Well, June is here and I finally have some time to make a new post.
Mainly I would like to share some final thoughts about Fluff Eaters, including downloads and sales in both platforms iOS and Android, the next project, prototype and future work.
Keeping it simple and short, I will start with Fluff Eaters. We launched the iOS version a couple of weeks ago and we have some results now I would like to share. More from the experience than charts or numbers, I think it will be helpful.
Let’s start with Android to compare. The Android version came in July last year, after presenting on Tokyo Game Show and GamExpo, the game was in development for enough time and was time to be released.
The expectations were not so high, first game we actually release, many things to experience and understand. From the promotion point of view and the overall attention it got, considering Fiery Squirrel is a tiny team, the results were very nice, some of them in Venezuela, and the rest in game review sites around the world. Generally speaking it was a good result.
From the economic point of view, the numbers are very low. For the paid version of the game, there are around 50 downloads, for the free version (which is not available anymore) with ads, around 500 downloads, the free version generated almost zero profits.
Of course Fluff Eaters was not initially designed to be free, the free version was available for some time to test, basically.
First of all, I understand clearly that if a game is not properly promoted (featured on the App Store, has a good review in a big site, whatever gives it exposure), the game will not sell, Fluff Eaters was not featured on the App Store (at least not yet ;)), didn’t have much attention from the press but a couple of small mentions in Pocket Gamer and TouchArcade made the difference to get some downloads on the release date. Maybe for people used to release a lot of games, that’s a normal thing but since this is the first experience of this type, was quite good for us.
There were a couple of surprises on iOS, first, the game was featured on many Chinese sites, which was completely unexpected. In addition, the game was pirated a lot of times, we know that because we have Apple’s stats and some inner stats we created for ourselves plus the game center which gives us how many people are playing.
All of this translates into more than 350 people playing in less than three weeks, from which around 48 of them were actually bought and given away (promotional codes). I think that considering the game was not actually featured in the App Store, the promotion was not that big, the results are good, at least I’m happy with many people playing.
Thoughts about the results and how could they help?
Results from Google Play are clearly different from the ones from the App Store. In less than three weeks downloads in the App Store (for the paid version) were three times the downloads for Google Play
The promotion on the Chinese side was a big surprise, if I knew about that before, of course the strategy would have been different
Feature is everything in the market? I would say yes, if you wanna have a “successful game” whatever that sells, needs a very good exposure
Even though being featured is what brings you “success”, choosing the right strategy is very important. For example, from those 350 downloads, pirated, paid, gifts, whatever, if the game was free, people would be able to download it legally and review it, which I think is important… yes, I didn’t know that you could not review games that you downloaded using promotional codes (makes a lot of sense but didn’t consider it)
I personally like games you paid once with no in-app purchases, no ads. Clearly making a game like this now is not so easy to sell, so… different strategies will be tested for the upcoming projects and will share results too
Fluff Eaters is finally done (for a while at least :)), the next project should be Collow which has solid prototype of core mechanics here and you can test it. The plan is to expand it, test different ideas that are on paper yet and see how it goes. The strategy for this will be different, less develop, smaller scale projects and a business model different as well. Please stay tuned if you are interested on how it progresses.
There is a new idea about a very simple game, whose prototype will be probably done in one of the following weekends, once it’s done, it will be shared on twitter or something.
In a previous post I talked about this too but since recently I was at Tokyo Indie Fest, I would like to add more details to the rest of the events as well.
When the Fluff Eaters project started, I really wanted to take it to as far as it could go. The game was sent to IndieCade in 2012 as a very first prototype for PC made in HTML5. It was not intended to PC but thanks to what I explained here, that was the kickstarter to be more focused on game development.
Fluff Eaters was not selected as one of the finalist of the IndieCade but the opportunity to go to the festival, show the game (a mobile version of it) to people, get feedback, discuss about how to make it better and feedback from the judges of the contest was completely worth it.
Showing your game, prototype, proof of concept or whatever you are making or made is completely worth it, there are so many things you can learn from other people. In addition, going to those events is a bridge between you and people who could be interested on your work, you could find investors, publishers, etc, and more than all these things, you are going to have so much fun if you love games as much as I do.
