Episode - 016 - Finish Your Game

016: Finish your Game – 5 common Pitfalls that can stop Game Developers from Launching.

As game developers, shipping your finished game, whether you’re a hobbyist or part of a professional studio team, the goal you should always be heading for is to finish. We all know that at times, life just gets in the way, but there are a certain number of pitfalls you can fall into very easily, and often unknowingly, and this can  hinder you releasing your game and often stop dead your project dead in its tracks.

1. Shiny Object Syndrome

So you have that great burning idea for a fantastic mobile game and dive in with total enthusiasm. You build out half of your project and suddenly, something inspires you and now you think you have a far better idea. So you ditch the game you’re working on, maybe you’ll come back to it later but you want to work on the “new” one, and the same thing happens again.

The results is that you end up with a folder littered with half finished, half baked ideas and game builds and actually no finished “game” to speak of at all. This actually impacts heavily on your time, and also the feeling of never having produced a finished project. This can be totally demotivating at best and, even worse, can make you wonder if you will ever see one of your games on the App Store.

One common solution is trying to crowbar your shiny new idea into your existing project, and this usually results in a very mixed up, confused game that has lost its way totally from your original idea. New game ideas should never be ditched or crowbarred in, they need to be a whole different project, so keep a note book and scribble down your new ideas to revisit for a future game.

Shiny object syndrome is something I have battled with, but over time I have learnt to push through and finish projects that are current. As a game developer, the only way to grow and perfect your skills is to ship your products and put aside that fresh, enticing, shiny new game idea on the back burner. Use this as the motivation to finish your current project and head towards your next title to hit the stores.

2. The need for Perfectionism

Perfectionism comes in many forms, and in game development and game building especially, I’m a perfectionist. I think a lot of fellow dev’s are the same here. We’re very picky on getting things just right and accurate. There’s nothing wrong in this, its how it should be for a good looking game.

There is a fine line however and between getting things looking just right, over obsessing with tweaking and re tweaking the little things way too many times will usually waste your time. Concentrate on the stuff that actually matters. Be smart and adopt my 87% Polish rule.

Learn more about that in Episode 15

3. Fear of Failure

We’ve all been there, will players even like my game? Will they leave terrible reviews? Will my game be a financial flop?  Fear of failure is very real.

It’s ‘safe’ to wrap your game in a bubble to the extent that it sits on your hard drive and never hits the App Store at all. These thoughts can hang like a dark cloud and every game developer on the planet, including myself are dogged with them before that release date. We all want players to love our game, that goes without saying, but you also can’t please everybody.

What if I get terrible reviews?

The answer is simple, don’t read them! Whilst it’s important to listen to your players and get feedback, be sure to audit and assess constructive criticism over trolls and miserable players ( you know, the ones who don’t like ads – AKA – Freeloaders )

It can be one of the most sole destroying things to read that someone thinks your game is a load of rubbish. It’s one thing I never do. As a game developer I move on to the next game, we’re a sensitive lot and if I read every review and took them to heart, I would have serious doubts about ever making another title.

Be proud you’ve released a game onto the App Store, you’ve come a long way and reached a huge goal by doing just that.

What if my game is a financial flop?

We’ve had game titles that have been extremely successful and on the flip side, we’ve had games that haven’t done so well. One thing to take away here is that not everything hinges on that big launch day, any revenue, however small, can be coming into your account for the duration of the games life. The more games you have in your portfolio, the more you are likely to generate a steady revenue. One thing is for sure, if you hold back releasing your game you definitely won’t be earning any money! Period.

4. Discipline Distraction

So you’ve hit that really hard part of game development, usually the last 10%. Perhaps you really can’t to get your head round particular problem, there’s a bug that you just can’t squash, maybe the mechanics in your game aren’t feeling right and the fix just escapes you. You can’t move on until that ‘thing’ has been resolved.

It happens to us all. It will happen on every single project you’ll ever work on.

The easy solution many of us default to is that we distract ourselves by taking that short ’5 minute’ surf on social media, pop onto facebook and see whats happening with everyone and take a break from the grind. Essentially we avoid the difficult problem and reward ourselves temporarily with an easy distraction.

Nothing wrong with that you say, except when you next check the clock, a couple of hours have swung on by! Ooops. Funnily enough, the Game Fairies haven’t magically resolved the problems. All that’s happened is that you’ve wasted time.

So what’s the fix?

Set aside blocks of pure focussed production time, where social media is switched off and dipping into facebook is simply not on the agenda, the “No Internet Phenomenon”.

