Off to San Francisco!

Kanji Samurai will have both a revitalized tutorial and the grading system implemented in time for the Game Developer’s Conference! In prioritizing our list of features for GDC, I told Eric that I understood if he would only have the time to implement one of them, so we told him to focus on the scoring system since our designer Luca had to rework the narrative of the tutorial a bit before it could be implemented.

This week, we recorded Glynis’s Japanese sensei pronouncing all the Kanji in our game. We are so glad to have her as a connection so we can have an authentic Japanese pronunciation for our game! On that same day, Eric and I ran quality assurance for the game and I checked in with him to see what assets the artists still needed to give him. By telling Julia to focus on the sakura flower slashing effect rather than the character animations, we’ll have a visually pleasing grid for players to interact with, which I think it more important at this time, considering the majority of the time players spend playing is on the grid. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many participants at quality assurance, but those who were there did provide us with quality feedback. They seemed to really like how reactive our grid has become because of the sakura blooming effect, and with the slashing effect now implemented, our grid is even more reactive!    

kanji_samurai_cutgif Note: Refresh the page to see the gif again.                                                                                                                                                                                 
Tomorrow I’m driving home to New Hampshire to catch an early morning flight Sunday morning from Boston to San Francisco.I’m feeling optimistic about the trip, but at the same time I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve heard students have gotten jobs at GDC in previous years, but I don’t want to get dejected if I don’t get one. Any connections I can make with game companies now could lead to opportunities in the future. I am going to do my best to make a good impression on recruiters and introduce myself to those around me.

Mobile Market Analysis & Competitors

Although the mobile market is oversaturated, our game concept is unique enough to stand out in this cluttered market. Kanji Samurai’s main mechanic has the player draw directly on their mobile device’s screen in order to replicate Kanji to fight powerful samurai. Our game has both a narrative and an educational component, and generally feels more game like than the other titles on the app store that aim to teach player’s Kanji. Kanji Samurai will stand out beside the other Japanese learning titles because it is not purely educational–it is also about fighting enemies to become the most powerful samurai. Our narrative component, traditionally inspired Japanese art, and cultural accuracy will make Kanji Samurai stand out among the other Japanese language learning apps on the android play store. Kanji Samurai is not targeted towards a Japanese or hardcore educational audience, rather, it is targeted towards a younger audience who have a general interest in the Japanese language and culture.

According to Nielsons.com, a leader in market research of consumers across the globe, mobile games are most likely to achieve success by “producing visibility through promotions, by generating social buzz through word of mouth recommendations, [and] by retaining owners through higher levels of engagement.” In promoting Kanji Samurai, we will have to produce buzz at least a few weeks in advance of its release–doing so causes hype which will make people more likely to download our game when it comes out on the app store. The target audience for Kanji Samurai is relevantly young and therefore active on social media. Traditional advertising methods on television and websites will likely not work to get our target market’s attention. Neilsons notes that teens and females typically find out about new apps either through the recommendations of friends and family or on a social network. In the weeks leading up to Kanji Samurai’s release, we will advertise on Facebook and spread the buzz about our upcoming game by encouraging our friends, family, and supporters to post about the game on social media. In this new world where everyone seems to be interconnected, social media is key in appealing to our primarily millennial audience.

No matter how much we advertise, our game will not be a success if it does not have substance, which is why Neilsons points out that mobile apps remain successful past their initial release only by keeping those who downloaded the game interested and engaged. Kanji Samurai is far more engaging than the alternative Japanese language learning apps on the google play store, which primarily focus on study rather than story, art, and fun. Japanese Kanji Study and Kanji Senpai are two examples of the Kanji study apps available on the app store. While they do offer the player a wide variety of Japanese characters to learn, they are less fun because it is purely a study tool; it is not a game. Likewise, Japanese Katakana Handwriting aims to educate the player in the Japanese language of Katakana, but players simply trace the character; they never have to write it out for themselves. These games and others like them are purely education-based. While there are a select few apps on the play store that combine learning with compelling gameplay, such as Kanji no Owari-Learn Japanese! which is a basic role playing game, these games do not task the player with writing the Kanji themselves, but rather pick it from a list, which is not as effective for players to learn. By combining learning with compelling gameplay, traditional Japanese art, and a light narrative, Kanji Samurai will stand out among the more lackluster titles on the google play store.

