Simplicity In Games

Simplicity In Games

Last night I downloaded a game on the App Store, Phases: Infinite Zero.

The game consists of you moving a bouncing ball left to right through a challenging course of traps and small puzzles. Ultimately, you want to get as far as you can, and beat the score of your friends.

What is unique about this game though is that it doesn’t contain any special art at all. What do I mean by that?

Phases: Infinite Zero uses a simplistic style that anyone can emulate. The game is made out of simple shapes and colors. This includes circles, squares, and the occasional oddly shaped polygon.

Phases: Infinite Zero Gameplay
Phases: Infinite Zero Gameplay

Trey Smith, the creator of the game, founder of Game Academy and Kayabit Games, uses PowerPoint for the creation of most of his games. I can easily tell that this is one of the games in which he used PowerPoint.

The game that Trey probably made in PowerPoint and his signature game builder, BuildBox, currently holds a 4 1/2 star rating on the app store, and was #2 on Steam Greenlight at one point.

Let me repeat that: A game essentially made in PowerPoint hit the #2 spot on Steam Greenlight, one of the most challenging game marketplaces out there. 

This led me to think that most game developers who may not be extremely skilled at creating art, but are able to program a game, can still make wonderful games that are challenging and everyone can enjoy (and also become very popular!).

What really makes the game pop isn’t the art, but the way the game reacts. There’s a beautiful real-time lighting effect, physics movements everywhere and on top of that, challenging gameplay.

As a game designer myself, this game, among the many other simple games like Piano Tiles, Flappy Bird, and so forth, has made me start to rethink how I look at making games. We don’t always need to look for an artist to help make our projects pop and look amazing.

Jaime Griesemer, the designer for Halo, and lead designer for Halo 2 put it best by saying:

[blockquote source=”Jaime Griesemer – Behind the Scenes: Making of Halo 2“]”In Halo 1, there was maybe 30 seconds of fun that happened over and over and over again, so if you can get 30 seconds of fun, you can pretty much stretch that out to be an entire game.”[/blockquote]

– Jaime Griesemer – Behind the Scenes: Making of Halo 2

Right now, simplistic games are one of the “hot genres” on almost every app store, and there’s definitely something we all can learn from them. That is, instead of worrying about art, we should be focusing on making a core experience that is fun, challenging and repeatable.

I’d like to know, what do you think of simplistic games? Have you made any? What are some of your favorite simple games? Leave a comment and let me know!

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