It’s incredible how reliant we now are being connected to the internet. We take it for granted, we’re “always on”. Recently, our internet dropped out for some considerable time, it was like someone had suddenly marooned us on a desert island much like Robinson Crusoe!

So what does this have to do with anything? Adopting the mindset that you have no social media, no News Feed, No Espn. No internet.

Eliminating all these quick fix distractions enables you to laser focus in on the tasks in hand. It’s amazing just how much you can achieve and get accomplished without all the noise.

One strategy to overcoming distraction, is to Print out the names of the websites that feed your time wasting habit, onto a piece of A4. Stick that up on the wall by your workstation and everytime you feel that urge to wander, glance over and tell yourself “No”! I will not visit these sites.

Another quick tip is to set up timers. Start off with 20 minute blocks where you’re completely in the zone of focussed game dev. Nothing else is allowed to interrupt you until that timer goes off.

One awesome tool to enforce this habit is Rescue Time. With this simple program, you can monitor and track your daily activities and identify where you’re wasting time, it’s very neat.

Check out https://www.rescuetime.com/

Ultimately, experiment with what works best for you, we’re all different and the trick is to find the cure for your triggers.

5. Burned out

Be wary of burnout, it’s very real!

This is something I have personally suffered with and is completely and utterly draining on your body and soul. I can only describe it as a form of depression, or thats what it feels like to me.

When I’ve hit burn out in the past, I recognised that I’d been steaming away 24/7 on being a full time game developer and running the business, it crept up and I realised that for way too long, I’d be working a solid run of days / weeks without taking the breaks I should. It is just unhealthy, you need that balance.

This is not to be confused with discipline distraction, where you just don’t fancy tackling the hard stuff of game dev, burnout is where you have no want to do anything on your game full stop, you have no energy and feel low, hence the comparison to a form of depression.

The solution?

STOP!

Time and distance away is the remedy for me at least and thankfully I can now feel the signs creeping up. I still work every single day, I still work long hours, but I now also place a high value on recreation, social and down time, so much so in fact, it’s scheduled in on the calendar. Un-moveable.

If you’re heading towards burnout, switch everything off and take a “time out” from all things game related. This is the smart move. You can only do your best work when you’re energised and enthusiastic, essentially the opposite of feeling burned out.

Sometimes you just need some rejuvenating time out to get yourself back on track and finish that great game!

Finishing you games, or any project for that matter is a habit you want to master and I hope those pointers above will help set you on the right path.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Episode 015 - Game Polish

015: Game Polish – The 5 Major Aspects of Game Polishing All Game Developers Should Pay Attention To.

So what exactly is game polish? It’s all in the details, details, details. It’s all about mastering the art of fine tuning and learning to be slightly obsessive. Mix this with a sprinkle of OCD thrown in for good measure and you’re on your way to becoming a polishing Jedi.

The truth is, polishing your game could in theory go on forever, and the urge to tweak details over and over can seriously impact on you actually releasing your game. So, as game designers / game developers, just when do we know that we’ve done just the right amount of polish?

We’ve put together some of the most important tweaks for you to hone in on during your game polish process. For us, these are the solid bedrock of polishing stages that we do on every game we release and ones we recommend you do too.

1. Feel / Controls / Mechanics

Feel:

Your finished project should feel nice in the hand and satisfying to play, with a smooth UI transition that fits with your game. This is one of the most critical aspects of polish and indeed your game building in general. Think about playability and the overall feeling and satisfaction of the game play.

Controls:

Make sure your game controls are responsive. When your player clicks on the ‘jump’ button for instance, is it going to work straight away or will it take a couple of taps for it to spring into action? Either way is fine, it just needs to be consistent. Players are notoriously impatient so your controls need to respond at the right time. It gives your game that ‘playability’ factor. Do the controls feel fluid and “non-clunky”?

Mechanics:

Whatever your mechanics may be in your game, and obviously this will change depending on your genre, you’ll need to nail the execution. Jumps should feel natural and relative to the environment, shooting should feel instant etc etc. Your game mechanics should be, without a doubt, one of the most polished areas of your game.

2. User Interface ( UI )

Line up:

Make sure all your UI game buttons and icons are lined-up. For instance, UI game buttons such as pause and score are typically placed left and right at the top of the screen, these should be of equal distance from the sides and the top.

If any buttons are central, make sure they are pixel perfect central. It takes very little time to get this right and it makes for the best overall visual appeal on your UI screens.

