Editor View of Orange Level #3

Just finished this level. It starts to show what some of the future levels will have in store.  It'll take multiple attacks, a little bit of thought, and some skill to complete this one.

I'm excited to get to the higher levels so I can start throwing some even more crazy stuff at the players.

If you are wondering, the green rectangles are triggers that control zooming.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 8.33.05 PM.png

Krashlander Update: Working On It...

When I have code to write I tend to neglect this blog and a lot of other developer-to-player communication avenues available.

I've been getting a lot of comments in the Krashlander (for iOS) reviews where people are asking where the update is. Many players want more levels. Some are getting pretty frustrated (understandably so).

Today, I got this:

It is amazing to see the loyalty people have towards this game without returned loyalty from the developer. Either release more chapters or give us more info to let us know when if ever, to expect an update.

This was a little bit tough to read, but I don't blame the person that wrote it.  I can't respond directly to comments in iTunes, so I thought I'd at least throw out a quick (edit: well maybe not so quick) blog post and hope whoever wrote the review (and others with similar feelings) see it.

The Krashlander update is in progress. Since the day it was released, I have not stopped working on it.  I'm re-working a lot of things based on the feedback from the first release. 

All the development for Krashlander is done in my spare time so it takes time to get things out the door.

Here are a few of the things I'm updating for the next release.

New skill level system:

One of the biggest issues new players had with Krashlander was that it was too difficult to grasp the control mechanic.  The frustration usually set in at, I think, level 4 or 5 when you first had to get air and then land on your skis.

I set out to fix this issue while at the same time avoiding dumbing the game down for those that like the controls and the difficulty level as it is.

In the update, players can choose to play the Novice, Expert, or Elite skill level.  

Expert represents the current controls.  If you like things the way they are, set the game to Expert and forget about it.

Novice is less realistic but easier to stick a landing.  If you quit the game because it was to frustrating, try again (once it's released) with the new novice setting and see if it's a bit easier stick those landings.  

Elite...ahhh, ELITE.  Elite is my new favorite way to play. It is also the most realistic way to play the game.  You'll get no rotation 'help' while in the air. To stick your landing you need to plan ahead and impart some rotation at take off then control rotation speed by crouching (to increase rotation) or extending (to slow rotation) same as in real life.  If you take off and you are not rotating, guess what; you will be "not-rotating" when you face-plant into the ground as well.

Menu.PNG

I didn't even think to put the Elite style controls in the 1st release for fear it would just be too damn difficult.  Well, after playing Expert for a while, the Elite controls are not THAT big a step up and man is it fun.  

New scoring system:

The scoring system was confusing and caused a lot of people to just keep resetting the level after each run so they could get the 3 stars.  That really isn't the experience I was going for. Krashlander is really all about the skiing not some complex scoring system.  

In the updated version, I simplified things: 

  • Every level has 3 robots.  
  • You get 1 star for every robot you kill.  
  • You must kill at least one robot to unlock the next level.  

With this new system, you are not penalized for how many attacks it takes to kill the robots so there is no need to continually reset the level.  Also, to reward those who play at the higher skill levels, players get:

  • Single points for playing as Novice
  • Double points for playing as Expert
  • Triple points for playing as Elite

Your "overall" or "game" score, then, is simply whatever score is the highest of the Novice, Expert, and Elite.  

Scoring.PNG

My goal with this system was to allow new people to get accustom to the controls playing as Novice while at the same time making it so the higher level players didn't have to concern themselves at all with the Novice skill level.  They can just ignore it and not be penalized in any way.

Better level progression in the beginning:

In the first version of Krashlander, the difficulty of the game ramped up a little to quick for a lot of people.  With the update, I've front-loaded the game with some more "easy" levels to ease players into the controls a bit slower. I'm hoping this increases retention and reduces the number of rage-quits.

EasyRampUp.PNG

New tutorials built into the beginning levels:

This, again, is to help ease players into the game.  The tutorials now exist directly in the levels and I think will make things much more clear.  The tutorials will not show for those playing Elite and for everyone else they can be turned off in settings.

Tutorials.PNG

New settings screen:

I'm currently working on a new settings screen.  This screen will contain:

  • A toggle to turn off tutorials.
  • A button that allows you to reset your level progression and scores in case you want to start over.
  • A feedback button to make it easy for players to send me feedback via email
  • Whatever else I think of between now and release time.

Video play-back and sharing:

Many crazy things can happen in Krashlander.  With the update, I plan to have an easy way to record, playback, and share videos of your game play easily right from the game. (This is still to be developed but should not take to long since I'll be using a service that helps with this)

Environment updates:

For the update, I'll be adding some minimal "landscaping".  You'll see some trees and other structures peppered throughout the levels.  The majority of this will just be background filler. I'll keep it pretty sparse so it doesn't clutter up the simple graphic style of the game.

Environment.PNG

Bug fixes and minor tweaks:

I have a small list of bugs and other tweaks that I've either already made or will be making prior to release.

    And of course, MORE LEVELS:

    I plan to have at least 40 levels total in the update.  The ordering of the levels is changed for the new release since I had to re-work things in order to ramp things up more slowly.

    This is cause for some bad news. I will need to reset everyones current progress in the game. I tried to figure out a way to avoid this, but with all the changes I just had to make the tough decision to start everyone over.  I know this is going to piss some people off and I apologize for that.  Had to be done, though.

    NewLevels.PNG

    So, that is about it.  I know a lot of you are probably thinking: to hell with all that, just release the new levels.  I get that.  Thing is though, I want this game to be at least mildly successful long term and the release that's currently in the App Store is really not much more than a tech demo. Especially compared to my vision for the game.

    This huge update will bring the game much closer to where I want it.  After this update, I'll be able to focus much more on just level content.  My goal is to eventually get to 100 levels.

    To everyone who's played Krashlander. Thank You!   To everyone who is waiting desperately for an update.  Thanks for you patience... It's coming...

    -Jeff Weber

    Krashlander for iOS - Launch Day Approaches

    Krashlander for iOS has now been accepted into the AppStore and will be officially released February 7th, 2013.  I've been working on Krashlander for iOS in my spare time (before the kids get up and after they go to bed) for about a year.  It's a good feeling to finally be approaching launch day.

    I will eventually blog more about development of Krashlander for iOS and what the future holds, but for now I will just say I have a google document full of Krashlander update ideas  and ideas for other games so stay tuned!

    I also want to assure all the Windows Phone and Android users I have not forgot about you. Krashlander was built in Unity3D which is inherently cross-platform.  It may take some time but I do plan to bring this version of Krashlander to all major mobile (and non-mobile) platforms that make sense.

    Please checkout the Krashlander launch trailer and screenshots below and watch for it on the AppStore February 7th, 2013.

    Krashlander - Official Launch Trailer

    Krashlander: Numbers

    I’ve been meaning to make a Krashlander numbers post for some time now.  I think Krashlander has finally peaked in terms of popularity on the Windows Phone Market place so now seems a perfect time for such a post.

    In order to give the numbers some context here is a quick history for Krashlander on the Windows Phone Marketplace. 

    The paid version of Krashlander was released around October 20th, right about the time the U.S. Windows Phone launched.  It was released as a 99 cent game.  The paid version quickly climbed to be one of the most popular indie games in the marketplace (Indie meaning non-XBox Live)

    On Feb 22nd, I released Krashlander Free.   Krashlander Free peaked at, I think, the #2 spot for free games in the marketplace and #7 for apps/games combined.

    Krashlander Free was a full version of the game with ads.  I did not try to up-sell players from the free version to the paid version as the free version seemed to bring in more per-person than I would get from a 99 cent sale.  The paid version was really more for those that just really didn’t want to see the ads.

    As you will see in the charts, Krashlander Free really cannibalized the paid version but numbers-wise I think it was worth it.

    Overall I’ve been very pleased with the Krashlander numbers.  Windows Phone is just getting started and if these numbers scale anywhere close to linearly with phone sales then I think it’ll be a great place for developers to make some money.

