It was 2012 when Matt Seslar first conceived of the GameBeat. Back then he was sure a similar product already existed. He searched eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and found nothing. Back then he did some sketches of what the GameBeat would eventually look like. Fast forward two years to November 2014, and nothing like it had been introduced to the market, so he thought it was time to change that. As a person who works at technical support for a telecommunication company and runs his own technology related blog, he knew how he wanted the GameBeat to connect and work with smartphones.
Loud Panda Games is a year-old mobile games studio from the Philippines. Critter Camp is their first game, which is currently in soft launch on iOS, and the company’s Product Manager Jon Roque shares the story.
How the company started
Loud Panda Games used to be a part of a larger short-lived tech startup that also dealt with other non-game related properties. After a bit of restructuring, the gaming team was recreated as a new company, which now focuses solely on making mobile games.
SMALL CHANGES GONE BIG
We were already midway in development of a game called Reel Monsters while with the previous company. It shared many similarities with what would eventually be Critter Camp. Reel Monsters also has monster collecting, training and questing. It drew inspiration from the Philippine cockfighting industry, which pits roosters against each other in an arena. It was a very gambling-themed game concept with training taking place using slot machines, and where players could bet on monster battles.
Having started over, we initially thought it would be a simple rebranding, and we’ll just tweak the gameplay a bit and continue development. But after we were done with the reconceptualization, only the battle system was left mostly intact. The slot machine training system was changed. The questing system was also changed. There was also a pivot from fewer critters with many skills and different skill paths to more critters with fewer skills.
Teamwork battles challenges
Our first major challenge was when after a month in production our Product Director Marvin Apacible was diagnosed with lymphoma and had to be out of office for several months while he underwent chemotherapy. This caused some major production issues. The team had to rely on the game design document to bring the idea to life, as there were periods of time when the Product Director was out of reach. Nonetheless, the team stepped up to the plate.
The team brainstormed whenever they encountered a design issue and decided together on how to move forward. It is not the optimal setup and may have caused some design inconsistencies, but it also empowered the team to take charge of important product decisions.
Another challenge is that as we get deeper and deeper into development, we realize we might have bitten off more than we can chew. We started with only two developers. We expected to hire two more within a month of operation, but had some trouble with hiring competent Unity developers. It took us more than 6 months before we added another developer to our team, and this caused a major delay from our initial estimates. On top of that, due to our game’s genre, we might be compared to mobile games such as Puzzle and Dragons, Summoner’s War and Brave Frontier. These are huge games with a significant amount of content. With our limited resources, we had to be very conscientious in deciding where to apply our efforts.
We had our soft launch at the end of December 2014 after 10 grueling months of hard work. We’re very proud of what we accomplished. The graphics are great and the amount of content that we were able to put out was remarkable, considering our manpower at that time. But soft launch release was of course just the beginning. The next few months have been a particularly tough time as we started supporting a live game. Some players encountered connectivity issues that were difficult to replicate internally. Up to now, we are still hard at work improving the game’s performance and stability. We’ve also released a PvP system and more critters during the soft launch.
It was a great privilege for us to be part of Casual Connect Asia 2015’s Indie Prize Showcase. It was our first time attending such an event. It gave us plenty of opportunities to show the game to publishers, investors and other developers. More importantly, the energy exuding from the passionate developers in the event inspired us to keep becoming better and better at our craft.
The team is currently porting Critter Camp to Android and is still in discussions with several publishers for possible partnership. Nothing certain yet though, and they’re still open for talks, the developers say. Their Product Director Marvin is in remission and back to work, Meanwhile, the game can already be played on iOS devices.
Who would imagine that one of Europe’s biggest free-to-play games studios is situated in a quiet part of Hamburg in the north of Germany? Over there, Goodgame Studios, the makers of the hit mobile game Empire: Four Kingdoms, have established their own little realm where more than 1,200 employees from over 60 nations are busy working on new and existing games. GameSauce published an article about the German high-flyers in 2013, and a lot has happened since then. “The speed with which we have been growing is incredible. In 2014, we nearly doubled the number of our employees as well as our revenue,” founders and brothers Kai and Christian Wawrzinek explain. Read on for the brothers’ story of their company’s extraordinary development.
AerServ, the only mobile-first video mediation platform, recently announced the launch of rewarded video for mobile, helping developers monetize their app offerings in a crowded and challenging marketplace. CEO Josh Speyer provides more insight into their offering as well as the growth of video and the mobile games market.
Today, there is an unanswered question many mobile gaming developers are struggling to answer.
What makes a successful game?
When trying to feed the equation for a successful game, many developers and analysts simply accept the disparity between success and failure. We see, therefore it is – some games are just more popular than others and you don’t know what works until you test it.
Nob Studio is an indie company from Singapore, run by Shu Wan Cheng. He has been working as an indie game dev full time since 2008. Initially Shu Wan was developing Flash games only, and gradually switched to mobile. He barely survived as a solo dev for many years, and calls Prison Life RPG his biggest success so far.
Upopa Games started out as a small indie games company. Following the success of their first game, Hopeless: The Dark Cave, they were acquired by ironSource, and now form ironSource’s in-house game development studio. The team consists of Niv Touboul, art director and head of the games studio, lead developer Or Avrahamy, and game designer and analyst Gideon Rimmer, Their fresh creation named Mutation Mash is a crazy puzzle game where you need to match radioactive animals to make new mutants.
2015 is the year Bari Silvestre from Keybol went back to his roots – Flash game development. “You can’t help but reminisce about the hay days of the browser games, that can be easily distributed and with the right polish and gameplay you can get some hefty sum via sponsorships. Times have changed though, and you have to be not just twice as good in producing quality games, but your creations should have an interesting original gameplay”, Bari recalls. That is hard to come by, so he just made little Flash games with some interesting twist on existing gameplay. They did get some positive feedback with a feature here and there, but Bari felt something is lacking. His fresh creation, Kill The Plumber, brings to life some gamers’ dreams of playing for the villains.
Marketing professionals participating in Casual Connect this year will be well aware that Asia is a giant in the gaming industry and provides many opportunities for effective campaigns in a wide variety of gaming spheres. Due to a long-standing ban on consoles in China (which was lifted last year), the market for PC games in Asia is enormous and mobile gaming is experiencing significant growth yearly. But did you know that, in the meantime, blogging is becoming a phenomenon of epic proportions in the same region? It’s time to take advantage! BlogsRelease co-founder Dani Finkelstein and community director Sophie Kouropatov explain how.