One Trick Ponies

They make for the best video games, right?

It’s hard to find fault with a game like Tetris, given that it has one trick which has been refined to perfection leaving no room for criticism. Unless you don’t like that one trick, of course, but then you’re just a weirdo.

I like games that do one thing and do it well. It’s what I attempted to do with the two iOS games I’ve created, Super Smoothies and Discbord. I’ve been going back and forth on ideas for a new game and I’ve yet to hit on that idea that excites me enough to start development in earnest. A word game was first on the list, but that didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. I then decided to revisit a game I first started designing over 12 months ago. It was a much more complicated game than my usual stuff, and despite initial interest it faded after a while. I was still searching for that great idea and that’s when I started thinking about one trick ponies.

There are two reasons I love developing this style of game. Firstly, given my lack of resources it makes development easier. Not just in terms of coding, but in terms of the assets required, graphics and sound and so on. Secondly, I find playing this style of game to be one of the best video game experiences. I can get lost in the mechanics in a way that more complex games just can’t replicate. There’s always something in a GTA or Uncharted or Skyrim to pull you out of the gameplay, but with a one trick pony it feels like you can get lost forever.

I say forever, obviously for me I get lost for about ten minutes until my natural ability levels bump up against the limits of the easiest difficult level and then I cry a lot. But, you know, other than that I can get lost in them for ages!

I love GTA and Uncharted and Skyrim, but I don’t feel like I can develop one. I love one trick ponies and I’m more than capable of developing one so that’s the direction I’m heading in again. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m currently exploring, but that game mechanic hook is elusive at the moment. Is developer’s block a thing?

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