Friday, July 22, 2011

Game Development Blog #56

Game Development Blog #56

"Train Kept-a-rollin'"

Hard to believe it's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote a development blog. Time is really flying (July's almost wrapped-up!)

180 - We had our Amazon promotion several days ago, and 180 Ultra was featured as the Free App of the Day. This was interesting, and it meant we lowered the full-price $1.99 app on their store to FREE for 24 hours. It went well: the promotion got our game a nice dose of new publicity, and very strong and numerous positive reviews on their store (LINK). It translated to some sales as well, but as one can tell, we haven't exactly maintained the chart stickiness I'd like.. for now. We decided to boost the promo by offering the original iPhone version for free as well, and it stretched into a 2-day promotion on that platform. We netted 15,000 downloads each day on iPhone with that promo, but as our game is a bit long in the tooth on iPhone, it didn't really get much big reception (unsurprising) - that means no notable coverage on bigger sites, no new iTunes reviews (kinda surprised, for so many DLs!) and of course no real sales on iOS following that. I maintain that if we overhaul the game on iOS to match the Android presentation, it might get a little traction, but the game is just really old now and hard to make press on that platform, no matter how you slice it. Still very fun to play, however!

There is still more excitement to come with 180 in it's various incarnations in the coming weeks and months, it's definitely become this beast which hasn't run it's course (in a good way) so I will do all that I can to shepherd it along so far as things will let me. Android is still growing and looking more promising, particularly with all that's been going on behind-the-scenes. Let's see what happens next! Unbelievably, we have over 300,000 downloads of our little game at this point, between iOS and Android platforms!

GunHead - our next high-priority title is nearing production (right now is still pre-production), and it's been very busy moving along. I've got a very early initial build on Android, and a new one is due to come down the pipe very soon. As far as that's concerned, we are early in the process of massaging the control scheme and figuring out what all we can pack into a game of this scope, between memory and manpower. I am hard at work devising an unusually interesting campaign for this one as well; I've learned that utilizing press connections is huge, so I am doing my best to get a very solid presentation together for when we start showing off the game for real. We are aiming to do some unorthodox things with the marketing of this game, and I believe it will be a much smoother operation than our previous title. As for a release date, it's too early to tell, but I am shooting for late Q3. Also of note, we are dual-developing for Android and iOS simultaneously, which should make for an interesting adventure!

Trapdoor, Hop Cop - it's a often bad sign when multiple projects are lumped together into a single bullet point! Sadly, these two games are sitting a little more comfortably nestled into the back shelf than I'd like them to be. It is still my aim to see both titles released by the year's end, but as development duties on GunHead ramp up (and further follow-though with 180, as well) I want to make sure I am not spreading too thin. This isn't to say they are being shuttered, and if I wanted to truly shift focus away from them I'd not even bring them up (I want the names to be out in the air!) One thing is for certain, they will be a but mothballed for the moment; but don't be surprised if I mention some locomotion in those departments at the next Status Update.

Biz Dev - this is a really busy area right now. Especially following the recent promotion, my phone has been ringing off the hook (err, whatever the email version of that would be). I have so many people contacting me right now about a ton of opportunities "we want to partner with you, to do this, that, or the other thing with your game." It's great news of course - but right now I have more people to talk to than I have time to handle, and I am still just trying to catch up in an orderly fashion. Of course you don't simply want to jump on everything that comes your way (some stuff is a bad match, or a waste of time, or simply requires a lot of research before I know what I am talking about, etc). This is one of the "good" downsides of tiny development I suppose, but you have to be careful to be timely, knowledgeable, and responsible because these can be some of the dealings which can truly make or break you. Also, you don't want that business to interfere too much with getting the other projects off the ground.

What Else is Going On - Not much to say, as usual we have hit the speed-bump of summer and all is quite in the gaming world. Things are out and being talked about, but there's no real hype right now and nothing too captivating with any real immediacy, other than "ohhh, I guess a new game or two is coming out." That's the scene on console and PC, and surprisingly it's matched pretty close on mobile as well. I swear, if I ever get to a proper size, I am going to take advantage of the summer doldrums of software releases and make it my holiday simply because there's never any newsworthy competition anyway!

Comic-Con is going on right now, and of course all the nerds flock thataway for a few days of escapism and celebration. I do wish I could be there promoting, but it's not to be. Likewise PAX Prime (Seattle) draws ever nearer, unfortunately I will not be in attendance for that even either. I suppose the biggest event on the horizon which is relevent is IndieCade in Culver City, and that's a good 3 months and change away. We'll see.

Overall, it's a very busy and hectic time. I am excited about what's next and more than anything I want to throw myself into GunHead development, but it's a step at a time. Otherwise, two things - 1. I am looking for the aid of of an Android coder for a quick gig, I need someone ASAP. Pass the word on if you aren't interested - drop me a line at and we can get into the details. 2. If you've grabbed 180 on any platform and you enjoy it, please rate and review it wherever you got it from. We are small enough that "every review counts."

Thanks again and see you soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

180 for iPhone - FREE for today only!

Yesterday was a big day for Headcase Games!

Our app 180 was featured as Amazon's Android App of the Day! We reduced the price to free for 24 hours and got a LOT of downloads! And the reviews are glowing! (LINK)

Meanwhile our iPhone version App is being featured by the kind folks over at Free App Magic, so we will leave that free until the end of the day on Tuesday, July 12. Grab it now on iTunes! (LINK)

Marked down from USD $1.99 for one (more) day only -

Support us and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, and in the forums!

Want a free copy of 180 for Android? Here's a link to the ad-supported version on the Android Market, play it for 10 hours and the ads will disappear - forever!

