Making Games That Stand Out and Survive

In this 2019 GDC talk, Monomi Park founder Nick Popovich explains how you can make your game stand out and survive amongst the thousands of games released every year.

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  • WOW, hes a genius. Thanks for your presentation!

    Roman Levchenko July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Great talk! Really has me motivated. These tips are priceless. 🙂

    Sam O'Hickey July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Amazing talk

    David Atkinson July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • oh so he is the creator of my favorite game

    Foresster cz July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Noita did this very well

    Blesson Kuriakose July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I've given up bathing and most eating, T.V., got a flip phone, and now I have a 18 work day. Oh meth helps too.

    For Posterity July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Fortnite is shite

    SqualidsargeStudios July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Home, this is exactly what ARK pvp does not have, if you log out, you re done.

    benoit nadeau July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Dark Souls Home point kinda missed… Dark Souls Home is basically any new bonfire you find (and I say specifically new ones, not the ones you know about). Or the eventual shortcut learned/opened.

    The tension in search for the next bonfire is what keeps the player at peak.
    The first death serve to make the player understand the severity of the mistake and make the challenge they are facing really clear.
    The second one (and thus loss of souls) is the stronger teaching moment, that only fails if the player is killed by something completely out of their control (which doesn't happen a lot).
    Then, even if you got killed twice and lost souls, finding the new bonfire is where you actually take a deep breath and say to yourself "progress made".
    That point can also make you think "what I left behind?", which can make you go back and search with lower fear of loss. And maybe finding a shortcut that makes backtracking easier.
    The game makes this clear by restoring all enemies upon resting in the bonfires. There is no timed gating mechanics to respawn them. The challenges will always be there.
    All these mechanics also serve to make the player learn to commit their souls as soon as they can, in a way to punish hoarding and build up tension. It's more about that than "I lost progress".

    One thing that most people don't get about Dark Souls (or action games in general) that Dark Souls persistent saving system tried hard to make clear is: as long as you are learning about the challenges ahead, you are making progress. Got killed? You're back smarter and wiser, everything is (should be) easier up to that point, now you can keep making progress. All bonfires are safe places that act like "checkpoints" (but without the artificial "saved progress"), but it's when you get to a new one that it actually feels like a progress checkpoint. "Wooo! Made to the second bonfire of Anor Londo! Finally!".

    Nier Automata does kinda the same thing but with forcing the player to save manually, which in the context of the game enhances immersion and creates the sense of Home whenever they reach a new save-point or gets closer to a known one.

    But great talk otherwise.

    R4dioS1lence July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I wish every game on app store had a gif instead of an icon

    Fernando Augusto Araujo Pinto July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Just an observation, people that make games for toddlers, are usually very tired (to put it nicely)

    flat_foot July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • This guy's gif idea reminds me of the fake mobile game ads that don't show you actual gameplay, but just animation of a fake game that looks appealing. They are successful because the fake gameplay gets you thinking "oh, if I was playing I would do it a different way" and then you click because it got you thinking.

    Ross Ozarka July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • 38:36 And here is the reason why I dropped Paladins.
    The dailies and battle pass were more stressful than the regular game and the regular game has zero progression.

    ProxyDoug July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Absolutely killer talk! Really appreciate you sharing all this novel. Very useful and actionable, and I love the "home" concept as someone making a cute/cozy game myself.

    Thousand Ant July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • In Dark Souls, the world itself becomes your home as you gain the skill and knowledge to navigate it with ease.

    S Sokolva July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Friction huh?! You dont say. Well then Modern Warfare, & Black ops 4 black out are loaded with friction. They are nothing but friction.

    Rezonite July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I know this will get buried under a number of comments in the comment section of a one year old video, but nevertheless:
    You mentioned Three Rings, and i freaked out. While Slime Ranch is not really my cup of tea (although i can see myself playing it), Spiral Knights is one of the best games that i have ever experienced.
    The moment you mentioned Three Rings, everything within your speech suddenly fell into place and came together. I immediately understood what exactly you meant by "Home", it made so much sense. One of the things i spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours on within Spiral Knights was just sit around in the Haven, chatting with people, trading or just simply listening to the fountain sounds and the amazing calming, meditative music, enjoying the cozy "Home" atmosphere that you and the team had created. I cannot thank you enough for that game. Amazing job, Nick.

    seph July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Great move repeating the questions before answering them.

