The HC Playbook: How to enhance ideation

By
Homa Games
/
November 3, 2021

Where do game ideas come from? How are super addictive games conceived? Creativity can come from anywhere, but when it comes to Hypercasual, there are a few techniques that can make the whole process more efficient and facilitate a game’s road to publishing.

The game publishing process is highly data-centered, so even though we can get ideas from daily life observation, a sharp analysis of the gaming market and the social media environment in general is what will keep developers on the right track and prevent them from losing time in prototypes that won’t make it through the publishing funnel.

When starting to work on a new game project, there are a few elements that come into play. In this article we’ll go through the process from ideation to prototyping and we’ll explore the main sources of inspiration for HC games with the best ways to approach them.


Sources of inspiration

Ideas can be everywhere, but if you’re looking to create a HC game that is relatable, snackable, and satisfying, you need to know what kind of content people are consuming and how they’re relating to it. So the first thing to do is to check what’s trending at the moment in social media, in the entertainment industry and, of course, in the app stores.

Other HC games are an important source of inspiration as they’re a good indicator of where the market is going. This doesn’t mean copying: different elements of a game can be incorporated into new projects and repurposed in diverse ways to create unique concepts. Not-Hypercasual games like midcore mobile games or even console and PC games are also a place to look for ideas that can be adapted to a HC style.

A good market analysis will consider trending themes, most featured mechanics, and overall visual style of the most popular games. It will analyze how many games correspond to each category, the number of downloads, their share of the app store, and the evolution of each trend overtime.

💡 At Homa, the Market Watcher module of our HomaLab platform regularly scans the app stores looking for new apps in general and HC games in particular. We then have a dedicated Market Intelligence team that analyzes this information on a daily basis to get insights on the market. This team will later share the high-potential and emerging trends with our publishing managers.

When it comes to trends, social media is where things happen. We’re constantly seeing trending challenges, beauty tutorials, toys, arts and crafts, or even cooking tips become HC games. Numbers don’t lie, you can easily know which kind of content people are interacting with by looking for popular hashtags and trending topics. Furthermore, the visual styles and formats that arise in social media platforms can strongly inform creatives in a later stage.

The entertainment industry in general is also a major source of trends. Series, movies, board games, and shared cultural references make their way into the app stores’ top charts when matched with the right mechanics and execution.

Inspiration behind Attack on Giants.

Earlier this year, we noticed the popular animé series Attack on Titan trending as its final season was being broadcast and, at the same time, nothing similar was being published in the HC scene. Adding typical HC tapping mechanics and some satisfying slicing to the already popular theme, the idea became Attack on Giants. Later, popular cultural references like superheroes were added as skins and became relatable creatives.



Attack on Giants creatives with popular references.

It is important to develop the ability to anticipate and to identify rising trends. When a trend is already at its peak, the competition is too high. 

 

Finding the right game concept

Once the market analysis is done and the trends are identified, it is time to come up with an original game concept, which could combine trending topics with Hypercasual mechanics from different sources of inspiration. These different types of configurations can decline into derivative, symbiotic, or revolutionary ideas:

  • Derivative idea: It involves taking an existing idea and changing it. One way to derive a HC game would be to pivot it by also adapting one element of the core gameplay. And when it comes to ideas from midcore or console games, social media, entertainment, or just life, they can just be “hypercasualized” into HC games—simpler, shorter, more relatable, more “youtubable”...
  • Symbiotic idea: It happens when multiple ideas are combined, using different elements of each to form a new one. For example, a good mashup can combine a proven HC toy with a certain core loop in a new way.
  • Revolutionary idea: It breaks away from traditional thought to create a brand new perspective. This user-centered approach can result in a new gameplay or genre.


💡 After getting the insights from the Market Intelligence team, our Publishing Managers at Homa will reflect on the different concepts that will be later shared with our partner studios and developers. Together, they will brainstorm game concepts that will go to the prototyping phase.

Every game development process is unique, so these ideas will be constantly changing and evolving as Publishing Managers interact with developers and when prototyping and testing starts.


Execution and timing

Once you find the right concept, time to bring it to life! Execution is really the key step, because good execution trumps good ideas. Prototyping is an iterative process, so it’s normal to see ideas change as the prototypes get tested in pursuit of the best execution.

Small details can have a big impact on marketability, and it's important to anticipate variations, big and small, to apply to prototypes or creatives as the ideas get refined. The example below shows the impact in CPIs on two Attack on Giants creatives just with color variations.

Color variations can impact CPI.

In order to test a concept, there are elements like core game mechanics and dynamics that need to be there from the beginning, no matter how simple your prototype is. At this stage it is important to focus on readability, so the idea is easily understandable, but without overlooking the visual and rewarding parts that are key to the success of any HC game.

💡 At Homa, Publishing Managers would expect devs to submit a brief and at least 5 minutes of gameplay and creative recordings to start testing. The prototypes will be later tested in our HomaLab platform to be validated ASAP. It is necessary to test several variations of the creatives to give the best chances to a game from the go.

In the fast Hypercasual world, timing is everything, and to master execution time is one of the biggest challenges. HC games should be built and tested as soon as possible to avoid letting trends slip away or ideas being quickly “reinterpreted” by the competition. Attack on Giants’ first prototypes took about 4 days to complete in order to be quickly tested and have the idea validated by the market.

Attack on Giants first prototype compared to the live version.

From ideation to prototyping, it is important to stay data-oriented and to become friendly with analytical tools. The publishing process relies heavily on data obtained from research and testing, and only proven concepts make it through the funnel. Our HomaLab platform was created with this in mind and has now become an essential tool for walking developers through the game launching process from sourcing ideas to publishing.


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