After careful study of the iTunes App Store, I think I have a better understanding on how to build successful games. I’ve started work on a rather ambitious project. I’m building a role-playing game called “BOT” — my most advanced game ever. In order to find success on the iTunes App Store, I believe it is necessary to build a high-quality game. Otherwise, my apps will drown in a sea of mediocrity. I’m aiming to take down Angry Birds and build the best iPhone app. This lofty goal is to ensure that my game is great.
Will I actually build the #1 app? That’s not actually the point. The point is that I’m going to try. Previously, I had the wrong mindset. I was building candy-bar apps. Most of the top games on the iTunes App Store are sold for 99¢. Realizing that $10-$20 apps would not sell, I built apps that I felt were worth about $2. I found some success with this approach, but my games didn’t achieve the success of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope. These games have a ridiculous amount of content for a 99¢ game. I realized that the standard is much higher for iOS games. With that understanding, I started to create the requirements for BOT.
The goal for BOT is to build a game with a lot of content, but it should also easy to play. And while it’s an RPG, I don’t want it to be boring. This isn’t Guild Wars or World of Warcraft. This project is more like The Legend of Zelda and Phantasy Star II. I haven’t quite figured out the combat scheme yet, but I’m thinking real-time is better.
The tricky part is to get it working with single touches. I hate on-screen controllers. So, everything has to be accomplished with just the touch of a finger. The game’s overall perspective is top-down. I’ve already got movement working and I think it’s phenomenal. I like how TANK (that’s the name of the main character) follows the finger. It’s smooth, animated and fun.
I’ve decided that this should be an iPhone game instead of an iPad game. With Verizon getting the iPhone, that’s a lot of new customers. Also, an iPhone game can run on an iPad, but the reverse does not work. A universal binary would be ideal, but that’s not yet supported in GameSalad. I’m using GameSalad to shorten development time. This is a one-man mission, so the speed and ease of GameSalad makes sense. If this project is successful, perhaps mobile developers will have greater respect for GameSalad. It’s not just a toy. It’s a powerful SDK.
In The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, one of the central themes is taking a game idea from start to finish. TANK is the personification of this process. He starts out in the book as nothing more than a square. Yet, the process isn’t complete. I have all the pieces for a great game. I just need to put them together. The old saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” By completing this project, I can show that it’s possible to be a teacher and a doer!
There are some other requirements for BOT…
- Retina Display
- No written words – so that the entire world can play. (Considering the complexity of the lore, this is an incredibly difficult requirement.)
- Mini Games – (Especially pinball)
- Traditional RPG elements – The game should feel alive, busy and exciting. That means the inclusion of NPCs, shops and quests.
If you’re interested in following the development of BOT, progress reports will be posted in the comments section.
Side Note: This project originally started with my “Back to the Drawing Board” designs. Instead of using a fantasy theme, I’m using a sci-fi theme.