Floobz – Another depressing indie dev post mortem

Introduction

I love being an indie dev. Nothing’s gives me greater pleasure to turn my wacky game ideas into reality. This is true for many of you no doubt, and whilst we mainly do it for the fun factor, I’m sure many of us also hope that we will achieve some financial gain, enabling us to write more games as a full time indie dev. That’s my aspiration at least. But alas, with Floobz this dream was not to be.

In this post I will look at how well Floobz has fared in the hugely competitive App Store; for me at least, it does not make pretty reading. But you dear reader may find it useful, interesting and you may even find some hilarity in our dismal download figures. Let us begin…

The Big Day – Part 1

The paid version of Floobz was released on Friday 6th April 2012 for £0.69/$1.00. We felt that our previous game Bungee Ninja suffered slightly due to both a paid and free ad supported version being released at the same time. Therefore, with Floobz we opted to release only a paid version initially. Did it work? Well not really – we only had 24 downloads. The next day wasn’t better, with the Saturday banking us an extra 6 downloads and on Sunday a slightly unimpressive 0 downloads.

By any measure this is pretty poor. So why so low? Afterall, Bungee ninja achieved over 120 downloads on the first weekend. Given the almost immediate demise in download figures, it prompted us to have a rethink about our strategy. We felt that the reason was because we didn’t have a free version for potential buyers to sample the game. No problem we thought, we had the free version ready for submission to Apple and we always planned to submit it at some point, just not so soon! Anyway, Floobz Lite was submitted and we waited for the ever efficient submission process to run its course. Two weeks later…

The Big Day – Part 2

The free ad supported version of Floobz was released on Thursday 19th April 2012. The two weeks prior to its release weren’t great for us. The full version went on to have a further 14 downloads. So we were highly anticipating the second big day – surely this would be the answer! It was not – in its first day Floobz Lite had 78 downloads. That seemed too bad to be true, something must be wrong, why only 78? Well, I have a few theories and one in particular that I think was a major factor. Let’s start with that one.

Near Zero Visibility

When Floobz was released the App Store still had a dedicated New Releases section. This feature on the App Store allowed potential buyers to quickly see what new games were available each day and I attribute this to our relative success of Bungee Ninja (the free version achieved over 1000 downloads on the first weekend). Unfortunately however, we did not appear in this section at all, not once, not even for a few minutes. After contacting Apple, we were told there had been some problem with the way the online submission had been filled in and that as a result Floobz did not appear in this section. Unfortunately after several further emails, Apple refused to do anything about it.

Little Marketing Prior To Release

Prior to the release of Floobz I maintained a developer blog in an attempt to generate some interest. My attempts were futile and despite posting on a fairly regular basis, the blog only managed to attract a handful of readers. Perhaps I could have done more to promote the blog? This is something I guess I will be looking to address in my next project.

Game Critism

Of the little feedback we had about the game, one of the biggest critisms was that the user interface felt clunky. Another ciritism was that there was no way to skip the tutorials and dive straight into the game. Perhaps addressing these critisms sooner would have helped. Unfortunately I was left so deflated with the release of the game, that I just could not muster up enough enthusiasm to continue patching the game further. In hindsight this was probably a mistake.

Some Download Numbers…

This graph shows how the download numbers panned out during the first month. I won’t bother posting the latter months as the trend is pretty much what you would expect – a flat line.

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Free All Weekend

The only spike in download was when we made the paid version free for a weekend. This gave us a huge impact in sales in comparision to what had come before. Nevertheless, once the promotion ended sales quickly went back to normal. This has given me food for thought however. Perhaps in future this promotional technique could be used in conjunction with a major update in order to get word out about significant changes to the app.

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Conclusion

To date, Floobz has achieved the following download figures:

  • Floobz – 702 (£26.61 profit)
  • Floobz Lite – 423

I learnt many lessons from the project, but here are the important ones that still continue to resonate with me:

  • A game will take much MUCH longer to write than you initially anticipate.
    • Floobz took approximately 9 months to develop.
    • Floobz had 4 part-time developers.
    • Graphical assets were put together externally by Concept Creative.
    • Sound asset were created by yours trully.
    • Music was bought for a small sum via MelodyLoops.com
  • You cannot rely on Apple to market a product for you.
    • This is especially true now that the New Releases section on the App Store has been removed.
  • Unless you have a good fanbase that has been built up prior to release or are an established games developer, releasing only a paid version of your game is unlikely to attract many downloads.
  • Your first few games as an indie dev are likely to fail from a sales perspective.

