Game Design Breakdown: The Simplicity of Neko Atsume

  1. Placing goodies — This requires some tradeoffs on the player’s part, as the garden has limited space to place goodies.
  2. Collecting currency — The player collects currency over time, but this resource is sunk into the goodies and food.
  3. Cat collection — This offers the players a sense of progression, and all the features within the Catbook, like photos, offer players more content to collect than just the cats themselves.
  4. Food timer — This retains the player. They must return to the game to place food in order to have cats return to their garden.
  • Choice. You can pick and choose what you want to put in your garden. You can theme it, or add things to strategically get rare cats.
  • No guilt or pressure. If you put food out, the cats will come. If you don’t, then nothing bad happens. There is no pressure to complete any real goals in any timeframe, the game is open-ended.
  • Sharabilty. Based on your choices, you have some cute photos to share with your friends. The in-game camera feature encourages sharing.
  • Style. The game is cute! There’s a stylized aesthetic with a charming narrative and theme.
  • Make a chart of the systems in the core game loop, starting with each of the main objects with a software like Lucidchart or Visio. In this case, it’s the cats, garden, catbook, and resources. Start linking them to each other and identify any leaks in the system.
  • Further iterate on those systems by getting specific about how chance and player strategy affect your gameplay. You can simulate economy and systems without implementing them. Try it out, and cut what you think doesn’t work, support the core loop, or isn’t linked to a direct reward loop for the player.
  • Build those core systems out. Playtest them, and iterate. Slot other ideas for post-launch, or at least until you build the core game systems out and find the “fun” and any loop or UX issues that may arise.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store