So, the initial response to the game has been quite divided, which is what we expected. There are those who think it’s funny and like it and those who don’t and don’t. Very, very little middle ground. As a result, it did ok on Kong (and got a pity badge from Greg), but has seen very little early pickup from distribution. More on that aspect of the game’s success will be known in a week or two.
What interests me so much is that the walkthrough has been viewed over 21,000 times. It’s not like the game is hard, at all. Not even remotely. Yet 21,000 views. I’m quite shocked by this, and don’t really know what to attribute it to. I understand that there have been 74,000 clicks on the walkthrough link… but that makes a bit more sense, given there is an achievement for it; but for 30% of those clickers to view it? Either they really like me or they are dumber than I thought. Not sure which is better.
Last Friday in the FGL (Flash Game License) chat, a few of us were talking about random game ideas, and the chat clown Benologist (Ben Lowry) gave one idea that I thought we could make into a game. 3 days late, we have a finished game… he did the programming and art, I did the design and QA. It’s a metagame about game commenters. We think it’s pretty funny.
Play Great Game! 1/5 on Kongregate and rate it 5/5 you like it. <3
I typed “Walkthrough” into my YouTube search bar and waded through the 1st 17 pages of results, which takes us down to 200,000 views per video. ”Walkthrough” returned the results of any video with the word Walkthrough in either the title or description of the video. This should be a pretty all-inclusive list, barring any games besides Ice Breaker that have a crapton of videos for 1 game (I just happened to know about the walks for those games, so I knew to check… no one of the vids has 200k+ views).
The List: Game Name (# of Vids) – Total Views in Millions – Ave Views/Vid
- Red Remover (2) – 11.4 – 5.7
- This Is The Only Level – 2.8
- Wake Up The Box – 2.6
- Poptropica: Nabooti Island – 2.0
- Cover Orange – 2.0
- Use Boxmen – 1.8
- Roly-Poly Eliminator – 1.6
- This Is The Only Level TOO – 1.1
- Poptropica: Big Nate Island – 1.0
- Wake The Royalty (2) – 1.7 – 850k
- Poptropica: Astro Knights (4) – 2.8 – 700k
- Fragger (2) – 1.4 – 700k
- Poptropica: Spy Island (3) – 1.9 – 633k
- Demolition City 2 (3) – 1.9 – 633k
- Poptropica: Counterfeit Island (4) – 2.2 – 550k
- Poptropica: Mythology Island (4) – 2.0 – 500k
- Demolition City (2) – 1.0 – 500k
- Crush the Castle: Players Pack (4) – 1.3 – 325k
- Stadium Sneakout (10) – 1.0 – 100k
- Ice Breaker (40) – 1.8 – 45k
- Ice Breaker: Red Clan (40) – 1.4 – 35k
These are video groups done by 1 person; no mix and matching. Also, no 1 game/island had more than 1 person with 1 mil views on their walkthrough… although 1 or 2 of the Poptropica Islands were close with a 2nd.
Analyzing the list shows very specific types of games that meet this list: Poptropica, Phuzzles, and Puzzle Platformers account for 19/21. CtC:PP is a physics game, but not a phuzzle… and Stadium Sneakout is a point & click that doesn’t really belong on the list at all because each video is :08-:30 long. The top17 are 6 Poptropicas, 8 Phuzzles, and 3 Puzzle Platformers. Finally, I made 8 of the top 18 (8 of 12 if you discount Poptropica).
If you know of any game that I missed, please let me know. :)
My full team is now assembled. As mentioned, Krayz is on programming. Now on board… Kfosh for art and KgZ for music. Kfosh’s art is absolutely perfect for what I’m looking for. As soon as I saw his portfolio, I knew he was the artist for this game. And KgZ… well, James is just a really talented kid who I try to help (and benefit from) as often as I can. He’s my go-to guy when I need to replace in-game audio with something else. Anyway, his usual jazzy style isn’t what this game will feel like, but I’m quite confident in his talent and ability to create something awesome for the game.
Maybe in the coming weeks I’ll reveal the name, so that I can stop calling it “the game”. But not yet.
Last summer I was planning on working on a point and click game, but gave up on it because I wasn’t a big fan of the script that I was writing and where it was going. However, recently, many different people have brought up the point that I have some extra time available and should consider making games, in addition to my other stuff. A few days ago in Impossible is Nothing (our Kong chatroom), we were discussing box2d games and how they make lots of money without having much in the way of original content. So I jokingly shot out the first idea that popped into my head for a funny box2d game. Add in a few hours of planning and refining the concept, and I now have my first game under way.