Match up:

Matching up your games’ colour palette with your UI, typically brings your whole game together to create a complete product.  Even introducing just one of your in-game colours into your UI screens can make the difference between a cohesive looking design and one that looks a little miss matched and cobbled together.

Feedback:

Don’t forget your buttons! All your elements should be interactive. This could mean they either light up, depress, or make a sound when pressed. You don’t have to go crazy here, it can be super subtle, just something to indicate that an action has been made. Players receive the recognition that they have actually clicked on the button, as opposed to no feedback where your player will be thinking “did l press it?”

3. Game & Level Design

Collision shapes:

These are the ‘outlines’ of your characters, objects or enemies, in fact everything within your games’ universe. These ultimately determine at what point they interact with each other. Ensure your collision shapes sit tight and snug around your objects, if your collision shapes are too generous, or the opposite, too tight, then your world will feel “off”.

This can often result with your players feeling cheated, confused, and left with a sense of unfairness. So check and double check that your collision shapes are correct and always be over generous rather than mean.

Object placement:

Much the same as your character collision, make sure your game objects line up as you’d expect. For example, if you have a brick breaker game ( Breakout / Arkanoid ) you’d want to double check all the bricks were lined up and spaced evenly. Pretty obvious you may think, but it’s super important.

Scene transitions:

If your game scenes don’t run smoothly together, then your characters are not going to run smoothly either, it’s so important to not overlook basic game building in this way. Make sure your scene transitions are level, to pixel perfect, so that your characters never get ‘stuck’ on an uneven floor.

One really common example of this we see a fair amount, is backgrounds not lining up. These are usually tiled incorrectly and spotting the joins is a real giveaway of an unpolished game. Brutal perhaps? Maybe, but, certainly if you’re looking to get a publishing deal, or hitting the heights of landing an Apple Feature, you’ll need to get these spot on.

4. Sound / Music / Audio Effects

Audio in your games always has a massive part to play in your games’ overall production. Where you have things like firing guns, moving walls, falling boulders etc in your mobile game, give an audio effect when they’re in use. It gives immediate feedback to your player and pulls them into your game environment, that ‘real’ feel.

For instance, having a sound when collecting coins, players could receive a satisfying sound reward that goes along with collecting the coin itself, once again, reinforces feedback.  If your character collects a boost / power up, have a particular ‘bigger’ or different sound that comes in, to let the player know they have picked up something a little bit more special than say, a regular coin.

Think about your characters and enemies death animations, they certainly need feedback. If you’ve ever played a game where it’s taken you an age to kill an enemy, only to find that it just disappears in silence, you’ll know it’s quite disappointing. So give it a sound, it goes a long way for player satisfaction

5. The Overall Experience Loop

Polish for us comes in rounds. Although we tend to polish as we go, which we highly recommend you try to do also, we still end up doing 2 to 3 rounds at the end of each and every game.

The last 10% of your projects will be the hardest stage without a doubt, and as a perfectionist, I struggle here, and that’s why I adopt what I call the Overall Experience Loop.

This essentially entails striving for 87% perfection. You’ll never hit that 100% perfection, it’s just not achievable and certainly isn’t practical. After all, our primary goal is always to finish and release our games!

Curtailing the 100% down to 90% is the way I approach this. Forget about that last 10%, nobody apart from you will most likely ever notice and you’ll still achieve fantastic quality. On top of this we cull 3%. This is all the nice to have, additional polish, which again, nobody will ever know that it’s missing.

87% is the magic number. 90% polish goal minus 3% for all the fussing, playing around with and generally overthinking stuff.

At the end of the day, polishing your game is directly related to overall production quality, but we must never lose sight and let this overwhelm us into striving for perfection.

Build. Polish. Ship.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Episode 014 - Make Money with Mobile Games

014: 5 Ways to Make Money with Games and the best way to Monetise Your Mobile Game.

Episode 014 - Make Money with Mobile Games

So you’ve built your game, spent countless hours crafting each and every pixel, polished it to the end degree and now you’re ready to launch it to the world! But, just how are you going to make money from your brand new mobile game?

You should be thinking about monetising your mobile game from the moment you start to build, and this can have a big effect on how you actually end up constructing your projects. As game designers and builders, it would be absolutely fantastic to serve up our games with no ads, but as small indies, we need to earn money!

Ads are a necessity in our world unfortunately, but if done with the least amount of intrusiveness and a little thought towards our players, we can still monetise well. Let’s go over some of the popular monetisation methods open to us indie game developers today and ones we’ve used ourselves in our hyper casual / snackable games.

