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Anyone have a brain fart or writer's block? My post-mortem on development.

BeyondtheTechBeyondtheTech Posts: 809Member
edited November -1 in Introductions
Perhaps it's the cynical side of me that's just staring at the App Store and wondering...

"Am I going to contribute something worthwhile to the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad community?"

"Will I just end up creating a junky game or app?"

"Are my games any good?"

GameSalad is by far, the best platform to quickly develop a game. With the acceptable limitations that the platform currently has, it still is up to your imagination and creativity to come up with something entertaining, amusing, and worthwhile of someone's hard-earned money.

That being said, I thought I had some great ideas when I came up with `Archangel: Fate of the Galactic Commonwealth` and `Spellcaster.` Both games haven't really been tried on the iPhone previously. There wasn't a real Star Trek-style game then, and even when J.J. Abrams' movie came out, they decided to release a simple arcade shooter app for the iPhone. The beloved Enterprise dumbed down to a two-axis front shooter? Sacrilege! And, the idea of putting the iPhone through its paces with the finger-drawing of the rune symbols and shaking the iPhone like the magic wand got me real excited to make `Spellcaster.` With those "edges" in mind, I began my development cycle.

But, something happened along the way with both games, and it reflects in the sales. I'm still struggling to find out what went wrong. I'll admit, with the five products I have on the App Store, I'm averaging $25-50 a day. (Thanks to FireMapleGames, I'm addicted to AppFigures also!) That secondary income may be considered decent for some, great for others, but in my opinion, I know I could do better.

For one, my games are pretty linear. Even though you have the freedom of traversing through the entire quadrant in `Archangel`, the gameplay becomes TOO redundant. What's interesting is that many so games on the App Store are redundant, but there's a fine line when it becomes redundant and tedious that it ends up being no longer fun to play. I'll admit that I think `Spellcaster` suffers the same fate. Perhaps it needs "achievements" and "bonus items," something that I've only wondered about when I bought my first Xbox 360 many moons ago. I thought they were gimmicky at first, but I notice that so many games on the App Store build a virtual currency where you can upgrade your arsenal, or start to check off achievements one at a time until a virtual trophy board is filled up.

The other issue is balance. I've been praised on my games' look and feel. When it comes to Photoshop, I can sit there for hours tweaking images, playing with fonts, and enjoying myself with plug-in effects, but I really can't draw. I'd like to consider myself a whiz when it comes to audio editing, too. In being an amateur musician, producer, and engineer, I've got years of experience at tweaking and chopping sound effects, making loops and ringtones, adding just the right amount of compression, reverb, chorus, flange, etc. Finally, with my love of movies, I love to give my games that "theatrical presentation" feel. But with all of that, my games don't seem to be any more deep than a Michael Bay film. All style, no substance. So, perhaps it's less Photoshop and Sound Studio, and more concentration on what the game (and the gamer) really deserves.

What do you look for in a game, or more specifically, for a game that can be developed in GameSalad?

And, if you were in my predicament, do you think my games deserve a treatment, a complete rewrite, or just leave it be on the App Store, and trudge on to the next project, in hopes I get that one right?


  • rebumprebump Posts: 1,058Member
    I'm pretty much in the same boat. You and I may be long lost brothers from different mothers!

    Anyway, I think it boils down to simplicity and achievement. Not all, err, most people who own iPhones/Touches are video game aficianados but everyday people from all walks of life. They want simple and they want to achieve. The die-hard technoheads and video gamers who own the devices want fancy graphics, epic game play ala XBox/PS3, etc. but they still fall back to wanting simple achievement based gameplay when time doesn't permit playing CoD mobile edition (i.e. when sitting on the toilet, waiting in line at the movies, taking the short cab ride downtown, etc.).

    So give simple gameplay and allow them to achieve something whether that be trophies or the best score. That last sentence seems like it would apply to all video games but the simplicity of it needs to be stressed. People have short attention spans and they want immediate results and this is only getting worse and worse as technology invades our lives ever more.

    So my current project, an arcade classic shoot-em up, falls in line with this thinking BUT each level takes too much time to complete. Then there is the dedundancy of each level as was often the case with many arcade classics but the redundancy becomes overbearing when it is long, drawn out redundancy...remember the short attention spans and time frames!!!

    Thusly, seeing how far you can throw a penguin/dead cat/whatever is more appealing/satisfying than a long round/level of Defender/Pac-Man/etc. (again, for most folks...especially our ADHD young ones and our tech illiterate elders). So KISS! Keep it simple, stupid!

