How can you develop two parts of the game in six months and not go crazy

In the era of news that almost every day there are new viruses or how hackers have stolen a huge amount of money, it seemed to us that the market for mobile games lacks a cool game about hackers.
 
My name is Yuri, I'm one of the creators and developer of two series of games. I want to share the experience of their creation and a little promotion experience.
 
This article does not touch on the details of the implementation (there is not a line of code here), but only outlines a slightly routine, but at the same time unusual, indie game development process.
 
The idea of ​​the project
 
How did it all start? One day, my friend and designer discussed mobile games. Thought to create a game
and bathe in gold
We liked both of them. How did we come up with the idea?
 
In May 201? we gathered in the evenings and engaged in the fact that we generated various ideas.
 
We chose the standard of games we wanted to match:
 
 
Plague Inc
 
The simulator of Russia 2
 
 
Have written a list of items that must be in our game:
 
 
Bleeding the character
 
Nonlinear passage of
 
Hardcore
 
The presence of humor in the game
 
Competitive component (earning points).
 
 
For these components the genre simulator perfectly suited. The same genre was in our standards.
 
And what crazy ideas did not occur to us. Here are some examples:
 
 
simulator of the plant
 
simulator of the owner of a nightclub
 
simulator of the plane
 
 
But in all ideas there was clearly not enough of a spark.
 
At that time, the network appeared news about the next hacker or virus. The idea of ​​hackers and the development of the computer virus came to us almost immediately. We began to develop it, going through all the points that we compiled:
 
 
Bleed the virus
 
Nonlinear pumping of the virus and nonlinear development of the antivirus
 
Hardcore
 
"Live" chat from residents who would write about the current state of the virus
 
The competition part was the rate of infection of the entire city.
 
 
Creating the first part of
 
The first part was decided to implement the language of Swift.
 
From Unity, we refused because of the volume and complexity (oh, if we knew what would happen later).
 
The designer drew the first model of the city, it was made in a minimalist style. Also, the concept of infection was invented. In homes, computers and smart appliances will become infected.
 
How can you develop two parts of the game in six months and not go crazy
 
There will also be people with smartphones. Roofs of houses will be filled with color, showing the progress of infection at home, and blue circles will show infected smartphones. The process of infecting devices must be automatic.
 

 
At some point the antivirus starts to be developed, and the time of its development depends on the parameters of the virus and on some other random parameters.
 
We also created a chat room for the city. At a random moment, a message was displayed over the house with the text conveying the emotions and the state of the devices in people.
 

 
The main task in the game is to infect all the devices as quickly as possible. To calculate the statistics used Apple's GameCenter.
 
Somewhere after the month of development was the first working prototype. But we lacked some kind of interactive. Watching the virus that infects the city and brings money has become boring.
 
It was decided to add "problem" houses. That is, after the development of the antivirus begins at a random time, a house appears for which manual intervention is necessary. We called this process "Conduct a DDoS attack".
 

 
It was a separate mini-game, with the win of which the house is completely infected. In the event of a loss, the antivirus increases. Manual infection has very diluted the game and brought a lot of interactive.
 
About two months ago, we spent two hours reworking the balance game, adding new levels of complexity and graphical improvements.
 
That's how the screen for developing the virus began to look like.
 

 
So the main screen of the game is
 

 
In the release of the game we had one card and 3 different levels of difficulty.
 
Levels can be pereprohodit, improving their time.
 
The game is made by the type of free to play. That is, the game has advertising (which could be turned off for money) and in-game purchases.
 
The result: the game was made for 3 months (July - October).
 
In late September, our game was reviewed in the AppStore.
 
Promotion and results of the first part
 
A month before the release, the VC group was created in the AppStore, the page on the gamedev forum, the facebook page (for the English-speaking audience). As soon as we had the first screenshots, we started writing in groups of indie games. We received the first feedback and the first users of our group.
 
After the release, it was decided to spend 2?000 rubles on advertising.
 
About ??? rubles was spent on native advertising in the VC tape. The rest of the money was spent on posts in groups associated with apple.
 
In total, advertising was enough for 10 days. About 15 thousand installations were received. All these 10 days we were in the TOP of free simulators.
 
Better place that we reached in the TOP - 26.
 
If to say, what kind of advertising is better, then in my experience - advertisements in the tape. These ads can be created using the MyTarget service.
 
For 1000 impressions, the average price was 12 rubles, while the CTR always reached more than 1.2%.
 
If the campaign had a gaming audience (game groups VC), then the CTR could reach 2%. On average, 1 person's transfer cost us 1 ruble.
 
