Sunday, September 5, 2010

Early Hook Champ and SQH Design

We've been getting asked if we ever plan to make an "endless gameplay only" style of hook game. Below is a long, thought out response that I previously posted to the Toucharcade Forums:

It's funny, SQH was originally just going to be Avalanche Mode and that's it, for 99 cents. Hook Champ, waaaay back in its early design, was going to basically be what's currently known as a "runner" game... you'd automatically run to the right, you'd be able to latch things with your grappling hook, and there'd by powerups to grab while running.

Hook Champ's design changed to a level-based/adventure sort of game, simply because we couldn't figure out a good way to handle the level sections. This was before Canabalt, which really set a good example of splitting your endless mode into "slices". This is a really clear and easy to rip off way of handling an endless mode, arguably leading to the current Runner genre Though there were runner games before Canabalt, they didn't use the "slice" concept, leading to pretty muddled levels.

SQH was going to be Avalanche Mode, and like 4 racing levels, then the tutorial. It was also going to be 99 cents. Fans of Hook Champ spoke up and really didn't seem to want this. They wanted way more racing levels, and then an Endless mode on top of that, making it more like a Hook Champ true sequel than our original plan of making it a "spiritual successor". With these changes, we also had to make it more expensive.

The changes to more substantial games, for a larger amount of money, actually worked out for the best. It's true that the top games are always simple 99 cent games, but what you don't see right away are the hundreds of 99 cent games that are fun to play, but commercial failures. Making a game over 99 cents is much safer... if you're not in the top of the charts, you can still make a pretty decent salary if your game is 2 or 3 dollars. The flip side, of course, is that if your game makes it to the top 10, it will stay in there much, much, much longer if it is a 99 cent game.

I do still kind of want to make a 99 cent "casual" version of Hook Champ. Run-to-the-right gameplay style. I'd just want to do it in a way that wasn't a disappointment to fans of the series. We want to explore some other genres, first, anyway.

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