Starting this irregular development blog with some thoughts rather than tech features, because sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough.
The recent work from Gavin and Craig of Retro Dreamer has been really inspirational for me. To use a dull business term, they’ve pivoted – releasing a lot of smaller scale but wide appeal games instead of focusing on bigger, more time-consuming but potentially more interesting to them projects. I really don’t know if it began as a joke with the release of Happy Poo, but it definitely signaled the start of a change.
At the end of a very unproductive 2012 I realized I needed to start working faster too, and looking at my in-progress games made me realize they needed a lot of work to get them to a level I was comfortable releasing, so I started what was supposed to be a quick, silly little thing, WIGGLER. I went in with the intention of making a cute little game like Retro Dreamer, but then things got a bit weird:
It’s a simple little game – eat fruit and avoid bees, really nothing more than a one joke novelty about dubstep. I was pretty much done with it around the end of January so I threw it on TestFlight, whereupon Gavin proceeded to tell me all the things wrong with it.
He identified these points:
- You don’t feel like you’re in control
- Is the epilepsy-inducing strobe light a power up? Is it bad? If I felt the need to put a disable option in the settings, does it even need to be there at all?
- You lose interest in the game before the timer runs out, mainly because you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing
Now, to be honest I was feeling the same thing in the back of my mind, but ignored it because hey, it’s just a little joke. But Gavin bringing these points up made me realize that if I released it as it was, a couple of people might download it, chuckle, and never open it again. While I’m not going to be selling this, I also don’t want to have basically wasted my time – the one thing that no mobile developer has – on a self-indulgent joke.
So I put more time into presenting it as a game. I’ve redone the controls instead of sticking to my total cop-out of “figuring out the controls is part of the fun!”. The lil’ wiggler still squirms about all physics-like, but now it’s direct manipulation from closest point to where you drag (Sorry Gavin, no tilt. I had tried it originally and it just doesn’t work). I got rid of the two-minute timer and replaced it with 3 lives – I thought about having just the one life but I’d be wasting the whole dubstep joke! I changed the intense whole screen strobe effect to a much slower pulsing of the wiggler. And finally, I added a quick introduction tutorial including an explanation of the scoring.
This time I actually had fun testing it, trying to last longer, beat my score. Then I started wondering if maybe I could actually monetize this? There could be a store, items to buy, customize the wiggler or provide boosts – the usual stuff. So I got to work on coding all that and prepping the art.
..but I think I’m going down the wrong path, so I’m cutting the shop and releasing it, with Chartboost & banners on iOS (and probably IAP to remove them; I know some kids enjoy messing with it and I’d like to give the adults the option of no ads) and ads for my own games on BB10 (breakeroids was chosen for BB’s $10k commitment, which would be great if it was already on track to make $1000 this year but right now it isn’t). It’s funny that I’m doing this just as Gavin posts a piece on spending time to get your game right without rushing it out but to be honest, I have no motivation to work on this game right now and I need to pursue things that might actually earn some money. Psychologically, it’s really important for me to call something finished and release it, as I’ve spent a lot of time recently updating old projects for BB10 releases and I’m feeling stagnant.
So, WIGGLER is done, submitting to places in the next day or two, and then I can start work on.. ..who knows right now? I have so many awesome ideas I want to work on 🙂