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ContributionsDevelopmentGame DevelopmentIndieOnlinePostmortem

Sliding Angel: Girls in Bikinis Liked By Audience and The Devs

July 15, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Childhood Studio was started in September of 2012. Their core members used to work for the same employer, but that development house ceased its operation back in July of 2012. Sharing the same creative vision, they decided to form their own studio to carry on their passion for games. Childhood Studio’s CEO Believe Liu shares the story of Sliding Angel. 

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Kill the Plumber: A Collaboration Goes Viral

May 27, 2015 — by Orchid

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2015 is the year Bari Silvestre from Keybol went back to his roots – Flash game development. “You  can’t help but reminisce about the hay days of the browser games, that can be easily distributed  and with the right polish and gameplay you can get some hefty sum via sponsorships. Times have changed though, and you have to be not just twice as good in producing quality games, but your creations should have an interesting original gameplay”, Bari recalls. That is hard to come by, so he just made little Flash games with some interesting twist on existing gameplay. They did get some positive feedback with a feature here and there, but Bari felt something is lacking. His fresh creation, Kill The Plumber, brings to life some gamers’ dreams of playing for the villains. 

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Seven Summits Studio: Making Memories Through Stories in Petite

March 31, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Seven Summits Studio is an award-winning independent game development company based out of Hyderabad, India. The studio was founded in 2013 by a group of passionate individuals who strive to create impactful experiences through video games.

Petite is an ambient experience that narrates a woman’s story while focusing on key incidents that happen in her life. Every level is a new situation, and each memory you unlock is a unique one, depending on the emotions you choose.

It is being designed by Asar Dhandala, who worked on Petite together with the writer of the story,  Vishesh Chopra, and the programmer, P.V. Sanjeev Kumar. The development cycle of the game is being mentored by Shailesh Prabhu and Nawaz Dhandala. Asar shares the story of their freshly released creation.


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Awakening of Heroes: Making MOBA Interesting For A Wider Audience

March 24, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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COFA Games is a game development company from Serbia, currently working on a pretty ambitious project for an indie studio, called Awakening of Heroes. This is an unusual multi-player game that combines elements of team fight, strategy, arcade, town development and pre-game unions. Although still in the Alpha phase, Awakening of Heroes has appeared on Steam Greenlight waiting for your thumbs up to help it enter this huge PC game download store.

COFA Games’ CEO Nikola Mitic shares the story of their game taking place in a dreamlike city, and featuring a sweet old lady obsessed with extreme sports such as tombola and knitting, a mellow-heart butcher with an alter-ego of a math genius, a sexy chimney sweeper with a vendetta against Santa, a hipster in an atypical bad mood, and a grandpa daredevil. And of course the craziest superpowers one can come up with.


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Orange Jet Fighter: From News Stories to a Jet Fighter Game

March 9, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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GamesOnly.com is a Dutch game studio and game portal founded in 2009 by Robin Ras. Located in Amsterdam, Robin started to work with other game devs to develop Unity 3D games like the Orange Jet Fighter. “Being a big fan of jet fighter games, it was great to finally be able to develop something similar”, Robin says as he shares the story of Orange Jet Fighter.


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Mecha Titans: Enjoy The Game You’re Making

December 19, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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Pinokl Games is a Ukrainian game development studio with a team of 12 people who love games and would rather develop a game more like a service than a one-off product. Their game Mecha Titans is about tactical combats, a three-fighter team of robots. There are missions, a story, collecting, multiplayer to kill the bosses, and tournaments. “We’ve got high quality graphics, 70 robots with 4 active skills each, and over 200 types of weapons, an RPG system, characters development, skills learning and improving””, co-founders Igor Arterchuk and Oleksandr Potapenko explain, telling the creation story of Mecha Titans. 


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The Terminal 2: A Realistic Airport Simulator For Those Who Like The Theme

December 18, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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FrameLineNetwork is a mobile app development studio founded in 2012 in Budapest, Hungary. The team calls the company their  professional „cave-dev-laboratory”, where they are designing games available in more than 150 countries globally on most major platforms from PC to mobile. Their most famous game series is The Terminal Game featuring The Terminal 2 that FrameLineNetwork had the biggest success with as for now. The company’s CEO Attila Kilian shares the story of this airport management game.


