Merge Dragons: Finding the Right Slice

April 26, 2022

Here at Funovus, we Technical Designers are in search of constant learning opportunities we can apply to our designs. By playtesting and studying popular titles, we can concisely convey valuable designer knowledge that others can take away and apply to their own games. One title we are going to look into today is Merge Dragons and how they slice their cake into enticing pieces. Coincidentally, we also developed a merge game Merge War.


Choose Our Cake

One question designers always ask is how do we attract users to our games? We want to attract users by offering a slice of our product. One can argue that depending on what we offer, we can underwhelm the eater by not providing enough depth in our flavors, or gameplay. Another argument can be made that providing too much can prevent the eater from purchasing the whole cake. In this instance, our game interested the player, but we left them feeling like they've already had the full experience. The balance act of the designer is to provide slices of your cake so that the player is always asking for another piece.

Hide Your Hand If You Have The Royal Flush

Discovery is an easy way to entice a player to continue asking what's around the corner. In Merge Dragons, there are a plethora of objects which can be combined to create new items. Merge Dragons avoids showing players the entire chain of merge results and what bonuses they offer. Instead, they only describe the objects you’ve encountered. This approach allows discovery to be a natural progression in the player's gameplay. By not revealing the end of the road, the players are always wondering what is in front of them.

Communicate the weight of your purchases

An effective way to get users to pay for something is to convince them the object they are paying for is worth their time and money with a bit of “Fear Of Missing Out” mixed in. Merge Dragon’s approach to their FOMO duplicate item buy is a perfect example of communicating the weight of a purchase. Players must first invest time to build up to high level items before they are offered a purchase option to duplicate. The incorporation of gameplay to clue the player in knowing what exactly they are paying for at the same time making it a limited time deal is a perfect combo to turn a player into a payer.

Care for dessert?

Now that we’ve eaten all our food, should we stay for dessert? Merge Dragons session times significantly increase as players progress. Towards the end of a session, available player actions reduce until all dragons are asleep. One brilliant system that keeps players engaged is the drip feed of basic-level items coming in for those opportunities of “one last merge”. From life flower seeds floating to mushrooms growing, there is always an opportunity to eke out more time from the player. For players who are out of actions and want to keep going they are able to opt to watch an ad. In our games, we don’t want to force people to leave if they want to stay. Offering symple systems such as the examples described can have a meaningful impact in a player's session time.

Key Take-Aways

Merge Dragons effectively sells their cake by mastering the portions they give out to players. As designers, we should strive to give our players the michelin star full course experience, where every ingredient has its purpose. By taking a close look at our game systems, we can find ways to apply discoverability to lead to longevity in players' gameplay. We want to identify monetizable moments in our gameplay that effectively communicate worth. On top of that, if the players want to keep playing when they are out of moves, we need a vehicle to allow for one more go.

Join The Team

These are the types of discussions we Technical Designers love to look into. By having open collaboration with our team members, we can create better games together. It would be an honor to have like-minded, passionate people who over-all love playing video games join our team. Check out our Careers Page to learn more about Funovus and our available positions.

What's coming next?

In the next post, we'll do a deep dive on a different genre but still a top grossing game.

Continue to Analyzing Coin Master's Magnets.


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