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Indie Prize Singapore 2017 Winners Revealed

May 17, 2017 — by David Radd

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Casual Games Association has announced the winners of the 18th Indie Prize awards. The honorees were revealed during an awards ceremony at Casual Connect Asia in Singapore.

Stifled, a mic-enabled sound-based stealth thriller by Singapore developer Gattai Games, won Best Game Design and Most Innovative Game.  In Stifled, players use echolocation with both sounds made in the game universe and by the players themselves using a microphone, to find there way around the world, but they must be careful not to attract attention to creatures in the darkness. The game came be experienced at Steam.

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Mikolai Stroinski: Making Bewitching Music for Witcher 3

May 15, 2017 — by David Radd

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We spoke to Mikolai Stroinski, an award-winning Polish game composer based in Los Angeles, about his music for Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter as well as Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, The Witcher 3 expansions Wild Hunt and Blood & Wine. Mikolai describes working on the most famous of Polish development franchises in The Witcher as “a dream come true.”

“Each time I’ve experienced an amazing game, film or TV show, I felt a desire to illustrate it with my music and therefore be a part of it,” said Mikolai. “However, in case of The Witcher it was more than that. When I read the Sapkowski’s books in the mid ‘90s I loved them, but was aware that one needed to know Polish language to appreciate it and therefore felt bad about those who didn’t. Now not only am I able to share the world of Geralt but also my music attached to it. What a joy!!!”

Poland has itself grown into a hub for gamedev in Europe over the past decade. He’s also at the forefront of a growing Polish game music composer scene, including Kamil Orman-Janowski and Arkadiusz Reikowski. Mikolai attributes this rise to the use of personal computers from Spectrum, Atari and Commodore in Polish apartments in the ’80s.

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Matthieu Burleraux: PlayLab in His Pocket

May 14, 2017 — by David Radd

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Matthieu Burleraux is the Business Development Director at Pocket PlayLab. The company is helping to provide mentorship on different matters to developer Cupcake, which the company invested $1 million into.

“We are helping them understand how to work around game KPIs, including in user acquisition, using these KPIs to optimize the game as well as their marketing campaign,” said Matthieu. “For example, we are focusing a lot on the daily cohorts, the LTV45 associated to them, the CPI, retention numbers, etc. We are also starting to help them on producing visual assets for UA and provide mentorship regarding developing the game on new platforms.”

 

“Before making the decision to work with Cupcake, we looked at the basic KPIs (ARPU, ARPPU, retention, virality, DAU, etc.) and their evolution over time, but we also looking into UA KPIs such as the CPI they had, ROI on UA, etc.” Matthieu continued. “The goal was for you to see if the game was sustainable and if we could grow it.”

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Vova Boddiul: Boldly Game Jamming with Colonizer

May 8, 2017 — by David Radd

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Screenshot of Colonizer

Boddiul is the developer of Colonizer, which was made at Game Factory Jam 2016. The game was the top rated title at Game Factory Jam 2016 and Vova was not surprised by this showing.

“Frankly, I was expecting my game to be top rated game among other participants from Moldova,” asserted Vova. The reason is that I am most experienced in Game Jams, like Ludum Dare, but this happened last time, because we managed to involve more and more local developers to participate in large-scale game jams. Experience of my competitors increases, in future it will be tougher to compete even locally.”

The showing at Game Factory Jam 2016 guaranteed Colonizer a slot at Indie Prize Berlin at Casual Connect Europe. “Indie Prize may help me find investors interested in my future projects, but will unlikely help me enhance my current project in this stage of development,” noted Vova. “I will release Colonizer by myself.”

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Rob Zahn: Making the Most of Music

May 7, 2017 — by David Radd

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Rob Zahn is a composer that has worked on a variety of genres including horror, fantasy, science fiction and more. Rob says that more than enjoying it, this makes him into a better composer.

“Regardless of whether you like it or not, it’s absolutely essential to know how to handle different styles of music if you want to get hired on a consistent basis,” noted Rob. “Having said that, I don’t think it’s an especially healthy habit to get too comfortable with labels like ‘horror’ or ‘fantasy’ because they’re much too broad and imply the overuse of tropes that can quickly make your stuff sound extremely tired and generic. But yeah, obviously variety is spicy, or something!”

One of the various musical experiences Rob has had is with the band Dead Wake. “I kind of grew up on rock and metal and there was a time when I didn’t listen to very much other than Dream Theater and Opeth and guys like that…but after a while I sort of abandoned it for various reasons,” said Rob. “I’ve gotten to stretch out a bit with Dead Wake as a bassist, vocalist, lyricist and arranger. Metal is definitely not a style I’m often asked to write in for gigs – hopefully that’ll change though! We recently finished tracking our debut album ‘Ghost Stories’ with Kevin Antreassian of The Dillinger Escape Plan and are looking forward to releasing it within the next few months.”