A Realistic Airport Simulator For the Fans

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Circuits: The Electricity Puzzle

November 27, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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Blugri is an indie game studio based in the heart of Europe, Brussels. Tom Janssens, who founded the studio in 2012 shares the story of its latest game Circuits. He started off developing games by coincidence: after the launch of WP8 and following an XNA course he created his first game called Boxes, just for fun. After the first success Tom decided to become a full-time game developer and started establishing the blugri team. Blugri’s mission is to create casual games with an innovative touch, with smart and high-quality graphics and sound, Tom explains. And the most important point for his team is to create games that everyone (including themselves) loves to play! The blugri team has already created the games of Sudoku, Solitaire, Boxes, Jungle Mamba and Air Hockey.

Pipe Mania With A Modern Twist And Electricity

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AVION Checkpoint: Recreating a Childhood Game In-Between a Regular Job

November 20, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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It was 1983; Ivan Mandic was in the second grade, when his father’s friend knocked on the door and came in with something wrapped in a blanket. A small black box with a rainbow, lots of cables, and a cassette player. A few days later, Ivan decided to create his first game. 10 circle(10,10,x), 20 x = x + 2, 30 goto 10 – a sample code from Spectrum BASIC. “There were no books about ZX SPECTRUM in book stores, but Father found one and rewrote it by hand. The whole book, including images,” Ivan recalls as he shares the story of his game, AVION Checkpoint.


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In a few years, I bought a computer with my own money (no Commodore 64, it was Amstrad CPC 464). And in 1993, I turned on my first PC (286, 20MHz, 20MB HDD, 640KB RAM, Hercules), and this is very important: on the hard drive, I found a game called avion.exe. For a few days, I had been enjoying flying a small airplane up and down and throwing bombs on enemy bunkers. But while playing around with MS-DOS commands, I deleted command.com. It was a disaster. Darkness. End of humanity. No one knew what to do and whom to ask. After a couple of days in service, everything was fine, except one crucial thing: there was no avion.exe on the C: drive. From that day, I had the game in my mind. I’ve tried to make something similar in Pascal, Modula2, Delphi, C, C++, Java, JavaScript…no luck…

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Sopwith, David L. Clark, 1984., 29kB, MSDos, long-lasting inspiration for AVION Checkpoint, http://sopwith.org

Because of 3D

In February 2014, for the umpteenth time, I decided to download Unity3D, but this time, I was prepared. I had downloaded some gamedev tutorials from YouTube (about 60GB) and already knew what a game object was, a prefab, how to rotate it, how to get input from keyboard, what Vector3D was, and how to make a Space Invaders clone. I had read anything and everything about Unity3D and game development. I got lots of experience with 3D Studio, so already had a clue about 3D objects, transforms and textures, which was all helpful.

In a few months and countless number of versions, I came up with a game similar to the one you can try on Google Play. Many people asked me: “Why the hell 3D, all good and successful games are 2D, have you tried Angry Birds?”, and every time my answer was: Because I need to make it 3D. It has to be 3D. I see it in 3D. End of story. This was the only time I didn’t want to listen to good and friendly advice.

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Some details of level design

Problems: Variety of Devices, Sound, iOS, and Lack of Time

The first problem was testing the game. Thousands of devices, OS versions from 2.3.4 to 4.4, small screens, big screens, screens bigger than my home TV, processors from single to quad core, memory, and skins…I decided to buy test devices: a SONY Xperia ARC as the low level device, SAMSUNG Galaxy TAB as the middle one, and Nexus 7 2013 as a high-end device. My goal was to make a steady 30+ FPS which would run easily on all test devices. But they don’t represent the whole world. On most phones older than four years and with processors slower than 1 – 1.5GHz, the game was unplayable. I didn’t find a way to check processor or memory on devices and to scale resolution/number of objects/textures to achieve at least 30 FPS, so I decided to limit the Android version to 3.0 or higher hoping that newer devices will have the higher OS version. This turned out to be a good decision.

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The Android version has been limited to devices with the newest OS version to make sure it works on all.

The second problem was sound. I have worked in various areas of the IT industry, but I never touched sound. My biggest involvement in computer sound was to play Pink Floyd or Metallica in WinAmp. Luckily, my brother Vladimir Mandić is an MC in Czech Republic, so he sent me a sample which is now the main theme in the game. But this is a favor done for a family member. I still need proper sound effects and background music, and I can’t ask my brother to make changes or try something else a few times a day. So I will need to sit down and learn something about melody and harmony.