If we talk about posts in groups, then many large groups (numbering more than 500 thousand people) gave us about 500-1000 transitions. The cost of the post was from 2 to 3 thousand rubles.
 
As soon as the advertisement was over, the installations fell and we withdrew from the TOP. Then another couple of weeks there were 100-150 installations a day. Currently, the number of installations per day is about 20.
 
We got a great feedback, an estimate of 4.2 stars on the AppStore. But most importantly, we saw that the game has potential. People liked the concept of automatic infection and manual intervention. We began to think what to do next.
 
What's next?
 
So, we saw that people like the game. There were ideas for the further development of the game:
 
 
Adding other levels
 
Adding other types of manual infection
 
Adding "bosses"
 
 
But the graphics that we had at the moment, did not really like the designer. He wanted better. I apply the breadboard model of his new vision.
 

 
But the problem was that I did not know how to implement such a schedule.
 
Here you need to make a little explanation. The rendering of buildings and people was done programmatically using CALayer. That is, we had JSON with the coordinates of the houses (their roofs, walls), which was parsed and depicted in CALayer. It was terribly uncomfortable, but the only working method at that time.
 
I decided to look for ways to implement such a schedule. And since the designer drew just screen layouts, and I was making layouts and drawing a level map, I wanted to shift some of these responsibilities to him.
 
At first I was looking for ways in Xcode. I found Game Scene (which is similar to Unity Scene). But I did not understand it very well. The designer insisted on Unity. So we could still make the game for Android.
 
We decided to try to use it.
 
Creating the second part of
 
I must say, I thought that it would take a lot of time to study the Unity platform and the c # language (before that I did several labs in the university). But it turned out that this was not so. Unity was simple, understandable and had a large active audience.
 
And most importantly in Unity, the designer could deal with the design of the game, drawing the level map (in fact, in this case, it was transferring pictures from the layout to the scene), and I could develop software functionality that needed to be rewritten from the very beginning. Development began in November 2017.
 
Before us there was a question? This will be a major update of the first part or a new game? After the first results, we realized that compared to the previous game, the new game will have huge differences in the graphics. We decided that this would be the second part.
 
After 2 weeks, we made the first working prototype level.
 

 
The result was on the face.
 
Where else after 2 weeks, the virus development screen was made and the infection process was implemented.
 

 

 
Needless to say, we changed the principle of infection. After the first game, we realized that there is little interactive in our game, and we need more player involvement in the infection. It was decided to make manual infection the main one. The development of the virus automated the infection process. To manually infect the building, a mini-game was made where you slider should collect all the green indicators.
 

 
We also decided that a person with a virus (he is yellow) will move on the map and he transfers the virus to other people's mobile devices. To transfer the virus, you need to click on the flashing person.
 

 
There already was a lot of interactive and we really liked the initial result. Still really liked the more realistic simulation of infection. The development of wifi allowed to infect windows in the house, ethernet - to transmit the virus between houses. Bleeding bluetooth and mobile networks allows you to automate the infection of smartphones.
 
The process of infection of the building has changed. Each house had several windows. After winning the mini-game, one window is infected.
 
A big difference was in antivirus. In the first part, if the development of the antivirus reaches 100%, then the loss comes in a few seconds.
 
In the second part we decided to make the antivirus a full-fledged character. That is, if the virus infects, the antivirus is rendered harmless. The stronger the antivirus, the more devices it can neutralize at one point.
 

 
If the virus and antivirus are strong, then you can observe their apparent opposition, helping the virus infect the device. It looked cool.
 
By analogy with the last game, we saved the chat and also made a competitive part, who will quickly pass the level.
 
We decided that here we will not limit ourselves to one level. After the scandal involving the breaking of elections in the US, we thought it would be cool in the game to crack the election. The idea was this: there is a city in which elections will soon be held. There are oligarchs and thieves in power in power, and honest people have no chance to change anything. But in this city there is a hacker, and his task is to help honest people to take power in elections.
 
The level with the election should become the final of the campaign, so we came up with 8 different levels, where the player had to hack the bank, the anti-virus company, the police, the security building. The first two are training levels.
 
Somewhere in the middle of December we had the first 4 levels ready. Based on them, we made a beta version for Android and iOS. We collected a feedback and started working on the following levels.
 
At the end of January, all levels were completed.
 
Special buildings on the levels (Bosses) were different, and for each of them the user needs to build his strategy of infection.
 

 
Also in the game 2 currencies were used.
 
The dollar is at the level for purchasing modifications.
 
Bitcoin (then changed to Coin) - global a currency that can be exchanged for dollars and open closed levels.
 
