I would love to share my first steps and first learnings with Godot 3 with you guys 🙂
Export Blender Models as .dae files
As one of my first tasks I tried to export models from Blender to Godot. For my first approach I used .obj files and imported them into Godot without any problems so far. After a while I realised, that my artist also created some materials, which weren’t included in the import. I figured out that Godot advices to use .dae files, which includes the materials correctly. So we exported the files as .dae. Surprisingly every model was imported as a Scene in Godot, which first confused me, but it is the right workflow. I will explain it within the next chapter.
Use Scene instancing
Having each Model as a scene has one big advantage: We can instantiate them. In UE or Unity this is called a “Prefab” as far as I know. In Godot we can use a Scene as a prefab, this is why .dae files represent a scene. It is a good practice to have everything as a scene and then in your game scene instantiate all the other scenes just like that:
Game (Scene) Human (Instanciated Scene) Landscape (Instanciated Scene)
Use Unity Tutorials, if you can’t find any for Godot
Actually there are more tutorials available for Unity than for Godot, but nevertheless just watch the Unity ones. Most likely it is really easy to transfer the knowledge from Unity to Godot, since most options have the same names or working in kind of the same way.
GD Script is not Python
Even if they look quite similar GD Script is not Python, it is just inspired by Python. Why is it worth to know that? I was confused, because I encountered some ‘What the fuck’ moments when writing GD Script for the first time, since I have a strong Python background. So you should definitly check out the GD Script syntax first to get an overview.
I decided to start a Vlog (it will not replace the Blog) on YouTube within my project (Remastering MegaLoMania). I will record the first introduction video within the next days, so make sure to follow me on my social media channels to get informed. In the Vlog I would like to share all learnings and progress I made day by day.
today I just wanted to write a bit about the latest release of Timbertales. Yeah! We left “Early Access” and we are live by now! Thank you all for your support, questions and money on all different Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Patreon.
I want to give you a small overview about the latest update of Timbertales:
Steam Achievements I think I don’t have to tell you much here. I added 30 achievements with their own pictures and challenges. There are also some hidden achievements, so good luck achieving them all!
Improvements to the game I increased the game speed a bit, so everything should feel a bit more fast paced. The attack animations should close the distance to your opponent and making the combat feeling more enjoyable. I spend also a lot of time into bug fixing, which includes problems with fullscreen mode, crashes in missions or wrong counting map objectives.
Idle Animations All units should feel more alive by now. I added new idle animations for every unit to make the game more lively.
Sound improvements There were a lot of sound effects, which were annoying or not matching at all. I made a lot of changes to the sound effects and I hope you like them.
Of course there were also a lot of code changes and cleanup overall. I wish you a lot of fun while playing Timbertales and feel free to share your thoughts!
Future of Timbertales I want to be open and share some insights with you. Unfortunately Timbertales didn’t sale very well and I didn’t received so much feedback I would have hoped for! Nevertheless there are some fans and I am still willing to invest time into the game. My backlog is full of cool features and updates, but how to say the game needs to pay off a bit first. I don’t want to earn a million bugs that said, but I can’t invest full time into a game, when I have less than two sales / week. So summarised if there is good feedback and the game performs quite well in future. I will invest more time 🙂
Rainware Bundle on Steam There are also some other news. I added a “Rainware Bundle” on Steam which includes both Steam games FlatFatCat and Timbertales with a discount of 30%. So if you aren’t own the games yet, make sure to take this chance 🙂
Future projects and some numbers You may ask what is the plan for the future of Rainware. So since I am still working as freelancer, for at least three more months, there isn’t something special or big upcoming within the next weeks. I actually have two game concepts which should work out quite well and I would love to introduce them to you within the next blog posts. I also have one open project related to localisation, also here I would love to introduce it. As far as Timbertales is released now and FlatFatCat is running quite a while I will take a break into the development of both games. The reason for that is simple as I stated before: These projects actually haven’t paid off for me yet.
