Originally presented to acclaim at GDC 2009's Casual Games Summit, Nick Fortugno and Juan Gril's review of casual game design is an important look at the evolution of trends.
Encompassing a wide variety of platforms, target audiences, and design concepts, the talk is an overview of the indie and casual games market, as well as a tool for creators to refer to in their own work, and a new Gamasutra feature presents it in full.
Fortuno and Gril explain why they're not attempting to assert an iron-clad "best-of":
Rather, it's a list of games we think are innovative, and we group them in trends. These trends are usually genres which are not stagnating (new games come out constantly with new design ideas in them), or are new to the market (a game or group of games which creates a new genre).
Among many trends the two pick out is the "Visual Narrative Trend," which Gril feels is best exemplified by the Bowja the Ninja
The game mechanic is based on the concept of exploring the screen with your mouse to find hot spots, and clever puzzles that you have to solve. The theme is great and it will be particularly appealing for all of those who have grown up with Cold War-era movies and books. Best of all the games contain almost no text at all so they are globally accessible.
Another trend the duo observe is increasing sophistication in casual multiplayer -- instead of clones or minor iterations on popular titles like Worms
unique themes and mechanics are beginning to emerge.
Fortuno selects LittleBigPlanet
A lot has been said about LittleBigPlanet in terms of its visual style and user-generated content, but I think it's multiplayer offering is at least as interesting to the development of casual games.
The core way of playing LittleBigPlanet is to play with multiple people on the same screen. The platforming gameplay encourages many people to tackle a level at the same time and either aid or grief each other. So the physics elements that platforming levels contain are designed that players can work together to utilize them.
You can now read the pair's full year trendwatch
, with plenty of defining examples worthy of consideration, at Gamasutra (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).