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I'm developing a tycoon game, and with most games in the "genre", some in game things just take time. Making money, waiting for things to happen, etc. For mobile gaming (ios, android), how do I keep this entertaining. Without talking specifically about my game, there are day cycles / things that happen at certain points (can I be more general?...)

There's different possibilites, and some I've seen have either a fast-forward button or something in order to not make it boring. (I'm talking about a tycoon game with a little bit of stuff to do; you can't constantly be busy like sim city or something). Do I just have notifications generated at certain times to tell the user a "day is over" or a "power up is attained"? Or would that get too annoying?

I'm open to any ideas on how to keep users interested, but it's really not a game that you can constantly play for hours. Not enough stuff to do, doesn't require that much micro-management.

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In the games of this type that I played, I've definitively enjoyed being able to to control the time rate of the simulation (both fast forwarding and slowing down / pausing it). –  David Gouveia Jan 6 '12 at 2:58
    
Too little to do - boring. Too much to do - frustration. Automation and time speed adjustments come to mind, and are usually used in one form or another in tycoon games. –  Jari Komppa Jan 6 '12 at 8:17
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I would think having a 'slow' game on a phone isn't that bad. You could make your game in a way that users perform certain actions for a couple of minutes like building stuff etc. Then the game runs unattended for an hour or so and the user opens the game again to perform several actions and have his money updated etc. The game doesn't even have to run in the background to calculate new stats etc. In my opinion phone games usually are not ment to be played hours at a time. Players with that amount of free time would take a game console or maybe a tablet. –  Thomas Jan 6 '12 at 10:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Being able to speed up time is the easiest/quickest solution to this problem.

That said, most of the enjoyment of Tycoon games comes from the fun of seeing the world you've built up exist. Animations of objects in the world, people walking around, the "cha-ching" sound of money going into your virtual bank account, all these things add to the "fun" factor in a tycoon game. There's other elements that make certain tycoon games more fun than others, but without knowing more about your game, it's hard to give advise and know what would be applicable and what wouldn't.

So, some general thoughts: One aspect that people like with Tycoon games is solving a puzzle. Having to lay out paths or roads to maximize traffic patterns to be more efficient, having to figure out where to place a ride or police station to get the best results, having to make overly complex train networks to get 99% goods transported. Add to this that some people like having to deal with certain business aspects of Tycoon games, hiring and firing workers, training workers, setting up their paths, balancing a budget, making sure that popcorn prices are high enough to make the most profit but not too high that no one buys any, work with limited funds so that it's an accomplishment when they build a massive rollercoaster that cost $20,000 and has a perfect rating. Finally, unlocking content, seeing all the new, cool stuff that a game has to offer, and including it in their plan for their game.

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Nice answer, and yeah! unlocking content is great. This makes the player thinks "wow... it's geetting boring and.. OH MY GOD A NEW THING TO PUT HERE WHAT FUNNY GAME" and that goes for a large amount of time. –  Gustavo Maciel Jan 6 '12 at 4:54

I dont know about those time adjustments. The last tycoon game I played was GameDev Story, and it was basically something which gave you sequences of choices, reaction time was not a factor, nor would it be helpful to have speedforwarding since you have to make relevant choices often. So I think, that is the magic: giving relevant choices, with frequency, and allow the user to learn from the results. The assumption is that the user must learn to play and win the game. Once the user knows the system, he is assumed to win with > 50% chance. How to keep interest after that point, there is the deepest question...

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I've played GameDev Story too. Kinda cool game, and +1 for listing the fact of the "giving relevant choices often" Another point of the game, is the presence of events. Even when you're doing nothing, waiting a game to be done or whatever, you can be surprised by a console announcement, a event that you may attend, a shopper that come to sell things to you, etc. –  Gustavo Maciel Jan 6 '12 at 4:50

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