How would I improve my games playing time(EG: make it more fun)?


I’m currently working on a “horror” game, and to say the least, it isn’t doing great statistically.

Short description of game, so you know what your working with

The game is called lurker. There are two teams, the lurker, and the survivors.

The lurker basically hunts down survivors. He goes around the map, and tries to find any survivors and kill them. If he can kill all survivors in a 7 minute time span, he wins. If not, the survivors win. The lurker can unlock an ability from the shop(using in game cash they get from wins) to help them defeat survivors. The lurker however cannot see chat. This is to prevent teaming from a survivor and the lurker.

Survivors attempt to avoid the lurker, while looking for items in crates. They can get better items and more useful items from a shop, which again, uses in game cash to unlock things. All the survivors have to do is survive; they can hide, run, or do whatever but if they live, they get a win and some cash.

If you die, you can spectate other players until the round ends(so people don’t just leave when they die). The game does require 2 players, so this makes having some retention important.

So, I’m wondering how I can make my game more fun? My average session time is below average(4.1 Minutes compared to a genre 50th percentile 5.5 Minutes). Retention is not very good, my revenue is not very high, and I’m not getting very engaged players in my game.

From my observations, I’ve gotten 3 types of players(note: these come mostly from sponsored ads, who seem bot like or very young):

  1. Players who join for about 10 seconds, and then leave.
  2. Players who play for a round or 2, and then leave.
  3. Players who actually somewhat like the game, and play for a good amount of time, before leaving. When they rejoin(because of low retention), no one is playing, so they leave.

I’m planning on adding another map, and then having the map randomly chosen. But other than that, I have no idea on ways to try and make my game more engaging to a wider audience. Is it just that I got a bunch of 6 year olds on accounts who just want simulators? Or is there something actually wrong with my game?

Game Link: Lurker [BETA] - Roblox



Off the bat: it’s a multiplayer game. If this is a new game with a small playerbase that relies on having multiple players then your problem is players finding other players who will play, know how to play, and keep playing when the experience gets tough (they don’t know how to play, they get bored, they die, they have to spectate).

Second: the idea isn’t very unique. Multiple players either running from or fighting against a single more powerful entity. There are other more popular and further developed games, there are plenty of smaller games with the same idea. Your game doesn’t sound like it stands out at all.

I don’t think the game as it is now, and even with your planned additions, will succeed on a scale you want. A dramatic increase in content might benefit player retention, but I assume it wouldn’t be worth the time and work invested.
Your game needs a redesign, a good increase in quality and quantity of content, and a lot of excitement.

Here's my take on a redesign
  • Firstly I think a small game having new players wait to even experience anything enjoyable is a bad idea. If you want new players to give your game a shot they need to be able to get into the action as soon as possible.
    So we scrap the round system and throw players right onto the map.
  • We want to keep the “All vs One” concept, but obviously now there’s no clear reset for who gets to be the One. So my first idea is to make players the Lurker in shifts. One player will be the Lurker for say 5 minutes, and then the next player becomes the Lurker, and so on.
    You’d need to figure out how you want to indicate that this system exists, so players don’t think that it happens at random.
  • Respawning players immediately after death is uncreative.
    Turn players into Ghosts. When killed players will leave a body and become Ghosts. Ghosts wander the map looking for the bodies of other players, and when they find one they can possess it and continue the game as before in that body. Ghosts cannot possess their own body.
  • The goal of survivors has changed; it is now Escape instead of Survive. An escape goal means players have to do more than find a hiding spot and wait, the game is immediately more engaging and Survive is just naturally part of the gameplay when you’re running from a monster.
    To escape players have to solve puzzles, collect items, and open up new paths until the exit escape is opened.
  • Your map should be a maze (not literally a maze, just something that someone can easily get lost in), with some recognizable points. Scatter tools and supplies around, and place locked doors and hiding spots too. Through accumulated efforts all players will open up the escape route.
  • The Lurker doesn’t have a win condition. Since players killed aren’t eliminated and Lurkers are only temporarily Lurkers, thus the player’s allegiance is more towards survivors, it’d be meaningless for players to invest in “winning” as the Lurker.
    So instead we change how escaping works for survivors: in order to escape and win survivors need to accumulate either Contribution or Corruption. Trying to exit through the escape with not enough of either would either prevent them from leaving or lead to the player losing.
    Contribution is given from solving puzzles and unlocking doors towards the escape.
    Corruption is given from killing survivors as the Lurker, thus players have an incentive to be the bad guy if they’re falling behind on Contribution (there are only so many steps before the escape is unlocked).
  • When a survivor escapes, the game starts a timer for leftover survivors to either reach the escape or build up points in order to escape. Timer ends, round ends, map resets, so on. If a player is the Lurker while this timer is going the Corruption points they earn is increased and they can choose to escape as the Lurker, and doing so will reassign a different player as the Lurker.

And I figure that’s a good take. But here are some details I think are important.

  • Survivors use an inventory system tied to their bodies. So when they are killed, become Ghosts, and possess a new body, the items that player has are based on what the body’s inventory has.
    Coincidentally this also encourages survivors to not die since there’s a chance they’d be less able to escape when losing all the escape items they collected.
  • I think it’d be cool if Lurkers could use reflective surfaces (mirrors especially, water, windows, etc) as teleport points and crawl through tight spaces that survivors can’t.
  • You’re bound to find players who want to be “nice” Lurkers and refuse to attack others. I think if a Lurker doesn’t get a kill (or if a kill quota isn’t met) you should spawn an AI Lurker, or otherwise somehow increase the difficulty of the game such as relocking doors, scrambling item locations, or reorganizing the map.
  • Although a shop and upgrades wasn’t in my original redesign concept, you can still easily implement these in and allow players to change up their experience.

Why do I think these changes would improve your game’s playing time?

  • Getting rid of the round system and a spectating mode means players can get to actually playing the game as soon as possible, and not spend their time waiting in boredom.
  • Not being a classic round-based killer-vs-all game means it’s a different experience that doesn’t have to compete with all those other games.
  • The Ghost mechanic I described I have never ever seen before in any game and I think would be a really cool and interesting feature for players.
  • Again, changing the survivor objective to Escape means more engagement from players which means possibly a more enjoyable experience.
  • The Contribution and Corruption points system rewards players for being good at the game, and being good means more money to buy better upgrades from the shop, which are used to be even better at the game.

But again this is a redesign. If you feel it pulls away from your vision of your game, you can try looking into similar games as yours to see what makes them successful.