Friday, December 31, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #44

iPhone App Game Development Blog #44

Arrrgh! It's the end of one of the busiest years of my life! And so as it is the final day of 2010, it is of course time to do some wrap-up. As usual I'd like to jump right into it so here we go.

180 for iPhone - first things first! Our promotion has finally ended, after quite an interesting month (well over 100,000 downloads in just this month alone) we are still averaging hundreds of DLs/day for our game, which is awesome. Tonight (or thereabouts) we'll flip the switch back to paid and see what happens next. Of course I'd love to see the DL rate maintain it's consistency - that would be awesome - but I know better than to expect this. If we can get more DLs/day than we did at the launch of this campaign then i suppose it is successful enough, but honestly 100/day would be incredible. And so, this is all part of the experiment (and don't worry I will share it here). Know this much - prior to the update, we had a Free (limited) version available, which averaged 20 DLs/day. Full was getting less than 10/day.

Bizdev - things have been very busy in the background. So busy that I am going to express my exhaustion! Right now I am the bottleneck, as I have coders waiting on me for stuff but I've been swamped with other work and therefore progress on HcG projects has been placed on the shelf while I try to get on top of everything. Its a bit of a bummer but better than the other way around! Hopefully I can have things on a more even keel in a few weeks; for now I am concentrating on just paing the bills and keeping the lights on. It's been a very rough time getting income the entire year, and the last several months has been the worst, so now that I've got a source I need to do my best to keep it solid.

ETC - Year-end wrapup here we go! Gosh, I dunno where to start. 2010 was such a wild year for me. This was the first year in the entirety of my career where I spent the entire time trying to survive independent. It's been rough, and it finds me now without a penny to my name (almost..literally!), but a lot of credits which I didn't have 365 days ago and never could have otherwise without taking this route. No regrets!

It was a very crazy year for independent gaming, for mobile gaming, and of course gaming in general. Each have thrived and gone through some notable changes and massive milestones in the past 12 months. I am not going to tackle such an enormous subject here as I want to stay focused on the local stuff, so sticking to mobile for now - we've seen growth across the board, WP7 has launched, Android market has been growing considerably, Apple cracked the tablet market, and of course the iPhone 4 has been maintaining a very commanding presence overall. I think we are going to be in for a very interesting 2011 as the other competitors begin to mature.

PSP is fairly dead, lots of talk of PSP2/"the phone" (are they one and the same?) DS has been coasting and of course 3DS is primed to take center stage in a few short months. It's very fair to say that these devices are competing with the phones at this point.

Development-wise, I was a bit surprised how things played out in the iPhone scene. The device has very much become "the modern-day PS2," in that it is the device to develop for as it's on everyone's lips. It's not th emost powerful, but it's more than competent across the board. It's important to remember that the mobile arena is so different than the console arena in countless ways, so things could completely upend a lot quicker and easier than we would expect. All eyes are on the big companies right now to see where things gravitate toward; Apple does have a magnificent head-start and I don't see that changing for many months, unless their competitors make some real waves (spend serious money) to force things.

Scene-wise, I do see companies like EA stepping up in a big way to wrestle away control from the smaller companies (can many of them even be called companies? Maybe just basement studios?) I think EA is obviously making big moves to muscle the top, and it's hard to argue with their efforts - their work is superior, and their brands are smart. There's still so much anti-EA sentiment because of what they represent, but honestly so few can compete with their likes to provide "that console experience" that people really clamor for on the iPhone. They are not working it hard enough though, and it is hard to argue with that - but they are defnitely trying harder than most. Of course the likes of id and Epic are making huge moves to nip at their heels, and I think we'll see a huge second-generation blow from those guys - but they're still moving to slow, too staggered. Gameloft is sort of taking up the rear, the butt of many jokes but they provide a super-steady stream of quality software that no one can really argue with and I think they know full well how to manage in this marketplace. I am always rooting for them because they clearly are working hard, and "somebody's got to do it." It's really remarkable to see such a scrappy company trying so hard and in spite of their (undeserved) reputation, they keep putting out great product.

As for the indies, that's a whole other story. It is hard to talk about that stuff without degenerating into absolute soup - independent games are really the heart and soul of this whole marketplace. It's a victory and a shame at the same time; so much great product is popping up everywhere, and at the same time the market doesn't know how to handle the majority of it and everyone really just suffers as a result (so many games never get any press, devs charge nothing for their work, half-realized crap keeps flooding the marketplace and dominating the charts). Still the spirit is very strong, and a very steady flow of excellent product is consistent. iPhone is a gamers paradise! I think we'll see a new generation of product in the coming year, but safdly I fear that the indie glory days in this market are just about dried up. Of course, I did say the same exact thing 12 months ago..

