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The noble pursuit of iterating on a proven idea
The noble pursuit of iterating on a proven idea Exclusive
October 2, 2012 | By Staff

October 2, 2012 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Design, Exclusive



"Games like go, chess, and StarCraft. These games are sublime, but they are also scarce -- as perhaps they should be. Everyone should not be fated to search for the unicorn."
- Dr. Ian Bogost, professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and creator of Cow Clicker, writes about repackaging game designs versus trying to create new genres.

As part of a new Gamasutra feature discussing the popularity of Newtoy and Zynga's Words With Friends, Bogost says:

"Zynga [which acquired Newtoy in 2010] has received a lot of flack for antipathy toward game design, favoring the 'borrowing' of existing designs, to put it kindly. Indeed, the company's overall corporate strategy has been one of trying to outrace itself, launching new games or acquiring new game studios and shifting players to new games as old ones atrophy.

"Still, Zynga allows its studios to operate relatively independently, and the design of Words With Friends predates Newtoy's Zyngaficiation. It's possible that Newtoy just prefers a more conservative approach to design, one focused on the re-packaging of classic designs rather than the invention of new genres.

"Design innovation purists might scoff, but such a reaction is unfair: after all, there are lots of ways to do game design. And admittedly, Matching With Friends, released only a few months ago, does offer some design novelty, even if it does so within the proven match-three genre.

"But Matching hasn't taken off nearly as much as Newtoy's other games anyway. Given the evidence, why not stick with what works -- presenting familiar designs in fresh packaging?"

Bogost believes that, when the industry is forced to change quickly, incremental refinement must then come before blind novelty. The full feature can be found live now on Gamasutra.


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