Free video approvals. Phaser support. Monthly game jam. Developer interviews – Aug 2014 Developer Newsletter
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FGL_Brian: Welcome to the FGL Community Spotlight! How about a quick introduction for yourself and your studio for people who may not know you yet.
FlashRush Games: Hello, everyone! My name is Konstantin, I’m 30 years old. I’m cofounder of “FlashRush Games” development studio/team. FlashRush Games is a game development team from Ukraine. Our team was founded 5 years ago and engaged in RIA development. For the last 3 years we’ve been developing flash games and have released nearly 20 games. We are all very good friends who love to play and make cool games! For more details about our games, you can visit our site - http://flashrushgames.com/
FGL_Brian: So your team was founded 5 years ago; is that when you decided to become a full-time game developer, or were you already making games before then?
FlashRush Games: Members of our team were working together in a specific game industry – developing “Slots” for Casinos. So you could say we’ve been familiar with game development for more than 10 years. We started making our own games, just for fun, for PC using Delphi and C++. And in 2008 we started move to Flash/Web platform.
FGL_Brian: Interesting. I noticed that you’ve worked with over a dozen different publishers / sponsors over the years. What are some of the good things you look for when choosing a sponsor to work with?
FlashRush Games: We’ve had only good impressions when working with sponsors that we find on FGL. The first thing that draws our attention is ML of the sponsor, but the main point now is that sponsor must be friendly and have good communication. With good communication, you can clarify all unclear moments and quickly discuss all the details.
FlashRush Games: As we know, the most important thing about a game is that it brings entertainment and fun for player. Visuals are a half of this pleasure, so main characters must be – emotional, memorable, unique, sometimes crazy. Yes, this helps contribute to a game’s success, but this only a half. The other half is a gameplay experience which must be combined with the characters. We start by focusing on gameplay first, then we try bring life and emotions to the characters. We are constantly remaking characters and gameplay until we find the perfect fit. Smaller details can be added; different “Easter eggs” always help to bring more fun. But strong main characters is a half of success.
FGL_Brian: What are some common mistakes you see first-time developers make? Was there one mistake you made early in your career that you think other game developers can learn from?
FlashRush Games: The main mistake I see is the development of a big game (the game of your dreams) as a first game. Many developers try to do an MMORPG first And I made the same mistake when I started game developing.
I’d like to thank Konstantin and the guys over at FlashRush Games for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for FlashRush, you can follow them on twitter @FlashRushGames or post your questions below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FGL_Brian: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself for people who might not know you yet! Tell us about your studio and where you live.
Firebeast Studio: Firebeast consists of four dudes making games together. We united in 2012 and have been made 7 or more games so far. We are based in Medan, a small city in Indonesia where you can find a lot of tasty food and drinks!
B: Is there a big game development community in Indonesia? How did you guys find each other?
Firebeast: Yes, there’s a big one based in Jakarta at Java but not in here in Medan. We were all working colleagues back then
B: When did you decide to become a full-time game developer? Was it when you all made the studio in 2012, or were you already making games full-time?
Firebeast: It was a tough career decision because these kind of jobs are not very well accepted here yet. Everyone decided to give it a go full-time in 2012. It’s our last hope to survive; it’s all or nothing at all.
B: Well, you’ve taken a steady path to the top. You were releasing pretty successful games before your mega hits ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’. Do you think those earlier games like ‘Evilgeddon’ and ‘Bois D’Arc’ helped prepare you for your bigger successes?
Firebeast: Previous games like Evilgeddon and Bois D’Arc saved our life. We were able to cover the development costs of those games and have enough left over to feed our stomach while we develop a new one. On the other hand, our efforts in making previous games gave us a lot of experience that helped us when creating a new game. It’s almost like we wanted to fail faster so that we can learn and know what’s wrong and what to fix. Without our previous games, I don’t think we could have created something like ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’.
B: I’d like to talk about your character design for a little bit. You tend to make your heroes straight-forward, no-nonsense; pretty standard protagonists. But the enemies you create have a lot of creativity and personality and seem so diverse. Is this something you intentionally focus on or does it just seem to work out like that? Do you like making fun, unique enemies to kill?