I made a screenshot for you of revenues total (I like the numbers):
I am fine with it and every sale is a huge compliment for myself! For being economically its far behind expectation. Just to leave it here unstated both projects costs me around: 10.000-15.000$ So I am not willing to speak of a success yet 🙂 Also 666$ for about two years of being independent couldn’t make my living, if I would have this amount per month it would go into the right direction.
Thank you all so far for your support and stay tuned for news. I won’t give up yet and fill my pocket with some paid work. There will be huge projects following after the freelance time is finished. I promise that!
finally I am back to indie development with at least one day per week. I am still working as freelancer for two more months, but only 4 days / week. So, I will dedicate a full day per week to the development of my games and indie business. First progress is already made in a long awaited patch for Timbertales, which will fix some major issues. I will go a bit more into detail what we can expect for the next updates of Timbertales and how long it will take.
Steam Patch this week
To start off with good news: I will release a patch for the steam version of Timbertales this week. This patch includes major fixes for resolution issues, adding a quit mission button, fixes a freeze which is caused by switching portraits and some more minor things. Yesterday, I was able to finish 80% and the missing 20% will follow by tomorrow. So you can expect the patch at last by end of week 🙂
Feedback and further development
I am still gathering feedback for Timbertales and creating a roadmap in direction of full release. Thanks to everyone who contacted me and shared his thoughts about the current game state. There are some really cool ideas and I got a lot of motivation to implement those. There was a long passive phase in Timbertales development and I lost a bit of motivation in between, but with all the feedback and some new very cool ideas I am back on track. I want to release a full version with a good game state and of course it should worth its price. Here is a little preview of my open tickets, if you miss something please don’t hesitate to contact me.
One Idea I want to highlight – Battlemap
There was one person with this brilliant idea. In short there will be a new game mode (Maybe as DLC not sure about that yet). In this game mode we will have to fight for the dominion of Timbertales. We will have a battlemap with different regions and they will provide different bonuses. Your goal will be to conquer all regions, but of course the enemy will get stronger the longer the conquest take. So your strategy in which order you will conquer which regions is very important. Unfortunately I can’t share much details about the bonuses yet, since there is a lot of work needed to build the concept, but I will get back to you as soon as there is a rough concept.
Conclusion – What can we excpect?
My current plan is to bugfix and improve Timbertales to a state, where I am happy to release it to the full version and leave Early Access. Of course this will take some effort marketing and development wise etc. It is still a good time to share your feedback, if there is any. I don’t have any deadline for the release, so I don’t have to stress myself. First priority is to make the game more fun and enjoyable. If the release works out very well, I can imagine to add DLCs and work on more content patches otherwise I will focus on another project.
today, I want to write a little bit about my impressions from the Games Conference 2018 in Hamburg, where I attended yesterday. There was a bunch of different talks and the topic of the Conference was “Play it – The future of games & films”. So I will go through the different talks and try to recap and summarize as best as possible 🙂 All talks are available on YouTube: GameCity
I was a bit late, so I missed half of the opening speak, but it was most likely about Hamburg. There are more games studios than ever before and more revenue was generated than the last year (somehow I do something wrong here, while I always hear of growing revenue in games and more studios I wasn’t able to get my slice of the cake yet). Also there were huge investments into faster internet speed on all schools in Hamburg and they plan to contract huge bunch of professors in technology universities to educate even more students.
Christian Fonnesbech (Nordisk Film Games) – “Less risk, more value: Create your IP for ALL media
This talk was really great. Christian seemed like a very cool person with a lot of experience in games and trans media. The talk was about creating your own IP and spread it everywhere, but he also said before creating any IP or think about a it of course a game should have a fun and cool core mechanic. This made him very personable for me, because it was more directed to create very cool games instead of focusing on an IP and make the most out of marketing. Nevertheless what he said was, that if you have a good game, which performs quite well try to make an IP out of it. Take the world or the character and make another game of it and spread those things into other media like tv series, books, toys and so on. Another thing was to rely on your creations and don’t start from scratch for your next project. Always try to reuse as much as possible and tighten your IP.
