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Indie Prize Asia 2018 Participants from Western Europe

November 7, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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The participants in Indie Prize at Casual Connect Asia always show amazing creativity and diversity, and this certainly true of these entries for Indie Prize Asia 2018 from Western Europe. From creative learning apps to complex puzzles to adventure games, and even some filled with horror, there is something here for every kind of gamer.

Game Title: Looters
Developer: Karizma Studio
Platform: Android
Country: Iran
Video: https://bit.ly/2REDTyf

Once upon a time there was a magical game studio named KARIZMA. They were known across the land for developing games, and one day a glorious castle emerged from the studio. The castle was filled with magic and gold so it attracted every looter in the world. Eventually the castle became known as Looters.

When you play as one of the Looters, you must avoid the traps and weapons that protect the castle. Be alert for unexpected dangers; you never know what lies ahead!

Game Title: Squirrel & Bear: Europe (Culture Travel)
Developer: The Good Evil GmbH
Platform: iOS, Android, Console Nintendo Switch
Country: Germany
Video: https://bit.ly/2QlBbxv

Squirrel & Bear: Europe is an adventure game that allows children to explore the diversity of language and culture in Europe. And it is a Badger rescue mission! Players explore Europe’s cities, food, sights and animals, and along the way they find hidden gems. They can listen to the different languages, take pictures, and, of course, save Badger!

Squirrel & Bear: Europe is a new adventure from the characters in Squirrel & Bear: Original. The original game received many awards, including: Die Bienenretter: Comenius-EduMedia Seal 2018, App of the Month September 2016, German Academy of Kids and Youth Literature e. V., Nomination for German Video Game Award as Best Kids Game 2015, Dyslexia Quality Award 2015, German Developer Award 2014 – Best Kids Game, Tommi Kids Software Prize 2014 – Winner Preschool, GIGA-Mouse 2014 – Best Lernapplication Languages, and Pädi 2014 – the Medien Interaktivpreis.

Game Title: ROPAS
Developer: Saif Ahmed
Platform: Android
Country:Tunisia

ROPAS is a complex puzzle based on Rock-Paper-Scissors. The goal at each level is to eliminate all but one of the pieces and leave the single winning piece. This winning piece is different at each level.

Each puzzle piece has its own unique features and interacts differently with other pieces; as well, it has a limited number of movements.

ROPAS is the first step toward realizing the developer’s idea of an interesting puzzle game that is both unique and complex. They began with adding mechanics each time they played Rock-Paper-Scissors, until it evolved into ROPAS.

Game Title: Mind the Gap!
Developer: Ashiokai
Platform: iOS, Android
Country: United Kingdom

In Mind the Gap, a simple arcade game, the goal is survival but at a relaxed, satisfying pace. The player increases their score by collecting power ups and Gwap coins. They can also buy additional playable characters.

Game Title: Need a packet?
Developer: Marginal act
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Country: Ukraine

Need a packet?, a horror-simulator game, takes place against a background of a garbage crisis in the city. The grounds are rotting, recycling containers are overflowing, the water is poisoned and the citizens start disappearing in the forests. The game’s character is Molly, a supermarket cashier, who is gradually losing her mind because of her boring, repetitive work. She begins believing the cash register is turning into a medieval tower and dragons and chimeras are flying around and trying to kill her.

Game Title: Désiré
Developer: Sylvain Seccia
Platform: iOS, Android, Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Country: France

Désiré is a point-and-click adventure in which the main character sees only in black and white. Désiré, the game’s main character, meets different characters as the game progresses. Each of these characters elicits intense emotional response from him, changing the way he sees the world.

The game has four chapters, more than fifty scenes and over forty characters. At Indie Prize Tel Aviv 2016 it was awarded Best Mobile Game and Best Game Audio. At Indie Prize Asia 2016 is received Best Game Narrative and at Evry Games City it received Best Game Audio.

Game Title: Kabounce
Developer: Stitch Heads
Platform: Desktop Win, Console PlayStation 4
Country: The Netherlands

Kabounce is a fast-paced pinball game in a team versus team experience. You control the ball and must master your movements to dominate the field and annihilate the opponents, taking their points by force. You play parkour time attack challenges to test your skills against ghosts, friends or the leaderboards.

Kabounce was the winner at UE4Jam, 2015, received an Unreal Dev Grant in 2016, and was given a “very positive” rating on Steam. It was the winner at Codemotion Amsterdam 2018 and Grads in Games Winner.

Kabounce was nominated for the Indie Prize by Codemotion Amsterdam.

