Game App Review: TwoDots by Playdots, Inc.
Folks, today I want to talk about the genre of endless games. This time let’s consider TwoDots as an example.
So there are these Playdots guys who first created a game app called Dots. This is a game about connecting, according to its creators. It is a simple, minimalist game: colored dots on a white background. You can play classic “connect dots” with a minimum challenge: rounds with time limitation, moves limitation and you can compete with some of your Facebook friends, which also offers a weird score table. Freemium concept is even weirder. You can collect dots to buy more rounds or you can buy these rounds for real money. That’s just wrong. As a result – great app, millions of people installed it, but not that great idea in general – why would anyone pay for additional game rounds?
So after rethinking what people really wanted from their “connect dots” game and after getting some inspiration from a famous artist Yayoi Kusama they created something completely different. Essentially, it’s the same game with the same rules, but now it’s called TwoDots. And who said that the sequel is always worse than the original, anyway?
As a result, we have a beautiful, endless quest. It’s now a journey where every day is an adventure.
Now where do I start? It now has different levels and worlds and monsters and objectives and daily quests and whole bunch of other stuff.
The main difference between Dots and its sequel is that TwoDots has upgrades, objectives and certain levels. You’re starting you trip with two adorable brave dots, Jacques and Amelia, on Level 1 and another level is unlocked every time when you are done with the previous one. As you progress level by level, you’re proceeding with those characters to new worlds. Right now there are 335 levels and 10 worlds (Bottom of the Ocean, Ice Mountain, Read Leaf Forest, Barren Wastes, Outer Space, The Beyond, Endless Caverns, Emerald Jungles, Emerald Rapids and Tesla Labs) available. But if you’re done with all of them, it doesn’t mean that you’re done with the game, it means that you have to wait until another world appears.
There are also some monsters as I mentioned, but they are just useless. They’re doing nothing and you’re just passing by. But nevertheless, every game is better when Yeti and Kraken are in it, right? And in case you’re wondering, the fox’s name is Trixie. Just a piece of useless information.
Now you have a goal in your life – to finish this game, which is impossible, because it is endless, remember? But not only, you have daily quests, power-ups and medals. You can compete with your Facebook friends and track their progress in comparison with yours, of course, if you are a really competitive player.
The freemium concept with TwoDots is clearly better too. Now you have 5 lives available for free, and it takes twenty minutes for a single life to regenerate if you lose one, so in total of one hour and forty minutes. But you can also buy the refill of lives instead of waiting. When you’re fighting some nasty level and you draining all your lives… what are you gonna do? Come on, it’s less than a dollar. Or you can buy extra steps if you know you’re almost there.
And more. You have to sink anchors, break ice, fight the fire and stop various creatures from eating dots.
Bottom line – a great and beautiful game, install it and play it forever.
So I was trying to get somewhere here. Let’s think about changes in the approach you have to apply as a developer to your products and to understanding the consumer psychology.
At first you needed a technical miracle. Something so cool that you don’t know whether it was created by software developers or magic elves. Then in a digital era we didn’t care about miracles anymore. “Ok, that’s new, that’s ok, but I’m not impressed”. So you needed a brand new idea. “A personal trainer app? That’s brilliant!”. Today we have all kind of stuff. We’ll say “Meh” to everything new and we don’t care about ideas anymore. We need simple UX and fancy UI.
Can we use ‘Dots’ experience as a lifehack? There are so many more simple puzzle games: Tetris, blocks, snake, minesweeper, pong, tic-tac-toe, mahjong. You don’t even have to create something new anymore. Pick one, and we’ll do the rest: scenario for an endless journey and beautiful gameplay. We can pick an artist to be inspired by, just as TwoDots did. And we’ll have so much fun during the development part. Thoughts?