January 30th, 2017
INKS is a pinball game that uses levels instead of a single table. Each level has a table with a series of colored targets to hit. Hitting all the targets finishes the level.
When you hit a target the ball becomes a paint ball with the color of the target you hit. Hitting additional targets blends the color of the paint. The rolling ball paints the table. As you play the level, the table takes on the look of a Jackson Pollock painting.
INKS costs $2. If you like pinball or creating abstract art, INKS is worth the price.
January 26th, 2017
I recently browsed through the word game section of the App Store and discovered something disturbing. LetterMiner does not appear in any list of word games. I navigated my way to the list of word games and found the following categories:
- New games we love
- All-time greats
- Decipher the word
- Play against the clock
- Word battle games
- Play and learn
- Free games
Since LetterMiner is a free game it should be in the list of free word games. But when I clicked the See All link, LetterMiner was not there. There were trivia games and state capital games in the free word games category. The game 2048 was in the list but not LetterMiner. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a free word game to appear in the list of free word games.
I find this discovery depressing. Somebody looking for a word game on the App Store has no way of finding LetterMiner unless they know the title of the game. Nobody can stumble upon my game on the App Store. No wonder LetterMiner has so few downloads.
January 19th, 2017
It’s been almost two weeks since I launched the iOS version of LetterMiner. So far 43 people have downloaded it. I have a smash hit on my hands.
The most surprising data iTunes Connect has shown me is only 10 of the 43 downloads are from North America. 22 downloads are from Europe, and 11 are from the Asia Pacific region. With LetterMiner not supporting languages other than English, I expected most of the downloads to be from North America. Maybe people in the UK appreciate the fact that LetterMiner’s word list includes both the American and British spelling of words, such as COLOR and COLOUR.
January 16th, 2017
The title of this article is my advice to anyone trying to get started as an indie game developer. If you’re quitting your job to make games full time, make sure you have enough money saved to make your first free game and your second game.
What Do I Mean By Free?
I mean a game that is completely free. No ads. No in-game purchases. Provide a complete game that people can play for free.
Since this game isn’t going to make you money, you should make a small game. Don’t spend a year working full time on this game. Make something you could finish if you spent 2-3 months working on it full time.
What’s the Point?
Use the free game as practice for getting the word out about your games. Getting people to know your game exists is as difficult as developing the game. If you can’t get people to play a free game, how are you going to get them to buy a game?
With the free game you can figure out what works and doesn’t work in publicizing your games. Use that knowledge on your second game. If you spend 12-18 months making a game and screw up the marketing, you’ll be out of business before you get a chance to make a second game.
January 11th, 2017
I decided to release LetterMiner as a free game. The main reason for this decision is I was unable to build up a buzz for the game while I was developing it. Why bother charging for a game when no one knows it exists?
There are three main ways to make money on a mobile game.
- Upfront purchase
- In-app purchases
Upfront purchase is the way most people buy console games. Someone pays money and gets the whole game. On mobile there are more games to play than people can possibly play. I had a difficult time getting people to try LetterMiner for free as I was developing it. If I couldn’t get people to try LetterMiner for free, how was I going to get them to pay for it?
In-app purchases are a popular way for mobile game developers to make money. Let people download the game and play it for free. Get them to pay for things like additional content and in-game currency. I considered adding an in-app purchase to LetterMiner to unlock the multiple level mode. But I didn’t feel it was worth the effort to add an in-app purchase to LetterMiner so I didn’t.
Ads allow developers to make money while allowing players to play for free. The downside of ads for game developers is lots of people have to play the game to make money. When you play a mobile game and see an ad, the developer gets about one cent from that ad. To make $100 a game has to show ten thousand ads to players. I don’t like to see ads in games. I wasn’t going to annoy people willing to play LetterMiner to make $10 a month in ad revenue.