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Maciej Sawitus, the developer behind Melbourne-based indie, Pixel Elephant, has written a series of blog entries on his latest mobile physics puzzle game called Monstaaa!. Monstaaa! was released in late June for the iOS to some favourable reviews from critics and gamers alike, with scores of 8/10 , 4.5/5, 4/5 on app review websites.

If you haven't read Maciej's development updates on Monstaaa! yet, it is highly recommended reading. Maciej started his indie journey after his four year stint as engine/technology programmer at Blue Tongue ended when the studio closed up in late 2011. He outlines the costs involved with setting up himself as an indie developer, and what tools SDK's he chose to use and why, all of which serves as useful tips for indie developers out there. Pixel Elephant has also released one other game, a great Sokoban inspired title called Puzzled Rabbit, late last year.

Monstaa Development Summary part 1
Monstaa Development Summary part 2
Monstaa Development Summary part 3

For the release of Monstaaa!, Maciej was able to gather a whole lot of stats from those playing it, making for some extremely insightful charts on the behaviour Monstaaa! gamers, how many will complete levels, and how many will retry after failing, with some surprising conclusions....

(Maciej) Only 70% of all players completed the first level, 62% completed second level and only 10% completed the 9th level. And just so you know if haven’t played the game – the first and second levels are really easy – you have to really try hard not to complete them and there’s no way you can fail!

So, what are the conclusions here? On one hand this doesn’t look very good because it means most people only play the game for a very short time. But on the other hand we should probably take into account the characteristics of average iOS/Android players – it is very common for them to buy the game, run it once or twice and then stop playing it forever.

There are additional sales charts which show where sales spikes happened, and nifty pie charts showing the split on the platforms that Monstaaa! is running on both iOS and Android.

iOS sales in general eclipse those on Android for the same titles, and the reasons for this have been put down to the reluctance of Android consumers to pay for apps, so it's with this mindset that Maciej decided to release Monstaaa! on Google Play for free but have an in-app purchase option to buy the full game. It sounds like a solid plan, but unfortunately, for the three weeks that Monstaaa! has been available in Google Play, it has only managed to gather 22 sales, despite the Android version having a whole lot more players than on iOS.

Maciej admits that the Android version received relatively little in marketing, with the most reviews for Monstaaa! were for the iOS version.

While Maciej found the sales numbers disappointing for Monstaaa!, he isn't pessimistic about indie development and plans to have another go some time in the future. For the meantime, he's heading back into the studio...

My experiment with indie game development hasn’t worked out financially so far but I didn’t even spend a year on it and, fortunately, I also didn’t spend too much money on it. By making and releasing two games I learned a lot about mobile game development and I do plan to try again in some future! In the “meantime” I’m going back to more stable life joining one Electronic Arts studio in Melbourne which I’m sure will be another exciting chapter on my game development adventure!

In a way, it's a cautionary tale which echos similar to Tony Takoushi's comments on app development. Great reviews don't always translate to sales. it's a shame because Monstaaa! looks like a very polished and fun title that deserves so much more success. If you haven't grabbed a copy yet, it's available on the App Store for 99 cents here and Google Play here.

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Halfbrick Studio's popular Fruit Ninja game is proving to be a serious cash cow for the Brisbane based games developer. In addition to the licensing deals for Fruit Ninja related T-shirts, Gummy Candy & Fruit Snacks, plush toys, and now a comic series, the actual game itself is bringing in some considerable bank every month for both the free and paid mobile versions.

Speaking to Halfbrick CMO, Phil Larsen, Adage.com has some interesting numbers on the kind of money Fruit Ninja makes a month. In last April, the free version of Fruit Ninja on iOS and Android made a $400,000 in ad revenue, while the paid version made a $1 million in total revenue across all the different platforms.

Phil details why Halfbrick chose Mobclix to handle the ad service for Fruit Ninja free, which frees up the Brisbane based developer to put their limited resources elsewhere rather than micromanaging an in-game ad service themselves. Mobclix, a mobile ad exchange where ad networks bid against each other for mobile ad space, has helped in filtering out the more lower-quality dating or spam-like ads from appearing in their game.