Works Consulted

“Success in the Mobile Gaming Market Can Be Explainable and Predictable.” Success in the Mobile Gaming Market Can Be Explainable and Predictable. N.p., 3 May 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

“Attention! That’s the Secret to Mobile Game Success.” Attention! That’s the Secret to Mobile Game Success. N.p., 6 June 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

Competitors Mentioned

Kanji no Owari-Learn Japanese!                                       https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.SekaiProject.OwariNoKanji&hl=en

comp1

Japanese Katakana Handwriting                                       https://play.google.com/store/apps/detailsid=com.teachersparadise.japanesealphabetkatakanahandwriting&hl=en

comp2

Japanese Kanji Study                                                       https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy&hl=en
comp3

Kanji Senpai             https://play.google.com/store/apps/detailsid=jp.rodriguez.kanjisenpai.android&hl=en

comp4

Target Audience Analysis

Kanji Samurai Target Audience Analysis

Kanji Samurai is a challenging educational game that tasks players with tracing Japanese Kanji on their mobile devices in order to perform attacks against opponents. Players learn various and more complicated Kanji as they progress from peasant to powerful samurai warrior in a traditional Feudal Japan setting. Kanji Samurai is intended to be an entry level experience to writing Japanese Kanji that is both enjoyable and accessible to players.

Kanji Samurai is appropriate for an audience aged eight and up who enjoy playing unique games that offer more than just a fun experience. They see videogames as a medium for learning and discovery. We believe eight years is a good starting age for our target market because, according to PBS.org, age eight is the time when children want to start solving problems independently, have increased curiosity and eagerness to learn, and are able to concentrate on tasks for longer periods of time. Children below the age of eight have more difficulty concentrating and may get frustrated with the game if they do not write the Kanji correctly the first time. Eight year olds have more patience and are at the age where they are practicing handwriting in school. Kanji Samurai will reinforce that handwriting education by tasking kids with writing out Kanji characters with precision. Glynis has also tested the game with the students in the afterschool program she works for, and found that most third graders and up could understand how to play the game without excessive explanation. Kanji Samurai will appeal to eight-year-old’s first as a game and end up introducing them to the Japanese language along the way. Anyone older than eight years who has an interest in Japan and its language will enjoy our game as well.

Fans of our game will have to be fans to an extent of the Japanese culture; why would they be playing our game otherwise? Players of Kanji Samurai will likely be fans of games produced by the Japanese, such as the Pokemon or the Persona series. They may also be fans of popular Samurai movies like Yojimbo or the Seven Samurai, as well as television, and anime series such as Samurai Champloo and One Piece. According to one estimate from MIT, over half the world’s animated television shows originate in Japan. Many Americans have more than just a fleeting interest in Japanese culture. Americans have been buying up Japanese video games like Pokemon and the Final Fantasy series, and consuming Japanese media since the introduction of anime to the US with Astroboy in the 1960’s. There is a large market for Japanese media in the United States, and with that comes a general interest in Japan and its culture. The biggest fans of Japanese media today are teenagers and young adults, according to the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (Gardiner). Many young adults grew up watching and playing Pokemon which fostered an interest in Japan that’s lasted into adulthood.

Here at Radiant Ronin Productions, we believe we are equipped to create a successful Japanese language educational game for young Americans despite not being Japanese ourselves. Glynis has been a fan of Japan and it’s media since age nine, and is currently enrolled in Japanese 4 at Champlain College. She is extremely knowledgeable about the language and culture. Not only do we have Glynis as a great resource, but we can also use her connections to the Japanese language courses at Champlain to playtest our game on students actually learning Japanese, as well as her connections to the local elementary school afterschool program to test out the game on a younger audience. Although the rest of the team does not have Japanese language experience, Maddie has taken art history which had a section about Eastern art. She has also researched traditional Japanese art extensively in order to establish our art direction. We are committed to producing a game that is culturally accurate–we are conducting research so our samurai masters are depicted appropriately. We want to stay true to the Japanese culture and people. Players will enjoy Kanji Samurai for it’s Japanese theme and practical application–players can use our game as an introductory tool to Japanese Kanji.

