Got this sexy screenshot last week:
Don’t know if anyone else finds it impressive, but I sure do. Also, thanks to these 3 vids, I got my first entry into the Top Monthly Channels, maxing out at 90th. Alas, the good things disappear so quickly; when those games were new, 200k+ views a day… now, under 80k.
I received an email a few days ago asking me to fill out a survey about FGS, and what I filled in for the comments is pretty much what I am going to say here. I’ll only discuss those topics that I sat in on, which was all 3 developer story times that were in the dev room and all but 1 of the money panels (I also missed the NowBoarding storytime, but it was in direct competition with another story time). I did not hear anything about the 3 flash technologies that were discussed in the dev room.
Keynote: As stated in my previous post, we got to the keynote late, and only heard the last 10 minutes or so. However, I don’t understand the grandstanding of Jameson Huo (CEO of MochiMedia). I’ve said before that I have no idea how conferences generally work, but in my logical mind it seems appropriate for someone opening up a day of speakers to talk about the state of the industry, advances of the past year, hopes for the coming year… not to promote one’s own company and use it as a platform for announcing new services. People speaking are supposed to be imparting wisdom to assist those attending, not trying to boost their own bottom line (ok, everyone speaking is trying to boost their own bottom line… but it doesn’t have to be THAT obvious and in our faces).
AtomAtomic and Canabalt: I think I was pretty accurate with my statement in my previous rant from last month. Cool game, but no point/sense/need to have a 30 minute talk about how it was developed. It’s an incredibly simple game, and I think just about any successful game’s development story would have been quite similar, if not significantly more interesting.
History of Nitrome: Quite fascinating and entertaining, but I don’t know how helpful the talk was. I feel like their formula is fairly straight-forward… it just takes years of dedicated game development to get to the point that they’re at. Most developers could have taken a similar path as the Annals, they just didn’t have the drive or creative mindset to do so.
Next Gen Monetization: This panel was 4 guys who have microtransaction (MT) platforms trying to tell everyone why MTs are awesome, but that games need to be designed from the ground up to incorporate them; they can’t just be slapped on at the end. I certainly agree with what they said, but they pretty much covered everything they could say in about 5 minutes, then repeated themselves for another 55. The Social Gold guy barely spoke English (same with the moderator) and did not seem to add much at all to the panel. There was a question asked at the end of the panel that would have been quite worthwhile, except the douche who asked it was more interested in trying to be an asshole than actually asking something meaningful. He wanted to know why the 4 guys were only discussing MTs, when the topic of the panel was not “MTs in Flash Games,” it was “Next Gen Monetization.” Which is a perfectly valid question… and it stems from the selection committee either a) picking a bad topic or b) not picking a diversified enough group of people. I’ll go with B, given the group of people were all completely identical, just from different companies, although A could be accurate if all one wanted to do was change the name of the panel to match the people speaking.
Monetize Game Outside Sponsorship: So we got the money side of things from MT companies. Now we get the low and dirty from developers who all made a bunch of cash not getting their games sponsored… 3 through direct sale and 1 through MTs. Daniel James, while just as interesting as last year, didn’t really say anything new from last year (except the fascinating tidbit about Whirled losing 4+ million dollars). The Rocketbirds guy was a flat out terrible speaker, and probably detracted from the panel, having no idea what to say and admitting he had no idea what he was doing when monetizing his game. Colin Northway, after his plethora of comments and mockings last year, was rather refined when speaking. From talking with Andy Moore (Colin’s best friend, worked on Fantastic Contraption, and was the moderator of the panel) the night before over beers, I was informed that Colin had spoken about FC multiple times at conventions… my guess is he was a bit burnt out by it at this point. Overall, fairly interesting… you definitely can make way more money through this model, the game just needs to be really cool.
Sponsorship Panel: My proposed panel was so awesome that 2 of my speakers were stolen for this one. [/bitter]. Greg completely dominated this panel. Candystand was doomed from the start, because their member on the panel doesn’t even do sponsorships for them and she’d only been with the site for 4 months… my boy Dave Fahrer should have manned up and owned face on the panel. Joel Breton from Addicting Games seemed to be in his own little world during the panel, and apparently has a different opinion about his site’s sponsorship methods than that of every developer and other sponsor that I talked to (their speaker at last year’s FGS left the same impression). Lars is a cool guy, but he and Robin were toting the sugar-coated P.C. corporate verbage that nobody actually believes is truthful. And this is why Greg rocked it… he told the truth, bluntly. We’re all industry people, we’re all big kids, we all want to know the truth to make successful games as well as money… sugar coating sponsorships doesn’t help developers.
