New Projects and Future Work

Hi there!

From now on, I want to write a post every week so I keep you updated about what we are doing and share some thoughts on different things that have happened since the last post I wrote.

I would like to summarize all the significant things that Fiery Squirrel has been through last months, will try to keep the post short and simple. It will basically cover status about each project the Squirrel has been working on and few tips that might help other developers.

Fluff Eaters

So let’s start with Fluff Eaters, game that I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to take a break and stop working on it for a while.

Last year in October, Fiery Squirrel partnered with a new publisher called Apartment 507 to promote and market the game as it was in order to improve sales, downloads, etc. Our agreement basically said that for one year we were going to work together to improve the game and create a better experience for players. We have tried different things with the game and I would like to mention few of them here.

Holidays

The first big thing we tried was create a Holidays vesion of the game with new content, new levels, new mechanics, etc. You can check the final update here and very likely we will make it available again this year.

As you might notice, the art style is slightly different, Fiery Squirrel is working with Gabriel Uguet, who is a very good illustrator and graphic designer, I’m also working with him in a completely different project that I probably will talk about later. In addition, the theme of the new world was composed by Stefano Merino, original musician of the game.

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Holidays Update

With this new update, our players could enjoy new mechanics and also we were able to include new features in the game, a bunch of new players, existent and new players interacting more with the game, etc. In general it was a good experience.

But not everything was easy, we also faced different issues. The cycle of work we had, time constraints and all the work we needed to complete was enough to keep us very busy every day and night for one whole month. From the brainstorming, mechanics design, elements, characters, art, sounds, etc, was a lot of work and the worst part of that, even though we managed to finish everything on time, we didn’t consider that the iOS build was going to have issues when we uploaded to the AppStore, it was seriously something not only unexpected but very weird.

Before uploading the game we tested a lot in different devices, it worked well, we uploaded, Apple said there was an issue with the build, we tested a lot again, didn’t find anything weird, compiled again and upload again and it worked (we still don’t know what happened), the bad part of this was that we missed our deadline (on the marketing and promotion side was very important) but I guess we learned a lot.

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Holidays Version Level Design

Try to include everything related from the brainstorming to the release on the market in your schedule, every possible step that you have to take in order to see the game in the market from your device, whatever it is, PC, mobile, the last step always will take a lot of time too and, if (like us) you are small team, it matters.

Pax South 2016

The second big thing I want to talk about is Pax South 2016. We had the opportunity to be at the event this year, it was a very nice experience, we met other developers there ( including Rami Ismail who talked to us about his experience at Pax and other events), were able to test new features, see how a different group of players reacted to the game,  promoted the game with different types of promotional material for the first time, etc.

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Promotional Material for Pax South 2016

Fluff Eaters was presented at different events in the past and all of them have been a great and unique experience but Pax South was particularly interesting. The main reason is the type of player that played the game at the event, the core mechanics of Fluff Eaters are based on Jacks, which is a game that a lot of people from the U.S. are familiar with, so many of them understood and seemed to enjoyed it very much. Besides this, the response of people was really amazing, a lot of them downloaded the game and played it.

This is something I’ve said before but going to this type of events is very positive for developers in different ways. You might be interested on a post that Apartment 507 wrote about the details of the event, expenses, promotional material etc, you can read the full article here.

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These caps were not part of the promotional material that we gave away but were an amazing present from my brother (also part of the team). Depending on how things go (if people are interested), we might sell them in the future.

I guess I could keep giving details of what we have done with Fluff Eaters so far but I also think I spent a lot talking about this game before. In few months the contract with the publisher will come to an end and we will spend the remaining time to keep testing things and trying to improve as much as we can, if you have specific questions please let us know.

 

Collow

Collow is the second project I want to talk about and I’ll do it in a very short way. This idea started long time ago but has been put on hold some times, however, the project will be released for sure this year, the thing is I haven’t have enough time to finish the code for this. We are also accepting playtesters (this is the next step we are going to take) so you can sign up here if you want.

 

Chicks

This is a game made for Venezuela Duel Jam 2015 and was the lastest jam Fiery Squirrel has participated in, you can play it here. I know it’s old information but since didn’t mention it before, I would like to at least show it to you. It started as a very simple idea around the theme and I ended up liking it a lot so it will for sure be fully developed (don’t know when) and released as a mobile game.

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Chicks: Very simple game

With this game I wanted to achieve few things:

  • Focus on the aesthetics more than usual: In previous game jams aesthetics were not focal point, Chicks does not have awesome graphics but at least they are better than previous games
  • Simplicity: Easy to understand, easy to grasp, challenging and entertaining
  • Mobile: Something that could become a commercial title for mobile devices
  • Complete: A fully playable game

In the end, the game ranked first in the event and more important than that, the feedback from other developers was really good, comments, advices, etc, which will for sure be a key factor when developing the full game.

