Mobile Game Development
Lessons, Challenges & What’s Next?

Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
October 23, 2013
My History in Games
1994: Web content for game companies
2001: Full-time mobile game developer
2003: Making games for Xbox...
Guilty Party

GridBloc

Devil’s Tuning Fork

Stranglehold

Avengers Initiative

Wheelman
Stubbs the Zombie
Wizard of Oz

A...
How Far Mobile Has Come
2001:

2011:

Screen Size:

60x96 px

640x960 px

Framerate:

1 frame a sec.

30+ fps

Devices:

L...
LAUNCHED APPS
Helped create big mobile games for big companies.

Avengers Initiative

Wizard of Oz

Whole Kids
Awesome Eat...
What can I tell you about
mobile game development?
IT’S NEVER
BEEN EASIER
IT’S NEVER
BEEN HARDER
Making games has never
been easier than now...
TOOLS
Everything you need is at your fingertips.

•

More game engines than ever before:

•
•

Unity, Unreal, GameSalad, G...
COMMUNITY
There are a million people making games & apps.

•

People love to help each other make games

•
•
•

Developer ...
ACCESS
Anyone can publish an app.

•

You don’t have to know the right people anymore

•
•

To put out a DVD-based game, y...
COST
Your devkit costs $300. You already have one.

•

$200 for an iPhone. $100 for a developer account.

•
•
•

Most tool...
Making money with games
has never been harder...
CHOICE
There are 2 million other apps out there.

•

1,400 games come out on iOS each week

•
•
•

Apple only features ~20...
DEVICES
20 different iOS devices. 4,000+ Androids.

•

5 different screen resolutions to support for iOS

•
•
•

Devices t...
BIZ MODEL
The traditional publisher model is dead

•

Used to get funding for a game with just a design doc

•
•
•

Be pre...
FADS
Every month there is a new winner to copy.

•

Angry Birds...

•

Infinity Blade...

•

Candy Crush...

•

CSR Racing...
HOW DO YOU
MAKE IT
EASIER?
Hard lessons learned from
years of mobile game dev...
... that I wish I knew three years ago.
SMALL TEAMS
Two people can make an awesome game.

•

Team-size is not a measure of quality

•
•

Get the right people for ...
RAPID DEV
Don’t get stuck. Don’t stop. Don’t waste time.

•

Every month that you don’t ship, the world is changing.

•
•
...
THE CROWD
Get the audience involved early.

•

Make something that people want.

•
•

Get feedback on the game as soon as ...
OUTSOURCE
Don’t do anything you’re not great at.

•

Easy to outsource...

•
•
•

Large amounts of your content
ALL of you...
What we focused on at
Fun Machine...
... is what we’re good at and enjoy
PROCESS
We’re the process geeks in a room of geeks.

•

There’s almost always an orderly way to do
something

•

Once you’...
AUTOMATION
Please don’t make me think about that again.

•
•
•

No amount of process will avoid all human error
The app st...
ITERATION
The more you try, the more likely you are to get it right.

•

If it takes 20 minutes to “try something out”

•
...
HELPING
We enjoy helping our friends make their games

•
•
•

It feels good to be trusted enough to help
Teaching, solving...
What we’re focused on
moving forward...
... still what we’re good at and enjoy
HELPING
We want to clone ourselves... as robots

•

Offering our tools to the community to help
them automate the workflow...
TOOLS
When our friends asked for our tools, we listened

•

Awesome to hear: “Hey that thing you made,
can I use it when y...
THE BIG IDEA
How we’re trying to help

•
•
•

Free your engineers from repetitive grunt-work
Empower non-programmers to te...
COMMUNITY
Let’s stay in touch and help each other

•
•
•

We still don’t know everything about apps
The rules change every...
THANK YOU

Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
patrick@tsugi.co
http://tsugi.co/
THANK YOU

QUESTIONS?
Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
patrick@tsugi.co
http://tsugi.co/
THANK YOU

QUESTIONS?
IDEAS?
Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
patrick@tsugi.co
http://tsugi.co/
THANK YOU

QUESTIONS?
IDEAS?
TWEETS?
Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
patrick@tsugi.co
http://tsugi.co/
THANK YOU

QUESTIONS?
IDEAS?
TWEETS?
AFTER-PARTY?
Patrick Curry
@patrickmcurry
patrick@tsugi.co
http://tsugi.co/
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Patrick Curry Meet Up