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Finally an update!

That’s right people, fret no more! I have found the time to provide you with the next edition of my weekly-ish video blog for Floobz. I bet you thought we’d given up huh? Huh??

Well no, far from it my friend. Thanks to my current employment status, progress on Floobz has been fantastic in the last two weeks. I would go as far to say that the game is roughly 90% completed. Sadly, the remaining 10% is always the hardest as it mainly involves testing and more testing and even more testing. But YOU don’t need to worry about that – just sit back and watch!

Floobz Update – Part 1

Floobz Update – Part 2

Happy belated Xmas and New Year!

Yes I know. I’ve been absent for quite some time now. I know that upsets you but I truly do hope you had a fantastic holiday season, I really do!

Ok with that out the way lets have a catch up Q and A session. This will be made up of questions that I THINK people would have been asking if indeed I actually had any readers 😉

1. Russ, has KPM given up on floobz?

Well, that really is the big question isn’t it? The answer is a tremendously big and obesely fat ‘No’.

2. Ok so have you actually made any progress since last time?

Absolutely!

3. You’re not saying much, how come?

Because its 1:30 in the morning, my wife is asleep next to me and I’m typing this on my HTC.

4. Fine I’ll let you off. But when can we see a new screencast?

Well, I currently have a significant amount of time available for working on floobz… so maybe tomorrow?!

5. And can we expect to see a huge step forward!

Massive steps… to the point where functionality is virtually finished. Just a few tweaks here and there. The main bulk of the work is actually creating some levels now – we have plenty of test levels and a few tutorial levels but nothing finalized. You won’t be disappointed though.

6. When will Floobz be released?

Soon.

7. Have you improved the graphics?

We have indeed. Hugely. Our good friend Jonna has done a fantastic job on that front.

Ok. Q and A session over. Jo just turned to face me and give me the evils. I think that means I should stop. But I promise ill show you all something really really soon!

Nighty night people.

Floobz Development Update

Good evening world,

So, D-Ream was wrong – things got much worse first. I took my car to the garage last Saturday and the slightly odd but still helpful mechanic said that the fact the engine still started was a good thing and that he would get back to me on Monday. He did get back to me and told me that my car is a write off. “Well, that really sucks” I thought. Then I cried a little in the comfort of a toilet cubicle at work – I mean come on thats £5k down the pan! I mean i KNOW that it had a larger-than-realistically-required 2.5 litre engine but I loved that car!

Then I manned up, wiped away the tears and did what any sensible bloke would do. That’s right, I applied for finance and bought another BMW with a bigger engine! Get in!

So with that messy situation over with I can finally stop worrying and concentrate on Floobz again. This week we have completed the following:

  • Build Panel
  • Button Tile

Apologies for the sound quality this week, I forget to turn the volume up on my microphone – I’ll get the hang of this screencast lark eventually.

 

Sorry this is a short post this week but wifey is mithering me to come to bed. Oh the nerve!

Nighty Night.

 

Meet The Floobz Team – Mattius

Good afternoon everyone,

In this, the first of my “Meet The Floobz Team” posts I’ll be introducing you to my KPM colleague Matt, or as he likes to be known ‘Mattius’.

Matt was the first of us to learn Objective C in order to write games for Apple devices. His first accomplishment was our first game Bungee Ninja which had relative success earning us enough money to put towards another Mac. We all like to think of Matt as being rather God-like as there’s nothing he can’t do with a computer – keep him entertained and he’ll churn out code like it’s going out of fashion. This makes him a valuable asset to our team.

Matt also has a warped sense of reality and often considers himself a fine match for the cult eighties cartoon character He-Man. See for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as God intended no doubt.