 

Sakura

The last project I’m going to talk about for now. If you follow us on twitter you probably know what this is about. This is the project currently developed by Fiery Squirrel, it’s a very simple and short idea that emerged from the fact that there is a lack of popular and good games that involve the idea of the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) from Japan, in addition to this, I wanted to start getting involved in the artistic part of the games I make and tried to design something aesthetically appealing.

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Testing crows behavior and colors

The game is not ready yet. Despite the fact that the idea is very simple, I haven’t had enough time recently, these last months have been busy, however there is significant progress on it and we will playtest it very soon.

The plan is to complete the first chapter of the game which includes 4 different trees, each tree has 4 levels on it, a bonus level and a boss in the end. Depending on how people react to the game, the response we get after playtest and release, it will be decided whether the rest of the chapters (3 more) will be added or not.

This post is longer than I expected, just wanted to summarize what Fiery Squirrel has been doing since the last post. For all of you that are using OpenFL, I still update the repositories in git, I would like to focus more on the implementation of new things and what is there at the moment, there is a lot of uncommented code that might be helpful for someone so, I’ll try to document it as soon as possible and focus future posts on it.

Please feel free to ask questions, if you are a developer, I can talk more about the design or programming of any project you see here, whatever you are curious about just write it on the comments.

 

New Projects and Future Work

Collow: Work in Progress

Hello,

This is a quick post to keep you informed about what is going on with the project at the moment.

Code

As you probably would guess, Fluff Eaters left a lot of horrible code with it once I finally launched it in both platforms, Android and iOS. After the release, with less pressure and more time to work, I decided to separate all the core modules of Fluff Eaters in different modules for Haxe/OpenFL. Basically this is, breaking the code, making it modular and with that, be able to share it with as many projects as I want without creating new code.

I’m planning to explain roughly what everything does and, of course, give a proper documentation to it in the near future.

So far I’m only uploading everything separated to github and will keep updating it while I make progress.

If you are interested, here is the github link.

Media

These things are time consuming and there is no one else to do them but they have to be done anyway.

I updated the Collor’s website to something very simple with more information and the new design. Of course this is very basic but probably in the future it will get better depending on how things go.

I still have to fix it for mobile platforms but you can check it out here.

In addition, I updated the press kit for Fiery Squirrel and both games. For Collow it will get more stuff when the new trailer with new modes and stuff are done, you can visit it here.

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New Stuff

There are a lot of new things in the game, at least a lot of new things to try, I haven’t implemented them all yet but for sure I will and, in case you are interested in being part of those tests, I’ll announce them when they are ready.

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Brainstorming

Along with the Collow’s brainstorming, a lot of new ideas came up as well, ideas for new games, simple and easy to implement. When I finish separating everything (the code) in modules and it’s stable, I’ll probably try to prototype some ideas and share them here.

Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to know.

 

Collow: Work in Progress

Game Events

There are so many things I should’ve shared since like… 5 months ago, finally I’m able to post something. This time I’ll be focused on the experience at the events I’ve participated so far: IndieCadeTokyo Game ShowGamExpo 2013 and finally Tokyo Indie Fest 2015.

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.

Fluff Eaters running on the Nexus 4
Fluff Eaters running on the Nexus 4

 

IndieCade

 

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.

 

IndieCade Festival Culver City
IndieCade Festival Culver City

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.

Boy playing at the TGS
Boy playing at the TGS

GamExpo 2013

 

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.

Fluff Cookies for the GamExpo
Fluff Cookies for the GamExpo
Bouncy Stickers
Bouncy Stickers

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.

The both at TIF
The both at TIF
People playing at the TIF
People playing at the TIF

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.

Next post will be about the upcoming projects.

Game Events

Happy New Year 2015!

Hi everyone!

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.

What’s next?

So this is the status for the current projects, future projects and development posts.

Fluff Eaters

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.

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Fluff Eaters running on iOS (iPod Touch)

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.

Collow

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.

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New Modes and design

 

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New boards and difficulties
Development

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.

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Zin, created for Ludum Dare

 

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Watercolor, created for Ludum Dare

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.

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Programmer art to start 2015 🙂

 

Have a great 2015!

 

Happy New Year 2015!

Collow: First Trial

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.

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Main Menu

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.

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Basic Gameplay Screen

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.

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Initial Screen

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:

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Main Menu

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.

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Board Type and Difficulty Screen

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).

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New Board and Graphic Design

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.

Collow: First Trial