Office Race – Office Simulation Game

Office Race

One of my target for 2014 is to publish at least 1 mobile games. I have publish 1 mobile games before in 2012 for iOS platform but because of lack of experience and I don’t allocate budget for marketing, the game does not get enough download to make it worthwhile to support it.  That games was on apps store for 2 years before Apple remove it as I don’t renew the iOS developer license.

Now I want to try publishing mobile games for Android platform. The market is huge and there are lots of marketplace such as Google Play, Amazon Apps Store and others. For this mobile games, in addition to development, I’ll also allocate some money for marketing or I will try find sponsor/publisher to mitigate the cost.

This mobile games will be the first to use 100% of my game design skill and programming skill. There will be other contributors as well but their role will be minimal.

I don’t want to create a complex game – just a simple game that have the potential to be extended in the future. After looking at my list of personal game project, I’ve decided to take portion of Dream City IP, create a much smaller game world and make some simulation game out of it.

With that, Office Race game is born. It is an office simulation game where your objective is to be the first among co-workers to replace the CEO.  I’ve never seen any game like this so this is probably the unique selling factor of the game.

With this kind of game, I will target certain demographics – female beyond 20s.  Most of game features are designed based on this demographics or will adapt to this. I’ll probably will define this game as kind of slow-paced that requires some amount of thinking to tackle the challenge/problem.

Game Target

For this game, I will target both Android and web platform. My aim is to get 100,000 install on Android and 200,000 gameplay session on the web. To achieve this target, I’ll probably will have to find a sponsor/publisher that can fund the marketing. If I can’t find any sponsor/publisher , I’ll probably self-publish it with my own money.

Development Time/Platform

The game development begin in March 2014 and it took almost 1 month to create a working prototype and 1 month for game polishing.  The game is developed using Flash which allow for me to make a rapid prototype of the game in short amount of time. The game swf will then be packaged as Adobe AIR and exported as a normal apk file for Android platform.

This is an easy development and I’m probably will use it for several current game projects in the pipeline.

Implementing Solution for Character Movement/Object Interaction in Isometric Game for Mobile Games

Office Race is a simulation game which use isometric view. I’ve always been a fan of isometric games so it’s quite natural to make this game as isometric game. For desktop games, interacting in isometric game is quite intuitive using mouse to move character or interact with object but with mobile games, interacting in isometric games provide challenge because touch isn’t as precise as mouse cursor.  The area of hit for touch is usually much bigger than mouse cursor.

So how to solve the problem? For the current time, my solution is to use some sort of virtual joystick on bottom left of the screen. Player will tap/click 4 button to move forward/turn left/turn right or interact with object. This virtual joystick will change its direction based on the direction of the avatar in the game. So if the avatar is playing north, the joystick will face north. You can refer to the virtual joystick implementation in the game screenshot.

For me, this virtual joystick is kind of counter-intuitive but that is the best solution I get so far. It might take some time to get used to the interface but once you get the hang of it, you can do some precise interaction with it.  I’ve added more visual cue – whenever avatar can interact something in front of him/her, green tile will be shown. Just click/tap action button to interact with it. If there is no green tile, the avatar will complain that there is nothing to interact.

For simulation game, this kind of interaction is sufficient but might not suitable let say for combat game which use ranged attack. I will study how other game developer tackle this kind of situation.

Game Features

Player need to complete daily task to earn experience points and job performance points. Experience points will be used to upgrade characters so they can make the character work faster or smarter. Job performance points will be used in promotion. Get enough performance points to get promoted.

Player will start as a clerk and will aim to get promoted to executive, manager and finally CEO. There are 9 other co-workers who will complete to get promoted to CEO also so basically this is a race game. Player win the game if they are the first to get promoted to CEO position.  Player will have to keep track of other co-worker performance also and do something to halt their progress if they are way ahead of player progress.

To make it more challenging, co-workers and current CEO will vote for player during job promotion session. Player need to get enough vote to get promoted or the promotion fail.  Co-workers and current CEO will vote based on their friend level with player and their position within the company. Higher vote for executive, manager and current CEO.

So most of the time in the game will be spend to improve friend level or relationship with co-workers. This can be done in normal good ways through obvious chat/talk or sleazy way by confronting/blackmailing them to gain their support. You have to do some talking, observation and investigation to find any secret and use this secret to blackmail them.