I’m still searching for an artist, but my buddy Krayz will be doing the programming for the game, and I’ll be hiring someone for a custom audio track or two as well. This game is going to be a test, all around. Do I like being in charge and designing my own games? Is the profit worth the time investment? How much time will I need to invest? Should I do my own level design, or outsource that too? Lots and lots of questions, and hopefully they can be answered in the next 4-6 weeks without me losing money. :)
I don’t want to do an open development, because this is my first project. I want to get it right and focus on it and not have to worry about blogging about it. However, I’ll give updates here and there. I’ve run the concept by a few people… both industry and family, and after refinement it’s gotten positive responses. So if I do a good job on the design, it should do well. The one thing I know is that this project won’t be scrapped like the point and click. This game IS getting made.
So, back in October or November 09, Jamie Young approached me about creating some new formulas for the next Sacred Seasons game. I put together a spreadsheet that featured many different formula choices, all simple and meant to scale in a similar way to SS1. Then I didn’t hear anything for a while. Fast forward to mid December, and I begin speaking to Derek Day, who had been working more on the game’s lore, features, and content. It’s with Derek that I spent the past 4 months.
Initially, I thought I would be making some formulas, maybe doing some class balance. In the end, I wound up laying the foundation for 24 classes each with 4 seasons, 17 different weapon types with 100 total descriptors, 58 monster types, and 60 dungeons with ~2500 battles. Basically, I would get a document with names and ideas on what something would do, and I added values to do it and made sure it’s balanced with everything else. I say laying the foundation, because a lot of the initial work I did wound up being changed, tweaked, or modified by Derek. He and I had many a discussion that revolved around making changes to work I had done, sometimes weeks or even months after the fact. Derek “won” 99% of these discussions, and he managed to change my opinion on about half of them, with another quarter ending in indifference between the two.
I want you to go back and re-read the 2nd sentence of the previous paragraph. Take that in. Then add in the massive world, encompassing 13 areas, tons of quests (I’m not sure exactly how many… but it’s a lot), and all the features that are still planned for future content updates. It’s been a huge undertaking and I only played a small role. But the experience has been fantastic. If I had been allowed to design a lot of the systems and mechanics that I thought I was going to be allowed to design without oversight, the game would not have wound up as complete as it is. I’ve been frustrated on numerous occasions, having spent 10+ hours designing something, only to then find out that Derek wants part, or all, of it changed or done differently. There were times I wanted to bang my head into a wall because I felt my way of doing something was better, yet I was being overruled time and time again. But through it all, I have done what I thought was best for the game’s success… and then adapted to all of the requested changes. I’ve gotten to see and experience what it is like to design an MMORPG.
So, I hope that all of you enjoy the gameplay in Sacred Seasons 2, because an awful lot of time, energy, and thought went into it.
Expect some more game-related posts and post-mortem type stuff in the coming weeks.
I’ve met my fair share of sponsors and developers. I have talked to many others. I get access to games early. This is my job. Yet there are still a handful of developers that when I even think about their upcoming games, I get all giggly inside and think how cool it is that I get access early. I won’t give you any names of who these developers are (I don’t think it would be appropriate), but their games are just so cool that I lose some of my professionalism and feel like a little kid. Those are the games that feel like the farthest thing from work.
Now, why do I bring any of this up? I do have a practical reason. There is 1 developer in particular who I was thinking about earlier today… because I’ve done some work on his games and done a walkthrough or two, yet never charged him for it. I just WANT to help him… no return needed. Plus, I still generate some revenue from the vids, so it’s not like it’s completely free. But I was analyzing the difference of how I feel about the games of this guy compared to my normal situation where I’m being compensated for my time and feedback. I was thinking about whether it’s right for me to not charge one person and charge others, purely because I like his stuff more. And I’m ok with it. The rationalization that makes the most sense to me is because I’m a fanboy. I have my share of my own between FFR, Kong, and YouTube, so I understand how they think and act… and my behavior is quite in line with that.
So I am still a fanboy of certain developers. And I like that I am.
PS – To any developer reading this… don’t get any ideas. .
I’ll try and keep this short: Greg went to add badges to a just-released game. I suggested Möbius Strip as the badge name. So Greg adds it, complete with umlaut. I reload the game page, and it gives me an error. The umlaut broke the game page AND all of /badges/.
So Greg’s solution was to unpublish the game, go home, and deal with it tomorrow. I’m not sure if he knew the /badges/ page was down also… I didn’t mention it to him until about 3 seconds before he left.