Michael Geidel (Produzent für Film und Games, MiriquidiFilm Leipzig) – Case Study: Vom Album zum Buch, Film und Game und vom Film zum VR-Game – Erfahrungen aus Transmedia-Projekten
I actually was a bit reserved in this talk. It was about a Jazz band, who created an music album for kids and MiriquidiFilm Leipzig did some short films according to the tracks and presented them to an audience of kids. It was very well accepted and they also asked, if the kids would like to see a game out of those series. Actually it was a great example that one IP could spread through different medias, but as far as I understood: MiriquidFilms was just contracted to do the films, so it was kinda less interesting for me, since I want to create my own IP and not working for some one else as a studio. That said they also tried to make an VR-Game out of it and had some success with it. My opinion to VR / AR and MR is something like: I like the idea in generell and it offers a lot of potential, but with all the different hardware and no standard its kinda too early to dig deeper into the topic right now. Also I often have the thought when I see some VR projects “Why not just making a normal game? Because I don’t see any advantage of the VR technology”
Case Study: Die Workflows von „Trüberbrook” – Was man aus der Filmproduktion für Games-Development lernen kann – Hans Böhme (btf GmbH)
That was actually a blast. Hans showed some scaled models and how they created a film out of it. Trüberbrook was a very successfull kickstarter and looks amazing. You can find the kickstarter campaign here: http://trueberbrook.com/de/startseite/ Now they are trying to make a game out of it. They have a very unique workflow for that, since they work with scaled models. They often take pictures with real lightening and use them later as pre-baked textures for their environment. For this they try to get the same camera perspective in game as they have used to take the picture. Only the main character and some dynamic objects were designed fully digital and got dynamic lightening, which actually generated some problems they had to take care of. It was amazing for me to see those very different techniques and how awesome they worked in the end. Actually one of my problem for the most talks was: I can’t compare myself to these studios, since all of them had already bigger teams and much more opportunities with their creations, which made me kinda sad sometimes. Because I have the feeling I could never achieve such cool models or environments as a single person in a reasonable time. Anyhow, I could take something away in any talk and of course I respect their work a lot.
Short break and networking
After these three talks we had a short break to get some food, drinks and could talk to each other. There was a colorful audience from developers over producers, publishers, schools, media etc. I met an ex coworker from Innogames, who is now working for Amazon. Amazon had a small booth to show up their “game on” services, which are quite cool and I would like to use in future. Amazon was also one of the sponsors of the conference. Three more talks followed.
Case Study:AR-Game zur Graphic Novel „Der nasse Fisch” vom Carlsen Verlag Bengt-Oliver Stellmann (Creative Director, Garlic Games Media GmbH)
AR-Game talk with a bit of a fresh concept. Oliver talked about a project, where they tried to create an AR-Game out of a comic. They pitched a first prototype to a publisher and the publisher answered something like: I am sure you are able to ship the game, but I don’t think you are able to create a comic and publish it. So they searched for another publisher and found the “Carlsen Verlag”, who had already published comics and some experience with AR-Games. They could take advantage of a comic, which was already in production and would be released within the next months and build up their game on that. The challenge was they wanted to create a new story for the game, which differ from the comic. So they had to talk and discuss with the author and designer of the comic. This is always a problem they mentioned, because you try to build up on their “baby” and this can lead to different opinions and emotions. In this case they had a very successful conversation and could get up with a story and a game for the comic. Their first prototype worked with a print. You had to scan it site by site with your camera and than you where able to play different levels as a standalone game. The game they are currently working on works with surface detection and no longer needs a print. You just download it from the App Store and scan your surroundings. So they rely on the rooms where you are actually in. This technology is quite nice, but also offers a lot of difficulties, especially if your room is much smaller or bigger than the level which should be presented virtually.