So far I’ve had the chance to go twice to IndieCade, both of them have been amazing experiences, now I have some friends I made when was there and from time to time we chat about new ideas or to get feedback from each others work.
Tokyo Game Show
In 2013 there was a huge opportunity to be part of Tokyo Game Show (an event in Chiba, Tokyo) exhibitors as an indie game developer, the show was opening the area for the first time and Fluff Eaters was sent to the show and fortunately was accepted.
Great opportunity to show the last version of the game (which was already on Android) to the public, get feedback from them, see people’s reactions, understand what we were doing wrong at that time and finally meeting other developers.
The experience was truly amazing for so many reasons: at that time, the tutorial of the game was still a very big issue, watching people playing, explaining them how to play and seeing reactions was how the current tutorial was made. Something not so complex, that explained how to play in the easiest way we thought. I guess it’s interesting to mention that the tutorial of Fluff Eaters was the most difficult design part of the whole game.
In addition to the feedback from players, I was able to meet people from big companies such as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, as well as recognized developers such as Nigoro, Q-Games and Nyamyam.
This was my first experience as an exhibitor in a show, of course I learned a lot of things from my mistakes, things I didn’t do and things that could be done better but I guess that this is how it is.
In my short experience, I understand that depending on your goals with these kind of events, you should work towards reach them as well as you can. For example, in this particular case, the tutorial of the game was a fail and I was looking for a better approach to explain how to play, that’s why I focused on it while was showing the game.
It’s important to promote yourself, make people know who you are, to do that you should make business cards because with them people will be able to get in touch with you, will recognize you, your logo, your name or simply because you make good games. In addition, offering business cards usually allows you to get cards from other people which is very important to contact them after the show.
I would recommend to make small things to give away to your players as well, you can think about flyers to promote the game, nice stickers about your characters, whatever that is not so expensive (in my case I didn’t have a lot of money to invest) but establish a connection between you and them. You could give them small prizes if they play a lot or are very interested in the game, it makes the difference.
Last thing I would like to share about the Tokyo Game Show, although it’s not directly related to development, it was very cool, I met the Mega Man‘s creator Kenji Inafune at a private party held by Sony for indies.
GamExpo is an event that was held in my country (Venezuela) in 2013, to show to the people what we, game developers from the country, were making at the moment.
The experience was similar to the one I had at the Tokyo Game Show, this time with an almost completed version of the game and knowledge from the previous experience helped a lot to have a very nice experience.
I was able to see how people reacted to the game, how they played, how difficult was to understand and the general difficulty curve of the levels made for the show.
It was a great experience overall, I met a lot of developers I didn’t know, played their games (which were awesome) and shared a little bit about what was making, old prototypes, future projects, etc.
Tokyo Indie Fest
This is an event that was held in Akihabara this year for the first time and was a great opportunity for indies to show their games, promote them, show Japanese people what they were working or what was going to be released at the moment.
Since Fluff Eaters was released for Android in 2014 I wasn’t sure if was going to be selected, because I thought it was mostly directed to new games and unreased games but the release for iOS was coming soon so was a great opportunity to promote it and see how it went.
Luckily Fluff Eaters was selected to be exhibited at the show, both version, the Android version and the one on iOS were both there for people to try. The overall feedback was good.
At this event I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, from the industry, indie scene, publishers, investors, etc, so if you want to focus completely on game development I guess having contacts and meeting people is a key to progress and get better.
In addition, one of the nice things from this event is that finally Fiery Squirrel was there as Fiery Squirrel. What I mean is, at the GamExpo, Tokyo Game Show and IndieCade Fiery Squirrel was not consolidated yet, the logo, name, website, etc, was not there at all. So it was a great chance to promote the developer’s name as well.
It’s important to make yourself noticed by people, in order to promote what you make, get recognized as whoever or whatever you are is an important step to sell and reach people more effectively.
For all of you who met us at any of the events, thanks a lot for your support, developers, publishers, etc. In case you want to know any specific detail about what was mentioned in this post, comment below or send me an e-mail.
I know it’s a bit late to say Happy New Year but I wanted to do it “formally” anyway and keep you posted about the status of my projects and future projects as well.