Surprisingly, the $400,000 monthly ad revenue isn't thought of as an "exorbitant amount" by Halfbrick when it's compared to Fruit Ninja's incredible popularity and the amount of downloads (300 million and counting) it has accumulated. The action fruit slicer gets most of its revenue from the paid version of the game and via in-app purchases, and Halfbrick has not seen sales for the paid version compromised by the ad supported free version.

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Wollongong based indie developers, Convict Interactive, have just put Triangle Man on the Desura's Alpha Funding platform which means that for a heavily discounted price, you can try out the first 30 levels of their 2D punishment platformer right now and have a hand in moulding the future of Triangle Man.

Purchasers will be able to communicate with the developers, contributing their ideas and griefs, and have a great part in steering Triangle Man's development. From Convict Interactive...

Players have the opportunity to help shape Triangle Man into the game that they really want to play. Don’t like a level? Tell the developer. Have an idea for a new enemy for Triangle Man to avoid? That could make it into the game too!

Convict Interactive will be taking all the input and suggestions to mind and with frequent Triangle Man updates on Desura, it'll make for an interesting experiment to see how the game grows and morphs from fan participation.

Grab Triangle Man now for only %50 of the anticipated final price and get some challenging platformer action happening!

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PlaySide Studios, a new Melbourne based mobile games developer consisting of former Visceral Games Melbourne employees, have announced their first game, Catch The Ark.

Catch The Ark aims to push the endless-runner genre further, so expect fast paced obstacle dodging and a whole bunch of coin collecting, as well as some mini-bosses and dangerous creatures thrown in the mix as well. The visuals are coming along extremely nicely too and the game features three cute characters who command a raft in a frantic race to survive a cataclysmic flood (inspired by the Noah's Ark biblical story) and all the hazards thrown at them along the journey.

In a fascinating feature at The Verge by Tracey Lien, PlaySide CEO, Gerry Sakkas, describes the abrupt cancellation of their 2-year-in-development multiplayer shooter called Blood Dust at Visceral Games Melbourne which was aparently 90% complete. He provides why he decided to stick around and continue games development in Melbourne when owner, Electronic Arts, pulled the plug and offered to relocate staff for positions overseas. From The Verge…

(Gerry) "I spent two years working on a game that ended up going nowhere, and I didn't want to go to another studio and have the same thing happen. What's the difference whether I'm here or at EA in California? Two years later we could be gone, and I just didn't want to spend another two years of my life on a project that might not launch.

"I'd rather put that in my own hands and deal with it myself. I wanted to stay here and help rebuild this industry.

Gerry explains what he did next to get PlaySide Studios off the ground, starting by bringing in fellow workmates who were also let go from EA Melbourne and getting investors interested in funding the new start-up with a long term plan in keeping this studio around. The team is small, just six games developers, but they're taking a leaf from Halfbrick Studio's book and are aiming to build this studio bigger and bigger. They want to rebuild the local games industry.

Catch The Ark is coming out to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in Q3 2012. You can check out more of Catch The Ark at the website: www.catchtheark.com

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Submitted by smug (not verified) on Fri, 13/07/12 - 9:44 PM Permalink

joy!

True Blue Entertainment have announced Rugby League Live 2 today and it looks fantastic! The newly released screenshots of it show off some really detailed and customisable player models, weather effects (where mud stains will stick on player's uniforms), all set in some very scenic looking stadiums too.

Rugby League Live 2 promises an "innovative new gameplay experience, accurately capturing the speed, creativity and strategy of today’s Rugby league" and it's being developed by Melbourne's Big Ant Studios for a release later this year on the XBox 360 and PS3.

The touted features of Rugby League Live 2 include:

  • A Multitude of Licensed Leagues & Teams: NRL, Super League, Cooperative Championships, NSW & QLD cups, Toyota Cup, Rep teams, Australian, English and New Zealander Internationals.
  • 34 high detail stadia from Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
  • Dynamic Field Wear & Tear: Grass wears away in areas of action.
  • Unique Mud & Sweat: Players accumulate mud on their bodies specifically where they hit the field. Players sweat based on their exertion level.
  • Dynamic Tackling System: Fend and break tackle your way past multiple defenders.
  • Tactical Passing: Perform defensive or attacking passes to best exploit your opponents.
  • Strategic Defense: Set up to increase the likelihood of one, two or three-man, tackles!
  • Spectacular High Ball Catching: Soar high to catch the ball or tap it to team mates.
  • Create Custom Teams and Players in the fully featured Footy Factory and share them online.
  • Competitive or co-operative multiplayer matches with up to eight players (four a side) online.
  • Massive 10-Year Career Mode: sign sponsors, hire top flight coaching staff, negotiate player contracts and set player training programs & intensity to build the ultimate team.
  • Experience System: Earn badges and experience both online and off to rise to the top of the leaderboards.
  • Double-barreled expert commentary from Andrew Voss and Phil 'Gus' Gould.
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In November 2011, Digitallydownloaded.net gave Star Hammer Tactics on the iPad a glowing review with a four out of five star rating. Fast forward half a year later and you won't find it any longer in Apple's App Store, and the developer behind it is no longer working on games. What happened?

Black Lab Games was founded in 2009 by Paul Turbett, a Perth based games developer with 20 years of software development, most of which is in games development. He previously founded Silver Lightning Software and also worked at other Perth games studios such as Interzone Games and Spinfast.

Paul commenced development of Star Hammer Tactics, a tactical space battle game, for the PSP Mini in early 2009 before bringing it to the iPad in 2011. He now designs mining software for a living and has put games development behind him.

Digitallydownloaded.net approached Paul to find out what happened to Star Hammer Tactics and learns that it unfortunately received poor sales which were the result of many factors including misjudging the target market and struggling to gain visibility in the app store, particularly since it was released during a highly competitive pre-Christmas period.

Paul gives some sobering advice for others who are looking into mobile games development. From DigitallyDownloaded.net…

MS: What advice would you have for aspiring Apple App store developers?

PT: Don't release your game around Christmas, make sure your game is absolutely spectacular, and that it's either as close as possible to the current Top 10 games when it's released, or unlike anything anybody has ever seen before. There is no middle ground.

We much accustomed to hearing about local success in mobile games development more often than stories like these, so it serves as quite a reality check for those who are just starting out to read about a veteran developer bowing out from games this way.

Paul certainly isn't the only local developer to bring up the issue of getting their title noticed in the App Store - we've had another veteran developer, Tony Takoushi, expressing the same problem just last month. We've also recently seen some extraordinary stats on the App Store which helps illustrate how highly crowded the games category is.

For the entire interview with Paul on what went wrong, head on over to Digitallydownloaded.net

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The original and incredibly inspiring Where the Hell is Matt video (which has since been removed but can be seen below) caused quite a sensation on youtube ever since it was uploaded way back in 2005. We made a post about it on Sumea since its creator, Matt Harding, was actually a former employee of Pandemic Studios in Brisbane and the amusing dancing jig he does throughout the video was something he routinely did in front of other workmates as he waited impatiently on them before they headed out for their lunch break.

Matt completed a popular AMA on Reddit over the weekend where he divulged some more information about his days at Pandemic Studios Brisbane. In a question by the Reddit user Sauce_Pain, Matt claims a partial credit for the original pitch of Destroy All Humans!, an open world action game which is perhaps the studio's signature and most well known title during its existence between 2000 and 2009. From the Reddit AMA...

Sauce_Pain
Is it true that the Destroy All Humans video game is a result of a completely unserious pitch you made?

BadDancer
Well, I make it out like it was a sarcastic joke, but it was only half-sarcastic. Our project had just gotten canned and all publishers wanted at that point was pitches for Grand Theft Auto knock-offs, so I said "How about a game where you just kill everybody?"
They thought that sounded like a good idea. I didn't, really.

It seems that Matt left Pandemic Brisbane shortly after the pitch as his wikipedia page explains that he "didn't want to spend two years of my life writing a game about killing everyone" and began travelling which led to the production of the first 'Where the hell is Matt' video.

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Submitted by Gaute Rasmussen (not verified) on Fri, 29/06/12 - 8:15 AM Permalink

You might want to check your math. If Max Payne 3 sold less than 50% of what L.A. Noire did, that means that L.A. Noire sold twice as much, not 50% more as your head line says...