Firebeast: Come to think of it, I think you are right! I really didn’t notice that the enemies looked much more distinctive because during the character creation there was no exceptional rule. We used the same concepts in all of our character designs. Maybe the enemies feel different because of the variety. As the game goes on, we always focus on introducing a new enemies even though the player may just be focused on their hero.
Well, I wouldn’t say there’s any specific effort we make when creating distinctive enemies. We just do it! We love to make fun stuff and goof around. For example, there is a cameo of us in ‘Zombo Buster’ where we appeared as a group of secret boss with unique abilities. Then in ‘Mighty Knight’, we played too much DOTA and you’ll see some DOTA-like monsters are there. Our new game ‘Zombo Buster Rising’, we watched too much ‘Attack On Titan’ and there you go, a gigantic boss.
Firebeast: Beware of the pounce…!
B: So, another thing I noticed about your games on FGL is that your studio holds some of the highest Thumbnail icon ratings we’ve ever seen. Your average icon hotness score is over 75%, and the original ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’ both scored over 91%. Is that something you focus on? Do you find that a good thumbnail helps get a sponsor’s attention?
Firebeast: We believe that the thumbnail picture is your main weapon to draw attention to your game. So that’s why when creating the icon, we are very strict. We could even make 3 – 6 different models to compare. However, deciding is usually easy for us because while the artist gives his best when creating the icons, he is also the one who analyzes them. I really have no idea how he does this, but just now I asked him and he said, “It’s instinct!”
B: So, now the thing everyone is excited for: Zombo Buster Rising. Everyone is excited to play this game! Was making this game fun for you, or were you nervous to follow the huge success of the original?
Firebeast: Making the game was fun! Tweaking and adjusting game elements has never been this easy and I could say ‘Zombo Buster Rising’ is Firebeast’s most balanced game yet. Since the game is rather simple, we don’t know what to expect but we’re excited to let the players decide. We noticed that there hasn’t been a 2D shooting defense game in some time, so I hope this one will satisfy players looking forward to it.
B: So what does the future hold for Firebeast? Any clues as to what your next project is (if you’ve thought about that yet)?
Firebeast: Right now, Zombo Buster Rising is seeking sponsorship. We are also learning Unity and mobile stuff but we are working on something secret, quite big, could be quite new and could bring a nostalgic feeling for 90s gamers.
B: Oooooh secret stuff! Exciting! So to wrap this up, I had a couple of Lightning Round questions for you. Ready?
B: First and foremost, of dire importance: How did you decide on your studio name?
Firebeast: Just magic, we talked about lots of stuff and somehow came up with Firebeast
B: What were your favorite games as a child? And what games are you playing these days?
Firebeast: I am a huge fan of Metal Gear Solid, I beat MGS PSX when I was fifth grader. I am also addicted to Pokemon, I’m playing one of those games now. Last but not least, my daily food, DOTA.
B: What was an early mistake you made when you were first developing games? What are some common mistakes you see first-time developers make?
Firebeast: My mistake was failing in the testing phase. I was so optimistic that I skipped the beta test which is the most important part. I lost the opportunity for feedback, the impressions, the suggestions, everything that could make the game better and better.
The common mistakes for the first-time developers? Mostly they try to go too far. It should be a small, simple and quick game. Why? Nobody makes a hit the first time except by luck, so try to fail faster! The more you fail, the more you know.
B: Great answers. Last one, as requested by FGL users: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a developer looking to make the leap from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’ like you did?
Firebeast: Analyze what people like to play; it could be a theme, features, design or others. Ideas are cheap but execution does the real thing. Even a simple idea could turn into a big hit if you make it right. Last but not least, believe in your game and don’t give up. Beginner’s luck is 1/100000000000 chance so don’t rely on it.
B: Thanks so much for sitting down with us for this interview! Before we wrap things up, do you have any ‘shout outs’ to give to anyone?
Firebeast: Thanks to FGL for selling our games. Thanks to sponsors for hosting our games. Thanks to players for playing our games. Thanks to Valve for creating DOTA. Thanks to Internet, especially Google and whoever created ctrl+c and ctrl+v
Also thanks to FGL_Brian for interviewing meeee with lot of fun questions, yay!
I’d like to thank the great guys over at Firebeast for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Firebeast, post your questions below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or email at email@example.com.