Simple eCPM Equation

eCPM = ( Cost Per Mile Historically ) How much per revenue per x1000 impressions

Example:

The eCPM is $5.00.

For every x1000 times the ads are displayed, you receive $5.00

Interstitials

Interstitials can be shown after game over, so for an endless running game these serve purpose from the off. Just how many game overs is acceptable? In theory you could show these after every single character death, but this obviously depends on how ‘brutally’ hard your game is. If your character dies often, your player is going to end up being bombarded with ads and this will almost certainly end in a game ‘delete’ from their device. As a rule of thumb, interstitials set at every 5 – 7 game overs is much more digestible and a little more friendly to the player.

Banner Ads

UI Screens: A great way to monetise for both portrait and landscape games and typically set at the bottom of the screen.

In Game: Again, typically placed at the bottom of the screen for portrait games  Most players, including ourselves find this method of advertisement the most unobtrusive and ‘comfortable’ just make sure you don’t unfairly place your in game play button too close to the banner placement! Players will feel cheated and you may well end up with another delete on your hands.

Banners can be set at the top in a portrait game depending on what your gameplay is all about, for example, if you have a downwards scrolling or static play game. It’s possible to make banner placements on a landscape game as long as they don’t effect gameplay.

When we’re thinking of ideas for a new project, being game developers of mainly casual, snackable games, we will always try to head for a portrait version if it fits, because of the great benefits banner ads offer.

Rewarded Videos

Players love rewarded videos because they offer complete choice and remind the player that they are in total control over whether they watch an ad or not. The option to watch a short video for the reward of double coins, or time, or an ‘instant’ character or world unlock, is utterly at their command. Most players will embrace that ‘get it now’ offer, where some will prefer the challenge of completing objectives of the game knowing they have done so without a quick fix.

Rewarded videos can potentially increase retention in your game, players know there is a way to achieve game advancement without the grind of playing for weeks to get the same rewards. It can be the difference between getting bored with the grind and deleting, to unlocking a great new character or power up that refreshes the interest to play further into the game.

In App Purchases

These come in many forms, buying characters, coin packs, gem bundles, power ups or upgrades just to name a few. Offering your player the first couple of characters for example as a free reward for completing the first few levels or objectives in your game, can open up their curiosity to the rest of your In App Purchases.

If they have enjoyed the experience of something new for free as a bonus, then they will see further offerings as a fair exchange for making a purchase and potentially that ‘feel good’ factor. It gives the player the chance to settle into your game before being bombarded with ‘buy now’ pop ups and the like.

Sponsorships

Although not too common in the realms of us Indie Dev’s, making partnership deals with Youtube or Instagram influencers can be a great way to leverage audiences and ultimately drive traffic to your games. Typically, these deals are secured on a revenue share basis where you’ll handle all the building and technical side and they take care of the marketing side.

Often these can be instigated via simple DM’s and generally these influencers will be open to a conversation at the very least. It’s a good idea to have something pre-built to show them when crafting your pitch, as this can increase the excitement and make the project proposition a real thing.

There’s also product placement, IP collaborations with famous brands and even celebrities to throw into the mix. However, there’s a ton more hoops to jump through to make a deal of this nature happen, but hey, thinking big never actually hurt anyone!

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Interstitial Ads – Full screen pop up ads typically shown on Game over screens.

2. Banner Ads – Ensure these do not interfere with the gameplay and/or UI buttons.

3. Rewarded Videos – Used to reward players by gifting Coins, Lives, Level Unlocks, Characters etc.

4. In App Purchases – For Hyper Casual games be sure to include a “Remove Ads” consumable IAP at least.

5. Sponsorship – Team up with Influencers or Brands for an Epic Partnership!

Links & Resources mentioned in this Episode:

 

Ad Network SDK’s


Chartboost
https://www.chartboost.com/

Admob
https://www.google.com/admob/

Applovin
https://www.applovin.com/

Revmob
https://www.revmobmobileadnetwork.com/

Facebook
https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apis-and-sdks

Leadbolt
https://www.leadbolt.com/

InMobi
https://www.inmobi.com/

Reward Video SDK’s:


Vungle
https://vungle.com/

Unity Ads
https://unity3d.com/unity/features/ads

Adcolony
https://www.adcolony.com/

Ad Mediation SDK’s


Fyber ( Formely Heyzap )
https://www.fyber.com/

TapDaq
https://tapdaq.com/

MoPub
https://www.mopub.com/

Ironsrc / Supersonic
https://www.ironsrc.com/

Appodeal
https://www.appodeal.com/home/

 

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Episode 013 - The 6 Golden Rules & Principles for Effective Icon Design

013: The 6 Golden Rules & Principles for Effective Game Icon Design.

