Friday, February 27, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

I've been hard at work on Brainiversity 2.

It's shaping up really well and has some brand new features that weren't in the original. It's playable now and we will have a version to show people very soon.

This weekend I'm taking my daughter to stay overnight with Nanna and visit her cousins. Should be fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

iPhone Games

Okay, I'm not an iPhone developer (yet) - but I am an iPhone user and avid iPhone game player.

I only recently got my iPhone and have a lot of games to catch up on, so I have been downloading a lot of "lite" games. In the iPhone world, a lite version is a free version of an app with limited functionality - kind of like the PC shareware model.

What I find fascinating is the price of the games. They start at US 99c (that's $1.19 Aussie dollars) and go up. A lot of games from big publishers are in the $6.99 to $9.99 region, games like Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D and Super Monkey Ball.

As pricing for games go, these are pretty amazing - and I'm finding the 99c price point an impulse buy for me. I can download a game instantly and play it for less than it costs to buy a can of Coke or a chocolate bar.

However some developers aren't happy with the 99c price point, and there are some interesting articles on app pricing and how it affects sales.

I must admit, with my game player hat on I love the 99c price point - I've bought 3 apps in 2 weeks - Sneezies, Distant Shore and iDracula. But when I put my game dev hat on I wonder how anyone can make money off a 99c game... I guess time will tell.

In the meantime I'll be playing and buying a lot more games for my iPhone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Indie Games on JJJ Radio

Triple J radio's current affairs show HACK did a story on the new opportunities for indie game developers in the current economic climate. I spoke about being an indie and what that entails.

You can listen to the show here.

You should also check out Jussi Laakkonen's awesome presentation on starting a new game business that he did at the recent Casual Connect Europe. You can download his powerpoint and mp3 of his talk from his blog here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unplanned Indie

I have a number of friends who have unfortunately been made redundant recently - and for some of them this may be the time to try going indie.

Going indie takes some planning, you need to have a structured goal of what you want to achieve. It can be hard to make a plan and stick to it if you're unexpectedly thrust into the situation - so here are some tips for dealing with a sudden foray into indie territory.

1) Have A Clear Goal.
Plan out exactly what you want to do and stick to it. It's up to you, and you alone to make a game and get it onto market. There is no time to chop and change.

2) Don't Waste A Second.
You have limited time to make a game. The faster you get it out the sooner you can make money and hopefully keep being an indie. There's plenty of time to surf the web later. Right now your goal should be to work like your life depends on it - because if you want to be an indie it does.

3) Think Small.
Be realistic with your indie game. Develop a project that can be done by one person or a small team. Don't try and make a sprawling RPG or an FPS to compete with Halo. It's also worth noting that a possible strategy is to clone another successful game (but improve upon it). This gives you a head start by having a game that you can refer to for the basic design. Again, try and build on it and don't just copy it.

4) Do Everything Cheap or Free.
Save your money for living and maybe for some inexpensive outsourcing. There are plenty of tools that will allow you to make a game for free. You already have a computer (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this) so you shouldn't have to spend any more money on hardware or software.

5) Know Your Market.
Take some time out to research the market - be it casual, iPhone or indie/core gamers. See what's in the top 10, understand why it is selling and learn from this.

6) Network, Network, Network!
Get in touch with other indie developers, start talking with potential publishers and producers at portals. This will give you a headstart when you submit your game.

7) Be Realistic.
When you release your game and if it makes any money, it can take up to 6 months before you see a cent. Have a plan for how you will live while marketing your current game and developing your next game until the money comes in.

8) Don't Rely On Friends.
Unless its for moral support. If you need art, music or any other actual work done for your game then outsource it or do it yourself. You are making this game to change your life - your friends are involved because you asked for some help and they're nice people - but their life probably doesn't depend on getting the game out ASAP. The last thing you need is your game delayed while waiting for some music or art. Use or better still, look on the web for public domain art assets. This may mean designing a game that makes use of existing free assets, but this isn't a bad thing. A bad thing is having stuff out of your control.

10) Get To Market ASAP!
I just wanted to make this point again. This is very important. You can't sell a single copy of your game if it doesn't exist. And the sooner it exists the sooner you can make money to pay the rent. And the more games you have the more money you can earn. It's pretty simple really.

These are by no means a complete list of tips. And of course releasing a game is only one part of the equation - you need to market it - the best game in the world won't sell a single copy unless people know about it. But that's a whole other blog post.

Please let us know if you have any other sage advice!

I've blogged about this before - here some of my previous entries that you might find useful:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What They Play

What They Play is a video game site for parents to help you navigate your way through the huge number of games vying for your kids attention (and your money).

Unfortunately, a lot of games aimed at kids (and mums) don't get reviewed - so a site like this is a godsend. Run by John Davison (ex EGM editor, hard core gamer, and dad) the site has some serious gamer cred behind it.

They also have a podcast which you can subscribe to here.

So if you want know which games are good for getting your kids to read, or would like the facts on Pixie Hollow, then check out What They Play now!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Twitter - all the cool kids are doing it

And to get you started with twitter, here is a list of game industry tweets for you to follow:

Now you can keep up to date with every move of your favorite game developer. It's not stalking when they give consent :-)

Oh, and if you're interested, you can follow me on twitter here:

I'm not the best at regular updates (I tend to forget I have a twitter account), but I'm trying to improve!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Game On - Top 10 Tips on Working in Games

As part of the Game On exhibition at the State Library in Brisbane, the organizers have a series of panels and talks called More Than Games. Today I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel titled "Top 10 Tips for Working in Games".

It was a lively panel hosted by Yug from Australian Gamer with fellow panelists Matt Ford and Gordon Moyes.

The advice given covered networking, creating a good demo, researching the company you're interviewing with beforehand, being honest and the importance of team experience.

We'll be writing up the tips and you'll be able to read them on the Game On site. I'll post a link when they're done.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

iPhone 101

I have to hand it to Apple - they have an excellent developer program for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Everything you need to develop iPhone apps is free to download from their site. They have excellent documentation, a number of informative videos available from iTunes, as well as a number of project templates and sample code files to get you started developing fast.

I'm having a blast reading and watching the tutorials and just absorbing this whole new dev environment. Much more fun than watching TV! :-)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Jace Hall Show

Jason Hall is probably best known as the founder and CEO of Monolith (No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R.) and general manager of WBIE (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment). Now, with his company HDFILMS, he has an interesting show on Crackle in which he mixes it with video game creators and Hollywood types like the awesome Seth McFarlane (Family Guy).

Luckily for you this is the internet age, so rather than read my description of what it's all about you can just click on the movie below and be watching it within seconds! So go ahead, check it out!