First, I’ll touch on what went right. I’m proud of the quality that went into the game. It has great menus, characters, music, art, etc. It is a great experience tailored to the phone. It can be played with one hand, and a complete playthrough of the game only takes a few minutes (perfect for waiting in line, at a restaurant, on the bus). Also, we get lots of praise from the players that really like the game (We have 4.5 stars on iOS and 4 stars on Android).
However, things did go wrong with the game:
Some of the problems could actually be fixed, worked around, and solved, but the main problem is that it’s just not worth it. Quick Shooter was supposed to be a “quick and dirty” mobile prototype just to get our feet wet in the mobile market. The more we worked on it, the more attached and excited we got, which made us spend too much time. We now have our first mobile release, and we learned some lessons along the way. There are a lot more games out there to be made though, so it’s best that we just lick our wounds and move on to our other projects.
Speaking of lessons, what did we learn from this game?
Just like that, it’s been 2 months since my last post. Initially I was distracted by GDC, and then this blog sort of fell by the wayside. Anyway, time to get back into it. Because I’m always checking out all sorts of games, I thought it might be fun to do some mini reviews of games that currently hold my interest. I’m not going to score these games or write out a super detailed review, I mainly just want to get some thoughts across and talk about what I’m playing. The first game I am going to do a review of is Ski Safari by Defiant Development.
Ski Safari is sort of a mix between Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride. It’s and endless runner/mission based type of game that has you running from an avalanche for as long as you can. What initially caught my attention is the great presentation of the game. The art has a nice clean look to it, the music really fits the mood (and is really catchy), and the game is actually kind of funny. You can be skiing on the back of a penguin one minute, and riding on a snow mobile with a yeti the next. There is a great amount of charm and character filled into the game. The game itself plays really well. It uses a nice one button control scheme that has you tapping to jump and holding down to pull off backflips (giving more points and speed).
However, not everything about the game is perfect. The game is forgiving on mess ups which is nice at first, but sometimes it feels like the game can go on for a while just playing by itself. Part of me likes the easier difficulty, but another part can get bored with play sessions that last a little too long. I also with there was some sort of in game store. I understand if they didn’t want to offer powerups to affect player scores, but I would at least like to buy outfits for my character and the animals that I ride down the hill.
These are small nitpicks on an otherwise great game. The game has a great combination of presentation, control, and fun that had me hooked all weekend (enough so to inspire me to start these mini reviews).
The other day, I decided to go on a “treasure hunt” through the app store. Usually, I will search the top/featured sections, or check a few different review sites in order to find new games in the app store. However, this time I wanted to try out a little experiment. I searched through the “all games” section of the app store, wondering if I would stumble across any sort of hidden gems that I hadn’t seen anywhere else or heard of before. I wondered if there were some awesome games sitting out there, but for some reason nobody picked up on them.
I looked through about 3,000 different games. When I say “looked though”, I don’t mean I checked the app page of each one. I only clicked on games that either had a good looking icon or a fun sounding name. I did this for two reasons: because I don’t have enough time to check out that many different app pages, and because I classify a great app as having the whole package. If a fun game has bad presentation, or a greatly presented app just isn’t that fun, I don’t see it as being a good game. In this new app economy, there are 1,000′s and 1,000′s of (very cheap) games out there. If a game doesn’t come together as a super great combination of presentation, gameplay, accessibility, etc, there isn’t much stopping somebody from skipping out on that game and moving on to something else.
Anyway, what were my findings after conducting this “super in-depth” experiment? Well, of the ~3,000 games I looked through, I only ended up actually downloading 12 of them. Of those 12 that I downloaded, only 2 of them I considered “great.” So what does this mean? There are a lot of apps out there, but there is also a lot of garbage out there. I came across a lot of shovelware, ripoffs, and just plain poorly executed games. Does this mean that making a great game will make you shoot to the top of the charts? Absolutely not. A great game doesn’t equal automatic success, but looking at what else is out there, it certainly can’t hurt.
Doh! It looks like my last attempt at blogging didn’t go so well. One short post about 5 months ago, we will just classify that as a failed attempt and start this again. What have I even been doing with my time if I haven’t been blogging? Well, PushButton Labs decided to go their separate ways, and I am now a founding partner at Spotkin, a game production company. We haven’t officially launched yet, but we will be making ourselves known to the world at GDC this year. This will be the first year I have gone to GDC, so I am nervous and excited to see how it goes. I have been pretty heads down with starting a new company and working on our first game, but I feel like I have a lot more to talk about this time around. Get ready for my game thoughts, quandaries, and some development posts our first upcoming mobile game.
A recent article on Gamasutra inspired me to throw my two cents into the discussion. The article asked the question, “Should developers be obsessive gamers — or remain outside of the influence of other titles?” This question brings up two extremes, but I believe that the answer is a happy medium between the two. Game devs, regardless of what their job is, should all be involved with games somewhat. This doesn’t mean that they need to be playing all games all the time, but they should always be at least reading about current games or watching them on youtube.
Some people say it’s better to “design in a void” and not get influenced by other titles, but I have just never felt that way. I feel like all of the games I have played/read about/watched over my whole life have given me a vast library of design knowledge to pull from. I have countless examples in my mind of fun and bad gaming experiences. Would I call myself an “obsessive gamer?” Definitely not anymore. There is no way I could find as much time to dedicate to playing games compared to when I was in middle school (and I don’t really have the desire to play that much anymore). However, I am still always out at least looking at all sorts games. If I’m not checking out a new iPad game, I may be watching a video of some other game, always on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry.