FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with PJBaron

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Five

If you’re interested in joining us for some of FGL’s Community Events, be sure to check out our forums for updates on Game Jams and Contests! This week, FGL Game Night returns this Friday night so stop on by and play some games with the FGL Admins! FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with developer PJBaron, creator of the smash hit racing games ‘Cruisin‘ and ‘V8 Muscle Cars‘ among other titles.

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FGL_Brian: Hello, Pete! Welcome to the Spotlight.  Why don’t you introduce yourself and your studio for us?

Pete Baron: I’m Pete Baron, I’ve been a video games designer and programmer for nearly 30 years, and I operate the web-site and studio www.insanehero.com. For the last… 5? years I’ve been concentrating on Flash games, and am just now starting to expand out into Mobile and HTML5.

FGL: You’ve put out an impressive volume of games.  Do you tend to focus on developing one game at a time, finishing it and moving onto the next one, or do you like to work on different projects concurrently?

PJB: It depends on the project.  A larger project like Aztec God Games takes up to three months full-time, so I work on those exclusively.  A tiny project like Zombaby Bouncer might only take one or two weeks, so I tend to keep a couple of those on the boil at all times.  I like to have a variety of options when I sit down to start each day… if I’m feeling “clever” I’ll take on a tough algorithmic task… but if I’m feeling a bit dopey, I’ll do presentation type easy jobs.  Having a couple of games running out of sync with each other helps give me those options.

FGL: One of the fascinating trends I noticed across some of your more action-oriented games was a unique movement/combat simplification.

PJB: You’re thinking Working Stiffs/Pocket Platoon there?

FGL: Pocket Platoon, Working Stiffs, and Dead Vault all feature this mechanic to some extent

PJB: I’d been playing around trying to bring the old-school game mechanics into a more casual games environment.  Then I saw a demo that Ben the artist had made.  He had these people following the cursor but running away from Zombies… and I thought that works really well! I really liked the old joystick based games, and they converted quite nicely to keyboard controls… but touch screens are horrible for that type of control.  So I was really trying out a series of different approaches to getting that same type of feeling through a touch screen interface.  Ben’s demo showed me one way to move towards that goal.

FGL: Your games have excelled at simplifying the technical demands on the user, using only lightweight, non-intrusive in-level tutorials as needed.  Is this a conscious decision you made during development, or did you gradually arrive at these user-friendly mechanics?

PJB: It was definitely a conscious decision in the first place.  The actual solutions were the result of trying different things one after another and seeing what worked and what didn’t work.  The user interface is one of the most important features of a game.  It’s how the user manipulates the game world and sees the results of their actions.  I believe it’s impossible to understate how critical it is to get that exactly right.  I also think it’s astonishingly hard to come up with a great solution that is ‘new’.  Generally, if there’s a popular game with a similar mechanic, you should always copy it.  Innovation for it’s own sake will very often fail.  But then, I still don’t see many popular touch-screen games utilising the kind of control I’m trying to perfect here… so I’m kind of stuck being forced to try these risky changes!

FGL: We can see some of the echoes of this commitment to the user experience in your highly popular racing games.  The gameplay mechanics are fairly traditional, and the levels are very well-tuned, but you focused on other elements of the games that made them a lot of fun.  What would you say is the ‘magic’ in those games?

PJB: I think a lot of players like to feel that they’re in control but on the edge of chaos.  When I first wrote my Outrun style game engine I concentrated very heavily on that factor.  I still go back to the original settings for V8 Muscle Cars with some of the newest racing games, because I think I nailed it just about right in that one.

There’s a feeling as though you’re an amazing driver when you swerve and dodge amongst the slow moving traffic then take a corner with the rear end sliding way out there… I think that’s gratifying to almost anyone.

FGL: Big time.  Racing games in particular can live or die based on the core mechanics and race difficulty tuning.

PJB: I’m not a great games player myself.  I tune the games so I can *just* beat them if I try really hard or upgrade everything to max.  That seems to be another sweet spot.

FGL: We had a question from the community for you: “You’ve produced a large number of games of varying size / length, but each feel professionally polished.  When you’re wrapping up development on a game, are there any small things a developer can do to give a game that ‘big budget’ feel?”

PJB: It’s mainly the same thing everyone tells you – attend to the details.  There’s nothing worse than starting a game and seeing a bad font, an ugly title screen, poor spelling, or buttons that don’t work properly.  If you have time *after* making sure that’s all correct… it’s always nice to throw in a surprise in the first couple of screens.  Defense 1942 had a verlet-physics dog tag chain that you could fiddle with.  Danger Dungeon flames would react like you were passing your finger through them.  Cruisin has this ‘oil painting’ type title screen, but when you click ‘play’ the car drives off into the distance.  Little surprises really draw the player into the experience right at the start.

FGL: Do you have any new projects you’re working on these days?  Anything coming out soon we can look forward to seeing?

PJB: Well, I’ve got three games up for sale on FGL right now (a new rally racing game, dash n dog, and hedgehog cute)… right now I’m having a go at a “parking” game (on request from a sponsor) but I want to do something a bit different so I’m combining the game mechanics with another popular genre to try a new hybrid. I’ve just written a highscore table (just for fun) which meant learning about PHP, mySql, and TCP/IP communications… that leaves the door open for some turn based multiplayer options which I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time. So at some point soon, I’d like to release a small test game that uses those factors to try to bring a more social element to it.

FGL: Looking forward to that!  Well, that’s all for my questions.  Do you have any shout outs or thank you’s you’d like to give before we wrap up?

PJB: Thanks first to FGL for providing a marketplace which has allowed me to be independent for recent years! A quick shout-out to the artists who work with me to make these games look great, especially Ben and Andrew!

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I’d like to thank PJBaron for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Pete, 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 brian@fgl.com.

 

Mobile Platform Success Stories

FGL Mobile Platform Success Stories – an update on the Mobile Platform

Back in July we shared a success story from our Mobile Platform. Since then, we’ve had a few more games break the top 10 on various Play categories such as Top Free and Top New Free.  We intended to update everyone on these individual successes, but things have been growing so rapidly that we decided to do a larger write up instead.

The growth of FGL’s Mobile Platform

When we started FGL Mobile in late 2011 our goal was to help game developers and publishers in the mobile space, or looking to get into the mobile space, to distribute and monetize their games.  Our first plan of attack was to get games onto smaller markets and OEM channels so that we could build up market share and spread traffic through cross promoting games.

We had great success doing this. We built a system to help convert existing popular flash games to mobile, and we then sold them as premium titles across Nook, Amazon and a few other stores.  As you can see from the snapshot below, taken this month from the Nook store, our success in this area continues to this day.   3 out of the top 6 paid games are from the FGL Mobile Platform.

 

 

However, we’ve always known that, if done right, most of a developer’s revenue would come from the larger markets: Google Play and the Apple App Store.

So for the last year we have focused heavily on Google Play.  Our particular focus is on free games supported by ads since many of the indie developers we work with are used to that model, and premium game sales are almost non-existent these days.

Our foray into Google Play has been extremely successful.  As you can see in the graph below, the games going through the FGL Mobile Platform have enjoyed healthy growth in their revenues thanks to our Google Play efforts.  The different colors represent the different ways we monetize the games: various ad networks, in-apps, premium sales, etc..

 

One of the strengths of our system is that we now manage a portfolio of well over 1,000 games, and we are able to use cross promotions between them to push quality new titles up the charts to point where they can be discovered.

Game Promotion

We wanted to share some details of how we promote games on the Platform.  Unfortunately, not every game has a shot at ranking up the charts, but we give a fair chance to all the games in our system. New games are given enough cross promotion to give us a good sample of data. We carefully look at the usage metrics and natural organic discovery trends to identify titles, new and old, that can succeed.  When we find a title that has potential we put the bulk of our cross promotions towards it as well as targeted paid UA campaigns to push the game up the rankings.

Below are a few examples of this strategy.  You can see how the games shot up the ranking charts from the efforts of the FGL Mobile Platform:

 

One recent hit is a F2P game that published by Tamalaki, Blackstone Mysteries.  It hit #2 in the top new Free charts on September 2nd.

 

And here are some more games we’ve helped top the charts.

 

 

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Currently we are looking for quality games that haven’t been able to achieve a significant audience.  If your game has an LTV per user > $.20 or averages over 6 sessions per install then please contact us.

For smaller games you will still need to go through a publisher but we are working on a self service platform which will open up the platform to all games in the near future.

We strongly suggest developers work with a publisher as we’ve found they can be invaluable to a game’s success.  We’d like to specifically point out Tamalaki (run by everyone’s favorite Martine Spaans) and Happy Planet Games.  Both have built out a huge portfolio with powerful cross promotion capabilities.

