Intermediaware indie video game developer blgo Tue, 31 Dec 2013 15:42:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5’000’000 downloads surpassed Tue, 31 Dec 2013 15:41:13 +0000 2013 was amazing. Toady I’ve surpassed 5’000’000 Downloads with all games and app stores combined.
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 16.34.31

Finally I would like to wish to you and your families  all the best for 2014!

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Tiny Thor – A game made in 72 hours Wed, 18 Dec 2013 22:42:46 +0000 Last weekend Emmanuel and I joined the Ludum Dare game contest and we developed a game from scratch in 72 hours. It was a lot of fun and quite stressful the last hours, but we’re quite satisfied with the results.

Play our result here.

You should also checkout the other entries, some of them are really awesome. Here are my favourites so far:

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C/C++: Pseudo Loops Fri, 29 Mar 2013 04:24:57 +0000 Well, it does, because you can break out of it in a very elegant way:

You also will see something like that very often in macros. This is because, something like that:will expand into this:And this will produce an error.If you put a pseudo loop around it, everything works fine:]]> 3
How I reached 2’000’000 downloads on the app store Thu, 28 Mar 2013 03:21:07 +0000 At the moment every 7 days more than 100'000 users are downloading my apps, every month I get around 400k to 500k downloads.  Here is a chart how my downloads developed during the last months:  So the big question is: How did I manage it to improve my downloads so much without any marketing and advertising.Well, the popular app stores like iTunes, google Play or amazon are complex, very dynamic ecosystems.It's very hard to make good predictions. Often you'll hear things like "Make a quality product and you will make money!".I'm very sorry to disappoint you but in my experience this is NOT true.I've seen so many developers that worked hard on their game for many, many months. They created a fantastic end result. They released their amazing game and...... NOTHING happend. No Downloads. And "no downloads" equals to "no revenue". So sure, quality is important, but it doesn't guarantee you anything.With this in mind I choose another strategy. My assumption was: Make more apps and you will get more downloads.More downloads = more revenue.So with this in mind I focused to improve my workflow and tried to cut down the development time of my apps. I don't want to get too technical but what I've mainly did to achieve this was:
  • I've created a "framework/codebase" for fast prototyping and developing games (reusable components, cross platform, data driven, a scripting language for easy customize existing games/components, tools/editors that integrate well into the workflow)
  • An easy workflow with lots of automation to create, maintain and publish an app as well as maintain assets and marketing material (description, keywords, screenshots, icons, resolutions for different stores etc.)
  • Re-Skin existing apps for another target audience (with no or less coding involved)
For me this worked very well and I'm really sure this is reproducible.
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Post-Mortem: A platform game done in three weeks Wed, 19 Dec 2012 05:30:14 +0000 150 000 game sessions within the first two weeks.How/Why I startedOne evening I played around with Tiled - a great open source map editor. I wrote some classes in Monkey  to load, handle & render those maps (You can find the source here). I played around with some Turrican sprites. When I played my demo game I just had the idea to do a small platform game for iOS and Android and I came up with Sophia's World. The complete game for iOS and Android was done in three weeks. The graphicsI'm very bad at design and graphics. But I had those lovely graphics from a good friend of mine and found it a good idea to use them. I asked him if he could add some animation to some of the sprites and I think he did an amazing job. I also added some nice platform tiles from Kenney.The codeThe coding part was very easy. I did a few platform games in the past (although i haven't done one for years), but at least I know where to start and how to do it. Thanks to Monkey I were able to run it on various platforms without any additional work. I think the first level with the first enemy, the player sprite, the map and collision was done in one day - then I added additional things from time to time when I had an idea during I designed the levels (for example the mushroom, the bat and the falling blocks).Of course I had to fix some bugs from time to time. I worked with various collision layers that I can check against each other but this caused some problems later on. I then added some Interfaces so special objects could be notified when various events are occurring. I hardwired this directly in the collision-layer-code so it felt a little bit hacky because I mixed up two separate solutions (data-driven collision-layer-system with object orientated notify-system).The level designTiled is such a great tool. I've tried out lots of level editor tools in the past and never found one I REALLY liked. I love Tiled because it's very easy to handle but because of the customizable properties, vectors- and Rect-Zones it's very powerful. Also it's open source, so if I ever need a special feature I can easily add it. I exported that data to JSON, cause this was an easy way to load the data into my monkey application. I now even use it for GUI-Stuff. For all my new apps/games I build the gui stuff and requesters with Tiled, export it as JSON and load it in into my application.For the level design itself I first started to analyze various parts of well-known platformers like Mario Brothers or Giana Sisters. The levedesign was the part that took most of the time. At the current version there are 24 stages, but I will add more soon.I decided to only scroll horizontal, although it would have been easy for me to add an 8-way-scrolling-routine. But I decided to go for right-to-left-levels because I want to keep things simple. The graphic style and everything is targeted for kids and although I love huge jump'n'run games where you can explore each level I don't want to add this complexity to that game.The audio & musicThe complete sound effects and music was done in about two days. I think I could have put a little bit more effort into the sound effects (and I will probably do) but I was very happy how the music turned out (Listen to it: The Night | The Day).What's NextI think I will add some more levels because a lot of players liked it and already asked for more. And I want to improve the "Get-Ready"-Screen (it was added in a hurry before I submitted the game to the app stores). I will replace it, so the player has some sort of progress map and can select each level he reached before directly.Some statsThe weird thing about this little project is, that it was my first project that reached more success across Android than iOS. Within the first two weeks it was played more than 150 000 times. This is huge for me. Remember: No marketing. No PR. I just submitted it to Google Play and iTunes and hoped for the best. I will prepare ports for the Amazon App Store and for Windows Phone. I have zero experience with these platforms so I'm very interested how they compare.]]