As regular readers will know I like my metaphors and I thought of a new one the other day. We were lamenting the fact that many of the programmers we teach at school don’t seem to understand the basics of structuring code. We discussed various reasons as to why this might be and this is why I think it is. We teach too much too quickly. Maybe that’s our fault but I think it’s also caused because there is just so damn much to learn. To a certain extent it’s the students fault too, they want to learn everything all at once and don’t practice the basics enough, IMO.
I think it’s a bit like learning to cook. When chefs learn they start with the basics, how to boil an egg, how to make short crust pastry, how to make sponge cakes etc. None of these things requires exotic expensive ingredients but they do require skill. Indeed with a pantry of about 40 basic things you can make and cook most anything. Only when a chef has mastered the basics are they allowed to play with more exotic ingredients.
When I started programming, about a million years ago, I started with Basic, There were no complex graphics or input commands, a bit of file handling but much simpler than today. We spent the first week of my programming course leaning how to use the if and else, statements properly, then we moved onto the for loop. Once we had the hang of that, along with the print command we were able to move onto slightly more advanced commands like while and repeat, maybe even case statements. But by that point we’d been programming for about 6 weeks and were writing quite complex programs. We made the most of what we had. What I have found is that 90% of a game only uses the basic stuff. The advanced stuff gets used very rarely and you can probably manage without it altogether if you are prepared to write a bit more code or have your game run a little slower.
Problem with kids today is they start using the advanced stuff before they understand the basics properly. It’s a bit like cooking with truffles before you can poach an egg and if you want to see how well that turns out you need look no further than My Kitchen Rules or Mater Chef on TV:)
Obsolete gamer did a great profile piece on me and Tilt and Swipe
I picked Exile as my favorite game of all time. There is a vid of a play through but the guy playing it doesn’t really seem to know what he is doing Still sends shivers down my back when I see the game. probably seems strange given how much better todays graphics are? But it really is a great game to play.
Great Game Myths #4 – Roo in a china games shop
So the myth states that China, and indeed any of the developing economies which are opening up to us, represent a wonderful opportunity for western developers to expand their gaming audience and make more money. Sorry if the mention of money is a bit crass but, at the end of the day, making money is our goal. I mean it’s fine and dandy to have nice reviews and build a happy customer base, and get that warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy because you’ve made someone happy for five minutes, but if none of that leads to money then ultimately the developer has to stop developing. Anyway I’ve been making games for a few years now and the great China dream has not born fruit for me. The problems are:
1) Chinese gamers don’t spend money on installed games. Seriously they just don’t. They do install games, I know this because I see it in the analytic data (see above for current stats on T&S courteous of flurry). But I never ever see any sales from these people. I hear that they spend a lot of money on on-line games but that’s a whole different set of problems.
2) They don’t download from any of the major western portals. This is a problem because their downloads don’t show up in the Google play market stats or Amazon or Opera. So really they don’t have any impact on downloads into the West. They are kind of like ghosts, but not the sexy sort of ghosts or the scary sort of ghosts, more the sort that might as well not be there kind. If they downloaded from the official channels then at least it would bump the download figures of those games a bit, making them appear healthier and maybe raising the games profile or encouraging the Google Play editors to feature the product (although God knows this seems a forlorn hope for anyone but a well known developer these days)
3) Chinese gamers don’t rate the games. Similar to above I am afraid. If they are not downloading from the official channels and they don’t go to western websites then they sure as hell are not going to rate your game in any useful sort of way
4) Piracy is rife in China and Android APKs are stupidly easy to crack. Not much to say about this really. We all know it’s true, Android == Piracy. But really it’s not that much of an issue anyway because there are so many games out there that way bother pirating, once the pay wall is hit, when you can just switch to another game?
So seems to me that rather than getting excited about your game downloading into China and pinning your hopes on massive sales you would be better getting excited about Santa Claus coming next Christmas and pinning your hopes on him bringing you a nice new shiny bicycle (not one of those stupid fixie things please, get a proper one with gears).
So is there a way to make money from China? Well yes I think there is. What you do is produce the technology they need to compete with Western developers and license it to them. That way they can make money out of selling the same sort of games to us which they don’t pay for. Of course this plan has a rather short term life span. Eventually they won’t need our technology any more because they’ll have developed their own, probably using ours as a prototype, and they’ll be selling that to us too along with the sort of cool games we won’t be able to afford to make any more.
Sound cynical? Well try selling into China and tell me I am wrong.
Great Tilt and Swipe Review!
Tilt and Swipe got a great review on Jay is Games. It’s really nice to know that the game is getting the response i hoped for.
So if you haven’t already downloaded it then why not give it a go?
Hi, If you have an android device and haven’t already installed my new game It’s really good and you should go and get it right now.
Tilt And Swipe is live!
I’m very excited to announce that our new game Tilt and Swipe is live on the Android store. Please download it and have a play if you have an Android device. Seriously, I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I have enjoyed making it!
Please remember to rate the game if you like it.
Brian Setzer is great, but what has that to do with games?
Hands up all those who think Brian Setzer is a genius?
OK Hands up all those who have even heard of him?
OK so to help jog your memory a bit here is a picture of him…
OK. What if I said he used to play in the “Stray Cats”? Some of you older guys probably now remember him but I bet most of you still have no idea who he is. Yet he continues to tour around the USA and Europe to sell out concerts, continues to get rave reviews for his records and regularly features in the music press. Yet popular fame has eluded him.
The thing is he doesn’t make music because he wants to be famous. He makes a particular type of music, which has very limited mainstream appeal but it’s music he feels passionate about. He does a kind of big band rock-a-billy thing. He’s a very good guitarist, even better performer quite a good singer and the people who like him love him. Do you think he cares that his songs don’t get played much on the radio? I doubt it very much. He makes more than enough money to keep doing what he loves and as long as there are people who like rock and roll, blues and rockabilly he’s got an audience. Compare that to the musicians who court fame and pander to what the consumer wants. They have a very slim chance of success and when they do make it the success is massive, but usually very short lived.
With regards to games if I could choose I’d be like Brian. I’d make the games I wanted to make, for an audience who like my games. I’d not get rich but I’d continue making games for a long time and I’d make a lot of people happy.
New Tilt and swipe build is up!
New T&S Sceenshot
The latest Tilt and Swipe installer is available here for Android.
We’ve got all the key features in now. Really the only things left to do are to finish of the last set of 20 levels so we can sell them and sort out some performance issues on lower end devices. But that won’t effect the experience of anyone playing the first 20 levels or so. I have to say I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved, my little boy played through it at the weekend and he loved it! He is a pretty discerning player who only plays games that he enjoys even if his Dad made them.
The game will be live on the Android store just as soon as we sort out in-app purchasing.
It’s great to have another game out
Reviews of Atomic Worm
I just noticed that a nice gentleman made a cool video review of my game Atomic Worm!
And here is another review for the Linux version!
The game is stil available for download, for both windows and linux so why not have a look?