David Norwich

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Success in game design

I guess if I had to describe the best path to success in game design, it’s this:


Disheartening, eh? Well I’d definitely like to tell you that it’s an easy stroll, but it’s hardly the case. It’s not all luck of course, but those who are dealt a good hand more often beat out those who are dealt a bad one. Like in poker however, this is not always the case. Sometimes, good luck can be defeated by a healthy offering of cleverness. Imagine, if you will, you’re in a poker game. You have a trash hand… a two of diamonds and a seven of hearts. Nothing that would suggest to you what to do. For those who don’t know the deeper strategic elements of poker, a hand like this may seem like an inherent loser. While it’s not the best hand in the world, the best players are those who beat a pair of aces with that hand. Ultimately, poker is about knowing your opponents and being able to see a path to victory. So as far as they are concerned, that hand might as well be a pair of aces. As long as you can convince them of that, bad luck can be overcome.

Cleverness is such a valuable tool, as I can attest. It has been a major asset in my progress as a game designer, and I have been able to convince many a publisher or developer that my contributions are invaluable and necessary for their success. It has helped me vault over bad luck, and while sometimes I trip, I just get up and keep going. As you gain experience, any valuable contributions to games, be they contributions to your own or other’s, will help you make a name for yourself. Not only does this help you to create a brand that video game fans will want to buy, it will also give you important connections that can give you a stepping stone to bigger and better things in the industry. The only downside is that as you begin progress in your career, you may very well find yourself compromising your ideals. It’s up to you to decide how much compromise you find acceptable.

Principles of gambling in video games

Of course, gambling is not something restricted to apps about gambling. Sometimes, the best gambling opportunities are present in puzzle games, strategy games, and any other varieties of genres. One minute you can be buying random packs of digital cards in the collectible card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, another minute you can be buying keys for crates with random objects in the shooter video game Team Fortress 2. These games have very successful free-to-play models because entry into them is at no cost to the player, and they can play and enjoy the games without paying money, but there IS a distinct advantage to spending money. In Team Fortress 2, players find crates here and there for players to unlock with purchased keys; inside, they can find cosmetic objects like hats that allow their characters to stand out from the rest, or they can find weapons that have power, speed, unique designs, and sometimes all three of these things. While Valve works to make it that you will get something that suits your characters, players are not guaranteed to get the content that they want – as such, this encourages them to keep buying.

Other games have problems with this system – without naming names, some games out there have tried to reproduce this system with disastrous results. For instance, some shooters will reward players with random rewards, but the rewards are simply -too- random. Not only can the rewards be for a different character, you can get duplicates of rewards you’ve already gotten. As a result, the desire by players to keep trying for the rewards is drastically reduced.

Hearthstone takes this principle and runs way further. Anyone who knows about Magic: The Gathering or the Pokémon Trading Card Game (either because they are fans or because their kids are) can see why – every pack you buy, you’re sure, just sure, that this is the one. The one that has the one great card you want. And if it isn’t, the next one surely will be! I won’t deny that I didn’t fall a bit deep into that… but I cannot say that I regret it! Every purchase got me something at the very least, making it a thrill with every pack.

Creating a gambling app

Hey, how’s about we talk about gambling games in particular for a change? I’ve worked on a decent variety of video games, but one of the game types that I’ve worked on are gambling games. I wouldn’t say that they are the most creative things I have been asked to do, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say that they are absent of creativity. As more and more gambling apps enter the market, more and more designers are expected to give their app that edge that allows it to glide over all. There are a number of ways in which a designer may go about that. One way that I often see is that a designer tries to use a non-standard “setting” for the gambling app. So for instance, where a poker app would usually have you sitting down at a bog-standard poker table, perhaps instead the setting is old west, complete with the visual and audio aesthetic, or maybe even you might want to make a more out-of-this-world setting by putting it in space!