    Thomas Steinert July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Awesome talk.

    Sam Hintz July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I'm of the Field of Dreams mindset. If you build it, they will come. It might not be a hit but there's no guarantee in life. Each game has certain aspects that certain individuals like that others may not so make the game that you want to see exist.

    Joel Brown July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • he keeps saying "soccer" instead of "soccar"

    sir calvin July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Wildstar had all of the mentioned.

    MAKIUSO July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Came for Slime Rancher, stayed for Nick's great taste in games

    Medhead July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Game design is much more psychology than I anticipated

    Ivar Ängquist July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I always have these kinds of videos on 1.5x or 2.x speed, and I couldn't help but notice how much he freakin talks about the game he's made. Like, I don't care? I've never played it and I never will, so stop making this entire one-hour slideshow just one huge freaking advertisement. Like, I get he's comparing it to all of the points, but I have no idea who he is so he could also, you know, not.

    Gilamex July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I would argue that Dark Souls has numerous "homes" that aren't really as abstract as some of the other examples. Finding a bonfire, running into a new NPC, opening a new shortcut. Those are all moments of respite that give you some solace and open up new opportunities to take on new risk because you feel safe.

    R thavi July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Holy crap, I'm going back to the Far Far Range and hit G.

    caterpillarnana July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Fascinating talk. Re: the first point about "design to grok players in a gif;" Mr. Popovich makes the very good point that "plenty of good selling games do not do this." I'm afraid the genre I'm going for might be in this slot. I cannot think of how one could use this approach of marketing with a game like Stardew Valley, Paper's Please or Nethergate.

    ADDIT: from my standpoint–and perhaps I'm narrow minded on this–his first point 1. Design to grok players with a gif; and his second point 2. Staying relevant, are somewhat oppositional. This does not detract from the value of his message at all. I agree with his points and think they are incredibly valuable. However. the fact that the type of game design that serves (1) (grokable from a gif) seems in some ways opposite to the type of game design that serves (2) is a stumbling block. Lets take Minecraft for example. Clearly a game that serves (2) to extraordinary degrees. Some players have proably put in 15,000 hours with that game! However, I find it quite difficult to imagine the "T-Rex Moment" for a .gif promoting Minecraft. I mean . . . the Ender Dragon but what percentage of players ever even make it to that part of the game!?

    Diche Bach July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Good talk!

    Abhishek Sharma July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I didn't knew players care to the level of "stress" of their games, i'll play anything to matter how "rage inducing" it will be.

    Guilherme sampaio de oliveira July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • 48:40 that´s probably the #1 sentence you hear from most Euro Truck/ ATS players, when asked what makes the games so great: Relaxation up to a somewhat-meditative level…
    There´s a thread on the Steam forums from someone asking "isn´t it boring" almost every other week and you can be sure that most answers will revolve around that, long before "i love trucks"

    RSProduxx July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Patience and Attentionspan must be trained. Sadly it´s not being teached alot anymore… in contrary, it´s not wanted, the customer is being trained to consume as much as possible in his short timeframes available…

    RSProduxx July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Amazing talk, so simple yet so true. At minute 33:00 when he pulled out a list of reasons not to play a game in my library I instantly thought of 1-3 examples from my collection for each reason.

    Vartic July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • Wow really inspiring vid

    Kai Rosen July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • This guy make games for money, not passion. His games are really lacking and artificially extended by wasting the players time.

    TheMrTape July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply
  • I don't feel like it will do people's attention spans good if we keep compressing everything into flashy images that don't mean much. There's only so much meaning you can put in a short time. What does that leave complex and narrative-focused games with?

    Erf Unden July 16, 2020 7:11 am Reply

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