I had a little a-ha moment the other day while thinking about the mini-games. No matter how much fun or interesting I make them, some people will skip them. No matter how much I try to make them easy to understand, some people won’t figure them out. No matter how much work I put into them, they won’t ever please everyone.
In general, I tried to make the games within the main “quest” easier than the mini-games you can get to from the main menu. I don’t think I did a great job at explaining how all the mini-games open up and have 25 variations (most of which are not seen in the main game).
Some people have figured it out and have commented on that feature, but I don’t know how many people finish the main game and just stop. It’s so difficult to judge how many people even bother to read any of the “story elements” in the game and if they don’t, then it’s possible for them not to notice that the games are reachable from the main menu.
Anyway, the a-ha moment I had was this. It’s okay if the depth of the mini-games are ignored or even skipped by a lot of players. That means that I don’t have to always go “easy” on the Mini-games. An example of this is the decision I finally made with Rack’Em.
I make a distinction between activities and puzzles. Puzzles have a solution and getting the solution is what matters. The Coin game and the Clock game are true puzzles. The venetian blind puzzle (Wisdom Shuffle Challenge) is both a puzzle (with a very specific goal) and an activity (mostly because the solution isn’t hidden but it does take time and energy to achieve). The main game is definitely activity based even though the goal is obvious.
Rack’Em is a game that’s played on a pool table grid. I have one version that’s definitely a pure logic puzzle. I have another version that is more activity based and sometimes luck is involved. The first version feels a little like Free Cell and the other version feels more like Solitaire. For me, the logic puzzle version is much more satisfying but it’s harder to explain and it will appeal to less people (I think).
I may put both versions in the game, but I decided that I’m definitely putting in the logic puzzle variation because it’s the better puzzle even if less people decide to play and enjoy it.
Bottom line is, I worried a lot in Clutter, trying to please the most people but I think what helped Clutter be successful was making it different enough to stand out from the crowd.
I don’t have enough feedback yet, but I suspect that most people who played Clutter either loved it or hated it. I’ll share some of the specific reviews next time.
I think that people who loved Clutter will love Clutter II more. The people that hated Clutter will probably hate Clutter II more. I will be adding a difficulty setting and make both the Timer and Treadmills optional but that’s about it for the changes planned to address some of the negative feedback.
To quote the Ricky Nelson song Garden Party: “But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.”
If you’re reading this; tell me what you liked, loved, disliked or hated about Clutter.