OpenArthurianX6, kicking back dev

I pushed further with the projectiles, “directional” ones (like arrows and crossbow bolts) are working now, and “rotating” ones (like throwing axes) are almost there.

Next up is some logic for spending ammo, and stashes of items.

I also need to sync with the WIP on my secondary dev station, where I was fixing some bugs with NPC alignment.

Interaction++ 2018.4 and some indie dev marketing tips

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 8.18.24 PM

Interaction” is a video game development meetup. They organize conferences in Medellín (my hometown) where they invite local developers to share their experience with both fellow and wannabe developers.

20180428_100759

They are now an official Unity User Group, and they are planning to create bigger and better events. Interaction++ 2018.4 was the first of these events, where they had three talks instead of a single one as usual.

20180428_101541

The first talk, “Introduction to Indie Marketing”, was given by Jorge Castaño of Amazing Soul games. It was an ambitious talk and it went well over its time limit, but it was pretty interesting.

Its first topic, foundations of marketing, gave an overview of some elements involved in the marketing of the game along with some useful  tips:

  • Create a compelling synopsis/summary to convert visits into installs.
  • Have at hand your Unique Selling Points: What makes your game different. This may help change a first negative / neutral perception and make the player give a second chance to your game.
  • The biggest markets like Steam, Play Store and AppStore are extremely competitive and it’s extremely hard to be noticed, smaller stores can even provide help with marketing.
  • China is a very attractive market for mobile but the AppStore and Play Store are dead there. Tencent is the biggest store, but rules are different.
  • A clear target market is a must to create an effective marketing campaign.
  • Set a target to be in the top 200 of the store (it’s impossible to get to top 10 without +100.000USD daily marketing or a lot of luck)
  • A great target for a small company is 5000 USD / day for 1 month. It should cover the investment in the game.

They also dug into some of the tasks of a publisher:

  • Localization (not only language but also cultural) can drive a lot of installs. For example, Games in China must be properly localized, and including Dragons as enemies into the game may be perceived as offensive. For Japan, 80% of the players will only play the game if it’s in Japanese.
  • Customer Care: Retention, especially important for freemium games in mobile. Some publishers provide a  support team.
  • Acquisition: It’s only part of the publisher task. Invest money to get more players.
  • Marketing: Material such as trailers, icons, screenshots, they often have a specialized team.
  • QA / Testing
  • Monetization: Make the game make money.

They also had some recommendations for Indie Publishers:

  • Tiny Build
  • Indie Fund
  • Adult Swim Games
  • Devolver

Publishers will normally take 30% to 60% of revenue, and it’s currently hard for them to give money upfront.

Some advantages of using a Publisher:

  • Better distribution channels
  • They have useful contacts with the industry
  • Higher visibility
  • Cross promotion, they will leverage players in existing games.
  • They assume part of the risk of investment
  • Years of experience.

If you don’t have a publisher, you must cover all the above by yourself to a certain degree.

This includes creating a marketing campaign to generate interest of the game even before it is launched.

Some things that help here:

  • Create a plan for your campaign with weekly goals and channels to be used every week.
  • Use analytics to update your plan. What is working and what is not.
  • Make a list of the websites, streamers or youtubers you want to cover your game. Start with the smaller ones, that will eventually bring interest to the mid-sized and the bigger ones if you are lucky.
  • Create a presentation template to get in contact with writers

Sucess doesn’t depend on money alone, being aware of all the different tools at hand helps greatly.

20180428_113944

In the second talk the guys from Dreamhouse Studios shared their experiences building three VR products:

  • A training program for the Colombian Army FLIR program. (Infrared scanning)
  • A multiplayer tower defense Halloween game.
  • A training program for the local tram system

They mentioned their second game has provided them with some cash flow by renting it to be used in malls and events in the city. They shared some details of their development process.

20180428_123413

Finally, the third talk was about the upcoming optimizations to appear on Unity to leverage on its Entity Component System to increase its performance greatly. This, in order to allow Unity games to run in lower-end devices, as well as extending its capabilities to manage a LOT of objects moving and interacting on screen.

All in all, I recommend their conferences especially to students or people looking forward to starting into the video game development industry.

1884 – Golf over Africa, LudumDare 41

The theme for the Ludum Dare 41 was “Combine 2 Incompatible Genres”. I’m pretty familiar with genre mashup, and I accepted Jim Shepard‘s challenge to jump in.

As usual for the LudumDare, I wanted to do something different than what I always do. That usually means doing something more accessible to the casual public, as well as ditching pixel art, and including real-time stuff and animations.

Here’s what I came up with: (Play online!)

golf

1884, the European superpowers have met to decide the future of the African continent… now their leaders face each other in an Open golf tournament to divide the land between themselves!

