A Story About Words

Casual gamers are more common than you think. On the market, the demand for games that put simplicity over complexity has increased, resulting in the development of less practically challenging games and, especially, of mobile gaming.

On the other hand, the rise of gaming phones and, in general, the development of better hardware is the emblem of hardcore gamers approaching mobile gaming too: we can mention Clash Royale, Arena of Valor_and even _Diablo Immortal as an example. Just think about the launch of platforms such as Apple Arcade, which allows you to enjoy games of higher complexity and that require more hardware resources- for example “Oceanhorn II”, which compared to the smartphone gaming achievements of the past is amazing.

Some years ago we would have never believed in anyone stating: ”smartphones are the future of gaming”. Yet today, mobile games are a reality.

Console and PC gaming aren’t about to retire (just think that Sony is releasing the PS5 soon), but smartphone gaming has become convenient and advanced.

The main difference between casual gamers and hardcore ones is how they play. Casual gamers usually do it “just for fun”, a few times a day or week, with no fixed time and aren’t bothered by easter-eggs, achievements or the desire to master the game. In contrast, hardcore gamers play a lot more (even hours per day) and care about captivating game mechanics. However, both these gamers are just game enthusiasts.

Does it still make sense to keep separating these two kinds of players? Is there any difference between being hardcore and being skilled in Candy Crush?

Test

The Team

We are a team made up of Ilaria Patrociello (the designer), Francesco Spigno, Emanuele Savarese, Samuele Vezzuto (the coders),Federico Avano (the sound designer) and Dario Massa (the game designer) and we decided to focus on developing something for casuals. Yet, we wanted to find a rendezvous point with ‘core gaming too, so that any gamer could enjoy our final product. That’s how EDDY is born.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Defined the main target of our product, we had to focus on the “challenges inside the challenge” and find compromises between our ideas. The main difficulty was collecting much useful data about our target so that we could develop a product they would enjoy: were our thoughts reliable? Did they have some value? If so, what kind of value?

We had to put ourselves “in the game”, so we met people and asked about their habits, their jobs, their hobbies and, especially, about their gaming habits.

A surprising data we collected is that most of the people we interviewed have been hardcore gamers at least until high-school years. Nowadays, though, more than 50% play games on their smartphone for more or less 30 minutes per day.

The occasional gamers we interviewed have shown a precise trend: most of them aren’t oriented or interested in doing in-app-purchases. More precisely, 75%. This statistic doesn’t represent necessarily the whole truth, meaning that these parameters could change from person to person or even from game to game (if we consider one single person’s taste). There are many cases to consider, such as the preference for a specific game, the “affection” towards it, or just a strong sense of competition.

The same percentage of people don’t like competition unless it gives them the chance to multiplay. 80% like to share their game experiences and to create a sense of community.

Many of these people we interviewed were students, part-time workers, and freelancers and all of them expressed the preference for something playable during spare time rather than something that took dedication.

To be engaging to our target, we wanted to deliver a product that was part of the most played kind of games that hyper-casual gamers enjoy. Because of that, we shrank our options into three types of games:

  1. Puzzle Games, e.g. mono-mechanic games such as Candy Crush);
  2. Word Games (actually word game puzzles) e.g. Ruzzle;
  3. Simulation Games with waiting mechanisms, e.g. Farmville.

Au contraire, we also decided to focus and understand the game mechanics preferred by hardcore gamers:

  1. an increasing and sheer difficulty curve;
  2. item collecting;
  3. collateral objectives.

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We decided to focus on Word Games. Why? Not only because it’s the most appreciated kind of game (63% of the interviewed expressed their preference for it), but the idea of developing something far from a usual hardcore gamer’s preferences while offering a valid meeting point was intriguing. We wanted something both all players could enjoy: the aim was offering a product with easy mechanics that were almost hiding the more complex ones that would have made the game experience more challenging. To find these mechanics is utterly unnecessary, but once found these would have given the game a new, exciting depth.

The team took note of all the data it got, so another aim was creating something that people could play during all kinds of downtime (e.g., spare time, waitings).

Since we wanted the game to be authentic, we created everything entirely from scratch. We designed the whole gameplay from the main facade to the scoring system behind every single word. According to the data we collected, the visuals were so important it required a character design and a concept study about the whole product. The music made no exception, we composed and personalized it to suit perfectly the game dynamics. Everyone on our team put effort into every little detail to deliver something we were proud of: our EDDY.

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EDDY: Words To Be is a word game where the goal is to find the maximum number of words in a scheme. You can move clockwise or counterclockwise and jump between the letters, but there is a time limit. The goal is to get the highest score. Easy isn’t it?

But there is much more.

Eddy is the little character with the swirl on his belly and the stars in his eyes and you have probably noticed that he is almost naked. This because in EDDY we have included a clothing mechanic that allows you to personalize him and your matches by finding words. Dressing Eddy the way you want is not necessary to win a game, but it is the warranty that you understood everything it has to offer.

We also implemented the Eddy-Dex (currently in beta testing), a gallery where all the possible combinations of clothes you collect at the end of your matches are saved.

The rarest ones will be obtainable by playing up to the peak of the difficulty curve and discovering the hidden mechanics within the scoring system, in order to give a great challenge for hardcore gamers, but also a fun experience for those who simply want to spend a little time without thinking about anything but the game itself.

The Eddy-Dex will create the feeling of collecting objects and will motivate the player to play again and again, in order to acquire every possible combination.

The feeling of victory depends on the player. It’s your words to be.

Latest update: the game is in its final stages of development, the bear-dex is complete, the assets are 90% complete. We are currently implementing a tutorial that at the first start can help the user to settle in the best way. Stay tuned.

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