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Postmortem: Bane Games' Flick Buddies
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Postmortem: Bane Games' Flick Buddies


March 8, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next
 

3.     Release Early, Release Often

We subscribe to the belief that it's best to release our games as early as they are ready, so we can get feedback from our players to help steer future development.

Making small casual iOS games fits perfectly with this model. We decided at an early stage during development that we would leave all features that didn't fit with our core gameplay for a future update. This helped keep the development time down to three months of part-time work. It allowed us to stay focused and determine at an early stage whether the game was going to be successful.

The playable teams in Flick Buddies are made up of three members of a "family". This allows us to easily add new families with each update without having a major art overhead. The family theme includes three unique models and a single background.

As our families have completely different themes, we are able to take requests from our players as to what they'd like to see. This fits well with our desire to have lots of small updates to the game, constantly adding features requested by our players.

4.     Art Style

One of the most common comments we receive from players is that they love the art style. Shauno, our artist, has a unique style to his art that he has not been able to fully express in games he's developed for the mainstream industry in the past. The team wanted to give him complete artistic freedom to develop the characters he wanted as well as his unique style. The small, fat little characters worked perfectly for a physics-based game where characters bounce around the level.

 

This also helps with sales, as both the game icon on the App Store and the initial screenshots have a real "punch" to them that makes them stand out from other games. We tried to get our in-game 3D assets to have a similar look, with thick outlines matching the 2D illustrations. For performance reasons we had to move from 2 outlines (one black, one white) back to a single black outline; however, we're still happy with the result.

5.     Playtesting

I've previously written about my thoughts on playtesting and why I think it's so important. We made sure to begin our playtesting as soon as possible and continued throughout development.

Developing an iOS title suits playtesting perfectly, as you can take your game to the testers. Everywhere I went I would have a build on my iPhone or iPad, and anyone I spoke to that seemed interested was able to quickly play the game.

Both our ability activation and "join game" functionality was changed regularly after watching people fumbling with our original implementations. Without this early feedback we may have released a game that only a small percentage of people would figure out how to start a match.

The best way to get the most out of playtesting was to hand the phone over, show them the icon, and let the player fend for themselves. They would be asking questions about how the game works and what they had to do, but we would force ourselves not to say anything and let them figure it out. This could be quite painful at times; however, it was invaluable for finding issues we completely missed as we were experienced with the game.

My rule of thumb is to let them fumble through until they give up. I then make a note of the issue, explain it to them and let them continue.


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

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