Love & Pies (Trailmix Ltd) is a merge game involving the player combining items to finish orders. This takes place on the player’s board, which over time becomes cluttered with items. When the player finishes an order they earn gold. Gold is then used to progress the mystery story involving the game's main character. As the story progresses, the player encounters new objects used for pricier orders. In this blog post, we will look into design strategies from Love & Pies which we can apply to our titles.
Form gameplay experiences with challenging and gratifying moments
Designers look to create a sort of staircase graph to mold the player's experience. We want there to be sequential times of smooth sailing to struggling. Love & Pies achieves this through a form of real estate management. Creating orders, by design, takes up space on the limited tiled board. Looking to complete high-level orders thus entails space management challenges. Creating these orders causes claustrophobic situations that are relieved only by completing them. This allows players to look forward to finishing challenging orders to free up space and keep merging.
Give Players a Sense of Progress
Player progression is often tied to arbitrary power numbers. These simple numeric values denote how strong the player is, or how far a player is in the game. One way Love & Pies improves on this is by including world-building as part of the progression. The initial state of the bakery is in disarray but over time evolves with the players' decisions. This visual representation of progress also offers a way for player personalization. The bakery transforming from a decrepit building to a customer-serving eatery is impactful. Players can look at the rooms that are still in need of work and generate a sense of wonder to continue playing.
Establish the Value of Watching Ads
When done right, ads can serve as a viable monetization option while being a vehicle for progress. In Love & Pies, they achieve this by surfacing duplicate items on mid-level merges. By watching an ad, players can claim the duplicate before it turns into a gold coin taking up valuable tile space. By surfacing the ad at this moment, developers make the 30-second ad look like a steal. Players know exactly the amount of time invested to create the item and know that watching the ad would be a time saver. By making the system reactive, ads look like tempting asymmetric opportunities.
Keep Players Wondering What Comes Next
After players get into the groove, designers want to have strategies to keep them invested. One approach taken by Love & Pies involves item-blocked tiles on the player's board. These tiles become unlocked once a player merges the blocking item with its pair. Players don't know when exactly the item pair will surface. As players progress they'll get the needed pair and free up a long-lasting blocked tile. This serves to stir the player's curiosity throughout their playthrough. Players will be ever curious if the next order completion will give something new.
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