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August 04, 2011

Simplicity In Mobile Gaming


Video games are a big business. So it was only a matter of time before mobile gaming became a big business too.

When Apple launched the iPhone, it flung the doors to mobile gaming wide open. Ever since, there has been a steady onslaught of game releases with developers rushing to create the next big sensation.

The Success of Angry Birds

Angry birdsOne of the biggest success stories in mobile gaming has undoubtedly been Angry Birds. Since its debut in December 2009, the game and its spin-off's have been downloaded more than 250 million times. And that's just for the iPhone. With the iPad and other tablets taking hold, there just doesn't seem to be an end in sight for this wildly popular game. And, with many positing that the iPad is just another console, the fight for mobile gaming domination is just getting started. 


Tiny Wings & the KISS Principle

Already there is another feathered competitor pecking at Angry Birds door. Developed in just 7 months, Tiny Wings has quickly risen to become one of the top selling games in several countries. It has a lot in common with Angry Birds: adorable characters, bright palettes and a strong adherence to the KISS design prinicple (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Tiny WingsTiny Wings is a game with a one-line story, a single character and a single control. You get a different level with different graphics every time you play, so the scenery never gets boring. And, with a single, simple-to-use control, users get to experience that "I get it!" feeling right away. It's a winning combination that is delivered with a procedural generated graphics engine and is generated by algorithms. Great artwork, realistic physics and simple game design.

By keeping Tiny Wings so delightfully simple, its creators have done more than just deliver a rewarding interface to their users, they've all but obliterated the need for updates. According to appshopper.com Tiny Wings only had one update since its release in February. That's pretty amazing and can be directly attributed to its awesome scope control. As any developer can tell you, a simple codebase is a stable one. 

With gaming proving to be the most popular category in the mobile apps market there'll be no shortage of game creators trying to make their way to the top of the pile. I can think of no better advice to game developers other than to keep it simple (KISS). Like Angry Birds before it, Tiny Wings is a perfect example of how one idea, executed really well, can soar above the rest.

As the ever-growing popularity of smart phones is becoming clear, there is a shift in traditional, desktop-centric web design. Mobile first and responsive design are now hot topics and best practices. How long before we see mobile game design principles influence the console?

 CC Image: Johan Larson