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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Eight games from Taiwan, one game from Thailand and two games from Vietnam continues the list of developers from Southeast Asia who were selected to participate in the international Indie Prize showcase during Casual Connect Asia 2017 in Singapore.
Game Title:Magnesia Developer: 18Light Game Ltd. Platform: PC Website:www.18light.com.tw Country: Taiwan
Magnesia is a 2D puzzle game made by 18 Light. Player plays as a little robot Orsted. Explore the mysterious planet Magnesia. This planet contains some special substances which create powerful magnetic force. The substances maintain planet’s resident basic living, but humans are eager to get it due to the energy shortage on earth, so the war begin between three groups, humans that want to conquer, humans that protect Magnesia and residents on Magnesia. In this situation, Orsted has to determine what and who she should trust.
Some of social gaming’s major players will be on hand at Casual Connect Asia this May to discuss success, failure, and the industry at large. Executives from PlayStudios Asia, KamaGames, Huuuge Games, Murka, and more will speak on topics ranging from social casino content to skill-based tournaments.
At a glance
The Social Gaming track takes place on Day 2 of the conference and will kick off with a fireside chat with KamaGames. Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of KamaGames Daniel Kashti will discuss the social casino industry at large and KamaGames’ strategy within that – as well as discuss the influence of genres such as MMOs and RPGs on the social casino ecosystem and the introduction of meta-games designed to attract the mainstream gamer.
Speakers such as Murka VP of Strategy Mark Beck and Huuuge Games Chairman Wibe Wagemans will discuss innovation and user acquisition in social casino while GameDesire VP Maciej Mroz will talk about different approaches to revenue for free-to-play (F2P) games. PlayStudios Asia Managing Director John Lin will discuss the APAC social games market and whether it is worth diving into for companies.