Gamedev diary: HOPA research log

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This is by no means a comprehensive log of games I'm researching for Project H, just the ones that inspired me to reflect on my approach. Newly added titles will be added on top.

June’s Journey

iOS, Wooga

I first heard of June’s Journey when looking for articles about HOPA asset creation. It is a very pretty game with a nice little mystery, a comment that I reserve the right to withdraw later if it turns out to be not so nice. I’m only just starting chapter 2, and not sure yet whether I’ll see the game through.

The need to constantly replay scenes is a bit tedious, though I do enjoy how the scenes get harder with each star level. It’s the need to labour over them so often in order to progress the story that wears me down. For more dedicated players, this long-term engagement strategy may be quite satisfying, along with the “build an estate” and “visit your friends’ estates” elements. I doubt I’d want elements like that for Project H, as I’d rather it have a storyline with a beginning, middle and end.

The rush mechanic is kind of crap. It does nothing for my immersion in the game or story, as it is applied indiscriminately for the sake of scoring points that then determine how quickly you progress through that scene. It induces stress for not much payoff, however, it could be forgiven if the intent is to encourage repetition and memory. It may be a useful memory and response time training device.

For storytelling, though, I’d rather that mechanic be used in the same way it’s used in Adam Wolfe, where the intent is to drive urgency and tension. Great emotional engagement there.

Murder in the Alps

iOS, Nordcurrent UAB

Beautifully rendered game with nice flow and an interesting mystery. The text-to-HOP ratio was too texty for my liking; I would hope to favour the object hunting.

Did not like the energy refill mechanic, though it would have been bearable if not for the fact that every action (including finding objects) required energy while buying energy refills was expensive. Hopefully lucrative for the studio, but not fun for me as a player. I’d prefer a single retail purchase option alongside the refill option.

I got maybe half an hour or less out of this game before the refill pricing structure grossed me out. I don’t think I’d want to take this approach for my game.

Danse Macabre: Lover’s Pledge

iOS, BigFish

More an adventure puzzle game (like Monkey Island) than what I’d look for in a HOPA. The hidden object mini games weren’t that fun. The app started malfunctioning early in the game.

Hard to tell whether it would have been interesting to continue, as the combination of guesswork, tedium and errors turned me off continuing.

I did like that this game offered what effectively was a free demo with the option to unlock the full game. This seems like an accessible sales approach.