FGL Community Spotlight – Episode One
FGL is pleased to unveil a new series here on the FGL Forums: the Community Spotlight! In our first interview, we sat down with developer ‘platon_skedow‘ to talk about his recently released smash hit ‘Royal Warfare‘.
FGL_Brian: Thanks for meeting with us, Platon. Why don’t you introduce yourself for the people who may not know you yet.
platon_skedow: Well, my name is Platon Shkedov, I’m 31 years old and live in Russia. I have a wife and two kids – my first beta-testers. I worked as an employee since the late 90s, and started my own business several years ago. At first, I had an office and several employes, and together we made different flash stuff for our customers, but then decided that it’s better for me to work alone – less responsibility, more freedom. And my one-man studio name is Iden Games.
F_B: I noticed you own a website under that name, too. (http://idengames.com/) Do you update it often?
P_S: Several years ago I made my first game, Ragdoll Parashooter. I made that website and published the game with self-sponsorship. The game got a lot of gameplays, and it recouped the development costs several times.
Right now I have plans to make something bigger from this site, but have no time
F_B: I remember playing that game. It was fun! Much more simple than your last game though, Royal Warfare. What was your inspiration for Royal Warfare? It combines two of my favorite genres, Real-time strategy (RTS) and tactical strategy. And it has elements of wave defense. Where did you get the idea for this type of game?
P_S: Hard to say. I think that the game was inspired by Myth 1-2 and Warhammer: Dark Omen. The main idea was to make a TD game, where the towers can move around the battlefield.
I started the development over 2.5 years ago, and it took more than 18 months of full-time work. It was my personal challenge – to make a game fully by myself (well, except of music – it was written, but I decided to take a professional track). There was one difficulty: I couldn’t make art. At all. All my drawings looked like “developer’s art”.
F_B: I thought the art and music ended up being two of the stronger elements in the final version of the game. How did you decide on using these visuals and this music?
P_S: I spent several months studying the basics of art. Then I made the first version of all graphics. Then I remade it all. And again, and again. Some things were changed 10-12 times – until I realized that I really liked the result.
For the music, I wrote several tracks, but later removed them from the game: the quality was too low, and I didn’t want to spend months making them better. So I first figured out what I’d like to hear, and then began to search the music banks. It took another several weeks, and then suddenly I found what I was searching for.
Game development is the hardest way making money I know.
F_B: You made a lot of changes and improvements to Royal Warfare. You used our Pre-Review service, and seemed to implement a lot of the feedback you received. The long list of fixes in your feedback thread was impressive! Do you usually do a lot of “tinkering” with your games like this? Do you mostly do internal testing, or were the balance changes based on external feedback you got from other players?
P_S: FGL helped me a lot here. The game was really raw at first, but it was hard to say after working on it for so long – devs always need an outside point-of-view. The FGL admins’ feedback forced me to review some core elements of the game. I spent another 2 weeks, and the game was ready for release.
However, when I received the feedback from the gamers, I spent another 2 weeks working 12 hours without weekends to fix all the things they discovered and asked for.
F_B: What are you most proud of in Royal Warfare? From your point of view as the developer, not necessarily as a gamer or player.
P_S: Two things: 1. It was made by me and 2. Players really liked it!
You know, after months of development and playtests I still have fun playing this game.
F_B: Haha, that’s the sign of a great game!
P_S: For me the main reward is the player reviews; when I receive lots of emails and comments on different portals.
F_B: Like you said, game development isn’t easy. When did you decide that game development was something you’d like to do as a career?
P_S: Well, I liked games since I was child. I always wanted to make the game of my dreams When I got enough resources, I finished all other projects and started my work. Now it’s finished, and it hits the charts. The players liked it and are asking sequels, mobile ports, a multiplayer version, etc. Looks like I’ve got work for several years.
F_B: Is that the plan for the future? Expanding on this current content? Or do you have new projects you’d like to start soon?
P_S: There are lots of ideas and plans and too little time. I spent lots of time making the ultimate gaming engine and sharpening my skills, and now games development takes much less time. Right now I’m finishing a new game: it’s a shooter / defense game. There are several propositions to port the original Royal Warfare to mobile platforms. Also, I built a multiplayer prototype of Royal Warfare several months ago – it really rocks, but making such games takes really a HUGE amount of time… And I have enough ideas to make a sequel of the RW, and lots of other gaming ideas. Well, all of them are about a war.