Our players can be examined through many lenses, one of which is Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner’s theory explains that different students learn through different means. The two primary learning styles Kanji Samurai will appeal to are visual and linguistic. Kanji Samurai will appeal to visual learners because the game involves direct drawing on a mobile screen. Visual learners learn best through images, diagrams, and drawing. Linguistic learners will also find value in this game because they love learning new words and their associated meanings. These visual and linguistic learners identify as achievers under Bartle’s Player Taxonomy, meaning they derive the most pleasure from mastering a game’s mechanics. They favor games that offer them concrete progression. Kanji Samurai is made for these player types because they will have to master a set number of Kanji before they are able to proceed to the next samurai master. Another lens to examine our players through is Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun. Players of Kanji Samurai enjoy hard fun rather than easy fun, meaning they derive the most fun from games that bring about emotions of frustration followed by relief upon mastery of a game mechanic. Players will no doubt experience frustration in Kanji Samurai as they fail complicated Kanji strokes, but upon mastery of the Kanji they will feel a rush of accomplishment from completing a difficult challenge.

The target audience for Kanji Samurai is wide, but primarily targets children who aged eight and up who enjoy a challenge and have an interest in Japan. It is intended for achiever gamers who get a rush from mastering a challenging game mechanic. Visual and linguistic learners will be the most drawn to Kanji Samurai due to it’s style of learning–tracing a foreign language’s characters on a mobile phone which is both a visual and linguistic experience. Finally, Kanji Samurai will appeal to those interested in the Japanese culture–inspired by Japanese anime and video games or even personal travel experience. Kanji Samurai is intended to appeal to an audience of Japanese fans who enjoy learning and appreciate the challenge that comes with mastering a new language.

Works Consulted

“Approaches to Learning.” PBS Parents. PBS, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
<http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/eight/approachestolearning
.html>.

Dizikes, Peter MIT News. “Why Are Japanese Cartoons a Global Hit?” MIT News. MIT
News Office, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.
<http://news.mit.edu/2013/the-soul-of-anime-0129&gt;.
Lazzaro, Nicole. “The 4 Keys 2 Fun.” Nicole Lazzaros Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct.
2016. <http://www.nicolelazzaro.com/the4-keys-to-fun/&gt;.

“Right Stuf Anime.” History of Anime in the US. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.rightstufanime.com/anime-resources-history-of-anime-in-the-us&gt;.

Stewart, Bart. “Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model.” Gamasutra. UBM, 1
Sept. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.
<http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6474/personality_and_play_styles_a_.p
hp?pr>.

 

 

Preparing for GDC

This weekend I am setting off across the country to San Francisco, California for the Game Developer’s Conference! I am extremely excited to have this opportunity and intend to embrace it to it’s fullest! There are so many interesting sessions to choose from and Champlain College has set up many meeting opportunities for us to meet with recruiters from game companies.

In addition to the recruiters available to me through Champlain, I’ve also reached out to some of the employees of companies attending through GDC Connect, which lets you send messages to specific people at exhibiting companies in the hopes to set up a meeting with them. I’ve currently got one meeting set up with a producer from an international casual gaming company and I am really looking forward to it. I plan to put together a list of questions for him in order to gain insight into becoming a better producer, learn more about his company and his work experience, and perhaps even make a job connection.