“My biggest involvement in computer sound was to play Pink Floyd or Metallica in WinAmp”.

The third problem is the iOS version. Exporting from Unity, importing to xCode, compiling – and all I get is hundreds of errors. Maybe an OS X version? Downgrading the iMac from Yosemite Beta to Mavericks, and xCode to 5.0 didn’t produce any visible results. So the iOS version will have to wait for better times. Sorry Apple fans, it’s too complicated right now.

The fourth issue was time,  and it was the BIGGEST problem. I realized that my one-man team wasn’t big enough when my friend Davor Končalovic started testing all versions up to the smallest details and telling me what he thought should be changed, added, or deleted. I’ve spent hours fixing bugs, making changes, and adding improvements. Testing is essential, but I have a regular job from 9 to 5, and kids are waiting at home with their own wishes and demands. So the only free time I have is at night. The first night was easy, the 10th one was sleepy, and the 100th night was hard. Now I’m used to less hours of sleep. Sometimes a short nap in a chair is refreshing enough for some more hours of work. I’ve heard that Nikola Tesla slept 15 minutes several times a day (and the maiden name of Nikola’s mother was Mandic, so you can see the connection).

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Ivan runs a small advertising cogency, so the only time he has to work on the game is at night

Another obstacle is the need to cover so many different areas in order to make a good game: programming, design, modelling, rendering, optimization, sound, usability, gameplay… And I’m losing time because of the constant need to re-learn and remind myself how to do something – for example, add a new object or select all linked vertices in Blender. Of course, Google knows. But it’s 10 minutes lost! 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there… It’s too demanding to work on multiple projects/jobs at the same time.

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Re-learning and reminding himself how to do things, for example, in Blender, is the reason why much time is wasted, Ivan admits.

The fifth problem was game design decisions. Should I focus on gameplay, or are graphics more important? What is the path to a successful game – nice and shiny or addictive? I know that the best games have this all, but how can I achieve this? I decided to focus on the gameplay – making it addictive and creating more levels, leaving the menu designs and options for the better times.

Marketing: Ask What is Wrong and Get Feedback

In the beginning, I thought, I will make a game, post it on Google Play, and that’s it. What a mistake! Making the game is a small part of development. Having posted the first public version, I decided to announce it locally. I sent nearly 400 emails to my friends and people from my business contact list with brief information about the game and a download link, and asked them to help me by testing and posting impressions. What I received were 4-5 replies and maybe 10 more downloads. WTF? OK, I thought, maybe they don’t have time for testing, or don’t know how to tell me that the game is not good. So I posted the link on lots of Android game forums – and nothing again. I started thinking that other devs didn’t want to encourage my development because of competition. In 10-12 days, I decided to openly ask: “Hey guys, what is the problem. Am I a black sheep? Do you hate me for some reason? Do I write in a language you don’t understand? Please say something, even that my game is the worst one ever and I need to format my HDD and go to work on a corn field. Anything, but don’t ignore me, please!”

And BOOM! Hundreds of replies in the next few days. People said it’s a great or excellent game. I got nice ideas, people tried AVION Checkpoint on so many devices, providing detailed reports, lots of them offered help. What a great feeling it was to receive nice feedback!

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AVION Checkpoint acrylic figures

I’m now working mostly on optimization and new levels. I’ve made 12 new levels and 3 more airplane models, which will have their own flying properties. The already available levels will soon be remade with better textures and baked shadows. I made one level endless, for the most passionate players. I’m also making a better online score system: all scores will most likely be nulled every week so new players will have the opportunity to see their score in the top 10, even if for a few minutes. I didn’t forget about the iOS version, but right now, I don’t have enough time for it.

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Already available for Android, iOS version needs to wait for the better times

I can’t wait for the day when I will be able to tell myself: it’s time to leave everything behind and start fulfilling the dream of your whole life – BECOME A GAME DEVELOPER.  I have energy, great support from family, and believe that day will come for sure, because I’m feeling butterflies every time I start Unity or Blender.