Case Study – Petra Monheim (Founder, Goodbye Kansas Germany)
Sorry, but for this “talk” I only got two words: Advertising show. The talk consisted of 5 or more high rendered trailers with very cool effects and of course awesome characters and models, but really there wasn’t any value in the talk. It was just a showcase of their awesome trailers and explaining their studio structure / construction. For me as single Indie Developer this was a bit frustrating, since I couldn’t really take anything and just thought yeah would love to have those visuals … It was actually really impressive, but for a budget I will never be able to spend. At least the trailer for Biomutant, was interesting for me as a gamer, because it looked very nice and I could like it.
Marktzahlen und Chancen bei transmedialen Produkten – Niklas Wilke (Partner, PriceWaterhouseCoopers)
The last talk was about the future of different markets from a business insider. It was a presentation with a lot of percentages and numbers and differed a lot to all those creative talks before. Nevertheless I found some trends quite interesting. The biggest growth for the next five years is expected to be in eSports, followed by video games. I am a huge eSports fan and really like this trend. There is also a discussion ongoing, that eSports should be treated as normal sports in Germany. This would allow to register legal eSport clubs etc. Another really good point for us as indie devs – Video games are predicted to grow even more within the next five years. Actually the biggest growth can be expected on casual mobile games, in between pc games and last but not least console games. Impressive fact: On consoles still 60% of games are bought in stores as boxed version and only 40% online as digital copy. Unlike pc games where a lot more games are bought as digital copies.
Buffet, networking and beer
After this we had some food again, beer and could talk to each other. I met a few people and talked to them. Unfortunately I had to leave early so I couldn’t attend very long. There were also some more talks in the evening I couldn’t attend.
As Indie developer there weren’t too much topics of interest or related to my daily business. Nevertheless most talks were quite exciting and educating. I won a free ticket, so the conference was actually free for me, which was quite nice. I think I wouldn’t pay the normal price for the conference due to the lack of interesting stuff for myself and I am very bad at networking.
last week I wrote about my switch from OSX to Windows 10 as development environment. Today, I can say I am still using Windows 10 and I am more familiar with it than ever before. I would like to talk about some issues and software I use for my daily business and why. So lets get started!
Hyper as Terminal
Recently I switched to the Hyper Terminal. I really like the design of it and with the Windows Manager you can arrange it really cool. Behind Hyper Terminal I still use Ubuntu as WSL and I am using zsh instead of bash. You can checkout my zsh configuration here: https://github.com/anthraxx/ant-zsh
A more delicate topic is vagrant on windows with WSL. First thing: It is possible and it works, but with some drawbacks. The most import thing is to execute following command on your WSL:
You need to install vagrant and Virtualbox on your windows machine. You also need to install vagrant on your WSL (careful the version must match the windows vagrant version). If this is done you can use vagrant as usual. My only drawback at the moment – I can’t use nfs. At the moment I have to work with rsync for synced folders, which isn’t very optimal but ok for now.
I am using vagrant a lot for web development, if you haven’t used vagrant yet you should give it a try.
Windows 10 introduced the multiple desktop feature, which is quite nice and I am used to use many desktops from OSX. I always having specific applications on specific desktops. I also usually work with two monitors. While the terminals stay always on my notebook monitor the applications cycle through the different desktops on my primary desktop. Unfortunately there are two flaws on the virtual desktop feature for Windows 10 I identified.
You can’t assign apps to starts on a specific desktop – To solve this I usually start all applications at once and then move them to the right desktop on TaskView or I go to the right desktop first and then start the app.
There isn’t a shortcut, I know of, to switch to a specific desktop. My solution for that problem is to have the applications in my taskbar in the right order with this little trick I can use WindowsKey + 1 for Chrome, which is on Desktop 1 or WindowsKey + 2 for Phpstorm, which is on Desktop 2.
Other Software I use
Android Studio / PyCharm / PhpStorm – They are nearly the same base, but for different programming languages. These products work as expected and there is no difference to the OSX versions except the shortcuts.
