“One day I just Stopped Playing” – What makes this phenomenon happen?

We’ve all been there before, one week you’re spending 8 hours a day grinding for gear in your favorite MMO or spending what seems to be an eternity climbing the ladder in any competitive game and then the next week; nothing, complete cold turkey.

This happened to me recently in a binge play of Path of Exile, the addictive Diablo 2 style dungeon crawler from Grinding Gear Games, I spent probably close to 6 hours a day of my leisure time in the game for close to a month and then just… stopped playing completely. It wasn’t like I accomplished a goal that I’d been working toward for a long time or that the game wasn’t fun anymore, I just stopped, not for any particular reason, just I didn’t feel like playing it anymore. Come to think of it this has probably happened many many more times than I would like to admit, not even just on multiplayer or competitive games but on RPG and single player story based games too. Games that I was incredibly invested into and then just.. nothing.

So why does this happen? That’s what I tried to think about today and wanted to talk about some of the effects in terms of the game development for this phenomenon.

My initial thought was that it is easy to start a task (I know this to be true for myself), but the longer it gets dragged out the more “fatigued” you get when working on it. When you start to solve a problem or open up a new project everything is fresh and unexplored, a challenge waiting to be conquered. However the longer it goes on and the less progress that is made on it, the more the project becomes stagnant, becoming less and less enticing to work on, eventually and inevitably leading to an endless cycle of starting projects and then abandoning them halfway to work on newer and more exciting projects.

This was my theory anyways for why it’s so easy (for me at least) to start new games instead of finish games that I’ve already started (and stopped) playing.

So what does this mean for the game development? Well… not much I don’t think, most games are so well optimized in terms of play and engagement that this “stagnant” phase of play doesn’t happen too often nowadays, there’s always something exciting to do or a new zone to explore. Besides, most people who get to this stage of a game aren’t usually the ones asking for a refund, and are probably long past the stage of being able to get a refund.

To sum up my thoughts, the lack of a new challenge to solve or content to explore is probably the biggest cause of this phenomenon, which would explain why MMOs with incredibly drawn out end-game content and competitive games are the ones usually hit hardest by this phenomenon when losing player bases, ruling out unpredictable variables like having your PC die and then never re-downloading the games that you were previously playing.

Anyhow, I hope everyone goes back and plays some unfinished games (here’s looking at you Haydee). Thanks for reading as always!



What is a Dollar? The sometimes inverse effect of digitizing currency.

Would you rather lose a dollar in your pocket or a dollar from your Google account?

This all stemmed from a conversation I had the other day with some of my good friends about spending money on phone games vs a fast food meal, it really got me thinking about how differently I perceive money just because it’s on my phone/computer. So I started asking myself some questions and ultimately came to one that summarized the argument.

The question was: Do I value $1.00 in cash in my hands the same as $1.00 on my Google/iOS/e-wallet account?

In my mind the answer is very clear, of course I would value the $1.00 in my hands more as currencies for that Google/iOS/e-wallet account are only good for that platform and cannot be converted back to cash. But that can’t be right, technically if you wanted to buy something for $1.00 on the Google Playstore you would have to first PUT IN $1.00 real money, so that makes them equal, at least when buying goods for that one platform (eg. Google Playstore dollars cannot be spent on the Apple store), this will be the working definition we use for the rest of this post.

So back to the original question now (with the definition that $1.00 in the real world is worth $1.00 in the Google Playstore). Would you be more concerned over losing $1.00 in real life than on a Google/iOS/e-wallet account?

The answer for me at least is not at all rational (from the viewpoint of the definition we just established), if I lost $1.00 in real life it would be no big deal, it sucks that it happened but it’s not that big of a loss and I wouldn’t really go out of my way to find it. However if I “Lost” $1.00 on my Google account accidentally I would be outraged, either due to technical error in the system or my mismanagement of my account I would be furious and try to get my $1.00 back immediately. This example may not be fair in that we trust these electronic companies to keep our accounts safe so $1.00 can’t just mysteriously disappear but I think it generally illustrates my point; that I as a person assign more perceived value to the digital currency than the real world equivalent even though they are by definition the same.

Relating this back to games and why I had to be so specific with the previous examples. In real life, I generally wouldn’t even bat an eye if I spent $1.49 on a pack of gum but would spend probably an HOUR debating if I should spend $0.99 on a cosmetic item for my character in a free to play game. The enjoyment of the gum/cosmetic item is debatable and it’s hard to compare physical goods vs digital goods in the first place but the assigned value is so dramatically different from something in your hands to something on the screen, for me at least.

Game developers and publishers get a lot of bad rep for putting microtransactions and DLC into their games but the reality is games cost a lot of money to make these days and the lights have to stay on somehow. I’m not wholeheartedly endorsing the practice of microtransactions but take it with a grain of salt, a cosmetic item for a character you love in a game you play for 3 hours a day is probably worth more in terms of enjoyment than a pack of gum.

That’s all I had to say for this topic and I hope that the next time you load up on $10.00 worth of VBucks thinking “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS, EPIC GAMES IS LITERALLY ROBBING ME”, also think that’s really just the standard price for 3 value packs of gum.

See ya Later



Are MMORPGs going to disappear?

With the massive influx of people playing the beta of Fallout 76 on Twitch and Youtube I’ve been following along quite religiously as some of my favorite streamers got into a regular schedule of playing it. However, watching the game from a viewers perspective gave me a lot to think about and what really peaked my attention was how little little I seemed to enjoy the MMO (technically true with Fallout 76) experience now as compared to in my past when I spent over 1000 hours in MMOs like Maplestory. It might be just a shift of interest while getting older but I don’t believe that’s entirely it, I firmly believe that in the current gaming landscape, MMORPGs are becoming niche games that just take up too much time for the amount of satisfaction they offer to the average gamer.

Of the top 23 games being viewed on twitch right now, 2 of them are MMOs (I’m going to go for a classical definition here where most of the gameplay is mostly leveling up your character and defeating instances with increasing levels of difficulty + rewards). Now this may be due to MMO’s being not so fun to watch rather than play but I don’t believe that’s entirely it.

WoW subscriber Projection According to www.statista.com

According to statista.com, currently the number of subscribers to the world’s most popular MMORPG – World of Warcraft is 5.1 million players

Whereas the worlds most popular game at the moment announced on June 12 2018 that their player-base had grown to 125 million players, about 25 times the amount of WoW subscribers. This is due to a huge number of factors like Fortnite being free to play and having a much bigger segment of the market being on mobile and all current generation consoles but I still stand by my point, players are no longer willing to spend the huge time investment that MMORPGs require and would rather have short bursts of enjoyment in the form of a MOBA, Shooter, Battle Royale, or Card game.

Now, does this mean that MMO genre is going to eventually go extinct? No, I don’t believe that it will, just as the projection of WoW subscribers shows there will always be a dedicated player base of hardcore fans willing to invest the huge amount of time required to fully realize the fun of the game. It’s just that for the average person (myself included), I don’t feel that investing over 200 hours into a single character of mine in order to access the endgame content is too good of an investment anymore.

Again, these are just my thoughts but I do believe they have some merit as I have in the past been one of these hardcore MMO grinders in games like Diablo 2: LoD and Maplestory reaching the highest levels of play.

Anyhow, go out and explore the wasteland, vault dweller!



Regular vs Premium Currency: Do you need both? (Pokemon Go Case Study)

With the release of Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee! & Pikachu coming up so soon I’ve gotten into Pokemon Go after completely missing out on it’s release more than 2 years ago.

My experience with the game has been incredibly positive so far making me feel more active by going out and also stimulating my need for efficiencies with an enormous amount of min-max game loops. But what really really impressed me and stood out above everything else from a game designers viewpoint is how beautiful and elegant the monetization is done in the game.

