Oointah Rant: The Dangers of a Game’s Name

Our release this Spring has already had three name changes; Plunder to Plunder/p, from Plunder/p to iLikeMoney. The idea with a title is to sell the high concept, or an idea. Our rant today “can this new title help bypass some of the challenges of discoverability?”

Titles change when the mechanics or aesthetics of a game change. We went from sandbox to a very specific, aesthetically presented arcade game. The more specificity we added the more the title needed to evolve with it. So what does that title change mean for us?

From a “selling the product” standpoint, it changes nothing. Our main release channel aims to be Steam, Greenman etc. Therefore opinion, screenshots and trailers have more weight in selling the game than the title. Yet can that title get a gamer to take that first look when casually browsing through the slew of new releases?

What title would draw the most attention in a text only list? Plunder/p or iLikeMoney? Plunder is a very forceful word but with the derp element its clearly adding some playfulness. It is definitely suggestive of the product but does it stand out on a list full of other forceful, suggestive or playful titles? As good as we think the title Plunder/p is, it would only fit the genre – not stand out. Whereas iLikeMoney is a very unusual title, everyone can relate to its meaning (who doesn’t like money?) and it gives a viral value to repeating it. There is definitely more probability someone browsing will take a second glance at it.

There is no doubt having such a title is a risk. Making a statement like iLikeMoney, especially when asking people to buy the game could be seen as a gimmick or even negatively ironic. However if the game backs up the title through humor and aesthetic then this risk would be reduced.

What are your thoughts on the importance of a games title? Does iLikeMoney as a game title stand out more than Plunder/p?

I can't believe you like money too. We should hang out.

I can’t believe you like money too. We should hang out.

iLikeMoney Screenshot – Rocket, Yeah

Check out this taste of NS Bowers as he takes off to travel to the next planet in this Action/Arcade game coming for PC/Mac in April of 2015.  NS is the next contestant in this 26th century game show called iLikeMoney.

NS-Blowing

Monday Game Dev: Plunder/p Becomes iLikeMoney

Unfortunately we cannot reveal plan B as we’ve moved to plan C, clearly contingency plans are always useful. So rather than continuing to talk about something that may never come to light its best to return to our priority release.

With so much focused on transparency these last few weeks, openly discussing the game has fallen to one side. However there have been some major changes; first off we have made the game much more about movement. This enforces our change from sandbox to arcade. Additionally our UI has been re-worked to feel more action focused. Originally, we used the full screen to present different portions of user feedback like a traditional RTS but now have a quick-glance layout. This reduced UI suits the quickening action and reactions needed to be successful. The biggest change however is the games title.

The game is now called “iLikeMoney”. As much as we liked Plunder/p, and how it fit the game originally our changes to gameplay, whether small via iteration or large have made that title feel less accurate. With the last slew of changes the title “iLikeMoney” has been discussed and although its a different type of title, it fits the high concept, fun aesthetic and humor.

What are your thoughts on the title iLikeMoney?

Do you like iLikeMoney? Grammar good we have!

Do you like iLikeMoney? Grammar good we have!

 

The Story of Gold Miner, Part One

In May 2003 a small game called Gold Miner was created that became an internet sensation, resulting in tens of millions of game plays each month for two years. To this day the Gold Miner franchise has accumulated over one billion plays, not including the hundreds of times the game mechanics and character style have been ripped off by developers across releases on the web,  iTunes, and Google Play stores.  Now, as the creators of Gold Miner return to the industry; Malcolm Michaels and Dan Glover, the creators reveal all.

“Gold Miner was an exclusive game for GameRival.com,” opens Malcolm.  “The site was only a year old but was thriving thanks to hits like Michael Jackson Baby Drop, War on Terror, Speed and HangStan.”  Malcolm continued, “I was the Game Director at GameRival.com; I was responsible for the website and its content.”  Clearly Malcolm has an attraction to the humorous.  In 2002 GameRival.com acquired 12 Flash game licences from Dan Glover, the programmer and artist who Malcolm would go on to work with to create Gold Miner.

“I lived in California and grew up thinking about the Californian Gold Rush,” said Dan.  “Who would honestly come to California with nothing but a shovel and strike it rich?  The Gold Miner” laughed Dan.  “Our three main influences were arcade games, Froggy, Nintendo Arm Wrestling and Bust a Move,” he continued.  Malcolm quickly adds, “In the original, the user needed to press the left and right arrow buttons to pull the catch up, but when we play tested – we knew it was too much work.  So we got rid and – as they say – the rest was history.”

Neither believed Gold Miner would become such an internet sensation, when asked Dan replied, “It was just a very small game with very simple graphics.  I am still surprised that it is the first thing that comes up in Google images when you search for gold miner. If you want to see pictures of what the real gold miners looked like you are out of luck.”  With Google clearly remembering the runaway success of Gold Miner eleven years on, we wonder whatever happened to this hit.

Next month: Part Two in the Story of Gold Miner

The Original Gold Miner Created by Glover/Michaels

 

Oointah Rant: Estimation, It’s Making Me Wait

This week my rant is about development estimations. You know, the ones you do at project start to convince yourself a project is doable in the time frame and budget outlined?

Lets internalize this rant and focus on our Oointah project Plunder/p. Plunder/p has decreased in scope from it’s original sandbox vision to a more structured linear arcade setting. Yes it’s a big jump, so for more information check out our Developer Blogs.

