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24 Apr 2015

Indie Dev Tip: Always Put Personality Into Your Games!

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One of the many dimensions that plays a part in the success and failure of an indie game (and any game for that matter) is how much personality the developer inserted into their game. Thus, this is an indie dev tip you need to take to heart: personality goes a long ways. Plus, it truly makes a difference between your players sticking around for hours and moving on to another activity after only a few minutes of play.

I was actually talking about this to someone a few days ago when they brought up why Angry Birds was such a hit (or should I say, still is a hit). They mentioned they even played a game similar to it back in the day – Crush The Castle from Armor Games (if you have ever played Flash games, then you know the name) and wondered why Angry Birds became the hit that it was instead of this game. I thought about it for a second, and then I had the most obvious answer: it’s because Angry Birds was dripping with personality, and Crush The Castle was nothing more than an above-average Flash game.

Honestly, I cannot think of a better example as to why your game needs to have personality. Besides, everything that we love has personality! Since the summer blockbuster season kicks off next week with The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’ll use the original film as an example for this indie dev tip. Unless you have been living on an island by yourself for three years, then you know that the original Avengers film did gangbusters. It is one of the biggest film hits of all time, and for good reason:

Just like Angry Birds, it too drips with personality – and also like Angry Birds, it is vibrant with color. One of the hallmarks of the film (the same case can be made for any Marvel film, really) is that everything is colorful. From the outfits to the personalities to the locations, enemies, environments, dialogue, and beyond, there is never a dull moment in the film. It is over in an instant because fans of the genre and never become bored, and it is all thanks to personality.

I’ve been enjoying Blizzard’s MOBA, Heroes of the Storm lately, and it has reminded me why Blizzard has had such a cult following for nearly 20 years: their games ooze with personality. Every time I click in the game, either the character I am controlling makes a noise or there are a multitude of different noises sounding off around me, alerting me that there is danger just around the corner. In addition, everything is absolutely colorful, every character is vastly different in how it operates, and so on. Not only does the game always feel fresh, but the fact that there are many strategies you have to learn for every character always keeps you on your toes. This sort of thing is aligned with a post I wrote last summer about juicing your indie game. Consider this quote from the post:

“Think about what occurs whenever you jump in Super Mario Bros. for a second. Of course, you jump; and if you hold down the run button while jumping, you can jump higher and further. How do you know you’re jumping high? You can see it, but there’s something added to the mix that makes you feel as if you truly are jumping high. It’s in the sound. A normal jump results in a normal ‘boing,’ while a higher jump results in a higher-pitched ‘boooOOOOING.’”

Friends, that is the perfect example of how a dash of personality will bring out the very best in your indie game! It is a little touch of magic that makes the difference between the boring and the exciting. Be sure that you add personality at every turn – and by combining this with stellar game design  – your players will respond positively!

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