19 April 2013

It’s been a long time since I wrote my last article here, so it would be better to keep the blog running by writing some new articles.
And, hell yeah, first post for 2013!!!

No tutorial this time. I just wanna share some numbers from my latest game: Shotgun vs Zombies.

shotgun vs zombies

Actually, I’d like to write a post mortem for the previous game: Stack of Defence. But since Playtomic service is completely down, I lost my stats. Not only for that game, but all my games that using their services. :\

Alright enough rants about Playtomic, let’s start the story here…
But, first things first, again and again, my enggrish is rly sux, so please don’t complaint about that…

Inspiration
If you’ve already play the game, you’ll find many similarities with many games from other developers. the gameplay is inspired from titles like Zombocalypse, Stop GMO, Tequila Zombies, and also other titles with similar gameplay. There are plenty games with zombie theme and with that kind of gameplay.
zombocalypse-12294stop-gmo-guns
tequila

I also heavily inspired by Discount Mayonnaise for its violent, grind based, fast paced, & hardcore gameplay. That’s pretty cool game!!
discount

Almost forget, Borderlands 2:
borderlands
Salvador Rulz!!!!

In conclusion, I want to create a mindless and hardcore survival game with lot of zombies to kill, upgradeable gun, explosion, blood, and gore, but with simple gameplay and controls...
Nothing too fancy about the gameplay mechanics, just clones of clones of clones of clones from above titles…LOL

Execution
Lot of inspiration here, I need to make my game standout (or at least, different) from the titles above.
What if there is only one weapon but can be upgraded become the destructive one. A shotgun seems pretty cool…
And what if it can installed with some mods like grenade launcher, rocket launcher, bayonet, ice bullet, etc. So we can shoot all of them with pulling only one trigger!?!?

Then I create this shotgun:
Gun

I ‘ve got the ultimately-badass but absurd shotgun, how about the characters?
Well, the main character itself have no background story behind him. I simply putting everything that make him good looking. XD
head

The same thing goes to the zombies. Just create a base zombie, give him some armor & weapon, then you’ll get 11 different zombie types. Kinda lazy, but can save the development times so much… XD
zombie

The other thing that make the game different from the others is that the zombies falling from the skies instead of crawling from the underground.
Sounds absurd? Absolutely yes. But seems that the players really love it:
comment
It’s actually just a product from my laziness to create crawling animation. XD

Talking about the game code, I’m using CitrusEngine for this game. I dunno why, but seems that I’m heavily addicted with this game engine. I also use it for several games so far. Big thanks to its contributor…
Faced no problem with the game coding process. So what else to write here?

In the end, the game completed for about 1,5 months. Not an effective time as I easily distracted to another things when developing that game: browsing, playing Borderlands 2, and so on… XD
Actually, it’s exceed my own deadline. In the last week of January, even the levels is not yet designed. Boss hasn’t created. LOL
So, some additional features for the game are canceled: achievements, alternative game modes, etc. I think it wouldn’t hurt the game so much.

Bidding
I’m sure $$$ always be the most interesting part… XD
I put the game on FGL on February. Gathering some developer feedbacks, first impression, and also  FGL pre-review service for about one week. Fixing bugs, balancing and updating the game till I feel the game is ready for bidding stage.
After another 2 days for FGL review process, the game got Editor Rating 8, which also mean meet my own target for the FGL Rating.

Okay, the game currently on bidding stage, what happens? Better see the charts:

The chart above shows the bidding process starting from 6 to 12 February. The bids started from $750 and ended to $3050. Not bad.
I also posted the game at TalkArcades, hoping that there will be some good bids. But after received some bids from TalkArcades members, seems that they only able to bids no more than 2k.
Spamming many sponsor inbox didn’t work as well. I got not even a single reply after sending 50++ emails to them…

The bids stuck at 3k after a week. And there are no new bid after that. 3k is acceptable for me, but better find out what will happen if I hit the Last Call button:

As you can see, I got even more bids. Although the bids value seems to be move up gradually, but it’s far better than before I activate Last Call mode.
I need to extend the bidding for another 24 hours since there is a new bid just a few seconds before the Last Call ended, and I still got new bids after that. Finally, I pick the last and highest bid $8150 from ArmorGames as winning bid.

In total, I got 30 bids after putting the game on bidding stage for about 3 weeks. Maybe I can get higher bid if I wait longer. But I always have not enough patience to wait more than 1 months. XD

Release
The guys at ArmorGames are really crazy. They want to release the game on their site just three days after I received their first mail!!!


