So Naughty Bricks has been finished for over three weeks now, submitted to the app store, approved, and all that remains is for me to click the button that will release the game. So why haven’t I done that yet? Marketing. Or rather, lack thereof.
I’m holding back the release of the game until I can complete a trailer and get a website up with a presskit on it, based on advice I was given about the futility of releasing a game without any sort of press push. It is the most frustrating thing I have had to do, sitting on a game when I just want people to play it! But I also don’t want to have run this marathon, only to stumble and give up right before the finish line.
A part of me doesn’t really believe that a good trailer will have much effect on sales, because it’s such a basic IOS puzzle game and no amount of marketing can overcome the fact that it doesn’t have a unique selling point to grab peoples attention. This comes back to my initial intention of making a really simple game that I could actually finish, rather than trying to do something ambitious and giving up before it was done. Well, mission accomplished, I’ve finished my first game! Just completing it is an achievement I know, but it has burdened me with making it a harder sell to get people interested in trying it.
Another part of me thinks that it’s actually a good game, with interesting puzzles and an appealing presentation that has a chance of finding a niche, and I don’t want to let my lack of confidence get in the way of it building a market for itself. So I’m trying to do all the marketing now, at the worst possible time in a games development cycle (after it’s already finished!), because I have a hope that the game is actually good enough to be purchased. The other reason I’m going through all of this is for the learning experience, so that when I make my second game, the game that is unique and worth covering and will grab peoples attention, I’ll have the marketing knowledge required to make the most of it. Naughty Bricks was always about learning first, learning how to develop a game, how to finish it, and now how to market it.
More than three weeks ago I finished my game, and then I realised that I needed to top up my reserves so I could actually afford to make a trailer, so since then I’ve been working on contract work. I’ve made some really fun animations for different game trailers, which I’ll get around to linking soon, but now that I have a break, I’m going to put my animation skills towards a Naughty Bricks trailer. Come hell or high water, the game will be out in the next month with a proper trailer backing it up.
It’s taking much longer than I thought to just do the last little bits of the game, like an options menu, a few bug fixes and general polish. I’ve heard it said that the last 10% of the game takes 90% of the time, and it sure feels like it at the moment.
The main thing that set me back was the poor performance I was seeing on older hardware, so I thought I’d have a look in the code and see if I could speed it up a little. Venturing back into the disgusting mess of sloppy scripting I wrote when I started the game was quite a shock, and there were opportunities aplenty to make things much more efficient. In my excuse it was the very first code I’d ever written, and I guess it means that I’m getting a bit better if I can recognise how terrible it truly was.
From obvious moronic things like updating references every frame for no reason (with a string based FindGameObjectWithTag no less!) to more subtle things like comparing distances with Magnitude instead of Square Magnitude. So now that I’ve made those changes, and then fixed up the side effects that came from making the game faster, I’ve now got it in a much more stable state.
But now I can see even more ways to make it better that are really obvious in retrospect, but that would require a complete rewrite of some really fundamental underlying systems, and even though I want to make it “right”, I also want to get it finished, and soon. So I’ll have to put aside the temptation to fiddle with it and leave those lessons for the next game, it’s such a simple game that it works well enough, and hopefully nobody will ever see what a mess it looks like behind the sheer curtain.
Here’s some pics of the backgrounds of the episode screens for the game.
Almost done now! At least I think so!
Here are some Work In Progress screenshots of the first game I’ve had a crack at making. NAUGHTY BRICKS! (they are bricks and they are naughty, but not in a sexy way, unless you’re into that kind of thing). Having no idea how to actually make a game and having to learn it all from scratch, I took the sage advice for countless game development forums and decided to start simple, and start SMALL. I settled on making a BreakOut clone in Unity.
Unity seemed like a good way to ease myself into it, without having to get my head around C++ or be shackled by the limitations of a system like GameMaker. A Breakout clone also felt like a good place to start as it was simple enough to tackle in a short time, but I could also imagine building on it and injecting a bit more fun and variety into the mechanics when I was a bit more comfortable with it all.
So that’s where Naughty Bricks came from. It started as a poor-man’s BreakOut, and then after adding a whole bunch of powerups and extra mechanics I realised I liked it better as a puzzle game with authored levels, so now it’s a poor-man’s Cut the Rope!
It’s very strongly influenced by Cut the Rope, a game which I’ve had a lot of fun with, with a similar level structure and progression ramp, but replacing the cool and innovative rope physics with the very old and stale bouncing ball physics. I’m not trying to innovate with this, I’m just trying to get it finished and in a enjoyable state. In retrospect I wish I had been a bit more adventurous, but then perhaps I wouldn’t actually have been able to get it finished. I’m full of ideas, even a few good ones, so I’ll save them up for Game #2.
I’m nearing the end of development now, a few weeks to go I imagine to finish up all the levels, extra art and check for bugs, then I’ll have to figure out how to market the thing. It’ll be available for IOS and Android when it’s done, and my mum thinks it’s good enough to charge money for it, so stay tuned to watch me make my riches in the “impossible to fail, easy money” mobile game market! It will also be hilariously funny (and possibly educational) to watch me fail miserably and announce in a months time that I’ve had zero sales. Either way, there will be a game number 2, I’ve had way too much fun making Naughty Bricks and I’m not stopping now.
PS: If anybody happens to read this and can give me any advice or feedback, I’m all ears. I’m seriously figuring out everything as I go, so I expect to make mistakes a plenty in this first fumbling attempt at game development.
