A Look At How Instant Win Games Get Designed At PCHGames!
Have you seen the Daily Instant Win Games on PCHGames? It’s the fun way to try to win $250, $500, or $1,000 – instantly! Plus, when you complete all three games, you earn a bonus $10 Million Sweepstakes entry. Pretty awesome, right?
Some of you might be wondering…how exactly does an instant win game get designed? Well, it just so happens that I took some photos as I went throughout the game design process for Mah Jongg Moolah, and I’m very excited to share with you blog readers how we developed this instant win game!
Here’s a look at what my desk looked like while working on Mah Jongg Moolah. Surprised to see this game in development without a computer? We’ve found that sometimes a ‘paper prototype’ can work to make sure a game is fun before we start programming. The legwork for this game was done with physical tiles, and a notebook for recording tile patterns, calculating total number of pairs, and the number of free tiles available.
Mahjongg is a traditional Chinese game played with four players. It uses tiles and would be most similar to dominos. In computer games, we commonly come across a single-player variant which has preset tiles, where the player matches pairs to clear the board. Our version was designed for beginners who don’t play many video games.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how we got to the current game!
This is the most traditional pattern in single-player mahjongg. Tiles can only be played if they are free on the left or right. As you can see, there are several blocked tiles which could frustrate new players. We can check other traditional designs to see if something else works better.
In these pictures, I was only working with the concepts of shape and placement of free tiles at the start of the game. Some of the tiles above don’t have matching pieces and others are upside-down! Seeing that the whole top and bottom rows are blocked, we’ll keep trying different layouts.
With all of the tiles on one level, we avoid having an “unwinnable” game. While the game has a shuffle button, it would be unable to help if the last matching pair was stacked on top of itself. This design has a lot of free moves from jump (24 tiles!), but didn’t have the aesthetic appeal I was hoping for. We must be getting close though, right?
Finally, we arrived at the design that is used in the game today! This pattern only blocks 4 tiles, allowing players to jump into the action.
The farm theme was added after we came up with the title of the game. As a game designer, I always look to make sure the game is fun before worrying about the final art choices.
So there you have it folks! What do YOU think of Mah Jongg Moolah and our other Daily Instant Win games? How did you like this behind the scenes look at how the game was made? Comment below and let us know!
Junior Game Designer
PS: If you’re curious to see other patterns, we suggest playing Mahjongg or Mahjongg Toy Chest. Plus, Mahjongg Dimensions offers a great variation and may also help first-time players understand what tiles are free.