My lead artist, Maddie, is attending GDC as well and we plan to show off Kanji Samurai to as many people as possible, especially recruiters! I’ve also spoken with her about setting up a meeting with an exhibiting company. I think it will be easier to introduce our game if we have each other’s support. Maddie is a pretty quiet person, and at GDC she’ll have to pitch the game for the first time. As the artist it’s never really been her job to articulate what Kanji Samurai is all about, but if she’s alone with a recruiter at GDC she’ll have to do just that! I offered to practice our pitches with each other and told her I’d like to walk around together at GDC if our schedules align.  Maddie’s such a sweet person and a super talented artist and I think that together we can help highlight one another’s strengths to potential employers better than we would be able to on our own.

In order to have Kanji Samurai presented in the best light, I’m really pushing my team to get their tasks done this week. I’ve created a checklist specific to GDC in addition to our already established project plan just to indicate to them what should ideally be in the game for GDC. My team seems willing and able to get it done. At today’s meeting we prioritized what each member should be working on and set a deadline of Sunday for the GDC tasklist. Luckily I’ll be able to download the game from anywhere, so if Eric has to make some necessary changes after the deadline it would still be okay (although of course ideally everything would be in by Sunday since I’ll be at the conference Monday morning).

I’ve got a sleek business card and I think I’m friendly and confident enough to present myself well. There’s a lot of pressure though because I really want to make a good impression. I have to believe in myself and the skills I have to offer.

Kanji Recognition, Visual Effects, and a New Game Mode

We’re on track to finish our second Sprint this coming Wednesday. Everyone is on track, though we don’t have much in game to show for it. Most of the work thus far has been concept art and programming fixes, so even though my team has done a great deal of work, we don’t have much in the build yet that showcases it. I’m hoping we can get the Kanji recognition system up to snuff and solid visual feedback in before myself and our lead artist, Maddie, attend the Game Developer’s Conference in a couple of weeks. It would be ideal to have a build to show off to potential employers.

Our lead programmer Eric has a pretty big challenge ahead of him in accounting for various player inputs. He’s already made it so players can make a few mistakes when they draw the Kanji. For example, if players draw a line a node or two off or they draw the Kanji bigger or smaller than the template they will still be counted correct, provided the Kanji is proportional. We had planned on allowing players to draw the Kanji in any stroke order they wanted as well, but if we did that there would be no way to inform the player how well they were doing through visual feedback until they finished writing the entire Kanji. There would be no way for the game to know which stroke they were intending to draw, so therefore we could not incorporate all the visual effects we want to showcase when players make a mistake, and we want those visual effects. Eric created two modes of input: one requiring stroke order and one not. I went with him to QA last week to see which mode players prefer and we were glad that players felt the same way Eric and I did: Players will be forced to write the Kanji in stroke order but in return they will be rewarded with greater visual feedback and effects.

Even with stroke order back in, the input system will still be far more fair than it was last semester. Here are the errors in inputs the programming team is going to account for:

  • Allow players to combine strokes
  • Allow players to break up strokes
  • Allow players to go in any direction
  • Highlight node players should start on.
    • In easiest level perhaps it should be like a connect the dots
  • Let squares (boxes)  be one continuous stroke in any direction and broken up
    • Such as in the Kanji ‘right’

As the programmers work on our input system, the artists have been working mostly on concept ideas for the grid and visual feedback. We have decided to make the grid itself react in response to the player’s touch. We have changed the nodes to sakura buds that will bloom when the player traces over them. Once players get the stroke correct, their stroke will ‘lock in’, showcased by a sword slashing through the sakura flowers so only a stylized black stroke of ink remains. In contrast, ink splotches will appear on screen if players start to go too far in their stroke lengths. We have also decided to indicate to the player which node to start on by having it glow or making it a distinctly different flower bud.

