Beware this is the first postmortem I’m writing!
The idea & concept
Boiiing! was not supposed to be a real game, it was just a fun Ludum Dare 31 #LD48 Jam that I did with my kids. As per usual my #LD48 challenges only last for about 10 hours and are not that serious, I just try to learn new things. After playing around with the simple physics and 2D world that we created I just fell in love with the concept!
Making the game – Boiiing!
Boiiing! started as LD48 project that I did with my kids. My kids are 4 and 6 years old so they had some really funny and crazy ideas. Their first order was: Make a game where you drive a hot wheel car and it was really important that you should jump over a purple octopus arm!
As per usual I didn’t have any design specs or similar. I just developed the game and one small feature at a time and performed a lot of play test. Most ideas I had was implemented but some are still left on the todo list. I use Unity3D as a game engine (yes even for 2D games) and making fast proptypes is very easy!
From the start I wanted very basic graphics, most of the initial graphics was actually drawn on paper and then imported into Gimp.
On this game I wanted to focus on building or using a nice GUI, most of my previous games have very ugly looking GUI’s. But after several attemts I found that I didn’t have the skills to do it and deiced to use a bough asset from gamedevmarket.net.
I did the same for music and found some great tunes on incompetech.com
I’m a hobby dev so that means working on weekend and evenings, I probably spent around 80 hours on this game so far.
After a few weeks I badly needed some feedback to make sure that I was on the right track.
This is not the first game that I made and I know how important and dangerous feedback is! Wait, did I just write dangerous? Yes feedback can be dangerous. Before asking for feedback you should ask yourself why are you asking for feedback, is it because you truly want hard honest feedback or is it just because you want a positive boost or a pat on the back?
Getting negative feedback in any game development project can kill the entire project for you if you are not ready for it. However waiting too long to get feedback can be dangerous too, what if you spend a whole year on a game and everyone else thinks its utterly crap?
For my games I’ve found something that works pretty well for me. First I show it to my family to get feedback (I do this very early in the development process), then I step up and show it to a limited set of friends that I trust. Watching how they play my games is interesting and scary at the same time.
When I’m ready and usally this is when I start to feel stuck in the level design I usually upload my games to kongregate.com . Then I ask more people to try and promote it. This is really a really important step but at the same time also the first step where you will get honest feedback, and yes people are really mean some times too. So be sure that you are ready for it and can handle it, stay cool and let people have their opinion. I always reply to feedback but if somebody is rude I just drop it, no point in arguing about something that you cannot win. I use kongregate.com because its my main target and its easily accessible.
My final step is to launch a beta and this time I tried the wpbeta.me service.
(Sorry about this long section but its important and have wrecked some of my early projects before I dared to release any games)
What Went Wrong
Feedback: The feedback that I got from play tests and the beta didn’t provide enough details to make proper design decisions. So in the end I decided to launch the game with “just” 12 levels. One of the hardest things for me to do is good level design and I quickly get frustrated.
Technology: The technology I used is something that I’m used to but this is my first “platform independent” game which caused and still cause some problems with multiple resolutions.
95%: As per usual (although I’m old I never learn) I feel that I was near the completion of the project and started to prepare, screenshots, icons, marketing texts and all the things you need to release a game. This took 1000% more than I had expected and several parts that I wanted to do is still in progress.
Analytics: By using analytics in the beta process I could determine how many levels each user completed and how long they spent on the game. This very valuable and will be essential for the launch.
I still feel it was the right decision to launch the game when I did but I will add a lot more content before I launch it on IOS or Android.
What Went Right
Concept: The game concept was simple enough for me to stay very focused and I could envision the whole game from the start. I knew I wanted to make a simple game and get it out to the market fast, my last project I spent 2 months working fulltime and its a failure compared to my other earlier game projects.
Music: I selected the music very early in the process and that made me realize that I should stay with the cartoony style and then a lot of other things fell naturally into place.
Passion and love are both very strong driving forces and in this project I found both of them early in the project. This is the first game ever that I feel that I do not hate once its done, most of the time I release games when I’m sick of them
Note to self: doing the final bits of any game project no matter how small always take a lot of time!
I do have some marketing stuff that I want to do, a short trailer, possible a press release and then working on spreading the word a bit more. I have a minor update that I’m working on and lots of plans for things to add. BUT I will actually only do them if this game is successful, and what does that mean for me? I want some confirmation & feedback that I’m on the right track and I want people to play my game, how many well lets wait and see but a few thousand would be nice.
Take the game for a spin on Kongregate.com or try it on Windows Phone
Results week 1
So how did the game do after 1 week?
So far I’m pretty happy with the results. Its clearly not a mega hit yet and I didn’t expect that. Most sessions last between 1-3 minutes which is pretty good for a game with just 12 levels. Looking at the numbers of sessions so far users do no appear the play the game on a regular basis.
I’ve noticed that level 5 was way to hard and 72% of users gave up at this point, I shuffled the levels around and did some tweaks which improved the results a bit.
Here are my most important KPI’s right now. Later retention will be a very important factor but its pointless to measure on just a week.
Results 1 month
After one month we have 2 634 downloads which is a nice number and about 19 reviews with an average of 5/5.
I was lucky and got feature by Microsoft in: Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia (English), Bahamas, The, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Serbian (Latin)), Brunei, Cambodia, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Luxembourg (Dutch), Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Tonga, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Armenia (English), Bahrain, Bhutan, Finland, Gambia, The, Guyana, Ireland, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, FYRO (Macedonian), Norway, Oman, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Tajikistan
This was amazing and resulted in a nice bump when it come to daily downloads!
During this period I’ve had about 1 update per week with a few new levels which brings the total level count to 19.
The goal is to add a few levels per week.
On the 1st of November I also published the game on Windows 8.1 Store, that will be interesting as this is my first game on the regular Windows Store.
The KPI’s are the same as before, retention is still a bit early to investigate but its clear that a lot of users only try the game once.
All in all I’m ok with the result but still not truly happy about it, I was hoping that more people would play it more than just once. So to sum it up I need to work on the conversion rates.
Downloads 1 month
Number of sessions 1 month
Session length 1 month