Now, the obvious solution to this mess would be to just change out the ö for an o. Yet Greg did not do this… why? He’s not retarded, so I’ll infer the only logical explanation: he has no access/method to edit/delete a badge or badge name after it’s been released. As such, the only thing he could do was disable the game from being played; he has no ability to do anything about the /badges/ page… and hopefully place a frantic call in to one of the engineers or Greers to fix the problem before morning.
I could easily go off onto a whole tangent in regards to Greg’s lack of access, but that’s not my fight. Instead, let’s just bask in the awesomeness that I broke an integral part of Kong’s site and forced the shut down of a newly released, Kong sponsored, and 4.45 rated game! The bad news, however, is that that hurts me… I have a walkthrough in the game.
I spoke with Ada Chen from MochiMedia on the phone before the conference. She was interested to hear what I had to say about improving FGS after I posted my rants in February. That meant a lot to me… it shows that she feels the same way I do, that the conference should try to be the best it can and help the most people possible. We chatted for about 30 minutes, during which time I brainstromed probably a half dozen potential ideas that I felt would improve the event. Sadly, I did not write them all down, but I’ll do my best to re-state my ideas here.
After 2 events, we’ve really driven home all there is to say about monetization. At this point, everyone is an expert on MTs, Sponsorships, Social Games, etc. We know what needs to be done to make money with flash games. However, money begets money… so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever really stop talking about monetization. The goal is to limit it; downplay its focus and instead help people make, produce, and distribute better games.
I liked the 2-room setup, and at no point during FGS10 did I feel like I was missing out in 1 room by being in the other. As such, unless FGS11 becomes massively larger than FGS10, the 2-room setup should stay. But to quickly address… if we had a 3-room setup, I think a good breakdown would be Game Design for a main room, Monetization for a 2nd, and then Misc for a 3rd that would cover stuff like distribution or contracted work and could cover extra overflow from room 1. But for 2 rooms, Game Design as a main room and Other as the other.
The games are the focus. It is Flash GAMING Summit, after all. Topics about the games need to be the center of attention. I mentioned my Game Polish topic to many developers and sponsors, and every single one said they’d love to hear a panel on it. Beyond that, we need topics on music, collaborations, and sequels/games as a brand. These are all core aspects of game design and merit discussion.
I really liked that some talks were only 30 minutes and feel that more of them should only be 30 minutes. As I mentioned in my Reflections, some of the panels were extremely repetitive after 5-10 minutes and it was clear that it was a stretch to get an hour of content from them. Most (if not all) of the ideas from the previous paragraph would work well in a half hour segment.
One suggestion that I gave Ada that I really like is to break free from panels and instead hold more free-form sessions. Maybe invite 8 people up to speak in a roundtable discussion, share stories, and interact heavily with the audience. I feel that this would be a perfect environment for “Storytime With Developers”. I’d love to watch a bunch of top devs shootin’ the shit with each other, sharing horror stories and advice. No moderator needed. Maybe have 2 45 minute groups, or 3 30 minute ones, spread throughout the day. Maybe give them a topic to start with, maybe not.
We should also have topics that cover some lesser discussed issues, as they’re probably going to be more useful. I mentioned above distribution and contracted work as examples of these. My guess is that many people could benefit from a topic about distribution, as most people I speak with seem to always want to know how they can get their games on more portals. As far as contracted work, it’s accepted that it’s hard to land, but extremely profitable. I’m sure many devs would want tips/advice on how to get contracted jobs, what to charge, and how to properly conduct themselves through the project.
Finally, some logistical suggestions, born out of what I saw at last week’s event. The booths were in a horrible location (as they were last year). Hundreds of people trying to navigate a tiny hallway is not a good idea, especially when others are attempting to get into or out of the main lecture hall. There was plenty of open space down in the lobby, near registration… why were the booths not there? Next year, let’s try and place the booths in a more accessible location. Same goes with the after party. I’ll reiterate that an FGS after party should be an FGS after party solely, and not a joint-event with GDC (which many of us didn’t attend and don’t give a crap about). Beyond that, please plan for the amount of people that will want to attend and book a location that can accommodate us all without feeling like we’re on a cattle car heading for Buchenwald. And, of course, remember that the purpose of the after party is not to party… it’s to network; music needs to at least be quieter than a jet engine.
Hopefully at least some of these suggestions will be considered for next year. As I’ve said, I am highly critical of this event… but I really do love it. I want it to be the best. And I’ll continue to attend it for as long as I have the honor of working in this industry.
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.