A challenge lies in finding work for everyone to do while the kinks with the Kanji recognition system are being worked out. Our second programmer, Mary, has had to put off on building the scoring system for the Kanji until the recognition system is complete, but soon we’ll have an additional game mode that she can work on that won’t be dependent on the Kanji recognition system. I’ve asked our designer, Luca, to work on planning out a new game mode that will better aid players in remembering the meaning behind the Kanjis. This mode will not be focused on drawing the Kanji, but rather matching the English word to the Kanji characters. This mode is intended to really drive home the meaning behind each Kanji, as numerous QA testers have noted they aren’t really learning what the Kanji mean but only how to draw them. We’ve decided this mode will work as a bridge between levels. This mode was initially thought up by our other designer, Connor, but Luca will be investing further design time into it as Connor has become our dedicated sound designer and if we want sound effects for each Kanji, I’ve calculated he must do 6 per week in order to finish by the end of the semester. I’ve worked out a similar schedule for the art that relates to each Kanji: Each of the four artists will have to draw about 2 Kanjis per week starting next Wednesday if we intend to have matching imagery for each Kanji in time for senior show.
The project plan has been worked out and all seems possible. We even have a few extra weeks where the plan looks sparse to account for any impediments that arise during the next few months of development. I am feeling tentatively confident.

Avian Assault Market Analysis

titleAvian Assault is the bird-themed tower defense/time management game I worked on in Junior year. In the game, players must defend their forest from deforestation while also tending to their bird ‘troops’ needs for food, ammo, and morale. Players control General Owl Athena in order to fulfill these needs. All the art pictured below was done by Connor Chapin and Ben Hiller. Tim Healy and George Harmon were the designers, and Tony Libardi was the programmer. I was the producer. This was my most successful team dynamic yet–after the semester was over my team surprised me by presenting me with a card saying I was the best producer they’d ever had. It really meant a lot to me.

The Team:

Designer – George Harmon
Designer – Tim Healey
Artist – Connor Chapin
Artist – Ben Hiller
Programmer – Anthony Libardi
Producer – Emily Harnedy

portraitofathena

Avian Assault Market Analysis

Tower Defense Games Genre Overview

The tower defense genre was popularized by online flash games in the early 2000’s, though the game most widely credited as the first tower defense game was Rampart, which was created by Atari in 1990 (Avery 2). Tower Defense games feature the core mechanic of erecting towers to defend against invading enemies and prevent them from reaching the end of a pathway. Once all the enemies are defeated, players are given the option to purchase new towers and upgrades with whatever money they have acquired from killing enemies in preparation for the next round. Tower defense games can be goofy or serious; in fact the “towers” don’t have to be towers at all. An extremely popular tower defense game, Bloons, stars monkeys popping enemy balloons.

Time Management Games Genre Overview

Time management games focus on the player managing their time and resources in an efficient and strategic way. Wikipedia’s page on time management video games describes the player’s task as follows, “The player must react to the incoming requests that occur as they play and serve them in the most effective manner to get the greatest possible reward.” These games are typically popular with women and feature a bright and friendly aesthetic. A popular example of a time management game is Diner Dash, in which the player controls Flo the waitress and manages a diner by reacting to customer requests.

avianassaultscreenshot

Avian Assault Gameplay Overview

Avian Assault combines the genres of tower defense and time management to create a unique gameplay experience. In Avian Assault, players take direct control of General Owl Athena and must support their bird troops in battle against the humans that threaten to cut down their forest for lumber. As the game begins, players first must purchase and assign different birds to the available trees in order to defend against the incoming enemy hoard. This preparation phase represents the tower defense genre. After filling the available trees with birds, the battle phase begins in which players must continuously supply their bird troops with food and ammo. Players will also have to switch out birds when they get tired from battle. These mechanics are introduced gradually, and represent the time management mechanic of responding to incoming requests that the player must meet. In Avian Assault, players can even directly affect enemies by stunning them with General Owl Athena’s special screech attack.

types-of-birbs

All 4 unit types. Descriptions by designer George Harmon

Target Market and Audience description

Avian Assault will appeal mostly to casual gamers looking for a simple yet engaging video game that can occupy their free time. We plan to publish the game online to gaming websites such as Kongregate, Addicting Games, and Armor Games, as well as some educational websites like Funbrain and Scholastic. Later, we may publish on mobile platforms once popularity is gained. Publishing the game first on websites to gain initial popularity before porting to mobile is a strategy that worked for the developers of the tower defense game “Kingdom Rush”, which spent most of its life on the top 100 of the app store (Ruiz). Also, 62% of gamers cite their favorite platform to play games on is their computers, which means we will reach the widest audience by publishing on computers first (Ipsos MediaCT 7).