> 1 Why I don’t add social media buttons to my apps anymore Sun, 09 Dec 2012 13:54:13 +0000 Facebook and Twitter is everywhere. And I really like those social networks. A few years ago I used RSS Feeds as my main source of daily news and information. Today I check my Twitteraccount and lists. And Facebook is a great way to keep contact with people you don't interact with everyday like former colleagues and friends. Because every developer wants his app/game to go viral they often put in buttons of social networks. I dont' do it anymore. I also haven't included those buttons in my latest mario-like platform game Sophia's World for iOS and Android.And here is why:
  • I don't want to drive my users to twitter or facebook. Instead I want them to spend more time within my game.
  • If the app is worth talking about it, my users will do. If not, they won't.
  • I don't want to force my users to spread the word because it won't work.
I have facebook fan pages for my apps because it's easy to setup and it's nice to spread the word around my social network. But I won't advertise it anymore within my games.Here are some numbers of a friend of mine. Michael Contento is owner of Cora Games. His latest game is a word puzzle app for kids. Within the first week people played it 12 000 times. Those plays generated 90 clicks on the Facebook Page and 122 on the Twitter Button. From those who clicked nearly nobody liked the Facebook page or followed the Twitter account.In my game Captain Backwater I included integration so each player can share their achievements. Nearly nobody makes use of it. I see other games forcing the players sharing their stories by offering them something in return like special items or ingame currency. Come on, guys! That's lame. Make a better game and people will talk about it.]]> 1
A new gem hits the app stores! Mon, 15 Oct 2012 14:39:29 +0000 Captain Backwater. He's live on Google Play and iTunes.Now, help us spread the word, on Twitter, on Facebook, tell your friends about it. But most important: Play it and have fun! It's free!
Arrr.... (Captain Backwater, 2012)
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Backwater Mobile: Final Steps Thu, 11 Oct 2012 01:25:48 +0000 Captain Backwater to the App Store. I really hope it will be live by the weekend (Go, Apple, go!). During this time I prepared everything for the Android port.I’m also working on a flash-based version for Kongregate and Mochi right now. I really hope that a browser-based port will help to spread the word. We’ll see…]]> 0 Porting my game to mobile devices Wed, 03 Oct 2012 01:25:00 +0000 Captain Backwater on Windows, Linux and OS X. A lot of people told me the gameplay would work well on touch devices. So one or two months ago I started to port the game to iOS and Android. I’m using MonkeyCoder which is a great cross-platform-language, that I like a lot.For the monetization I decided to go the freemium way. It’s possible to play through the whole game for free. But to unlock the later levels the player need to collect coins. So if he has to less coins to unlock a level he can either go back and play for more coins or can buy some via In-App-Purchases in the shop.ControlsAfter a few tweaks the controls turned out great on my iPad. However, as the original game was designed for desktop resolutions in mind, controls are a little bit tricky and frustrating on mobile devices due to the small screen.I tried several things and also thought about making it available for tablets only, but now I’ve found a solution with that I’m very satisfied. On mobile devices as soon as you enter the game it zooms in the play field. The hit boxes of the items are bigger then and the controls are very smooth. The player is also able to zoom in and out using the typical two-finger touch gesture.The new look of a mighty pirateAnother thing we changed is the look of the main character. We didn’t like the look of him anymore, so Emmanuel recreated him from scratch. This caused that we had to replace him on some places in-game as well as on the games’ icon. I’m proudly present: The MIGHTY NEW Captain Backwater: And here how it turned out in lightwave: MonetizationA lot of time and effort also went into the balancing. As I told in an earlier post, I decided to go for a freemium model. The whole game can be played for free. During the game the player is able to explore hidden coins. To unlock upcoming levels the player has to spent those coins. If he hasn’t enough, he could go a few levels back playing for some more coins or he can order some via In-App-Purchases.The first attempt was very unbalanced and it forced the player already in the beginning to play the first levels over and over again or spent some real money to buy the required coins. So now I changed it that there are much, much more coins to discover. Also I dropped the prices for the levels to unlock. I’m feeling it’s also much more motivating and rewarding to find lots of hidden coins.Bugs, bugs, bugsThe rest of time during the last days I spent on hunting bugs, mainly in the GUI System. As I ported the code 1:1 from the desktop version, a lot of things didn’t work on touch devices anymore and OnMouseOut, OnMouseHit and OnMouseOver Events were triggered by mistake. This did take quite some time to figure it out how to fix it, cause the gui system is quite complex and I wrote it two years ago or so .Performance issuesI had also performance issues on older devices, and the reason for that was the rendering of the in game texts. I’m using Bitmap Fonts for all ingame text. Each bitmap font consists of three layers: Main chars, borders and shadows. Now each frame, each char was rendered in three passes. And this slowed down things quite a bit. I’ve now baked the fonts onto one layer, still rendering each char on each frame – but it’s fast enough at this time. A better solution would probably to pre-render the text that doesn’t change each frame – but for now I’ll leave it that way. ]]> 0 kinderappgarten.de Tue, 01 May 2012 11:31:45 +0000 page has a lot of good articles on apps for kids, so make sure to have a look at it.]]> 0