Monday, 21 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 21/08/17

Last week was a bit quiet as far as gamedev news goes. Family weddings and birthdays took up half the week and left me well short of my hours worked target, but under the circumstances I think I can be excused for slacking a little.

Koming to a portal near you

I'm getting ready to release an updated demo version of Zombie Cannon Attack! on Kongregate. I've put some of the lessons learned from the Newgrounds release into practice. I still need to do more testing but everything looks good so far. I'll be posting and tweeting about it when release day arrives.
If you've ever wondered what sound a zombies head makes as it bounces after being fired from a cannon, you've probably got too much time on your hands. So download my game!
Androids + Potions = Fun!

Today I released Android version 1.1 (get it here FREE!), the changes are mainly to the later stages of the game to try and keep it challenging. I've also reduced the cost of unlocking the second world (Brainsville), as I really want players to experience the content even if they can't afford to buy potions (ZCA's premium currency). Potions are also one of the rewards for watching video ads and the price change makes that route much more feasible. I've boosted the amount of Potions in the IAP packs too.
It's now much easier to terrorize the poor citizens of Brainsville, you're welcome!
Downloads are still going slowly but I'm looking at more ways to market the game on a budget (a budget of nil) and I'm hopeful the Kongregate version will help too.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 14/08/17

After the stress of launch week, last week was another busy week but thankfully much less stressful. I solved the main problems with Zombie Cannon Attack! on Newgrounds, which were issues with how the game interacted with the host site rather than problems with the game itself. I'm happy that it's all sorted out though and ready for release on more portals from next week.

Features and Bugs
Always make sure you get proof it really happened!
Zombie Cannon Attack! actually ended up doing really well on Newgrounds despite the initial problems. It was featured on the front page and spent a day or so as the most popular game of the week (they use a rolling seven days, with games dropping off exactly a week after launch). I've had some really positive reviews, including my personal favourite:
"Almost instantly addicted. It's simple but super cute and kept me playing for a half hour before I realized how much time had passed."
See here for the rest, lots of nice things were said and pretty much all the negatives are from the issues I mentioned before. As with most projects, I was really excited to get the game out to players but I also had a few doubts along the way and it's great to see people enjoying playing.

Attention Seeking

Unfortunately this success has yet to translate to the Android version, where downloads are still going slowly. It's clear I have lots to learn about marketing, and I'm wondering if I released too early as with a little over 4 months from concept to release there wasn't much time for marketing. I'm hoping the next portal releases will drive more downloads and in the meantime trying to get as much attention as possible from review sites and social media.
If you're reading this and you haven't downloaded Zombie Cannon Attack! yet, I'd really appreciate you giving it a go and letting me know what you think.

Zombie Cannon Attack! is out now on Android.

For a full preview blog try here.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 07/08/17

Well, it's been a hectic week and I'm officially knackered so any post launch postmortem will have to wait til next week. But in brief:

Any launch you can walk away from ...

Zombie Cannon Attack! is live on the Google Play Store, the launch was a success technically but so far there's not been much in the way of downloads. You can (and should) download it here for FREE and let me know what you think. I did a full preview post last week which you can read here.

Just realised there's no cannon on the title screen, what an oversight
I've also released a slightly pared down web version on Newgrounds. The launch there did not go so smoothly, there was an annoying bug that seemed to be some sort of conflict with the sites advertising. However it's fixed now and the game has been pretty well received. At time of writing it's the 4th most popular game of the last week and there's a decent chance it may go higher over the next few days.

I've updated the cannon image, I reckon it's about 27% more cannony now
I've decided to hold off on releasing on other sites such as Kongregate and Gamejolt for a few days. The last week took it out of me a bit and I need to recharge.

July Stats

It seems a bit outdated to be talking about last month after such an eventful week, but here's the stats anyway. Hours worked were below target but much better than June, and I had a weekend away and another at a local festival so it's not too bad all things considered. This blog didn't grow at all on a page views per day basis, but it was a lower priority due to launch preparations so we'll see if it picks up again. Twitter continues to grow at a decent pace despite me cutting down on the number I follow back to try and keep the numbers manageable.

Twitter 1375 (+172)
July blog views 492
Blog views/day: 15.9 (June was 16.1)
Hours worked 108.5 (3.5 per day) (June was 2.9/day)



Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Introducing Zombie Cannon Attack!

It's finally here! After months of development, Zombie Cannon Attack! releases on Android today, with further platforms to follow. Zombie Cannon Attack! is a zombie themed endless runner. As the blurb says "Fire test zombies from your cannon and help them infect the local populace to create your very own rampaging zombie horde. Gather data and use it to upgrade your zombies and create the perfect undead army." You can download it for FREE from the Google Play Store here.


Perhaps, however, you're the sort of discerning player that doesn't just click any old download link they're told to on the internet. In that case, this is the post for you.

The Zombie

That's probably not ketchup
So, there's this Mad Scientist chap, intent on world domination/slaughtering humanity and starting anew/blowing shit up for fun* (delete as appropriate). Does he melt the polar icecaps and hide on a mountain top? Build an army of crazed killer cyborgs? Or does he create a single zombie to send out into the world and spread an undead plague? If you guessed zombies, you're correct (if not maybe you'll be interested in my upcoming games Shooty Cyborg Attack! or Drowny Water Attack!).

