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.


  1. I read an article recently from the devs of Apparatus. They had quite a few issues with working with the Amazon Appstore. Here is the post: http://bithack.se/news/apparatus-amazon-july-4-2011.html

    Have you had any of the same woes with 180? I don't think you'd have to worry about the issue of Amazon showing the app to people with devices that can't handle 180, since it seems to have been made to run pretty much everywhere. But user-to-developer direct feedback seems to be a huge complaint.

    Anyway, great post. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. yeah I saw that same post today. Basically I tell people "If your phone can't run Angry Birds" (as of 6 months ago version) then it won't run 180 either. Anything released more than a year and a half ago will likely have issue with it, which actually is not bad at all (that's pretty ancient by Android standards). Anyway, we will see how it winds up..!