Episode 013 - The 6 Golden Rules & Principles for Effective Icon Design

How to Design Games Icons & Icon Importance

Your icon is arguably one of your most important assets when it comes to your App Store presence. It is usually the first opportunity to impress potential customers and therefore makes it critical to your overall branding.

When speaking about icons, there is without a doubt some best practices that should not be ignored. Often when we think of icon design, less is usually more. However, the icons main purpose is to fully encompass and capture the very essence of your game.

Ideally, this should be achieved with as few elements and colours as possible. The best rule of thumb, and at the very core of great icon design, is that you should try and head for a single element that is clearly visible when viewed on the device itself.

So let’s go through some best practices and what to keep in mind when designing your icon.

 

Try to use a single element and keep it simple

Games like Monument Valley execute this particularly well. Whilst they have stunning artwork throughout the game, they focussed entirely on the character and single platform.

Monument & Canabalt Icons

Another great example of the would be Canabalt. The single Pixel character running shows you exactly what to expect from the game.

 

 

Choose a limited colour palette that fits

Whilst your game may be super colourful, it’s important not to over complicate your icon, try and pair back where possible. GramGames hit game 1010 has done a great job of this. They could have chose to include many of the pleasing colours, but opted to focus on the single red cube.

1010 & Merged Icons

They also did something similar on their massive hit Merged. The simple tricolour icon is really effective and works particularly well.

 

 

Avoid Using Words

Using words on your icon is generally a bad idea as they’ll be particularly hard to read once the icon is scaled down. It’s also mostly redundant as the name of your app is sitting right next to it on the App Store listing. Most bigger brands tend to either use the first letter of their company or just their logo as part of their overall branding, but generally speaking you see this rarely in the gaming categories.

Walking Dead & GTA Icons

The Walking Dead for Instance have chosen to use the title on their icon, as have Rockstar Games with Grand Theft Auto, but these are huge companies with a massive marketing machine in place, here the names and franchises themselves are instantly recognisable and quite honestly, their icons are way less of an important factor.

 

 

Avoid Using Photo’s

This is usually more common in the Photo & Video Categories, where it could make more sense, but it’s still a bad idea. Photo’s are non scalable and often will contain unnecessary details.

Ramsey Icon

The only exception could be for celebrity endorsed games where it makes sense to show the Famous Star to sell the game. The approach GLU took for example, is way better solution, here they used a realistic illustration rather than traditional photo.

 

How To Fail

Being consistent with your icon and aligning it closely to the artwork within your game, is a really good way to gel everything together. This also ensures it wont disappoint the user once downloaded. The last thing you want, is for a user to click on your icon only to discover that your game screenshots don’t match up with the promise on your icon and is essentially a different game altogether. Lets first take a look at a couple of examples, to explain this further.

Scramble Icon

 

This icon doesn’t look too bad, it’s kinda lively and looks decent enough. I’m thinking it depicts the game as a 3d scrambler, dodging through traffic and maybe has off road tracks.

Going by the exciting Icon, I’m ready to download and I want to have a look at the game screenshots.

So as we can see, the game does not reflect the icon in anyway whatsoever and looks absolutely terrible. As a potential customer I’ll be giving this a big miss, so even though the icon grabbed my attention and I clicked through to the product page, I am now feeling let down. Fail!

Of course this an extreme, albeit sadly all too common example, it does I think show exactly not what to do and something to keep firmly in mind when designing your icon.

 

How To Succeed

Downwell is a perfect example of successfully using the games art style for the icon. Revolver Digital has produced a cohesive marketing suite that truly brings the essence of the game throughout all it’s assets.

 

Downwell Screenshot

 

Super Sharp from 1buttonSarl have also done an incredible job of pairing back their icon and matching it to their in game art style. The simple cut effect on the white square against the blue background, sets expectations perfectly, and once inside the App Store product page, it really feels solid and fully connected.

This is definitely one of the factors that the App Store team look for when viewing a game and considering it for a feature place, and especially a key ingredient for snagging a banner feature.

 

Super Sharp Screenshot

 

Limbo is by far one of my all time favourites and its no surprise Limbo is continually re-featured time and time again and has truly earned its place in the App store hall of fame.