F_B: Exciting! Sounds like you have a lot on your plate! I’m excited to see your next game. We’re almost out of time, so let’s answer some rapid-fire questions in the Lightning Round:
How did you decide on the name of your studio?
P_S: It’s a wordplay, hard to translate.
F_B: What were your favorite games as a child?
P_S: Jagged Alliance 2, Myth 1-2
F_B: What was one early mistake you made as a young developer? And what is one big mistake first-time developers tend to make?
P_S: I should have started studying / making games earlier, when I had a lot more free time. And the biggest mistake for young developers is when they decide to make games. Just joking
F_B: Hahaha! I’m sure that will go over well! Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Platon! Would you like to give any ‘shout-outs’?
P_S: Well, I’d like to thank my family for their patience, and two great devs: Ant. Karlov and Johnny-k. Their work inspired me very much.
I’d like to thank Platon for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Platon, post your questions below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the HTML5 market continues to grow, FGL has turned it’s attention towards building out a new and improved GameShop to make it significantly easier, faster, and better to buy and sell game licenses, with or without personalized branding. This exciting new marketplace is now in beta with only a handful of publishers viewing a handful of games. We are in the process of adding more games into the new HTML5 GameShop now.
Also, we would love to hear from any publishers who might be interested in joining the HTML5 GameShop Beta!
The new HTML5 GameShop will help you sell licenses much easier. Here’s an example: let’s say a company comes to you now and says they want a high score API, and all your branding out, and their logos and links in. You have to negotiate the deal, make the changes, deliver the game, and wait for the money. With our system you do nothing but get the money. Since we have your game with stubs for high scores, ads, branding, etc all built in we can merely show publishers how much the game costs (you set that) and then they enter in payment details and click a button to buy the game. Our SDK will automatically insert their branding and APIs etc…
New HTML5 GameShop Features
simple to integrate sdk
dev testing tools to help with debugging common issues
html5 game distribution system
clean/simple shopping experience
shopping cart to instantly buy/sell licenses at dev set prices
automatic branding/site-locking/API integration/etc
shows exactly what you’ll earn (before taxes)
earn more money without doing more work!
If you’re a developers who is interested in getting your HTML5 game into the new GameShop, here’s how!
Getting your games into the New HTML5 GameShop:
Follow instructions to complete Tier 1+ integration
Complete User QA with the provided tools
Add the game to the GameShop from the game’s page
Fix any bugs/issues found by the QA team
That’s it! We’ll take it from here and help you to monetize your game to the best of our abilities.
What’s in it for FGL?
FGL receives 30% of the ad and licensing revenue that is earned through the HTML5 GameShop, most of which will require no additional effort on the part of the developer to be earned.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us or email at email@example.com
Recently, 3 Pyramid Tripeaks (a game developed by Bram Schoonhoven and published by Happy Planet Games) used the FGL Mobile Platform to reach #10 on the Google Play app store for Top Free Games. It also reached a rank of #1 in Cards and #28 in all Top Free Apps!
3 Pyramid Tripeaks was pushed through FGL’s Mobile Platform back in October of 2013 as a premium game on sale for $.99. FGL worked with the developer and publisher to make the game free and monetize it with FGL’s ADsorb ad system which assured the game had the highest cpms possible.
FGL continued to promote the game and when it was apparent that the game had good organic growth FGL organized more specific promotions around the game, which helped raise it to #10 in the Top Free Games category on Google Play.
Said Kelly from Happy Planet Games, who published the game, “Working with the FGL Mobile Platform has been a great experience. I get to focus on finding developers and games while FGL takes care of all the behind the scene details that would otherwise take up most of my valuable time”
Bram Schoonhoven, the game’s developer, also had a great experience working with FGL and their Mobile Platform, saying: “I am very happy to work with FGL, they know what they are doing and always respond fast. I am looking forward to more mobile successes.”
FGL has enjoyed working with Kelly and Bram and we congratulate them on their achievements, and look forward to working with them on future games!
FGL is constantly working to help game developers in every phase of a game’s lifecycle. From development, to publishing, to distribution, to monetization, and everything in between. And though we have our own systems and services to help in all these areas, there are also other great companies that offer services that we think developers should take advantage of.
