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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Finger Derpy Nominated for IMGA Award!

Doubly Nominated

We have fun news! Our mobile horse-racing game, Finger Derpy, has been nominated, in *two* categories, for an International Mobile Game Award! The 12th IMGA competition recently announced the nominations, and your favorite drunken-horse-racing game is up for "Best Multiplayer Game" and "Guilty Pleasure"!

Finger Derpy nominated for Guilty Pleasure
Finger Derpy for Best Multiplayer!
Here's the trick: The final awards are determined by a crowd vote!
That's where YOU come in. Yes, YOU!

Do you like Mommy's Best Games? And/Or do you like video game development in Indiana/Kentucky? Then please vote for Finger Derpy!
Winning awards helps us with future and current projects. It will help Finger Derpy continue to succeed, which feeds our future games.

Finger Derpy is a game made in the Louisville area, and it features the city of Louisville!
The game is really well received and we love that people enjoy it. To see it nominated out of thousands of games is certainly exciting. But to have it confirmed with the award would seal the deal.

I ask you, I implore you, please take 5 minutes of your time to help our very tiny, indie team win this international game award.

How to Vote for Finger Derpy 

Here's where to vote:
http://www.imgawards.com/awarded-games/12th-imga/

It takes a few steps, but that means each vote is even more valuable.
You do have to register an account and confirm it and all, but then you can vote with one click.
When you register, and it asks you what "You Are" just pick "A fan of IMGA!"

The odd part is you only get to vote for *one game* in any/all categories! So make it count.
Please vote for Finger Derpy in the Best Guilty Pleasure category!
This is not a situation of "vote early and often".
You get one vote, it's very quick once you register, and it really, really helps us.
Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"The 3 That's" for Your Game

"The Deluge"

You know that scene in some movie where the wave is so high, it's over the view of the camera, and it's going to crush the heroes? Well the players are the heroes, and that wave is made out of potential entertainment. Games, movies, TV, books. It's practically infinite, and you're trying to make money in the business. Good luck.

"Flash Memory"

Yes of course. You do get some flash-moments in front of people's eyes. Here and there, you do get times to catch their eye. Someone's Retweet, Facebook share, Steam's recommendation. It's possible. That is what I'm working on improving for my game (and maybe you are too) so I wrote this for myself. It's a sort of an action-list. Or one-sided argument. So this is mostly for me, but if it helps others, that's groovy.
 
I'm getting Pig Eat Ball ready for Early Access on Steam. It's really scary. I know it needs more work and more polish. I've made other games on Steam. Somehow it seems to get harder rather than easier.
Here's what I figure someone should say when seeing my game.

Desired Player Reaction 
or 
"The 3 That's"
1. What is that? 
2. I have not done that.
3. I want to do that.

"What is that?"

Your game has to be instantly recognizable. The same of course goes for movies, children's books, comics, any visual medium. When you see my game, I want you to *know* for certain it is Pig Eat Ball. Not some other pixel-art retro looking game. It's very difficult to find a unique, intriguing style.
So far, the best way I've found is to enhance the qualities unique to your game, through gameplay, but also through your art. My game has lots of kinda-gross-funny barf. So I continue to find ways to "up the barf".

And if you see my game, and don't know the name, I want you to want to find out. You need a look for your game, such that if the viewer does not know the game's name, they'll still remember the look for next time that they see it. And hopefully they'll actually find out the name, and want to learn more.

Ask yourself: What is the thing in my game, that when player's see it, they'll know it's my game? Is there something unique? What exactly is it? Can it be improved or enhanced?

The current 'barf situation', not perfect, still refining it.

"I want to do that"

When someone sees your game, you want them to say: "I want to do that". It's a very simple goal for your trailer or gif. When they see a movie trailer, they should want to watch more. Games are different--people should want to do, to operate, the very thing they are watching in the trailer. It should get them excited to do the thing you are showing them. If you can't communicate that, you're doomed. At the end of the trailer, does the person know the cool thing to do in your game? Do they want to be in your game world?

"I have not done that"

*You* know your game is fun. You are taking for granted that they, the viewer, think it is fun. Meditate on this: The viewer does not think your game is fun. They have no idea. This is the hardest part--the ephemeral part. You have to communicate the fun parts of your game, to a cold person--someone who has no impression of your game.
I love running and shooting in games. I love shooting monsters. I love jumping on platforms. But I have played many of these. It's very common for me to see a game, that has these components, but the video has not convinced me that it has something unique to offer.
Is the game hiding something cool? Perhaps. But I will never know. If the game 'spoiled' a cool looking thing in the trailer, I may have gone for it, and played the game. But as it stands, I will never play that game. Maybe if it didn't hold back, and showed me the cool thing, I would be more interested.

"75% in the trailer"

Whenever I watch any game trailer, I assume the game only spoiled 75% of the cool parts in the trailer. If you showed me 3 really cool things, and I want to experience those 3 cool things, then I'll hope for one more hidden cool thing. If you show me only 1 thing that is half-way cool, I now assume you have one other thing that is only-sorta-barely cool that you are hiding. So if you spend your trailer only showing me something sorta-cool, but you are in fact hiding 3 amazing things from my view--I'll never know (or not for a very long time), because I've passed on your game.

