Linkvent Calendar, Day 12: Indie Challenges

On December 12, 2010, in Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar, by Steffen Itterheim

Yesterday I introduced you to the Rampant Coyote with his Eight Tips to Help You Finish Your Indie Game. Today’s Linkvent Calendar entry follows in these footsteps with a blog post from Owen Goss titled Indie Challenges.

Actually, it’s two posts and it follows his original, enthusiastic post I’m Indie, and I’m Proud. Surely it can’t be all good, so Indie Challenges throws some light on the challenges indie developers face, such as unstable income, blurring the lines between life and work, the paperwork (@Owen: there are tax consultants for that, and I pay just over €40/$60 per month – well worth it!), occasionally feeling like a failure (@Owen: no, you’re not alone, been there … repeatedly – but much worse is to feel like a failure when you’re employed and still believe that you depend on that job).

I’ve found this post through #iDevBlogADay which is a wonderful website of high-profile bloggers putting out two posts every day. A few days ago I joined the waiting list as #52.

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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Stepping a little outside the bowl that is Cocos2D today. I’d like to turn your attention to a very prolific indie developer who has been around for many years. His blog was instrumental on setting my mind towards wanting to become and indie developer. I’m talking about Jay Barnson, better known for his blog Tales of the Rampant Coyote.

In his blog post dubbed Eight Tips to Help You Finish Your Indie Game he collected and published these 8 bits of wisdom:

#1 – Keep It Simple
#2 – The Secret of Scheduling and Budgeting
#3 – Make It Playable as Fast as Possible
#4 – Develop a Cautious Relationship with Scope / Feature Creep
#5 – Be Able to Carry the Project on Your Back
#6 – When In Doubt, Cut It Out
#7 – Save It For the Sequel
#8 – Power Through the Valleys

I specifically value #1 and #3 very highly, with #2 being very important to actually make measurable progress. Measuring your progress in small steps is what’s going to make you feel good about your project and that will keep you going.

I urge you to take #4 through #7 very seriously. I wish you strength for #8, that’s what’s going to hit all of us and in fact, it probably killed thousands of times more cool game projects than big companies cancelled for budgetary (is that a bird?) reasons, or simply because the decision maker hadn’t slept well.

Have a look at Jay’s indie game shoppe at Rampant Games, he sells his own and other indie developer’s titles.

Side Note

As a side note, Jay recently blogged about the web-browser based Lord of Ultima game that launched earlier this year. It’s the game I walked away from, so naturally I was interested to read what the Coyote had to say about it.

His review blew my mind, Jay hit so many nails on the head – both about the good and undesireable aspects of the game – it was unbelievable. Besides it was also fun to read and his conclusion being “Ultima is dead” is exactly what is wrong with the game. In and of itself nothing, the game is actually quite fun and well thought out, but using the Ultima license for that kind of game while not making good use of it … well it’s clear it would bring some more players into the game but ultimately (pun intended) it is severely damaging the brand. Ultima as we old-schoolers knew it, is indeed dead. Lucky for us, we don’t need no Ultima anymore because there’s something better for us!

On the other hand, that also means there’s a future for Ultima. One in which our kids remember Ultima as a series of actually quite good webgames. Oh well, that might not be too bad after all, if I set my “everything was better in the good old days” mind (it starts to develop once you pass age 30) aside for a moment. :)

Add your link to the Cocos2D Linkvent Calendar

Do you have something to share with the Cocos2D community? I haven’t received enough submissions to fill all the days until Xmas, although I do have enough links to post one each day, I’d rather post a link to your website or blog post.

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Marketing for Indies: an excessively long Link List

On October 22, 2010, in Marketing, Mobile Business, by Steffen Itterheim

I’ve been asked to write something about Marketing & PR a lot of times and repeatedly. It seems to be a topic that’s often sought after and mostly misunderstood.

Sometimes, it’s deceivingly complex, as in “How to get my App featured by Apple on the App Store?”. Who the f*ck knows? If you do, be sure to tell everyone about it!