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 7.01.56 PM
Title Screen

I went for a combination of a Golf game with territory based war game (think Crusader Kings / Europa Universalis, or maybe RISK). It’s made for 2 to 4 players who take turns to play, the first country to occupy 10 territories wins the match.

In order to try to occupy a territory, you must land your ball on it, every turn the player decides the direction and power of his shot. The outcome depends on the stats of his country.

You can also invade other player’s territories, where the success of the invasion depends on the Military stat of each country. Countries also have other 2 stats: Logistics affects how far your shots will fly (with Great Britain being the best on this) and Leadership affects how accurate your shots are.

Game Screenshot
In-Game

Since I knew in advance my time would be extremely limited during the span of the compo, I went for my usual toolkit: Phaser2 + ES6. All art was done on GIMP, basically a lot of repetitive work extracting the different countries from a colonial map of Africa, and some flags and UI stuff.

Africa-colonial1
Colonial Africa

Due to the “weird” square and “high” resolution of the game (as in being about 800x800px, high for browser games standards) ended up doing a lot of work to make sure it would display fine on browsers with a smaller window height (you’d be surprised this is still very common in 2018) as well as the fancy retina displays which always mess up with scaling calculations.

This one went from ideation to fully complete product in less than 12 hours. I’m really happy how it turned out. Here are some areas where this could be expanded in case I work back on it ion the future:

  • Adding a “zoomed” version of the territory the player is doing his shot from. And an animation of the country leader shooting-
  • Making the viewport landscape and adding scrolling (and maybe a scaled map)
  • Enhancing the appearance in general.

WorldCupAlbums.com, and Russia 2018

I decided to revive the “My Brazil World Cup” project from 2014, thinking it would be quick and easy to set it up for 2018. It wasn’t quick… collecting all the info and the pictures, setting everything back up… in any case. Here it is: worldcupalbums.com

In this web app, optimized for mobile browsers, you collect virtual stickers themed around the upcoming World Cup trying to complete a collection. You buy stickers using “Russios”, which you obtain by spinning a roulette every 10 minutes. You can trade repeated stickers with your enemies.

cccp

This is heavily based on a tradition (mostly South American?) of collecting stickers to fill an “album”. (I guess it’s the equivalent of Sports Trading Cards in North America). Panini has traditionally published and distributed the official FIFA World Cup Albums for ages (Since Mexico 1970). I grew up seeing my father do this, and the tradition keeps going.

panini2018rip

There’s also an official virtual album, but mine is better.

GDC 2018 – Parties

Here’s a summary of some GDC 2018 parties and events based on my experience, hope it’s useful for someone planning their next GDC journey!

For each one, I tried to categorize it under a type and rated how interesting it was FOR ME. I also marked the parties where I think you should still have a good time even if you go alone (this is important if you don’t have friends 😦 )

Kongregate Party

  • Type: Corporate, Academic
  • “Hmm… Interesting!” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes
20180319_160323
Networking like a pro. Also, free food yay!

After an initial networking time (lots of good food and drinks), there were three talks: one about the current status and plans for Kongregate (nice one), a pretty weird one about ideation in games which was fun, and another one (pretty good and practical) about taking the right amount of risks while developing a game.

20180319_180042

Pocket Gamer Party

  • Type: Club Party
  • “Hmm… Interesting!” rating: 1/5
  • Lonewolf OK: No
20180319_232242
Having lots of fun

This year, as far as I could see, it was a fairly standard club party. Drinks were a bit expensive. It’s loud so it’s hard to network except on the line to enter the club. Also since it’s on Monday it may be a bit out of place to get crazy when you are on GDC for business.

20180319_233113

IGDA Serious Games @ Google San Francisco

  • Type: Academic
  • “Hmm… Interesting!” rating: 2/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

20180320_154557

I’m not sure how I ended up in this one. It was interesting tho I didn’t do any networking since I just didn’t feel this was my target community. There was a talk about applying serious games to youth audiences and then a short ceremony to deliver community contribution awards. Still nice to check out Google San Francisco building with a great view of the Bay Bridge.

There was good food too.

20180320_164020

Github Party

  • Type: Game Showcase
  • “Hmm… Interesting!” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

20180320_191650

Some games (not many) put together in the awesome Github HQ at SF. The main conference area was occupied by a versus game where you competed in different obscure games for about 10 seconds. There was also a multiplayer coop game where you had to navigate in a ship-like thing with your friends, and another one you controlled with a telegraph-like device.

20180320_203610
Meeting Leaf Corcoran, one of the masterminds behind itch.io

The cafeteria was open for you to bring your laptop and display your game, I saw a couple interesting games there. This one was the one I liked the most for networking (with other developers) due to the nice ambient (great chiptunes!) and everybody being a geek there.

