Paparazzi Puncher Released

A simple / small game that I made over the weekend:

Compete against others around the world for the most number of punched paparazzi! Just tap then punch. It’s that easy and that hard. You play as a celebrity bodyguard, on the way to a big premier celebrity event. It’s your job to punch the paparazzi that run up to the celebrity. That’ll show ‘em! So what are you waiting for? Start punching!

App Store Download

Google Play Download

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Shroud of the Avatar Website + Update

The past several months have been busy. The biggest change has been switching to a new company at my day job, which has taken a while to get used to. I had started a small mobile game project but there were too many physics calculations and it proved to be too much work to optimize it for mobile. It was proving to be too time consuming and not worth the risk / reward.

I was able to get a little work done on one of my bigger desktop game projects, still untitled, but a mix between the modern X-Com game and the older Jagged Alliance games, but set in a medieval fantasy world. The idea is to setup a mercenary company, recruit different classes, build bases, and go on missions, all set in a turn based strategy / resource management game. It’s an extremely large project so I’ve still got a long way to go to be able to show anything.

The other game project I’ve been working on is a smaller mobile game. I’m still prototyping out the idea, but I think the basic premise is a top down scrolling game, where you act as a bodyguard to celebrities walking through crowds. As crazy fans rush to the star, you have to knock them out.

I’ve also been working on a small side project website called for a game I’m really excited about, Shroud of the Avatar. I just recently got the site online, and I’m still doing quite a bit of work on it, but check it out if you get the chance.

June / July Update (Refactoring)

It’s been a busy two months. Most of my development has been refactoring. It’s really interesting going back and looking through my old code for game. Sushi Go Yobi was my first released game and I spent maybe a year of off and on work to get it to release. When I went back to refactor, I took a look at how messy everything was and just redid everything. It took about 3 weeks to completely rewrite most of it. The other refactor was Free Climber. This was my second release, and the code was a little better but that’s not saying much. Again, I rewrote most of the game and this time it took about 2 weeks.

I refactored all of the code in Sushi Go Yobi and changed some of the mechanics to make it a bit easier or more ‘fluid’. I’m releasing it as a brand new game called Sushi Free on the App Store, which will be free with in app purchases. It should be release any day now, I’m just waiting for the review with Apple to finish up.

The code for Free Climber was also completely rewritten and optimized. Some of the previous code was truly cringe-worthy: the climber has to grab on to “holds” to pull himself up the mountain. Each hold is a type of joint in Unity, and the strength of that joint is set when the climber is created at the start of the game. It basically determines how easy it is to hold on to the “hold”. I actually had a statement to look through every single game object in a scene and build a list of the game objects that were tagged as ‘hold’. On the first level there are over 600 holds! Incredibly inefficient. So all of those things were rewritten.

The other news was being accepted into Microsoft’s Developer / Unity partnership program, so I got a free copy of Windows 8, a Microsoft Dev license, and a free Windows 8 Phone to test with. So part of the time rewriting Free Climber was implementing some Windows Phone stuff. It’s out on the Windows Store now, but I still need to implement in the in app purchases for it.

Next steps:

I want to add a challenge mode to Free Climber, and see about porting it over to Android as well. And I want to start porting Sushi Free to Windows Phone and Android. After that I might take a little break from the mobile space and go back to working on Modern Tactics.

Sensor Tower Review

I wanted to take some time to write up a review about a service I’ve been using called Sensor Tower. It’s a website that have several tools to help optimize your game in the App Store.

What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

Simply put, it’s a way to get more downloads. Marketing is a crucial component to a successful game on the App Store, and for many indie game developers like me, it’s more of an afterthought. If you’ve done much research into buying ads for your game, unless you’ve got the budget to compete with the likes of Candy Crush, it’s probably not going to make much of a difference. The same goes for paid reviews.

So what’s an indie developer to do? That’s where Sensor Tower comes in. It’s a way to research what keywords will best serve your game, so that when players are searching, you’re game is more likely to come up on their list of results. If you’ve ever done any SEO it’s a very similar concept. You want players to be able to find your game as easily as possible, without having a massive marketing budget.

