Ever heard of RAD? It’s an acronym for Rapid Application Development which is a software development methodology that focuses on quick iteration of development phases and prototyping. It’s a useful methodology in software development in general, and it certainly has its uses in game development as well.
However, RAD is not the focus of my post. Rather, I would like to introduce you to a completely new concept, one I have yet to find being used by any other game developer – or publisher. Rapid Gameplay is contrary to RAD not a development methodology, but a game characteristic. I would like to use it to describe high-paced games where actions and decisions are based on quick observations and instincts. Think about Temple Run and you have a good idea of what I’m talking about.
Considering the often so hectic society of today it’s a wonder this concept haven’t yet fully been exploited by game developers. If anything, high game tempo is what would suit most peoples’ lives, but quite often the games nowadays focus on something completely different, namely quick stints of gameplay. When focus is kept rather short games must deliver immediately or they risk being dismissed rather quickly.
However, the approach to this, as describer above, seems rather dull to me. Think about it, if you have to make a game that is to be given only a few seconds to convince its users to buy it, would you use that time on a task that takes only a few seconds to complete? Sure enough you get the gamers to feel the satisfaction of actually completing something in a very short time span (though that task is most likely to be really trivial), but is that enough to be convincing for a customer to buy your product?
Instead, why not provide a game that doesn’t run in as short stints, but instead makes use of something that everyone seem to value these days, quick thinking and decision-making. The idea is to drag the gamers into the game by allowing them to make use of their skills, whether they fail or not, rather than completing a simple task that makes the user appear rather dumb. Again I want to emphasize the importance of not underestimating your user base, but to allow them to attribute to the gameplay using highly valued skills and feel much more accomplished once they finish a task requiring these skills.
As many of you would correctly point out, many games of today – especially mobile games – use a business model where progress is accomplished by buying stuff and not by being a particularly good gamer, fitting perfectly for the quick stint type of gameplay. Clever or not, this is not an approach that appeals to most people when said out loud. Thus playing these types of games becomes more of a burden and something a lot of people feel ashamed of. Again, quite dull if you ask me. Getting good reputation on your game is hard, so why make it harder by using stupefying methodologies?
So do I suggest game developers should be more open-minded and embrace the concept of rapid gameplay? Game developers should always be open-minded or they will quickly find themselves with absolutely no-one taking interest in what they do. However, whether using rapid gameplay in games or not is something each one have to decide for himself. I by no means claim rapid gameplay is a fail proof game concept, but maybe a refreshingly new way of inviting the users into the gameplay experience. Perhaps one to make use of in your next game project?