Game Let's Twist: Path to the Unknown

At the beginning of this year, a group of novice developers worked for a game studio that violates all the canons of mobile development. The low influx of users (or rather its absolute absence), lack of advertising budgets and support for publishers dismantled the team, and it was decided to take a chance and create something of their own, to prove first of all to ourselves that big budgets and fame are not the main factor of success.

In this article, I, Arthur, the founder and game designer of the indie ArmNomads Games team (consisting of three people), I want to share our path through the dangerous jungle of mobile gaming. From idea to final release.

The main task in creating the idea was to find a specific publisher and target audience. We perfectly understood that it is very difficult to do something universal. Guided by limited resources and time, it was decided to work with the publisher Ketchapp, but at the same time, have a way out. To do this, we attempted to combine minimalistic gameplay and beautiful art. Having experience with the Unity engine , we thought this was the best option. Of the advantages of this engine can be noted the speed of development, graphical interface and cross-platform.

First stage

From words to deeds. The publisher’s games have been uploaded, dozens of mechanics concepts have been drawn and filtered, and out of several prototypes created in haste, one was selected, which at that time seemed the most successful. The player had to match the elements with the cells identically in order to earn points and break his record. For this, 3 variations were provided: horizontal, vertical and rotary. The longer the session lasts, the more the world opens up in the background.

Screenshots of the initial version:

We did not see anything unique in mechanics and therefore decided to make the main bet on soulful design and music. Knowing the publisher’s love for minimalistic, rigorous graphics, we used the vector style and found that it had certain pitfalls. Such a choice put us in a narrow framework, with which it was difficult to make active the objects of the main background and not copy the birds and pixel ninjas abound in the games of the selected publisher. Therefore, we settled on the symbol of natural elements.

The initial version of one of the levels:

I want to focus on music. Novice developers can do what we do: write to all the musicians you like and ask permission to use their tracks, with the condition that a fee is issued only if a contract is signed with the publisher. Many responded to our requests. There were also those who requested the amount in advance (a license for a flat fee costs from 300 to 500 euros). The overwhelming majority of domestic performers reacted more favorably to the proposal, and the choice fell on the talented composer Manu Shrine , who eventually dedicated the game (Eternal Memory, Sergey ...).

Manu shrine
Sergey Deulin aka Manu Shrine was born and lived in the city of Yekaterinburg. He wrote music in the genres: ambient, deep house, garage, deep dubstep, post-dubstep .

After creating the Alpha version of the project and testing on a limited number of Android and iOS platforms, it was decided to send a letter to the publisher. I created an eloquent letter in which I described the activities of our team and attached a pdf of the project and the game itself with a link to the repository. On the same night, we received an encouraging letter from the publisher, who wrote that he was interested and would give a final answer within seven business days. I will not go into details, but we received about four such letters in three weeks. There was no refusal, nor any changes in the structure. The parallel bombardment of other publishers at first did not bear any fruit.

A personal online document that collects publishers of minimalist games with their most successful projects.

I think we are not the first to encounter such an attitude, so I advise you not to stop and write to all publishers, both domestic and foreign, and continue to improve the game as much as possible. At that time, we were supported only by Chinese wisdom: “The temptation to surrender will be especially strong shortly before victory.” Who would have thought that this “shortly” would stretch for another 7 months of development.

By the end of the first month of waiting, the remaining major publishers seemed to have conspired and started showering us with feedback with reasons for refusal, advice and suggestions. From the answers we gathered a lot of useful information, which I hasten to share with you :

  • Many people are biased towards games under Ketchapp . Some quite explicitly wrote this in letters. Therefore, if you are making a minimalistic game in the style of Circle or ZigZag , be prepared to change the mechanics and complicate the gameplay.
  • The publishers of Chillingo , FDG , PicPoc and Nevosoft really liked the game, they praised its design and atmosphere, but did not dare to take it under their wing due to the lack of levels and the inability to change the version to a paid one. Three out of four unanimously said that the market was overcrowded, and that the trend would soon change, and the popularity of free-to-play would decline.
  • Do not be limited to publishers only. Write letters to ordinary well-known developers. Many wanted to collaborate with us and test themselves as a publisher.