Summarizing 2014, it was a great year, Collow (as it was created in that time) was released on Google Play and Fluff Eaters was released on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. First time I release games, it was a great experience, I learned a lot and keep learning from it. If there is anything you want to know about details, don’t hesitate to ask.
So this is the status for the current projects, future projects and development posts.
Well, as you probably read on previous posts, there are a lot of things coming up this year. First of all, Fluff Eaters will be released on the App Store, finally I got the licence to start testing the code on the device and it’s surprisingly running very well, of course there a lot of details to take care of and a lot of things to polish before releasing, I would like to do my best and cover as many things as possible to have a change on the market.
I estimate that the game will be avaiilable beginning-mid February but it totally depends on how soon I will be able to test on different devices such as iPad and iPhone 6, I only have an iPod touch which I think is a good start and the plan is to ask for help and test in all the possible devices before release, if you want to test it on your device please let me know.
I’m not sure if you read the post about Collow but I think that this is going to be a very interesting year for that game. Since I re-designed everything from the beginning, added new ideas for different types of modes and worked a lot on the little features, including a leaderboard and multiplayer modes which I believe will make the difference for the whole experience.
Of course this game will be available for iOS as well and let’s see how it goes. Please don’t expect it before the Fluff Eaters release, I’m gonna work very hard to release everything on time but one by one.
I haven’t seen much interest on this topic so far but I will keep posting about development using Haxe/OpenFL, once again, if there is anybody interested in any particular topic related to it, let me know.
The plan is to post about things I struggled with while was working on Fluff Eaters (mainly), will try to cover 2D animations and performance first and then see how it goes. Depending on that I will talk about specific systems (general systems) that help you make any kind of 2D game using Haxe and OpenFL.
Future Projects: Zin and Watercolor
As I mentioned before in one of my tweets, Once I’m done with Fluff Eaters and Collow, my next projects as Fiery Squirrel will be Zin and Watercolor. I’m not sure if that will be the final names of those games but for sure the core mechanics of them will prevail. So if you are curious about it and you haven’t play those little games originated in Ludum Dare, you can take a look at them here and here.
I truly believe that these games has great potential and will not only be a game for mobile but Computer and Consoles as well. Now just have to sit, relaxe, add a lot of new stuff and get a new graphic and sound design for both.
I guess this is it for today, a very short post to keep you updated about the plans for this year, as I mentioned before, comments are appreciated.
Update: People that work on OpenFL explained how to create an extension here it’s better if you read that instead.
Basically I wanted to write about what I did with Fluff Eaters and Collow here because sometimes it’s difficult to understand how things work, even if you google a lot, sometimes there is nothing or documentation is very scarse.
OpenFL is a great library, I think it’s what I wanted to use when I decided to create 2D games for mobile (and many other platforms) but if you don’t have experience working with it or with AS3/Flash (which I did not have), it’s difficult to understand sometimes.
So I want to start my posts about OpenFL/Haxe/Gamedev with something I accomplished recently: How to create an extension for Lime/Haxelib, specifically for using OpenFL but I guess you can use it with anything else if you want.
This particular topic is something you probably won’t need but if you want to make a library for your game, an extension, something that could be reusable for different projects, it’s important to understand how to do it.
First of all, open the console and go to the folder you want the extension to be in. Once you are there, type the following command:
haxelib create extension <name of your extension>
Note: Andy Li (@andy_li) noticed I made a mistake writing the command here and he kindly pointed it out, it should be:
lime create extension <name of your extension>
Where, <name of your extension> is the name you want to give to your new extension.
Once you do this, haxelib lime will automatically create a folder with the name you put there and it contains the whole structure to make your library work. It will create:
A file <name of your extension>.hx which you can use to link to native code or create whatever you want to create
A folder of dependencies called “dependencies” which contains native code for your extension, in my case, I created an extension that will be used on Android and probably iOS too (haven’t tried this yet) that will be located on that folder too
An “include.xml” file which will tell Haxe about your extension, where the dependencies are located their name.
Other folders and files I will not explain here
You can check an old NME post about how to create an extension in case you want to understand it better. I believe that the proper way (currently) to do it is to use the haxelib lime create extension command because it automatically creates all the proper templates for you and you won’t have to worry about that but you always can do it manually.