Matt has his own blog over at http://kpmattius.wordpress.com where he’ll discuss all manner of things, though of course his focus in the near future will no doubt be on things to do with the on-going development of Floobz. I expect that Matt will also post on this blog from time to time, but don’t expect too much, we want Matt focusing on what he does best (coding of course :->)

Next time on “Meet The Floobz Team” I’ll introduce you all to The Chee.

Have a good weekend!

Floobz Development Update

Hello again and welcome to my weekly-ish update on the development of our new game Floobz.  I’m pleased to annouce that I’m very happy with the progress we have made recently. This week we have a few new features to show you, namely:

  • Fan tiles
  • Zoom functionality
  • Explode action
  • New Heads-Up Display (HUD)

It makes me happy to be able to share this with you. Why? Well, truth be told I’ve not had the greatest of weeks. My football team Bolton are currently propping up the rest of the Premier League (oh the shame…). To make matters worse my car blew up! I’m not kidding, really, it blew up. Ok maybe I’m exagerating a little. It made a loud bang followed by a large plume of smoke coming from under the bonnet. I won’t lie, I was scared. I don’t really know much about cars but I assumed that BANG + SMOKE = PROMPT DEATH. Fortunately that was not the case – after legging it to the other side of the car park with my step daughter, watching in disarray for 5 minutes, I come to realise that my car was not on fire and the smoke was in fact just steam. Apparently my cooling system blew a hole or something. And I thought BMW’s were realiable!

I think D-Ream put it best – “Things can only get better!” – let’s hope so!

Anyway, back to Floobz. Following on from the success of my previous screencast I have kindly reserved my Wednesday evening to prepare a second one. Gratitude is not neccessary. Enjoy!

And there you go! Not much more to add to that really. Maybe I should have added credits to the video and give my step daughter Beth a mention. Oh well.

I’ll leave you with something I was asked to say by an esteemed colleague who shall remain unnamed –  “All the awesome code you see is probably Matts ….. ahhhhh ….. I want to be like Matt one day but am not holding my breath!”

Goodnight!

Hang on a second. What is Floobz?

That is an excellent question and is one I wish to answer as best as possible. Let’s start with trying to sum it up in one line.

“It’s Lemmings meets The Incredible Machine.”

That would be one way of putting it. Let’s see what the Game Design Document (GDD) says.

“Floobz have been trapped below water towers all around the world by an unknown enemy. Their only chance of escape is to take a deep breath and float to the surface. Unfortunately Floobz have no hands or feet and aren’t the cleverest of creatures so navigation is going to be a problem. Many dangerous obstacles stand in the way of freedom, but with your help they stand a chance! Help the Floobz by building different machines in strategic locations to navigate them safely through the level. Give the Floobz a helping hand by interacting with them directly in many ways. With multiple solutions to each level and bonuses to find, save as many Floobz as you can!”

So, does this tickle your fancy yet? I’d love to know. Personally I can’t wait to play it, I always loved Lemmings as a kid and I’m hoping this will have a similar charm and addictive quality to it, whilst still being unique and original.

Here’s a feature list we have put together to highlight the main aspects of the game. Once again this is an extract from the GDD (are you noticing a pattern yet? Seriously, write a GDD).

  • Challenging and original concept
  • Create objects within the world
    • Add fans, buttons and other objects to the world to manipulate the flow of the Floobz
  • Interact with the Floobz
    • Inflate Floobz to increase their rate of ascension
    • Pop Floobz so they explode and destroy surrounding obsticles
    • And more!
  • Explore levels to find secret paths and powerups
  • Earn Achievements by completing a variety of different actions
  • Get the Floobz to sing different tunes on the title screen to unlock special features
  • 100+ levels
  • Level designer for players to create their own levels (possibly save for future update)
  • Tutorial mode to ease player in

I honestly can’t wait to show you more. The best I can offer right now is some concept art and sketches of the interface. There will be more to come soon once the level editor is finished and we can start some serious work on the iPhone code. Next time I’ll talk to you about the level editor and maybe even knock up a video showing you a quick demo of it – afterall, you may want to make some of your own in future!

A Floob

A sketch of the main in-game interface

KPM Russ