Apart from being a great game, Playdead did an absolute stunning job of capturing the games atmosphere and intrigue, then wrapping it all up in a shockingly simple icon.

 

Limbo Screenshot

 

The Importance of Scalability

So it’s super important when designing your icon, to ensure that all testing should be carried out by viewing the smallest sized version. Although your icon may look stunningly great at it’s largest resolution, the reality is that your customers will only ever see the icon on an iPhone or iPad.

There are various ways to do this but one simple way is to head over to AppSparky.com.

AppSparky.com Homepage

 

This website was actually built by us for this very purpose. Once your icon is ready, you simply either drag it directly onto the ‘upload icon’ button, or open up a finder window to browse for your icon image. This will take a little while to process and your icons must be in either .png or .jpg format.
Once the upload is complete you will see your icon displayed. As you scroll down the page you will see;

  • Large size icon displayed on different background shades.
  • How our icon will look on the App Store product page on both iPad and iPhone.
  • Viewed on the homepage of both devices, in the Category Section of the App Store.
  • How it will appear in the Top Charts section of the App Store.
  • How it will look on the Homescreen.

 

You can either drag one of your icons directly onto the upload icon button, or simply click the button and that will open up a finder window for you to browse.

Uploading icons does take a little while to process, and your icons must be in either .png or .jpg format.

The first 3 views will give you an indication of a large size on different background shades. Underneath you’ll start to see the more relevant sizes, the first one being how your icon will look on the App Store product page on both iPad and iPhone.

You’ll also see the homepage of both devices, the Category section of the App Store, Top Charts section and finally on the App Store homescreen.

 

Getting Feedback

Getting early feedback on your icons is also a great way to see how effective your design is looking. Facebook can work extremely well for this, we do this everytime before launching.

Whilst you can post to any game or Developer Groups you may belong to, I wouldn’t rely solely on these as they are obviously filled with other developers who are generally not your target audience.

We always post to our Company Facebook Page, you can also use your personal profile too and this will attract more of a widespread audience.

Facebook A B Testing

You may want spend $10-20 boosting the post if necessary and run it until the boost runs out. If you’re familiar with Facebook ads, you could also use advanced targeting to really hone in on your ideal demographic.

There are also sites where you can go way deeper for really detailed stats such as ;

http://www.optimizely.com
https://www.storemaven.com
http://testnest.co

These do tend to be quite pricey and I’ve never used any of these personally, as I found Facebook to work well enough to see if we’re on track or not.

So do not under estimate the value of your icon and it’s importance when pitching, especially to Apple. Although I have no firm evidence on this, it is said that the App Store team will take all the Icons from the games that have a chance for a feature place that week, and line them up side-by-side.

They begin to discard any that do not meet their standards, or that simply do not stand out enough to be noticed. How much, or if any of this is true, I’m not sure. But if we put ourselves into the shoes of an App Store Editor once again, this doesn’t sound too unreasonable and a pretty logical way of doing things. Once a week they’ll have to choose the line up, and games will either go in the list or out.

Although a bad icon alone is unlikely to fully hamper your chances, it should be an important part of your process. It’s one of the things that is within your power to control, and you should be heading to create a striking Icon to give you the very best chance of making the list.

From personal experience, and as you’ll begin to notice as you delve deeper into your research tasks, the vast majority of featured games in any given week, will all have an extremely strong and clearly defined icon.

 

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Try to use a single element and keep it simple

2. Choose a Limited Colour Palette that fits

3. The importance of scalability

4. Avoid using words

5. Avoid using Photo’s

6. Get some feedback!

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

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We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Episode 012 - The 5 factors of fun you’ll find in every game you’ll ever play

012: The 5 Factors of Fun you’ll find in Every Game you’ll Ever Play.

Episode 012 - The 5 factors of fun you’ll find in every game you’ll ever play

Defining Fun is certainly a tricky one for sure. What is fun for me, could quite possibly not be particularly fun for you. So how do we define fun when it comes to our games? 

Rather than thinking of the word “Fun” in the traditional sense, we should be thinking about our Games as being an experience, to which fun is an aspect.

For instance, let’s say we have built a Horror themed game where there’s spooky moments, creepy music and scare jumps a plenty. Whilst there may not be too many “fun” aspects, it’s still completely enjoyable. When we boil everything down, each and every game we’ll ever play will consist of training us in some aspect.

We’ll learn mechanics and gameplay systems, master timing and “hand to eye” co-ordination. The achievement of completing levels can be motivating and engaging and have positive reinforcing side-effects.