Boxhead: I’ll say the same thing I said directly to Sean Cooper about his talk… I didn’t understand 95% of it. But I’m not a developer, so it’s ok. The developers who I talked to about Sean’s talk (Jmtb, Gregory Weir, etc) all said that Sean is a genius. So I approve. However, it was also noted (and I agree) that he jumped around a lot, and didn’t really have a good flow from A to B in his talk. He also said something to me later in the day that I wasn’t sure if he was joking about or not (John said the same thing happened to him when talking to Sean); I’ll have to investigate more.
Zynga’s After Party: [rant]This started off strong… bus transportation from the conference to the bar. And it was all down hill from there. Let’s list the problems… 1) Extremely loud music is not conducive to networking. 2) Over 500 people at FGS this year, yet the bar is smaller than the 09 after party bar… could barely breathe, let alone move around. 3) Why, why, why, why, why did Zynga invite people from GDC to the party? Are they seriously that cheap that they can’t have 2 parties if they really want to host the FGS after party AND have a GDC party? It started off with all FGS people, but by about 8:00 it was filling in with old people in suits.[/rant]
So, I know this all comes across as pretty harsh… but this event is important to me and I’d like to see it be as awesome as possible. I also focused on the negative in this post, as I covered most of the positive things in the previous ones (networking, awesome people, etc). The event still needs to focus more on the games themselves, and less on profiting from them (I think we’re at the point where if we talk about monetization any more next year, it’ll just be a complete reiteration of this and last year’s talks). I think I have 1 more post’s worth of material, dealing with suggestions for FGS11.
Also, random note, I completely agree with something John said in his FGS10 blog post: it’s shocking how many social games are being developed in Flash; last year at the after party, I met all kinds of people doing random stuff in the industry… this year, almost every random person I talked to was working on a social game for Facebook.
Monday started with 7am polka. Not too bad of a way to start a day, all things considered. However, we apparently forgot to turn on the heat in the room… and I was a frozen Tassicle. I finally got out to bed around 7:40, showered, and we were off for some breakfast sandwiches at 8am.
Yummies consumed, we hailed a cab and reached FGS by about 8:45. Check in, free t-shirt and other goodies, and we quickly entered the main room to catch the end of Jameson’s (CEO of Mochi) opening remarks.
I’ll save my commentary about FGS for a 3rd post, and stick to narration for this post. For the 9:00 session, I went downstairs to the “dev room” and listened to stories about the making of Canabalt and how Nitrome went from barely being able to eat Ramen to having an office of 10 people. At 10, I went back upstairs for a panel on about microtransactions by owners of MTX platforms. The 11:00 hour was a “state of Adobe” presentation, and since that was highly technical and of no use to me, I used that time to network in the hallway. I talked to tons of people, including Zeebarf, Crazy Jay from MaxGames, John from CrazyMonkeyGames, Lars from King, and many, many others.
After that was lunch, which was some uber-fancy box lunch nonsense that made Simple Tass cry. I sat with ConArtist and his Aussie possie, and we chatted about a bunch of interesting stuff. Towards the end of lunch, I moved to the “Kongregate” table, and met AlisonClaire, Ducklette, and a few other newer staffers who I hadn’t met before; Greg Weir was also at the table and 2 gentlement from EA Games. My position as someone who never will be made a mod on Kong was affirmed many times over. My dreams are officially ruined. Lol.
The 2nd annual Mochis followed lunch, and some cool games won awards… including Sacred Seasons. Had Jamie told me that they won (winners knew ahead of time), I could have accepted the award for them. Given I’m a mod in the game and whatnot. Oh well. Also, Mechanarium has some crazy sexy art.
