Europe and Asia are bringing some exciting participants to the Indie Prize during Casual Connect USA 2018 at Disneyland® Hotel. The games bring a variety of worlds and experiences, imaginary, realistic and even historical. The story lines are as varied as the environments, and challenge, adventure and learning are involved in all of them.
Game Title:Bushy Tail Developer:Fuero Games Platform: Desktop Win Country: Poland
In Bushy Tail, three children are processing their experiences when refugees and foreign cultures suddenly arrive. They dive into the fictional world and tell the story of their hero, Little Fox, who goes through, adapts and overcomes the challenges of change. The game is constantly transforming, depending on which child is telling the story, giving the player the sense of influencing the plot.
Guy Charusadhirakul manages business development for Google Play in Southeast Asia, helping to grow the ecosystem of game and app developers in the region as he assists them to build successful global businesses using Google Play. Guy especially enjoys working with the creative people who are building fun, unique games, helping them reach millions of players globally and succeed with their businesses. Recently Gamesauce was able to interview Guy about his work with Google Play.
Gamesauce: Tell us about the work you do at your company. How did you come to work at your current company?
Guy Charusadhirakul: I manage business development for Google Play in Southeast Asia. Basically, that means I help grow ecosystem of game and app developers in the region and help them build successful global business with Google Play.
As Chief Operating Officer at Gravity Co., LTD, Yoshinori Kitamura is in charge of management, with major focuses on business strategies, overseas development and new business development. Currently his emphasis is on expanding the Ragnarok business according to the one source multi-use method. He is also in charge of managing the group companies (the US office and the Taiwan branch), and the NeoCyon office involved in mobile business to business. Yoshinori has participated in Ragnarok‘s Japanese business since 2003 and became involved with the management of Gravity in 2008.
Finding Trends in a Fluctuating Market
Yoshinori enjoys the fact that his job shows clear results for what he does. He likes to challenge himself as he predicts trends in a market that is constantly fluctuating. As he describes, “It is rewarding when you succeed with new ideas without being caught by fixed concepts.”
His first exposure to gaming came in his school days; while playing Famicon with his friend he developed a desire to enter the game industry. However, at the time this seemed unlikely. Instead Yoshinori became involved with American football. While doing sales at a recruiting advertising company he was given the opportunity to join their company football team. Following this career he began working for Rothman’s Marubeni, a tobacco company which withdrew from the business some years later. He was then involved in starting several IT companies invested by Marubeni.
Try different ways, at first do as much as possible by yourself. - Kirill LazackovichClick To Tweet
How do you become a kids app developer? At Casual Connect Asia, Kirill Lazakovich shared his story about two non-developers who started creating kids apps as a side project and became successful. He shared what their secrets, vision and statistics throughout the project.
Music and sound effects are commonplace in a mobile game, but often the use of voice work is overlooked. Usual reasons include a lack of budget or experience working with voice talents. See the session video below if you want to learn about how the use of voice can bring your characters and stories to life, and if you’re taking the first steps into casting, creating a script and working with voice talents. At Casual Connect Asia, Jeremy Goh, Co-Founder of IMBA Interactive, discussed voice work, noting that “good voice work can give your game relatability and personality, as well as a source of rich feedback for your players.”
I make something beautiful and teach my team to do it. It makes me happy every day. - Vera VelichkoClick To Tweet
User Interface is the connection between the customer and your code. The CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio has a passion about what makes User Interface good or bad. In her lecture at Casual Connect Europe 2017 discussed this and how to build effective interfaces as well as how to direct the user’s attention to the right place at the right time. This presentation will help you whether you are an artist or not to design better layouts that help increase user engagement and retention.
One tip Vera shared was: “Passive and active colors for user interface UI needs a good balance, using gentle shades that won’t tire the eyes.” To learn more, see the full lecture and slides below.
Vera Velichko, CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio, has always been determined to have a company of her own, but for many years it seemed like a distant dream as she continued working as an employee. But finally, two years ago, the time was right. “I realized that there is no time like the present, and if I wanted to achieve my dream, I had to do it there and then.” So, with some friends, she began working on her first project, a visual novel called One Day in London. The company has developed into a team of twelve and they still work with this visual novel (an episodic project) as well as doing outsource artwork. During the past year they have completed seven projects together.
Doing Something that Really Matters
Today Vera firmly believes that the work she is doing means something; it really matters. This year Owl Studio’s online school for artists begins. Each day brings interesting tasks; each new project brings new challenges for Vera and the team. She revealed, “I can make something beautiful and teach my team to do it. It makes me happy every day.”
Almost all her life Vera has been working as an artist. While studying fine arts, she started accepting what it would be like to live on the salary a painter could make. But then Vera discovered that the game industry offered a brilliant opportunity to make real money doing what she loves. So she made a portfolio of her work and began doing freelance work as a game artist. At first she were working for almost nothing, but the work allowed them to continue improving the portfolio. And as the portfolio became better and better, the more opportunities it generated.
Building a Business
With the creation of Owl Studio, Vera entered a new stage of her career. Suddenly she must be involved in business development, networking, team building, setting up process, and many other aspects of building a business that she had never done before. Their motivation to succeed comes through seeing a goal and moving toward it. When she looks to the future and see there is something still needed, Vera just keeps moving on.
