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Internal Indies

May 29, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Their research showed that the majority of money spent on iOS comes from men ages 25-34 (70 percent more than any other group). Having looked at the games that were selling, they quickly realized that this did not necessarily mean the game had to be traditionally hardcore. Also, the rise of freemium games over the past year was clearly a key area our studio needed to learn more about, so they decided that monetization should be part of the game design from the outset.

Since the team had limited time and resources, they knew that the game had to be simple in design and execution to secure the best chance of success. Their focus on this simplicity ruled out many early game concepts. For example, they had a great puzzle-game idea based on the paper toy movement, but quickly realized they had neither the time nor expertise required for this concept. To appeal to App Store shoppers bombarded by options, the visual direction of the game was as important as the gameplay. Put simply: Screenshots sell your game, the gameplay keeps people playing.

Finally, the team knew from the studio's previous experience that a game lives or dies by PR and marketing. Once you've made a good game, people need to know that it exists. These days, that means finding ways of engaging directly with the audience. Consequently, they decided to do their own social marketing alongside development, so that they could learn about this process, too.

Designing Kumo Lumo

The design process was simple. The design lead presented several concepts, all as one-sheet visual designs. They were assessed on suitability for the audience, possibility for monetization, scope for visual appeal, and feasibility of delivery. In the end, the team chose the design shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Kumo Lumo one-sheet design

Once the team had decided on a design, the art team explored many potential visual treatments before choosing one that was both appropriate for the audience, felt suited to mobile, but also had an individual identity. For inspiration, they looked to the sticker bomb/street art movement. This process was part research and part instinct. The team started by identifying a large addressable market on iOS, then researched what this audience liked and didn't like. In parallel they looked at the art direction of many of the best-selling mobile games. Finally, they struck a careful balance between what they thought the audience would like, what seemed to sell on mobile, and something unique that would stand out on the App Store.

Some of the early concepts skewed too young, or were too niche, or looked too much like something that had been done before. It took lots of iteration before the team settled on a direction that felt right.

Kumo Lumo first concept

Sticker bomb branding sheet.

The result was Kumo Lumo. By the end of the first week, the team had its trademarks and copyright checked, URLs secured, T-shirts and mugs ordered. Eight weeks later the team had a fully formed game ready for its first submission to Apple. In addition, during the same period, they had created and maintained a blog at, and engaged with various forms of social media to drive traffic and create interest. 

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