BugDev Studios is one of the start-ups incubated at the LUMS Centre of Entreprenuership. They already have a game on the Google Play Store called ‘Crazy Hexagon’.
I downloaded and played the game on my phone, not expecting much after seeing the game’s mixed reviews and ratings. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the idea and some of the execution, perhaps because I have caught the game at the better end of its life with many initial bugs already fixed.
How it works
Let’s see – there’s an outer hexagon (that you control) with one of the sides lit up, and smaller hexagons (also with one side lit up) that are expanding in the middle like someone’s blowing bubbles. All the inner hexagons are rotating. You need to match the lit up sides of the outer hexagon with the lit up side of the next hexagon in the line of smaller expanding hexagons. When those sides are matched, the inner hexagon explodes and you try to match the next one. This continues until you fail to match the sides before an inner hexagon grows as large as the outer one.
This was the first level. The gameplay might have been different for the other levels, but they were locked and needed 99 cents each to be unlocked. This has limited the review to what I was able to see in the free parts of the game.
Honestly, the concept’s great and it should (in my opinion) have been one of the top downloaded games, but it lacks certain basic features that are central to games that everyone loves. I am sure certain aspects are dear to the creators of the game as their original ideas, but I am writing from the aspect of revenue-making capability and popularity.
Graphics and Fonts
The graphics of the game were only average at best. The game would go miles if it has a great high-definition 3D platform with more clarity. The graphics within the game itself are not that bad actually, it is the welcome screen and other parts of the game that are just extremely plain and basic.
Buttons are colored, sized and placed weirdly, making them hard to spot on the screen. The fonts are small and hard to identify with. What I am trying to say is that you really need to look hard to find the buttons and the fonts make you uncomfortable.
Music and Colors
The tune in the game is catchy, and makes one want to get as far possible to hear more of it. The toggle sounds, however, are crass and unwelcoming.
The colors inside the game are dark and, for the lack of a better word, odd. One would expect brighter and more familiar colors, at least initially, to help beginners get a hold of the game. The whole game has a trip-inducing or hypnotizing feel to it that the colors accentuate.
This refers to the default name in a small box on the welcome screen where the player is supposed to enter his/her name. I suppose the game developer intended this to mean “Nickname”, for which “Nick” is not the best abbreviation.
Moreover, the small name box is lost in the background due to the quality of the graphics and colors. Evidence of how not many people picked on this ability to set your name is that most leader board entries are named “Nick”.
Gameplay and Scoring
Not complaining as a beginner, but the difficulty level can definitely be reduced to make it more friendly in the initial levels. Or maybe, that’s what keeps people going. The highest I could score was 42 seconds on my 70th attempt.
When I figured that just pressing the button on one side over and over again should technically beat the system if done quickly enough, the game picked up on my strategy and disqualified me for not playing “normally”.
The score display was very unattractive, like a summary that comes up with the print command in a programming language(I am not a programmer, but this is what it felt like). Even the number of attempts, most certainly whole numbers, were shown up to two decimal places (like 72.00 attempts).
There is an ad banner on the welcome screen and the main menu, and then there are in-app purchases in the form of access to higher levels of the game. This feels like the very basic strategy of making money off games.
We have seen so many more advanced and catchy ways that games are making money today: placement of ads when results are announced (2048), limited number of attempts that can be refueled by waiting or purchasing credits (Candy Crush), extra capabilities bought by coins that can be earned in the game or purchased instantaneously (Temple Run).
The available methods are many in number, but you really need to sit down and plan this out. The most successful games are easy to navigate, easy to play, have clear bright colors and a hook that keeps people playing (social media leader boards, multiple levels). The aim of the developers needs to be to maximize recall, time spent playing and the social aspect of the game (competition).
Great Idea, Not The Greatest Execution
Overall, Bugdev Studios has had a promising start with a great idea. They should work on tweaking the finer aspects and think about the little things that can help their games become more user-friendly and even more fun to play.