One of my favourite examples of a gambling game that utilizes its gimmicks well is Poker Night at the Inventory and its sequel. It’s a standard game of Texas Hold ‘Em by Telltale Games, but the gimmick is that they bring many a fan favorite character in. Across the two games, you’ve got the titular Sam & Max, Brock Sampson from The Venture Bros., GLaDOS from Portal, Ash from Evil Dead, the Heavy from Team Fortress 2, and other characters. This makes for great interactions between characters, allowing to see their personalities ebb and flow with one another.

Of course, there’s more to it than just setting or characters – gameplay can be a factor as well. While you shouldn’t stray too far away from the core game you’re designing, creating a gameplay gimmick for it could make it have that standout quality that you are looking for. If you can put an idea to good use in a gambling game, try it – it might make your game the next Candy Crush Saga!

Learning to design games

I have two friends who are interested in game design – one who is doing better than me, and one who is doing worse. A lot of what I know my whiz kid friend taught me, and while my other friend used that information the best he could, he simply hasn’t had as much luck. He’s what we call an “idea man” – his programming skills are decent, but he doesn’t appreciate how much he must focus on them. He got into game design because has a lot of ideas that he wants to express. To his credit however, they are excellent ideas (I’d share them, but I’d be afraid that someone might steal them!); if he ever mastered it, he would be a rather fantastic designer. I guess my point is, creativity can only get you so far if you lack the programming skills to push you further.

An example of what I consider pretty misleading about game design are some of the older game design college commercials that often air on television. The way they depict game design is all so silly – often it’s two guys playing some first-person shooter and having the time of their life, and then one guy will tell the other to “punch up the graphics on this level.” As fun as this fantasy version of game design may sound, it tricks a lot of video game fans who want to get into the industry into thinking that game design is sunshine and rainbows. Alas, it is a lot of hard work. You need to be skilled and you need to be determined. Especially if you work for a big publisher, where you may find yourself working 80-hour workweeks (sometimes without overtime pay even!). All too often I’ve had to tell people who don’t really understand what game design is that my job is actually difficult. It ultimately makes for a rewarding job overall though. Not only do you get to create an artistic and creative impact, you get to see people enjoying your game. When getting started, just remember these three principles that have done me well:

Code: Programming is a necessary talent for people who want to get into the industry

Innovate: As good of a programmer as you may be, having an idea to inject into your work can be important to set yourself apart from the others

Create: Now, mash up those principles with a pinch of luck and you will have a quality, successful work that you can be proud of!

Introducing myself

Hi there! My name’s David Norwich, and I am excited to help people get into two of the things that I myself have grown attached to: game development and the online casinos industry (which in a lot of ways are alike). I was born and raised in Liverpool (for you foreigners, it is a wonderful city in the UK’s Great Britain!), and quite frankly, you couldn’t force me out of here at gunpoint. Liverpool is neither too big or too small – both of which would be just a bit too grating for someone like me. Some of my favourite things to do here are to hit up the Awesome Walls Climbing Centre or to visit the Walker Art Gallery (both inspire me in my endeavours, though in drastically different ways). My friends and family think of me as a pretty swell guy, though I can be a bit spacey at times – for instance, this tangent I’ve gone on! Moving on…

As I said earlier, I have set up this blog to help readers better understand how to get better at the above-mentioned industries. My experience in game development is freelance, and I have done work here and there to help elevate various games on digital storefronts. Games I’ve worked on have appeared on Apple’s App Store, the Amazon App Store, Google Play, Steam, and more, which has made me happier than a school girl. I may still be on the upswing with respect to game development, but in the past few years that I have been at it, I feel that I have come a long way. Specifically, this blog will deal with designing online gambling apps and websites, as well as touching upon games that tap into players’ desire to gamble. These subjects will include:

* General game design education – Learning about the technical side and the business side
* How to create strong game retention features like offering free spins no deposit bonuses.
* Gambling in free-to-play games – How to incorporate it naturally
* Designing gambling apps and websites – How to stand out among the crowd
* Success in game design – Going beyond simply making a quality game and making a game that people will remember