It was supposed to be a celebration of the Global Game Jam but I didn’t really see anything related to it.

20180320_211752

The Other Party (GameJolt Party)

  • Type: Game Showcase Party
  • “Hmm… Interesting!” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

20180320_213927

Lots of games put together in a club. Music was a bit loud but you could still interact with the game developers, play cool games and network. Pretty cool if you’d like to check and play some games.

20180320_222833

Roguelike Developers Meetup

  • Type: Networking
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 5/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

20180321_153541(0)

We met together and talked about our games and projects, around 20-25 people showed up which was nice. Planning to do something cooler for next year (hope I can gather enough people again!)

20180321_164959
The awesome developers of Caves of Qud

GDC XPerience Networking Mixer

  • Type: Networking
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 1/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

This one was a bit of a let-down, but maybe I was expecting too much. Basically, the entry fee (around 20 USD) gives you access to a hotel rooftop bar to chat with other developers. Met a couple interesting people there tho, but I think they hyped the event and failed to give it more spice.

Nice view of the city tho.

20180321_194441

that.party

  • Type: Game Showcase + Club Party
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: No

20180321_201650

One of the most popular “public” parties at GDC time. Some interesting indie games were being displayed too, and I met some roguelike developers too.

20180321_210704.jpg

Drinks were a bit expensive, but the electronic music was super cool. Gather some Friends and go if you like electronic music and video games!

20180321_221923

Zynga party

  • Type: Arcade party
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: No

20180322_185046.jpg

Zynga opened their offices for people to go in, interact with their employees and get a glimpse of what it’s like to work with Zynga. Arcade machines, slot car racing, shuffleboards, three type of hamburgers, beer and drinks. Great to have a fun time with friends! They also provided shuttle service from and to the Moscone.

20180322_175926.jpg

5th Latin American Gathering at GDC

  • Type: Networking?
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 1/5
  • Lonewolf OK: Yes

This one had the potential to be good but I think the venue choice was not very good for the event: it was too loud, too dark and the space reserved for the event was far too tight to fit that many people!

A real shame since I was really interested in meeting other devs from Latin America. I hope next year it’s better!

Marioke

  • Type: Karaoke Party
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: No

20180322_210443.jpg

Same venue as that.party (smaller space tho). Nerd people yelling popular karaoke songs with their lyrics changed to be related to games and gamedev. Nice time if you like karaoke and you bring your nerdy friends.

20180322_223105.jpg

I’m told some famous indie devs can be found around but since I don’t know any that didn’t appeal much to me. This year they also had Botnik displaying cool predictive text stuff including Pokedex entries, sentences that Cloud would say to Tifa on FF7 and more cool stuff.

20180322_210315
I created this one

It was also open tab so cheap/free drinks, yay!

Pow x 7 Bonus Round

  • Type: Chiptune Party
  • “Hmm… Interesting” rating: 4/5
  • Lonewolf OK: No

20180323_235153.jpg

This one had two ambients, one more chill with video game music and the other crazier with stronger chiptune music and people dancing around. Nice way to close GDC, just for fun!

California, March 2018

Took 903 pics on this last trip:

  • 264 at Computer History Museum
  • 104 at Fort Point
  • 46 at North San Francisco
  • 96 at GDC Day 1 (Kongregate and Pocket Gamer parties)
  • 90 at GDC Day 2 (IGDA Serious Games + Github party + GameJolt Party)
  • 85 at GDC Day 3 (GDC Expo + Roguelike meetup + That.Party)
  • 129 at GDC Day 4 (GDC Expo +  Zynga party + Marioke)
  • 52 at GDC Day 5 (GDC Expo + Downtown SF + Pow X 7 Bonus Round)
  • 37 at Stanford Area

There is a lot of cleaning up to be done!

20180322_170737

Ananias Fellowship Edition hits 1.000+ installs on Google Play!

I missed the date, but we hit the 1K milestone for the paid version of Ananias on Android, last February 23 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 9.03.17 PM

We also surpassed the 1K mark on steam about 3 months ago (for sales), activations are waaay higher now (over 5K!) I wonder where I got that many? (maybe some bundles which I forgot to deactivate unused keys) while it took about 4 years in Android, it took less than a year on Steam. The Free edition on Android is now close to 60K cumulative installs

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 9.10.08 PM

Meanwhile, on the Apple Store,  Ananias has sold a bit over 300 units, in about the same period of time than Steam. So far, all of this has been without marketing campaigns or major advertising (besides some minor and useless facebook ads).

In other news, I decided to make the project board public, take a look if you feel curious 🙂