Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fun Can Wrap

The results are out for the 2009 Dream Build Play contest and sadly Grapple Buggy didn't win. In fact Grapple Buggy didn't even place in the top twenty!

Questions filled my mind:
  • Did the game somehow crash immediately? Did they never even get to start playing it?
  • Was the "sci-fi buggy with grappling hooks exploring an alien planet and a mature story" genre completely saturated?
  • Did the notion that the alien co-pilot, "Drozo", eats puppy dogs as a snack turn off the judges?


At last the answer seemed obvious. The fun wrapped. As described in the well known, and ground-breaking white paper "Exploring Sensory Perceptions of Polarizing Satisfaction Elements" by Haag and Vormann, I think the judges had so much fun with Grapple Buggy that it actually crossed the maximum threshold and started over, at the bottom of what is "fun".

Dr. Haag called this theoretical threshold of fun the grenzespasse and examined how if some entertainment media actually caused a person to cross it, they would feel that the media was actually not fun. While I'm thrilled that it's possible Grapple Buggy would be the first media to do this, it's unfortunate it could have cost us the contest.

Just a word of warning to other developers out there: mind the grenzespasse. Make your games fun... just not... TOO FUN. And if Dr. Haag or Dr. Vormann would care to comment on our humble dev log I'd certainly be honored to hear their perspective on the situation.

8 comments:

Paul said...

I was a little surprised Grapple Buggy wasn't in the top 20. I thought GB would be the game to beat.

Good theory too.

Nick Busby said...

Yeah, the news of it not making the top 6 was a surprise, but then not making it in the top 20 was down right shocking - I thought maybe you'd already struck a deal with MS to bring it to XBLA... that's the only explanation I could figure for myself. : /

...But yeah, the next best guess would probably be the whole "crashed on start up" situation.

Jeremy Eden said...

haha I like this theory! I think we'll make it our excuse too.

PS: I too was very surprised at the lack of Grapple Buggy in the finalists. My guess: those voices!

Kris said...

Maybe there is a super-secret GRAND PRIZE award that they have yet to reveal...

Nathan Fouts said...

Glad you liked the theory! It's so crazy it may be true.

@Kris:
Yes, I'm still holding out for that super-secret grand prize.. just in case.

@Jeremy:
Thanks for the feedback. If you can articulate what bothered you particularly about the voices, email me at nathan-at-mommysbestgames-dot-com. Good luck with Unstoppable!

arrogancy said...

Given some of the...err...relative apparent quality of the finalists, even some of the Top 6, I'm surprised too. It looks like this year's judges went for mostly graphical style more than anything, I guess - I have no idea. Once I figured out the contest was barely about gameplay and design quality I kind of lost interest in it, personally, which explains how I actually forgot to enter :)

Jeremy Eden said...

Eh, I'm not sure if I could really articulate that. They just seemed cheesy to me. I would have to play the game to form a real opinion though.

And of course I was only joking that they're the reason you didn't make a finalist. :p
I am pretty stumped, cuz I think the judges would remember if your game crashed on start-up.

Nathan Fouts said...

Jeremy:
Ahh.. okay, cheesy understand. Like you pointed out, once you get into the game (at least what I've seen/heard with other people that have played it) the voices grow on you and you enjoy it.

It's tough getting that sort of kitschy feel across in a short trailer.. I'll have to think more about how to do that better in future trailers.