Game Development Blog #51
"THE WAITING GAME"
180 - Heyyyyynow, it's 2 weeks since we've launched this on Android. What does it look like? Here's what's going on:
- numbers: just shy of 10,000 downloads of our free version, mayyyyybe? It's hard to tell. Google's App Developer Console seems to be notoriously messy when detailing exactly what actual download numbers are like - I have no idea what to think. For those who love math, we've received a good 120,000 (or so) impressions on Admob, which translates to about $2 a day. Perhaps from there you can deduce our install base. As for our paid game, Console says we are 1 shy of 50 sales. I'm fine with that, it's much more important to me at this point that we have a larger growth of our free edition.
- a few updates have released, and substantial ones at that. Nothing really new content-wise (which you could tell), but performance-wise the new build appears to be much more pleasant than the initial release. I am kind of kicking myself for "jumping the gun" and releasing without testing more, but there's a lot of good reasons that we did it when we did. I think our initial release was our first actual "proper" beta test unfortunately (it is extremely hard to find willing testers, most people aren't interested). Regardless, Alex churned out a new edition in record time so I don't think we were to hurt by it.
- marketing was really difficult, in many ways I still feel like I am in the thick of it. It's probably the truly hardest part of development, particularly for a game like 180. I'd hoped our little gimmick would get us some press, and it did get us a little (and no doubt the lion's share of those 10k downloads), but even worse than ever before we were largely ignored by press and calls for reviews. We did get a little, and for that I am thankful (you know who you are) but very disappointed that there is just so little interest in newsworthiness of a decent (at least) Android release, especially at a dead-quiet time in the news. I know, "it's a puzzle game" but on the flip side of it, as I might have mentioned before - we have had really tremendous response from the people who actually have picked up the game, in fact way better than we have ever received with the original iOS version. I am rather disappointed in my media connections as well (people I'd written with/to before) as most of those just ignored us, ad it's not like I have been quiet in the meantime. Again, this just goes to show the state of independent development on Android right now; it's still sort of a quiet place, and this is a shame.
- what's next for 180 - I am tidying up some social business on the promotional side of things, I still have some contacts to reach out to, and I have a "physical marketing" campaign to tend to which should execute as this week wraps up. I am looking at a heavy load of design work and editing before I reach the other end of that. We're definitely on the downward slope of the campaign with this thing at this phase, but it's certainly worth giving a last strong push as it finishes getting launched. The numbers look pretty good (I'd be happy if they were at least doubled) but I'd like to think there's still some room to move that. Keep an eye out for future interesting marketing promotion from us very soon, and if all goes well, a little burst of press if we get lucky.
- future updates for 180 - now that the existing product is in a nice post-launch state of decent function, I am gonna lay off my programmer and let him have some time to cool off (especially as I've other things to deal with). When we pick it back up again (which will happen if things don't go flat) I want to focus on refining the Casual Mode which we started to prototype. Even in an early phase it was quite fun and I think could only make the whole package that much stronger/easier to sell, in fact I think in some ways it would be more well-received by the audience. I think we could realistically turn it around in a couple of weeks, but as we're busy with other things I'll just leave it on the shelf for the time being.
- what about 180 for iOS? Hey, good question! I've packaged up all the new assets and sent them over to the iOS programmer for consideration (different guy than the Android coder). He's looking into a new way to package the graphics on his end (which will no doubt be a bit of work) and this means potential inclusion of the new HD assets (retina display resolution). Likewise we've talked about integrating Game Center, and then the "future planned modes" (Casual Mode et al) As usual I will say if our downloads on the Android side pick up dramatically then there's a decent possibility that a release of an iOS update will occur sooner rather than later; long story short, no one should be holding their breath for this in any near amount of time.
Trapdoor - yay! It's a new IP from HcG! I've bantered about it a little here and there, but now I finally feel it's close enough to becoming a reality that I can start posting official status updates on this project. I've been talking and thinking a lot about TD lately, documents have been written and reviewed, and prototyping is soon to come. I'm still deciding what stylistic route to go, and talking with some artistic collaborators as well; like anything else I do, TD will be an experiment, but I am hoping to keep it a lightweight one so that it can see release in a relatively short window. As of this writing it's definitely going to be an Android product, but I am doing what I can to facilitate release on other platforms as well. I have some pretty interesting idea for how I'd like to handle the production of this game (basically, I want to keep it "open to the public") and if that does happen, you can expect to see a lot of details (and perhaps even freely accessible betas) very soon. It is important to note that this game is intended to be a fairly casual/ligt affair, simpler by degrees than something like 180; that doesn't mean it can't still be a successful, quality product however.
Biz Dev - holed up as I usually am, not really talking with folks too much right now about anything other than all I have outlined above. There's a few important things bouncing around in my head that I'd love to proceed with development-wise, but first things first. I do have 2 different mobile games (unrelated to 180 or TD) that I really want to see go into & through production before this year is out, if that can happen I will be very happy. I have some wonderful game ideas gnawing at my soul and demanding development, and I really want to get busy bringing them to reality as soon as humanly possible. As usual, this depends on a lot of other things to happen first. Otherwise, we've got a bunch of events to look forward to (E3 is a month away) and that is always a very busy time. And to top it all off, I need money so I have to spend some time seeking an income source (and then working if I can actually pick up some kind of gig)
What Else is Going On - yeah, the world of gaming is topsy-turvey, what else is new. this whole PSN mess is unnerving to say the least (umm.. can I cancel my account?) To be frank, hackers really scare me. Not what they've ever done historically.. that I am aware of, anyway.. but the potential they are sitting on, especially as things get more political and more "cluelessly connected." This is just a chilling sign of things to come. Otherwise, Portal 2 has released, my oft-proclaimed "most-wanted game of 2011" and while still true, I am am too busy/broke to pick it up for now. That's fine, I will get my paws on it at some point.
We played Kinect at a friend's house last weekend, it was the first time I have ever seen it. Definitely a very rough-around-the-edges setup that Microsoft have released, it doesn't deliver on some of the perceived promises (no 1:1 from anyone, ever!) but in spite of it all, I still left the experience impressed with what they've accomplished. I can't say I know what the future holds for Kinect (I don't think I'd say it is "bright," it still just feels like a big gimmick), but I definitely would love the opportunity to design games for such an interface someday, the gameplay potential is huge!
This will wrap-up for today's entry! As usual, keep an eye out and do what you can to help spread the word on our game - it means everything, going forward!