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Game Design - What Works?

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

There are a lot of games in game world that manage to get the right combination of elements to make them a success. In this article I would like to do an analysis of a long term mobile game I play called “Crash Of Cars” as I think they get the balance just right.

I would like to clarify that this is not a review as such but a breakdown of the gaming elements the developers Not Doppler have incorporated to make it a great experience. The purpose of this exercise is see what works and try to apply it to your own game projects.

The Elements

  • Platform - MobileMonetization Strategy - Free to play, in app purchases, ad revenue.

  • Genre - Driving SurvivalQuality - Outstanding graphics and details to all aspects of the game.

  • Currency - Golden Crowns and Gems

  • Controls - Left, Right, Tap to use Power Ups

  • Variety 131 cars (at time of writing), hidden cars, 16 upgradable power ups, 30+ Skins to apply to any car you drive, Create Fused Cars, Free Coins, Daily Missions.

  • Return Value - Get all the cars, find hidden cars, upgrade cars, increase prestige, daily missions, Free Coins every few hours.

  • Rewards - cars, upgrades, prestige, crowns, gems, skins, badges, fused cars, share great gameplay moments on social media.

  • Screens - Home, Cars, Prize Machine, Fused Cars, Buy Coins GUI, Buy Gems GUI, Prestige, Hourly Best - leaderboard, Today’s Missions, Map Selection GUI, and Settings

  • Updates - Regular minor updates, occasional major updates where new cars, maps, and skins are added.


Crash Of Cars as you can imagine is about driving cars around a map, collecting crowns (an in game currency), picking up power ups, and destroying other players to take their crowns. While there are a number of maps you can play on, they are rotated every few hours, with a selection to choose from. Gameplay is continuous for each map. When you get destroyed you are given the option to watch a 30 sec max video add or 2 rewarding you with 20 crowns each video, then return to the same map or another. If you choose not to watch an ad, the game makes you watch at least 1 anyway before allowing you to play on.

For some the ads may seem annoying, however as the game is free to download and play, and most of the ads are of good quality it does not bother me at all.

So what are the crowns good for? For every 100 crowns you collect in the game you can spend them to win a car . The win a car screen shows a machine jumbling around different colored balls. Each color represents the rarity of the car you might win. When you spend your 100 crowns, one of the balls rolls out, and turns into a key. Touch on the key, and it shows you the car you have won, which is added to your collection.

If you win the same car again, it is upgraded with more health, and increases your level of Prestige. Each prestige level you achieve (Max is 100) you win a new skin, and or the ability to add modifiers to the power ups you use during the game, effectively allowing you to destroy other players easier, and allowing you to last longer in the game.

But wait! there is more! On top of this there is the ability to find “hidden” cars by performing different tasks in an order, sometimes across multiple maps in order to unlock them. A golden carrot for the hard core gamers, as some of these tasks are very difficult to achieve.

Finally some cars can only be unlocked by gaining prestige, or completing daily missions, and some of those are quite difficult as well for those that want a challenge.

If you max out a cars upgrades you are rewarded with 1-10 gems depending on the cars rarity. Gems can be used to purchase upgrades for cars, different skins, and in game new car offers.

Also once you have played for awhile and upgraded a lot of cars there is the Fused Car section that lets you take up to 4 cars and merge them into 1 of 17 special vehicles.


Just looking at this list that I threw together you can see I have listed the major elements, and some of their properties. A lot of detail to the functionality, appearance, and quality of the cars you drive has been applied. Everything upgradable or purchasable goes toward increasing your playing experience, even though the player is only required to make 3 inputs in total during gameplay, so much can be applied and setup prior to play that it makes it a very rewarding experience that makes me want to come back again and again.

There is the ability to spend money on in app purchases, but I never have, as I prefer to grind it out playing a lot of games to earn my rewards. Most importantly, the game is not set up to encourage purchases. You can achieve everything (which takes a long time) without spending a cent. However if you want the new car before everybody else you can spend money on gems, and purchase cars.

Applying Elements To Your Own Games

The purpose of this article was to identify some of the great elements of Crash Of Cars to discover why and how it is a great game, and then apply those to your own game. It is worth spending time thinking about these things when designing your own games as you can see what works, and what does not. Extract the elements you find satisfying and good and apply them to an entirely different platform, genre, or game theme.

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