Submitted by souri on Fri, 29/06/12 - 8:26 AM Permalink

ooooh man.. thanks :)

In reply to by Gaute Rasmussen (not verified)

When Team Bondi's L.A Noire was released in May 2011, its sales numbers was closely followed and inevitably compared with Rockstar's previous title, Red Dead Redemption. According to NPD data, LA. Noire sold around 900,000 copies in the U.S, or roughly 40% of RDR's sales figures, for its first months of sales.

It was an unfair comparison, and when it was put up against such a highly successful and entirely different kind of title, L.A Noire was made to look like it was failing to live up to expectations, despite it eventually making a respectable total of 5 million sales since.

With the fairly recent release of Rockstar's long awaited Max Payne 3, the same sales comparisons are being made with similar conclusions. A tweet (pictured above) was made by a Wedbush analyst, Michael Pachter, who puts Max Payne 3 launch sales at less than 50% of L.A Noire's figures for the same period.

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Submitted by Janice Brogan (not verified) on Fri, 04/05/12 - 3:44 AM Permalink

I love this app, but one of the objectives is to land 20 backflips in the caves. Can anyone tell me WHERE the caves are? Many Thx!

Submitted by souri on Fri, 04/05/12 - 3:20 PM Permalink

You can actually see the entrance to a cave in the video preview pic above up there. If you're in a tunnel, you're in a cave.

Well, it was only released yesterday for the iOS platform, but you may have noticed that Defiant Development's latest release, Ski Safari, is featured in the "New and Noteworthy" section on Apple's Appstore. It's also game of the week in the US which is excellent news and most deserving for such an incredibly fun and finely polished title.

Ski Safari, developed by Brendan Watts and Shaun Eustace, started as a tech prototype back in October last year before it was entered in the Unity Flash in Flash competition in February. It consequently scored the runner-up position with $1,000, an iPad 2, and Unity software licenses in prizes for the duo. For those many who have played the flash version for hours on end will be glad to hear that a whole lot of further development and polish has been added since for the iOS release including caves, jet skis, achievements, and a whole lot more.

Quite honestly, Ski Safari was on my highly anticipated list ever since playing the flash version, and it really does not disappoint. The one-touch mechanics makes it really easy to get into, however there's so much depth and gameplay options provided by such simple controls. Whether it's getting your angle right when landing, angling through the air to gain extra momentum, rock or cabin hopping, the timing of your touch means the difference from staying on track or tumbling in the snow. Adding to the action is coin collection, eagle flying, penguin / yeti and snowmobile hopping for speed boosts, cloud riding, and achievements, all of which add quite a diversity of things to do in-game. You'll find it hard to put down Ski Safari too - it has that special just-one-more-go quality that I'm sure will keep many playing for a long time.

If you haven't so already, grab Ski Safari on the Appstore now for iPhone and iPad for just 99 cents. It's an outstanding game!

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Early last year, Melbourne based 'web for hire' game dev company, Millipede Creative Development, released an Angry birds-like game called Bullistic. They were inspired by Rovio's hit physics puzzler game as well as their own clients who frequently asked if they could develop an Angry Birds clone themselves. They came up with Bullistic and gave it away for free on the App Store, however, its popularity became a huge surprise for Millipede after it was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times before being featured in the "New & Noteworthy" area of the App Store.

Over a year later, Millipede are back with Bullistic Unleashed which is set to push the physics mayhem of their original hit to new heights. The levels are set in some huge local malls this time round so there's a whole lot of insane destruction fun to be had. I'm a sucker for beautiful art and design, and Millipede have continued their fine work with some really nice and colourful work in this.

The highlights featured for Bullistic Unleashed are listed as:

  • Intuitive gameplay
  • Monster-sized levels with multiple floors, elevators, pinball bumpers and barrels to shoot out of
  • Six special bulls to unlock, each with extraordinary aBULLities
  • Deadly hazards! Meat grinders! Dangerously irresistible lady cows! Exclamation marks!
  • Send F-cards to friends, relatives or strangers
  • In App Purchases: spend your way to success!

Of course, if that's not enticing enough, Bullistic Unleashed launched today at a special launch price of 99c, so grab it now for your iPhone or iPod touch before it settles back to a normal price of $1.99.

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