Panelists Alex Mendelev (Advisor with DoubleJump Games), Dave Rohrl (CEO & Founder of Mobile Game Doctor), Konrad Stanczak (Promotions Specialist at Power Up Game Studio) discussed finding balance between gameplay and monetization at Casual Connect Kyiv 2017. The panel Designing for Revenue – It’s Not All Fun and Games was moderated by Tapdaq’s VP of Business Development Chris Lefebvre. Together, they shared their experience which varied from industry veterans to newly published indies.
Dave Rohrl is the founder and owner of Mobile Game Doctor, a consulting company that helps free-to-play mobile developers solve their challenging creative problems. Dave has been designing and producing games for almost twenty-five years, learning during that time many ways to help developers avoid common pitfalls and solve their most frequent problems. Developers around the globe are now taking advantage of Dave’s knowledge.
Dave especially enjoys the opportunity consulting offers to work on a variety of projects while solving interesting problems. And the ability to be one’s own boss is an added bonus.
Obsessed With Games
A career in games was almost inevitable for Dave. As a child, he was intensely involved with games long before knowing anything about video games. He elates, “You know that annoying little kid who won’t let his parents go to bed until they play one more game of cards? That’s me!” And he still admits to being “a massive board game nut”. Recently he sold approximately 100 board games, but that only brought the collection down to 600!
When asked if anything in his early life that hinted at the career he has today, Dave seemed to think it was fairly obvious – “You mean other than my obsession with games? And my love of consumer technology? And my mix of analytical and creative skills?”
Design Makes Games Tick
Dave became interested in design through his love of games; he insists it is hard to love games and not become excited about design, claiming, “Design is what makes games tick.”
When Dave begins a creative project he likes to start by having a particular challenge. He might be asking how to make a particular game better, or how to make the perfect game for a certain person, or perhaps how to design a game in a certain genre without using the usual mechanic. He believes, “I’m not a great blank page designer but as soon as a few lines appear my mind gets right to work.”
Not surprisingly, considering Dave’s fascination with board games, he often finds inspiration for his work from these games. He even frequently considers how to apply certain board game mechanics to a variety of video game challenges.
Creative blocks are a fact in the game industry. Dave usually deals with them by taking a walk, riding a bike or even jumping in the shower. For the really stubborn blocks, working on something else for a while usually leads to a shift in perspective.
Into The Unknown
Dave finds the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards of game closely related. “Striking out into the unknown and blazing innovative, new trails is always scary and always awesome when it actually comes together.”
The accomplishments in his career that Dave is most proud of are creating several successful businesses from scratch including his current company.
If he had unlimited resources and time, it is probably no surprise that Dave would create “nerdy strategy board games. But collectible card games and pocket 4X games similar to Polytopia are also strong possibilities.
What will actually happen in the future, for Dave and for the game industry? Augmented Reality has real possibilities, he believes, although it will take time to figure it out. And he is working in the background on what he calls ”super-secret stuff”.
Working to Build Consistently Good Games
Dave believes that the games industry is producing far too many bad games, and insists there is no reason for doing that. So his focus is to raise the median quality of games. “If I can do that I will be a happy man.” He is focused on helping developers working in the mobile space to develop skills and process that will allow them to consistently build good games. “Life is too short to make bad games!” he insists.
People who want a career like Dave’s must immerse themselves in games, Dave advises. They should play the widest variety of games possible, both analog and digital. They must build as many games as they can as soon as they can. Then play-test the games on other people and revise them until you know they are great or that they will never be anything but mediocre. “There are important things in game design that can only be learned by doing. So do!”
Dave says that Mobile Game Doctor is looking for more developers who would like help with challenging creative problems. So if your game needs some expert design help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.