Scene 1., in which we imagine the first planning meeting for EnjoyUp's casual-shooter Dress To Play: Cute Witches!
[Enter Creative, who works for the studio behind the game. His boss, Business, is sitting behind a desk in a comfortable office, facing a whiteboard containing diagrams of the game Creative would like to make. Business is on the board of directors, and is perpetually smoking a cigar.]
Creative: "Okay so what we want to do is make a game aimed at young female gamers. It's a dress-up game where you have a little witch, and you can deck her out in thousands of combinations of clothing."
Business: "Sounds great, my little one would..."
Creative: "Please sir, save your praise for the end of my presentation. I haven't even begun to get to the best part yet."
Business: "Sorry, proceed."
Creative: "Thank you. So on the surface it's a dress-up game. You have lots of darling little outfits at your disposal to kit out your 2D, super-deformed-esque avatar."
Business: "Super deformed? Are they monsters?"
Creative: [Chuckles condescendingly] "No, they're not. Super deformity is an art-style. Look it up, it's on Wikipedia. It means 'big head, small body'. It's an easy (and creatively cheap) way to draw a cute character model."
Business: "I see."
Creative: "So the player spends maybe ten minutes getting everything right from the small selection of clothes, skin tones, eye colours, and so on that are initially on offer. Then they can unlock more."
Business: "Ah! Unlockables. That's a back-of-the-box feature right there. PR will be pleased!"
Creative: "Exactly. But the exciting part is how you unlock those extra bits and pieces."
Business: "Play Coins?"
Creative: "Uh uh."
B: [Rubs hands with glee] "Micro transactions?"
Creative: "A nice thought, but no. No, instead of any of those, you unlock them by playing the main game."
Business: "I thought the dress up bit was the main game?"
Creative: "With the title Dress To Play: Cute Witches! you might be led to believe that, but you'd be wrong. The main game is actually a pacifist shmup, in which you don't shoot anything, and have to collect stars."
[Long, protracted silence. Creative is beaming, Business looks puzzled]
Business: "I'm not sure I underst..."
Creative: "See, you're a witch, right? Well you aren't. But the girls in the game? They are. And what do witches do? They fly on broomsticks.
"Sooooo... to prove to the player that they're witches, without doing anything like 'build a story' or 'develop character', we make the main game about flying left to right through colourful levels, where you avoid enemies and collect the aforementioned stars."
Creative: "There's a buttload of challenges to keep players busy, too. Collect X number of stars in one run. Put in X number of minutes of play... um... collect even MORE stars. Loads. Loads to do."
Business: "They sound kind of dull, though, and won't the player just naturally get these 'achievements' through normal play? Where's the challenge in that?"
Creative: "Ah, but here's the brilliant bit: we'll make the gameplay tedious, so that the inherent challenge becomes staying in the game long enough to rack up the required numbers.
"Because the game is really easy, and really slow. See, you move around with the Circle Pad, and enemies advance towards you at a glacial pace, giving you plenty of time to react.
"The only time you'll ever get hit - and therefore lose a bit of your energy - is when you aim for tricky stars or when you clip a bad guy who's too big to avoid. Or when you fall foul of the shoddy clipping, of course."
Business: "And no shooting? At all?"
Creative: "Well, these witches are cute witches - they don't want to kill anyone. Especially not flying goldfish!"
Creative: "Flying goldfish, sir. Also some personality-less geometric shapes, giant ghosts. We'll use the Boos from the Mario games as, ahem, 'inspiration' [Creative winks], and whatever else the art team have got lying about."
Business: "Presentation level? I don't want to spend a lot of money on this..."
Creative: "It'll look like a Flash game from six years back."
Creative: "My cousin Jessie's recording it as we speak. She's droning 'na na naaa, na na naaaaaaaa' along to a jovial pop beat we bashed together, and we'll put some reverb on her vocals to make it sound spooky."
Business: [After a thoughtful pause...] "Well, you've never led me astray before. Get your finest team of three interns to slap this together in a few days and we'll put it out on the eShop for a few quid and see how it does. Maybe some kids will accidentally buy it when they get their 3DS's this Christmas."[SCENE]