Our Mobile Game Philosophy

Screenshot of "The Project"

It’s been a while since we’ve updated you guys on where we’re at with our game in development, codenamed “The Project”, and I realized we also haven’t spoken much at all about our mobile game philosophy.  Personally, there are very few mobile games that I enjoy.  I see most of them in the same vein as flash games on Facebook and you’d be hard pressed to make a case against the statement that the App stores are mostly full of garbage.

What makes a good mobile game, or specifically a game that you would play on your iPhone/Droid/Windows phone?  I think the most important thing to consider is the ‘why’ question.  Why is the game on the device and is it there for a purpose or does being on the mobile platform benefit the game design in any way?  For example, releasing Bad Company 2 on the iPhone is ridiculous.  It is inferior to the PC/Console versions.  Nothing the iPhone does elevates Bad Company 2.

“The Project” is a classic adventure game like Monkey Island and King’s Quest.  You discover the world as you explore screen to screen.  You find items, solve puzzles, meet characters and have conversations, and experience the story you unfold as you progress.  Gameplay is simple touch-interaction and in a sense feels more natural on a mobile device than it does on the PC.

What else makes a good mobile game?  Read on.

Mobile games need to be easy to pick up and play.  Playing a first person shooter on a phone means being totally engaged in the activity whereas shooting birds with a slingshot and beating a level in 30 seconds is something you can do between taking notes in class.  Our game is going to be easy to set aside and pick up again because you’re experiencing a story we want to tell at a pace you decide.

For a game to feel ‘worth it’, players need to feel like the game never ends or the experience they had was engaging or interesting enough to justify the cost (which should be low, very low).  This isn’t one of those never-ending move across the screen games to get a high score you’ll upload to Gamecenter.  We’re shooting for an experience that the player finds funny and interesting.  Again, think of Monkey Island.  Can you replay it? Absolutely.  Why?  Conversation options never get old and you go back to be entertained.  It’s the same reason we re-watch movies we’ve already seen.

Lastly, there’s a very nasty condition out there among mobile game developers that can’t seem to be shaken: Touch-tards.  Just because you can touch the screen does not mean your entire game has to be about tap-tap-tapping or swiping.  It’s the same thing that has plagued the Wii.  If it doesn’t feel natural, you’re doing it wrong.

We’re shooting for humor, those “oh that’s cool” moments, and an introduction to a story that leads into a much deeper realm of lore full of potential for additional games to be made — and there will be sequels as we unfold the story of our characters and their world.  We hope it sparks something in everyone who picks it up and plays to want to come back for the next chapter.


  • I think the mobile platform is just made for old school adventure games. I’ve tried a bunch of games on my iPod Touch but the only ones that really feel completely natural are Broken Sword and Fabled Lands.

    Good luck with your game. The adventure game is a classic format that’s no more likely to go out of date than the novel or the movie. I really hope the genre finds a permanent home on handhelds.

  • I consider mobile games as “time wasters” meaning the best ones get you playing to pass time(while you are in transit, at a doctors office, waiting on a friend etc) but also have an addictive quality.

    The good ones are ones that you can never truly finish and always have a higher score to achieve. Angry birds, lemmings, puzzles, pinball games, space invaders, tower defenses etc things like that are the best for these types of things.

    As far as mmo’s for a mobile device.. something like Maplestory would be ideal I think.

  • Any good ressources suggestions for starting on mobile development?

    I’m curious to see how it looks like.

  • This is just a personal thing, but I can’t really get into adventure/story games on mobile devices because I don’t feel like they are easy enough to pick up and put down in short bursts.

    I might get on my iTouch 2-3 times a day for 5-10 minute sessions. That’s great for a game like Angry Birds, but Final Fantasy? Heck no. I’ve forgotten half the story before the next time I pick up and play.

  • I use my iPad like a little laptop. Compared to an iPhone, it’s a big screen tv. Make me something I can play comfortably in my big snuggly chair, or at lunch ( so I’m not on the company pc), or stuck someplace boring waiting for who knows what. Think big!

  • @Snafzg: You’re thinking Kings Quest style adventure, right? It could be a personal preference thing but I find it easy to play a few minutes of a classic adventure.

    The adventure genre evolved at one point to mean something else entirely.