And, of course, you can use FGL.com to find a publisher.  Many publishers are willing to pay up front to get publishing rights to mobile games. And if you are a publisher interested in joining our Platform, please let us know! Our system is set up to publish games under a publisher name so you get the benefits of our system without sacrificing your branding.

You can find more information about the Mobile Platform here: https://www.fgl.com/mobile-platform/#devs

There are a lot of exciting things in the works.  Keep an eye out here for more news coming soon!

 

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with Iskander Aminov

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Four

FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with Iskander Aminov, graphic artist and co-developer of hits like ‘Golden Duel‘, ‘Time Swap‘ and the ‘CraZ Outbreak‘ franchise.

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FGL_Brian: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Izzy!  Let’s start by introducing you to those who may not know you yet.

Iskander Aminov: Let’s see…I was born in Russia, but have lived in the US for most of my life.  I knew I wanted to do something with art about the time I was in middle school.  It narrowed down to graphic art by high school and by college I’d started making flash games as a hobby.

FGL_B: I was looking through some of your different projects on your portfolio website (http://izzyaminov.com/)

You have a wide range of projects and styles in the material there.  What do you find are the key differences when creating art for games, as opposed to another medium?

I_A: Game assets are unique for sure.  When you make a digital painting, you let your imagination run wild.  You can do whatever.  With games, you’ve got to consider a lot of things in addition to making the art look good.  Things like, how do you improve performance? Can I cut back on the amount of frames I’m using? Can I reuse some of these assets elsewhere?  So all these things should be in the back of your mind while you make game art.  Part of the reason I actually like this is because it restricts you a lot.  Too much freedom might end with you not finishing anything.

FGL_B: Almost like you can become paralyzed by the options available to you?

I_A: Yes. It makes you focus on the one path you can take as opposed to hundreds of options with too much freedom.

FGL_B: Is that something you’ve come across when pursuing collaborations?  Do other game developers come to you and have a clear idea of the kind of characters / artistic elements they think would work for their game idea?

I_A: Most of the time my collaborations start with a broad idea like a vampire who’s vegan.  We hash out some ideas, think about how long things would take to implement and start working fairly quick.  The ideas don’t come in fully fleshed out, and that’s more fun for me because there’s more creative freedom in that.

FGL_B: That’s cool.  So do you find it more natural to build a game up around an intriguing artistic concept like that as a ‘jumping off’ point?

I_A: Most of my games now have a similar art style, and that makes me happy because I enjoy when I make art the way I want.  If I’m forced to go out of my comfort zone, I tend to second guess myself, which leads to bad art.  The gameplay can be anything (as long as it’s not 3D) and I can adapt my art style to it pretty quickly.

FGL_B: You’ve done some isometric viewpoint work in games like ‘Lost Catacombs‘.  Is 3D art design that different?

I_A: I’d say it’s pretty different since you’re working with models instead of images.  Lost Catacombs was pretty hard but very satisfying to finish.  It was one of my first games I’ve done so everything back then was new.  Still a great learning experience, every project I finish I learn something new.  But I guess I also learn something new with ones I don’t finish as well.

FGL_B: Your games tend to have a lot of great visual details, especially in the main menus and interfaces.  Do you have any tips on improving visual polish for game developers looking to take the next step up in visual/graphical quality?

I_A: Put a lot of time into it.  The graphics of your games are your “foot in the door”.  If things look off, you’re going to lose players.  Make things simple and easy to use and don’t be afraid to rework the art.  Your second version tends to be a lot better than the first.  Other than that, it’s all about practice and studying what other people do.  Incorporate the good stuff into your work and try to improve it even more.

FGL_B: Taking a request from the community: “Do you have any tips for successfully collaborating on projects?  What are some common mistakes people make when working on a collaboration or seeking out a collaboration partner?”

I_A: I would strongly recommend people who are just starting out with collaborations to participate in game jams in which you’re paired with random people.  It’s a great way to find people to work with, you build a library of games, you gain a lot of new skills, and you get all that in a short time with little to lose.  The most common mistakes I see people make is being overly ambitious and trying to make this amazing game that will change the world.  It’s better to focus on making games quick, polished and fun.  You don’t need a hundred features in your game to make it successful.  If anything, it’ll make you hate the project as you spend a year trying to finish it.  You might be committing a month or two on your game, might as well have fun with it and save some ideas you have on future projects.

FGL_B: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. Before we wrap up, do you have any projects coming up that we can look forward to?

