Does the design style of a game determine it's success?


#1

I’ve noticed a pretty consistent trend of “cartoon like” games dominating the front page.

Meep city, Mad City, Welcome to Bloxburg, Vesteria, and Royale High are just several examples.

Higher detailed games that go for a more “realistic” feel usually take second place to games who are built in a much simpler/cartoony fashion. As Developers I feel like we constantly try to push the limits of our ability and of the platform itself.

However it seems as if games that chase higher standards really only get acknowledged by the development community and never the main-stream base of players. For example, roleplay showcase games like Neon District never tend to make front page numbers.

Do you think it is a waste of time to build higher detailed games when low-poly cartoon styled gameplay dominates the current market?

Please note that I am not saying low-poly / cartoon styled games take less effort or are of low quality just that their style tends to prevail over games with pain-staking detail added to them


#2

In my opinion it could be a waste of time if your only goal is to make it to the front page, as cartoon styled bright colored games catch the eye far more than a realistic more bland colored game.

Purely based on your end goal.


#3

I think it purely just depends what you want to perceive from this game. It seems like you want to go for front page which just means its just the case of researching your market for the advantages,disadvantages and what’s the gap which you can fill in.

Don’t get me wrong, detailed games would be favoured by many people but you’ll have to take in consideration for people using different platforms, especially mobile- this is why some games tend to go for a simple design yet pleasing enough to play.
Personally, I think low poly is starting to become a popular choice to have because of the advantages you get when you model these things in Blender. Blender is a software which is becoming more popular amongst developers to get this low poly design look and as well as being performance effective across the board (platforms).


#4

My take on it is, the bulk of Roblox players are kids. Kids don’t care all the much about high detailed games, even older people don’t care a bunch unless they’re hardcore gamers. I don’t think it’s necessarily cartoon styled games that hit front page, I think it’s the gameplay that gets them there.

Phantom forces is detailed, and has 641M+ place visits.
Bloxburg is semi-realistic and has 705M+ visits (and it’s even paid access, imagine if it were free)

I don’t think it’s a waste of time to build higher quality games, just depends on how much time you want to spend on the looks of the game, or on the gameplay itself.

So, in conclusion, the style might have some affect, but I don’t think it has enough affect to keep you from front page. I think the huge reason a cartoony style is used often is because it’s quicker to build.
But the huge thing is gameplay, as long as your gameplay is good. You should have no issue.


#5

In a way it indirectly does. Low-poly / cartoon styled games tend to attract younger players, (which if I recall correctly, is the biggest age demographic on Roblox). These games also tend to use up less memory,
making the game perform faster and better for players with not-beefy computers.


#6

I Assume that most of the people that plays roblox actually do not care about Quality,
People nowadays are just looking to get the most fun possible, So the quality is rather based on the mechanics, making sure the gameplay varies alot, they probably focus alot to make people at ease in reducing exploits and the difficulty of games so that it’s really open to anyone, so if you’re looking for quick money, cartoon is the gudos choice, it simplify even the scripting in my opinion,

However, i wouldn’t go as far as making realistic content is worthless or not rentable, It’s obvious that there are still many theme which “Cartoon” Style is impossible to apply with it, to create a Ambiance and a Atmosphere that suits certain content (RPG, FPS, Horror games, cetains RP games) wouldn’t really be able to produce contents people could take it seriously,

Depends what are your plans overall, but nowadays i consider that all general ideas are taken, your main goal is to surpass it to make it a well known title, Murder games is a ok example as the competition was rather difficult due to how simple the gameplay was, so they did made extended content in additional features, which was

  • Trading
  • New Gamemodes
  • Skins
  • Pets
  • Better Mechanics
  • Remastered UI Designs
  • R15 & More Animations

Usually, if you don’t enjoy the game you’ve made, then i don’t think others will enjoy it too, I Suggest that you check it out with your own game and getting someone testing it that never really seen the game.


#7

A game’s art style is very important; it’s practically the face of the game, but there’s gotta be some substance to keep me playing the game rather than just checking out the prettiness and leaving, regardless of what style it’s in. The example games you listed all have plenty of things to do while enjoying the scenery.

