February 3, 2017

The Search for the Second Monkey Man

The initial search for the second Monkey Man has started. The role is rather vague on what I'm looking for so let's see where this post takes us, if anywhere.

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THE ROLE

To start out you need to be a great artist with a passion in game design and content creation. You don't necessarily need to have much experience on making games as long as you have the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn for it. I will teach and help you to become a solid pro in Unity and design/content creation in general. You will need to have 3D experience as Unity works in 3D environments, and that will be your main tool. When we make games together, I'll provide the tools for content creation and we'll further design and iterate them together.

You don't have to do any UI or programming if you don't want to, as I get the kicks out of those. However it's not a negative aspect if you have the desire for them too.

There will be miscellaneous tasks to share with me, too. Such as communicating with players, making videos, cleaning up player data, updating websites, QA, "marketing", etc. They don't take much time though, and are very adhoc usually.

To "market" this to you, this is not a normal job where you do shit and then get paid. Instead it's an opportunity to learn how games are really made inside out from an expert (yeah, I count myself as one!), and eventually become a partner in Part Time Monkey.

THE DEAL

The deal would start out as a freelance gig with something like 20€/h with a revenue share deal on all the games we collaborate on. We'll raise those figures as we go and the more certain we are that we're a match made in heaven. Eventually, ultimately, the goal is to make you a full-on partner in Part Time Monkey with shares, benefits and whatnot.

The hours will likely vary quite a lot, as there might be times that not much is going on and times that all hell is broken loose. Eventually I will include you in all my projects (other collabs and subcontracting gigs etc.) if you want.

At first we'll work at our homes, hopefully having face-to-face meetings every now and then. Most of the communication will happen through Skype or similar. Possibility to work together at my home studio also exists.

THE GAMES 

We will focus on creating small casual games with short development times (max 2mo per game). When something flies, we'll keep doing updates for it with dev times ~1-2 weeks. The games don't have a specific genre, so anything goes, really. The design should always start a portrait game with one-button mechanics, and elaborated later if seen fit.


Send all queries to contact@parttimemonkey.com or ask in the comment section.

February 2, 2017

Breakout Ninja, the Tail (+ v1.1 Update)

As promised, here's "the tail" of Breakout Ninja, i.e. "What happened to the revenue and downloads after the launch week." It's not very surprising though.

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Between 5th and 7th the launch with the feature spots happened, so the revenue started streaming in, with the highest paying day being the launch week's Sunday.

Between 13th and 15th the feature spots updated again, and Ninja wasn't very well featured anymore, which led into the noticeable drop in revenue.

The latter part of the tail seems to be shrinking slowly day-by-day. I'm a little surprised it's still doing about $100-$200 a day, as I assumed it'd soon go down to a few bucks per day.

The download counts follows pretty much exactly the same curve, being now at a pretty constant 1K - 1.5K a day.

Total revenue now: $36K
Total downloads now: 865K


MONKEYRAMA RISES FROM THE DEAD

What I definitely was not expecting during this period was a feature spot for Monkeyrama in China. My guess it has nothing to do with Breakout Ninja, and everything to do with the fact that the "Year of the Monkey" in China is ending, as the feature spot was in a category called "Quit Monkeyin' Around." 

That spot ended up more than doubling the download amount of Monkeyrama, which is now 156K.

Monkeyrama has no IAPs and only one incentived ad-placement, which can only be used when failing a level. I find it quite interesting, because the spot also ended up more than quadrupling the revenue of Monkeyrama, being now at $11K + IAPs.


BREAKOUT NINJA UPDATE (v1.1)

After the holidays I had about 3 days to make the first update - if I wanted to stay in schedule. The last 3 days have been quiiiite a busy time, as I've clocked in about ~14-16h per day. But now it's done.

The update has pretty much a completely new design. It has 4 "Infinite" levels, 4 "Three-Star" levels and 12 "Hard" levels. It's also got iMessage Stickers, a new menu system and a bunch of improvements here and there. The IAP also now unlocks all the levels on top of removing the ads.

The update will be out next week's Thursday (9th of Feb).