2:00 and 3:00 were 2 more panels about making money… one by devs who made craptons of money by not going the sponsorship route, and one by sponsors pleading for devs to get their games sponsored. Greg was one of the speakers on the sponsorhip panel (moderated by another one of my Polish panel members, Jared Riley… ) and totally kicked ass. 4:00 brought a short break, which was filled with more networking, mostly with Andrew Sega (who made Mytheria, amongst other things).
The final session I attended was by Sean Cooper, and made no sense to me… but many devs said it was brilliant. So I’ll assume it was. With the end of the summit was the start of the after party. Buses were provided to transport us from one location to the other, and I spent my time talking with a man named Lee from Adobe who either made Flash Player or updates it. Basically, he’s really cool and seemed to be interested in my little niche market.
1 paragraph summary of the after party: Zynga failed horriby at planning it. Full rant in FGS post. However, I did manage 2+ hours of hardcore networking, although I’m not sure how many of the people I talked with will actually have any benefit from working with me. Except Martine from Spil and the 2 fine Fins from Frosmo. Also, I “may” have changed Greg Weir’s opinion in regards to in-game walkthroughs. I am a master wordsmith!
Most of the cool people left the after party around 7 or 7:30, while I stayed til about 8:30. At which time, I joined the cool people 1 block over at what i’ll refer to as the after after party. This group included the guys from Armor, ConArtist, the Hero Interactive folks, Greg and Alison, John from CMG, Zeebarf and EntropicOrder, a random dev who made a bunch of games I’d never heard of… and then cameos by Sean Cooper, the Nitrome guys, the Thing-Thing guy, and a few others that I can’t recall. This party wound up breaking up around 12:30. At which point we walked home, slightly in the wrong direction because Greg and Alison suck at direction giving, set my alarm for 4:30, and fell asleep.
The trip started off wonderfully, with a 90+ minute delay before I even left. Got into SFO around 12:45 and waited for about 20 minutes until John and Joey’s plane landed. Got bag and left to get a BART into the city. Now, John grew up in this general area, so we trusted him with the simple task of airport navigation to the BART station… and instead we wound up doing a giant loop through a parking garage that put us right back where we started. At that point, I took charge, and we quickly made it to the train and eventually to out swanky hotel.
I guess I should note that I stayed in a suite with Dan, John, and Joey from Armor Games. Dan flew in on Friday to see some friends, so we were expecting him to be at the hotel and get us access to our room. But apparently he was 20+ minutes away, driving an ’82 pick up truck for some reason. We wait and eventually Dan arrives. Our room appears to be too small for 4 people, so Dan decides to get us a swankier suite with plenty of extra space. And a freakish lack of outlets.
Not too much interesting stuff took place in the room… we were pretty tired from the trip in, and took an hour or two to relax before the party that night. Then I get a phonecall from a developer I know, benologist… except I don’t remember giving him my number. He wants to bring another guy I know, who makes music, to the party. Dan, being the nice guy he is, allows this. Except beno called me from a hotel, didn’t tell me his room number, and I couldn’t remember his last name to get connected to him room from the hotel staff.
We head to the party, which is next door to where last year’s Armor Party was. I volunteered to go with Dan in the ghetto cruiser. Thankfully, I did not die. The party was solid. About 30 people, many of which I knew already… few I didn’t. Had a few beers, some food, good conversation. All in all some good fun. With dinner over, it was off to a nearby bowling alley for some heated competition with big prizes.
Me, being the giant douche that I am, brought one of my bowling balls with me from LA… along with my shoes. This did not wind up helping me, as I bowled like complete crap. But, developers tend to not be the most atheltic people… so I still handily won. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, which was the most important thing anyway. The top 5 scorers were put into a drawing for 5 prizes… basically as a method of preventing me from getting the top prize automatically. I really wanted that NetBook too. Instead, that musician that beno brought along wound up getting it… grrr. On the other hand, I now own a DSi… but apparently it does not come with games? Not sure what to do about this, but I’ll figure it out.
After we finished bowling, we still hung around and talked for a bit at the lanes. Then walked back to our hotel with a drunk Weasel (not the Thing-Thing one, the Frantastic Contraption / Streambirds one). We were going to have a nightcap with him at the hotel bar… sadly it was already closed. He left, and we went up to bed.
Not too bad of a first day, in spite of the 5am wake up. Will have storytime on Day 2 later, along with commentary on FGS.