Blender for 3D Modeling works fine having no problems at all. Cool tip is to use your surface in presentation mode and plugin an external keyboard. Then you can use the surface pen and having all num pad related hotkeys at the same time.
Office Stuff – As written in the post from last week I am using the Office 365 package. Mostly I use Outlook 2016, OneNote, Word and Excel. Before I worked a lot with google docs, spreadsheets. OneNote is definitely a really cool tool and I use it for a lot of different tasks. Game Design concepts, brainstorming ideas, todo lists and of course notes.
Today I want to talk about my switch recently from OSX to Windows 10 as development environment or better said from Macbook Pro to Microsoft Surface Book 2.
Why should I switch at all?
As you all know game development, especially with engines like Unreal Engine 4, need a good amount of performance. I ran into some problem with my old MacBook 13″ early 2015 it wasn’t able to handle that mighty engine very well. So I thought about buying a new Notebook. I work as a freelancer sometimes, so I want to stick to a Notebook instead of just buying a Desktop. Of course my first thought was to just upgrade my MacBook to a newer one. I checked out the configurations available for the new MacBook. I will have to get a 15″ MacBook, if I want the best hardware. I was really happy with my 13″ MacBook, because it was very light and portable. I really disliked that the new MacBook comes with this new touch bar, that I will never use and I don’t get the sense of it at all. The second point I really disliked was the new flatened keyboard. That said I started researching, if there are any alternatives and I found one, which fit my needs: The Microsoft Surface Book 2. It comes with a better hardware than the MacBook, has a touchscreen and is very flexibel, since you can use it as Tablet or Notebook. This makes the Surface especially good for developing for mobile platforms. You don’t need to upload every build to your phone to test touch gestures etc. another very cool advantage is: You can actually play games on the Surface very well. In the end there was one very big counter argument for the Surface – I have to use Windows 10 for development. I think I have been working on OSX for more than 5 years now and I am very used to my work environment. Nevertheless I try to overcome my comfort zone and give it a shot.
Working with Windows 10 First steps
As I said the biggest challenge is to actual work efficient with Windows 10. I always used Windows for gaming, so I am not totally unaware of Windows as os, but for development I never used it before.
First I missed my zsh shell, since I am really used to bash or zsh with my OSX / Linux history in development. I was really amazed, that the windows 10 creators update introduce a Linux subsystem called WSL. Now we are able to use a Linux with Windows 10 and the best thing about it: It isn’t a virtual machine or something it works with the original kernel, but somehow integrated in Windows. Actually you can do everything in Linux even starting gnome GUI things etc. I installed Ubuntu on my Windows 10, because I couldn’t find any Arch Linux for Windows yet. The shell and all development tools like NodeJS, Python etc. works as expected, the only flaw about WSL is that the Filesystem is quite slow, even slower than on Virtualbox. But there are some tweaks to get at least an acceptable performance. Check it out here https://medium.com/@leandrw/speeding-up-wsl-i-o-up-than-5x-fast-saving-a-lot-of-battery-life-cpu-usage-c3537dd03c74
Second point is the feeling of Windows. I felt very at home on OSX, most things run very smooth and ran out of the box or wasn’t supported. On Windows there are few minor things, which aren’t behave the same way like on OSX and that annoys me quite a lot. For example the scrolling with the touch pad doesn’t feel as smooth as it feels on OSX. Working with multiple desktops, which I do quite a lot, luckily works on Windows, but there aren’t shortcuts to jump to a specific desktop. There are also no options to assign applications to a specific display or desktop at least as far as I know.
Third point: The software isn’t on a quality level like OSX. On OSX I used the builtin software for mail, calendar and could easily synchronize it with my google account and everything worked as expected. On Windows I started with Mail and had all the same features and everything worked flawless until I realized that Mail has no possibility to add a html signature. So I upgraded to Outlook 2016, because I thought the premium software included with Office 365 would have the same features plus additional features like html signature. Not even close, yes Outlook offers the possibility for html signature, but I couldn’t add my google account, since it is an application with lesser security. Also I needed to add a special plugin to have calendar synchronization possible. This was really annoying and I don’t understand why the Mail App, which is for free, had those functionalities and Outlook 2016, where you have to buy, doesn’t?
