Wow! 2011 is almost over and 2012 is just around the corner! I simply cannot believe that another whole year has passed!
Looking back on my goals for 2011, I achieved only two of them, and that was in the first month of the year. Since then, although I have been quite busy, there has not been much in the way of new releases.
Mind Juice Accomplishments in 2011
- Released CalcXL, an outsourced iPad calculator project: Delivery was late due to the US-based developer I hired flaking out halfway through the project. I had to take over the code and make it work in order to get it released.
- Released Animal Stickers, an outsourced kids sticker book app: I received a lot of positive feedback from parents who bought Animal Stickers for their kids. Unfortunately it was a pretty big flop financially. Although it has now broken even on the cash costs, it is unlikely to ever earn enough to financially justify the time I personally put into it. Still, I’ve seen several kids playing with it and enjoying it, so that makes me happy.
- Redesigned Unicorn Rush as a freemium title: Unicorn Rush is a year behind my original schedule partially due to having changed from a $0.99 title to a freemium title (details below).
- Updated Charmed to include downloadable in app purchases of alternate sets of Charms: Added a set of Fantasy Charms to Charmed. The original code was not designed to be skinnable, so this took longer than it should have had I thought ahead a bit.
- Updated and renamed Charmed Lite to Charmed: RewardsDen Edition: RewardsDen is a new monetization system that allows players to earn points by playing games which can be used to purchase free gift cards for online stores. Charmed: RewardsDen Edition has just been released, so I don’t yet know how successful it will be.
- Attended 360|iDev in Denver, Colorado: As usual, I had an awesome time at 360|iDev and participated in my third game jam. The theme was “opposite”, which coincidentally was the theme idea I submitted. Oddly though, it took me a while to come up with a suitable game concept. I plan a blog post on the game idea I created during the jam.
What the Heck Happened to Unicorn Rush?
The first was that I massively underestimated the amount of work that was still remaining to get the game done to a level of polish that I would be happy with. This included improvement to gameplay, artwork, particle effects and sounds.
The second was a major change in the nature of the game. You see, shortly into 2011 I saw several high-quality games get released (some from friends of mine), spike up a bit in the charts and then fizzle out. I also watched as several mediocre freemium games stayed high in the charts. I did not want to release Unicorn Rush as a $0.99 game only to see it fizzle out too.
After some discussion with the main programmer on the project, I decided to revise Unicorn Rush as my first freemium game with consumable virtual currency. This involved adding some elements back into the game which I had previously discarded to try to get the game to market quicker. I think this is a good thing, as it brought the game back in line with my original concept for it.
So now almost all the game code is done (some work left on objectives/achievements), and I need to create the levels for the game using our custom built-in visual level editor. We are expecting to get our first beta out by end of January, so stay tuned for more information on that.
Plans for 2012
Even though I feel disappointed at not achieving all my goals in 2011, I feel a much better chances of achieving my 2012 goals, assuming the Mayans were wrong about the of the world of course.
Change of Focus
I am planning the following major changes in the new year:
- No more updates to existing apps: Other than necessary bug fixes, I do not plan to update any of my existing apps this year. I have no new ideas for them at this time, and honestly, the financial return is just not there. I think it is better to work on my other ideas now.
- I am selling freeAppCalendar.com: I want to focus on other areas this year, so I am looking for a buyer for the freeAppCalendar.com site. The site still has some good potential, but I have not had the time or desire to take on those changes. For example, releasing an app associated with the site would be a huge boost to the service. Get in touch with me if you are interested in taking over the site.
- Focus on Game Design: I’ve been doing a lot of reading about game design recently and I am bringing a renewed focus to design into my upcoming games. Currently I am reading The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. It’s quite interesting so far. I plan more blog posts this year on the topic of game design, including a review of this book when I’m done and have had time to digest it.
Looking at the games I didn’t finish in 2011 and the games I want to make in 2012, I realized that I need to be able to work faster and get my games out to more people. I think a cross-platform solution with integrated tools will be the key to achieving these goals.
After looking carefully at all the various engines and frameworks on the market, I have settled on Unity 3D as my new primary development tool for both 2D and 3D games. Although it is a bit costly compared to the other options out there, I think the amount of time it will save me is more than worth the price.
So now I am busy learning Unity (when I’m not working on Unicorn Rush) so I can start cranking out games in 2012. I’ll be sharing prototypes throughout the year using Unity’s ability to create web-based games both using the Unity Web Player and the new Flash exporter included in Unity 3.5. Keep an eye on this space and my Twitter stream for demo links.
Mind Juice 2012 Project Roster
The following projects are currently planned for 2012. I hope to be writing an article next year telling you all how happy I am to have met my goals for the year.
- Release Unicorn Rush: This is a must for Q1 2012. I am trying to only work exclusively on Unicorn Rush now until it is released.
- Release my First Unity Game: I plan to get my feet wet with Unity with a 2D word game that I designed last year. I think it will probably only take a week to nail down the core gameplay, but adding on the other games modes, animations, menus, extras and polish will likely take it out to about 3 months. I love word games, and this is one I want to play, so I am hoping that other “wordies” will like it too.
- Release my Second Unity Game: I have a game mostly roughed out which will likely become my second Unity title.
- Release my Third Unity Game: I am looking for another Unity developer to develop another title with me. Let me know if you are interested. Compensation can be strictly cash on milestones or profit sharing or a combination of both.
- Release a non-Unity Game based on the Unicorn Rush code: I have art in progress for a side-scrolling action game that reuses a large part of the Unicorn Rush codebase. This game will also be developed by another developer (I’m hoping the same developer that worked on Unicorn Rush will be available).
So it’s going to be a busy year, but hopefully an awesome one!
To all the amazing iOS friends I’ve made over the past 3 years, I wish you all health, happiness and great success in 2012!