For years we’ve partnered with companies that wanted to advertise on the FGL.com site. But our system for showing and tracking those ads is really old. It was built in-house and the ad sizes are not industry standard. So, we have decided to overhaul the system. In the near future, you will notice different ads on FGL. Please note that both ad placement and ad content are for testing purposes, and will most likely change, as we find the best ad experience for you. You will most likely even see bland google ads for a while as we do this experiment.
Also, we will not be showing these new ads to sponsors or publishers just yet.
If you have questions or suggestions about ads on FGL please send us some feedback. We always appreciate hearing from you.
And, if you would like to advertise on FGL, or know of someone who might, also drop us a line.
Current state of Flash games on FGL
One of the questions we get a lot is “how are web Flash games selling on FGL?” And, especially since we’ve been pushing a lot on mobile and HTML5 games, developers are increasingly interested – and concerned – about the state of the web Flash game market.
So, we thought we’d put together a little write up about the data we see on Flash games that have been going through FGL in the last year.
First of all, we still see $150k – $250k a month spent on web Flash sponsorships and non-exclusive licenses of Flash games. One thing should be noted, though: some of this money spent is paired with the purchase of the Flash games’ mobile counterparts (sponsors are paying for both the Flash web game and mobile publishing rights together), but not a significant share.
The biggest recent change we’ve seen in Flash games is a significant downward trend in sponsoring high quality games for $10k+ up front. As an example, in the last 6 months we’ve seen 2 games go for over $10k for a primary or exclusive up front amount (though there were a number of games that came very close to $10k). In the 6 months before that time period, we saw 16 games over $10k! And currently in bidding there are only 2 games going for over this number. So, while it is still very possible to achieve these numbers, the likelihood is vastly reduced from just 6 months ago.
The number one factor for this change is due to the very large sponsors diverting their budgets to mobile. This is something almost every, if not every, large sponsor has done. Some to the extreme of leaving Flash altogether. What is interesting is FGL believes that sponsors are prematurely leaving the Flash game market. This is not something we say lightly because we ourselves are heavily invested in mobile and HTML5. In fact, most of OUR revenue comes from the other markets as you can see in our 1st Quarter sales stats (we take a cut of all the revenue developers make). So we have no real agenda in saying this. In fact, most, if not all, of these large sponsors are still working with FGL to acquire mobile games. Before we explain why we think sponsors are leaving the market too early, here’s a little more insight into money flowing through FGL:
Even with the major difference in top game spending, the total money flowing through FGL for Flash games isn’t so drastically different over the same time period. This is due to a couple of factors. 1) Mid-level bids have increased both in their amounts and frequency. The average bid amount for a mid level sponsor is higher over the last 6 months than before, and there are more mid level players. and 2) Non-exclusive licensing has gone up.
For item 1) much of this is obviously due to the big sponsors bowing out. It has created a buyer’s market and even allowed new players to come in and capitalize on the change.
Item 2) is a big reason we believe sponsors are leaving the Flash market too early. A main factor in why non-exclusive sales have gone up is due to companies who had previously left the Flash market, only to return when they saw revenues drop. In particular, one large company we work with redesigned their site to de-emphasize their Flash games, only to redesign it BACK and populate it with more and newer Flash games. Their initial change dropped their revenue significantly, and it rose back up with the change back.
FGL strongly believes all publishers, and developers, should be thinking toward the future, and towards having the biggest mobile presence possible. However, without an already present, and strong, revenue stream in mobile, we advise that you protect any current revenue streams you have with Flash. Furthermore, there’s no reason for these things to be mutually exclusive. In fact, our current advice for publishers is to maintain both a Flash and Mobile portal as well as invest in native apps. This is all very achievable with most publisher’s budgets. Drop us a line if you would like any help in accomplishing this.
In summary, we currently see Flash game sponsorships stabilizing, we seen non-exclusives increasing, and we think that many sponsors are prematurely leaving the Flash game market. It is possible there may be a resurgence in sponsorships from sponsors who don’t find success on mobile, or from new players taking advantage of the gap, but we suggest that developers at least tinker in HTML5 or porting their games to native mobile (or better, both!)