Game Title: Squire Squarefeet
Developer: Dane Games
Platform: Desktop Win
Country: Denmark

Squire Squarefeet is a nostalgic adventure that takes the player back to a time when games were easy to learn but hard to master. The characters in the game are the knight, Sir Hot-a-Lot and his squire, anti-hero Squire Squarefeet. Follow them on their journey to save the princess, and enjoy this game filled with fun for all ages.

At Game Scope 2018, Denmark, Squire Squarefeet won the People’s Choice award. People of all ages, groups of friends, and parents with children, played together to figure out the puzzles. The game is filled with adult humor, hard puzzle solving and pattern-based mechanics. These bring out the fighter in players as they sit down to take Squire Squarefeet for a spin.

Squire Squarefeet was nominated for Indie Prize by Game Scope.

Game Title: Circle of Sumo
Developer: Yonder
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac, Console Nintendo Switch
Country: Italy

Circle of Sumo is a fast-paced, competitive game that can take place in dozens of different arenas. Players can play alone or in teams as they fight for supremacy in the ring using their power, precision, reflexes and cunning. Sumo is only the starting point, the game is a real mini-games box; it has a joyful and inclusive soul that still keeps its purely competitive aspects, such as controllers’ precision and characters’ statistics.

Circle of Sumo can be played anywhere your imagination can see a ring: a traditional dohyo, the top of a tower, traffic roundabouts, desert islands, carousels, golf courses, sunny cemeteries, dark attics, and all sorts of unlikely places. There are mini-games for everyone’s taste: original creations, re-imaginings of different sports and tributes to traditional video games, such as Pong.

Circle of Sumo aims to be one of the most inclusive, cross-cutting games and to ensure pure fun while keeping the taste for challenge.

This game received the Game of the Fair award at Game Rome, 2017, where a ten-year-old child called it, “the funniest game of the last thirty years.” At Game Jam Rome 2017 it received the Best Game Award.

Circle of Sumo was nominated for Indie Prize by Codemotion Rome 2018.

Game Title: The Wizards – Trials of Meliora
Developer: Carbon Studio
Platform: VR mobile
Country: Poland

The Wizards – Trials of Meliora lets you test your magic abilities and your mettle as you defend the realm of Meliora. It is based on the award-winning action/adventure The Wizards, but is a completely new adventure. It takes place in the same world, adapted to Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets. Enjoy the fun of immersive gesture-based spell casting in standalone VR and the breath taking environments from the original The Wizards.

Carbon Studio released The Wizards – Trials of Meliora on July 5, 2018, a mobile VR game that brings the fun of casting spells with hand gestures to Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and Mi VR headsets. This independent title takes full advantage of 3DOF motion controller’s potential and introduces players to the rich world of The Wizards. The games casting mechanic puts magic directly into the player’s hands, eliminating pop-up menus, button combinations and other traditional systems.

The Wizards – Trials of Meliora was nominated for Indie Prize by RESPAWN.

Game Title: The Grandfather Machine
Developer: Shane Hou
Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac
Country: United Kingdom

The Grandfather Machine is a first person maze/ puzzle game featuring a live performance actor. It is set in a desert environment divided into two main spaces, the Real World and the Virtual World. The mechanics of play in the game change, depending on where you are in these worlds. These core game mechanics include wall walking, gravity manipulations and space paradoxes. The game narrative is an experience into the adventure of a surreal world of alternative thinking and bizarre logic.

When you awaken in the game you find yourself in a strange place. A scientist asks you to take several tests to answer some of life’s biggest questions. You must finish a series of challenges in a virtual space; you could walk on every plane, such as ground, wall and ceiling, go through different dimensions and travel by gravity pads to your final destination. But what lies at the end of your journey?

Game Title: OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content
Developer: Last Life Left Game Studio
Platform: Desktop Win
Country: United Kingdom

OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content is an adventure game set in a fictional Eastern-bloc country called Belkasvena. In this narrative-rich game, the player is a game tester who must censor a developing game under government regulation. The government, led by the SUPREME LEADER, continually implements new regulations to “ensure that all video games ensure a healthy and positive culture”. The game tester, employed by the “Last Life Left Game Studio”, has the job of testing a 2D action shooter game, “Ural Death Machine. If they discover any bug or anything that violates regulations, they must take a screen shot and report it.

The total testing period is six months in the story and each pass of testing a level in the game represents one week. At the beginning and end of each working day, the tester can check emails, interact with colleagues on social media and find out the news. This is how the player discovers the effects their work has on the company, the events in the outside world that will affect the pressures of their job, and the changing attitudes and censorship regulations of the government.

