Although these rules by nature apply to single player casual games, they also work well with BYOND's online casual games. One thing to keep in mind though is that you don't want to keep a casual player waiting. If they log into your game and find that there are no other players and thus nothing to do, they'll leave. Many of BYOND's casual games suffer from this problem. A good casual game needs to have something fun for players to do even if there are no other players around yet.
The DOs and DON'Ts of Casual Games:
DON'T- Make Your Game Hard
If your game is so hard to master that your players will tend to fail a lot before they can progress, you're not making a casual game. Also, don't punish players until they've had time to experiment a little. A lot of people play casual games to relax, and forcing them into a challenging situation doesn't encourage that.
DON'T- Provide Too Many Choices
Casual players don't want to have to decide how to play the game, they just want to play it. Its better to not have the player choose the difficulty level, and if you must have multiple game modes, then be as straightforward as possible in explaining them. Instead of giving players choices, its better to design the game to adjust to the player.
DON'T- Pick A Bad Theme
People who play casual games stereotypically don't gravitate toward dark, violent themes. That means no swords, blood, death or fighting. That probably ruined half your ideas right there, didn't it? Bright, upbuilding themes are preferable, just make sure that your theme fits well with your game's design.
DON'T- Make Your Players Read
Casual players don't want to read instruction manuals. They want to play the game. So make sure that your game's instructions can be glanced over and understood within a few moments. If possible, instead of text, use illustrations to explain how the game works, or provide a short, interactive tutorial. If you're absolutely forced to use text in your game, make sure that its big and readable.
DO- Make The Controls Simple
If casual players find that it takes too long to master your game's controls, they'll go find something else to do instead. Simple mouse controls are best. Even though BYOND now supports it, don't use the right mouse button. Keyboard controls are okay if your game requires it, but keep them simple, and never require players to use both the mouse and the keyboard at the same time.
DO- Give Players Nice Rewards
In a casual game, you want to reward the player as much as possible. Giving them lots of points is the best way to do this. Everyone feels good when they're awarded 10,000 points for doing something right. Its also good if you put emphasis on their rewards with flashy graphics and fanfare sound effects. When your players are doing badly, don't chastise them, show them how to do better! Make your players feel good! If you discourage them, they'll leave.
DO- Make Your Game Addicting And Replayable
Remember that your goal is not to provide the player with extreme challenges. If you, at any point, lock the player into a spot where it becomes too difficult for them to progress, you'll lose them. So make sure that the player always has plenty to work with to keep them going, even if that means giving them more "free lives" than they will ever need or showering them with hints for solving the next puzzle. A casual gamer's goal is to relax while playing the game, so make sure that you're not requiring them to think too much -or- put out a lot of effort.
DO- Listen To What Others Say
Feedback from players is the best way to find out whether they're enjoying your game properly or not. Use a variety of testers, because its hard to find out people's impressions with your game when the only people playing it are veterans. Also note that, as far as casual games are concerned, the people who don't normally play games will probably be offering you the best advice.