We will market the game to an audience between the ages of 10 and 40. The reason for such a young starting age is because children are able to think things through and solve hard problems by age 7, meaning they should be able to play our fairly simple tower defense game (Schell 101). The cartoon friendly art style and bird theme will appeal to youngsters as well. Teachers and educational websites will help us reach this younger demographic because they will support the environmentally responsible theme of our game—defending a forest habitat from deforestation. Thanks to its meaningful theme, Avian Assault can likely be hosted on websites approved by teachers for gameplay in schools, such as Funbrain and Scholastic.com. Older children and adults will enjoy our game as well. Many adults are interested in video games but don’t have the time to play for extended periods of time, which makes our quick tower defense/time management game perfect for them. Avian Assault has a wide appeal because of its platform–internet gaming websites like AddictingGames and Kongregate–which appeal to a wide range of ages and have millions of players each day (Kongregate Developers).

The fact our game does not have traditional, realistic towers and instead features bright and quirky birds makes it stand out among more serious tower defense games in the genre. Some of the most popular tower defense and time management games share our bright, cartoony, and friendly aesthetic. Bloons, the game starring monkeys defending themselves from balloons mentioned in the tower defense section, shares our animal theme and brightly colored aesthetic. Plants vs. Zombies, a game featuring plants defending their home from incoming zombies, also shares our bright color palette. Plants vs. Zombies and Bloons are highly successful because they are quirky, unique twists on the tower defense genre. Popular time management games such as Dinner Dash and Cake Mania also have a bright color palette coupled with a friendly art style that Avian Assault exemplifies. These games do not take themselves very seriously; they are casual games that have a wide appeal. Avian Assault will share that wide appeal due to its friendly, inviting art style and the fact that it combines the genres of tower defense and time management to reel in a wider audience. The 3d art style may also lead to increased interest because it is unusual–most tower defense and time management games are made in 2d. Avian Assault will be the next game to bring popularity to both the tower defense and time management genres.

We plan to market this game to both genders, because aspects of its gameplay appeals to both males and females.  According to Flurry who analyzed gender in regards to game type, (see chart below) females are known for liking management/sim games, while males are known for enjoying strategy games (Calvin 5). Adult women are especially fond of time management games and fill most of the market for casual gaming. According to Schell, females typically enjoy games that relate to the real world and allow them to fulfill nurturing roles (Schell 104). Avian Assault appeals to this demographic because players are tasked with not only defeating enemies, but supporting the birds as well. Avian Assault is ultimately about protecting the inner forest from those who wish to do it harm, which appeals to females in their desire to nurture. Additionally, females like games that relate to real life, which Avian Assault does. It’s theme of deforestation is a true threat to environments outside of the game world, which females will appreciate.

analytics

Males, Schell writes, typically enjoy games that feature mastery, destruction, and trial and error (Schell 103).  Males will enjoy mastering Avian Assault by figuring out the best placement of bird units to defend against the enemy hoard, and they will enjoy watching the enemies fall by executing their strategy. Males may also appreciate the war theme of the game.

Gameplay in our tower defense/time management game will not be too challenging–it will appeal to the fans of tower defense casual games such as Bloons rather than fans of the more hardcore tower defense games like Defense Grid. We also do not want to alienate younger players by making the game too hard. Fans of brightly colored, fast paced time management games such as Dinner Dash and Cake Mania will also enjoy our game. Avian Assault will appeal to gamers with the psychographic of achievers, meaning they play games so they can feel a sense of accomplishment from achieving the goals of the game (Schell 110). Our target market will delight in every enemy wave they destroy, and feel a sense of personal accomplishment from protecting the Heart of the Forest from those who wish to cut it down for lumber. We aim to market our game to those seeking a fun, slightly challenging, casual experience that can occupy their free time.

