How I created mobile fighting game for iOS
Chapter 1. Thanks, Michael Dudikoff
As a child, I loved to dream about who I would become when I grew up. Which way to choose: space or ocean depths? No, I wanted to create games. Why games? I grew up at a time when the mind of any boy was poisoned by a computer boom and the first console battles. Years passed, my dream slept like a bear, crushed by working days. And then, one day ...
March 2014. 7 am in the usual Moscow gym. I lift dumbbells, suppressing sleepy dissatisfaction with conversations with local hochmaks. Then HE suddenly wedged into our conversation.
Boys and girls born at the dawn of the USSR remember well the nasal one-voice translation from jammed video tapes. And then one of the owners of that voice appears on the TV screen, suspended from the ceiling. Of course, I immediately recognized the legendary Michael Dudikoff, the hero of the epic American Ninja.
Michael reminded me how funny shurikens were thrown in old ninja movies. A stack of stars in one hand, the other is nestled along it with sliding movements to hit the enemy between the eyes.
Heaven opened up and a ray of heavenly light hit my head! But what if, instead of a stack of shurikens, you have a smartphone in the palm of your hand, and with your second hand you slide across the screen, firing realistic shurikens into an opponent. The level of injuries inflicted on an opponent depends on the accuracy of each throw. At the same time, no less deadly stars fly into you. You can’t dodge, but you can eliminate the opponent first and “survive”. Each battle conducted increases the game experience and personal skill. Gaining experience, you get the opportunity to use shurikens with more amazing power. A complete set for fun.
In the role of rivals - only living people. Users from anywhere in the world. Cool to fight with friends, but you can fight with a stranger. Such a one-on-one minute stabbing.
The cool thing is that when “flying out” from the screen of one smartphone, the shuriken, without changing the given trajectory, breaks through space and time onto the opponent’s screen. Virtual reality in action. The drive will add a unique sound and animation.
So the idea of an elegant time killer was born. And a little later the baby Hattori was born.
Chapter 2. On the road, we have to go, my friend
To create a good and high-quality product, it is necessary to overcome many difficulties, go through a series of mandatory stages. And each stage should be embodied by a professional in his field. Only in this case a strong house will be built of bricks, and not a squishy shack.
Technical task. Beginning startups are often carried away by the description of Wishlist. Successful prepare a detailed plan, step by step outlining key features. Proper TK is the best helper to get the perfect result.
When initiating the project, I did not have much free cash to delegate this stage. And who do you trust to create a "skeleton" if the whole organism is visible only to you?
Design.You cannot trust design to a designer or rely on yourself. Unless you are a professional designer who falls asleep with thoughts of perfect usability. This is just that stage, the high-quality implementation of which in the future will save a lot of resources.
Designing is necessary and IMPORTANT to do BEFORE the design phase. The better the prototypes, the better the programmers and designers will do your project. Existing prototypes, in turn, can be updated at the design stage.
Design. Need a suitable designer. A person who loves games, energetic, resourceful and with your permission, stylish. A person who draws cool and will be able to realize all my ideas. And he throws his mountain from above.
I chose the first candidate intuitively. And intuition is still that bitch.
You may have noticed a lack of genius in these works. And they already asked the question “how did it happen”?
I found a designer. Ivan hooked me with his portfolio on one of the freelance sites. I liked his reaction to the description of the game, it seemed he could do something cool. I was so inspired!
As often happens, admiration very quickly gave way to disappointment. After the first sketches, it became clear that the guy did not want to think at all, was not interested in games at all, and the topic of the ninja and the East as a whole was far from him.
In my opinion, a good designer is not afraid to think about a task, develop it, bring something of its own. Ivan did not want to delve into someone else's idea. I have drawn conclusions. He told Ivan "Sayonara" and moved on.
I can talk endlessly about finding a designer. This is my favorite stage. When, thanks to the talent and erudition of another person, fantasies take shape.
After Ivan there were several more people who tried their hand. But in my head every now and then rang: “This is not that! Your game needs a different way. ”
After a while and dozens of options, a clear understanding of the design of the future game came. Concise, but not too simple, taking into account modern reality, without cartoons and kindergarten. My main censor, my beloved wife, helped me a lot. She has an excellent ability at first glance to tenaciously notice implicit flaws and issue a sober judgment. Yes, yes, I know, I'm henpecked.
Having spent the last reserves of mana on “to call the designer” the following turned out:
- Hi Leh. Here is our idea. I want her to look like this! What do you think?
- OK. Let’s do as I think. And you tell me, is it better or worse than what you wanted.
This was the first call. Nuclear designer. In a good sense of the word.
The proposed concept was very cool. Answered all my ideas about the game. Lively and not cartoony. With burning eyes.
I offered Alexey a partnership in the project, I really liked it. Just one of the necessary bricks to build a strong home.
In other people's stories, I really like reading about creating icons. This small but important detail cannot be underestimated. The story about ours is dramatic and full of intrigue.
