Launching +Minus

Creating your own project while having a regular day job + family is pretty hectic, but it’s finally done, go here to download and to read the entire development click here. As for now its only work on iPhone.

It took me roughly 6 months to design, develop, debug, and optimize and had 1 pivot in the middle.

Concept


During the usual long night work and in the midst of the threes fad, I was allured by seemingly large profit (although mine isn’t very successful) and something that I could do whilst I’m working, thus the +Minus concept was conceived.

In a nutshell it just something that when a number meets another number it’ll add/subtract according to its value, I’m not sure whether somebody had done it before, but the idea seemed novel and simple enough at the time, hence I pushed forward.

Feature Creep

In the beginning, there was the dreaded feature creep, below are just some of the features I have had thought of.

Basic Ideas
This the basic ideas that I wanted to implement;
– Bonuses/Rewards
– Ranking
– Badges
– Tools
– Buy stuff
– Hurdles/Trap
– Hall of fame

Ancillary
Other extra ideas;
– Along the way, there will be Gods where you have to pass dowry to him.
– Also, the Gods will have demi-gods/minions that’ll eat the coin and return positive number or spit out another coin that resulted in negative
– Magic block(s), so basically when you stepped on it, it’ll do wonder. (teleportation, etc.)

Periodical bonus
I was thinking of having a bonus that occurs periodically during the game.
– It’ll remove 1 point off
– It’ll teleport you to a random place

Triggered bonuses
– It’ll add 1 point to the stack

Miscellaneous
– Enemy can be sedated for a period
– Wildcard coins!
– Teleport cards
– Bonus need to be bought
– Money/coins have to be earn through level completion

In the end, with all the limited time I had doing the entire features were impossible hence I had to scrape most of it and just launch the minimum viable product.

Development

In development time, I had had struggled with a few entanglement mainly on the platform and the game mechanics.

Coding Platform

There are myriad of platforms to choose from that exist within the World Wide Web, at first I chose Cocos2D-x because back then I was playing with Badland and I was compelled by their amazing graphics and stable FPS, so I thought to myself maybe this is the right platform.

Scouring through their blogs and internet, it looks sound, robust and flexible.

But I was wrong, C++ multithreading is really difficult and the fact that debugging in C++ is somewhat vague not to mention the long compile time, just made everything ultra-frustrating, hence almost half way through I dropped the whole thing.

Adding my own shaders had proven very challenging, is not as straight forward as I thought it would be, adding more vertices had made Cocos2D-x leaked all over the place.

So after awhile I dropped it and recode the entire thing in Adobe Air, which proves quite satisfying.

Game Mechanics

This was my biggest mistake ever, proceeding without testing the gameplay to the public.

At first the game was supposed to be a puzzle style game, so I built all the algorithm for that, path-finding, enemy AIs, procedurally generated dungeons, etc.

I’ve had spent quite a lot on those parts, but when I showed it to my wife and daughter, they were perplexed by it, the gameplay was unappealing.

So I pivoted! I created a new game mechanics and test it to the public first before I create the details, I showed it to some of my friends and the responses were quite good, not perfect, but then I really don’t have the time to delve deeper.

So this the rough prototype, pardon the bahasa, but basically it’s saying
– Combining a large number with a small number will result in subtraction.
– Combining a small number with a large number will result in addition.
– Equal numbers will result in 0.
– The goal is that all blocks need to disappear.

Monetization

As any developer out there, the lure of materialistic gain was always the main drive, but after a moment of contemplation I have realized that my title hadn’t had that addictive component just like threes have had, so I’ve decided to make it free and use ads.

There are a lot of platforms for ads that you can choose from and each one has it’s advantageous, and most developers chose to use multi-platform ads that can automatically switch itself depending on the ad availability, but doing so requires a bit of a time to set up.

After some research and experiments, I chose Chartboost, their API is relatively easy to adapt, it supports multi-languages, you can skip the taxation form (just to see if everything work), and everything works just as its advertised.

There are other things that I could describe the monetization process and/or strategy, but I’ll continue on other post.

Conclusion

The hardest part in producing a game is finding the right amount of fun to your gameplay and marketing, the latter will dependant on your time, budget, location, extrapersonal skills, and luck, which unfortunately I only have 2% of each trait.

There are 1000+ of apps being submitted to the app store each day, so discoverability is paramount.

But again, this is my first attempt, I’m finding new ideas almost daily whilst loitering around Osaka or when I randomly waking up at night by random nightmares or epiphany.

Having my own brand is my goal, I don’t know how to achieve that but maybe after a thousand tries my luck will turn around.

So wait for the next title!

Inspirations

Design/Animation/Colors References

I’ve collected a number of games/creatives from brilliant creators for my inspiration.

Touch Ellis
http://www.toucheliss.com/

Creator of ridiculous fishing
http://aeiowu.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na0gkhwNNSo
http://guacamelee.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExLiQbecdT8

Sword and sorcery
http://www.swordandsworcery.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgEwAGar9wk

Mother2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNeD8hDY1q0

PSP Patapon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trjnLfVTPCA

Wide Sky
http://9-bit.jp/archives/13432

Fez Launch
https://vimeo.com/40269839
http://www.behance.net/gallery/TidePool/10655495
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Abcs-koenyv/10733659
http://www.behance.net/gallery/New-Bisous-les-Copains-4/10695641
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Nectar-Business-Superpoints-Competition-Illustration/10835295
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Carbon-Cycle-Augmented-Reality-Game/3486381
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Visual-Playground-2013/10118793
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Chaos-City/6641035
http://www.behance.net/gallery/Cinemash/7911407
http://www.google.com/doodles/doctor-whos-50th-anniversary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzPTwoGsxg8
http://simogo.com/games/yearwalk/

Rymdkapsel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_WgB77dUdo&feature=youtu.be

Quiz Up
https://www.quizup.com/

Tiny Thief
http://www.tinythief.com/
http://www.qixen-p.com/

Design/Character

https://m1.behance.net/rendition/modules/101912383/disp/68f9e8beb8d32154535a766a0dac1afa.png
http://ashervollmer.tumblr.com/portfolio
http://www.soundshapesgame.com/home/public.html

Color Palette

http://www.nicolinepatricia.com/The-Highlands-Adventure
http://asherv.com/threes/threemails
http://spryfox.com/our-games/road-not-taken/

Music Refences

http://www.last.fm/music/Serph
http://www.lullatone.com/
http://www.last.fm/music/I+Am+Robot+and+Proud
http://www.last.fm/music/Dom+Mino%27
http://www.last.fm/music/Monster+Rally
http://www.last.fm/music/Hauschka

Special Thanks

My wife, @PrasetyoY, @puhze, @moriken, @leichtgewicht, @21species.

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