My channel has been top100 views for Gurus and Gaming for a while now, but I’ve never had an individual video in the top100 for Gaming. Until now. Without even noticing it, TITOL1 is #73 all time in Gaming. Which makes it 1 of 4 flash games in the top100 (Red Remover walkthrough, Pandemic 2 instructions, Wake Up The Box walkthrough). Here’s to hoping on getting many more vids in there.
by Tass on Feb.19, 2010, under ArcadeTown, armor games, BubbleBox, Candystand, Flash, Game, jmtb02, Joey Betz, kongregate, newgrounds, NinjaKiwi, NotDoppler, Pastel Games, Statistics, youtube, Zeebarf
I spent some time on 2/17/10 compiling a spreadsheet of my top 100 videos, their aprox viewcount (rounded down to closest 1000), sponsor, developer, and whether the video was featured in-game or not. From there, I tabulated the top sponsors and the top developers (only calculated devs with 3+ videos in top 100, unless they have 800k+ views).
I have 450+ total videos, so this is less than 25% of my total videos… but these 100 account for over 22 million of my 27+ million views, so they are a fairly accurate representation of the whole. Obviously, the farther down the list you look, the less accurate it is (like LegitGames having 1 video on there, but they have 2 others that just missed the cut).
Any questions or additional data you guys would like to see? I did not include the raw list of top 100, nor did I do any analysis of in-game vs not in-game. And TITOL2 is not counted in this list for Armor or jmtb.
So after all this type and posts and whatnot… the game is now out. Play it. Post comments telling me your thoughts on it.
If you need assistance (you probably will… the game is harder than the first!), try this.
Ever wondered what it would be like to work side-by-side with one of your favorite developers and create a game? Well, with This Is The Only Levels 2 slated for release tomorrow, these are my thoughts from the process:
Developing games, when you don’t have to do any of the grunt work, is REALLY fun. I got to come up with a ton of really fun levels and assist with the entire creative process throughout development… without having to do any of that pesky “work”, like coding or making graphics.
A lot more goes into a game than just code and art. Besides all the creative stuff, which we pretty much hammered out on the 1st day, all of this stuff needed to be done as well: UI for the menu and other off-menu screens, game save system, high scores, bonus modes, and API implementation.
It’s amazing how many bugs pop up in the oddest areas. This is something I already know, from all the testing work I do… but that is all AFTER the dev QAs his game. In a game as simple as TITOL2 (same engine as last game, just new levels), we easily found 20 bugs. From a certain level having an unexpected exploit to the save file not wiping deaths when you clear your level progress, and everything in between.
You can’t get too attached to any one idea. Given unlimited time, John could code any crazy level that I came up with… but one level we wanted to use left gravity for the level, so you’d have to jump from left to right on the edges of the platforms to reach the exit. Sadly, the engine (which John said could DEFINITELY handle left/right gravity) did not like this idea. I wasn’t given the full explanation, but it would have taken a lot of time to mess with the engine to get this 1 level to work. Better solution was just to use a different level idea that didn’t make the original cut. One other level that we liked wound up not being nearly as fun in actuality as it was in my head… so again, we tweaked it… and now it’s one of my favorite levels.
Don’t rush the process. The first TITOL took John 12 hours, start to finish. So going in to this project, I thought it would take 2 or 3 days, tops, for this one. It’ll wind up being released on the morning of the 10th day. There’s a lot more extra features in this game, and my level designs are a bit more complex than what was in the first game. Combine that with the AS2 to AS3 conversion… and a 1-day game becomes a 2-week game. At the same time, you don’t want to take TOO much time… when you think everything has been found and is ready, let it loose. I’m really nervous that we’ve overlooked something, or some major bug will pop up as soon as it’s released… but, if that happens, we’ll know about it soon enough. Not much more we can do about it now.
Altogether, this was so much fun. I hope that all of you guys wind up enjoying the game as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it. And give insane props to John… all the little things he puts into games are what makes them great, not my level designs. The UI, the elephant, the polka music, and a dozen other things that I won’t mention so that you can discover them all tomorrow.