But when you dig deeper, you learn more about the whole “process” and things become a little clearer. I hear you can get lucky if you know the right people at Apple’s PR or App Store department. At least that’s what I was told personally by someone who does PR and knows someone at Apple personally. Ok, not an option for most of us. I also hear that Apple scans certain websites when looking for App Store features, and for games the #1 site to get reviewed by which in turn might lead to an Apple feature is touchArcade. What else, right?

But getting a review on touchArcade is a different matter altogether. From game industry experience, I can tell one thing that almost guarantees to get your game reviewed/featured: it should be looking awesome! And not just the game, you need a trailer that packs a punch or two, one that’s hilarious or one that’s simply exciting and really wets your appetite. Not easy to do, but well worth the money if you can outsource it to someone who knows how to do it well. And if your game doesn’t have the looks, or can’t have them, it must be uniquely interesting. Combine the two, and you got yourself a winner. That ought to be easy, right?

Well, yes and no. If you know what you’re doing, it can be easy. And it certainly feels easy in such a case. After all, all the work to set yourself up for success has already been done. But if you don’t happen to be working with world-class artists, programmers, designers – what do you do? You can pour everything you have in being creatively unique. To my mind, that’s one of the reasons why the Indie space has become so successful. It’s not just that being unique and innovative is what the developers want their games to be, it’s actually helping them a lot to get coverage in the first place – it’s even a necessity, and a way to success!

The excessively long Marketing Link List

But back on topic, I actually just wanted to share a link list with you. It’s called:

The Big List Of Indie Marketing And Business Tips

Here’s the index … as you can see, it contains a lot more than just links about marketing alone:

  1. Marketing
  2. Press Release Sites
  3. Business
  4. Piracy
  5. Interviews
  6. Game Revenue And Sales
  7. Advertising
  8. E-Mail Marketing
  9. Jobs
  10. Indie Funding
  11. Merchandise
  12. E-Commerce Payment Processors

And one link you should not miss: a free eBook about Videogame Marketing & PR!

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cocos2d Book, Chapter 2: Getting Started

On July 2, 2010, in Announcements, book, cocos2d, by Steffen Itterheim

Chapter 2 – Getting Started

This chapter starts with the usual prerequisites. Download and install iPhone SDK and cocos2d. Installing cocos2d Templates. Creating the first project from a cocos2d project template.

From what I already wrote I estimate that will be about one third of the chapter. I think what would be most interesting in this chapter is to talk about general code structure of cocos2d projects. The basic elements like Scenes, Layers and Nodes. How to transition from one screen to another, to see that we’re actually doing something cool with little effort. For that I think the scheduled selectors should also be introduced to time transitions, and one screen might be a Layer which is waiting for touch input to advance to the next screen.

It might also be a good place to discuss cocos2d memory management, like static autorelease initializers, and making sure dealloc gets called when you switch scenes – otherwise you’re obviously having a memory leak.

The goal is to get the reader into a position where he feels comfortable laying out a screen structure in cocos2d. He knows how to initialize objects and how to add and remove them from the scene. The foundation of working with cocos2d if you so will.

What do you think should be in Chapter 2?

Let me know if you think I’m missing anything important. If you don’t have any suggestions then just think about what you would expect from the chapter by reading this description, that might give you some thoughts.

Also I would welcome any tips and the common pitfalls first-time cocos2d developers might trap themselves into. Expert tips are also welcome, those little nasty things or habits which could bite you later on if you don’t consider them from the beginning.

I’m looking forward to your feedback! The earlier the better. Chapter 2 will be submitted next Friday, July 9th.

What’s planned for the Chapter after this one

Just to put Chapter 2 in context, for Chapter 3 I’m planning to talk about essential cocos2d classes and processes. Sprites, Labels, Menus, Actions, etc. It’ll show you how to work with them using small code snippets. The chapter will probably have a “reference” character with various code samples, so that experienced users feel comfortable skipping ahead while beginners still find it easy and encouraging to pick up the details.

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