Thursday, June 02, 2016

Fighting Eleven #2: Gameplay Comparison, and It's Not Flattering

I decided that since I was playing Pocket Card Jockey so much that I needed to analyze the gameplay and figure out what made it so compelling.

Duh, right? So much stuff is happening around here right now that I didn't even think about that until today.

What I was looking for was an understanding of why the individual races always make me want to run just one more race before I quit. Then one more.

Pocket Card Jockey, when it simulates an individual race, has the following structure:
1. Purchase single race upgrades at the Shop (when available).
2. Play the start mini-game (which gets your horse out of the starting gate).
3. This next sequence can loop up to four times:
--play a mini-solitaire game, with the number of cards based on how close your horse is to the rail.
--with the "points" you've gained from the mini-game, trace where you want the horse to run. Any points not used for directional movement are usually converted to speed.
--watch the horses run, with the actions of your horse generally determined by your instructions (but not exactly).
4. In the stretch, there's a different mini-game where you can direct the movements of your horse in real time, as well as using your supply of various race-gathered tokens to increase speed.

That's way more sophisticated than it looks. There are real-time sequences, "delayed time" sequences, and viewing sequences. Your success in each sequence determines your resources in the next sequence, basically. It's quite brilliant in terms of integration.

An individual race can take three to five minutes.

In comparison, the original gameplay "sketch" for Fighting Eleven consisted of choosing three cards at the beginning of the quarter (one for each drive), then watching the entire quarter play out.

Yeah, that's not nearly good enough.

Yes, it could play out in ninety seconds, but if it's not enough fun, who cares?

Not enough strategy. Not enough interaction. Not enough variety.

I have some new wrinkles, based on this comparison, and I'll share them with you next week.

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