But no real problem here. Their branding and API are pretty straight forward to implement. And the communication is pretty good.
So finally, the game can be released on their specified day: 28 February 2013.  And you know what, I also already received the payment on that day too…
No wonder if they’re one of the best flash game portals alongside a big name like Kongregate, Miniclip, etc…

During the exclusivity period on ArmorGames, my game got a mixed response from the people. Some of them said that the game is near impossible, while the other said that the game is addicting and challenging.
So far the game got for about 500k gameplays and 1,8k faves. Not sure if it good achievements or not. But what I know is that it far below if compared to other big titles like Raze, Kingdom Rush, Epic Battle Fantasy, etc… LOL

The game goes viral on 20 March 2013. Using Mochi leaderboard to handle the highscore, so I can use its basic analytics service (gameplay, duration, hosts,etc). Yeah Playtomic ruins everything… XD

Seems that the game only got decent response from the players on many portal sites. The only noticeable achievements are: featured on MochiGames & 3rd Place for Kongregate Weekly Contest.
But on Newgrounds, it got not even a P-Bot Daily Picks nor Featured on frontpage, although the game got a pretty good ratings. I’m kinda disappointed with this one.

I got the same mixed feedback from those sites, just like on the ArmorGames one. One said the game is too hard, but the other one likes it.
But my favorite comment is this:
comment2
LOL

Stats Breakdown
The game stats is not pretty spectacular:
Stats

Total 1 million plays until now. Adding stats from ArmorGames, then it will become 1,5 million gameplays.
Currently 10-20k average plays today.
Peak at 120k plays.
300 sites host the game
Average 15 minutes session lengths.
Top 5 countries: Brazil, US, Mexico, Spain, & Argentina

Wut?? no chinese sites, rly???
Yep, the game analytics only shows relatively small number of plays from china mainland. That’s because most of them hack the sitelock code and publish the game when it currently on exclusivity period on ArmorGames.
I know that because my blog got massive amounts of traffics from several chinese game portals during that period: 7k7k, 4399, etc. They’re pretty well known among the flash game developers.
So that’s the reason why plays from chinese portals not tracked by Mochis. They hosted the earlier game version which not use Mochi leaderboard.
Maybe chinese people can increase the total number of plays by 1, 5, or 10 millions. Who knows… XD
Not a big problem for me since no ads on the game. But surely a big problem for my sponsor. I feel sorry bout that…

As I said before, nothing too spectacular about the game statistics. But still a quite good achievement for me personally. It’s my first game that can reach 1 millions play in one month.

Gross Earning
So, let’s calculate how much I earn for this game so far:

Primary Sponsorship: $8150
Non-Exclusive Sponsorship: $1100
Mochi: $21
Kongregate Weekly Contest Prize: $150
TOTAL: $9429



Small Mochiads revenue because the ads implemented few weeks after the game goes viral.
In the agreement between me and ArmorGames, there are no clause about enabling ads for the game. But since the Mochi staff asked to enable it, in exchange they will feature the game on their site, everyone seems to be happy about that deal.

What Went Right
1. Addictive gameplay
Well, it could be just my own opinion based on players feedback & numbers of players completed the game. XD

2. Don’t ask why the zombies coming from the sky
It not intended to be a joke. But it seems really work well…
While the other jokes in this game are dry and lame. XD

3. Annoying boss
Tedious game must be ended with annoying boss… boss
No one loves this cute guy… XD

What Went Wrong
1. Game balance
2. Game balance
3. Game balance
I must admit, this game balance is the most problematic thing in this game. Tedious gameplay, too much ‘luck’ factor than skills, shotgun stats aren’t well-distributed, & enemy scaling is messy.

I just want the zombies getting stronger when the player getting stronger, just like on Elder Scroll or Borderlands series. But seems that I wrongly implemented it. So instead making the game challenging for most players, it just make the game frustrating one and need too long grinds to complete.
The increase of difficulty level for the zombies is just to harsh. At some levels, when the zombie already leveled up, you will stuck and need to grind on that level for 10++ times.

The shotgun itself isn’t less problematic. Some parts are overpowered: bayonet. Simply upgrade this to its maximum power, and you’ll beat the game easily.
Hey, it is Shotgun vs Zombies, not Bayonet vs Zombies…

There are more flaws about this game, but this article is too long already. So better end this right now… XD

What Next?

Yeah, keep the working formula, fix all the spotted flaws, add some new features, new enemies, new abilities, etc. And you’ll get a new game… Hopefully the more badass one… XD
But I have no plan to create a sequel for this game. I need to complete my studies first…

Thanks for reading anyway and have a good day…