Mmmm, data
Obviously subjugating the whole planet with one solitary zombie is a lot to ask. Like any good scientist, he'll need to experiment, gather data and keep tweaking his plague until he can produce the perfect specimen. He'll also need an assistant out in the field to record the data and perhaps give the zombie hordes a little helping hand every now and again. In short, he needs you!
A zombie, probably in a snowstorm or something.
The Cannon

Nevermind the UFO, there's a zombie in a m****f***ing cannon.
As everyone knows, you can't just release a zombie anywhere and expect results. But you also don't want to get caught driving a rotting corpse into town, especially one that won't keep still. You need a delivery method. You need a cannon (obviously).

Luckily for you, zombies have very bouncy heads
The Attack!

You have your zombie, you have your cannon, you have your target (Starter Town to, er, start with). You're all set, right? Well it turns out there may be a few small problems:

Don't just lie there, infect someone. Oh, you're liquefying. Well, er, carry on.
Problem 1: Zombies are rubbish
Sorry to be blunt, but your chosen plague vector is basically a lump of rotting meat with all it's higher brain functions removed. The end goal may be a rampaging killing machine, but the initial reality is something that won't so much catch and infect it's victims as it will shuffle along then fall over and twitch for a bit. You'll have a LOT of upgrading to do.

'Look, some of our fellow citizens are tricking the zombies by turning green, moaning and eating people'
Problem 2: Cannons are rubbish
I mean, cannons? Who uses cannons nowadays? No-one, that's who. It's all laser-guided cruise missiles these days, and not just because of how cool they sound. Your cannon in particular is poorly maintained and unreliable. It will also need some upgrading, and even then I wouldn't expect too much from it. Seriously though, a cannon? What were you thinking?

'Hurray, a small wall defended by a single police officer, we're saved!'
Problem 3: People don't like being turned into zombies
Who knew? It turns out that, rather than stand by as they and their loved ones are turned into the walking dead, many people will run away. Some will even stand and fight, using makeshift barricades and whatever weapons are to hand. That's not to mention the Police and Armed Forces. There are even rumours of crazy vigilantes who use their underwear as overwear rushing to join the fight.

In case you're wondering, that's SuperZee - the man of Teal - dunno who you thought it was.
This might be harder than you thought. Zombie Cannon Attack! is out now and you really should play it.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 31/07/17

Well, it's finally here. Zombie Cannon Attack! launches this week. I'm really looking forward to getting the game out there.

Please release me

Assuming the latest build (Version 1.0.01) hasn't broken anything I'll release it to open beta tomorrow (1st August) on the Google Play Store. As there's no current production version it should show up as early access until I take it out of beta, which I'm planning to do over the weekend all being well. I'll release the Newgrounds version on Friday and (again assuming all goes well) release on Kongregate a few days later, hopefully Sunday. After that I'll be looking into releasing on Gamejolt, but as I've never uploaded anything there before I don't have a set date I'm aiming for yet.

You've come a long way, Zombie

I'm planning to write a new in-depth preview to coincide with the release of Zombie Cannon Attack!, but in the meantime I just wanted to share a few before and after screenshots to highlight the progress I've made over the last few months. Hopefully you can tell which is before and which is after without me pointing it out.

As you can see, the differences here are like day...

..and night.

Change the font, add a few pictures, get rid of the awful green colour and...
...hurray, eyes no longer repelled, nausea greatly reduced!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 24/07/17

I said last week I'd just uploaded what I hoped was the final pre-release build of Zombie Cannon Attack! to the Google Play store. As ever that proved to be a little optimistic, I pushed another build over the weekend and I've made some slight tweaks to that one too.

Just in case you thought I was making it up

As I've taken the decision to hold release until next week I can't be certain that I won't make any more changes but I feel like I've got the game balanced nicely and ironed out all the bugs. I made one really satisfying fix to something that I'd thought I was just going to have to live with so at the moment I feel the decision to delay was justified.

This is the new load screen, hopefully more entertaining than watching a bar fill up
Portal-ly Amazing

I'm planning to take the rest of the week to produce a version for portal sites, starting with Newgrounds and Kongregate and possibly Gamejolt. The idea is for this version to have the basic features that the Android version has, but without the bonuses and extra features that can be unlocked by watching ads or with in-app purchases. Hopefully this will prompt players to then download the 'full' version from the Play store. I also have a bit more promotional work to do, including a full preview blog post either this week or next.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 17/07/17

Ok, so it's not the 17th. It's actually the 21st and this is is the latest I've ever posted a devblog since I started. This is also going to be the shortest devblog I've done.

Better late than never

I was hoping to release Zombie Cannon Attack! this week, but I'm not quite ready. It's a little disappointing as I'm really close. As I write this I'm working on balancing the later game a little better, and hopefully the latest Alpha build I'm releasing to the Google Play store (Version 0.9.78) will be the last. However next week is really bad for releasing as I'll be away for part of it so it looks like being the beginning of August. As I said it's disappointing but it gives me more time to get the game ready and some of the things I was planning to do post-release can be done before instead.

Yes, this is the same screenshot as last week, better than nothing though eh?
I've made big improvements to the game's performance and fixed a lot of annoying bugs and problems mainly to do with in-game adverts, so I'm satisfied that the final release will be something I can be proud of. Next week I hope to write a full preview of the game with loads of screenshots and gameplay gifs, so stay tuned.