The battle for the icon lasted many days and nights. The debate lasted no longer than eternity. Opinions are divided. I even started looking for a personal designer for our baby. Those who liked cost a whole crowd of Benjamin Franklin. I was already ready to go outside and entertain the crowd with chants in order to collect the necessary amount.
We even had a fight with Lech. He did not seem to hear me. I thought it would come to a murder. Daily holivars did not produce results, as did constructive discussions. My arguments did not convince.
As a result, another designer drew a good icon that we accepted (left in the bottom row), and then replaced with the one proposed at the very beginning (second from the left in the top row). Forgive me Lech for the nerves spent.
And what do you like?
Coding.Leonid is a longtime friend whom we met at one of the projects. Since then do not spill water. We are partners, so programming, thanks to those hospadi, cost absolutely nothing. Partners flooded the entire project.
First difficulty: Leonid never coded for iOS. Second: the lack of the necessary glands. We were saved by Leonid’s ability to learn at the speed of a flying shuriken. It also helped that there was a dirty and brake poppy from another project. Land him rest in peace.
By the way, after several months of work, Leonid made a strong-willed decision to buy a new poppy. For your own money! Leonid believed in our success, and this could not but rejoice.
It may seem to someone that my friend is strange. And so it is. But this conclusion does not negate the fact that he is a cool programmer and a good person.
Initially, I wanted to find other artists. Mobile application development company. But the good thing is that it ends well. I am sure that at the exit I would get a cloud of invested funds and the absence of guarantees of a cool result.
Then I wanted to insert a monologue of the programmer about the architecture of the project. In short. Only native code. Only hardcore.
There was another interesting case. The game almost died. Together with Leonid ...
Have you already begun to empathize with him, thinking that he has earned? Leonid ate apricot kernel when he made a healthy cocktail for himself. The world almost lost a good man, and we lost a month of development. Watch out for apricot kernels.
ContentGood content is needed to bring the atmosphere to life in a game. Each word and letter has a meaning - perception depends on it. Content fills the game, runs through its veins.
Wherever there are letters, you must create something amazing. This should not be too difficult, but not tongue-tied. Not too long. Readable and with humor.
It is important to remember: if you get a successful product, you will need full localization. I recommend doing localization when the content in the native language is sharpened as sharply as the shurikens in the game.
You need to translate everything: texts on screenshots, name of the game, keywords, description of the game in appstore, name of all elements inside the game. I prepared a table that simplified and accelerated the process.
The table contains all the key languages. Columns nearby it makes sense to leave for the status at the moment. The second block is intended for the translations themselves. I made the keywords in a separate table in which I assessed the traffic and the level of competition for each word. Very time consuming, if approached wisely.
We faced a funny difficulty: having approved the button name we liked in Russian, we tried to substitute it in German ... a meter-long combination of letters was clearly not squeezed into the text field conceived by our designer.
It's time to talk ABOUT FONT.
****** crept unnoticed. As it turned out, at the design stage, no one thought about the localization of the unique font. For reasons unknown to sober reason, the designer began to build a visual series using the Latin alphabet. Picked up a font suitable for general aesthetics. When we put out the Russian language, the game began to swear in ugly letters. Everything went. Surprise knew no bounds.
Where can I get the Cyrillic alphabet for the font that we loved so much? It would seem, go take another font that has Cyrillic. But who will we be if we go in a poppin way.
Solved! We draw the Cyrillic alphabet and other characters for the current font. For the correct perception of the product by any user, it is very important that the text correctly and identically looks in different languages. Bottom line: a new designer, a font specialist, appeared in my team.
Each letter, each symbol is drawn, fitted and affirmed. After all the letters and symbols are ready, you need to spend a little more mana and “call on a specialist” who will create the font file. Yes, yes, this requires a separate person.
Sound. Any game without cool voice acting is like a vacation in a boarding house near Moscow. It seems like a vacation, but for the money it’s better to the ocean.
When we got to the sound, the game was almost ready. I had and have a clear understanding that if you are making a quality product, it is not worth taking ready-made sounds and music. With these thoughts, the search for talent began.
Musical accompaniment is one of those areas of work in which I had almost zero experience. I went to freelancers and once again ran into a Russian misfortune: “I’m doing little, I’m too lazy, I want money.” I do not exclude that I was not looking there.
If you are really on fire with your project, be prepared to collect information bit by bit, to separate the grains from the chaff, to hang around for days on topic forums. The patience and work of a professional sound engineer will be found.
I tried to drip over the hill and I was lucky. Studying the projects I liked, I made inquiries and went to the right person. A young composer, a nugget from the homeland of Julia Tomten.
I told him about the magic of shurikens. The idea hooked him, agreed to work together. The composer himself attracted the actor for voice acting, and a month later we had sounds and music in the right format with the desired atmosphere. Everything is unique, written specifically for Hattori. I was ecstatic.
When working on sound, it is very important to describe everything in detail. At what point, for how long is the event taking place. Tell the composer about your preferences and desired style. You are the person who should have a common vision of the situation and a clear understanding of WHAT YOU WANT. Only in this case, the result will deliver orgasmic sensations.
