In the last decade, our team/as art contractor creates background art for various story games, which are developed by studios around the world. We have tackled so many genres and solved all sorts of problems. Now it’s interesting to enumerate different type of story games, just like showing off my precious household collections. In this series of posts, I would tell as much as I know about these types of story games: Visual Novels, Point & Click Games, Social and Premium Hidden Object Games. This is the 2nd post, the 1st is here.
Premium Hidden Object Games:
The basic game play is to find listed objects from a cluttered scene. And the game is narrative driven, following the storyline the player would explore connected locations, and the hidden object puzzles are embedded inside these locations. Most of the stories are SPOOKY, in the setting of a ghost castle/town/island, playing as 1st person, the players would encounter specters, discovery dark tales- murder, persecution, secret cult. For cut scenes, there would be sumptuously rendered 3D cinematics, voice over and beautifully illustrated character art.
As the games are mostly aimed for aged people, they enjoy tension and surprise. Besides looking for hidden objects, there are many other puzzles, such as jigsaw, connecting circuits. And a story items are reward for beating the mini games.
Usually beating a game the whole walkthrough would be 2~5 hours. It’s often a standalone story. If a game has a series, each episode is loosely associated.
Mystery Case Files series(By Big Fish Games); Dark Parables series(By Blue Tea Games).
Every game has a free trail version, which offers around 1 hour’s game play. And full game download is available upon making the payment. New games are sold around $6.99 and older games $2.99.
The slogan of Big Fish Games was “Everyday a new game”, and later there are way too many developers making HOG, and more than one game waiting in the line each day. It becomes tough business, as players have enough free trails to get them entertained. And many of our clients struggle in the hash market and eventually quit.
These games are developed by studios around the world and published by sellers such as Big Fish Games, iWin and Goggi Games.
The peak time of hidden object games are around 2010~2015, during this period there are plenty of jobs for our studio, we do the background and UI art. And later as competition becomes intense, the developers seek to cut production cost, and eventually the price of the artworks become so low and our orders gradually diminish.
The bulk of the assets is background art, and would be 5~6 characters in the whole game. And the player group generally don’t like 3D graphics, that most the of the background art are in hand painting style. Even though some background are built in 3D, they would be eventually digitally overpainted to the traditional style.
For the story, the typical picture style is dark, mysterious, often use saturated cold colors as the ambient color, contrasting with warm lights from lamps and candles.
Freemium Hidden Object Games:
Free to play hidden object games share a lot of common features with the Premium: hidden object game play, story driven, similar artworks. The main differences are picture style, storyline and monetization.
Freemium HOG start to become popular on Facebook, and like most free to play mobile games today, they feature in game purchase, regular update of contents and never ending game play. So most games are with a never ending story, for example in Criminal Case, players solve one case after another; Or unending world travel such as in Pearl’s Peril.
Besides transferring from one location to another, and finding objects, there are collecting and town building game play (Often it’s a piece of land in isometric fashion). And as the games are social, you can visit friend’s town to see her accomplishment.
Criminal Case (By Pretty Simple Games), Pearl’s Peril(By Wooga), Relic Quest(By iWin), Garden of Time(By Playdom)
Free to Play, in game purchase.
This kind of game is assets heavy, and require monthly update of contents, so they mostly come from big developers.
Younger age group than Premium HOG
The main art assets include: background art, town-building isometric map assets, and a few character art.
The production method of background art is the same as Premium HOG, falling into two categories: digital painting and 3D render+2D retouch.
And the picture style is bright, cheerful and romantic, in shape contrast to the almost gloomy pictures of Premium HOG, which indicate totally different themes and player group.
Point & Click Games:
For all the story game types I discussed, each type is quite stereotyped, and the category of Point & Click games brings us a fresh wind, for most of them are made by small or indie developers, they enjoy unconstrainted freedom of deciding stories and art style.
For game play, taking a familiar example, Marchinarium, the little protagonist, ventures through locations, looking for story items, solving puzzles, to push the narrative forward, which is assisted by a few/no scripts and dialogs. Often the hero goes where the player clicks the mouth cursor, so this type of game got its name Point & Click.
There’s no fixed theme for this type of game, the typical storyline is about adventure, to all places and all dimensions, so they are also called adventure games.
Broken Sword series (By Reveluton), Marchinarium(By Amanita Design), Monument Valley(By Us Two)
Pay once for all, of pay for chapters.
All types of developers
All age groups.
There’s no fixed stereotype for the art style, it could be illustrations in all styles, 3D graphics, even scale model crafted in real world and then shot as videos.