So for those who aren’t well versed in freemium games (those of you who are you can skip this part) is that generally, there are two types of currencies; a regular one that you earn from playing the game and can buy most non-premium things, and a premium currency which the game generally gives a very very small amount to the player for doing achievements (daily login, watching ads, completing quests etc.) that can be used to buy the really desirable things in the game.

Clash of Clans Regular currencies vs Premium Currency

The only real ways to get a substantial amount premium currency are generally to religiously play the game for a long period of time (weeks to months) or spend real money to exchange for an amount of them, this is pretty much the way all freemium games make money.

Clash of Clans cost of Premium Currency (the cost of a “free” game)

With all that being said, in Niantic’s Pokemon Go, there is no regular currency, the only existent currency is premium currency, called PokeCoins.

PokeCoins firstly like all premium currencies are purchasable with real world money.

PokeCoins Store

Secondly, they can be obtained by holding gyms, a system where you place a Pokemon into a location to defend it for your team and for every 10 minutes it stays in the gym you get 1 PokeCoin, up to a maximum of 50 a day. So in retrospective if you play optimally and get the full 50 PokeCoins a day (this is assuming you are at the point in the game where you can do this) you are receiving the spending value of $0.50, around the standard for a login bonus among freemium games.

And as expected with the premium currency you can buy everything you would ever want with it.

Shop for Pokeballs, Incense, Lucky Eggs, Max Revives, Incubators

Everything has been pretty standard so far but the real innovation is eliminating the regular currency entirely. The beauty of this is that the moment you’re put into the game you’re already spending the currency that Niantic wants you to, there’s no nuisance of getting a regular currency to upsell you the idea of a more potent and powerful currency. You have full view of all the purchasing options and premium items available to be bought right from the start giving you an ENTIRELY TRUTHFUL view of what you’re expecting yourself to get into. They do give you a generous taste of how the premium experience feels like of course sprinkling lucky eggs, super incubators, lures, etc into level up rewards.

The game is not exactly reinventing the freemium model but I do genuinely feel that it’s a good approach paired with a legitimately well made, fun game. With more time investment in a really enjoyable game of course it will start slowly converting players into paying customers, whether you’re the die hard Free to Play player, Pokemon Fanatic, Hardcore optimizer, or Gotta Catch em’ All type there’s enough content and depth in the game to keep you playing for months, and you can be sure during that time there’s gonna be just one time you think “Wow that 1480 Pokecoin package sure is a steal, and is 20 bucks really that expensive?”.

10 SUPER INCUBATORS, RAID PASSES, AND STAR PIECES??? (too bad I only have 325)

Anyways the game is fun as heck.





Content Reveal – Why not try ALL at once?

I’ve been for a while now re-watching the various seasons of Extra Credits while on long commutes, one of the episodes I was re-watching got me thinking much deeper about the topic. The episode I was revisiting was The Waiting Game – Why Weird Games Become Cult Hits, and while I was watching it for the second time I had an interesting thought, as Dan explains these traditional unfolding or waiting games depends entirely on player curiosity for the main engagement hook of the game, starting the player with almost nothing and asking them to continue playing with no clear goal in mind. Eventually, giving a little bit of content in the form of something new to do or somewhere new to explore, but JUST enough to keep the player playing, walking a razor thin line between enjoyment and boredom. But what if, the ENTIRE game is just one big payoff, that happens at the very end of the game, and once that payoff is finally released the game is over.

Introducing TAMAGO by Baibai. A game that fascinated me since i saw it browsing Youtube.

This game, in my opinion is actually a work of art. Poetic almost in it’s execution, the game has the theoretical MAX in terms of work spent developing for playtime. With what I estimate to be around 30 minutes of development time for probably 6 months to a year of playtime (if you play conservatively).

But besides the creation of the game and getting into the content, for those of you who are fortunate enough to not be apart of the 5 MILLION INSTALLS since May 23, 2018.