I_A: Always have projects coming up.  Right now I’m working on a top down adventure game, a roguelike fairy tale game, and a sequel to CraZ Outbreak.  All of which we plan on doing a Kickstarter for and publishing on steam.  That’s still a long ways away, but it would be great if we can get support from the community when the time does come around.

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I’d like to thank Iskander for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Iskander, you can follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Izzy_IRA 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 brian@fgl.com.

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FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with FlashRush Games!

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Three

FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with the developers from ‘FlashRush Games‘, makers of ‘Madmen Racing‘ and the ‘Nutty‘ and ‘Transmorpher‘ franchises.

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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.

It’s very good when the sponsor/publisher cares about your game and helps you make it better, so sociable and caring sponsors are our choice. Price is not always the deciding factor; details are very important. We’d rather choose sponsors who are pleasant to work with than the one who pays more. So it’s a very good thing that on FGL you can find many wonderful sponsors!


FGL_Brian: That’s certainly good to know.  Moving onto the actual games, you’ve used many memorable main characters in your titles.  From the plucky Transmorpher alien and intrepid Phobi Jones to the fearless Nutty squirrel and all the crazy wacky characters in Madmen Racing.  Do you find that featuring strong main characters helps contribute to a game’s success?  Is this a focus for you when making games? 

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 Smile And I made the same mistake when I started game developing.

Development of rapid small-scale projects will help you understand your strengths and explore the market. Try not to do projects for more than 2 months. It will be less frustration.
We always think that our game is the best game ever seen, and we can not adequately evaluate the game. This is also a big common mistake of developers.
It must be remembered that everything new is well-forgotten old. Experiment with the old mechanics and you will find something new for your games.
FGL_Brian: Do you have any advice for developers looking to turn their game into a franchise with sequels (and not just a one-time game) as you’ve done so successfully?

FlashRush Games: You must track the game spread. Listen to each comment.  Players will always show you where to move and what to do.  Players will show you your mistakes and bugs, and will also come up with new features.  Do not try to turn every game into a franchise with sequels, this is not always possible or smart.  The market or the players themselves will require upkeep, and this is a good place to start.
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FGL_Brian:  Time for the lightning round!  How did you come up with the name for your studio?

FlashRush Games: “FlashRush Games” – all of what and how we do are in these words: Flash + Rush + Games Smile
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FGL_Brian: What were your favorite games when you were younger and what kind of games do you play now?

FlashRush Games: I love to play and compete with other people.  Main genres were strategy and shooters – Dune, Warcraft, StarCraft, Quake, CS. 

Now I play StarCraft 2, and League of Legends (this one we play with the whole office).
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FGL_Brian:  Oh, cool!  FGL hosts a League of Legends Game Night every Thursday.  It’ll be fun to play some games with you. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.  Any ‘shout-outs’ before we wrap things up?

FlashRush Games: Well, there are so many friendly developers and sponsors, and also the FGL guys Smile I want to thank all the community. GL HF!
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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 brian@fgl.com.


FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with Firebeast!

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Two

FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week with the developers from the Firebeast studio, makers of the phenomenal ‘Mighty Knight‘ and ‘Zombo Buster‘ franchises.

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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 Smile

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.

B: Aha! I thought I noticed someone familiar in the background of Mighty Knight!

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?

Firebeast: 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!

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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 brian@fgl.com.

 

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with developer platon_skedow

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‘.

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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 Smile

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. SmileAll 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. Smile 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. Smile

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 SmileWhen 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. Smile

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. Smile

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. SmileAnd the biggest mistake for young developers is when they decide to make games. Just joking Smile

F_B: Hahaha! I’m sure that will go over well! Tongue Out 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.

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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 brian@fgl.com.

 

July Dev Newsletter – HTML5 Game Shop Features Revealed!

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Success on Mobile

Congrats to Bram and Happy Planet Games for success with 3 Tripeaks solitaire!

Learn More…

72 Hour Game Jam

Join us on July 25th – July 28th at 4pm PST for our monthly 72 hour game jam!

Learn More…

FGL Game Night

Come pwn the FGL Admins ingame, join on chat/skype to trash talk, or just on twitch.tv!

Learn More…

 

Announcing HTML5 GameShop Beta Features!

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:

  1. Visit fgl.com/html5

  2. Follow instructions to complete Tier 1+ integration

  3. Complete User QA with the provided tools

  4. Add the game to the GameShop from the game’s page

  5. Fix any bugs/issues found by the QA team

  6. 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 info@fgl.com

 

FGL Mobile Platform Success Story – 3 Pyramid Tripeaks

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!