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Desperate developers: Jorl’s Journey Postmortem

June 5, 2010

Finally, jorl’s journey has reached app store!

Jorl waiting for adventure!This is the moment every development team awaits for: Your newborn child is out in the wild and now you’re going to see the results of your many hours of work!

Time to forget all the difficulties of development (Jorl himself faced LOTS of dangers in the real world before release…) and focus in your Marketing skills.

But how exactly we make that promotion? In fact is really easy and can be resumed in three words GO! GO! GO!

Spreading the word in blogs,  gaming websites and everyplace you can get is essential. But is also essential to make friends while at it. You may think your game will finally be the revolution of gaming, but letting others know about your game and giving attention to their replies is the way to success.

Commnity management is one of the most important tasks, and most indies know we’re nothing without the support of a fanbase. So, apart from sending emails like crazy to get your game known, try to spend lots of time in forums, replying to emails and taking notes about your players’ suggestions. The best option is to have someone in your team dedicated to this delicate task, because is one of the most time-consuming jobs in the game development industry.

If your game is good, your fans will spread the word just a little further and they will help you a lot. And if your game gets some bad reviews, don’t try to justify with “they’re just trolls” or “they didn’t understood the game concept”. Think about their critics, some of them will surely have a point, and you’ll need to correct them if you want to save your game.

More Jorl’s Journey Screenshots

May 26, 2010
by

Finally here, some screenshots of Jorl’s Journey, coming in the next weeks for iPhone/iPod Touch.

Sneak peek: Jorl´s Journey

May 20, 2010

Hello again folks! Sorry to keep you waiting, but we were working on our little new game: Jorl’s journey.

In this game you will use gesture-based controls to help our hungry caveman Jorl survive in a hideous cave. Bats, falling rocks and treacherous winds will be some of the dangers in our prehistoric hero’s journey.

To make things more interesting, both scenario and dangers are dinamically generated, so you won’t be playing in the same cave twice. Jorl’s journey will be a nice casual iPhone/iPod game we hope you like it.

Jorl is ready for adventure!

We are right now working on some  other cool features, so expect Jorl´s Journey to be out in the wild in the next weeks.

Also, we are working in some updates for our previous games: Ice Bullet and Road to mudness, so expect more news soon.

In essence, Artico media is alive and working hard as always ;P


iPhone OS Version 4 and Apple’s iAd Announced

April 9, 2010

Yesterday, Apple held their iPhone developer preview event and announced the 4.0 iPhone OS. But one of the big announcements that impacts Google is that Apple will be starting an ad company named iAd.

Essentially, the 7 pillars that hold up this new version are:

  1. Multi-tasking
  2. Folders
  3. Enhanced Mail
  4. iBooks
  5. Enterprise
  6. Game Center
  7. iAd Read more…

How to make money with your game

April 8, 2010

Welcome to the jungle my dear indie friend. You’re probably wondering how to make money with your game: you have your idea, your team and the time to develop your dream game, but, all this effort must deliver revenues. No? It is completely untenable to keep your indie studio up and running for long without any income to pay the bills. So, here’s a quick introduction to what we call, “how to make money with your game“.

Artico Media has a very standard procedure, we have fun developing games and at the same time we alsoget paid. How? We use the App Store for digital distribution.

The age of selling boxed games  in stores such as GameStop, HMV or GAME is gone, or at least is certainly not an option for indies. There are also online megastores such as Amazon or EBGames, but here we face the same problem – we don´t have a damn box to sell! Our alternative to sell our game is to focus on digital distribution. Good examples of digital distribution platforms are the online stores of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. In addition, there are direct-to-consumer services available on PC, such as Valve Software´s Steam and Metaboli. These platforms offer direct downloads for games already on their service. Another well-known example is of course the application store on the iPhone/iPod from Apple. Digital distribution is just the beginning, however, what interests us the most is how many different ways we can monetize our products. All strategies must be studied in detail at the beginning of each project, paying attention not only to the platforms where the game will be released, but also aspects such as the target demographics, the gameplay, game mechanics, consumer trends and so on.

