Staying Simple Probably Won’t Hurt You

I’ve been spending a lot of time jumping in and out of Browser Quest. Something that strikes me every time is that the server is never empty. In fact, it’s almost always got more than ten people in there.

That’s really odd. It’s just a fairly small game, with no real aim to it. It’s not an open world game where you can go and make your own adventure. The highest level of completion (all the achievements, killing the boss guy, and nabbing his weapons and armour) all in all takes about twenty minutes.

I don’t think the developers would be offended by me saying that; I’m sure they saw it as a tech demo, like was specced out. Technologically it’s pretty damn cool. But what is really keeping the attention of all those people still playing?

I think it shows two things: that there’s a definite gap in the market for people who want to play a game inside their browser, and that simple games really can draw an audience.

Aspiring game developers should find both of those thoughts really motivating. Mobile gaming has taken off so quickly because of the accessibility of having it right in your pocket. The same can be said of BrowserQuest. Have you updated your browser anytime in the last year? Well, you’re good to go then! Your machine doesn’t have to be especially impressive. There’s a market here that is really dying to play your games.

This isn’t saying you should lower your bar. But if your bar is so high at the moment that you never reach it, there’s no harm in lowering it. Remove the convoluted crafting mechanic that’s slowing you down and release what you have already, it’s probably fun enough to a few people. Solid technology is a good foundation to build a game on. Lots of cool game mechanics can be added later.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to get hacking!

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