|Flappy Bird||February 4, 2014, 8:07 am|
So, it's a mobile game on top of the charts, an endless runner in which you tap to fly a bird through pipes. It's all the rage right now, as every journalist tries to jump on the clickbait train making their own articles about it.
Everyone seems to be wondering what makes it a success, whether the popularity is organic or engineered. Journalists, as they are prone to do in their attempts to one-up each other, go on grand theories about game design and business, about the addictiveness, player masochism and social media or praising the simplicity. Commenters, as usual trying to act like sophisticated intellectuals above the unwashed masses, spew their bile on the graphics ripped off other games and the state of the industry in general.
Gave it a go two days ago... and I found it enjoyable, which is not something I can say about a lot of mobile games I've tried. The interesting thing being, I can see the reasons I like this game are also some of the reasons I like Doom, and nobody seems to bring up these reasons in this great public quest for answers.
There's no downtime. You don't wait for endless loading screens, you don't wait while a cinematic plays, you don't wait following a NPC, you don't wait buying upgrades in a store. You just play. Once you die you can restart instantly.
It's reactive. There's no frame drops. You tap the screen or press a key and your character moves accordingly. It looks clean. There's no GFX soup getting between you and the information you need to have.
It presents me with a simple mechanical challenge that is satisfying in itself and rewarded statisfyingly. In Flappy Bird it's flying through pipes and getting an extra point + reward sound in that noiseless environment. In Doom it can be killing a monster, hearing his pain groan and seeing his death animation.
Of course there's much more to Doom than that. Flappy Bird has no depth, but nonetheless the above qualities are enough for me, for a mobile game. I pulled out my phone and had a 10-second game before writing the above paragraph. Literally, perhaps fifteen seconds including the time to pick up phone, press button, slide to app, open app, start playing and play. An unfortunately uncommon experience with mobile games. As a person who prizes reactiveness in all forms, I can't help but hope that particular aspect will be picked on eventually.