The indie video gaming market is booming today, but although times have never been better for indie developers, it can still be tough for new indie developers to get things off the ground. If you are an aspiring indie developer and you need just a little help getting that first game released, keep reading. Below you will find five tips to help you become the next successful indie game developer.
Since 2007, Sacramento’s active game developer community has fostered growth of game development throughout the region. In 2014, the Sacramento Indie Arcade, a community driven event, was created to help promote local game developers and show the world what is being developed in California’s capital city. Arclight Worlds recently won at this event with their game Venture Forth. As winners, Arclight Worlds has the opportunity to go and compete at Indie Prize Seattle at Casual Connect USA. The following article is a postmortem highlighting Jeremiah Ingham’s vision and search for talent.
It all started down under, deep underground in Australia. In 2012, I had the amazing opportunity to tour one of the largest cave systems in the world: Jenolan Caves. As we traveled through these colorfully lit caverns, an idea sparked within me, growing, and ultimately evolving into what we now know as Venture Forth. That feeling of mystery and wonder, mixed with eerie suspense, never knowing what you will find down these dark tunnels was profound. I just had to try to capture this in a game. That night, still in the mountains of Australia, I started writing the first lines of code that would become the caves of Venture Forth. At the time, I was still in college, just starting to learn to program, but already addicted to using my new programming talents to create games. After returning to the US, I got one of my college friends excited about the project, and he took on the artistic direction for the game.
By Yi Fei Boon, Field Engineer, Unity Technologies
Innovation is often used to describe the latest and greatest in technology. Less known is the inspired community behind this, that is intrinsically motivated to propel a cycle of solving problems, discovering new solutions, developing and commercialising products, which in turn, helps companies reinvest in the next generation of technology.
Unity is a case in point. Developers face new challenges as they push the limits of technology and platforms to bring their games to life, as more dynamic game engines are, in turn, being developed to empower developers. It is during this cycle that collaborative innovation is born. Developers turn to the engine developers for aid, leading to collaborative new and unique solutions to address issues faced during development, which is then later implemented into the engine.
At the recent Casual Connect Asia held at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore, from 16 to 18 May, I spoke about how this process of collaborative innovation solves some of these problems, as well as how this drives the growth and constant improvement of Unity’s game engine. Working as Unity’s technical consultant, I have been aiding clients in optimising their programme and helping address challenges encountered while using the game engine.
Surprisingly, many developers invest enormous amounts of time, effort and resources in developing games or apps that are built on very shallow foundations. It’s great to have a strong product vision, but without understanding the market situation, competition, target group, acquisition costs and performance benchmarks, you are navigating blindly. As a result, it’s highly likely that you will run into trouble – wasting your time and your money in the process.
The cost of producing a mobile game has increased dramatically, and so have the marketing costs associated with getting your game noticed. Big publishers like Kabam work with strong IPs – Marvel in this case – and budgets of around $14M per game. They also have a large user base waiting for new titles. If you’re looking to compete with these industry giants, it’s vital to start the journey by heading in the right direction.
No matter how big or small your studio is, one fact remains true: paying for users is expensive. Paying for good users is even more expensive. And being able to retain them is the philosopher’s stone that every publisher desires in order to succeed in the mobile ecosystem.
This article is not a diatribe against companies offering user acquisition services or against publishers who decide to use a paid strategy to increase their user base. With good performance and proper management of costs and life cycle, paid acquisition can be very beneficial and a great way to accelerate traction for your games.
This article aims to show there’s life beyond paid advertising. We are going to demonstrate how we succeed in increasing our user base by using alternative strategies and tactics that required no investment.
By devtodev analysts, Vera Karpova and Vasiliy Sabirov
Currently, product analytics reached a sufficiently high level of development. Many analytical systems are equipped with a variety of tools that will tell in detail how users behave in the application: when they buy, where they live, how much they cost for the company and how they leave.
