No Shooting. No Shopping.

Long before I decided to try my hand at making apps, I had found a principle to guide me in designing games and choosing what projects to work on.  “In my games there’ll be no shooting and no shopping,”  I would tell my kids (who fancy themselves gamers and certainly are more so than their dad). “What’s wrong with shooting and shopping? [Some game that involves one or both of those these] is fun!”  Whether or not I find games with those elements fun, I just wanted there to be other options and to get away from that paradigm.

Part of the challenge of sticking to this principle is that shooting and shopping can mean a lot of things.  There is the obvious example of first person shooters like Halo or Call of Duty, but for me even Angry Birds is a type of shooting.  Basically, if you have to aim and/or fire a projectile of any sort that does damage, you’re shooting.  In adding ways to clear the sky of all the bubbles in Planet Lettra, I could have made a creature that would fire darts or rockets at the bubbles, but to me that is a sort of  (admittedly harmless) shooting, so I decided against that.  In the end, touching one creature long enough then results in the bubbles popping on their own.

As for shopping, making choices is not shopping.  Choice is important in empowering players, although too much choice overwhelms and confuses.  In Planet Lettra, players choose “where” on the planet to do their word building, how easily letter bubbles combine and the fate of their creations (eaten, popped, slurped).

By shopping, I mean activity that involves making some sort of cost-benefit analysis of available assets and then either making real-world purchases or exchanging some form of in-game currency for an asset.  The fact that Planet Lettra has no in-app purchases is an clear application of this principle.  Moving forward, I am looking forward to the challenge of makings games or other playful spaces in which the player’s interest and motivation is stimulated by other things than being able to shop for new outfits for an avatar or new resources to complete a quest.  Other games do that and that’s OK, but I have hopes for something more original from Studio Goojaji.