Low-poly has a certain charm to it (also runs better on weaker devices) and high-poly instills a sense of awe. It really depends on the theme of the world.


#8

Detailed games are not for bad, however, you should take in account, that mobile, small capacity computers could lag on it, or even not be able to play. Depends on how much detail you want to include, too much, and then meet lag, which makes the players go away.

Another thing with this is, that I personally prefer low poly/cartoon, for the reason, that it’s simple, smooth and very relieving to play on. However, with detailed or super detailed games, I get tired a lot quicker, there’s so much detail, and if you were to add super realistic lighting, it’d feel very heavy on your eyes, making me leave quicker than if I’d be playing a low poly/cartoon game.
However, this is just my opinion, and opinions differ.


#9

I’m glad you made this topic as the answers in here has really good points when it comes to design and approach, I’m definitely learning something here and I think other people will find this topic helpful too. :slight_smile:


#10

As far as I can tell, kids don’t care much about aesthetics so it shouldn’t directly affect retention / first time play session.

Saturated, flat, bright cartoonish patterns tend to attract kids more, while unsaturated, grainy, detailed patterns attract adults more ( there are studies on this, and it’s why toys are designed the way they are ). So the art style should directly affect attraction ( peak player count during launch )

Generally speaking higher detailed builds should be less performant, especially on mobile. Mobile is 56% of the player base, and phones are 58% of that pie. In that way it indirectly affects overall success.

In might be the case that developers who try really hard to succeed don’t find it necessary to make overly detailed builds.


#11

I don’t think mobile matters much. Many front page games lag any mobile device and/or have bad control schemes. They still make stupid amounts of profit.

Besides, the mass purchase options are PC exclusive so PC players will have the most robux in their wallet.


#12

I think determining whether a game is successful or not is really a subjective matter.
It depends a great deal on your objective as a game producer.

What is your goal?
Are you looking to maximize revenue or are you trying to showcase your team’s skill?
If you go for a simpler game, something revolving around mindless fun, it will appeal to a broad audience of players as it has a small learning curve and few barriers-to-entry. If you go for a more complex, detailed game, you have a better opportunity to showcase your skill in your work.

It’s important to keep in mind the demographics of Roblox’s player-base. There are a lot of younger people on Roblox. Depending on the type of game you make, you’ll have a different target audience. Younger people, especially preteens have a more difficult time enjoying games with steep learning curves and complex systems. Playing Roblox games can be considered a stress-reliever for many people. It’s what they play when they want to get away from real life responsibilities.

Games that are fast-paced or easy to pickup and play, often bring enjoyment quicker. Think instant-enjoyment vs. enjoyment over time. People can be quite impatient, so games that bring that enjoyment early-on tend to be more popular, hence the list of games you see on the front-page. Games like the ones you mentioned are very friendly to the user. Meep, Welcome to Blox, Royale High, Jailbreak, those are all games that are fairly easy to pickup and understand. This is in comparison to games such as Phantom Forces which may require previous shooter experience and a better understanding of combat systems.

There’s a concept called Average Visit Time (AVT). If people find your game frustrating to learn, it drives AVT down as players quit rather than dedicate their time to master the system. Raising AVT is about ensuring people understand how to play and enjoy playing. Games with high replay-value, or incentives to spend more time playing, have stronger player-retention. The more complex and more detailed your game is, the harder it is for the average Robloxian to learn. However, with complexity and detail, you have more room to showcase the talents of you and your associates.

So we return to the question, what is your goal?

Is your goal to take advantage of simplicity and to create a game that’s easy to understand and play?
If that’s the case, you can capitalize on the larger player-base to create a game with high player-traffic and large sums of revenue.

Is your goal to create an impressive display of elite developer skills?
You and your team can shoot for a masterpiece to impress your peers and fellow developers.

You have the freedom to decide what your goal is with your game, and that will dictate what your audience is when you present your game to the public.