While you are working on your extension you probably will want to test it on a a different project or probably publish it somewhere. I’m not sure if this is the proper way to do what I’m going to explain but for me makes sense so I’m going to explain it and explain why, if you have a better way, please let me know.
I have one project called “my-game” and an extension I’m creating “my-extension”, in order to include my-extension in “my-game”, you will do it as you include any other extension, you go to your project “my-game”, search for “application.xml” and add the following line:
<haxelib name=”my-extension” />
Of course haxelib doesn’t know yet that your extension is there, so you have to link it somehow. To do that, if you are working locally, go to the console and type this:
haxelib dev <name of your extension> <path to your extension>
In the case for our example, it would be:
haxelib dev my-extension whatever-path-you-created-your-extension
If you want to test if the extesion was properly installed, type this:
And you should see your extension there, pointing to the path you added.
If you want your extension from a git repository (which is useful for sharing and keeping proper track of your code and good practice, etc, etc), do this:
haxelib git <name of your extension> <git repository url>
If everything went well, you can compile “my-game” and it should compile without errors. Now, all the methods you create for your extension will be available to use from your project.
The sample that haxelib lime creates automatically contains some code for adding native Android code (in Java), if you want to create an extension that uses Android, you can use that, maybe, if somebody is interested, I will explain how I made the extension for Google Play, which is not complete yet but finally it’s working as expected.
Finally if you need extra documentation on the haxelib commands:
To understand all this I searched a lot on the internet, I want you to take a look at the sources that helped me with this:
This guy here has a good approach on making libraries that use Google Play library as their base, I’m actually basing my own Google Play Game Services extension on his approach because I believe is good. However, it wasn’t easy to understand what he did without wasting a lot of time reading code and analysing it, once the extension is complete maybe I’ll talk about this.
Here another interesting repository that has different extesnions and their code, some of them are outdated and that’s one of the reasons I decided to create a new one.
I did not decided to make a new Google Play Services extension because I like re-making things, before that I searched a lot to find a good extension, I did find those two I mentioned before but, one of them is outdated and the other one does not work properly with the admob’s extension I wanted to use.
I got many good things from this:
A library that is working
A library up to date
Understanding about making new libraries
The opportunity to create better and new libraries
Create some documentation and share with others
So I think this is it, if there is anything that was not clear, you have a better way to do it or you have questions, feel free to ask me.
Collow was published on Google Play before Fluff Eaters. A very simple game about following colors, putting into practice your memory and attention. Each color has its own particular sound and every color is different from each other.
The main purpose of publishing such a simple game before the one that took a long time and effort to be made?, testing the whole process of publishing an Android game on the market and trying to fail less when Fluff Eaters was released.
Of course this was not the only reason to create Collow, I truly believe that the idea has great potential and regardless it was successful or not, I wanted to make it.
The idea of a very simple game with simple mechanics came to my mind when I was working on Fluff Eaters, then I thought it could be implemented in a very short time. The core mechanics of the game, graphics and the most basic mode were created and released in less than a week.
The feedback from the whole process of this game was incredibly useful to improve things on Fluff Eater, how to design a good marketing strategy (at least one that actually helped), what game sites should I write in the first place, what to include on the emails to the press, how much time does it take to appear on the market, etc.
Although searching on the Internet can be very helpful to find answers to these questions, taking into consideration it’s the first game I release, wanted to experience it by myself and it helped a lot.
In addition, a version on Newgrounds was published to get feedback of as many people as possible and the results were very good (in my opinion), you can play it here.
During that week, a lot of ideas came to my mind, to improve the visuals of the game, new interesting modes, features, etc but the game was released without them, precisely to do it as quick and simple as possible to get opinions and ideas about the core mechanics of the game and test its most basic form.
Few months later, the visuals design was improved, adding more value to the game, better look and feel, a lot of new modes, multiplayer capabilities, integration with the mobile (Android and iOS) services, and this is the result of those changes:
A set of new modes that include different ways of playing based on the same initial mechanics, some new features added to the basic way of playing and new challenges that enrich the game somehow.
Three different boards with more colors to make it more difficult and three levels of speed were added too. The new update will include a multiplayer mode and better integration with Google Play and Game Center (hopefully the iOS version will come soon as well, lot of work to do).