The Surface Book 2 is definitely a very cool Notebook and I like it as much or even more than I liked my MacBook. The Tablet mode is quite interesting, even if I haven’t figured out yet how to work with it in a efficient or proper way, its more like playing around at the moment. As mentioned the only flaw at the moment is to getting used to working with Windows and get everything setup like I am used to it. Of course software like Unity, Godot, Photoshop behave the same, but always differ in shortcuts. It feels quite wrong at the moment, most of my shortcuts I have in mind don’t work anymore etc. But I am still willing to adjust myself and get used to it. At the moment I would say, if you are used to Windows the Surface Book 2 is a very good choice for development. If you switch from OSX it has his downsides, caused by the software, but you can get used to it.
today I want to write about a more technical / marketing topic. I recently started to make a plan for marketing my games Timbertales and FlatFatCat. One of the first steps included in this plan was to message YouTubers, which actually covered similar games to mine.
My first approach was quite simple: I thought about a fitting search term and searched on YouTube. On the results page I just clicked through the channels and gathered the most relevant informations: Name, Subscriber number, Link to channel and Email address if provided. After filling my excel sheet and having round about 40 entries I thought “Man this is kind a exhausting and there must be a better method”.
Using the YouTube Data API
After googling for some better methods I came across the YouTube Data API. Luckily I already have some projects, which could be used for the YouTube Data API. So I registered Timbertales for the API. I was able to find a library for NodeJs written and maintained by google itself called “googleapis“. So with a small setup I am now able to send requests to the YouTube API and gather the required data. Unfortunately I wasn’t yet able to fetch the email address out of the channel details and I am not even sure if it is possible at all. If someone knows more about it I would appreciate your comment a lot! Nevertheless even with taking care of the email address manually I am much faster now in gathering relevant YouTubers than ever before. I can just search for a specific game and my script will fill a file with all relevant informations. After that I just gather the email address, if provided, manually.
I hope I could give you a small insight and may be you are interested in the script itself, if this is the case just comment or leave a message and I will write another part with the script included.
for about 2 weeks I am now working for AboutYou in Hamburg / Germany. Who not knows this company it is a fashion web store, which is quite popular in Germany. The workspaces are very modern, the team and its structure is really nice. Unfortunately it hasn’t that much to do with games, but anyhow it is a paid project job for at least 3 months and it allows me to get some distance from my projects. The income will help a lot to push my projects further and having more options such as paid artists etc. The downside is of course, that within the next three months I can’t update very much, since I am working as a full time freelancer.
Rainware – How does it continue?
Nevertheless, today I would love to share at least some ideas I came up with. So even if I can’t spend much time on my projects I have the possibility to rethink and plan the further course of Rainware. First of all I want to continue making games for at least one more project. With all the gathered experience within the last two years I need to make another one. The question is what kind of project will be the next one and when I can start with it.
New game project idea
A 3D remake of the game “Mega lo mania” or “Tyrants“, which was the game name in the US. It was actual the first strategy game I ever played, even before hits like Dune II completely got me, and for me it was the game, which made me loving RTS games. As a tribute and of course because the game was fucking awesome I would like to make a newer version out of it. As a challenge and personal improvement I want to enter a new area: “3D”. I will stick to Unity as engine as far as I can tell you for now. The modelling will be done in Maya by myself. It won’t be an easy task at all, but I am very motivated and can’t wait to get started and keep you informed about the progress.
