by Alexandre Yazdi, CEO
This article presents the process we use at Voodoo to make hit games. There are two primary objectives to following our 5 step process. First, we find that it provides an environment which encourages team members to take risks which in turn boosts creativity. Second, by outlaying clear goals, it avoids the financial pitfall of spending ressources on projects which don’t have a hit potential.
Step 0 - Finding creative ideas
Team members should think about new game ideas and concepts, benchmark competitors and discuss amongst themselves on a daily basis. On Friday evenings, each person must propose a new idea on the team Trello board. On Monday morning the entire team votes on these ideas.
Step 1 - A Prototype
The next step is creating a playable prototype of the game which reveals the core gameplay. This prototype should be made in a few days maximum. It’s purpose is to give the team an idea of the potential of the concept.
Step 2 - The Internal Review
Once the prototype is ready, the product manager organises a meeting with all the team members during which everyone gives their opinion and marks the game from 1 to 5. At this step, an average score above 4 is recommended to proceed. After the meeting the decision to continue with a game is taken by the product managers. If they decide to kill the project, we go back to the 1st step : the prototype.
Step 3 - The External Review
Here the objective is to ask people with an exterior point of view what they think. As such, this group should be a wide as possible. The product manager should test the game amongst twenty people over the age of 18 subdivided in four groupes : five women under 30, five women over 30, five men under 30 and five men over 30. At this point, an average score over 4 is recommended again. After a group discussion the product managers take the decision to continue with the game or not. If not, back to step one : the prototype.
Step 4 - The MVP
Once the game is confirmed, the team should build an MVP with the basic gameplay and some metagame features. Here, the objective is to examine the real potential of the game and analyse the day 1 retention numbers. At this stage, a day 1 retention under 45% means, in theory, the end of the project. The team can, however, rework the gameplay and try a pivot to make the game more fun. Here, The decision to continue or kill the project is based on several factor, especially whether a robust business model is attainable. The final decision is taken after discussion amongst all the product managers.
Step 5 - A Hit!
If the MVP’s retention numbers confirm the potential of the game, the next step is to build features which will improve long term retention, in app revenue and virality.
During this phase, 3 day hackathons are organised every six weeks during which every member can make a prototype of their own. These prototypes are presented the next day to the whole company for an internal review.
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