Hyper-Gameplay awaits you!

What's next on the mobile front from Headcase Games? In development for later in 2011 you can look forward to retro-arcade fun with Hop Cop, frantic puzzle-action in Trapdoor, and oldschool side-scrolling blasting mayhem in GunHead - details coming soon!

About 180:
20,000 downloads on Android! 140,000 on iTunes! 180 is an insane flipping match-3 drop action puzzle game the likes of which you've never seen before. Launch coins into three-in-a-rows to clear the vertically-descending board. Play alternate colors by flipping coins 180 degrees at any time. Create incredible combos and be rewarded with HUGE scores - just don't let the coins touch the red line at the bottom, or it's game over!

About Headcase Games:
Headcase Games is an independent developer whose members’ previous credits include creative development on console/PC titles Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol, Heroes of Might & Magic IV, Guitar Hero, Knights of the Old Republic II, and several others.


PR Kit available at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Game Development Blog #55

Game Development Blog #55

"Through the Never"

Welcome to another edition of "what's up in developmentpalooza!" Next stop, your Google Reader. Let's get started:

180 - been working hard to go through the motions and get our game up on different stores; this seems key with Android development. Our app has been available in Google's Android Market for months now, and I am happy with the critical reception, but unfortunately we've not got enough downloads to be earning any money (or gaining enough visibility, even). Fortunately, it's done well enough that people opening up different marketplaces have been reaching out to me in various ways. I've been working in the background to move forward with distributing the game through various other outlets, and it's just starting to pop up a little bit now. We've got a presence on MobiHand, on Amazon, and on The9 Chinese store (where apparently "180" translates to "Hawaiin Sensation," according to Google Translation..) This is just the beginning, as I am talking to more places (we've been in submission with Barnes & Noble's Nook for a long time now). More to come, but that's all I can mention for now :)

Of course, just getting on these stores doesn't necessarily mean anything, for a number of reasons. As usual, the important part is figuring out proper promotion and getting any kind of visiblity. Add to that the notion that many of these stores are brand-new, and any kind of "instant gratification" goes right out the window. I look at it thus, "the work to build the game is done for awhile now, let's see if we still cannot get some potential money or use out of it." Of course there's plenty of good reasons not to partner with different stores, but I truly believe that at this stage, the pros easily outweigh the cons, especially with a game/brand which still has yet to make any real impact.

On the side of the actual game 180 itself, further development has frozen to a standstill. There's more I wish to do with it, in fact just this morning I had an excellent idea for a new game mode which should be easy to implement. For now I am content to leave things as they are and push forward with other projects.

GunHead - this app is slowly getting some steam, and I believe we are close to getting an early proof-of-concept ready to pick apart. There's much pre-production yet to be done on this one, but I am excited to push forward with it and am busy writing and maintaining documents to steer it at this early, yet critical phase. I would like to think that a month from now it is possible that there will be something to actually show of it.

Trapdoor - this game is continuing it's legacy as being "here today, gone tomorrow, here the day after that, gone away again some time following that." I've purposefully put it further back in my head as I am quite busy with all the other things that are occupying me these days, but I hope to decide it's fate sooner rather than later.

Biz Dev - as mentioned above, dealing with all the different stores has really been occupying the bulk of my time, and it's not trivial either. Although in the immediate sense it really serves 180, to be honest I want to figure out such things now and then when there's more product to plug, I can just slide them in as they are ready. Meanwhile, I'm still talking about a couple of other interesting things here and there which will come to light as they become more pertinent.
There will be some other news to report in the very short term, but I am keeping my mouth closed for the moment.

What Else is Going On - Not too much exciting. E3 has come and gone and everyone's kind of gone back to "business as usual," the summer creeps toward it's middle and all is quiet in the land of industry news, both macro and micro. Some rumblings here and there have led the press to murmur a little bit about "PS4 and next Xbox successors to be shown at E3 2012" which isn't a terribly huge surprise, in the meantime it feels like a lot of what is going on in gaming right now is just rather stale and tired. I can't think of much which is really dominating headlines, I supposed there are the usual "year-end" games to look forward to but glancing across the various news forums and media outlets, it feels very much like "business as usual," very ho-hum on the humdrum. It's rather disappointing, as a year ago we were all looking forward to a rather exciting fall and then holiday season; 2011 will just be a carbon-copy of 2010, it seems.

As for mobile, things are likewise fairly lackluster these days. The novelty of doing this/playing cellphone games really seems to have worn off, and seeing Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds still dominating the top of the charts is no longer something I am merely unhappy about, it's just like looking at a static screen. With all the development and excitement surrounding this scene, why are we still so frozen in time a year later - and what can we do to break free of this? I feel as if there was a lot of enthusiasm and it had such a strong head of steam for awhile, but now it looks like there's not a clear vision/market leader to dictate where things should be, they just stagnate. Games and Apps that released 2 years ago were honestly much more novel and interesting (if limited) than much of what passes through now, and people don't seem to feel one way or the other about it. This is a waste; it inspires me to "fill in the blanks" on my own, between my work and those of other developers I respect, but really the entire scene is still so immature and disconnected that it really cannot happen. Considering that the media (and really, the publishing entities) have such strong and stable infrastructure for controlling the flow of this stuff, it does kind of make me a little disappointed in these bigger establishments for happily "sitting by the sidelines" while things sort of doggie-paddle around.

Of course, this is mainly iOS I am whining about, and the Android scene is even further into the stone ages; however, just because technology and "connectedness" are well in place, doesn't mean any kind of a thorough underlying support system necessarily can be, as well. If nothing snaps in to make it happen, then it must grow organically, and that takes time.