Overall 2010 was a wild and crazy year, I learned so much, I was hoping it would be the year things would "break" for me after all the set up 2009, but it looks like 2009 was really just the warm-up for the warm-up. This year was huge, good and bad things happened, but ultimately my game released, we got it into countless thousands of hands, and got quite a bead onto where to head next. And so I go forward with my head held up to handle the next phase!

SHOUT-OUTS: Here's where I give thanks to all the supporters, both in the digital realm and in real life, to those who helped get things where they are now (particularly over the course of the last 12 months) Without the help of so many, I would have absolutely been stalled at the starting line. Here goes, thanks to..
Ben Ma, programmer of 180 and my co-conspirator at Headcase Games. There would be nothing without this guy! A great friend, and very wise in the whole mobile game scene. He dragged me into this mad nightmare!!! Pauline Laciste, our musician, and sound FX. She volunteered to help very early into development and I cannot wait to work with her again! Ciji "StarSlay3r" Thornton, she's in the game of course! very instrumental in helping us promote the game leading up to and during the release, and we got huge exposure thanks to her help! Albert Yale, another programmer who I have worked with in the past, who provided some very valuable support during the production and especially up to the last days prior to release of 180. Andy Marchal (my old roomie) for buying me beer and chicken wings, and donating hardware to the project. Mong Skillman and Mandoline Grill for sucking me into the food truck scene, and helping us to promote as well! MVG, Kyle, Alex and the rest of videogame coverband Tanuki Suit Riot for always being supportive of HcG in several ways. Indie Games journalist Jeriaska for always being supportive and helpful, sharing some drinks and giving us press.. Omaha Perez for helping me find some work and hanging out, buddies Joe McGuffin and Paul Scarlata for being sympathetic, funny-guy/super-player sammer_i, Leffelmania and "LOL" Larry Charles for future opportunities, fellow devs Craig and Gavin at Retro Dreamer and of course Tiny Technician, Annie and Brian at DoubleBear for getting me to PAX, SoCal Mike and Steve at, Mike Selinker, Chip and the crew at B-Team Podcast, Phil, CJ and the other talking heads at my favorite podcast Player One, Aaron at Race to the Moon/Royal Court Games, Eric "Rustysabre," Brett at AppAddict, Jorge at oldSchoolJunkie,, AndyTHPS and An Endless Sporadic, TJ Slater, my buddy Josh for always helping out when he could, Edwin and Skillz and JeffyM and the other usual guys who will hang out for some drinks and listen to me whine about the state of everything, the helpful posters over at NeoGAF who were kind enough to check out the game, some people who were kind enough to give us some hi-visibility tweets/coverage: Dan "Shoe" Hsu, Matt "Trainyard" Rix, cathlin, KuyiMobile and MindjuiceGames/FreeAppCalender for donating some advertising space & generally being friendly and supportive, William at GameGiveaway for giving away 180, Daily App Dream, awesome reviewers at lootNinja, thinkdigit, noDpad, theportablegamer, appSmile, appTilt, thenakedgamers, geekTechLive, girlgamersuk, all the various folks who were kind enough to give us kind ratings/reviews on iTunes, devs , , , , eJayStudios, all the usual twitterers (,, , , , , (thanks for so many RT's!!!!!), , , ,, , , , , , ,,
, , ), theAppera, Gamasutra for giving us lots of features on the front page, all the TouchArcade poster crew who kept our thread lively, particularly B34$T, cjsbug, songbird, Haruhi, Goimot, mrUgly, Koone23, cloudcastles, missLashes, JCman7, spyky, brassica, jjjmedia, TAStan, raptor200, JJdaboss, jwcasser, DaveMc99, smes3817, laceDolphin.. Thanks to TA for having a forum and letting me exist there..! Thanks to the LAPD for never arresting me for vandalizing, sindeegee "16 bits of Fashion" for 180 iSnuggies, thanks to my folks for throwing me some dollars when I was about to be on the street, and my girlfriend for the same (and putting up with me in general) and.. whew.. is that it? pant pant.. Thanks to YOU for reading my blog, playing my game, and spreading the gospel!

It's the last day that 180 is free. Spam it out wherever you can :) Happy New Year everybody!

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