Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden Collector’s Edition, 2012

The project was my first insight into professional game design, made with Artifex Mundi.

The game stands out as a ‘classic HOPA’ — Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure.
As many of players have no or little insight into casual segment — I’ll explain:
Usually you take the role of a common person involved into fantastic situation there. The fate of the game’s world is in your hands, as well as the one of characters’ you have to save / find / beat along the way. From zero to hero. If some of you see any reference to blockbuster movies, books or shows in here — it’s definitely no coincidence, as the target group of these creations is more or less the same. Potentially: Everyone.

The genre is widely known to be casual, but what does that label really indicate? In case of HOPA games, by “casual” many of the hardcore gamers understand “something too easy to waste time on“. The truth about the genre, however, is in no way close to these kind of statements. One does not simply make a good casual game. I’d even say that casuals are one of the most sophisticated products on video games market. It’s all about finding the “golden proportion” in every aspect of gameplay. The plot should be relaxing, but not too much. The difficulty should be a challenge, but perfectly balanced. The graphics should be top-notch, but not overwhelming — and so on.

The target group loves classics (but with a twist), so the casuals notice that desire and give it back in form of a pleasant, relaxing experience. There are maybe one or two ingenious new features for a title — because there mustn’t be too much. Remember AAAs, often so packed with a new stuff that they are bursting at the seams? Here it just won’t happen. What’s intended to be casual, should stay casual. And here we have the challenge.

Something so simple in catching up with must also refer to the production process of this things, right? I imagine the pictures of easy and pleasant developers’ life while writing it down. Artists and designers always on their most creative flow, programmers with nothing to do, product owners swimming in money for nothing… Wrong.

Main design’s goal here is:
Ideally your players shouldn’t have any problems to immerse themselves in the game.

Sounds simple, but it’s far from that in realization. In fact, making this kind of games is quite a demanding process. It involves the deliverance of great quality concepts on every level of game’s development. All members of your team can enrich or screw up the game with an equal measure. In any time.

What matters most then in production of casual games for me? — Precise execution of a scope. A bit harsh thing to say to a beginner designer, right? If you happen to be one — remember, I’m sharing my experience to make it easier for you, not to demotivate. You need your open mind, creativity, self-organisation, easiness in making up new ideas, yes. But if you want to make a great casual game, for starters you shouldn’t forget about one classic rule of game development:

Ideas are cheap – execution is everything.

– Chris Sacca, Investor in Twitter & Uber

Being casual means being busy. Especially for the games of a ‘medium’ budget — with all your creative flow remember to deliver consistent good quality assets, always on time.
Even the greatest idea won’t make it real in this system if it’s realized too late.

/ Des

More about the casual games I made with Artifex Mundi in next entries.

My creative part in this title:
– MiniGames / Hidden Object Scenes design;
– Iterative design of game’s progression;
– Design of documentation and promotional materials.

Cooperation (production team):
Maciej Witkowski, Mariusz Kornatka, Dawid Marciniak, Katarzyna Wojtkiewicz, Bartosz Stępień, Rafał Wroński