What’s Sensor Tower do?

Sensor Tower will help you narrow down your list of possible keywords to those that are most likely to result in more downloads. Once you have a list of keywords, Sensor Tower will give you a traffic rating and difficulty rating, from 1 – 10.

sensor tower traffic difficulty

If you find keywords with a high traffic and low difficulty, then you can set yourself up to capture more downloads. It’s recommended that the traffic score be at least 4, but with scores less than 4 with a low difficulty that are relevant to your game, you could find success in that niche as well.

My Process

The game I’m currently working on is a free version of one of my previous paid apps, Sushi Go Yobi. I start with the Keyword Research Tool and just type ‘sushi’. This gives me the following list:

sensor tower research

This basically gives me a list of my competition. I can go through my best competitors and use the Keyword Spy tool to see what kind of keywords they are using. This way I can generate a list of initial keywords to research.

There’s also a Suggest Keyword feature. You can ‘seed’ this with a list of keywords, and it will generate additional, relevant words to research.

Once you’ve done some research and you’ve come up with a large list of keywords, the next took I use is the Keyword Optimization. I’ll just copy/paste my list and it will do a quick analysis and point out some helpful tips about the keywords.

sensor tower keyword list

This is my initial keyword list for my previous game, Sushi Go Yobi.

Like most areas in game development, it’s an iterative process. You start with something small (a single keyword), and start building your list, researching, optimizing, refining, and iterating through the process again.

If you’re like me, you would rather spend time actually making games. But to ignore this aspect of game development can really limit getting your game into the hands of players. I would recommend Sensor Tower to someone in my same position – it’s fairly intuitive (although I do think it would help if they provided a ‘Getting Starting’ guide), and it really speeds up the process of ASO. For me, that’s the largest benefit; it gives me more time to focus on making games, and does a lot of the heavy lifting of ASO for me.

Check out the Sensor Tower home page, and the Sensor Tower blog for a lot of really good suggestions or sign up for their free trial and check it out yourself.

May Update

No major updates this month. I’ve had a few non gamedev projects take up some of my time. It’s always a struggle for spending my limited time away from my day job. I want to primarily make games but I need to spend my time doing the things that are most profitable. It’s a strange balance that doesn’t seem to have much of an equilibrium.

Anyways, I’ve had two projects I’ve been working on. I started Sushi Go Yobi Free. I’m planning a lot of upgrades, bug fixes, and reworking a lot of the core concepts. I’m really excited to see how this one does. I’m taking a short break from the initial work on Sushi to work on a iOS port of CivClicker. It’ s a game that plays off the recent popularity of Cookie Clicker and really expands on it with a Civilization theme. I really enjoyed playing it and contacted the original creator, asking if he would be okay with me porting it to iOS, and he didn’t have any problems with it.

So I’d like to finish that up, then release Sushi Go Yobi Free. After that, maybe it will be time for a desktop game?

New iOS Game Skeleton Slayer Released!

I made another short game in the style of my previous game, Zombie Raid, but I wanted to improve on everything. I made it 3d this time, a variety of levels, and different wizards that can be selected. It’s a game where different types of skeletons advance on your position and by flicking your fingertip you make your wizard throw a spell in the direction of the flick. As time goes by, more and more skeletons appear.

It’s completely free, so check it out.

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Screenshot Saturday

Right now, I’m working on a video game adaptation of the table top game Spycraft 2.0. It will be a turn based tactical / rpg game. This past week I’ve been working on character creation. In Spycraft, like most table top games, character creation is a massive ordeal. So I’m only about 20% of the way this process.

One hurdle I would run in to in the past, when I would try to prototype out a game like this, is how to incorporate complicated gameplay features that would span multiple character levels. For instance, during the character creation the player selects a feature that gives them a +1 to a certain skill, and then every 3 levels afterwards they get another +1. I struggled with a solution that wasn’t really messy. I finally decided to create a Level Up Modifier class that keeps track of all the benefits that should be gained and at what level.