6:00 – Wake Up
6:01 – Overwhelming desire to break iPhone and accompanying alarm
6:03 – Sit down at computer to do a quick run through morning routine
6:09 – Shower
6:32 – Dry off from quickie shower
6:35 – Set building queues in HoG and make sure DW guild is in order
6:49 – Lose track of time from trying to squeeze in just one more daily task
6:50 – Get dressed, brush teeth, etc
6:55 – Grab pop-tart and leave
7:03 – Get stuck in traffic on the 101 nearing the 405
7:04 – Start slinging obscenities at LA traffic
7:07 – Decide it’s more fun to mock Colin Cowherd than be annoyed at LA traffic
7:59 – Finally get to downtown LA and onto the 5
8:45 – Arrive outside Armor Office
8:48 – Arrive at Armor Office, having not gotten lost in the passageway to their back-of-the-building suite like last time
8:50 – Commence with the eating of the bagel
8:53 – Give the iron armor-clad sentinels guarding Dan’s corner office dirty looks
9:01 – Get shot in the chest by nerf projectile. Realization that Jared Riley is a cool dude solidified
9:02 – Relief at not being shot any lower. Or higher, I guess
9:05 – Watch John fail miserably at converting the tile engine from AS2 to AS3
9:10 – Start going over level design for TITOL2
9:12 – Relief at my design not being as crappy in John’s eyes as it is in my own
9:20 – Begin going over my stage ideas
9:22 – I am the most creative dude on the planet
9:37 – Damnit, why does nobody else appreciate my masturbation-themed stage ideas
9:38 – Contemplate explaining why we also need a “Droppin’ Loads” level
9:39 – Decide to keep that one to myself
10:02 – Watch Joey play with amorphous cats
10:08 – Transcribe stage ideas onto post-it notes
10:31 – Begin hashing out which stages we’re keeping, and a basic sphere of difficulty
10:39 – We have exactly 30 post-it notes. Cheers of joy
10:51 – Order post-it notes from 1 to 30
11:00 – Make sure that all stages are possible within the current level design
11:20 – One more check to stages and level
11:30 – Chik-Fil-A baby!
11:35 – Arrive at chik-fil-a and continue non-stop talking
11:37 – I’m supposed to order food now, but haven’t stopped talking to look at menu
11:38 – Quickly decide on the spicy chicken sandwich
11:41 – Sit down with John and Joey and notice that all 3 of us have spicy chicken. We are badasses
11:46 – Discussions include old flash rhythm games and creative level design within iPhone crush the castle. We are nerds
12:05 – Back to the office
12:07 – My ghetto laptop turns on. Great success
12:10 – Laptop won’t connect to wifi network and John mocks my AIM 5.9
12:14 – Laptop still won’t connect to wifi, even after super genius trouble shooting methods… such as punching it and calling it a little girl
12:16 – Saved by an ethernet cable
12:21 – Begin work on naming the 30 stages
12:24 – Lament again at the lack of support for my masturbation stage
12:40 – Consult wikipedia for the 6th time as part of my stage name research
12:52 – Names sent back to John
12:57 – More mocking of John, as the tile engine still rejects AS3
1:32 – Still watching John fight valiantly against the evil of AS3
1:41 – Send sarcastic IM to Greg
1:45 – Boast about my amazing game designing skills in IiN
1:57 – Talk to Dan about secret things
2:24 – Continue to mock John’s failure at fixing the engine in AS3
3:01 – John is the man. Engine fixed and is a sexy, sexy beast
3:15 – John approves of my stage name ideas. Where are my 70 virgins
3:21 – Testing in the engine begins
3:24 – Elephants waddling to polka music is the most awesome thing ever
3:55 – More tweaks to level design to make it roomier
4:07 – Verify that all stages will work in the new level design
4:37 – Joey begins tossing out possible stage designs
4:39 – Tune out Joey’s ideas, as they are overly complex and complicated
4:40 – Request once again for my masturbation stage to be considered
5:00 – More testing with elephants and spikes
5:12 – John and I team up to send Greg IMs that amuse us
5:20 – BS out a few extra content concepts so people will play the game more than once
5:35 – Leave office for brewery / restaurant with John
5:48 – Order adult beverage
5:52 – It’s happy hour! Cheap appetizers are demanded
5:57 – Dan arrives
6:12 – Burger ordered. It has bacon, cheese, and an egg on it
6:14 – Sweet potato fries are delivered. Mouth stuffing begins. People really put ranch on fries? Gross
6:23 – John informs us of being pre-approved for his house buying
6:24 – Bad joke made about pre-approval vs approval and the ridiculous terminology used today
6:45 – Burger arrives
6:47 – Burger now also has ketchup and hot sauce on it
7:01 – Alcohol is taking its effect on Dan; he informs us about the Mickey Mouse tattoo on his behind
7:02 – I ask to see said tattoo and am sadly informed that it does not actually exist
7:18 – 1/3 of burger left. It kicked my ass
7:25 – Leave restaurant. Thank Dan many times for dinner and the opportunity to help on the game
7:31 – Arrive back at the office with John to get my car
7:44 – Still talking John’s ear off in parking lot. See annoyed look in his eyes and call it a night
7:47 – Begin drive back home
7:50 – Curse LA for caring so much about the Lakers. Do they play EVERY night?