#13

Most front page games are mobile centric:

MeepCity: 31k non-computer players, 21k computer players.
Bloxburg: 14k non-computer players, 17k computer players.
Roblox High: 19k non-computer players, 18k computer players.
Adopt me: 24k non-computer players, 10k computer players
Murder-Mystery: 13k non-computer players, 8k computer players.
Pizza-Place: 20k non-computer players, 6k computer players.

There’s actually usually more non-computer players on. Must relate to the time i’m checking. ( meep city is usually 75% mobile ). The data about most users being on mobile applies to top games too.

Even games that aren’t very mobile compatible still have higher mobile numbers

Jailbreak: 27k computer players, 13k non-computer players
Mad City: 24k computer players, 10k non-computer players

While it’s possible to make front page w/o mobile compatibility, it matters.


#14

We haven’t reached a point where we can create immersive experiences on Roblox to tap into that small demographic of people that play games because they ‘look real’. Specifically,

  • Hardware limitations
  • Software limitations
  • Cross-compatibility limitations
  • Resource limitations
  • Networking limitations
  • Time limitations

The reason why a flat cartoon style is so prevalent is because Roblox was made for it; Taking a different approach will result in one or several of the problems listed above. Besides, Quality objectively doesn’t matter. People play games because they are fun or addicting, by design.


#15

The change in the style of Roblox games is consistent to the apparent changes in human society; we have grown accustomed to phone apps, etc. which generally revolve around simple, easy designs. As such, most front page games follow this mode and apply it with great success. I would say that in terms of front page game design, less is more.


#16

That almost makes you wonder if you should build games around the mobile platform and then have them be “PC compatible” rather than the other way around


#17

The success of a game doesn’t seem to be determined so much by its visual style as much as it is how the gameplay functions. Pretty much every front page game requires only the commitment you want to give to it. It’s most natural for a game player to be able to drop-in and drop-out of a round/match/gameplay/social experience/etc as smoothly as possible.

If you can provide a minimal-effort format where a player can just jump in, get playing, and enjoy a smooth, fluid experience, you can be sure that they’ll engage and keep coming back as long as there’s content to be consumed.


#18

Obviously cartoonish games attract a larger fanbase as they are easy on the eye and mostly little kids like those kind of things (unless its cartoonish the way Hexaria or Vesteria are)
As i noticed most cartoony games are simulators or really easy grinders.
So the design does matter depending on the fanbase you’re aiming for with the game.


#19

To make more detailed works, it requires the use of more parts - which can lag cheaper devices. The less laggy your game is, the more people can join.

Also, ROBLOX is a kid-dominated platform. Many younger users tend to be attracted to colors and cartoony styles. :+1:

But keep in-mind your target audience, and what your game is. Design does matter significantly. If you’re aiming for older users, I’d recommend making your designs more complex. But, if you want to target mostly kids (remember, most kids don’t have very expensive devices), I’d recommend going for a cartoony or undetailed feel!


#20

Players come to each different platform with different expectations. The look and feel that a player expects out of a AAA PC title or Xbox game will be much different than what he/she expects from a Game Boy.

I think a designer should take those expectations into consideration and try to meet or exceed them–keeping in mind that people tend to resist changes to things they already like.

IMO, the reason that many of the best looking Roblox places don’t rank high in the charts is because they just aren’t that fun to play (or excessive visuals slow the game down… or the visuals distract from, rather than support/enhance, the core game-play). There is only a small amount of time that someone will spend looking at cool scenery if the things they are DOING in the game can’t hold their interest. If you develop a super fun game, then it’s probably worth spending some time on the quality of the visuals. That could mean adding polish to what is already working, or it could mean pushing the graphics in a new direction that better fits the driving vision (think progression of Warcraft prior to WoW).

If you want to make a name as a builder, then by all means go all out on the visuals. If you want to make a successful game, then maybe take aim at something near the top end of what is already expected from a visual stand-point and focus your efforts on making the game FUN (interesting/entertaining/engaging). Then up the visuals in subsequent releases once you are on to something good. That’s really more to fend off copycat games that borrow your mechanics and then one-up you on quality.

My 2 cents.