Here's a sneak peek video, which only shows some parts of the "Three-Star" levels.


January 13, 2017

Breakout Ninja, first week

Phew, what a week!

Breakout Ninja's success was obviously a big surprise to me. I figured it'd likely do a bit better than Monkeyrama, but this was very unexpected. The original plan was to release it, get the few thousand downloads and be done with it. Obviously now I'm very enthusiastic about releasing the next update!

If you haven't downloaded it yet, do so now
https://itunes.apple.com/app/breakout-ninja/id1181855058

As with my previous games, I wanted to share the numbers and details behind the first week, as I believe this is something that interests at least many indie devs and can be learnt from, to some extent.











LAUNCH METRICS (First Week)
  • 650K+ downloads
  • $1.1K+ revenue (uncut) from IAPs (No Ads IAP, conversion ~0.08%)
  • $23K+ ad revenue (~$18 avg. eCPM)
  • 4.5/5 average rating
  • Featured in multiple countries, most meaningful US #7 New Games We Love
  • Download chart achievements
    • Top5 Games in 12 countries, including US
    • Top10 Games in 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany
    • Top100 Games in 110 countries, including UK and what have you
The game has been covered on multiple media outlets such as Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, 148Apps and Cult of Mac (see links at the bottom).

Yesterday Apple again updated their featuring spots (happens every Thursday) and it seems Breakout Ninja has vanished from all lists. It will be very interesting to see how the current chart positions behave in a scenario like this; whether the game comes crashing down instantly, and if not, how long of a tail does it get. Will make another post about this within a few weeks.

Another positive surprise arose from all of Ninja's success; the implementation of my cross-promotion to my other games seemed to have work well. Before Breakout Ninja, Space Bang and Monkeyrama downloads had dropped to 10-50 per day. Within the last week they've been downloaded about 10K times together, and have made about a fifth of the revenue that they had made in their entire lifetimes. So, cross promotion definitely pays off to some extent!


DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The game took about 2 weeks and 3 days to finish, give or take a day. I used ~3 days on prototyping the game about 3-4 months ago and dropped the project, as I didn't think it was good enough to continue. About a month after that my girlfriend Eeva suggested (insisted) that'd I'd continue it since she really liked the game. I figured welp I have nothing better to do really, so why not. From that point two weeks later it was done and good to go.

The inspiration came from Ketchapp's Summer Sports. It has a similar mechanic but instead of circles they show where to tap on the ground. Figured it was quite fresh, and wanted to put it in use in a more fast-paced environment - hence the Ninja.


VERSION 1.1 (Planned Release 9th of Feb)
Breakout Ninja's first update, v1.1, will get 5 all-new levels with 3-star rating and a hard mode in each. Most of the "meta" work is already done, and one level almost finished. With limited user-testing it has proven to be even more fun and addicting than the endless game-play. A sneak peek will follow.

Unfortunately, as I didn't plan for the success, I had booked an un-cancelable holiday for two weeks starting from tomorrow - which is the reason for the late release date for the update. But after the holiday, with fresh eyes, the update will be better!


July 8, 2016

What now?

I'm not sure if just developing games by myself is the best thing for me. It's been fun for the past half a year, but it's unhealthy physically (daily steps around 500, between kitchen and man cave), and socially (only communication is with my girlfriend). It is also extremely hard to break through and start generating an actual income (doesn't mean one shouldn't try, though).

I've had the opportunity to work on a few interesting subcontracting gigs while indieing around, and they've been challenging and equally fun. I also made a prototype as a gig for someone else, which was kickassingly fun; I got to develop fast and only needed to deliver a good prototype; a week worth of work.

I've also gotten a few offers to join a company, or start from scratch and co-found a company with others. Some publishing deal negotiations, too.

However, even though I appreciate all of it and many of them are very tempting, here's a few things I've enjoyed the most and could see myself doing. Let me know if you know anyone in need of anything like below:


Helping Others
Whenever I get to use my knowledge of game development to help others, I enjoy it a lot. Whether its been in form of art direction, Unity lessons, programming tutoring, audio design, game design, or even game development mindsets in general. I'm not a master in any of the previous, but I believe I am at least okay or good in all of them, which makes me a good "game development generalist."