These tools have become a part of daily life, regular monitoring; assistants in the decision-making process – now it is a must-have for any project.
Funnels and segments don’t surprise anybody anymore, and as in any other business, having reached the top of one reveals a will to go further and improve.
In this regard, the sphere of analytics is no exception, and in the past few years a new kind of data analysis – predictive analytics – began to develop.
You’ll also have an idea of predictive analytics, if you monitor the metrics on a daily or even hourly basis.
For example, you know that usually at 12 a.m. there are about 20,000 users in your game, and today this indicator is much lower. It equals 15,000 users. You understand that there is a trend for decline, which means that it is necessary to find the cause as soon as possible and improve the situation before the indicator falls even more.
Gaming has become much more social and communal in recent years. Instead of being limited by your physical location and the number of controllers you have for a gaming console, you can connect and play with other gamers around the world. With this type of connection, new gaming platforms and types of interactions have emerged, such as Let’s Play. But what does this mean for the gaming industry?
What is Let’s Play?
Let’s Play is a style of videos that gamers make of themselves playing video, computer and mobile games. You can watch these videos on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. There also are different styles of Let’s Play. For example, Rooster Teeth has a whole series devoted to them playing video games badly. Twitch, on the other hand, usually shows off some of the most skilled players you can learn from and admire. Let’s Play videos are easy to watch from your computer at home or while you’re on the go with streaming options for smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 plus. If you pre-ordered the device from T-Mobile, you can get the Gear VR, controller and Oculus bonus content for free. Plus, with VR becoming more popular for smartphones, you may also be able to watch Let’s Play videos on VR headsets in the near future.
Gamers love watching Let’s Play videos because they are a good source of entertainment. There are brands, podcasters and YouTube stars, such as PewDiePie, that put out these videos as part of their media and entertainment series. Many of these people became popular because they are funny, witty or sarcastic.
You also may be interested in these videos because many of the players are truly amazing. This is how Twitch exploded onto the scene. You can learn tips and tricks from these players, or you can just see how professionals play some of your favorite games.
It Encourages New Game Play
One of the main benefits for Let’s Play videos is that it gives you a way to find new games you want to play. Many Let’s Play streamers try to hit a wide variety of games that fall under different genres and styles of game play. For example, they may upload videos for several horror games one week and then focus on fantasy games the next week.
If you’re looking for something new to play, this is a great way to preview games. If you like the look of the video game world or the game-play style, then you’re more likely to feel confident about spending money on the game.
It Could Affect Sales
Many people within the gaming industry are against Let’s Play videos, though. Their argument is that you may get your fill of the game by watching someone else play it, or you may see how the story line plays out and not want to play it yourself. This would then mean that you wouldn’t spend money to buy the game, which affects game developers’ bottom lines. The result in the industry could be that developers produce fewer games.
Let’s Play videos have been around in various forms for some time and don’t look like they’ll be going away any time soon. The gaming industry needs to keep this trend in mind when they’re developing games and find ways to use them to their advantage. In the meantime, enjoy watching your favorite personalities show off their skills (or lack thereof)!
Sara started her writing and editing career in the world of technology and gaming. She has written numerous articles about the tech world and knows more about the cloud than she ever thought she would. She’s an Android enthusiast and is always looking to learn about the next big thing in tech. She is an experienced writer and editor who’s always up for a good Oxford comma debate.
I’m a busy guy. I run a game studio that has made over 45 premium casual games in the last decade. I podcast and livestream. In the last year, I’ve traveled to about 20 different cities, spoke at a major game conference about every other month, and found time to climb Mt. Fuji, go trekking in Nepal for 2 weeks, and a bunch of other cool stuff. All of that while being a father, a husband, and having a quality sit-down dinner with my family almost every night. People ask how I find the time. It’s actually pretty simple. I’ll share.
