How to Make Your Own Slot Machine Game
Personal game making has become a popular industry in the last 10-15 years thanks to the invention of creation tools that allowed individuals to design and make their own games without the assistance of a major studio or commercial-grade equipment. As a result, the games market has benefited greatly from the influx of developers, as the increase in supply has forced those behind the games to create better, more entertaining content if they hope to get their own piece of the consumer pie. The same can be said for the gambling industry and the development of new slot machine titles.
The slot machine genre is the most fiercely competitive sector of the gambling industry, as it is the premier form of gaming used inside the vast majority of casinos and is comprised of hundreds of different variations that use everything from bright lights, comprehensive stories, licensed content and more to grab your attention. The goal of a slot machine is to get a player to sit down at it and make a wager. To do this, you need to provide something of interest that the player has not seen before and/or has a unique quality that pulls people to it, similar to making an effective video game.
Good slot game design has to involve all the usual benchmarks and goals that traditional video game development has, with the extra challenge that it must be packaged and presented in such a way that you can acquire that customer within a few seconds of them having come across the slot machine. No one is going to stand around for endless minutes deciding what slot to play, you have to be able to sell them on the idea of your game within seconds, that’s why proper selection when it comes to colorful graphics and audio effects is absolutely crucial.
A great example of a slot game that did this properly was Treasure Fair, produced by 888. Within months of its release, Treasure Fair, which features a dark carnival theme, became one of the top five slot machines across 888′s gambling platforms, with most of the credit given to the game’s design. Built from the ground up, Treasure Fair followed a five-step development plan from concept to finished product. The steps were:
1. The Idea
- What is the premise
- How will the story be told
- How will this stand out amongst the competition
2. The World
- What is the primary visual theme (dark, light, funny, scary, goth, etc)
- What type of objects/items can be included in the form of symbols/icons to better tell the story
- What other elements can be included on the game screens to enrich the visual experience
3. Color Palette
- Develop the main colors that will fit the chosen world
- Create a list of banned colors that would not fit the theme
- Decide on how to make subtitle color changes between different scenes without pulling the player out of the story
- How many main characters will appear
- How will they dress, how will they stand out from each other
- What is each characters role in the game and how do they contribute to the story
5. Real World Application
- Finalize symbol selections
- Use pre-existing slot template (with all logistics, odds, etc built in) and simply re-skin using graphics for new game
- Beta test, make final changes
Sounds fairly similar to how a video game would be made, right? You don’t have to follow Treasure Fair’s exact game plan when developing your own slot title, but rather just borrow what ideas would be of use to you. As with all game projects, you need to identify the basics of your title first, such as:
- Setting (space, jungle, circus, underwater)
- Storyline (introduction, interactive content via mini games and bonus rounds, end game)
- Characters (appearance, clothing, style)
- Background (static images)
- Color Scheme (base color palette)
- Audio Effects (library of sounds)
If you get stuck on one particular area, just skip it and come back to it later. You’d be surprised how much of game development happens in the moment, as your brain will work to fill in any blanks that you have left out of your planning stage. As long as you have the initial concept, that’s enough of a starting point to get going. Don’t keep it all in your head. Write ideas down, get storyboards going that visually represent how the tale will play out.
Does it all have to be original themes and content? A popular saying amongst journalists is “Good writer’s borrow, great writer’s steal”. The moral of the story is that there almost is no such thing as a completely original thought or idea anymore. Even if you believe you’ve come up with something totally imaginative, don’t forget that you’ve likely arrive at this thought process from years of having been exposed to different influences. So don’t feel bad about taking a little bit from column A and a little from column B when it comes to the creative method.
Lastly, always have some trusted friends or colleagues that you can bounce ideas off of. No one will ever be as excited about your project as you are, so having a non-biased opinion from an informed source can really keep your game on point and free of oddities. Do your research, see what other popular slot machine games you like are doing and what styles you associate with. Once you’re comfortable, you’ll be ready to start on your own coin-operated masterpiece.