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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

8 Bit Horse is One Year Old!

Our 2D-only sister-site 8 Bit Horse has officially and successfully been around for over a year! 8 Bit Horse is the premiere place for learning about 2D games both from the past, present, and FUTURE. We're very proud that it's gained a loyal audience and with AJ's continued dedication and determination, 8 Bit Horse will continue strong through its second year!

Follow 8 Bit Horse on Twitter to find out when new articles launch about 2D games.

The following is a reprint of AJ's 1-Year Anniversary post on 8 Bit Horse itself.
(Background: AJ Johnson is the writer for dialog and story in Mommy's Best Games, and writes most of the articles on 8 Bit Horse.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reviewsionade

Explosionade is out now on Xbox Live Indie Games and has garnered dozens of excellent reviews, check out some of the highlights!


Eurogamer review: 8 out of 10

"For 80 points, Explosionade is an absolute steal."

1UP.com review: "FreeLoader" pick
"The game, a cross between Metal Slug and Blaster Master's overworld levels, has rightly been obsessed over in blogs and forums."

Kotaku review: "Xbox Live Indie Clip"
"You too can have this much fun running around a mutant-infested warehouse with an extremely powerful prototype mech..."

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Game Critics review: 8.5 out of 10
"I'm confident that anyone investing the asking price of one dollar will find that it's one of the wisest choices they've ever made."

Digital Hippos review: 4.4 out of 5
"Slick graphics, easy to get into, co-op play, funny dialogue."

Twin Galaxies review: 8 out of 10
"Bosses are humongous in comparison to the rest of the enemies and take entire arsenals to bring down."



Co-optimus review: 4 out of 5
"Oh, did I mention that you look like a character from Tim and Eric Awesome Show?"



Broke My Controller review:
Xbox LIVE Indie Game of the Month
"The attention to detail is first rate, not just because of the exceptional hand-drawn graphics, but because of the amazing variety. "

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RunDLC review: 4 out of 5
"Explosionade is a rare Indie game that is so good, it probably should’ve been a full Xbox Live release."

Blog 'Em Up review:
In Swedish
Google Translate says "When life hands you explosions. Make explosions!"


Dealspwn review:
Xbox Live Indie Game Of The Week: Drink Your Explosionade!
"If you crave big guns, huge explosions and twisted alien enemies, you need look no further than Mommy’s Best Games. "

Console Arcade review:
"The graphics and sprites are all wonderfully hand drawn, and there’s a great level of feedback when you shoot enemies which makes killing them satisfying."

DIY Gamer review:
"Even the smallest enemy soldier has a lot of personality thanks to the little details in his armor and animations as he runs for cover from an explosion."

XBLA Fans review: "Buy It!"
"You can tell just by watching the game play out that each animation was carefully created, and shown lots of love."

1UP or Poison review: "Good" rating
"Your character feels like he's taken all these powers that would have stood on their own in any other 2D game and combined them to make one badass mech."

Gay Gamer review: "Yay!" rating
"Making defensive tools just as fun as offensive ones seems to be a common trait for Mommy's Best Games."

Veteran Gamers podcast:
Listen for tons of explosion sound effects everytime they say the name! (about 55 minutes in)
http://o35s.podbean.com/2010/10/14/the-veteran-gamers-episode-40-chinnys-hair-is-soft-and-shiny/

Signed In podcast:
10 minutes in, "Hilarity and craziness goes from there", http://www.signedinpodcast.com/?p=417

GamerGeddon review: "Geddon it!" rating
"Great graphics and sounds, and the gameplay is good fun."

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SuperGhost review: Indie Spotlight
"MBG packed a lot of game into this package..."

Armless Octopus review:
"With forty levels chock full of creatures that need killing, it’s a fantastic value at a buck."


Giant review on Mecha Damashii!


Mecha Damashii review:
8 out of 10

"I heard a rumour (which I started) that Mommy’s Best Games is able to provide these quality sprites by eating live scorpions they find outside exclusively and passing those savings onto you, the consumer."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Explosionade Out Now!

Explosionade is now on sale on Xbox LIVE Indie Games for only 80 MS Points!
Check out the free demo here: US Marketplace link



It's just like lemonade, but with EXPLOSIONS.