So here I´m listing few ways to monetize games, other than the usual box products and digital distribution methods:

In-Game Advertising (IGA)
Around-Game Advertising
Advert-Games/Adertgaming/Re-Dressed Games
Episodic/Expansion Packs
Selling consumables
Sell branded physical items
Player to player item sales/trades
Charityware
Sponsored games
SubscriptionSupport Tiers
Become a “Brand Member”
Try before you buy
In-Game Store / Microtransactions
User-Generated content
Rentals
Licensing
Feed me or die
Before-Game Advertising

For example, one of the most common ideas on the indie scene  is Advert-gaming. The idea of a game being one big advertisement is not particularly new – see Yo! Noid (1990), Mc Kids (1991), Cool Spot (1997) or Pepsiman (1999). Lots of people bought and played those games without being overly concerned by their advertising messages. For example, the reason Cool Spot was successful as an advertgame was because it was successful as a game. More recently, the U.S. Army created American´s Army (2002-2007) as a recruiting tool, but once again, the game is actually very well done, so it stands on its own merits.

Not every advertgame is going to be original or good, but in some cases, such as the Flash games you find on company websites these days, the quality or originality doesn´t matter: If it´s just another clone of Bejeweled<, such as Bewitched and it is still fun to play it gets its message across for a affordable price.

Finally, it is not always necessary to create a new game. If you have something that can be re-purposed for an advertiser, it´s often very quick and easy to modify some assets and provide a specific custom version of an existing game to serve an advertiser´s purpose.

OK, do you see the point?

Next week I will bring more ideas to make money with your game.

Desperate Developers: Like A-team

April 1, 2010

In love, war and gamemaking indie-style, there´s no rules. I’ve already said big companies can afford hundreds of specialists every time they need them, but we poor indies not. Well, maybe once in a while, but don’t get too used, okay?

Furthermore, developing games is a complex issue, regarding all kind of abilities regarding narrative skill, technical knowledge and aesthetic sense, among many others.

If that’s it, and we are a very small team, how on earth can we make games? (“Impossible I tell you!” chorus please start shouting now, thanks!)

Fear not! you only need to have a well balanced team everyone gifted with the best of skills: LEARNING. Also helps being able to improvise and of course strong enough to put that abilities they’ve learned into actual use.

All of you will need to know all kinds of stuff, so learning new things and experimenting is a must. When not engaged in crunch, take time to learn new things useful in other areas: Maybe your team lacks some PR to do the marketing stuff, or you have a really good 2D artist, but with no knowledge of unwrapping 3D textures. If there is some job to do, and the only person who knows is busy/Missing In Action, you’ll have a big problem.

This golden rule has an exception: if any of you have God-like guru (or only really good anyway :) ) skills on any area, TEACH your mates what you’ve learned when not working! That way your MVP will have support in the middle of the battle-crunch, it won’t be so tiring for him/her during large or near-deadline projects and your MVP will be 120% operative when needed.

In essence, when working in small teams, knowing each other’s work would be a lifesaver for the entire team. If any of your teammates refuses to learn some needed tool, all your team will be a lot more stressed out in the hardest days of crunch.

Desperate Developers: Endless project syndrome

March 26, 2010

Time to wrap things, put a lace on and send to the app store ASAP. But is that easy? nope! Your development team is tired, your project keeps crashing or malfunctioning on every test, your tools don’t work properly like last week, and so on…

Even Murphy’s laws didn’t prepare you for what’s coming, heh.

When the time of crunch comes, you’ll be taking hard decisions. You face total failure everytime testing fails, or a feature doesn’t get implemented soon enough. If you didn’t make your homework, your homework will eat you: Maybe the design has a critical flaw and now you have to redesign most of your game, or realize you missed some feature.

Your objective is to prevent the most common “vaporware” (Endless projects) symptoms.

Redesign: You need to redesign the entire game? you lost. Try to save whatever you can and make enough changes to be playable, sleek and simple designs are the best vaccines to this disease. If you keep redesigning the entire game everytime, you’ll end like Duke Nukem Forever.

Adding features: Eyecandy features are cool, but if not implemented and tested before crunch, they can be troublesome if other features need some redesign. If your team didn’t make in time, try to get the work done by critical priority order. And for Holy monkey God of developing’s sake, if someone thinks some nice feature just before deadline, DON’T implement it unless is REAL awesome (and easy enough to make while the rest of the team finishes the project).

Anti-patterns: Programming is not alchemy, so you can recognize possible flaws in the structure before coding them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-pattern

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