    It is all this that wants me to wrap up this damn arcade classic so I can get onto the launching pengiuns type of games (well, not exactly but similiar in simplicity).
  • BeyondtheTechBeyondtheTech Posts: 809Member
    I guess you're right. I'm just in a bit of a rut right now. Down, but not out. Looks like I'll have to tinker around with GS more until I come up with something. It's tough with three kids and a wife all clamoring for attention with only a few hours of uptime after coming home from a long day's work and commute. :(
  • rebumprebump Posts: 1,058Member
    Yup, brothers from different mothers, bro (only I trimmed my long bangs a few months ago!).

  • quantumsheepquantumsheep Posts: 8,188Member
    Writer's Block? No, never (although I've reserved that name!).

    What troubles me most is how people keep bandying about the word 'failure'.

    QS :)

    Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home...

  • QuinnZoneStudiosQuinnZoneStudios Posts: 452Member
    I know the feeling Beyond.

    We often start to second guess or even doubt ourselves. I have been impressed with the thought you put into your game play and originality. Nothing is ever a waste of time and we learn with each thing we do. Sometimes we need to get an idea out of our system so we can move on to the next, or integrate elements of that into the next one. It's all a part of the process.

    I say, never have regret and never look back. Be proud of actually finishing something and getting it out there. There are many who will enjoy and appreciate what you have made. Compare it to film making. How many big directors have made movies that were not blockbusters? Every single one of 'em!

    Stay true to your passion and do what makes you unique from the next person and never give up. At some point you will find a recipe that may surprise you by becoming a hit!

    We never stop learning and are definitely each on a journey. Oh, one other lesson I learned the hard way several years ago: make sure you enjoy that journey as that is what really counts. Often the best "conclusion" or destination doesn't warrant the misery and suffering on a bad journey. In other words, if it ain't fun doing it, stop. If you enjoy making games and publishing them on the iPhone, then keep on trucking!

    Enjoy the ride!

  • quantumsheepquantumsheep Posts: 8,188Member
    What Mike said!


    Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home...

  • BeyondtheTechBeyondtheTech Posts: 809Member
    Thanks. Truer words have never been spoken.

    Well, except for that time when my wife said, "If you wear that in public, I don't know you."
  • JamesZeppelinJamesZeppelin Posts: 1,927Member

    Those top spots don't happen by chance.

    Some of the top ten apps spend ten of thousands per day on marketing

    Mostly pay per click.
  • WarlockWarlock Posts: 66Member
    I get writer's block all the time which is why mu publisher wants to kick me in the neck (my last book was written like 3 years ago). What I typically do is switch to another creative mode. When I can't write, I draw or get on the guitar. If that doesn't work I will fire up some old movies like Godzilla or something ridiculous (ain't gonna lie, I loves me some Godzilla) and let it inspire me. Once you start thinking about how a man in a rubber suit has become a worldwide phenomenon, it helps you to think outside the box.
  • ORBZORBZ Posts: 1,303Member
    Ditto, the 0.7.0 to 0.8.0 glitches really killed my motivation since my game is basically unplayable now. I've had to go back and start over.

    But it's a process and after 2 weeks away I've got some fresh ideas and I'm ready to go again.

    I do wish this tool wasn't so buggy though! It's maddening! :(

    not 1.0 yet tho so it's understandable.
  • StormyStudioStormyStudio United KingdomPosts: 3,987Member
    Constantly doubting whether to start a new idea or continue perfecting current one. On one hand I want to make a game to be proud of, on another I want to learn gs more and more until it is second nature so I can make games quickly and eventually make a good one. Thirdly I wanna get rich quick by selling loads of copies of my next/first proper game. Pack my job in, move to the sea ad spend more time with the mrs and our new daughter and have more time to make apps or pursue other money making schemes and work for myself and maybe start a small app company, and learn to surf better.

    Writers block, nope. Got the ideas, just not the time or know how to do them quickly, but getting there . Slowly, wading through glitches, errors and bugs but slowly ticking off each aim for the current game. Photohop tick, sound tick, animation tick, ideas lots not necesarily sellers though.
  • JamesZeppelinJamesZeppelin Posts: 1,927Member
    I'm with you there. Got tons of ideas.
    I've been doin a few smaller games to learn (ie doodle monster)
    while I keep chugging away working on my main game trying to make it better and better the more I learn.

    I usually jot down my ideas and go ahead and register them on iTunes.
    The hard part will be deciding what to do once I finish this big one. (and know this one doesn't have a monster)
This discussion has been closed.