Trailer:


 All your friends are storming the Horronym Fortress but Colonel Bouche left you to guard the supply depot. Disregarding orders you open the depot to find a gigantic, prototype mech!

New Screenshots!
(Rar file with new screenshots: http://www.mommysbestgames.com/Explosionade/Explosionade_first_released_screens.rar
Folder of all screens and box art: http://www.mommysbestgames.com/Explosionade )

Skull-shaking action in 2-player coop!



The Horn Stormers are not happy to see you.



Choose your own adventure as you can go different ways in lots of rooms!



The orange Clingers like to put you between a rock and a hard place.

Break up the Horronym's infernal rites!


Bosses grow to ridiculous proportions!

Features:

  • INFILTRATE subterranean strongholds manned by cunning bipedal aliens and their mind-blasting hellions!
  • Recharging MegaNades, and an earth-shaking machine gun rip DESTRUCTIBLE environments to hand-drawn bits!
  • Dozens of CHALLENGE-ROOM style gameplay with a zoom function that let's in you close or zooms out to see all the action!
  • 2-PLAYER COOP so you can share the alien-stomping, grenade tossing joy!
  • ONLINE High Scores to show off your skills!
  • Hand-drawn, silky-smooth effect animations just like Mom used to make! (If your mom was SNK)
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Read about the Xbox Dashboard drama resolution here.

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Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is a boutique game developer founded in 2007. We strive to deliver games that push the edges of the medium through gameplay, art, and pie. Our first game, Weapon of Choice, is an award-winning, side-scrolling, action game now available on Xbox Live Indie Games. And our second game, is an award-winning shoot'em up with a twist, Shoot 1UP, also available on Xbox Live Indie Games.

Mommy's Best Games is currently developing Grapple Buggy, promoting Explosionade and Shoot 1UP for Windows Phone 7, and working on other secret projects to titillate your fancy.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Top Downloads is Broken; Delaying Explosionade

    UPDATE: 
    Explosionade is out now for only 80 MS Points! Check out the free trial!
    Microsoft has fixed the dashboard at least for the moment and Top Downloads is working (as of October 6th, 2010). Unfortunately in the past, after the list is fixed, it often breaks again in a few months, without warning. Microsoft has offered no public explanation to developers or any assurance they've fixed it with any more certainty this time.
    .

    Original article:
    Great news--Explosionade is finished and ready for you to play! The bad news--I'm not going to release it till the Xbox Marketplace is less broken. Sorry, but I want the best launch possible, and when the Top Downloads list isn't up to date, it's a crappy time to release a game to Xbox Live Indie Games. (Gamers, jump to the end for when it will release; Developers--read on)
    .
    What's Top Downloads?
    On the Xbox 360's Dashboard, there are many digital marketplaces from which you can download games. If you go to the Indie Games section you'll see several game lists including New Arrivals and Top Downloads. New Arrivals shows the most recent 20 Xbox Live Indie Games uploaded to the service. As the name implies, Top Downloads shows the 20 games that are currently downloaded most. Think of Top Downloads as "Most Popular".
     
    The Top Downloads list is powered by the sales and trial data compiled by Microsoft from the day prior. So for instance, if today is October 3rd, typically sales data would be available for October 2nd some time in the afternoon. Top Downloads always should reflect gamers choices the day before. That way, if a new game enters the New Arrivals list, then by the next day, if it has lots of gamers checking it out, it will also be in the Top Downloads list.

    There are currently over 1,300 games available on the XBL Indie Games channel. Several games are released each day. Often times a game will only spend a few days in the New Arrivals list. If it hasn't garnered enough attention, it will slip off that visual list, and buried in the "Browse All" list where only the most determined gamers will seek it out.


    .


    Why Aren't You Releasing Explosionade Yet?
    If we released Explosionade today, but the Top Downloads list is not updating properly we will miss a huge chance for more sales.We love making games as a full time business. If we have a bad launch for Explosionade, it will greatly hurt our potential to carry on.
    Basically the way the NewArrivals/Top Downloads system works is more adventurous gamers sift through all the releases that enter the New Arrivals list. Some of these games get downloaded by more gamers than others. If a game gets downloaded enough, it will show up in the Top Downloads list. From having data from Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP, and from talking to other XBLIG developers it's apparent having a game in the Top Downloads list can get you many more trials than slipping off all easy-to-find lists.