It is highly discouraged to consider yourself above all and love your brainchild so much as not to listen to the advice of publishers, and especially those who are the developers themselves. Thanks to them, we decided to remove some modes and make a single mechanics for all variations. We changed the control to move cells, instead of elements, added auto swype, and the game acquired the necessary dynamics.


Based on experience, we continued emails and mailing each other's interest in the publication expressed Mildmania , Yodo1 and several well-known studios. The choice fell on Mildmania , as they themselves are developers and have come the same way as us. Together, the game was transformed: additional levels and gameplay variations were added. But, despite the high speed of work, the release of the game was constantly delayed. When drafting the 3rd level of the game, we realized that we had gone so far in the graphic style that we had to redo the first levels.

The main requirement was content. So, a game consisting of one level and four elements has grown into a project with 6 levels and 50 elements, which includes characters from the notorious games Darklings, Rop and Jelly Lab .

Since novice developers have many problems with knowledge, I advise you to have a common document with training articles. At one time, Habr really helped: hundreds of articles were saved in a document by all members of the team and then filtered and divided into categories. Thanks to this method, lists with potential publishers, submit forms of online reviewers and thematic forums were quickly found.

Contact list for pre-release sending:;
prostomac .com @
paul @ appgamer. net

List of youtube vloggers:
hashtagminecraft491 @ gmail. com

Sites with Submit Forms:
www.procontent .ru apps request / request-for-review -an-app
www review

Standby mode

The first major delay in the release was due to the desire to add an online component to the game. We were in the period of transition of the Unity engine to the new version and therefore could not use the services of a ready server. It took almost 2 months of work on an independent technology for receiving and sending data and synchronization with different time zones. We also had to change the name of the game to Let's Twist , because when setting up an account, someone took our favorite name (you will find the answer to the question of who occupied it at the end of the article).

Along with Twist, we developed and released the Neogen Fallout game on the App Store and Google Play, and even got featuring in 46 countries on the iOS platform and promotion in Mobango and Yandex stores. Imagine our disappointment when we realized that even such a boost without a contribution to marketing did not bring financial stability, and the android version earned 10 times less than the “apple” one. I think this is due to the fact that in the game at that time there were no In-App purchases, and one advertisement does not work if there are no couple of millions of users.

The second delay was due to the fault of US Apple. We did everything according to the rules and sent Roadmap 3 weeks before the release , to which the European Apple replied that it was pleased with the game and would give featuring on the day of release. However, at the last moment, the American department contacted us and hinted that if we want to move in the US zone, we should wait another month and a half, since November is the best time for release. In addition, we received a hint that it is better to make the game paid and abandon the free 2 play model with In-Apps. At that moment, we were experiencing financial difficulties, but promotion in America is the dream of every developer, so it was decided to change the model and wait for a new release date.

A week before the release from Apple, an application for the creation of Featuring Art came, and a couple of days we coped with the task, as we understood that this was a chance to get the "Editors' Choice". The most interesting was the release day itself. Less than an hour after our release, a game called Twist appears in the App Store (published by Ketchapp ). Coincidence? I don’t think so. They had over 32 weeks to release a game with that name, but the dates matched perfectly. In addition, the name has been reserved since May.

We looked forward to the evening with impatience and increasing anxiety, as we entered into direct competition with a publisher with a multi-million dollar budget and an impressive user base. The App Store update clock struck and finally managed to exhale. Our game received:

Editors' Choice in 78 Countries
Global Promotion in 135 countries (including America and the UK).

The game Let's Twist was released on November 12 on the App Store and on December 19 on Google Play (the Android version is free). The start turned out to be promising and work is already underway to strengthen the position and finish the new content. The versions for Google Play and Amazon will be ready the other day . With the funds raised, we are going to focus on creating full-fledged Level Based games. Thanks for attention. I hope you enjoyed the article.

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