But first things first I have to finish the freelance job to refocus completely on game development. This sets the start date for development to May, but there is actually already some work in progress. I am preparing the GDD and analyse the market, technologies etc. I will come up with more informations within the next blog post, which will focus around the new game project / idea.
today I want to write a bit about my mistakes in the last two years. Some things I know better today other things were known, but I ignored them somehow. At least I got a lot of experience in two years and I will try to improve in the future. So let’s start with my 5 biggest mistakes “by now”.
1. Timbertales was a way too big project to start with as Indie game developer
This one is very special. In general you will often read don’t start too big etc. I also read those lists before I started to become an Indie developer. Nevertheless my first project was too big. The reason for this is simple. I already had written the backend for Timbertales years ago. With those pieces of code and a whole working server my thoughts were “More than half of the project is already done” – It wasn’t. I didn’t even do proper project planing on my first title or estimations, because I wanted to start programming as soon as possible. Lots of the features were implemented while programming and without any planing. So today I would advice to everyone -> Do proper planing, have a game design document with all your features and stay focused!
2. I wanted to reach out for a too big audience
My reason to develop games with libGDX was to distribute my releases cross platform. Thats not a problem at all, but you should have in mind, that mobile players are different from pc gamers and the chances are very low, that you will create a game, which perfectly fits on both platforms. Also you shouldn’t underestimate the maintenance time for different versions, even if you are using cross platform frameworks. Especially things like Facebook Login or In App purchases working different on different platforms and you will have to implement them native or with a 3rd party lib. Then you have to build various release versions and maintain different store entries etc. I think you get the point as a single indie developer time is always a matter and waiting for reviews or upload 25 different screenshots with different resolutions (iPhone, iPad, android tablet 7″, 10″etc) will just cost you time without anything in return. For example on Timbertales I uploaded it to itch, Steam, Android, iOS and Amazon. I should have focused on 1 or 2 platforms, since the download numbers weren’t any good at Amazon for example.
3. Creating games with revenue in mind
After I realised Timbertales will not cover my development costs. I had the problem, that I will run out of money within the next months. So I came up with FlatFatCat. The problem with the concept of FlatFatCat was, that it was created with revenue in mind. I wanted to create a game, which would cover my development costs and so I lost the biggest motivation for us Indies – Passion. An Indie game without passion can’t be successful at all, thats what indie game stands for!
4. Shifting to a platform without the knowledge to market your game
Somehow with FlatFatCat and Space Unicorns I targeted the mobile market, but I am not at home at the mobile market. I dislike to play on my smartphone in my spare time. I am a core pc and console gamer. Unfortunately FlatFatCat and Space Unicorns directed into a wrong direction and to a market, where I don’t have much knowledge and experience. I liked the development for mobile, but thats not enough to market a game successful. As a pc core gamer I should have sticked to the pc / console market, since you are your best customer! If you wouldn’t buy your game, why should anyone else do it?
5. A way to generell marketing without reaching the right audience
My approach here was to reach out for the biggest audience possible without making any thoughts about, who would play my games. I just went for the masses, but what I missed was: There are a lot of other games, which will do better than mine and you can’t compete with them. So try to place yourself in a niche and do the best marketing there. Marketing is always a hassle for me, but I think it is a lot better to hype your product in the right audiences instead of trying to reach to big presses or reviewers, which will just ignore you.
Thank you for reading! I am looking forward to your comments, questions and feedback. I hope you can avoid some of the mistakes, but I also think that mistakes are needed for improvement.
First of all as disclaimer: I just talk about my experience with the two games I have released. Nevertheless I spend quite a lot time and effort in these two games and I think my situation is suitable for a lot of other indie developers too. Of course there are success stories and there are exceptional cases, but for me mobile not paid out yet. I invested a lot of time lately into social features, user engagement and retention, but nothing showed great results yet.
So let us start and just judge this as a general advice from an indie developer, who made some first hand experience.