I tried being funny, or stupid, you decide, but that got a bit tiring. So I’ve abandoned that line of enquiry and decided to put a bit of effort into actually making games rather than just writing about them.
So from now on this is officially a game development blog! If it wasn’t obvious, I was previously trying to be “clever” in a parody/satire sort of way, it didn’t work out. It clearly wasn’t obvious to some people, as I still get requests for the Minecraft texture pack over two years since I made that animation (Minecraft looks better than this now anyway with them help of some Unbelievable Shaders from Sonic – google it).
Now it will actually have regular updates, I hope, and realistically It probably can’t be less funny than it was before. Stay tuned!
“How many young men do we need to lose to this horrible addiction before we finally do something about it?” asks attorney Jack Thompson responding to news of yet another death caused by gaming. In China earlier this week an unidentified 30 year old man collapsed in an internet cafe after playing games for three days straight. He slipped into a Starcraft induced coma and was pronounced dead later that day.
In response to this and other tragic gaming deaths, congress hurriedly passed The Family Gaming Prevention Act, which will now require all games sold to have a printed health warning on their cover.
As well as these written warnings, a series of televised public service announcements that graphically show some of the negative effects of gaming will be going to air later in the year. In one of these commercials, a man is shown wasting away playing “World of Warcraft”, the scene fast-forwards until nothing but a skeleton remains. In another, a young girl is shown playing “Nintendogs – Labrador and Friends” on her DS, when suddenly her head explodes in a blast of blood and adolescent brain matter.
“We need to educate people about the very real dangers associated with gaming” Mr Thompson continued, “It’s an undeniable fact that violent crime and necrophilia have both gone up dramatically since the introduction of Pong in 1972″.
In what can only be described as the greatest mod of all time, one enterprising Starcraft 2 modder by the name of CrashOverride has completely recreated the PS3 exclusive “Little Big Planet 2″ within the Starcraft 2 engine. This would be enough of a feat to warrant attention, but he didn’t stop there – he then used the Little Big Planet 2 engine, running on a PC through Starcraft 2 remember, to completely recreate Starcraft 2!
The “mod squared” is so accurate, from the unit movement to the graphics, that even experienced SC2 players cannot tell they are actually playing LBP2… inside SC2. A video was released on Youtube showing this incredible mod in action, but unfortunately Blizzard Legal stepped in and issued a Take Down Notice, forcing Youtube to remove the video.
A Blizzard representative stated: “We protect our IP fiercely, and having our assets turn up in a mod for Little Big Planet 2, even if it is originally a mod for Starcraft 2, clearly breaches copyright. We have no option but to pursue legal action, both against the individual modder, and also the developer of Starcraft 2, ourselves, for allowing this to happen”.
CrashOverride achieved notoriety in 1981 by creating the first full “game recreation” mod, when he hacked Pacman to play Mrs Pacman. People no longer needed to pay to play Mrs Pacman, which deprived Midway, the original bootleggers, of sales revenue.
It seems possible that Nintendo will be rebooting the Mario franchise, after concept images were leaked onto the net earlier this week showing a more realistic depiction of Mario and some common enemies. We contacted Nintendo for clarification, expecting a ‘no comment’ or flat out denial, so we were quite surprised when we received this reply:
“I can confirm that the images in question are official concept artworks for the next iteration of the Mario franchise. We intend to take the game in a more adult direction and bring out the horror aspects that have always hidden beneath the surface. In this reboot, Mario will continuously question his sanity as his addiction to Magic Mushrooms dangerously distorts the world around him. Are there really monstrous turtles trying to kill him, or is it all a figment of his drug induced delusions? Is he a hero or a psychopath? You’ll have to play the game to find out. We’re taking it more in the direction of Dead Space and moving away from its child friendly roots.”
This seems to be in line with Nintendo’s maturing of the Metroid franchise, reported in one of our earlier posts, although we don’t yet know whether this new Mario game will be developed as a first party title or if another studio is working on it.
Wedbush Morgan Analyst Michael Pachter believes that it’s the right move: “Nintendo will have nothing but success with this reboot. Having Mario in the real world is a genius idea, I can’t believe they didn’t think of it sooner!”
People called me a fool when I predicted that Steam would have a Christmas Sale, but now it appears that I was right. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and buy heaps more games you never intend to install let alone play! Isn’t it just good to know you’re getting a discount, even if the game is in genre that you despise?
Do you live in a country with ridiculous steam prices like Australia, with some titles twice the price of the American store? Get Steam to unlock the region restriction on your account and enjoying buying games for the same price as everybody else!
Just try to buy a game using ?cc=us at the end of the steam url. When you’re denied, send a confused email to steam support claiming you’re in America for one of your regular holidays, and it won’t let you buy a game with your credit card. They’ll unlock your account and tell you to use the appropriate regional store, at which point you go back and buy from the cheaper store! It works and it’s completely RISK FREE, I guarantee it.*
* Not an actual guarantee. Risks include having your Steam Account banned and losing access to all of your previously purchased games.
Don’t be fooled by the recent release of the second Humble Indie Bundle. This is a SCAM designed to stuff the pockets of greedy independent developers and gaming charities! Not a single penny of your money goes to the any of the desperately struggling game publishers like EA, Activision or Ubisoft, the companies that do nothing but give to the gamers of the world through their tireless efforts in pushing creativity over financial gain. Don’t insult their valiant altruism by fattening up those already morbidly obese indie developers with even more unneeded cash.
Make a stand and donate your money instead to the worthy publishers – buy a map pack in the latest corridor shooter or some DLC that’s already included on the disc. It’s up to you to make a difference!