How Tuffle developers tried themselves in mobile game dev
After a year and a half of hard work on the digital memory service Tuffle.com, the release of a mobile application, and then its promotion, our team began to look for new directions that could provide startup financing. We noted several quite promising options and stopped in the field of the gaming industry. And if there was already experience in the development of iOS applications, then we turned out to be amateurs in mobile game dev. Initially, treating the future project as a test project, we began to sort through all kinds of ideas and genres. Since neither financial nor human capabilities allowed to create a large title on the move, it was necessary to do something small, but interesting.
The first step was to choose a genre - it was decided to stay on the timekillers. Firstly, the creation of such games does not entail serious costs - even one person can make them. Secondly, such projects are done quite quickly, and in conditions where you just need to test the idea, this factor is of no small importance.
But time killers can also be different. We conducted a small market analysis and identified several factors for ourselves:
- The game should be memorable;
- It should be convenient to play anywhere and anytime;
- The game should be easy to execute and manage;
- The game must be difficult in terms of passing.
In addition, we tried to take into account the trend for 8-bit projects. Titles like Flappy Bird and Timberman managed to gain popularity with a mobile audience, and therefore it was decided to try to design their pilot game project in the same style. Moreover, pixel art gave the workflow a certain “sense of the beginning”, similar to old toys, which later turned into large-scale and famous games with beautiful graphics and a huge audience.
As a result, we decided to create an iOS-game about a digger , whose task is to dig as deep as possible, without encountering obstacles. Initially, it was assumed that Brutal Digger will receive only one location, which will smoothly change as you progress. Later, it was decided to abandon this idea - because if a player cannot dig deep enough, then he simply will not see everything that we have prepared for him. Therefore, our designer created several locations, including a cemetery, desert and night. In addition, there was also a winter card with the brutal Santa, however, it existed until February 1 and was turned off - Christmas somewhere in the world has long passed.
The first mechanics we used was tapas. By analogy with Swing Copters, the character moved either left or right. To change its direction, you had to touch the screen. Later we added another mechanic - push. Hold your finger on the smartphone screen, and the digger begins to dig strictly down. Control in the latter case was carried out by means of an accelerometer. The second mechanics turned out to be more convenient, and digging in this way could be noticeably deeper. As a result of team debate, it was decided to show both mechanics to people - friends and acquaintances, schoolchildren and even young mothers saw the Brutal Digger game in courses on the development and upbringing of young children. Almost unanimously, everyone preferred control with an accelerometer.
As for the obstacles, we immediately decided to eliminate the addiction factor - the user does not need to know where the gap will be next. Therefore, horizontal blocks are randomly generated. To add some interest and dynamics to Brutal Digger, we decided to add some artifacts to the game. So, gold widens the gap between obstacles, and skulls and bones - on the contrary, narrow. Dynamite was also added - a spectacular way to destroy the nearest obstacle.
Initially, we assumed that only one character would be used in the game, but shortly before the release, our designer had released a few more funny options that we liked. Thus, in addition to the very first digger, Brutal Digger also included: a brutal American with a pickaxe, a Russian with a balalaika, a Frenchman in thongs, a sapper with a shovel and Santa digging the ground with a Christmas tree. In addition, for the sake of the fan, we added to the project a completely naked digger with a horned helmet - an Easter egg that appears very rarely in the game. A nudist digger flies down and blows everything in its path. To be fair, the result achieved in this way is not taken into account.
A bit short-sighted was the use of the third version of the Cocos2d engine. Porting Brutal Digger to Android (along with an accelerometer) proved to be quite difficult. In addition, on different devices, the game was displayed in different ways. If in the case of the Galaxy Note III only periodic crashes were noticed, then the HTC One (M8) has already seriously gone texture. It would be a very long time to fix these shortcomings, and so we decided to test the game on iOS for the time being and direct our efforts towards its further improvement. If the digger turns out to be in demand among iPhone users, then this, of course, motivates us to release the game for the mobile platform from Google.
It is also worth saying a few words about balance. In the process of development, the game was launched, probably, not one thousand times, as a result of which various options for balancing complexity were tested. We stopped on the principle of "from simple to complex." That is, at the beginning, between the obstacles a little more gap, more gold, and also lower the speed of the character. But somewhere around 10 seconds after the start, the difficulty becomes maximum, and then the player digs as much as he can hold out.
Surprisingly, creating mobile games was pretty fun. Moreover, to watch how a fully-fledged title grows out of a prototype - a rather entertaining lesson. It took us almost two and a half months to create the Brutal Digger, despite the fact that initially we expected to prepare the game in three to four weeks. Here, to some extent, our inexperience affected us, lengthy testing, as well as the preparation of locations and characters. Now we have already released the first large-scale update, which brought with it a new artifact (night vision goggles, with which you can see weak points in obstacles), a distance scale (you could see your result at the top of the screen before), as well as a complicating element - flashlight. So that he does not go out, the player on his way will have to collect batteries.
You can familiarize yourself with the result of our labors by clicking on this link (the game is free).
In future articles, we will share our experience in promoting Brutal Digger. What happened right away, and not so much. Leave your opinions and comments, we will try to answer them.
Our previous materials:
Advantages of dedicated servers over cloud solutions using the Tuffle.com server architecture example