Monday, October 18, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #38

iPhone App Game Development Blog #38

Well hi there!! Yes, it's true, I don't get to stick my head in here and say hello as often as I like. Things are extraordinarily busy lately (they're never dull) and it's been murder on getting to things like community discourse. I have been spending a ton of time trying to find some manner of gig or other to pay the bills since I need to pay my rent, between that and keeping the lights on at Headcase it gets really tight at times. But I am still here :)

180 for iPhone - We've been working hard to get our update out the door. As usual I must stress that the game is not going to be a huge departure from the already-existing version, we had some tech issues to address and it's likely that the only really noticeable change for most folks will be the new icon. A new binary just got submitted this past evening, so with some luck it will turn around and we can breathe a sigh of relief! Following the update there will be a huge amount of activity on my end, as there is quite a bit of promoting to do. Our game is not new anymore, but I need to "act like it is" for the last time. It's hard to know what to expect for the fallout from this coming promotion, the details of which will be revealed soon, so I am going to be optimistic - either way I am happy, because following this period I can move on with things and concentrate on something different!

This final 180 promotion will be a big deal for us and I am seeking to recruit help from any interested parties. I need to finish assembling the plan, and will announce it in here shortly (this week?) Any help from anyone is welcome - whether you've got resources that are amazing or merely modest, I can find stuff for you to do :) Details to come.

Bizdev - As noted in the intro, I have been spending a ton of time seeking out some paid work, and my other iPhone development has been sort of crawling along as a result. I have got some time in for the project code-named "3," and I've recently recruited a buddy to help move that along. That project needs to get wrapped up and moved into the promotion & release phase asap so that whatever's next can get underway. I am sitting on a lot of great ideas for projects, but they all stay in the Deep Freeze until their time comes. - Our new website is chugging along. I think it's been live for about a month now.. this is taking a good bit of work to maintain as well, but I am happy so far. If you enjoy the site, please mention it to your friends - and if you are a dev with a free app to plug, hook up with us and we can feature it for you (for free) and help you to promote! With the coming 180 promotion I am expecting to get an increase in traffic for this site, so it is something to keep in mind. At some point we will feature ads for other (paid) apps by fellow indie devs, but if you're eager to get on with that then contact me.

What Else is Going On - Ohhh boy, the world's all crazy right now. Lots going on in game news, we've got Cut The Rope finally knocking Angry Birds out of 1st place in the app store. Very interesting, and I wonder how long it will sit there? Supposedly they made $1 Million off this 0.99cent app in a little over a week. This is crazy. Also, fellow indie developer Matt Rix made huge waves when his app Trainyard got some serious steam out of nowhere and blasted all the way up to number 2, where it exhaled for a moment, before getting in comfy at number 3 where it seems to be sticking around for awhile. This is a huge deal for all us little guys with apps that have been sitting out there for awhile, it just goes to show that a well-made production can be discovered and change the world. Of course, there are so many instances out there, that it's hard to expect a similar chain of events could be possible to repeat any time soon.

This brings me to a point I want to bring up, the notion that the app store is such a crazy place right now. It really is, we've all shuffled into this weird new world and everyone wants a piece of it, and most folks aren't gonna even snatch a morsel. We've reached a point where competition is so tense, and systems feel like they are getting pretty figured-out; most little guys will not have much hope of gaining any real ground unless drastic (and expensive) measures are taken. You can not just have a good game to sell anymore. You need to go out on a limb and do lots of other things to promote, and it's becoming more work to do that than merely putting together a nice game. If you've been a moderately successful dev (with a decent body of work and some amount of fandom) then you are probably a bit hooked up and plugged in by now, and you can just keep churning things out and getting some return. But if you are brand new and hoping to strike it rich, and have never dealt with any kind of marketing or networking, then it's going to be a nightmare. It's probably been at this stage for over a year now, realistically.

I think we'll see a lot of the bigger companies finally start to make some real movement in dominating the app space following the holidays, and indie devs will fight for increasingly smaller mindshare. Indie is not going away, but it will become much harder to get noticed as this happens. This will help glaze over some of the usual garbage apps that usually fill up the store, but it will probably also force smaller devs to embark on bigger and more ambitious projects before they are ready (if you've worked in the mainstream game industry, this might start to sound very familiar!) The app store scene has been wonderful, ultimately, as it has fostered this wonderful potential for creator-owned (and controlled) content, and I fear that the days might wind down before they've really been given a chance to shine. We will see what happens!

On that note, Angry Birds released on Android the other day. 1 MILLION DOWNLOADS in a day. Madness.

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