It would be awesome if it was possible to do this as a partial business, in form of private lessons, classes, or existing teams.


Prototypes
People keep telling me how fast I develop my games. I try to keep my feet on the ground, but I guess it's at least partially true, considering all my games' development times. As mentioned before, I recently made a prototype in less than a week for a company and they seemed very happy with it. They wanted a proof of concept. I really loved developing it, as it was a quick thing and it seemed to really help the other party.

This is definitely something I'd be happy doing for a living; someone having a high-level idea they want to test in action, and I deliver.


Small Games
I do still get the kicks out of creating complete games, too! But if the game takes more than 2-3 months to finish, or if it's too content-heavy, I tend to get bored with it. I would love to deliver complete games based on others' ideas as subcontracting gigs, as long as they are small and casual. The terms would be obviously negotiable, whether it's a 100% work-for-money, rev shares, or other forms.


Starting Up
Founding my second actual game company would be nice, but it is extremely hard to find the right partners. It's very unlikely this would happen anytime soon. But I'm open for discussions. :)


Aaaanyway...

It's been a cool ~8 months being an indie. Now it's time to take a break, do a little roadtrippin' in the U. S. of A. with my lovely girlfriend and friends, and just chill. Monkey out.

July 7, 2016

Unity + Asset Store = WIN

Recently I've had the chance to work on a cool project as a freelancing designer. We used a bunch of different tools - some in-house and some from Unity's asset store. I knew the power of asset store beforehand, but now it became even more clear.

There are TONS of ready-made tools, helpers, assets, effects, models and whatnot on the asset store for extremely cheap prices. I'll list my favorites here. I'm sure some of these will dramatically effect the development times of yours, too, if you give them a chance.

Dreamteck Splines (26.80€)
https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/61926

An insanely designer-friendly tool for creating anything with splines, including extruding meshes, placing objects, animating, etc. Almost any project can take some advantage of it.


Quickbrush (13.40€)
https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/15237

Designer- and artist-friendly tool to place objects on meshes with lots of customizability. An absolute must-have if you need to, for example, decorate your levels with prefabs etc.


I2 Localization (40.20€) 
https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/14884

I was worried that when ultimately I need to start localizing my games, I'd have trouble developing the tools for it. With a quick browse in asset store, I found this gem. Extremely easy and developer-friendly system with a complete localization implementation using either Google Sheets or local files.


Realistic Car Controller (44.67€)
https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/16296

For games that have cars, obviously. Again very designer-friendly implementation with lots of customizability. Includes not only the car behaviour, but also implementation for dynamic lights, audio, damage system, etc.


EXAMPLE TIME!


To give you an idea on just how powerful Unity can be especially when utilizing asset store, here's a game I made. It took about 3 hours from start to finish. It's not a shippable game obviously, but it has a lot of features that would take months to do from scratch if you wouldn't utilize the asset store.

In this game I used Dreamteck Splines, Realistic Car Controller, Quickbrush, and all the visual assets were bought, or downloaded for free, from the asset store. The visual assets I used cost about $3 to be precise.

The game required programming only to create the UI functionality and the finish line. Everything else was out-of-the-box ready-made Unity asset store magic.

Controls are WASD. It's an executable in a zip-file. Have fun!
http://parttimemonkey.com/private/AssetStoreRules.zip


April 14, 2016

Space Bang Launch Week

Space Bang has been globally available on the App Store for a whole week now. This post covers the key metrics and other information about the project and the launch.















LAUNCH METRICS (First Week)

  • 25,000 downloads
  • $219 revenue (uncut) from IAPs
  • $2,300 revenue from UnityAds (~$20 avg. eCPM)
  • 4.4/5 average rating
  • ~24% day-1 retention
  • 20% day-7 retention (might be flawed)
  • ~1.5 avg. sessions per user

Similar to Monkeyrama, people seem to dig the game but don't necessarily stick around for that long. 

