other qualities the way we did!
If you’re interested in our approach with the New Hexagon and want to learn more, or if you’d like to discuss getting an audit done on your game, please leave a comment or contact us though email or social media. And if you haven’t yet, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more original content, progress reports, and promotions!