Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grapple Buggy playtest results


"Wait, wait, wait, Shoot 1WHAT? Where's Grapple Buggy? How can you be working on two games at once? Are you still working on it or what?"

Fear not! Grapple Buggy is alive and kicking! It's doing just fine, it's simply a big game that needs a lot of time in development. The best thing to do with an atmospheric action/adventure is ensure it has plenty of time to properly percolate and coalesce. I definitely don't want to rush things and end up with Brundlebuggy.

About a month ago Grapple Buggy went through it's first big playtest and the good news is it was really well received! The bad news is there's plenty of bugs to be fixed. Let's check out just a few of the quotes (good and bad versions).

From the creator of the upcoming Dust: An Elysian Tail:
"I just had my first combat encounter. I love how it's a bit like Ghostbusters in that you have to wrangle your prey in, and then use it as a projectile. Very original."

"I used my newfound ability to reanimate a big blue 'walking' type machine in the first outside area (with the two buttons on top). However, I was on top of it as it came to life, and then got stuck in its 'body'."

From the creator of Kuchibi, and the upcoming Your Doodles are Bugged!:
"Very interesting game! Very fun to play! I dig the exploration factor! :-)"

"Got a code 4 crash. Let's see if I can describe where... "

And finally from the creator of the ground-breaking In The Pit and the quixotic Crosstown:
"I like the mechanics! It's much more "loose" than any other "metrovania", or any other platformer I can think of, for that matter. I can fling myself around fairly accurately, so I think it works very well. It also looks wonderful!"

"The map is frequently totally wrong."

What does this all mean for the big, ole gnarly Grapple Buggy? Well other gamers and developers are clearly enjoying it (big cheers!) but they are plenty of bugs and issues needing to be addressed (anxious murmuring).

Before playtest began I had a giant list of things to do and fix for the game. After playtest that list just got a lot longer! It was extremely beneficial to have many other gamers try out the game and point out issues.
I'll be working on bug fixes through the holidays and into the beginning of next year. After that, it'll be time for new content! Yes, the game in it's current form is only about 60%-70% content-filled, so there's plenty more monsters, grappling weapons, and alien vistas still to be created.

This is the hearty, flavorful middle of a game's development cycle. Pessimistically one can think of it as having "no end in sight". Too far from the beginning, and still too much to do before it wraps up.
Optimistically
I really enjoy this part since this is where all the development fun really happens. The game is still subtly changing, and growing and it's a blast to be making it. All this is to ensure of course that when it's ready, you have a blast playing it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Weapon of Choice!

Original box art--feel the nostalgia!

Today marks the birthday of Weapon of Choice and Xbox 360 Indie Games! Of course back on November 19th 2008, the service was called Community Games, but it's grown since.

The Microsoft homepage for all things XNA has a snazzy splash currently up with Constance fighting a nasty Scat Thrower (second from right).
Let's take a trip down memory lane...
Here's a hilarious story about pricing the game:
http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/11/21/weapon-of-choice-pricing/
Yeah, so much has been improved on Indie Games! Now we have price changing abilities, the Top Rated section and user ratings, and daily sales data.

And here's the first reported sales week on Major Nelson!
http://majornelson.com/archive/2008/12/09/live-activity-for-week-of-december-1st-now-with-community-games.aspx

Top Community Games NEW! (Full Versions purchased)
1 Word Soup
2 Golden Royal Balckjack (sic)
3 Weapon of Choice
4 Colosseum
5 ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse
6 Sin(Surfing)
7 In the Pit
8 Head Banger
9 Snake360
10 Swords and Monsters


Ahh just think back...Swords and Monsters was driving people nuts and we hadn't even heard of an 'app' yet.. at least not on the 360.

Fast forward to more recently, here are some newish stories about the game:
http://www.auntiepixelante.com/?p=435
http://gaygamer.net/2009/09/review_weapon_of_choice.html

Modern day box art--note the less stylish, but actually legible title!

And finally the newest update of Weapon of Choice IS NOW AVAILABLE!
It includes:
  • 4 new difficulty settings (six total now!) but they aren't simply increases in enemy health!
  • Easy--for taking your time
  • Wicked--spinning spiked pain aplenty
  • Mega Death--no Deathbrushing for you, see how you fare!
  • Mega Wicked--spinning spikey madness, and no Deathbrushing to save you, how will you possibly survive?
  • Also...
  • 4 control schemes possible
  • More enemy balancing and tuning
  • 10% more hookahs

Sunday, November 8, 2009

October 09 Numbers

First edition of monthly sales numbers, and it's pretty interesting!

(Click for zoom)

This is for sales of Weapon of Choice for October 2009 which includes dropping the price from 400 MS Points to 240 MS Points.

Trial downloads: 13,118
Total sales: 870
165 at 400 MS Points
705 at 240 MS Points
Our conversion rate is about 6.6% which higher than it has been.

In the graph, you can clearly see the jump in sales once we dropped the price. Some Indie Games' sales haven't improved with dropping the price. Weapon of Choice's sales have probably increased because it's fortunately had a lot of press and critical praise, so it worked out pretty well.

Update:
Broken down by 240 vs 400 we have:
Trial downloads October 1st to the 12th (400 point period): 4,221
With 165 sales, the conversion rate is 3.9%

Trial downloads October 13th to the 31st (240 point period): 8,897
With 705 sales, the conversion rate is 7.9%

Update 2:
Average trial downloads per day for 400 point period: 351
Average trial downloads per day for 240 point period: 494
Trial downloads increases approximately 1.4 times daily after the price was lowered.

Additionally it's reasonable to conclude we had a revenue increase for this month as well.
We can approximate how many much money we would have grossed if we simply had kept the 400 points as follows:
351 average downloads a day * 31 days in the month = 10881 downloads
10881 downloads * 0.039 = 424 sales
We'll use the American prices to make our math simpler.
424 * $5 = $2,120

And here's what we actually grossed for the month:
165 (400 Point sales) * $5 = 825
705 (240 Point sales) * $3 = 2115
825+2115 = $2,940
We can then divide 2,940 by 2,120 and see that our revenue increased by about 1.38 times.