7:55 – Back on the 5, enjoying some classic rock on KLOS
8:45 – Arrive back home. Exhausted
8:46 – Affirm hatred of LA traffic for the umteenth time
8:47 – Affirm hatred of Whorli. She has all the doors locked and gave me a set of keys with no house key on it
8:48 – Bang on window to get her attention
8:50 – Kisses
8:52 – See that not one, not two… but THREE different companies sent me emails to work on games for them while I was gone. It is a blessing and a curse
There’s more from there, ending in bed around 11:30. But not important to my day with Armor. All in all, it was a really fun day. A great experience. And it’s going to be a kickass game when it’s released next week.
January was shaping up to be a very bad month for me… worst since June, when my content still hadn’t really taken off yet. Then this weekend happened, and while the month was still sub-par compared to the previous few, it at least made it respectable. Why was January going to be such a bad month? A few reasons that I can think of… I was away for almost 3 weeks at the end of Dec / start of Jan, and made almost no videos in that time. Between Dec 11th and Jan 14th, I didn’t have a single monetized video do even 50k views… and all told, I only made about 20 vids. Not many games released over the holidays, and those weren’t very good. Also kids off from school go away on vacation during this time, etc etc.
This weekend changed that. The past 7-10 days, some good games started to hit my plate… i remain, werebox, and foreign creature 2. The planets aligned, you could say. The result was 3 of my 4 best days in terms of both ad impressions and money made (excluding my one crazy click-fraud day) and 3 of my 5 best days ever in terms of views (including #1). First, weekends always produce more views than weekdays… for obvious reasons. But what happened this weekend to cause this massive jump? Let’s look at these graphs I pulled from Insight:
(ignore that it says 1/30/10… for some reason Insight always displays the graphs as 1 day earlier than they actually are).
The least expected, and biggest, reason for this weekend’s success is that Addicting Games added This Is The Only Level to their site on Friday, leaving in the walkthrough link in-game. This pulled in 40k+ hits alone, each day… compared to the 4-6k/day it had been doing for the past few months. Second, WereBox… although I’m not 100% sure why yet. It’s on BubbleBox, but didn’t take off until 3-4 days after release. It’s on a few other mid-large portals (notdoppler, gamesfree.ca, etc), but none of the largest ones (just went onto Kong today)… yet it pulled in 25-30k for the past 3 days. Third, i remain was given a completion badge on Kongregate on the 26th (Tues), so it was already starting to taper off by the weekend. It also has yet to hit any of the other large portals. So those 3 alone were 80-85k/day views (out of the 150-160k for each day). Add to it Foreign Creature 2, Cargo Bridge Armor Edition, Alice is Dead Ep2, and Demo City 2 all contributing 5k+ each and then 400 other videos, it works out to 150-160k a day.
Basically, what this says to me is that this was one hell of a weekend… and it might not be over with yet. Numbers are definitely dropping big time today, as expected, but when WereBox and i remain hit the other large portals, it should jump their numbers big time. Plus I have 2 videos sitting finished on my desktop for Kongregate (one probably won’t do very well, the other will do at least decently with upside potential to do well). I have 2 games waiting to hit my desk for another site, one of which will do VERY well. And, let’s not forget about TITOL2… which might be released as early as Friday of this week.