First Game Release – Rambling Thoughts

The end is in sight for the release of Endless on both iPhone and Android. My first game, there has been a steep learning curve about what’s going to be needed to try and build a successful game company.

If you have an Android phone you can download and play the game from here http://bit.ly/2SATr7f

Making The Game

I actually thought this was going to be one of the tougher aspects, in hindsight for me with a background in C# development it wasn’t too bad. I used a couple of tutorials to learn and understand Unity.

It took around 4-5 weeks to run through the tutorials and create Endless for Android, with a couple of extra days to convert and submit to Apple.

My advice if you’re wanting to make your own game is to do some of the basic Unity tutorials so you get an understanding of Unity itself and then have a look around at tutorials for the type of game you want to make. Then be bold, jump into making your first game, I found I learnt much quicker when I did this.

App Submissions

By far one of the most daunting aspects of the process so far is submitting to the Google and Apple stores (I’m still waiting on Apple).

There is a lot of help on the internet from people who were in the same position, just take your time to navigate through their respective dashboards and understand what you need to do for beta testing with friends and family. I’ll do some follow up posts in the future to try and help people with some of the issues I faced.

App Testing

An interesting one, something I’ve done with products other than games before so not something completely new to me. Google is pretty simple, submit an APK as an internal test and share the generated link with your friends to test. Apple a little bit more difficult but submit to TestFlight, add in your friends e-mail addresses and when it’s been reviewed and approved they’ll get an e-mail with instructions on how to test.

If your friends haven’t done app testing before then you may need to tell or show them what to look out for, from your own testing you’ll probably have an idea what may break. UI scaling was the first thing that was found on friends phones.

You’re really looking for two things from testing;

  • Is the game fun? I’m hoping mine is, some of the testers have mentioned them or their partners being addicted.
  • Are there any bugs, text going off the screen, buttons in the wrong place are a couple of the things that we’re found.

For your own testing you really need a device for every platform you’re testing on. I’m an iPhone user so that was covered. I ended up purchasing a Samsung J5 so I could test myself on Android.

App Release

This was a big unknown for me, how would the release do on Android when released to the wild. I tried to keep my expectations low, but obviously anyone developing games is hoping for a viral success!!! Sadly at the time of writing on Android I have 11 active installs, which is all friends or friends of friends. Having looked for my app in the Google Play store it’s apparent there is pretty much no hope of people finding the game by accident.

I’ll update with how the release on Apple goes when I know.

This has made me aware of how important it’s going to be to build a social media presence, create a following and market my games.

Social Media

Us developers aren’t widely known for being experts on human interaction and the slow pace of downloads has made me realise how much I’m going to need to build these skills.

You’re going to need a website, facebook, twitter, youtube and I’m sure more to come to build up your game. Not only that you’re probably going to have to face the fact that you may need to buy some advertising (my next step).

I’ve e-mailed android review websites to be hit back with e-mails offering me expensive packages to get my game reviewed. I was surprised by that, I thought they were there to review games for users, naivety on my part.

Costs

Everyone wants to know how much it costs to develop and release a game. I guess we’re all looking to do it as cheaply as possible. The simple fact is if you want to start a business then you’re going to have to invest some money, the amounts will depend on what you already have and what you need;

  • Android phone – £150.
  • Google Play developer account – £20 (one off).
  • Apple developer account – £79 (yearly cost).
  • Website £20 a quarter.
  • Game assets you can mainly get free stuff but I paid for some – £10
  • A Mac so I could release on iPhones £750 – I highly recommend https://www.hoxtonmacs.co.uk I’m really please with the Grade B MackBook pro I purchased.
  • Advertising planned budget of £25-£50 per month.

I’ve made the grand total $2 so far from advertising in the game. I’m not really expecting to turn a profit for 1-2 years unless I get extremely lucky and score a viral hit. Now I have the equipment then the on-going costs really aren’t too bad.

Next Steps

Once I have the release on Apple I’ll be advertising my game on Facebook and seeing what works for building up an audience. I’m hopeful my game is fun and entertaining enough to build up some users who will be looking forward to my next release.

I did wonder if I should continue work on my first game or move onto my second. Having thought about it for several days I’ve decided that I’ll start work on game number 2. Taking the lessons I’ve learnt from Endless and trying to improve on the release in every way.

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