Must reading for all you game designers out there, indie or not:
The golden rule of game design is that if the game itself is of exceptional quality, it will succeed despite any shortcomings in its business plan. Games like this are rare, though we all seem to set out to make one. What follows here is not a recipe or guide to exceptional game design. Instead, this essay is meant as a road map to maximize your chances of your game becoming successful, from conception to release. It looks at everything from coding practices to business practices in an attempt to clarify common and critical mistakes, and point indie developers into a profitable direction…
Read it all!
And here’s another piece on designing game mechanics, specifically rewards:
… studies have shown that the order in which players (that would be “customers” for most of us) actually value rewards is thus:
Status – ie: Platinum Elite in frequent flyer programs.
Access – ie: Gilt Noir members get access to sale items 15 minutes ahead of everyone else.
Power – ie: After a certain level of achievement, the player gets “power” over other players, like power moderators on Craigslist.
Stuff – ie: Buy ten coffees and get one free.
The best thing about this revelation is that this is the exact OPPOSITE order for which it costs to provide these rewards…