I work from home. This alone saves me 10-20 hours a week. I am not wasting time commuting and all of my breaks are shorter and more meaningful. Lunch? The kitchen is just 20 feet away. I’m done eating in half an hour and most days I get to share lunch with my wife. Want to take a break and read? The couch is right there. And all of the little stuff that needs to be dealt with every week: dentist’s appointments, paying bills, PTA meetings, etc., I fit that in between work tasks and can build the most efficient schedule for it because I never run into the “but I have to go home to do this” problem – I am already there.
I have a really nice workspace. I spend most of my waking life sitting at a desk working so I made sure that the chair I sit in is a good one. My desk is large enough to let me spread out papers, have room to swing a mouse around, and have a couple of monitors to spread out the digital content I need to be putting together. My space has a door. When the world outside intrudes, the door closes, the headphones go on, and I get stuff done. This, of course, is based on your tolerance for distraction. Some people in our company can tolerate a lot more distraction, and smaller working spaces. Some even prefer to work in cafes. This is something you have to test and see. That being said, most people generally benefit from reducing distractions, ensuring they are comfortable, and minimizing the number of outside influences while they work. Incredibly, working at home, even in a very busy home with children, parents, etc. can’t touch an open-office floor plan for creating distractions and annoyances. When I consider how much of the world is forced to work in brutally open floor plans, surrounded by aggressively distracting coworkers breaking their chain of thought… the mind shudders.
Similarly, I minimize digital distractions. Nothing on my computer makes noise. No application has popup notifications turned on. I take regular short breaks between tasks to check internal company chat groups, Facebook, Reddit, etc., but I never let these programs notify me or pull me away from my current task unless someone specifically summons me by name. Any decent internal chat program will let you set up notifications this way, and it’s critical. Even my phone has the ringer turned off, and it’s in another room. When I am working, that time is mine, and short of some major emergency, I don’t allow interruptions.
I schedule ruthlessly. If you want a meeting with me, it gets scheduled. Want to exercise regularly? Schedule. Time with the family? Schedule. I do “date night” once a week with my wife. That’s on the schedule. I go to guitar lessons with my daughter. That’s on the schedule. Think of your schedule like armor protecting you from the people who want to take time from you. You want to talk to me for 2 hours? Sorry, I only have 30 minutes for you in my schedule. Talk faster. You’d be amazed at how much someone can cram into 10 minutes when you only give them 10 minutes.
I avoid “regular meetings” like the plague. If you schedule a regular meeting, you will likely have to make up things to fill it with. Screw that. Treat meetings as evil necromantic spells: every minute you give to them is sucked from your soul. When they are absolutely necessary, I bring a list of what I want to achieve and I only bring the people who need to be there. It’s rare you really need more than 3 people in a meeting – better to have smaller meetings, write notes, and disperse them to the people who just need the info and aren’t actively contributing to the content. Forget big collaboration meetings. The science is clear: collaboration breeds mediocrity. Divy up the work, let people go do, and save the meetings for figuring out how it all works together and what to do next. This is how creative people thrive.
Treat meetings as evil necromantic spells: every minute you give to them is sucked from your soul.
I hire competent people and let them do their jobs. Nothing is a bigger waste of time than hiring someone to do a thing, and then doing it for them. This is a critical management skill, and it takes an adjustment of the mind to do well. Specifically, you have to change your thinking from “Is this what I wanted?” to “Is this good?” The reason you hire experts is because they are better at things than you are. So assume that they will give you something different, and probably better, than your expectation. Back off, look at it objectively, and if it does the job, pull your ego out of the equation and let it be. If you find that you can’t do that because you don’t trust or believe in the work someone is doing, replace them.