Works Cited & Consulted

Avery, Phillipa. “Computational Intelligence in Games.” (2013): n. pag. Center for Computer Games Research. Web. 23 Jan. 2016 <http://julian.togelius.com/Avery2011Computational.pdf&gt;

Calvin. “Gamer Demographics That Every Developer Should Know.”Apptopia. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 06 Feb. 2016.<http://blog.apptopia.com/game-demographics-that-every-developer-should-know/>.

Ipsos MediaCT. “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry.” 5.1 (2015): n.pag. Entertainment Software Association, 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf&gt;.

Ruiz, Pablo. “Making a Hit Tower Defense Game: A Top App Dev Interview.” Ray Wenderlich. Razeware LLC., 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.raywenderlich.com/30636/top-developer-interviews-ironhide-game-studio&gt;.

Schell, Jesse. “Demographics.” The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann, 2008. 97-112. Print.

“Why Choose Kongregate? – Kongregate Developers.” Kongregate Developers. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://developers.kongregate.com/docs/why-kong/welcome>.

The wikis on tower defense games and time management games:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_management_(video_game_genre)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_defense

Half Moon Helix Market Analysis

Half Moon Helix was the final game developed in production 1. I managed a team of two designers, two artists, and two programmers. Winston Pemberton created the visual design documents pictured below, and the art assets featured were created by Thomas Harrison and Brent Edwards. Half Moon Helix was created for the mobile phone specifically to use it’s screen rotation feature. If players hold their phone horizontally, they are able to roll atop the walls (grey), but if players hold it vertically, they are able to roll up the ride -able walls (tan). Players must switch between these two modes to collect the moonstone and progress to the next level.

diagram2diagram1

The Team:                                                                                                                                              
Designer – Winston Pemberton
Designer – Levi Rohr
Artist – Brent Edwards
Artist – Thomas Harrison
Programmer – Drew Matthews
Programmer – Ryan Sobczak
Producer – Emily Harnedy

Concept

Half Moon Helix is a ball rolling puzzler for mobile devices. Players guide a mystical ball through an ancient Aztec inspired temple filled with obstacles in order to light up the moon. To overcome obstacles, players must change the perspective of the level by tapping the screen of their phones. The art aesthetic is a mixture of ancient stonework and bronze technology, creating a curious, mysterious feel for the game.

Target Market

Given the difficulty spikes in the game and the implementation of obstacles, the primary target market is young teens and young adults between the ages of 10 and 40. The flashy yet mysterious aesthetic will appeal to this audience who enjoys bright, exciting things. The game will appeal to a broad range of gamers; the ancient ruins reminiscent of the untouched ruins of Skyrim and the fast paced levels reminiscent of recent arcade hits on mobile devices, such as Candy Crush. The game combines the awe of an exploration game with the thrill of an arcade game.

Puzzlers and arcade games are common on the app store. Arcade games because they can be completed quickly, and puzzlers because the player can play them at their leisure. Half Moon Helix combines these genres for a thoughtful, exciting experience.

According to BusinessInsider.com, the mobile app revenue will reach $46 billion by 2016. This number proves that apps are not going anywhere anytime soon. Consumers seek new apps daily for convenience, efficiency, and fun. Half Moon Helix will offer a new game for users to play.

Half Moon Helix has a broad potential audience. Puzzles and ball rollers appeal to both genders. The mystical Aztec temple is a setting that both genders and multiple ages can enjoy.  The difficulty in Half Moon Helix increases at a steady rate as the player progresses, but it is difficult enough that young children will not grasp the controls and puzzles. Some dexterity is required in playing Half Moon Helix, because players will need to tilt their phone to accelerate and therefore move the player. Because of this, older members of the mobile gaming community are not part of our target market.

Ball rollers already have a target audience for them. Katamari Damacy and Super Monkey Ball are just a few of the numerous ball rollers already available on the app store, each one featuring a different aesthetic and slight changes in mechanics. The fact there are so many ball roller games available showcases that ball rollers are popular and they are not going anywhere. It also means we will have to make ours stand out from the crowd. Our game differs from most in granting the player the ability to jump and, more importantly, giving the player the power to change the perspective of the level in order to beat it. Half Moon Helix is both classic and innovative in this regard.