The game starts of (and ends with…) a single egg and a counter of 1 million.

Every time you click the egg the counter goes down. And when you reach 0 (presumably, I haven’t downloaded or tried it myself) something incredible happens. But that’s it, that’s the whole game.

In my mind, this is a work of art, poetry in it’s purest form, it distills the concept of work to reward to it’s core. You click one million times and you get to see what happens.

So what does this teach us? I believe that with the amount of downloads, ratings, and comments on TAMAGO that curiosity, is on equal if not greater than any other engagement hooks (mechanics, graphics, story, narrative). Human curiosity to find out what happens no matter what is so incredibly powerful that clicking a screen 1 MILLION TIMES is a game that has over 5 million downloads on Google Playstore.

I think that with this success story it would be possible to expand this to an even greater extent, making a game that the reward hits all at once at the very end of the game, giving the ultimate payoff, instead of sectioning small payoffs for content throughout the game.

Whether it’s good or not or even possible, I just thought it would be interesting to have a game like that, where the payoff is all at once in one big lump sum for the entirety of the game.

Until next time, keep thinkin’ critically about your games (*´∀`)b!


Do people still enjoy playing games?

I had a really interesting thought about playing games in the modern age while watching a playthrough of Kingdom Hearts from Dan on PlayFrame. I enjoyed playing the original Kingdom Hearts so much on the PS2 but watching Dan’s playthrough of the game, I dare say I enjoyed that much more than my original playthrough of the game (even with the novelty of experiencing the story for the first time). The insight that his commentary as a professional animator provides adds so much enjoyment for me as a viewer, much more than I would have had just playing the game by myself.

Kingdom Hearts

This really led me to thinking, with Twitch being such a huge player in the community of game content and there being a play through for virtually every single new game a week from it’s release do people still want/need to play games? Doesn’t it make much more sense (in terms of time, money, or emotional investment) to watch someone else play the game?

Now, the main thing that i can think of against this is that in most games the designers intended the player to experience the game first hand, so when controlling the protagonist in the game, the feeling of direct control and feedback are huge selling points and could never be replicated by watching someone else play it (in this case Kingdom Hearts is an action game where fighting is an integral part of the game). This opens up another can of worms however, many viewers on Twitch watch streamers due to their high level of skill in games, skill that took years of practice in a specific game to achieve and that the average player would not be able to get to, but for the sake of argument i’ll just discount it as the games that we’re looking at are purely for the story and experience of the game.


There’s a million things I could say about if I’m actually enjoying the game itself or the personality of the person playing the game but to sum up my original thought in a nutshell and to draw my perspective on it, I think that in the modern age, half if not more than half of people do actually prefer to watch someone play a game instead of playing it themselves, whether that’s to the credit of the person doing the let’s play to be super funny, interesting, or just entertaining or that people would rather not have the time or money investment to play the game. Twitch has made it’s entire business around this, allowing people to pseudo-experience the game through their favorite streamers, personalities, and commentators.

There are a lot of games that I both enjoy playing and watching other people play (suspiciously most of which are multiplayer pvp based games) so it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other and is completely on a game to game basis, playing games and watching other people play games are both fun for their own reasons, just sometimes playing games is a little too much time investment for the enjoyment that it brings (I’m looking at you Dota 2).

So go out there and support your favorite streamers and play your favorite games (*´∀`)b!


Steam Summer Sale & Digital Distribution

It’s once again that time of year again, where steam becomes a deadly minefield for impulse buys on a daily basis. I would be lying if i said I’ve never purchased a 4 pack of a game I 100% knew I was never going to play just because it was 95% off but scrolling through the sea of really got me thinking about software distribution and digital copies in general.

