The game designer plays games
Hi! As an indie developer, I know how to write code. As an entrepreneur, I learned how to monetize games and what KPIs I should track. I also learned a lot about analytics, data, and ASO. Well. It’s not enough, because I know almost nothing about game design. I hope that acquiring this skill will allow me to finally earn living with games.
I think analyzing games and sharing this with the world can be a great solution for my problem and the opportunity to grow my blog. I’ll start with mobile games (Android and iOS), but I aim to analyze games for many platforms, like PC, Playstation, Switch.
Bear in mind that this is an analysis, not review!
Title: Jumanji: Epic Run
Publisher: Crazy Labs
Platform: iOS & Android
Played version: 1.4.5 on iOS
Jumanji is a modern, endless runner game. The theme and characters of the game are influenced by the new Jumani movies.
Anyway, let’s start. Now I’ll present to you some features and describe what objective the game designer probably had doing it that way.
The first launch of the game is 100% linear
When you launch the game for the first time you will see only two things on the screen. Background and… a play button. After your first play, you will be fully guided by the game (Yep, I mean tutorial) with no possibility to press other buttons until you finish what the game wants you to finish. It took me at least a few minutes to complete and then I reclaimed my freedom 🙂
Why? Well, to teach a player everything in a controlled environment. Partially hiding the UI can help to avoid a player being confused and dropping the game as a result.
Mode changes are always communicated
When a player runs, they can encounter mode changes, so instead of running they are climbing, driving a vehicle, or running from wild animals. Right before mode changes, a player sees short animation and some camera shifting. There is also a dedicated sound effect to communicate this change.
Game designers should always be careful with additional modes. Too rapid change can confuse players. When there is dedicated animation and sound, a player can learn very fast what will happen and it gives them time to prepare.
Endless runners that are known to me usually have just one endless level with the same theme at the beginning. In Jumanji things are different. There are multiple levels to unlock by a player by spending virtual currencies and progressing further into the game. Of course, the core gameplay is the same, but the art changes.
Which objective is being met? I think it increases long term player retention which is extremely important for free mobile games. Players can stick with the game longer and not be bored just a few days after the first launch of the game.
New tasks appear on the game screen while you play
In Jumanji, there are additional challenges to do in-game. They are randomly assigned and a player can have only one objective like this at the time. They are simple like collecting fifty coins or jumping above two obstacles. As a reward, a player receives a key. Five keys are combined into the chest that a player can open by watching a rewarded ad.
This feature increases player engagement, especially for already retained users. Endless runners at the start of a new level are usually very easy so those challenges give a player additional motivation and fun before they reach a more challenging stage. And rewards are always nice, riiight?
Violence in an endless runner? Isn’t it clickbait! Well, I don’t lie there is a bit of violence in this game… Players can hit nearby enemies, they can drive through them and every character has a unique ability that can be used to destroy enemies and the environment.
There are at least a few types of players. Some players love destruction and explosives. This feature just allows them to enjoy the game more.