Ivan believes AVION Checkpoint has great potential, and promises to do his best to make it even better (and nicer), though he admits he will need help in marketing and promoting the game. It can already be downloaded in Google Play and from some other websites with Android games, and played online on Wooglie and Kongregate. Ivan adds that he hasn’t thought of monetization yet, since his day job takes too much time and strength, but plans to change that after meeting some publishers in the nearest future.

 

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Point Perfect: a Casual Game for a Hardcore Gamer

November 12, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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As a developer, you want the world to think that you are a thriving company with half a dozen employees destined for greatness in the indie game scene. But Bobby Patteson, the owner and CEO of the Toronto-based company Highcastle Studios, decided to tell the truthful story of making a game that is not on Steam’s top 100 sellers list. Bobby is a former male fashion model, an inventor, an artist, a computer game developer, and in between all that, you can find him doing all the jobs that nobody else wants to do (for the minimum wage, he adds). Highcastle Studios is literally one guy making games with a little help from Jonathan, an intern from last summer, and music commissioned by Matthew Joseph Payne. Bobby defines his goal as “to make weird games that explore new ways to play and interact”. Point Perfect is his first experiment.


Test Your Skills While a Friend is in a Starcraft or LoL Match

The idea of Point Perfect comes out of my love for real-time strategy games and the eSports culture that surrounds it. I noticed that there can be a lot of downtime between games of Starcraft or League of Legends. I thought – wouldn’t it be great if there was a casual game to test your skills while waiting for your friend to get out of their 40-minutes game? And so the concept for Point Perfect was born: the casual game for the hardcore gamer.

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A casual game to test your skills while waiting for your friend to get out of their 40-minutes game

At the time, I had a passion for designing games, but absolutely no idea of how to program. So naturally I gravitated towards Gamemaker Studio to build my game. Because of the technical limitations of the engine, I decided to go for retro aesthetics. What is more, I always felt that Point Perfect should have been thought up sooner, and belonged in the 80’s with Tetris and Pong.

Making Fun of Losing the Game

There were many changes and updates of the game during its development. The original idea was to have the player only avoid obstacles with the mouse pointer. It dawned on me, however, that the game would be too similar to free titles that people could play online. There just wasn’t enough depth in mouse-avoidance alone. So I decided to allow the player to fight back by drawing boxes around enemies and blast them to bits with a laser from your mother-ship.

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The original idea to have the player only avoid obstacles with the mouse pointer was too similar to the free online games

This was the turning point and the most exciting part of doing the game’s design, but it also created some new issues and concerns. After initial playtests, it was evident that people were having extreme difficulty with the two competing tasks of both avoiding obstacles and aggressively selecting enemies to destroy. However, I also noticed that players were keen to figure it out, and there was a strong “just one more try” element to the game.

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Draw a box around an enemy and the mother-ship will shoot it

After a while, the player would adapt and be able to understand the gameplay, but the initial learning curve was very steep. That’s why I decided to add probably the most controversial element to the design: “making fun” of the player for losing! After all, the players who might get offended by this are not the people who would be playing my game in the first place. So the decision came to embrace the difficulty of Point Perfect and try to get the player to laugh about it.

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The difficulty of the game was used for an additional element of fun and amusement

Graphics Define Audience Range

I am very happy with my final product, but there are some things I may have done differently a second time around. The most notable is the importance of the game’s graphics to appeal to all audiences.

It’s very easy for a game to be discriminated because of the graphic design.

It’s very easy for a game to be discriminated because of the graphic design. There’s so much depth and content in Point Perfect, and it breaks my heart when I hear things like “is this a Flash game?” or “this should be free”. Believe it or not, it’s also very easy for the media to have the same opinion based on a first glance. The retro look fits my personal taste and vision for Point Perfect, and while there are many gamers who love it, there are also many demographics that I have found despise this art style, unfortunately. Maybe a better fusion of old and new would have made a difference in making my game more appealing to different audiences.

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The art style influences your audience and its range

Point Perfect was picked up by a publisher, Plug In Digital, and distributed over all the major online stores such as Desura, Humble Store, and Steam on July 17, 2014. It has quickly gained the reputation of one of the hardest PC games out there and has been somewhat of a cult hit with YouTube celebrities because of its unique design and crazy sense of humor.

Point Perfect is now available only for Windows PCs, and Bobby might make it MAC and Linux compatible in the future.

 

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