"Not the last boss!"

No one wants the final cool thing to be spoiled in the trailer. Why? Well, obviously the surprise of the final boss/area/thing is ruined. But I think the real sadness would be, that it would mean your game doesn't have enough to show me--that instead only the final conflict--the thing most people will never get to it, had to be used in the trailer, in order to build up enough cool things to show me a single minute worth of your game. That would be sad.

"What else is there?"

But you may say, "but what if they only think there is barf (or whatever) in your game?"  Well, now you have a good problem. The problem is, you have their attention, and you have to find "the rest" to tell them more. That's okay, you'll find more. But the first part is, getting their attention. This is about making sure, they even know about your game *at all*. Focus on that right now.

1. What is that? 
2. I have not done that.
3. I want to do that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Development Year in Review 2015

We can't find out what's wrong or what went well if we don't take time to see what we've done!
With that, let's look at what Mommy's Best Games did in 2015!

We released a new game this year, Finger Derpy. We also re-released 4 of our classic games, as enhanced ports to Steam, and called it the "Mommy's Best Action Pack".

January

Pig Eat Ball is the main project, but after talking to Nintendo and Sony and wanting to have the game on those platforms, it's clear we can't do it as it stands. The game is written in Java and simply won't run on consoles. I talk to John Meister from nearby game group Super Soul and we start working together. His team starts to port the game to Unity. This will allow us to more easily choose what Pig Eat Ball is available on.

In the meantime I start heavily working on Finger Derpy. Matthew and Andrew continue work on Pig Eat Ball core content. This means Matthew is writing code for new gameplay objects, and Andrew is designing and building new levels.

February

I focus on Finger Derpy and getting deals with local businesses to support the game. Here in the presskit, you can read more about our integration with Louisville landmarks.

March

More of the same, development wise.
Plus we show our games at the Louisville Arcade Expo!

April

Finger Derpy launched April 9th
Released Finger Derpy! First to iOS on the 9th, then to Google Play on the 19th. We held our big "Chomp the BIT" launch party that Friday. We organized the event in which 25 local developers showed off their games at an arcade bar in town.
Apple featured the game in the App Store as a 'Best New Game' which was a big deal and really helped downloads.
Also youtuber 'Cuqquake' featured the game, got plenty of views, and we've gotten a decent number of user reviews saying they saw the game on her channel.


May

During April and May we showed Finger Derpy at 10 local shows (in 5 weeks). It was exhausting. Between all of them, the Pegasus Preview Parade and the Thunderblast were beneficial in terms of download numbers. I think this was a matter of 'correct engagement' with large crowds that actually were interested in games.
Some of the events we showed the game at just had lots of drunken people. There was high traffic, but low interest/engagement/memory retention. Just because there's lots of people at an event doesn't mean you should show your game there.

June

Started porting the Mommy's Best Action Pack to Steam. This involved changing the games Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP, Explosionade, and Game Type, and making them great Steam ports. These games were all originally released between 2008 and 2011. They were made in XNA.
This involved adding lots of extra, though small features, which takes time. Some of the games did get new content as well, such as the collectible MBG pies in Weapon of Choice.
Scott Slucher from the U of L area started as a coop student working on the port.

July

MBG Action Pack porting by Scott and myself.
I also help Andrew and Matthew continue on PEB. We try to limit too much extra additions because John has to constantly port things from the old Java to the new, half-working Unity build.

August

Much of the same as July.


September

Shipped the Mommy's Best Action Pack on September 23rd!

For Pig Eat Ball, we're continuing to wait on the Unity build to be finished and usable on our side. Until we can write new code in the actual Unity build and until I can give Andrew the level editor that way, we have to continue with the Java build, which is tough having two versions being developed.
 

November

Finger Derpy Thanksgiving update!
Got featured again by Cupquake, definitely helped our player numbers.
Working on Pig Eat Ball gameplay in Java, as the Unity build continues.
Steam Autumn sale for MBG Action Pack.

December

Finger Derpy Winter update!
Unfortunately no big youtubers covered it, but the numbers were up through Christmas.
Working on Pig Eat Ball gameplay as the Unity build continues.
Steam Holiday sale for MBG Action Pack.

Finances

This was our most prolific game year, if you look at straight 'games shipped'--we ported 4 games and released 1 new game. So 5 games were released in this year. But this was our worst year financially.
Serious Sam Double D XXL continues to sell well and supports us, but it's sales are slowly declining.
In years past we were releasing one big game every two years. 2011 was Serious Sam DD to Steam, and 2013 was Serious Sam DD XXL to XBLA and then back to Steam (with lots more content).
2015 should have been Pig Eat Ball, in theory, but it's simply not finished. So instead, we released a free-to-play game, with ad-supported revenue and In-App Purchases, but while it made some money, it has still not covered it's development costs. Then we also released 4 ports of our older games, but they did not sell as well as hoped.

2016

The good news for January is Super Soul finished the Unity port and the game works great! We're working on the game now in Unity and things are moving swiftly.
This is the year for Pig Eat Ball.
Let's make it great, and get it out the door!