Some days ago, one of our fellow countrymen and GameLoop reader asked us to review his game. TTTT, developed by Alessandro Cristino, showed since the very beginning its intention to set new standards for the mobile puzzle genre.
These winds of change brought us to try a slightly different format as well. Half review and half analysis, this article’s aim is to shine a light on a world unknown to many: the behind the scenes of mobile games development.
A Handful Of Seconds To Close A Sale
A cellphone game’s journey starts way before it is downloaded onto our devices. In a market that’s still one of the easiest to approach, especially for young developers, competition is unforgiving.
Unless they are looking for something new and innovative, people rarely analyze every single detail. Icons, descriptions and screenshots become an immediate and direct way to catch someone’s attention. With just an handful of seconds to seal the deal, it is vital to use time wisely.
Here, TTTT already starts to limp. What we find on the game’s page is more akin to a list of instructions than to a real introduction to the game. The game’s logo itself is pretty anonymous. Screenshots do represent some of the levels well, but do not give a precise idea of what someone should do to clear them.
Exactly as for any other product, video-games need to be advertised properly. Especially for the ones that have a pricetag on them, anyone who visits your page should feel motivated to click on that “download” button. No one would invest time, money or both of them in an experience that does not appeal to them fully!
An Highly Unpredictable Audience
Peeking beyond the shaky marketing efforts, TTTT still shows some interesting features. The main concept, for example, isn’t that bad! In a reality where gamers are too often baby-sat, the developer decided to leave us to our own devices and to encourage us to discover our role.
This risks to turn into a double-edged-sword, though! The average user takes their phone out in order to have some carefree distraction. Classics such as Snake and new titles like Clash of Clans are usually played for a few minutes per session, often while taking a coffee or waiting for the bus.
Again, the pros that such a choice might bring us don’t outweigh the cons. TTTT is based on repetitiveness and is consciously structured to annoy those who play it. Only armed with their bare fingers, gamers must touch the screen at the right time in order to avoid being crushed by a series of huge spiky traps.
When all we’re looking for is an easy way to relax, having to focus too much does not seem the best idea. The pace of each action, measurable in fractions of a second, contributes to make each match chaotic and wearying.
This might sound appealing to few, but the majority will have to challenge their own abilities in order not to fail miserably. More stressed than ever, many of us won’t want to try again in future.
Fully Compatible Only On Paper
When we talk about latency and reaction times, it is impossible not to mention the “hardware factor”. Differently from other platforms, for which electronics and OS are developed to match each other, Android is meant to be used on a wide variety of devices.
Each of these will have different characteristics that will make it perform differently. A low range phone, for instance, will respond more slowly to inputs than a medium-high range one.
Limiting the time players have to react, the team behind TTTT indirectly scored an auto-goal: any user with a not-so-new phone will a have hard time keeping up with the events on screen.
Even though I know some people who traded their phone for a better one just to play Pokemon Go, I doubt anyone would want to do so in this case. The game risks to end up catching dust in a corner, swallowed by the ocean of releases that is the Google Play Store.
TTTT suddenly seems to be even more doomed when I get to know that a big part of the experience- so called Panel Mode- is unlocked only when you move beyond a certain score. To have a complete experience, then, users have to overcome a double barrier.
After paying for the product, they will have to invest most of their time in fighting mechanics that- for lack of time or experience- are against them. Even after spending several hours thinking about it, I still don’t get the reasoning behind this choice.
So… Nothing To Do About TTTT?
As always, it’s hard to give a final impression. I cannot stop anyone from buying this game, and I would not even if I could. From my personal experience with it, though, I’m disappointed and I surely don’t feel like recommending it either.
Despite the bitter aftertaste this dish left me with, not everything on the plate deserves to be thrown away. Alessandro Cristino shows to have a strong drive for innovation that many devs -even among successful ones- seem to have lost.
I hope, in the end, that this not-so-positive experience may serve as a lesson; encouraging him to improve, instead of pushing him to give up. I cannot wait to discover what this young developer will come up with in the future!