    When Top Downloads is stuck, it's true some games are high in the list and get more downloads then. But eventually gamers will recognize the list is stuck (when sometimes data doesn't update for over a week) and gamers begin to ignore the channel more as it's obvious something's broken. Even though some games initially benefit from the list being stuck, eventually all games suffer from lower traffic.
     .

    How Do You Know the Top Downloads List Is Broken?
    One way is to simply check the Top Downloads list itself on the Xbox each day and see if the Top 20 are identical. That's pretty tedious to do, so if you are an XBLIG developer with a released game, you can simply check your sales data for any of your games and see if it reports data from the day prior. For instance, it's 11pm EST on October 3rd, but sales data for both Weapon of Choice and Shoot 1UP is only up to date till October 1st. The sales data drives the Top Downloads list. If sales data is late, the list is not updating. If you don't have any games released you can follow Mommy's Best Games on twitter or others, or check the XNA forums.
    .

    Also, I publicly share sales data for Shoot 1UP from which I hope other developers can glean some marketing strategies and understand the XBLIG marketplace better. I also try to mark every time sales data is late in the Shoot 1UP spreadsheet (over to the right of the date).
    To the right, you can see days data was late, or partial, which translates to a broken Top Downloads list.
    What late data means in concrete terms is any games released on October 2nd are getting less potential representation. The following games were released on the 2nd:
    Any interest gamers showed for these game is lost until the list updates again.
    If we had released Explosionade yesterday, it would be missing potential time in the Top Downloads list and potential sales.
    .

    So When Are You Releasing Explosionade?
    Sales data has been spotty since September 28th, which means the Top Downloads list has been spotty in terms of reflecting gamers interests. In months past, the Top Downloads list has stayed stuck for days, sometimes over a week.
    I really want to release Explosionade, as I publicly announced we could release by October 4th (Monday). It was ready in time for review earlier this weekend, but I've been waiting till Top Downloads is functioning properly.

    Explosionade in all it's alien-stomping glory.

    I'm hoping the list will start updating again properly by Monday evening. If it is, I'll put Explosionade into review, and if the game passes review, it will probably be available Thursday morning, October 7th. 
    .
     




    Above all, I really love the freedom the Xbox Live Indie Games channel affords developers to make console games. It's a fantastic marketplace that has really come into it's own with stand out titles like I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1, Miner Dig Deep, Breath of Death VII, Protect Me Knight, SoulCaster, Inferno, Decimation X, and many more. I love developing games for the XBLIG when the system works and I want the service to continue. But if Top Downloads keeps getting stuck it's going to eventually impact developers and gamers and the channel will suffer.
     .
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    UPDATE:
    The story was covered here on eurogamer.net. Here and around the web, some questions were presented I thought I'd explain with the original article.
     

    "Why don't you just release it after the dashboard is working?"
    Currently to submit a game to XBLIG it has to enter peer review. This system has worked very well as over 1,300 games have been submitted with a very low percentage of crashes. But to pass through the review it takes several days. At any given point the dashboard could break--even right when it's out of your hands and shows up freshly on the list. There's no developer control here, it's all up to Microsoft to fix the the broken dashboard.
    .
    "Who's to say you'll be in the top list?" 
    I'm not saying Explosionade will automatically be in the Top Downloads, it's more that the possibility of getting into that list is basically removed completely for our game and anyone else releasing a game when the dashboard is broken. The system breaks down for new releases' potential when Top Downloads is stuck.

    "But it only happens every month or two, what's the big deal?"
    Any breaking is too often. A digital distribution system lives dies by it's useability and the reflection of current traffic. Look at any good website or marketplace from CNN to YouTube to Gamespot. There is always a section of 'most popular' which needs real-time data to survive and where most people go first. If this most popular section is broken, sites and markets lose traffic. As I mentioned earlier, once the game is released the developer has no control over it. If the list is broken, they will lose traffic and possible sales.