I just stumbled across an interesting recent post by Zachary Reese, which includes the following observation:
I play a fair amount of interactive fiction, if only because each piece is an extension loaded by a single client of your choice (an interpreter). These are unintrusive entities that can coexist with the important functions of the computer. I can have an indie game minimized with the sound off, then play a few rounds while I’m waiting for an audio mixdown or a video render. Doing such a thing with a traditional PC game would likely result in a massive CPU fire.
People make a big stink about casual games, but I don’t think that label is appropriate. It’s more like transparent games. Games that don’t interfere. The reason games like Rocket Mania and Bejeweled took off isn’t because of some gameplay mechanic that reach a previously untapped market; they became successful because the games became accessible with minimal effort. That audience has always wanted to play games, they just didn’t have the means. They weren’t going to go out and buy a console and they didn’t want to dedicate hard drive space and system resources to the big boxed titles. These are the same people who played the shit out of Minesweeper in Windows 3.1 while on a conference call at work.
Gamasutra has an article on Big Fish Games’ CSO explaining that the “hardcore” and “casual” aren’t sufficient categories to divide the market up, and arguing that we need more categories with more kinds of game. Which is true, but I can’t help finding it a little ironic considering the source.
Meanwhile, I’ve been playing some of Chocolatier’s The Great Chocolate Chase, which is a time-management variation on their usual theme. It’s almost entirely a replay of Diner Dash, Cake Mania, Vogue Tales, etc., which is disappointing. It’s also not as well tuned as it could be: at least, I got relatively smoothly through quite a few levels and then have completely bombed out at level 40, which I can’t pass despite many replays: even if I manage to serve every customer without turning any of them away (quite a feat at this level), I’m not making my target for the day.
I’m very slightly curious about the (slender, minimal) threads of story built into the game, but that may not be enough to propel me past this plateau.
Lately I’ve run across the term “hardcasual” or “hard-casual” to mean a game that appeals to a gamer’s sensibilities (rich and original game-play, not just another match-3 or time management clone) but offers the accessibility and limited commitment of a casual game.    .
Continue reading “IF for the hard-casual gamer?”