Everything is a work in progress, it has not been all implemented yet but (hopefully) soon will be all ready to test, starting with the visual improvements, mobile markets integration and some new modes.
Since it is not a final design, probably a lot of things will change until it’s actually updated.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to talk a little bit about Collow before starting to write about OpenFL. When I first planned this, I wanted to give an introduction to the platform but I think it’s maybe not necessary and I’m going to skip all the basics and focus on specific things.
I will start with something I tweeted few days ago because I consider it’s difficult to get it working right without the proper documentation (I’m still learning about it), so next post will be about Creating an Extension with OpenFL.
Let me know if you want me to post about something in particular or have any question.
In case you haven’t tried Collow yet or want to wait for the new update, get it here.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I would like to talk about the creation of Fluff Eaters and Collow, my two first released games. I’m going to start with Fluff Eaters this time and, in the next post, something very short about Collow and then will be focused on OpenFL.
Before these two games, I worked in a couple of projects: Kamicats, Lost in Spice that will be added to the section of games soon. These were projects made for Dream Build Play, a contest sponsored by Microsoft to create games in XNA. Illustrations and part of the game design was made by Gabriel Balda. These projects were submitted to Dream Build Play, did not win and were not finished but I learned a lot from them.
In addition, I worked on more projects that were not finished, one for a JavaFX contest and a couple of game jams too.
All of them will be added to the games section later, if you have questions about the development of any, please let me know. All of them, except Caramelo, were drawn and animated by Gabriel.
After working on unfinished projects, in the end of 2011 I had an idea about making a new game, something I wanted to create and complete, promote and sell. Of course the market for mobile games was growing and everybody was making games for it so I decided to think about an interesting idea and give it a try.
Playing some games at that time, I thought that many of them were not intended to the platform they were running on, a lot of those games were just ports made different patforms to mobile, adding controllers to mimic gamepads and somehow (as a player) it didn’t feel “right”, something was missing, so I said: well, let’s think about something I like, that is designed for touchscreen devices.
I searched about traditional games in my country, things that were not tried before, things from my childhood and the idea of Jacks came to my mind. After thinking a lot about a possible gameplay for this, the core mechanics, etc, I started to search on the markets, to see if somebody did something similar before and, surprisingly, I found nothing.
The beginning of the next year I started working on prototypes for Fluff Eaters, the earliest version of the game looked like this:
I tested a lot of things with it, controllers, feedback, some simple levels, etc.
While I was working on this early prototype, I thought about the narrative and story behind the game as well. Since it’s a casual game, I wanted something simple, made different sketches, tested a lot of things and ended up with this:
Looks like ugly art but it was very helpful when I discussed about the art with the illustrators.
Pokki 2012 / HTML5
While I was working on these prototypes, a contest to launch a new platform that was based on HTML5 was promoted and with it, my decision to put more efforts on the idea. I decided to participate in this contest for two reasons: one, an “excuse” to work seriously on the game and two, to learn HTML5.
I contacted Tamara Hadeed (Miss Uh!) and Alejandro González (X2terra) to work on the graphics of the game (as freelancer illustrators). In addition, Stefano Merino (@stefmerino) accepted to work on the project as well, and composed original soundtracks for the gameplay, main theme and an additional theme (which will be used in the new mode).
Since the beginning of the project, Gabriel Balda contributed in a lot of aspects of the game, from graphic design decisions (although Tamara and Alejandro made the illustrations and animations, small things had to be fixed as well and of course changes through time, Gabriel helped a lot here), to the website of the game (which was completely designed and coded by him).
The game did not win the Pokki contest but was very useful to have a solid base on what the gameplay and all its features became later.
In the middle of the same year, Dream Build Play was launched one more time and I thought: well, if the game was really intended to mobiles in the first place, why not creating a Windows Phone Version and let’s try to submit something fot the contest this year.
In fact I made a new version of the game (crazy, I know) but as every other thing that could be called a mistake, for me was… a different way of learning and definetely I learned a lot of things from it.
The reason to not keep working on this version of the game? well, Microsoft decided to change the main language of its new Windows Phone at that time to C++ and, since the game was already written in C#, instead of looking for any way to port it easily to the new platform, I decided to put aside that version and started looking for a good framework to work on Android and iOS, which is the thing that I probaly should have done from the beginning.
