Monday, December 20, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #43

iPhone App Game Development Blog #43

What's up everybody! Just in case you thought I croaked, I thought it'd be a wise idea to check in and drop some blog knowledge on you all. Here goes.

180 for iPhone - it's become rather customary for me to start up any entry by delving into this familiar subject matter. As an aside, it is pretty wild to consider that it's been nearly a year since the game sat 75% completed on my iPhone and I was wondering if (or when) it would ever get completed. So much has happened in the time since.. and scant little in some other ways.

The game has been running through a Free Promotion for about two and a half weeks now, we are just trying to get as many downloads as possible at this point. It's been a very successful campaign overall, as we near 100,000 downloads since the beginning of the month (that's 100,000 on top of the downloads we'd already seen). Personally, I'd have loved to be approaching 250,000 - a quarter of a million - and though we did have a very good opportunity to ensure that possibility, we didn't pursue it (would have cost upwards of a grand, and well - I am giving away my game for free over here, y'know!) 100k+ is not a bad consolation prize, and though I don't expect to see much sales (if any) following the conclusion of the campaign, the desired result has occured (more visibility for us) and for that I am grateful.

Some devs/customers might scratch their heads as they read this "what, are you mad, man?" The point is this - not everything that one does should be seen as a move calculated to turn a profit as quickly as possible. The App Store economy and culture has proven this countless times over in over, in several cases. There are plenty of useful "side effect" opportunities that one can pursue through such a promotion (hell, from an entire project's development). Rather than look at each project/promotion as a money maker unto itself, sometimes it makes sense to look down the road and see what else can happen, "the bigger picture."

Without straying too terribly far off-topic, the game is going to be free for exactly 10 more days. Please help us continue to spread the word, tell people to grab it and check it out while there's still time. You know where to find it :)

Bizdev - Well of course all of the above rambling leads right into this of course. 2010 is just about all wrapped up, and so what does 2011 hold in store for Headcase Games? As usual, I can only provide vague answers ('cause I am an annoying SOB, mind you) but those who've been sharply watching our 180 thread on TouchArcade might have heard me spill a bean or two regarding future events..

One thing which is absolutely certain is that there is absolutely honest-to-goodness development going on right now, after a very long drought. There are two different projects underway, neither of which I've ever alluded to before, and at least one of them will surface in the next couple of months' time. I've been doing a lot of work in the background to make this a reality, and it's very important to the future of this outfit that it is put forth shortly. It's a very exciting time over here, but mind that there have been so many fits and starts during the genesis of this entire operation that I've learned my lesson about letting the cat out of the bag before it's time. needless to say - there's a reason that I've not been writing blog updates (or retro reviews) for some time.

Make that several reasons. I don't like to trumpet it outside of here, but I have been absolutely pounding the pavement trying to get gigs so I could pay rent, buy food, all that good stuff. 2010 has been my biggest money pit of a year possibly since I've had a career (13 yrs now) and while it's been expensive "making things happen," the actual ROI I've seen from the things I've created has been so tiny that it's negligible. This isn't surprising, given how things turned out, and to be honest, I expected worse. I had always intended to supplement whatever earnings I got from HcG with a day job, but it's been terribly rough to land anything for a number of reasons. Thankfully, something did recently fall into my lap (well, hard work and lots of hunting led me to it) and I am busting myself trying to deliver output for it right now (it's a lot of work!) But it's a good gig, it's the type of work I enjoy, and though it is compounding things enormously right now, I am very happy to have found this as it will make everything easier. The downside is that I will have to be pulled back from some of the fringe stuff I usually dabble in (retro game of the day) and perhaps even, which would be a shame as it's been steadily growing. But something's got to give.

Anyway, to sum up.. I am working on some big things. Keep an eye on Headcase in 2011!

What Else Is Going On - A strange year for me as I've really ignored a lot of the goings-on in console gaming (which spawned me!) It feels like a fairly dull Xmas season. PS Move? Kinect? And what the heck is on Wii? This is the dullest holiday season I can remember in several years! I guess it is all relative, there is a full staple of games to enjoy right now no matter your preference - but nothing feels sharp, unique, special. It feels like such an in-between time for gaming, and I suppose it's not hard to imagine why given the political and economic goings on in big studio development the past couple of years. As they've been going kind of haywire, and things have been pushing conservative coupled with a lot of the bigger franchises (particularly the rhythm games) going beyond stale, we are left at kind of a dead-end of creativity and excitement for the time being. Don't get me wrong 2010 was one of the BIGGEST YEARS on record all told, but it's rather shocking to see one of the pillars of the whole period to be such a void. Anyway, it doesn't seem like anyone really cares, and maybe that's a sign of things too. The hobby has plateaued, if only for a short while. Given the usual build-up/build-up/build-up that gaming usually does through a console generation, this is the period where everyone would start drooling over what lies around the corner (which is usually well-publicized at this point in the cycle). Thing is, there's... nothing. The big guys are playing around with their motion-control gimmicks to avert everyone's attention, and Nintendo is of course putting the final touches on their next portable domination due in the Springtime. Overall, things feel tired, top-heavy, even over themselves.

Even with mobile gaming, where I've been spending the majority of my energy, things seem to be at a bit of a standstill. We have Angry Birds and Doodle Jump and such still ruling the roost, which seems absurd to me. These are inconsequential one-offs, in a way , catapulted to maddening heights of grandeur simply because the industry is asleep at the wheel. EA or Activision should have a stranglehold on the entirety top ten of the iTunes App Store charts by now, and if not them then the new kids on the block (Popcap, Gameloft, Zynga). I know this all takes time and perseverance, but none of this is new and honestly 2010 should have been the year that this fell in line. I am not complaining about it, I personally am proud to see such indie strength making waves up that far and high, but it does point to a bigger issue about where things are, where they "should" be and what the heck can we expect next. This leads into something else:

The App Store is a giant MESS. The indie scene, mobile gaming, XNA, what-have-you, all these structures are just a big endless confusion. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it, between the developers, the media, the distribution networks, and ultimately the audience's expectations and perceptions. It's such a godwaful mess that at times one can get very discouraged. There's a reason the scrappy independents will continue to stick it out, because in spite of all this fiasco there still is a lot of opportunity to seek out, if one can afford to stick around long enough and make some sense of it all. Honestly I am surprised how everyone does seem very short-sighted and nonchalant about the whole of it (again, I am looking at other developers, the media, distributors, etc). This free-for-all spirit that many claim "has passed" has indeed left a powerful energy in its' wake, and this chaos will not settle anytime soon. A year ago, after much research I had expectations that a lot of things would be figured out by now and I am so surprised to see that there's so little momentum on things getting recitfied; I expect the next couple of years in mobile/indie/"alternative" gaming to continue to follow that initial speedy burst with a lot of slow, sloppy, half-hearted follow-up. Ultimately, I feel for the audience; they will receive a lot of interesting, affordable product, and much of it will be interesting and worthwhile, but so much of it will just be glazed over or considered "disposable" at best, and completely ignored at worst.

Alright, well that went on a fair bit longer than I expected it to (shocking!) I need ot wrap-up and get back to the aforementioned freelance work. Thanks for reading, consider what I've said and do your part to spread the word on 180 - our work is not over yet!

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