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Yuli Zhao: Calling on Angels to Bridge the East/West Gap | Casual Connect Video

May 5, 2017 — by David Radd

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It’s about working with creative people and using heart to discover players’ needs daily. - Yuli ZhaoClick To Tweet

It can be really tough to break into the Asian market, maybe even mysterious. Although there is a large difference in user behavior between Western and Asian players, Youzu Interactive has been very successful in localizing games. They have even been able to make it into the Top 10 in more than 60 countries overseas. In a lecture at Casual Connect Europe entitled Going Global – Local Operation Experience for Over 100 Countries, Yuli Zhao focused on what developers should do rather than what they shouldn’t do. Here is a key finding that Yuli described: “Because there are a small group of deep pocket players, whale players, in Asian games, when we bring the game to Western markets we don’t want to make the non-paying users feel bad about it so there are some items which is to price extremely high in our previous version in Asian market. Actually, we divided these items into smaller packages so that when the players pay for the virtual items, they will view the pricing as not that high but in reality, they need to buy the whole group of virtual items to get the final ones.”

Three of the top world markets comes from Asia are China, North America and Japan. Here are three findings which Yuli highlighted:

  • Style is not fine Art: Glowing effect and outstanding outfit affected why they got features by Apple.
  • Compatibility: Fast frame speed on lower end mobile phone at 20+ a must.
  • Localization: extend the life cycle of the game by changing rewards, difficulty by country and the number of incoming game events.

For more useful tips on how to break through the cross-cultural barrier, see the full lecture below.

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Juliet Tzabar: Plugging Kids in to Mobile Education Apps | Casual Connect Video

April 21, 2017 — by David Radd

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Creativity is a muscle and you have to keep flexing it! - Juliet TzabarClick To Tweet

Transmedia is an entertainment super-system that enables children’s favorite characters to travel across media platforms and it’s now an audience expectation in children’s entertainment. How do you approach this daunting expectation? At Casual Connect Europe, Plug-in Media’s CEO Juliet Tzabar shared how the company approaches IP for kids games across platforms. In Juliet’s talk entitled Approaching Transmedia in Children’s Entertainment, Juliet observed that “Kids love to play as THEIR preferred characters”. For more details of how Plug-in Media tackles transmedia, tune in to Juliet’s full session below. Please note that there were some technical difficulties during the session which effected sound quality.

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Bill Mooney: The Next Mobile Esports Revolution | Casual Connect Video

April 10, 2017 — by David Radd

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I still hope to think that my proudest moment is still to come. - Bill MooneyClick To Tweet

The three elements which comprise an esport are: competition, organized tournaments and spectatorship. In 1972, esports began with a Spacewar tournament. About 50 years later, esports has evolved into its own entity within the games industry. Join Bill Mooney, CPO of Skillz, at Casual Connect Europe at his talk entitled Esports 101: The Past, Present and Future of an Industry on the Rise as he explores the history behind esports and talks about the future as well. Esports has a projected audience of 180 million by 2019 and over $5 billion in revenue by 2020. Bill described, “Esports drives the committed audience.” To hear more insights into this exciting part of the games industry, tune in to Bill’s full session below.

Exclusive InterviewsIndie

Matthew Paxman: Brawl For Fun with Cowbots and Aliens

April 6, 2017 — by David Radd

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Matthew Paxman is a developer at Wizard Games, maker of Cowbots and Aliens. The VR game won the IGDA Victoria contest, meaning Wizard Games will able to show the title off at Indie Prize Seattle and Casual Connect USA.

Wizard Games’ Booth at IDGA Victoria

“We were super excited to see people enjoying Cowbots and Aliens so much at the IDGA Victoria contest,” said Matthew. “Being able to show the game off at Casual Connect Indie Prize will be a great opportunity to gather feedback, gain exposure, meet other indie game makers and just have a ton of fun.”

This might not of been possible without releasing Cowbots and Aliens on Steam Early Access. Matthew confirmed that doing so has allowed Wizard Games to have some great community feedback that has helped with the direction of how to develop the game.

“Our vision of what Cowbots and Aliens will be when we release the final version out of Early Access has changed dramatically and we think for the better due to the community’s feedback,” Matthew detailed. “It’s helped us understand what fans really care about and want to see more of.”

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Alexander Nasonov: Why Free-to-Play is the Future of Children’s Apps | Casual Connect Video

April 1, 2017 — by David Radd

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Art is unpractical, but still is the most valuable thing in our life. - Alexander NasonovClick To Tweet

Premium kids apps sales have decreased drastically: even using Dinotrux or Shrek didn’t help Fox and Sheep to achieve planned sales volumes. Bobaka’s Green Riding Hood as well didn’t sell well even through it was named iPad App of the Year by Apple in 2015. Why out? Transform your creation into a free-to-play children’s educational service with episodic content and parents-friendly microtransactions, suggests Alexander Nasonov, co-founder and executive producer at Bobaka in his Casual Connect Tel Aviv session, explaining it on the case of Green Riding Hood. 

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