Good enough is good enough. I’ve been called “relentlessly Pareto”. I take that as a compliment. I only polish when it matters. The rest I let be. If you see me chatting with the team, my text is full of typos. They know what I mean. This isn’t getting published. I let it be. Our design documents are loose, rough, and produced fast. Our prototypes are ugly. When I give feedback, I take screenshots and scribble on them with the pen in the Windows Snipping Tool. It’s ugly, but the team gets it. Better they get the info ugly now than pretty tomorrow. If it’s not going in front of a customer, it’s only as pretty as it needs to be to be understood.
I don’t do email. Email is where information goes to die. If you are writing emails that require more than a few sentences to notify someone of something, you’re doing it wrong. That information needs to be put in a living document somewhere and shared. If I need to talk, I set up a quick call, we talk, I make notes, post them where they can be easily referenced later (we use Basecamp) and that’s referenced on our chat system (we use HipChat). If you need to say something more than a few sentences, document it, text, or call.
I do one thing completely before I do the next. Half of any serious creative task is just figuring out what you need to do, unpacking the details, and then banging them all together into something. If you are constantly shifting from task to task, you’re constantly redoing all of that preparation work, over and over. Stop that. Pick a thing. Do it. Bang on it till it’s done. Then put it out of your mind and move on. Half-done tasks pull at your attention and energy and make everything else you do more irritating and stressful. Clear your mind of these distractions by doing, completing, and moving on.
Pick a thing. Do it. Bang on it till it’s done. Then put it out of your mind and move on.
Sometimes, all of this breaks down, and I am seriously unproductive. It happens. When it does, I get up and walk away. Take a walk. Go to the gym and swim. Take a bike ride. Read a book. There are no bonus points for the number of hours you spend at a desk. If you find that you’ve been at a desk for 30 minutes or more, and have achieved nothing, step away. Recombobulate. Come back fresh. If you don’t, you’re going to just screw around looking at Facebook or YouTube or doing easy busywork anyway. Once you start down that road, you’re gone for an hour or more. Own that time. Make it yours. Shove something else you want or need to do into it.
I have one last, super specific tip: Every night, my last task is to write down the three things I will do tomorrow. I do this on a piece of scrap paper, and lay it on my keyboard. When I wake up and start in the morning, it’s there. Waiting for me. I don’t check email. I don’t do Facebook. I start with item one on the list and start my day. Until that list is done, my day is not over. When it’s done and my scheduled meetings are complete, I can call the day a success, and move on to stuff that I want to do – be that work related or not. This creates a sense of purpose that starts me every day, completion that helps me feel good at the end of the day, and excitement for what I am going to do tomorrow.
That’s largely it. Of course, I don’t keep to these rules 100%. Some days I keep closer to my regimen than others. But I have found that the closer that I keep to this life plan, the happier I am, the more I get done, and the better I feel about myself. Hope it helps.
We are proud to introduce our best mobile game finalist Mushroom Wars 2 made by Zillion Whales! As a winner at the GTP Indie Cup event, Zillion Whales has been given the opportunity to compete at Indie Prize Singapore at Casual Connect Asia 2017. The winter season 2017 of GTP Indie Cup has received more submissions than ever. Our jury board was excited about growing professional level of games from CIS indie developers and Mushroom Wars just proved this growth.
This year at GTP, we continue gathering best talents at our event and the summer season will be more helpful for developers not only by a variety of nominations and prizes but also with new Critic’s Choice award from CIS game press critics and journalists. We hope this story about our finalist will encourage you to take a part in the next Cup.
By Ksenia Shneyveys, Marketing Communications Manager at Zillion Whales
Mushroom Wars 2 is the newest game of a popular RTS series with a rich history.
Back in 2009, inspired by good old Galcon, the original Mushroom Wars was released. We polished this gameplay mechanics to a luster, added signature fungal setting, introduced morale notion and different types of buildings for greater depth.
Mushroom Wars 2 preserved the features that made Mushroom Wars so enjoyable and supplemented them with MOBA elements such as hero characters with unique sets of skills and co-op 2 vs 2 mode. The game is out on iOS and Apple TV. It is coming to Android, Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next year.