  1. 1. Mobile Game Development Lessons, Challenges & What’s Next? Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry October 23, 2013
  2. 2. My History in Games 1994: Web content for game companies 2001: Full-time mobile game developer 2003: Making games for Xbox, PlayStation, Wii 2007: Teaching game development part-time 2011: Back to making mobile games 2013: Focusing on making development easier
  3. 3. Guilty Party GridBloc Devil’s Tuning Fork Stranglehold Avengers Initiative Wheelman Stubbs the Zombie Wizard of Oz Awesome Eats Octodad
  4. 4. How Far Mobile Has Come 2001: 2011: Screen Size: 60x96 px 640x960 px Framerate: 1 frame a sec. 30+ fps Devices: Low millions 1 billion Technology: WAP, J2ME Your pick... Distribution: Good Luck! App Stores!
  5. 5. LAUNCHED APPS Helped create big mobile games for big companies. Avengers Initiative Wizard of Oz Whole Kids Awesome Eats
  6. 6. What can I tell you about mobile game development?
  7. 7. IT’S NEVER BEEN EASIER
  8. 8. IT’S NEVER BEEN HARDER
  9. 9. Making games has never been easier than now...
  10. 10. TOOLS Everything you need is at your fingertips. • More game engines than ever before: • • Unity, Unreal, GameSalad, GameMaker Great cross-platform development tools: • • HTML5, JavaScript, Flash, C++, C# If you know code at all, you can make a game.
  11. 11. COMMUNITY There are a million people making games & apps. • People love to help each other make games • • • Developer forums Stack Overflow Not just online, but in-person too! • Meet Ups, IGDA, Juegos Rancheros
  12. 12. ACCESS Anyone can publish an app. • You don’t have to know the right people anymore • • To put out a DVD-based game, you need a publisher, a distributor and a retailer On mobile you only need Apple or Google... • And be willing to give them 30% of each sale
  13. 13. COST Your devkit costs $300. You already have one. • $200 for an iPhone. $100 for a developer account. • • • Most tools have a free version Open source software can get you far Everyone you know can be a beta tester • Use TestFlight to send them your app
  14. 14. Making money with games has never been harder...
  15. 15. CHOICE There are 2 million other apps out there. • 1,400 games come out on iOS each week • • • Apple only features ~20 of them If you’re not in the top 1%, hard to get noticed The competition is spending $100k+ on ads • How do you cut through the noise?
  16. 16. DEVICES 20 different iOS devices. 4,000+ Androids. • 5 different screen resolutions to support for iOS • • • Devices that look nearly identical AREN’T Apple makes it difficult to target specific devices Don’t even get me started about Android • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Android_devices
  17. 17. BIZ MODEL The traditional publisher model is dead • Used to get funding for a game with just a design doc • • • Be prepared to pay for development yourself... Or raise money from investors. Work-for-hire in console was long, lucrative contracts
  18. 18. FADS Every month there is a new winner to copy. • Angry Birds... • Infinity Blade... • Candy Crush... • CSR Racing... • Clash of Clans...
  19. 19. HOW DO YOU MAKE IT EASIER?
  20. 20. Hard lessons learned from years of mobile game dev... ... that I wish I knew three years ago.
  21. 21. SMALL TEAMS Two people can make an awesome game. • Team-size is not a measure of quality • • Get the right people for each role You don’t have to sit together • Use the magic of Skype and GitHub
  22. 22. RAPID DEV Don’t get stuck. Don’t stop. Don’t waste time. • Every month that you don’t ship, the world is changing. • • • Apple will release a new device or rev of iOS Kill your sacred cows and SHIP THE GAME. You can’t learn until you $%&# up bad.
  23. 23. THE CROWD Get the audience involved early. • Make something that people want. • • Get feedback on the game as soon as possible Kickstarter lets you fundraise AND get an audience • Get your audience invested in the idea
  24. 24. OUTSOURCE Don’t do anything you’re not great at. • Easy to outsource... • • • Large amounts of your content ALL of your IT hosting & operations Hard to outsource... • Vision. Game Design. Lead Engineer.
  25. 25. What we focused on at Fun Machine... ... is what we’re good at and enjoy
  26. 26. PROCESS We’re the process geeks in a room of geeks. • There’s almost always an orderly way to do something • Once you’ve made most of the big mistakes, you learn how to avoid them • We use software to track our processes and progress: Google Docs, Jira, etc.
  27. 27. AUTOMATION Please don’t make me think about that again. • • • No amount of process will avoid all human error The app store is rife with opportunities to screw up We wrote software for as many steps in the development process as possible. And then automated that software.
  28. 28. ITERATION The more you try, the more likely you are to get it right. • If it takes 20 minutes to “try something out” • • If it takes 5 minutes to try it out... • • You get 3 tries an hour You get 12 tries an hour We focused on empowering our team with tools
  29. 29. HELPING We enjoy helping our friends make their games • • • It feels good to be trusted enough to help Teaching, solving problems & shipping is rewarding Hard to turn down work, especially from friends
  30. 30. What we’re focused on moving forward... ... still what we’re good at and enjoy
  31. 31. HELPING We want to clone ourselves... as robots • Offering our tools to the community to help them automate the workflow • Creating a knowledge-base of the common “gotchas” in mobile game development • Building a community of app developers that also like robots (and zombies, of course)
  32. 32. TOOLS When our friends asked for our tools, we listened • Awesome to hear: “Hey that thing you made, can I use it when you’re not around?” • Spent the last several months making our tools useful without us in the room • Juuuust about to release them to the world...
  33. 33. THE BIG IDEA How we’re trying to help • • • Free your engineers from repetitive grunt-work Empower non-programmers to test their work Let you focus on making your game
  34. 34. COMMUNITY Let’s stay in touch and help each other • • • We still don’t know everything about apps The rules change every day (iPad Air?!?) Small teams survive with the help of friends
  35. 35. THANK YOU Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry patrick@tsugi.co http://tsugi.co/
  36. 36. THANK YOU QUESTIONS? Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry patrick@tsugi.co http://tsugi.co/
  37. 37. THANK YOU QUESTIONS? IDEAS? Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry patrick@tsugi.co http://tsugi.co/
  38. 38. THANK YOU QUESTIONS? IDEAS? TWEETS? Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry patrick@tsugi.co http://tsugi.co/
  39. 39. THANK YOU QUESTIONS? IDEAS? TWEETS? AFTER-PARTY? Patrick Curry @patrickmcurry patrick@tsugi.co http://tsugi.co/

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