OIC explores the origin and development of video game censorship and how it might affect the video game industry and our society as a whole. Developer Shualying “Shane” Hou found inspiration for this game from Metal Slug, Papers, Please and Orwell.

Game Title: Voxel Clicker
Developer: Quantumfrog Mobile GmbH
Platform: iOS, Android, Web, other consoles
Country: Germany
Video: https://bit.ly/2zAgNl5

Voxel Clicker is a role playing game with voxel graphics and clicker elements, set in a beautiful kingdom. Players fight with one hero and up to four companions. When you play this game you fight against fantasy creatures, collect treasures, develop skills, and craft new items.

Voxel Clicker was the winner of GTR 2016.

Game Title: Vocarbicar
Developer: Quantumfrog GmbH
Platform: iOS, Android
Country: Germany
Video: https://bit.ly/2Qpr36N

Vocarbicar is a learning app for children in grades 3-4 and 5-6 and was developed in cooperation with Westermann Group. Vocabicar helps children extend their English vocabulary. They control toy cars through theme worlds and collect letters, words and objects, depending on the game mode. As they play, they memorize words which have been collected and repeated before. The game mechanic and high scores keep the children motivated.

Features include individually adjustable difficulty levels, choice of vehicles, exciting challenges in various fields, high learning motivation through high score list, and awards for specific successes. Either German or English can be selected.

Vocabicar received the Best Serious Game at the German Video Game Awards 2018.

Game Title: Bushy Tail
Developer: Fuero Games Sp. z o.o.
Platform: Desktop Win
Country: Poland

In this adventure narrative game, we learn the story of Little Fox. Three children are processing their experiences of the sudden arrival of refugees and foreign cultures by turning to the fictional world and using Little Fox as the hero who grows through, adapts to and overcomes the challenges of change. This game constantly transforms, depending on which child is telling the story, giving the player a sense of influencing the plot.

Bushy Tail has received the following awards: PC Indie Pitch award by Steel Media at Game Industry Conference, Best Story/Storytelling at Paris Game Connection, Developer Showcase winner at Games Forum London, Best Game Animation and Best Narrative at Casual Connect USA, and Warsaw Excellence Prize at Pixel Awards 2018.

It has also received many nominations, including: Most Original Game, Most Promising IP, Best Quality Art, Best Casual Game, and Best Console PC/Hardcore all at Game Connection Europe 2017: as well as Indie Game Award Finalist at Taipei Games Show 2018.

To view all of the Indie Prize finalists for Casual Connect Asia 2018, visit indieprize.org.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Aleksey Savchenko: Understanding the Needs of Developers | Casual Connect Video

September 26, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Live your life so you have something to be proud of every day, then let it go and set higher goals. -…Click To Tweet

Are you ready to use Unreal Engine 4 for development in casual genres? Learn how to utilize this amazing tool in smart and effective ways. Tune in to a presentation by Aleksey Savchenko, a licensing manager at Epic Games, at Casual Connect Europe. This session, Unreal Engine 4: Perspectives for Casual, discussed smart and effective ways of using, including tips and tricks of the toolset, optimization and pipeline. Aleksey also concentrated on some specific hypothetical cases in HOG/HOPA genres to give a good example of what can be done with UE4 in this field.

DevelopmentExclusive Interviews

Vasiliy Sabirov: Making Games Better with Analytics

September 19, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Vasiliy Sabirov is Lead Analyst at devtodev, a full-cycle analytics platform that helps developers to improve their games. Vasiliy has seven years of experience in game analytics and describes his transition to devtodev as smooth and effortless. He began as a business analyst, then worked in a B2B service for games. He followed that with working for a game development company and from there to devtodev.

Making Decisions That Mean Something

Vasiliy Sabirov is Lead Analyst for devtodev

Vasiliy’s work as Lead Analyst covers three major areas. The first is helping developers understand why analytics is so important to games and how analyzing their games can make them better. At devtodev, this has included writing books, hosting webinars and, most recently, launching a free online course in game analytics. Vasiliy also participates in international gamedev events as a guest speaker, something that involves a great deal of travel and offers opportunities to exchange ideas and opinions with other professionals.

His second major area of responsibility is creating and improving the devtodev platform. He generates ideas for reports that are useful for different game projects in different genres and that help developers understand the meaning behind the numbers in their games. And he is also responsible for analytics outsourcing for some of their clients.

Vasiliy describes, “It is really important for me to feel that my decisions mean something and influence something for the best. And the more things I can influence, the faster those decisions are implemented, the better. I’m getting all those things working at devtodev.”

