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Postmortem: Bane Games' Flick Buddies
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Postmortem: Bane Games' Flick Buddies

March 8, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

What Went Wrong

1.     Unforeseen Circumstances

Our initial estimate was to create the game in two months part-time, with our first update coming in late December with a Christmas theme. After just one month of development, our artist fell sick, was admitted to hospital and was out of action for almost an entire month.

This couldn't have come at a worse time as the gameplay was nearing completion and we were moving into a production period where the critical path was almost exclusively in art. This stalled the project and put us almost an entire month behind schedule.

Thankfully our artist has completely recovered -- however, it showed the one weakness in our small team mentality. With only one person handling each "department" of the game, we are in the position where if any one person is sick the game development slows considerably.

More recently, the floods which swept through Australia have affected most members of the team as we worked towards our first update. I was cut off from the world and without power for three days. While this has only put us a few days behind schedule, it's another event that we simply couldn't predict as we created our initial estimates of development time.

for large image.

2.     Bad Release Timing

The App Store is a crowded space and it is difficult to get noticed among the thousands of applications being released all the time. Due to our delayed development, we ended up releasing on the 15th of December during the busiest time in game releases. We were among some of the biggest games released on the iOS platform to date, which meant we were easily drowned out by the bigger games.

Unfortunately there wasn't much we could do about this, and we decided it was better to release before the holiday period -- otherwise we would have to wait another month until we started receiving money from the game to help fund future updates and new games.

This was made worse by the release date issue we experienced. When submitting the game to Apple, a developer can set the release date for the game. We set this for the 15th December to coincide with our release party at the Mana Bar. The game was accepted by Apple on the 10th December and sat ready to be released for five days. Unfortunately, upon release, our "release date" was set as the 10th. This meant that we didn't show up in the new release section at the start of the list as we should have. This hurt our initial sales and made it difficult for us to rise in the charts.

3.     Core Gameplay Confusion

Overall Flick Buddies has received good reviews, with many rating us 70 percent or above. Unfortunately, a number of negative reviews surfaced claiming the game was too simple and lacked depth.

After some investigation, we found that the reviewers had completely missed the special abilities in the game. This reduced the game to simple flicking and waiting for the next buddy to respawn, rather than the intended gameplay of flicking and timing special abilities to help reach the goal.

It's easy for us to get angry at the fact the reviewers didn't fully understand the game before writing their review, however it comes back to a game design flaw at our end. We were not explicit enough in explaining how the special abilities work, and therefore on a brief playthrough they can be overlooked.

Unfortunately, this didn't come out during playtests, as we found nearly everyone understood the visual cues when playing. This could be due to the fact the playtesters had heard us describing the abilities, or saw us using them when playing against us. We have plans to make the abilities more obvious in our update, however this is too late for the couple of initial negative reviews.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

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