So, our game is nearing completion, and we are excited to show off our new icon.
I can also confirm that Tracksuit Ninja will be available for summer 2012.
We are excited to announce the newest member in our app family – Tiny Fireman Free.
Tiny Fireman Free offers all the functionality of Tiny Fireman, with 1 basic area unlocked, and 3 more unlockables by in-app-purchase.
Tiny Fireman, for those not familiar with the game, is an enchanting game experience for young kids. It promotes pro-social behavior of helping others and features cooperative playing on the iPhone and iPad.
In the game, children and parents can collaborate driving the Red Truck, in an effort to rescue the animal inhabitants of Can Town. The intuitive controls allow children of ages 3 and above enjoy the game.
So what are you waiting for? Get Tiny Fireman Free now!
As you may or may not be aware, Burning Things is now called Tiny Fireman, and is receiving a fully blown update with lots of goodies.
The best of them is a more family-friendly name (ok, I got it, you don’t think Burning Things is cool), but we have much more under the hood.
Our latest update to version 1.2 is live and ready for download.
The update has a few new features, the most exciting of them is the ladder:
You can now use the ladder to rescue survivors on tall towers, buildings and high on trees. Just tap the ladder to stop the Red Truck. it will be pulled out automatically. Make sure there’s a victim calling for help – the’ll be able to climb off the ladder.
Controlling the Red Truck is now different, and more intuitive for the young ones: You basically just toch the truck to advance, and as soon as you let it go the truck stops. This way, it’s much easier to take care of all the little animals in need of help.
There are also various iPad optimizations and some minor bug fixes.
In a word of indie mobile game development, we often struggle to get an early feel for a project we’re working on, to be able to tell if we can build upon the core idea and if it eventually grows wings and becomes something of its own. If we work on something for two long, we can end up missing the target completely, and the polish and finesse of a badly designed game become a beautifully crafted tombstone for a dead on arrival product.
iOS App Store gives us, however, a different option: we can develop a game, get it approved and available, then start growing a community of players and fans as we grow the game.
SESM Indie game development: typical lifespan
Phase 1 – Small community. Friends, family and acquaintances
Phase 2 – Early adopters, forum enthusiasts, journalists, reviewers, trendsetters
Phase 3 – Selective buyers, Niche fans
Phase 4 – Mainstream
So based on this list, it’s easy to figure out why, for example, phase 1 doesn’t need to be perfect: that’s because your friends and family will (hopefully) support and be positive regardless. From phase 1, however, we can learn important lessons about general first impressions, usability and general appeal (for example, your non-gamer friends may not have a lot of patience for games, if they do spend time playing it, it’s a good sign).
So that’s how it works: we create and prototype an idea, then add the majority of the core gameplay, without the full spectrum of secondary elements we so easily attach to game design without even thinking. For example, in Burning Things, I could easily get too early into building secondary mechanisms on top of the core gameplay, such as power-ups, bonuses, and the ultimate killer app – in app purchases.
However, I chose a different method. The emphasis was on getting the basic idea, in this case driving around a fire truck, splashing water and saving victims on the way, to work as simply as possible, clean it up a little bit, create graphics and animations, and get the game up and running.
This way, we could have an assessment whether the main idea works, while investing about 50% of the time generally required for a similar project to be completed.
Quickly enough after going live came the first update, which solved a couple of bugs that made it to the original release. And that was fun – I was always scared of updates, of waiting for review again, of being rejected – but the cool thing is that while you are waiting for approval, you can already work on the next version.
Version 1.2 can therefore become a more substantial update, with introduction of new gameplay elements. At this point the game is looking pretty solid, and I had some time to rework the opening screen. The stress in the week of the original release seems by now like a far and forgotten experience.
Slowly, players start responding and commenting on forums (e.g. TouchArcade’s), giving important feedback. One, for example, advised that the game isn’t suitable for kids younger than 5, while I claim the game is for ages 3-7. That may sound like painful criticism to some, but at this point there is no issue for our little game. I can listen to the criticism, revisit the game’s mechanisms and tweak things around. No reason to panic.
So how is the game going to be picked up for New and Noteworthy this way?
Thinking that my game will be featured by Apple before it reaches some level of maturity (at least phase 3) is just naive. I believe in second and third chances. I think there’s actually a better chance this way, and although it’s always easier to jump ship to a new project, once dealing with the urge to start something from scratch, it’s a lot of fun to grow with your game this way.