So now by far the most popular distribution platform is the internet, whether it be Steam, the Playstation Store, XBOX Marketplace, Nintendo EShop, Android Playstore, or Apple App Store the convenience that digital copies offers over traditional physical copies is just too good to overlook. Gone are the days of driving out to the nearest EB Games, lining up behind a child getting their annoyed parent to buy them the newest Call of Duty, and then getting home just to download and apply a 700 mb day 1 patch. Now you just slip your favorite platform a cool 60 and you’re on your way to shootin squids in a mere half hour after the blazing fast game download and install.

Digital distribution allows publishers and developers to reach an unprecedented following and empowers indie studios to break the barrier of not having distribution channels to get their game to customers. However this comes at a cost, just as selling games at physical brick and mortar shops was a HUGE barrier of entry stopping indie developers or even small studios from distributing their work unless they were absolutely confident that their investment would pay off the flood gates have now opened, resulting in things like the steam new releases page becoming flooded with shovel-ware trash-fire games looking for a quick buck.

But regardless with all the drawbacks, digital distribution is a HUGE step forward and empowers small developers like us to actually get our games out into the hands of people who (hopefully) will enjoy them.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading! I wish everyone good luck hunting for s (*´∀`)


SGDQ is almost here

Hey guys, it’s around that time of year again, a magical time where it just feels like one long hazy week filled with 5:00 AM “What am i doing with my life” viewings of 100% master blaster zero runs. Not only as a avid follower of TAS videos and speedruns in general but also now as a co-owner of a game company i’m super excited for SGDQ and all the interviews with indie developer it brings.

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard, https://gamesdonequick.com/ is an incredible organization that does speedrunning events multiple times a year taking donations that entirely go to charities. The events are incredibly entertaining to watch and does a great deal of good for charities, just last year they raised 2.2 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

It’s really incredible to see so many people come together for such a great cause, and whether you’re a viewer, runner, volunteer, or staff member for this short time of one week time everyone is united through the medium of games. It really just goes to show how much video games have grown, from something viewed as a pastime for kids in the past to a major factor bringing together millions of people worldwide to do good for charity.

To my fellow stream monsters earnestly waiting to raise your 4Head s I can’t wait to fight alongside you all.

See you guys there (ง ͠° ͟ل͜ ͡°)ง


The shelf life of a game on a phone?

A couple days ago while on an excruciatingly painful internet-less commute I resorted to purging my phone of unused and old apps to keep myself entertained. It was a nostalgic trip for sure going through old and forgotten games played just once once or twice since being on my phone for what was probably months (I’m looking at you Color Switch) but it really got me thinking, What is the average shelf life of a game in terms of downloaded to uninstalled?

For most people like me I would imagine that until going on a massive game purge or running out of memory the downloaded games just sit collecting dust until eventually one day the latter happens. Assuming that on average games are 100 mb and you’ve got a nice big 32 gb model phone downloading at a rate of 2 games a week. In about a little over 3 years you’ll run out of room for the first time and do a mandatory purge, so the first game that you downloaded would technically live on your phone for over 3 years without having any attention paid to it.

On the off-case you’re the type of person that uninstalls a game as soon as they don’t play it anymore I would give the game a generous estimate of a week until it’s sent off into the abyss.

Averaging these two for a general estimate (that’s heavily skewed) for roughly a year and a half is a pretty good number to arrive to. So with this I guess the best takeaway for an app developer is within that year and a half (a week to 3 years) after your first impression find opportunities to get players interested again.

That’s it for this time, go out and give some of your old games some attention! m(_ _)m


Improving yourself, one step at a time.

It’s been a while since we started working together at SkyCanvas Games and although the results we have achieved aren’t very notable I’ve felt myself grow a lot from this experience of working on a team and doing stuff that’s way out of my comfort zone.

It’s an incredible feeling to be able to do something that was previously out of reach and one that i happen to have the joy of feeling almost every week while working on both our games and the SkyCanvas Games Company in general. I would have never thought of myself able to do a lot of the things i do on a daily basis for the production of the game, as cliche as it sounds working toward a goal with vigilance and dedication does really show results.

I look forward to what we as a company can achieve (*´∀`)!

– Kelvin