Co-worker will react to this blackmail – they can either be submissive or becomes angry at you to initiate physical confront. This mean combat session will initiate. Co-worker will punch you to show they are angry and you have option to fight back or call off the fight. The combat session will end if either of you get significant damage.

A lot of game features in the game are randomized to improve replayability. Each co-workers has their own personality which affect how they work and how they will react to you. These personality are randomized between game. For instance, Naomi can be lazy in one game and hardworking in another game.  Interaction such as chat, observation, investigation and flirt have the chance to fail. This chance will be based on several factors according to character statistic you choose and co-worker personality.

I will probably write a comprehensive strategy guide about this game in the future if there is sufficient people requesting for this. I’ll probably will give more updates about the game in the future so stay tuned!

Inspire Games Nexus Portal

I’ve decided to combine all game projects I’ve been working on into a single game portal that people can see and play right away.  Previously Inspire Games Nexus is just a portfolio website and the way it is designed it is hard for people to play games I’m working on.

So I redesigned the whole website to make it much simpler and to make it like a game portal where people can find the game much easier and play the game on the portal.

Currently, only 2 games are complete (Office Race and We Fight Loan Shark) and the other 3 (Blade Thrust Tactics, Dream City Life and Priscilla Challenge) are still under development but still can be played. Hope you enjoy playing games on the portal.

Inspire Games Nexus Portal

We Fight Loan Shark – Almost 180K Gameplay View

WeFightLoanShark

Several months ago I release a reworked version of Ah Long Attack game called We Fight Loan Shark and my aim to get as much as 200K gameplay view of the game. Well, after 8 months in distribution, I must say that the target is within reach as right now the game has around 175K view on Mochi. Overall I would say it is close to 180K view as I also upload the game on Newgrounds and also hosts it on my website.

I based the gameplay view on the ad impression shown instead of the game session statistic because I don’t activate the Mochi session tracking in the game.  This is my fault as I haven’t realize the importance of session tracking for game analytics purpose. That’s why the session number is significantly lower than the ad impression number. In the future, I’ll based gameplay view on game session. This is much more accurate.

Lots of view comes from China which represents more than 70% of total view. This is expected as the game setting is based on Chinese environment. The game use only English but if I have the budget to localize it to Mandarin, I believe I can get as much as 500K to 1M view.

China has lots of potential market for Flash game but unfortunately the return in term of advertising revenue is not much (low eCPM). But in term of game exposure or if you’re aiming for great number of gameplay view (such as for sponsorship or gaining track record), it is an excellent market. You have to localize the game to Mandarin or you wouldn’t get far.

Successful Migration From Hostgator to MDDHosting

Since 2010, I use Hostgator shared hosting to host Blade Thrust Tactics, Dream City Life, this blog and Inspire Games Nexus website. Although their rate is not cheap, they provide good service. I’ve been satisfied with their service for several years until several months ago when they do server migration effort for my account. Let just say there’s been some problem. Nothing major but I’ve never face this kind of problem before.

Upon checking the Internet to find out what’s really going on, I’ve come across this info that Hostgator has been acquired by a company called EIG which has some sort of bad reputation in web hosting. Actually I don’t care about this info as long as they provide good service but that is not the case. Hostgator has been giving me mediocre service over these several months so I guess it’s time to move on to other shared hosting provider. Hostgator used to provide good service but not anymore.

Not to mention that they don’t seem to value their loyal customers much. Over 4 years I’m using their service, they don’t even give any discount for renewal. I don’t expect much but 10 – 20% discount will not hurt much. It seems they spend too much money on acquiring new customers at the expense of current customers.

The other reason is I’m tired of this unlimited marketing stuff they’ve been doing – unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth. Is is actually a false marketing. They actually don’t provide unlimited space & bandwidth. It is not possible because server has limited hard disk space and Internet connection is also limited. I will never choose any web hosting company that use unlimited marketing term because they simply lie.

After doing some research, I’ve come across this web hosting company called MDDHosting. They seems good enough after I’ve read some reviews on WebHosting Talk forum and the important thing they don’t use unlimited marketing term. This is good because I can assess how much is my requirement and match that according to their plan. So  on December 2013, I subscribe to their shared hosting plan for 1 year and began migrating Blade Thrust Tactics, Dream City Life and this blog to their server. For Inspire Games Nexus, I use the domain on my special project VPS server.

Lets hope that this MDDHosting provide good service because finding a good shared hosting is hard and most of shared hosting sucks. My principle is if I find a good shared hosting, I just stick to it as long as they provide good service even though I have to pay lots for it.