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Europe 2017Video Coverage

Vera Velichko: Succeeding with the Visual Novel | Casual Connect Video

September 19, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

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Vera Velichko is CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio

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.

A pelf portrait by Vera

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

Owl Studio’s first project: One Day in London

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.”

Casual Heroes by Owl Studio

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.

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Atsuo Nakayama: IP Business, Why and How | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Atsuo Nakayama speaking at Casual Connect Asia 2017.

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.

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To read more about Atsuo Nakayama including a lecture from Casual Connect Asia 2016, see this exclusive article.

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Wibe Wagemans: Creating Change in Consumer Behavior | Casual Connect Video

July 26, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.”

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Elena Vinokurova: Acquiring Users for Success | Casual Connect Video

July 24, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

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DevelopmentIndieStudio Spotlight

Indigo Entertainment Follows Dreams with Indie Games

June 15, 2017 — by Casey Rock

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Indigo Entertainment was founded in 2007 with the dream of developing games that feature “awesome” intellectual property (IP). For several years Indigo Entertainment pursued that dream, creating games for clients with popular IP.

However, as Indigo Entertainment President and Co-Founder James Ronald Lo notes, “everyone in the game industry has hopes and dreams of building their dream game” – and, in 2016, Indigo Entertainment began its venture into independent game development.

Indie Games

Their first independent game, 2D mobile action platformer Agent Aliens, was born out of a studio-wide call for game ideas – “sort of like a game jam” says James. The only requirement was for the game to be fun because, as James notes, if the gameplay is done right, IP can be built around it.

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Sharon Kho: Using Voices to Bring Your Game to Life | Casual Connect Video

June 11, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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As a game developer, you know the sounds in your game are crucial in so many ways. You may be using sound effects to underscore and add excitement to the action. Perhaps you have music to create moods and underscore the game world. It is no wonder music and sound effects are now commonplace in mobile games. But are you aware of what voice work can add to your game?

Sharon Kho is Co-Founder of IMBA Interactive

Sharon Kho, Co-Founder of IMBA Interactive, has the experience to guide you in exploring this underutilized area of sound for games. IMBA Interactive, a Singapore-based studio, provides audio and music solutions for video games and apps. Sharon is a music composer and sound designer whose most recent work on Mr. Catt received the Best Music and Sound Effect Award at the Bahamut ACG Awards in 2016.

At Casual Connect Asia, Sharon and another of IMBA’s founders, Jeremy Goh, gave a session aimed particularly at developers taking those first steps in working with voice talents, including casting and creating a script. In this session they described how to using voices to bring the characters and story of your game to life. When it comes to hiring an actor, Sharon advised, “You have to respect the actor who is going to put more things on the table than what is expected, because he has the talent you hired them for in the first place. So when you talk to the talent, make sure you get on the same page with them and make them comfortable, because at the end of the day… who knows, maybe your character development may come from the actor. Be open-minded to suggestions in order to get the best results.” To learn more, watch this video of the full session from Casual Connect.

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To read more about Sharon Kho’s views and to see another joint session with Gwen Guo from Casual Connect Asia 2016, see this exclusive article.

Asia 2017ContributionsDevelopmentVideo Coverage

Collaborative Innovation for the Next Generation of Developers | Casual Connect Video

May 29, 2017 — by Industry Contributions

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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.

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Simon Toh: The Keys to Approaching the APAC Region | Casual Connect Video

May 20, 2017 — by David Radd

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Remind developers that early monetization planning goes a long way in sustaining business. - Simon TohClick To Tweet

The time for Asian-Pacific mobile app publishers to switch to programmatic methods for monetizing. As the Head of APAC Platform Sales for MoPub, Simon Toh spoke about the need for developers to take advantage of mobile programmatic to monetize risk so that they don’t miss out on differentiated demand, revenue and control user experience. Simon stated, “To grow your top line, it is important for you to find new ways to monetize more of your users preferably all of them and not be overly dependent on in-app purchases.” During his talk at Casual Connect Asia, Simon also delved into what the beneits for publishers which included a glimpse into innovative ad formats and spend trends in the APAC market. To learn more, tune in to the video below of his full session.

BusinessDevelopmentExclusive InterviewsPR & Marketing

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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