It is imperative that the sound does not greatly affect the size of the application. But quality must not be lost. For this we used the m4a format. The remaining formats fell off themselves, for various technical reasons. According to Leonid, when creating applications it is very difficult to make voice acting so that it works correctly and efficiently. I believe him.
Video. “And what does the video have to do with it” - you ask. Recently, Yablochko introduced such a fashionable feature, video preview. The sharp katana, like shuriken, is a reliable shadow warrior companion, and high-quality video is of high conversion.
You have only 30 seconds to show all the advantages of the game. Potential users are obstinate and demanding people, so it was decided to make a video without fail.
The requirements and searches described in the apple guide on Runet did not clarify and did not give answers. The method of trampled rake showed:
- The gameplay must be shown vertically;
- Without announcer's voice;
- Without foreign objects, especially the iPhone itself;
- Duration no more than 30 seconds;
- The size of the source is not more than 500mb;
- The format is exclusively MOV with ProRes codec;
- Aspect ratio for current devices;
- Strictly no more than 30FPS;
- Without excess water, dynamically show the essence;
- You can upload video only if you have a poppy and the latest version of the browser with the OS.
By the way, I will make a reservation: compliance with all requirements is mandatory. Otherwise, you may encounter a situation where your video in the release does NOT appear.
Another little adventure. One worthy ninja, during development, has become an extremely dedicated fan. And he shot for us an obscene version of the trailer for viral promotion on the network. It turned out beautifully and gave a certain experience. Sufferers can appreciate the creation on the site.
Chapter 3. Promote me completely, completely promote
The main goal of the promotion is to increase the critical mass of users. For what? To receive tons of organic downloads daily. At first, you work for promotion. Then, promotion works for you.
It was necessary to choose the most effective and cost-effective means of promotion. My choice fell on:
- ASO. Optimization of the application to maximize its conversion. Names, keywords, translations into other languages. Keywords in other languages. Here articles on a habr and the miracle service sensortower.com helped me a lot
- Publication of reviews. It is necessary to select exclusively living resources on which there is a target audience. You should not use ready-made services that offer to send your application to the world of journalists. This is far from the truth and ineffective. Here you need an individual approach to each selected resource.
- Public. The game is massive, so we are interested in the places of mass habitation of people with the right devices. Publicity fits very well in these conditions.
- Letpleplayers. Players who record and comment on their gameplay. They spread their stories on tubes and collect huge audiences. This segment suits us because of its reach and target audience.
These methods should help the game reach a critical mass of users, which will be able to generate the income necessary for further development from the advertising built into the game.
To understand the progress, you must know the answers to specific questions. What is the main goal of your application? Sales target? Profit goals? Price targets? How much is your target audience? Who is your target audience? Who are the main competitors? What are the pros, cons, features and risks of the application? How can I promote your application?
A clear plan and following it will lead to the desired result. Everything else is an excuse for laziness. By all means, the site and the press kit.
Chapter 4. Finance sing romances
It's too early to talk about income. And a separate story is needed for such stories. I have prepared a convenient table that reflects the costs.
The main costs were design and sound, despite the fact that the designer became our partner, and the composer went to the meeting and gave good terms of payment by installments.
My experience suggests that for such money, the likelihood of creating a product of similar quality is scanty. Could do faster if not for force majeure in the form of constant employment of key individuals and apricot kernel. The experience gained during this time is priceless.
Chapter 5. Winter is Coming
How would I like to summarize all of the above? The toy turned out to be “tasty”, juicy beauty with its own character.
Playing with a live opponent, in another part of the world, is something enchanting, the sensations are indescribable. This is not the case where you hang on the fields of bunkers for two days. There is enough lightning impulse, a decent connection and a minute (if you can come off ...) of free time. Traffic jam? Queue at the doctor? A boring lecture? You challenge your opponent to the battle and see how shurikens fly — that means someone is racing around the screen at a frantic speed, trying to knock your whole soul out of you. And you, like two ... EEE ... weird dudes, yank your hands with smiling faces.
The coolest thing, in my opinion, is a game with friends. Looking for him in the search, well, or choose from the list of those who are nearby. And away we go! When we tested the game with Leonid, our legendary programmer, he paid me. In 15 seconds. I was beside myself. It inflated a wild competitive spirit in me.
I began to train. Here you are already striving to get to the improved shuriken in order to punish the upstart. By the way, a nice bonus - hands hurt after the game. So much for physical education.
Honestly, we were extremely happy when we saw the reaction of the first eyewitnesses of our ninja battles. The whole car was watching us when we decided to test the Hattori on the subway. He showed the game in the gym - there were a bunch of visitors right there and there. They watched why I behaved so strangely, I wave my hands like scalded.
Finish this story until it works. I believe that this is the beginning of something more. I am glad that I managed to realize my idea just like that. I hope that you will be able to feel all the love and soul enclosed in the game. Spend more than one hour fighting with friends. And of course, this story will be useful to you. If the story will be perceived by the community positively. I undertake to write the following, which will reveal in detail the output in the TOP and tell more about the technical aspects of the product.
Arigato. Sayonara, and see you online again.