The biggest challenges she has faced recently is making decisions for the company. Vera reveals, “How can I find out that my decision is right? How can I be sure it doesn’t hurt my team?” She has realized that, although there is no way to be sure something is the right decision, it is still her responsibility as the leader. This continues to be the most complicated aspect of running the company.
Building the Team
For the members of the team Vera searches for those who can combine creative talent with responsibility, but it is a rare combination. This is because the art that Owl Studio makes is much more than a job or a way to make money. She explains, “We are trying to make a graphic with soul and spirit, that will take a user to a new world. It’s impossible without talent. And we work with customers and abide by deadlines, and this would not be possible without responsibility.”
The most difficult positions to fill are the team leads. This employee must have the very unusual ability to be a leader while also being a team player. And next most difficult to find are the UI designers.
Vera has discovered that there are no standard methods of how to work with the team members because everyone is unique; an individual approach is necessary. So she tries to find a way to connect with every employee, but recognize that is also important to know the moment to let them go.
Her commitment to team members is evident when Vera relates the proudest moment of her career. It was when she realized what an apprentice had accomplished, something more than Vera could do alone.
Developing and Testing a Visual Novel
When Owl Studio began working on their own project, they used play tests of their first demo to form the final vision of the project. They were testing UI, storytelling, sounds and perception of the image, and as a result of these tests they made changes and adjustments. As they tested this visual novel, the most interesting results came from seeing the differences in feedback from the different story lines. The choices the users made changed their perceptions of the entire story. It was a very important discovery.
Now there are no longer significant changes to the project mechanic from episode to episode, so Owl Studio is no longer doing play tests. However, they do get feedback from users on a daily basis and use this information to constantly improve the project.
The monetization method Owl Studio uses for One Day in London is premium. This is simply a result of the visual novel genre; there is no opportunity to monetize within it for using the free-to-play principle.
Vera has seen dynamic growth in mobile games, as well as hearing many colleagues talking about new trends in this sector of the game industry, and expects this to continue over the next few years. In response, she is teaching the team and students to understand the specifics of mobile art.
The Essential Skills and Attributes of Good Interface Design
There are two essential skills to the basis of good interface design. The first is understanding the features of the project and the target devices. The designer must be able to imagine how the user will use this. The second is understanding the topography and visual design. As Vera points out, not every artist can understand how to work with texts and infographics.
Vera describes the difference between UX and UI design this way: “UX design is the process of establishing the logic system that controls the application. UI design is the process of making this system beautiful.”
The software to design good graphical user interface will vary depending on the artist’s habits and preferences. Some possibilities include Photoshop, Illustrator or Animate. The only essential is providing a portable network graphics set.
For someone who is considering UI design as a career, Vera emphasizes the importance of playing games while thinking about how you do it. Also, study the topography design. These are the two most significant steps toward becoming a UI designer.
John B. Lin is the Managing Director of PlayStudios Asia. His previous work was with real world casinos, like the Las Vegas Sands. Now he’s looking to integrate social gaming with real-world casino efforts. At Casual Connect Asia 2017, John discussed the APAC social games market.
How vulnerable is the game industry in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)? Its competitors in Japan and the US have an IP business foundation. Without the same foundation, Atsuo Nakayama maintains that ASEAN will lose ground in comparison.
Atsuo is President and COO of Bushiroad Singapore where they manage its TCG, Mobile game and Anime business that derives from the IPs they own, including Vanguard, Baddy Fight and BanG Dream. They also specialize in the IP business from their previous work as Studio Head and General Manager of Bandai Namco Studios in Vancouver and Singapore.
Atsuo described the process of creating the fan base for the game IP they were making, “It took a three year effort to crystallize IP with a certified core fan base.” Clearly this is not a quick and easy thing to do. But they insist that by following Bushiroad’s procedure in creating IP, developers will realize this is just what Singapore and the ASEAN countries should be targeting. Watch this video of Atsuo’s presentation at Casual Connect Asia to learn more about the importance of IP business.
Solitary players are spending most if we put them into the most socially active room! - Wibe WagemansClick To Tweet
As the fastest growing social casino company, Huuuge Games is innovating through relentless focus on a real-time social multiplayer platform. At Casual Connect Asia, Wibe Wagemans spoke about how Huuuge Games has already achieved category leading monetization (ARPDAU) and has seen success with TV and digital ad campaigns and how Huuuge Games is going after new market segments and demographics. He reflected, “The funny thing is there are a lot of players in social casino who play slots solely alone. What we’ve discovered is if we put them in the same room room with other players, you can drive the ARPDAU for even 50-year-old players.” Keeping on top of updates is crucial to user retention. He explained, “I cannot emphasize enough how important speed is for a startup. We have cycles where we do updates every two weeks – which allows us to innovate way faster than anyone else in the industry.”
After completing game development, marketing is the most difficult task faced by new game companies. MyTona achieved great success from their first self-published title and at Casual Connect Asia 2017 they shared their post-launch advertising experience and some “hacking” tips to acquire high quality users while maneuvering through the challenges of post-launch marketing.