It was true learning, I had the opportunity to playtest more and more, having the chance to see my mistakes in design and to think about the future of the game.
The game kept evolving and with it, more opportunities to show it to people from the industry. In spite of the early version of the game, I decided to send it to IndieCade and had the opportunity to get feedback from people that know a lot about games and got a chance to be part of the festival. This was the beginning of many awesome experiences, from sharing thoughts to other fellow developers, to making important contacts on the industry, including publishers, other developers and media.
In addition, being part of the festival, attending to talks, playing other people’s games, are experiences that definetely help you grow in this field. I recommend it 100% to anybody who is making games, it’s a great experience.
Using feedback from people of the IndieCade, the jurors and other developers, the game changed from what you saw in the previous iteration to the next one, new types of platforms, new elements, puzzles created to give another level of challenge to the game, etc. All these things really enriched the game in many different ways.
The “final” version of the game, as I already mentioned, was made in OpenFL which is a framework that allows you to create games in one language (Haxe) and export it to a variety of platforms, including the ones I was interested in for Fluff Eaters (Android and iOS).
I don’t want to talk about details here since I’m going to explain about the process of development in future posts and will be mainly focused on OpenFL. If you have any particular question regarding this topic, feel free to do it on the comments.
The framework is very good (although sometimes is a headache), its performance (which was one of the things that worried me the most) is good, if you know how things work and what to do to get the best of it, you can get good results.
Tokyo Game Show 2013 / GamExpo 2013
This is, of course, one of the most interesting things that have happened with the game since its creation, the Tokyo Game Show and GamExpo are two events where the game was presented to the public. A lot of people from different backgrounds, countries, ages, played the game and I had the possibility to see how they reacted to it, emotions, comments, feedback, something that is incredibly good to improve your work.
I wanted to mention this to point out the importance of promoting your game, no matter where, no matter how, it’s not important if the event is not the biggest one in the world, you have to get noticed somehow, see people’s reactions while they play, get them interested about what you are doing and the experience of getting contact with your players.
Besides players, you have a chance to see what others are making, play with their games, talk to them about the development and their experiences, talk about yours, meet publishers, media, people from the industry, etc.
If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate, do it, you will not regret it.
The game was released in July, this year, you can get it from Google Play, the iOS version is still in development and new features will be added to both version of the game.
I was not planning to make such a long post but wanted to give you a good introduction to what the story behind the game was.
There are a lot of details that are not covered here, of course, if you have any particular interest on something related to any of the tools used or want me to talk about something specific in future posts, let me know.
Next post will cover very briefly the making of Collow and its future and the first post about OpenFL: basics, probably will be talking about sprites, sounds, etc, if there is anything you want to know, let me know.
This is the first post of (hopefully) a lot and I just want to give a simple brief about what this is about.
I finally created something oficially for Fiery Squirrel to showcase games I made or worked on and added a blog to start talking about my short experience on the game development field. I believe that this is a good way to learn and help others learn too.
The website will be constantly evolving, hopefully for better, I’m going to add more information, more games, and talk about what I’m doing and I did with Fluff Eaters and Collow. I will also talk a little bit about upcoming projects.
I don’t want to make promises here (about when I’m going to post), since the last time I did, I ended up posting nothing so what I’m going to do is try to save some time to write about specific things of the development of these two games and focus on the most difficult stuff (using OpenFL, designing the games, etc).
The site and the blog will be written in English because I think it’s a good way to reach a wider audience, however, it’s very clear that I’m not native so if there is anything that you don’t understand or i made any mistake, please let me know about it and I will happily fix it.
Feel free to write comments, start discussions or whatever you want.
Next post will be focused on the story behind Fluff Eaters and Collow, I will not go on any details of implementation or development, only how they were born, why, who were involved in those projects and maybe how will they keep growing with time.
The topics of development will cover OpenFL and Haxe, I will not make any tutorial since I don’t think I have enough knowdledge to do that but I do have a long list of things I struggled with.
I want to share some things related to promotion and maybe events as well, probably will be short but there some few things I consider are relevant in this area.
Anyway, I’m glad that finally was able to keep this running and maybe that was the most difficult part. If there is anything you want to know in particular, feel free to ask.