Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Game Development Blog #49

Game Development Blog #49

I guess it is time to drop the "iPhone App-" prefix from the title of this blog, since I'm actively working on Android development now; mind that I am not closing the door on iPhone, just taking a brief respite. Anyway, on with the show.

180 - still working on the new version of this game, here I am at the final days of March and though I projected to have the game wrapped up and launched by this point, it looks like we'll bleed a bit (good choice of words, right?) into April. No matter, the app is looking and playing super and I'd rather take a little time and tweak things to be *just right* rather than scoot it out the door before its' time. After what happened with the iOS version (buggered tutorial mode, poorly-received screenshots, badly designed UI) I'd prefer not to repeat those mistakes. That being said, we're at about 95% of asset completion I believe, though a good bit of stuff has yet to be implemented into the engine (mostly character art and a bit of UI elements). The meat of the game is present and playable, it's all running at wonderful performance where we've tested it (higher end of course :P) and with the higher resolution as well. The one part I am really eager to cinch - other than finalizing the tutorial bits and testing them in the field - is to make sure the "monetization scheme" is setup properly and sensible. This is a big experiment for me and I will say plenty about it when the time comes (at launch), if all goes well I may find myself getting some press out of it; that would be killer!

In the meantime here's some WIP screens to whet your appetites, if you've not seen 'em already on the usual networks:

I've spent a lot of time recently investigating the forums, something major that I've learned following iOS is that you don't work long and hard in secret and then just release something to the public in hopes that it will take off in an instant. Unless you are sitting on something pretty crazy (read: cost unbelieveable amounts of time, money and manpower to make, looks easily better than most other things on the market) then most of your intended audience will have no idea/concern who you are and what you are selling. Even with these screenshots I get less than a glance, at this point: but at least I have started and can build from here. As I wrap up production, leaning in heavy with the promotion and marketing is of utmost importance in the time leading up to your launch. It can make a huge difference between 100 people seeing your app, or 1,000, or 10,000.

And even then, you have to be good at talking and singing and dancing, give them some reason to know you and why they should even care. A game like 180 is very difficult to sell based on screenshots, name, and "history" alone. It still needs something more. I am working on that... look at my twitter account, look at my Facebook page(s), my blogs.. all this stuff I have painstakingly built up over time (years), now is opportunity to try and make use of these things - and even then, it's still quite an uphill battle with no guarantees.

Here's some forums I have begun looking at, there's a few I've yet to get into as well. My efforts here haven't been met with much consideration, but I'll get started pushing shortly. I list them here in hopes that others will find this info useful as well...

droidForums.net *
sdx-developers.com *
androidForums.com *

(the starred* ones are links to "coming soon" posts I have started - if you want to help foster some discussion in those threads, i could certainly use the help - even if it is just to say hello!)

Bizdev - I was supposed to write up a full draft for Trapdoor this past weekend, but got caught up with the things I've mentioned. I'll try to spit it out in the next couple of days. It's a small and "simple" game in it's current concept, fun (for sure) but a bit light - I'd like to put my brain on it and pull something a little deeper out of it. That's my "thing" and I don't worry that I could do it, I just need to have a little room to get busy with it. It's difficult to execute on a new project when I am still dealing with half-completed issues from the existing (several-years-in-development, officially) project laying around. But then, that is how things usually go, right?

Otherwise, I am looking to possibly pick up some hefty freelance work (non-mobile gaming) to keep the lights on, and that might slam me pretty hardcore in the coming weeks. The timing is rough but I do need to earn a living, so hopefully it will all work out for the best. We'll see what happens!

What Else is Going On - Of course, the new 3DS has finally launched here in North America, and is rolling out in the rest of the world as well. No pickup for me - last Nintendo device I bought was a GBA Micro (which I loved, excellent system!), in fact I've never had a DS (and barely ever played on to be honest). That's part of the reason the 3DS interests me, I admit - but I believe I've gone over it in this blog at length before, games are getting too heady and full of themselves these days, 3DS looks to me like it represents a step back into the realm of things just being "fun" and that is great - it really appeals to me. If they make some oldschool F-Zero and StarFox-style games for that unit, then sign me up straight away!
Otherwise, not much else to report, I have a backlog of things I am interested in and curious to check out. None of my consoles receives any play, at all, anymore - can't say I miss them (too busy!) though there are a few things I want to get on board with. Likewise, I can't say I've been enjoying much on the mobile gaming scene. That's not to say it's not been brilliantly busy, and there's been a steady stream of interesting activity all over the place. Not much that's captivated me however, once in awhile I will dip in and look and be somewhat interested for a moment and then back out once again. I like a lot of what is going on, but I do feel that a lot of developers are still really "missing the point" and making games which are fighting with these new interfaces rather than taking advantage of it, and that leaves me cold. The audiovisual tech of many of these games are on the money - some remarkably so - but when the busted play control is ruined because my finger keeps swiping over the playfield and obscuring everything, it really just leaves me feeling frustrated. Ah well, it is still early.

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