Motivation and Vision
Let me talk a bit about my vision and my both games I came up with first. I founded Rainware two years ago and I decided to stick to libGDX for game development. Distribution should happen on cross platforms, this includes Android, iOS, Amazon and Desktop (osx, windows, linux). My idea is to develop cross platform games to reach more players on different platforms. Today I am certain that focusing on a niche is much more rewarding as an indie, than trying to get the biggest audience possible. It is nearly impossible to create a game which fits mobile and pc, since both audiences are so different in behavior.
A fun fact: I focused with Flat Fat Cat Bounce on mobile devices and optimized it for mobile controls. I sold a lot more copies on steam than I had in app purchases on mobile. In the end I could say that my mobile version completely sucked and I wasted a lot of money and earned a lot less money than on steam, where I did not invest anything except the initial fee.
My mobile games
But first things first. My first game was Timbertales a turn based strategy game in a nature setting. Timbertales was planned as a pc game, but within the capabilities of libGDX to support mobile I switched during the development to make it work on mobile too and focused a lot on mobile controls. Afterwards I know that this was a crucial misstep, because I lost my focus on pc gamers, so they had less interest in the game at all. The game wasn’t initial designed for mobile so it lacks of an audience there. By that I mean it is more a core game than a casual game.
My second game was Flat Fat Cat Bounce it was planned as a much smaller project and it had a really strong mobile focus. I wanted to create a small game for mobile devices, which should be very addictive and generate some money. As you all know as an indie developer money is always a big issue. After the development of Timbertales I spent all my budget and I had to earn money somehow. In my foolishness I thought it would be an easy task to create a simple mobile game and earn from it. Today I know I shouldn’t have spend a single minute on any mobile related game at first.
So what is the problem with mobile stores?
I read a lot about the mobile market before I developed Flat Fat Cat Bounce, but of course I thought I could do better than others. In the end I wasted a lot of time and money. I earned maybe around 40$ in half a year with in app purchases and spend months to develop the game and invested around 5.000$ into marketing without any success. Let me tell you why – The mobile market or better said the Google Play Store is such a hard business, where a very few earn money and a lot of devs invest money. In first place Google benefits the most of course. They earn from every ad you pay. They receive their percentage for every in app purchase and they don’t care about any of the games. I had a direct contact with Google Germany and they created a marketing plan with budget for me. I paid more money in 10 days than I would spend for living for 2-3 months and meanwhile all installs I received are gone. Of course a part of the problem is that my game isn’t good enough, but the point is Google doesn’t care about that they already have my money.
Another big problem on mobile is to generate a fan base or community. Mobile players differ a lot from pc gamers. They don’t care about you or your indie studio. If you do a match 3 game you have to compete with Candy Crush for example and the player don’t care if you work alone or have a big studio and a lot of budget. They just want to play games for free and if they are not funny enough after some minutes of gameplay they will delete it and play the next one. There are so much games to choose from, why should your game become the next hit? They don’t care about your time you invested into development nor your story you want to tell. The search rankings in Play Store or Apple Store is my next point. There are thousands of games in these stores. I don’t think I tell you something new here. You have to compete with all of those games, because as an indie without any marketing budget your only way to get seen is by being searched in the stores. That your game will have a good ranking is nearly impossible, because it depends on your ASO, which is hardly related to the success of your game. In the end this means if you have only a few downloads / reviews you can ASO your heart out – Nobody will find your game!
Exceptional cases and conclusion
So in my opinion you could have good reasons to enter the mobile market or just think what does he know about me, but you should think a lot about it. If you have a brand, a huge fan base / community or an already running pc game which is quite successful – it could be a good decision! Of course another exception would be if you have publisher and you are not publishing by yourself.
In mostly all other scenarios I would not try again to release something for mobile market and I will stick to pc / console market in future. PC gamers care a lot more about you as a person and the game. I think the biggest advantage of being indie is to sell yourself as a person. I talked a lot to other game developers or players and all of them where quite impressed that I did everything myself. Publishing, Development, Marketing etc. and with this story I have the possibility to build up a community on platforms like steam and they maybe become fans of my products.
Do you have any similar experience, comments or question? Please don’t hesitate to share your opinion