These, and many more aspects, amount to certain levels of fun even if we don’t really realise it. Use our list below to see how you can weave the 5 Factors of fun into your game.

 

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Overcoming Challenges and Problem solving

Challenge > Adversity / obstruction > Goal – Satisfaction

2. Leveling up / Progression

Achievements / Rewards

3. Interest and curiosity

4. Wonder and surprise

– The unknown is fun –  ( check out Episode 7 – The Top 10 ways to add Surprise and Wonder to your games )

5. Balance / Pinch Points

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Create your Game Mood Boards

011: Top 5 Reasons why creating mood boards are an essential starting point for game development.

Create your Game Mood Boards

Creating a Mood Board is an essential starting point when you’re starting out on any new game / project.

What is a Mood Board?

Simply put, a Mood Board is a collection of images that you find inspirational, aspirational and aesthetically pleasing all collated into 1 central document that you can refer back to throughout your game development.

Using keywords or phrases into google images, other search engines are available, start to cherry pick images that you like the look of, like the colour of, like the shape or form of or give you some kind of enhanced emotion.

It could be the way the mist sits eerily over the grass tops, the shadows that a candle makes when it flickers, anything that you’d love to encapsulate in whatever type of game you’re building.

Of course, that all sounds super fancy, but what about my “Snackable” / “Hyper Casual” mobile game I’m building?  

Your Mood Boards can take any form you like. It could be inspiration for level design, UI / UX concepts, the colours of platforms. The important part is to start collecting reference points so you can always revert back to and not to lose ideas and feelings.

You shouldn’t overthink this and gather everything and anything at this first stage, you can always discard some of the images later. It’s all about creating that melting pot of inspiration.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Helps you to set the right tone to reflect the mood of your game.

2. All your ideas into a visual form & gives you something tangible to look at.

3. Helps to visualise and potentially determine your games colour palette.

4. It helps you not lose interesting images your find.

5. Central point of reference for your games inspiration.

 

Here’s a web Friendly Version of One of Our Mood Boards:

 

Game Development Mood Board

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Creating Killer Screenshots

010: Top 10 Tips and Tricks for Creating Killer Converting App Store Screenshots.

Creating Killer Screenshots

With just a few precious seconds to grab players attention, your screenshots need to pack a punch and convince them to hit that get button. As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and for your App Store screenshots, this is most certainly true.

This week we discuss how to create enticing, informative and exciting screenshots so you can master the art of how to fully show off your games potential. Our Top 10 best practices for designing your killer visuals will guide you through all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating App Store screenshots.

Whether it’s including Marketing Strap lines, highlighting key aspects and features or even creating a mini tutorial, our Top 10 Tips and Tricks for creating awesome App Store screenshots will boost your conversion rates and get you more people downloading your fresh new mobile game.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Always show off the most exciting parts of your games

Think Action Shots, Explosions, Movement “Swooshes”.

2. Include Characters if you have them.

3. Add banners to explain to benefits and features.

( 3 to 5 Words is usually best, keep it short n snappy )

( Think about translation + professional services ( Gengo & Onesky ) )

4. Consider using a story or tutorial sequence to explain the gameplay

5. Add variety, make sure all your screenshots are different

6. Use all 10 screenshot space now available in the Apple App Store.

7. Don’t use stretched images.

8. Avoid including UI screens unless they’re interesting or look really cool.

9. Remove Banners and Status bars.

10. Ensure you Check for Typo’s and Grammar.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Mobile Game Publishers

009: Our Top 5 Reasons why you should sign a Deal with a Mobile Publisher.

Mobile Game Publishers

This week we discuss the plans and goals any Indie Game Developer should follow when making games for the mobile platforms. Be it the Apple App Store, GooglePlay or Amazon, our advice is always the same whether you’re an absolute beginner or have been making games for a while, head for that Publishing Deal.

There’s a multitude of benefits for teaming up with an established mobile game publisher when launching your titles, the most arguably is traffic. Without a solid User Acquisition ( UA ) strategy in place it’s going to be a struggle to drive downloads to your game and to get noticed.

Any Publisher worth their salt already have a vast, daily active network of players within their existing portfolio to cross promote and market your game to, this is vital especially on launch day. They’ll also have solid connections within the industry especially with the platforms themselves.

They can get your game in front of the people who make the decisions on the games that will be featured on any given week on the stores ( Thursday is the main refresh and launch day ) and often have contacts in the press to get that all important exposure. They bring experience you can learn from as for the most part know what will, and will not work.