Like most app games, Half Moon Helix is designed to be played in short bursts. We encourage this style of play through providing a level select screen. Our target market age range encompasses both students and adults. This age range is full of busy people. Students have school and adults have work. Because of their lifestyles, it is imperative we design our game with a pick up and play style.

analytics

This graph shows how age and gender factor into the games people play. Unfortunately, it does not directly state puzzle games, but I’d say strategy and arcade are the closet genres to what our game is. As you can see, strategy games are popular among males in their mid-twenties. Arcade games are gender neutral, with a slight lean in the female direction. This graph simply reinforces the point that our game can appeal to a broad audience of both genders.

To draw attention to our game, we will contact prominent app reviewers and ask them to write up a review for our game. In addition, we will create social media pages for our game on Facebook and Twitter. We will actively post on these accounts and post links on other pages related to gaming in order to get more players interested in our game.

Hypothetical Player

Amy is a single mother in her mid-twenties who has been addicted to Candy Crush for the past few months. Her daily life consists of going to work, meeting with friends, and tending to her son. She is a casual gamer who likes to play app games in the line at the grocery store, at the waiting room of doctor’s, and sometimes before bed. Amy has been frustrated with Candy Crush lately and wants to try something new. She scans the app store for something similar, and stumbles upon Half Moon Helix, a ball rolling puzzler with a bright, whimsical aesthetic. Amy has not played a game like this before, but the mystical, glowing art appeals to her.

Amy begins playing the game immediately. She is fine with paying the $1.99 the game costs, because it is worth it for 10 exciting levels. Amy gets stuck on a few levels, but without having to pay to continue she is able to beat them within a couple weeks. Amy is so satisfied with her purchase she decides to buy an additional level pack which contains 10 more levels for her to master.

Marketing

Because the app market is so bloated, it may prove difficult to garner popularity for our game. However, there are numerous resources and strategies available to help developers connect with the right kind of gamers for their game. One of those is App Store Optimization, which helps developers’ apps get high visibility (BusinessInsider). App Store Optimization is simply a strategy to optimize the content of your app so the search engine positions it higher on users’ search results page. It means including keywords in your app’s description that your target market will most likely use to look up games they are interested in (Kissmetrics). We will sign up for MobilDevHQ, which is an App Store Optimization resource that helps developers explore the trends in the market and develop keywords for our app that users will most likely search for.

In addition to optimizing our app for the search function of the app store, we can advertise inside other apps as well. Many apps feature in app advertising for other games. We can pay to have our game advertised inside of similar games that appeal to the same target market. It helps to have game sites review your game so in the description on the app store you can include these reviews. We will actively post about our game on social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter etc., to get the word out there.

Monetization

We will price our game at $1.99 to $2.99. In the future, we may create a level pack and charge an additional fee. Players may also choose to donate an amount of their choosing to the developers in support and as encouragement to make future games.

Source Links:

“App Store Optimization – A Crucial Piece of the Mobile App Marketing Puzzle.” App Store Optimization – A Crucial Piece of the Mobile App Marketing Puzzle. N.p., n.d. Web.  <https://blog.kissmetrics.com/app-store-optimization/&gt;.

Danova, Tony. “The Science Of App Marketing: How To Make Your App Stand Out In The Super-Crowded App Stores.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 04 Jan. 2014. Web.  <http://www.businessinsider.com/top-app-store-marketing-tips-2013-10&gt;.

LeMonds, Kami. “Marketing Your Windows Phone App 101 – Q&A with Resident Windows Phone Developer Bernardo Zamora.” Building Apps for Windows. N.p., 07 Nov. 2014. Web. <http://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2013/03/01/marketing-your-windows-phone-app-101-qa-with-resident-windows-phone-developer-bernardo-zamora/&gt;.