The game got some featuring but not nearly in the best places available. The best spot it had was the iTunes Home Page, Best New Games position #12 in the UK, which also brought in a bit more than 50% of all revenue.












It also got 191 other miscellaneous highlights here an there.

Considering the fact that the project took about 2 months to develop from start to finish, the metrics are quite a positive surprise for me as an indie dev. The first update (out 5th of May) took 5 days to develop, and if it gets anything close to the launch visibility, I'm already running a "sustainable business"! That is, if I can survive with just noodles and live in a cardboard box.

It took me by surprise how well incentivized video ads monetize, and how high the eCPMs can get especially during the launch week.

Another nice-to-learn fact was that the launch of Space Bang affected the downloads of Monkeyrama, and even Party Soccer, too. Nothing major, but some.

With the two actual launches I've now done (Space Bang & Monkeyrama), I've come to learn that Apple really digs quality over anything else. Even though about 3500 games get launched every week, it's possible for indie devs like me to get visibility on their store fronts even without a recognizable name, high marketing budgets, large teams, or long development times.



And obviously, I've started the development of my next game already. I call it "GTA Express." More of that later.

January 12, 2016

Freelancing, prototyping and beginning production (Update on the latest)

Been a little quiet lately on Part Time Monkey's behalf, so here's an update on the past few months.

An awesome unannounced Best Fiend title is in development at Seriously, which is in need of a Senior 3D Game Artist. I was fulfilling that hole for a while, and can recommend the project, team and work environment to any experienced game devs!

Even though the above pros, I still felt the urge to come back and focus on my own projects for the full 100% I have in me.


Video: https://youtu.be/aj1mFCFL_sE

During my time in Seriously and a little after that, I developed a Pod Racing prototype (working title "123 Go!", above picture).

The idea was to make a basic racer-type game with higher-than-normal production values using ghost player data to simulate real-time multiplayer tournaments. While the racing and competing felt good, the "meta-design" of it just didn't feel right. Either it was going to be overly complicated or just plain boring after playing for a day or two. Also the way the levels needed to be created took too much time and after Monkeyrama I swore that I wouldn't do a game that required too much on the level production.

So I buried (or at least froze) "123 Go!" after two or three weeks of development.


Video: https://youtu.be/3xP5UQl6J8Q

Next up, I wanted to try make something similar to Hill Climb Racing but with, again, higher production values and a little something added (working title "OffRoad", above picture). 

The meta-design was supposed to be close-to ripped off from HCR with added features, such as being able to fine-tune your car's values and slot-machine type-of retention features. The racing feels pretty good and the car behavior varies quite much with its "bad", "medium" or "good" settings but, for some reason again, it's just missing that something. Also, whoever played the game felt that it's just "Hill Climb Racing with pimped up graphics."

So I scrapped (or at least froze) "OffRoad" after a bit more than a week of development.


Video: https://youtu.be/zGqzlNGyhp0

Currently I'm developing a space shooter game (working title "Space Shooter", above picture).

This one more or less follows HCR's meta-design as well. Long levels that can't be completed fully on the first try, upgradeable and changeable weapons and pod, etc. The levels are pseudo-randomly generated, i.e. they follow predefined curve-based rules for object type and probability, but some of their properties are random such as position and scale. This way creating levels is fast, and they feel the same with minor changes every time you play them.

The game's been in development for a bit more than a week now. I'm aiming to publish it in March/April but you never know, of course.

"Space Shooter" will be free with IAPs and incentivized ads. After the previous premium-test with Monkeyrama, it seems like the only way to go - at least for now.


Speaking of Monkeyrama...

Video: https://youtu.be/ISBcx-l38dM

While developing the prototypes, I also switched to a free model on Monkeyrama and developed it for Android (it needed more than one push of a button in Unity! At least three.) I also integrated my "game portal" in it, which updates its content online so I can cross-promo my other stuff more easily.

The first chapter is fully free to play, and the rest of the content (3 episodes with 84 levels each, 4 Challenges) can be purchased with $0.99. 

It'll be out as free on iOS and Google Play on the 14th of January. Unless I f*ck something up.