Our original estimate to develop the sandbox was 8 months. Yet this included the elusive “prototyping” phase. We all know that “finding the fun” can take time, some prototypes can take a day, a week, for many projects it can take several weeks. It took us deep into the third month before we found what we was looking for.

So many projects are killed during this prototyping that it makes sense why many games are just carbon copies. It’s easier to build on something proven to be fun, rather than trying to find something new and interesting. Sadly for our scheduling, we want to be new and interesting…

With many months gone, every day becomes a crunch day. We are still on track to hit our 8 month deadline but what compromises must occur in the future as development is never simple. There will obviously be new revisions needed, which cut further into our schedule; time that would have been available if prototyping was considered something other than development…

My question is; should prototyping be part of a development plan, or part of conceptualization? It’s ironic as in work-for-hire there is very little prototyping while in studio development its all agile – so every step is prototyping. Or is the biggest problem developing “fun” to a schedule? Having a deadline and budget is a priority in every project so how do you recommend getting around it in an economy where only excellence thrives, and lucky one-offs are the equivalent of a lottery win?

Duane Beckett is the lead designer of iLikeMoney for Oointah

It's making me wait. It's making me late.

iLikeMoney Defense Building: Die Superhero Die

Once a prop for a TV game show pilot where superheroes were rounded up and dispensed with, this monstrosity was sent to the landfill after several superheroes only ended up with seizures.  Having watched re-runs the droids knew it was lethal to humans; so they super-sized and made sure it works on everyone including superheroes. Except Batman. We like Batman. That is all.

What’s your damage, Little Boy? Die Superhero Die is a proximity area attack with all nearing droids are periodically electrocuted and sometimes causing an instant death.

That's Dope - Die Superhero Die, Superhero Die

Monday Game Dev: Plan B From Outer Space

Last week we spoke of plan B. However as its not yet green-lighted we’ll need to remain vague in our coverage below. Our delay in green-lighting comes from our focus on Plunder/p, we eagerly want to get it on-point for our mid-February milestone and have not got around to confirming plan B as the right way to go still.

So what was plan B? To create a small mobile game that shares humor with Plunder/p. With this we could focus our marketing efforts to connect with a released product. Building a social network around something live is much easier as feedback, reaction, likes, tweets and comments all breath life into your call-to-action. Saying “download our free new game” is so much easier than “please look at our early alpha footage” don’t you agree?

Unfortunately as the title of this small game is still under wraps we can only state that the idea is a gimmick to get people in and continue playing. There would be no payment walls or money grabbing via a cash shop, it would be simple, fun and hopefully virally funny.

Perhaps we will be ready for a full reveal next Monday, check back and let us know your thoughts on our plan B?

Pull the string. PULL THE STRING!

Pull the string. PULL THE STRING!

Meet Mogey from iLikeMoney

The Mogey droid in iLikeMonday is all about the need for speed. Not the video game. Not any Aaron Paul references either… Bitch. He’s all about Top Gun the movie. Goose, Maverick, Duckface, Billy, and Gigawatt are his favorites. C’mon, he’s a stupid droid who used social media too much in the 21st century – So he got a few of the Top Gun characters wrong, what were you expecting!

When on the front-line Mogey increases its companions attack speed. However, even with all the speed and fire power he unfortunately can’t aim that well. Kind of like Goose.

I feel the need, the need for speed!

I feel the need, the need for speed!

Monday Game Dev: To Self-Publish or Not

Every day since New Year has been crunch time for us. We need to deliver consistently via marketing beats and game builds or Plunder/p will fail. No pressure then…

Just before the New Year we began looking for a publisher, this is an obvious decision for us. Having a publisher help us in localization, discoverability and accessibility is invaluable. This doesn’t mean we expect a publisher to magically find our audience, this is something we are actively trying right now.

With Plunder/p progressing we turn our attention to building a social network for Oointah, however that is far harder than it sounds. Currently we are in limbo; without an audience who are we pushing marketing beats to? Without marketing beats, how can we find an audience? Sadly, until we have a genuine call to action, in our case a release worthy game or Kickstarter campaign this limbo will continue.

In theory, we could continue with this path until Plunder/p is ready to showcase. However we want an audience to work with now, we know how VITAL feedback is and our goal is to gain as much feedback as possible – helping us shape and improve Plunder/p over the coming months.  So we move to plan B… Which will be covered next week once it gets the greenlight. If it gets the greenlight that is…

To self-publisher or not to self-publish - that is the question.

To self-publisher or not to self-publish – that is the question.

Meet Watu from Plunder/p

If you’ve ever been able to hold baby carrot’s in your cheeks for more than an hour with no one noticing, then you’ll be able to appreciate the talents of Watu from Plunder/p.

However, don’t let the cute appearance fool you. Who would have thought this “home appliance” (or is it a propane tank from a grill? Mmm… Burgers) could become a vicious droid of war?  It wasn’t by choice; the instructions’ were in Pig Latin only.

When on the frontline Watu empowers its allies against defensive buildings and can knock back enemy droids with its drills.  With moderate damage and hit-points, the Watu is an all-purpose droid.

He can't ride a mountain bike, yet he can't lay waste to your droid ballz.

He can’t ride a mountain bike, yet he can’t lay waste to your droid ballz.