You’ll also typically earn more money from your mobile game. With downloads comes increased revenue and it’s also not uncommon for the Mobile Publishers to have special deals with the Ad Networks to ensure the highest eCPM possible for the ads that show. Although you are sacrificing a decent percentage of the total revenue of the game ( usually it’s a 50 / 50 Split ( after any UA costs ) you’ll still earn way more due to the downloads achieved.

It’s a win / win situation and we strongly believe that you should be striving to build a game and sign a publisher deal within your first 10 games if you’re serious about building games in the mobile space.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. It sets your standards high right out the gate – Average generally won’t make the cut.

2. Forces You to do your market research to increase your chances of building games the publishers want.

3. Publishers usually have great relationships with the Platform Feature Teams ( Apple App Store, GooglePlay, Amazon ).

4. They have Traffic and can drive downloads – An established cross promotion network of players to market your game.

5. You’ll typically Earn more – A smaller slice of a much larger pie generally works out better.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

Making great Game Trailers

008: The Top 7 reasons why you should add a preview video to your Appstore page.

Making great Game Trailers

In today’s show, we answered Podcast listener Brad’s question on should we add a Game Trailer to our Appstore product page. With this in mind, we put together our Top 7 reasons for adding an App Preview on the Appstore and the 1 reason why you shouldn’t.

Generally speaking, adding a game trailer, or App Preview Video, to your Appstore Store pages is a positive move. Although screenshots allow you to showcase your games best moments, there’s really no substitute for seeing the game in action and watching a demo first hand. Motion is hard to convey in the static of the screenshots, and for this reason alone it’s worth it.

Your Appstore page is essentially your shop window and what all your hard work has been about. You’ve spent weeks or months creating your masterpiece, so don’t fall at the last hurdle, grit through the final stages and put that video together. If your game deserves more than 1 video, then it’s certainly worth doing we’d day, but there’s no need to feel compelled to fill space just for the sake of it.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Apple allows us to add 3 App Previews, we should use them.

2. Conversion Rates are believed to be between 15 – 30% increased with games with App Previews.

3. You can show all the best and exciting parts of your game, explosions and effects.

4. Showcase your games personality and the actual speed of the gameplay.

5. The use of Music set the overall tone of your game.

6. You can add additional marketing messages and calls to actions.

7. You’ll need a video for your game regardless, so you might as well!

Bonus!

If your game is so simple or is in essence not at all visually compelling, we highly recommend not including an App Store Preview Video in your store listing. It could well be that a poorly executed video may hurt your downloads.

Links mentioned in this Episode:

Best Fiends

App Preview Video Creation Software

Camtasia

iMovie

Screenflow ( Mac )

Courses

Create an Appstore Preview Like A Boss!

Course Included Free inside the RisingHighAcademy Membership.

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio

How to add Surprise & Wonder to your Games

007: The Top 10 ways to add Surprise and Wonder to your games.

How to add Surprise & Wonder to your Games

In this episode, we compiled our Top 10 ways to add Surprise and Wonder moments into your games to create emotional reactions from your players.

We all want our players to fall in love with our games, but what elements are you actually creating within your game to delight them? Are you making them smile? Are you making them jump out of their skin? Are you creating instances of “Wow?”.

Here’s our Top 10 key elements you can think about implementing to really hook them in and secure your games icon stays front and centre on their devices.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

1. Scale of Environment.

2. Secret places / Bonus Levels.

3. Unexpected Rewards / End of level celebrations.

4. Special and or Secret Characters or Worlds.

5. Change in Game Mechanics.

6. Invoking Emotions including – Panic / Joy / Anticipation / Excitement.

7. Adding the Wow Factor – Creating Awe and adding Character Reactions.

8. Change in Music and Sounds ( Atmosphere ).

9. Introducing Power ups / Bonus Coins or Levels.

10. Unlocking Achievements.

Links mentioned in this Episode:

Jetpack Joyride

Dragonlings

Thank you so much for listening! You’re Awesome 🙂

We truly do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen and hope you got some value.

If you enjoyed today’s show, it would go such along way if you hit that Subscribe button and also Share via your favourite social networks. You can use any of the buttons you see on this page.

We’d also be forever grateful if you’d consider sparing just a quick minute to Leave us an Honest Rating & Review in iTunes.

We always read each and every one personally and it always makes our day!

Thanks so much, Kevin & Jilly.

Kevin and Jilly - RisingHigh Studio