Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Beginning is Nigh!

Well here we stand. Call Connect is finally submitted to Apple for their review process (which we'll hopefully find out if we're successful by next week), all the contract payment paperwork is in the process of being completed, and now we stand on this precipice of the daunting abyss that is having a released product.

Where we go from here is the big question. That fantastically enormous topic that is "marketing" is staring right at us and as this is our first proper release we have no idea what we're doing. There is plenty of articles already on the internet and many new ones constantly being tweeted about and that surely gives a good overview of the dos and don'ts but it still doesn't help with knowing exactly what we should be doing. Especially as we have a game based around a technology that was popular 50s-60s. Who am I kidding every loves and knows about the old switchboard telephony system right? Right?

I guess we will be targeting all the major points: review websites large and small, blog spots, newspapers, etc. Of course we won't know if they'll actually listen to our cries for attention until we start a-yellin' but it'll be interesting to see what happens. We'll let you know when it does, of course.

There's also the big question of whether you need to have all these things ready for release or if you can trickle out PR with reviews and articles and so on. Will this drive sales or will sales remain separate anyway? These are the tricky questions. This article from Games Brief attempts to answer this in part.

In my opinion I think a lot of the time the games tend to sell themselves and your PR efforts can only take you so far. Make that special game and it'll catch on now matter how much marketing you do. You still need to make that first push, of course, but once the ball starts rolling you become Tiny Wings in the top 25 where you can lay back on your gold plated bed of money.

Will Call Connect do that? I'm not sure, we'll see. But I do know that whatever happens we'll be taking it all in and using it for our next game.

Here's a new screenshot with the new region lamps, just because I'm nice:

*Listening to: Blind Pilot - 3 Rounds and a Sound

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Development Continues

As development of Call Connect comes closer and closer to the end (or at least the initial release) blog posts and such should become more frequent. It's amazing how little time you can end up having in a week, especially for me as I am working full time.

It's been an interesting journey up to this point and one that we'll hopefully be able to flesh out in more detail once Call Connect gets released. The one thing I can say about the development now is that we left widespread play-testing way too late in development and it has caused us to extend the development time as we've been making changes to incorporate the feedback we've been receiving.

It's largely been to do with the help and the basic understanding of what to do the first time you play. So from that we've been implementing an in-game tutorial which should hopefully alleviate any confusion with what the player needs to do in the game. It's funny, because once you get the basic flow of connecting and disconnecting a call down then the game is easy to understand and that initial challenge is all but forgotten, but because it is different to most games on the iphone there is a bit of a hurdle to implant that understanding. This has probably been the biggest lesson learned from the development in terms of the player experience.

It really gives you an appreciation for the design of games with much more complex gameplay mechanics and how they're able to teach you how to play in a seamless way. This will definitely be the biggest thing on my mind going into future projects.

Oh, and we've also got a facebook page now so check it out at


Thursday, March 17, 2011


        There hasn’t been much activity on the WebClockdar (I need a new term) of late and that is because we’ve been hard at work completing a commissioned project for Deakin University; where Greg and I both studied once upon a winter’s moon. They wanted a game that could be shown at open days and we wanted a short break from developing Call Connect. The project that this resulted in is NeoTank 9000!

       We wanted to make something that would be quick to develop and quick to play. We also knew it had to be multiplayer. We first thought of making a tank game similar to the top down tank game that comes with the WiiPlay bundle (you know the one) but as I started developing with Unity (more on that later) it evolved into a two player homage to Geometry Wars and other modern twin stick shooters.
I’ve personally been keen to make a twin stick shooter for quite some time and Geometry Wars is one of my favourite games so making my own version was a lot of fun.

          A lot of the design is very similar to what has come before in different twin stick shooters but our plan wasn’t to try to rewrite the genre but to just create a solid gameplay experience in a complete and polished package. Especially as this is to be shown to lots of people wherever Deakin sets up a display. 

         We took sprinkles of design from several of our favourite twin stick shooters:
-          The collection of shards to increase your multiplier from Geometry Wars 2
  •        Shooting spray from Geometry Wars 2.
  •        Enemy spawning from Geometry Wars (Have I mentioned I love this game?)
  •       Multiplayer shooting from, well, a few a lot of modern shooters
  •      Powerups from Super Stardust HD
       As well as ideas from some other of our favourite games like the awesome counter-operative mechanics of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords on the Gamecube and the coin battles in Bomberman Generation, also on the Gamecube (Best and worst game mode ever!). We combined these ideas along with our own to create a solid, if a bit derivative (yes, I’m willing to admit it), twin stick shooter. And for our first effort in the genre I’m very happy with the result.

         So in the two player mode both players want to clear the screen on enemies but at the same time each player wants to collect more shards than the other whilst ending up with the highest score. Shards increase your multiplier but when you die not only is this multiplier lost but you also lose a chunk of the shards you’ve collected. This allows the other player to dive in and quickly boost their shard count whilst increasing their multiplier. Shards also count towards your final score on the game over screen so ending the game with more shards than the other player greatly increases your chances of winning too.
This combined with the Multiplier swap powerup means that a swift player can turn the tide of the game in an instant.

         Using Unity allowed us to concentrate more on the gameplay part of the process and less on the rest which was very handy and made for a much smoother creation process than we've been having with Call Connect; a lesson which has been learned for future projects. It also allowed us to make some bitchin’ 3D menus.

         We hope to have a web build of the game on our website in the next couple of weeks so look out for Twitter and blog updates when that happens and let us know what you think of it.