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Not only eSports - How To Design Games That Are Fun To Watch


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The slides for a 20 min talk I gave in Casual Connect Tel Aviv in 2015. It introduces the Game-Watching trend and gives some quick tips for game developers & designers on how to make games fun to watch, not only fun to play.

You can watch the full talk from the conference here:

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Not only eSports - How To Design Games That Are Fun To Watch

  1. 1. Not Only In eSport: Making A Game Fun To Watch Ohad Barzilay
  2. 2. • In the Game Industry since 2004. • Deepmist, Mytopia, 888, New Legends • Worked w/ Dreamworks, MGA, Endemol, Showtime, Lionsgate • Academic: Beit Berl Game Studies, IDC Game Program • Producer at Sidekick, working on an upcoming Rovio title. Who Am I
  3. 3. • Mobile competitive games experience • Geared for generating Video • In-game Community Management Component. New Legends
  4. 4. Age of Video (& Streaming)
  5. 5. • Service for streaming/watching live game sessions • Acquired by Amazon for $970M in Aug 2014 • 106 minutes watched per unique viewer • 100m unique viewers monthly • 1.8m monthly broadcasters • 1m concurrent viewers Age of Video (& Streaming)
  6. 6. Age of Video (& Streaming)
  7. 7. Age of Video (& Streaming)
  8. 8. • Non eSports titles are extremely popular • Mobile and PC games in top 10 popular games on YouTube Gaming • Lets-Play videos & streams of online stars have massive views Not Limited To eSports
  9. 9. Not Limited To eSports
  10. 10. Not Limited To eSports
  11. 11. • Massive Discovery Channel • One big youtuber playing the game can lead to big success So, why do we care?
  12. 12. • Doing Let's Play and vlogs on YouTube • Has 40M subscribers (biggest on YouTube) • Makes ~$7.4 Million a year • Responsible for Flappy Bird shooting to top charts Example: PewDiePie
  13. 13. • Massive Discovery Channel • One big youtuber playing the game can lead to big success • Maintain Long Term Interest • Develops Brand Loyalty • Competitive advantage over competitors & clones So, why do we care?
  14. 14. • eSports tournaments • Matches played by your fav streamers/tubers (many of same game) • Let’s Play videos, Walkthroughs & How-To • Creative Content done within games Types of video content is being watched
  15. 15. • Narrative based games • IF Story is good • IF Visually pleasing • Mechanics based games • Competitive • Allow Skill Curve • Provide Drama • A broadcaster with an interesting personality can make any game work in video. But it can end there. Types of Games being watched
  16. 16. #1: Prime Guideline • All Fun to watch games are a Sequence Of Dramatic Moments Which Creates A Story. • The Drama derives from the Player’s Actions – from the Spectator Point of View.
  17. 17. • Clear Success / Failure Conditions • Clear Participants • Clear Game Arena • Clear Sub Goals (awards bonus/penalty) • Complexity: Characters with Different Abilities, Different Game Arena, Time limit, Different Sub Goals. • Results in • Easy to learn, Hard to Master for players • Easy to understand for spectators #2: Simple and Clear Rules
  18. 18. Every game can be broken into these 3 dominant factors: • Player Skill: Better control skill = Better outcome • Unit Power: Better unit = Better outcome • Luck: How Random is the outcome #3: Allow Skill Curve
  19. 19. • Allows players to develop unique or impressive strategies • Much more fun to watch for players at all levels • Allows “Star Players” which become known and attract audience • eSport titles aspire to have “endless” skill curve #3: Allow Long Skill Curve
  20. 20. • Pleasing to watch graphics • Clear, steady view • Do not confuse spectators as to • Who’s the Player • Allies and Enemies • Player’s Actions • Location on the Arena • Damage/Healing • Spells/Skills #4: Visually Clear & Pleasing
  21. 21. • 100% Deterministic games are less interesting to watch • 100% Luck games are not interesting at all to watch • But allowing – within the rules – some luck can make a good game to a great game. • Must be potentially Game Changer • Must be within basic Game Rules • Must be fair for both sides #5: Allows Uncertainty
  22. 22. • A single game session should be around 30 minutes • Plan “stop & continue later” points (chapters, episodes, levels etc) • Easier to watch (smaller commitment) • Easier for broadcasters to plan length of video/stream #6: Short Game Session
  23. 23. • Has enough depth and complexity to become a “hobby” • Encourage multiplayer (teams, coop, PvP, guilds) • Encourage knowledge and know-how between members • Allow players to connect in-game or online • “Be Ready When They Come” #7: Community Oriented
  24. 24. • Basically being watched as a movie • Must have a good plot • Must be visually pleasing • Video also provide solutions to advancing (Walkthrough type) • Non-Linear game leads to more videos (with different plot unfolding) • Examples: The Last of Us, Life is Strange Narrative Based Games
  25. 25. Rules that apply the most: • Sequence of dramatic moments derived by player’s choices = Good Plot • Visually Pleasing • Allows Short Sessions (Save points, Episodes etc) • Dramatic player choices: Meaningful, Opposite choices on a dilemma, Lose A or Lose B, Relationship-Changing decisions. Narrative Based Games
  26. 26. • Can be open ended, progression based f2p games (CoC, HearthStone) • Can be match/level based (StarCraft, • Unlike Narrative games - EVERY game session is different. • Competitive (PvP / PvE) – PvP Preferred Mechanics Based Games
  27. 27. Drama can also be generated by: • Players/ Teams competing against each other • Rare goal achieved (Raids) • Spectators know something the players doesn’t • Use - but to a limit - cinematic dramatic techniques (Zoom in, Slow Motion, Drums) Give more time between dramatic peaks (or allow player to control advancement) to allow broadcasters more time to speak about the game. Mechanics Based Games
  28. 28. • Don’t start a game as an eSport. Make a good competitive game. • Professional Players or Teams are extremely important to viewers. • Have really long Skill Curve. • Match time relay on skill difference but limited in time. • Battle clarity – clear damage, not too many explosions, etc. • Don’t jump a lot with the camera, and if you must – give viewer visual queues. Do not relay on the minimap. • Shoutcasting is a huge part of the eSports experience. Casters need some breaks in the action in which they can offer their explanations and analysis. eSports Specifics
  29. 29. • A game is a Sequence of Dramatic moments, creating a story. • Simple & Clear Gameplay Rules • Allow big Skill Curve (easy to learn, hard to master) • Visually Clear & Pleasing • Includes uncertainty – anything can radically change until the end • Game session is short enough • Inclusive – social events, foster community Basic Rules for Fun-To-Watch Games
  30. 30. Thanks Questions? Ohad Barzilay | @Civaxo
  31. 31. Special case - eSports
  32. 32. Special case - eSports