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Reko Ukko: Balancing Art and Business in Games | Casual Connect Video

September 18, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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As long as there's creativity involved, I'm happy. - Reko UkkoClick To Tweet

In a highly competitive industry, Best Fiends has managed to grow its mobile entertainment franchise into a $100 million brand. In a talk at Casual Connect Europe entitled How to Leverage Game Design to Sustain Brand Awareness, Reko Ukko, VP of Game Design at Seriously, shared his insights on how to successfully grow an audience and increase engagement through storytelling, new feature updates and holiday themed events.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Andrey Kuznetsov: Constantly Looking for Opportunities and Innovation | Casual Connect Video

September 17, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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We have to be at the top of our game every day. - Andrey KuznetsovClick To Tweet

The social casino genre is one of the highest-earning and most fiercely competitive areas of the mobile gaming market. KamaGames’ CEO, Andrey Kuznetsov provided a number of key learnings, successes and challenges that contributed to the company achieving significant growth in market share, gross revenue and also reaching the 100 million player milestone in early 2018. All of this was shared in Andrey’s lecture at Casual Connect Europe. They also talked about the various innovative approaches KamaGames has taken to increase a number of key performance indicators across the entire product portfolio.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Justin Stolzenberg: Creating True Partnerships with Developers

September 12, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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We at Flaregames pledge to protect the creativity of our partners in a cutthroat market. - Justin…Click To Tweet

It’s daunting for many developers to have to constantly create new heroes, units, items to keep pace with engaged players. But designs that avoid the “content treadmill” most often lead to players desiring the game’s content less, and players who desire less will spend less. In a talk called F2P Developers: Get on the Content Treadmill! at Casual Connect Europe, Justin Stolzenberg, VP Publishing at flaregames, it is explained why it’s smarter to embrace rather than avoid ongoing content creation, and gave practical tips for small and medium sized teams. “A gacha is only as deep as the most desirable content.” He further explained, “Nobody plays the lottery for a consolation prize.” He suggests following these three steps: start with the end in mind, design for scalability, and be real about constraints.

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

Justin Stolzenberg, Vice President Publishing at Flaregames, has been responsible for monetization for a variety of browser and games companies over the past sixteen years. As part of the Flaregames’ management team, Justin now looks after their entire publishing portfolio. Justin came to Flaregames after getting to know CEO Klaas Kersting five years ago. Justin fell in love with Klaas’ vision and the Flaregames culture, which includes true partnerships with developers, a no-asshole-policy and real gamers.

Justin’s favorite aspect to this job is the people, both the diverse and inspiring partners and the brilliant people within the company in tech, marketing and product divisions.

From Gaming to a Career in Games

As Justin was growing up, he played games continually, every day. The most constant of these was Counter-Strike, which he played at the European Pro level until 2001. Interestingly, as he was growing up, his plan for the future varied according to what game that he was playing. “One summer I wanted to be a helicopter pilot because I’d sunk hundreds of hours into Novalogic’s Commanche, then I wanted to be a race driver because of Grand Prix 2.” So it was natural as an adult for him to pursue a career in the game industry.

He started in the industry as a game writer for a major media company. From there he quickly moved to product management and project management during the mid-2000s, while F2P browser games were most popular.

Justin describes, “Games require both artistic and scientific skills. Bringing both perspectives together to solve difficult problems is something that really drives me.” And this is what he enjoys most about his work today.

Inevitable Challenges

There are significant challenges in the industry because the mobile game market has become so competitive. There are also, traditionally, challenges in the relationship between developer and publisher. Flaregames wanted to change this dynamic, so they began iterating and learning from mistakes, and continued until they developed what they consider to be a formula that perfectly aligns the interests of both parties.

As a publisher, Justin is most proud of his work when he helped ship and scale something beautiful. These have included Royal Revolt II and Nonstop Knight, two of Justin’s favorite games.

The Key to Effective Marketing

The key to effectively marketing games, according to Justin. is deeply understanding the audience and then telling a compelling, joined-up story. This may be through influencers, media-buying or other ways. Because Flaregames is looking for brands to be successful over a number of years, they must make a deep investment in story-building and how they communicate with the player base.

Flaregames looks for magic in the games they are considering and how the developer manages the ongoing evolution of their game. With respect to the game, this means the themes the game covers, the ways the themes fulfill the needs of the intended audience, and whether the gameplay actually delivers on this vision. Flaregames then looks at the developer’s readiness for sustained live ops and continued content creation after hard launch, and whether this is a realistic proposition.