Recent improvements
 
At the end of January the game was ready, but we obviously lacked something. And it seemed to be played well, but on the other hand, it was rather dry, there was not enough stuffing, liveliness. We were in the Duma for a week and almost despaired, but the designer comes up with an idea. Make different types of infection. That is, by analogy with the militants it was different types of weapons. They should be different and have their pros and cons. So, we left the first mini-game with a password cracking. In the case of winning, it infected one window in the house, in case of losing a mini-game nothing happens.
 
The second type is a logical mini-game. You are given a logical scheme, you need to put a beam in HACK, lighting the indicators. Something like a logical-electric puzzle.
 

 
In the event of a victory in the house 3 windows are infected, in case of defeat the antivirus is amplified by 1.
 
Several such schemes have been made, and in each scheme, logical elements are randomly generated. That is, the set of schemes was huge.
 
The third type consisted in controlling the ball, collecting all the green indicators. Do not crash into red walls, otherwise the ball stops for a while.
 

 
In case of a victory in the house 5 windows are infected, in case of defeat the antivirus is amplified by 2.
 
Many such mini-games were made.
 
This update was implemented with minimal losses to the finished game. After that, the game was really ready.
 
Now the player would have to choose what manual infection to use, what to pump in the window of the development of the virus. At each level, you need to find your successful infection strategy.
 
In late February, you released a game for Android and iOS.
 
Problem issue in Apple and promotion of the second part
 
We decided that we will no longer invest so much money on advertising.
 
On the first part of the current day, we earned no more than $ 170 (about $ 350 spent).
 
It was decided to spend about 1?000 rubles on advertising for both platforms.
 
In Android, the game appeared almost immediately, but with Apple this time there were huge delays. At first they did not like that we use bitcoin as an internal currency. We fixed it for the koin. Then we waited for the review 2 weeks, until I filed an appeal. And then 2 weeks we passed the review.
 
During this time, we spent about 2000 rubles on advertising in the Play Market. The first few days a day there were 100-200 installations (advertising a little increased this number). And after that something happened, and we started to recruit 1500-2000 units a day. Below 1500 installations a day we did not go down.
 
It was very strange. We were not in TOP games and did not invest in advertising. I think that we got recommendations to our audience thanks to the Play Market (a similar thing is on YouTube). Therefore, the game began to download a large number of people, and we received a huge amount of feedback.
 
By adding improvements and eliminating errors, we updated the game under Android and waited for Apple's checks. A month later, at the end of March, Apple finally released our game and we immediately posted a huge update to make the versions in the Play Market and the App Store the same.
 
About 1?000 rubles we spent on native advertising VC, it was enough for a few days. We again went into the top simulators under iOS, but left it as soon as the advertisement ended.
 
At the current moment on PlayMarket we have more than 70 thousand installations, under iOS about 3 thousand installations.
 

 

 
Now the version under iOS is promoted in free ways, such as posts on Facebook, VC, reddit.
 
The version of Android very well promotes itself.
 
During this time in the game we added:
 
 
Survival levels
 
Workshop. In it, you can improve the characteristics that affect the mini-games, as well as buy various ball skins for the latest type of mini-games.
 
 

 
On the second game, we have earned about $ 420 currently, which I think is a good start.
 
My conclusions about the comparison of the Play Market and Apple:
 
 
Apple is very easy to get into the TOP, just ordering installations or advertising. But as soon as the advertisement is over, do not be surprised at how fast you will leave it
 
this was my first experience on the Play Market, but I can say Recommendations - a very cool thing. This applies to the Play Market and YouTube. For me, on the Play Market, if you get to the Recommended - it's much steeper than getting into the TOP, because of the recommended games your game will put people close to your target audience
 
 
And finally, parting words to all game developers:
 
 
Do not delay the first release. That is, you do not need to constantly add and improve something. Set a plan for what should be included in the release.
 
Kayfuyte from the intermediate results. Made a small component, it works and the game is better? Praise yourself. You can not always tell yourself that something is missing.
 
If you work for enthusiasm, not for money, do not build large-scale projects. Many projects that are developed on time for a year or more of a year die at the design stage due to lack of physical and emotional strength from the developer.
 
If you have a small project, then remember: "The release is close." There are times when you are tired, you start to enrage everything, irritate and do nothing at all. Here it is necessary not to break, but through force to finish the project and to press this magic button: "Publish". After the publication of this accumulated stress from you, and positive feedback and feedback in general will make you forget about what happened to you a week ago :)
 
 
Thank you for attention.
 
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