The Relationship Between Publisher and Developer

Justin emphasizes that the relationship with developers must be based on transparency, fairness and an alignment of interests. He always remembers the developer is the chief architect of the masterpiece while the publisher provides the scale, marketing, infrastructure and F2P expertise to bring the masterpiece to the masses. The developer should be left to do what they do best: making the games.

Making games is a full-time, intense amount of work, with little time for anything else. So, as Justin points out, it is important for a developer to find a publisher just as passionate and invested in the game as they are. If the publisher can offer world-class marketing, production and technical support, this is an excellent publisher to choose.

Flaregames was named Best Publisher at the Mobile Games Awards 2018

There are many, many great games from amazing teams that never gain traction. The volume of competition is staggering and a serious threat to most developers; this is where publishers can really make a difference.

“We at Flaregames call ourselves the ‘Guardians of Joy’: we pledge to protect the creativity of our partners in a cutthroat market,” Justin describes. “This is what the best publishers can offer.”

Justin continues to be passionate about games when he is not working. He plays in diverse genres: games that include Grand Prix II, Counter-Strike, Overwatch and all the Civilization games. Currently he is looking for the next game he will play really hard core. He also plays jazz guitar, reads sci-fi and exercises obsessively.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Owen McCarthy: Pushing Boundaries | Casual Connect Video

September 4, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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There is a little bit of instinct involved in this and mine hasn't failed me yet... - Owen McCarthyClick To Tweet

If you have ever been to a theme park or large carnival, you know first hand how crowded such places can be. As a game developer, have you have tried to tackle simulating something like that in a game? Frontier Development’s Principal Programmer Owen McCarthy Traditional has some pointers. In a talk at Casual Connect Europe in London entitled Simulating 10,000 Guests in Planet Coaster, Owen gave an overview of how Frontier did it in Planet Coaster. They were able to successfully simulate over 10,000 park guests in a player-created environment by using potential field research based on continuum crowds. In the presentation, he takes a deep dive into the studio’s development process to show how they took this system from prototype to full production. See the full session below.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Michael Leznik: Using Science to Support Social Casino | Casual Connect Video

August 28, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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If everything agreed with our intuition, we would never have needed the science. - Michael LeznikClick To Tweet

Virality matters. It has become one of the essential features describing the propagation on social networks. This ranges from viral news to viral videos on YouTube or Vimeo to viral games. It helps to monetize, but in spite of being such a vital feature of digital marketing, the ways of measuring virality remain somewhat elusive and non-ubiquitous. Join Michael Leznik, Head of Data Science at Product Madness, during his talk at Casual Connect Europe 2018 where he discussed separate metrics and some technical possibilities of evaluations.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Teut Weidemann: Conversion and ARPPU in Your F2P Game | Casual Connect Video

August 16, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Teut Weidemann speaking at Casual Connect Europe in London

Are you a game developer who has decided to use the free-to-play business model? Then, no matter how exciting your game, you must find ways to make it profitable if you are to continue in business. How will you convert the users into paying users? Then how will you convince those paying users to continue spending in your game? These are difficult but absolutely essential challenges. There is no better person to advise you than Teut Weidemann.

Teut Weidemann is the F2P Consultant at I Teut You So. As a senior online games specialist, he consults with companies in the F2P space, sharing the knowledge he gained working in games since the 1980s and shipping over 100 titles on multiple platforms. He was part of the team that created the browser game of the year, The Settlers Online.

At Casual Connect Europe 2018, Teut gave the session titled Raising ARPPU and Conversion in Your F2P Game. In it he used examples from dozens of different games in best practices for raising ARPPU and conversion: the most difficult problem. Once past this hurdle, raising ARPPU is a little easier, but still tricky. You must always be aware of the fact that players want value for the money they spend in the game.

To learn more about how you can keep your game profitable while providing the value players want, be sure to watch the video of this session.

To read more about Teut including some more of his wisdom from Casual Connect Europe 2017 which took place in Berlin, see this exclusive article.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Richard Bartle: Games Are a Force for Good | Casual Connect Video

August 15, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Games are a force for good, and the more know how to design them, the better games will be. - Richard…Click To Tweet

The idea of Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic for many but for game developers in particular. Enjoy this non-technical presentation which draws on recent work by a Professor at Essex University, Dr Richard Bartle. At his presentation AI for Games and AI for Gamers at Casual Connect Europe, he outlined how AI can help game development right now as well as how it will be able to help and/or hinder it in the near future. “A must read when learning AI technology is Yannakalis & Togelius: Artificial Intelligence and Games”, he recommended. Tune in for highlights on: testing game balance, prediction of player experiences, rapid testing AI opponents, data mining, story generation and automatic game creation.

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