    On to the numbers.

     

    Krashlander Paid (10/19/2010 to 05/19/2010)

     

    GameLevel1

    Krashlander Total Daily Downloads (Including Trials)

     

    The above chart shows total daily downloads.  This chart does not represent purchases because trials are included in the numbers above and not everyone that downloads the trial ends up purchasing the game.  The spike you see occurred when Krashlander was featured in the marketplace.

    The actual numbers for the paid version of Krashlander break down as follows:

    Total downloads (including trials): 21,147

    Total purchases: 4,477 (I get 70% of that which is $3133.00)

    Conversion rate : ~21%

     

    Krashlander Free (2/22/2011 to 5/19/2011)

     

    GameLevel2

    Krashlander Free Total Daily Downloads

    As you can see, Krashlander Free has substantially more daily downloads than the paid-with-trials version of the game.

    Since this is a free game, the downloads give no indication of revenue. Microsoft’s Pub Center is what I used for serving ads in Krashlander Free. Here are the revenue charts for that. (Note, I’m purposefully not showing impressions and/or eCPM as I believe that is against the terms of Pub Center)

    GameLevel5

    Krashlander Daily Ad Revenue

    This chart requires a bit of explanation. 

    The beginning of the chart is very low due to a bug with my Pub Center account.  A couple weeks in March were really high do to what I can only assume were inflated eCPMs.  The rest of the chart is a bit more “normal” in my mind.

    Total downloads: 187,298

    Total Revenue from ads: $15,011.37

     

    Krashlander Free and Paid Totals

    So, combining things here is what things look like.

    Total downloads (Free, Trial, and Paid): 208,445

    Total revenue: ~ $18,144.00

    There you have it, all my numbers… well almost.  I actually also made some money from a special promotion deal with LG.  The contract does not allow me to disclose the amount, but lets just say it was a solid number.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this post. If these numbers scale with the phone sales, which I think should start to take off when Nokia gets in the game, then Windows Phone is going to be a great place for developers.

     

    What’s Next?

    Mango! That's what’s next. Smile  I’m currently working on the framework that will be used for my next few games.  Certainly a Krashlander sequel will be one of them.  I’m targeting sometime close to the Windows Phone Mango release this fall.

    -Jeff Weber
    @jeffweber
    http://www.facebook.com/Krashlander
    www.farseergames.com

    Freeing Krashlander

    There is now a free version of Krashlander in the Windows Phone marketplace.  Not a lite version to upsell my paid version, but a FULL version with all levels.  The only difference is the free version has ads, the paid version does not.

    So, why do this?  Why release a full version of the game for free?  Read on…

     

    Ads (Pub Center) Work

    Pub Center is basically Microsoft’s version of Google’s AdSense.  Now, with Windows Phone, Pub Center is available for use in Windows Phone games and apps.

    Krashlander has been available as a paid game since the Windows Phone launch.  If I had to throw out a sales-per-day number, I’d say it averages around 25-35 sales a day.  I get about 70 cents per sale.  Not bad. Makes for some nice extra cash.

    However, a recent blog post by Elbert Perez of Occasional Gamer shows that it’s possible to make substantially more than that using Pub Center Ads. The graphic below is from his blog post (Note, Elbert has 7 or 8 games in the marketplace which partly accounts for his great numbers)

    OccasionalGamerAds

    Image comes from blog post by Elbert Perez

    Now, I’m not delusional and I don’t think by flipping my game to free I’m going to be rolling in the dough, but my “bet” is that I can make more per-day with Ads then by selling my paid version of Krashlander.  Also, Elbert’s not the only one claiming to make good money with Ads.  Others have also hinted they have had better luck with Ads then with paid games.

    Since Elbert published his blog post, it appears the eCpm and therefore revenue from Ads has gone down a bit.  Even so, I think they are still, currently, a better bet than paid games/apps

     

    Trials Do Not Move Games

    The hope, both Microsoft’s, mine, and I think most others was that by baking a trial api into the Windows Phone and making it easy for everyone to offer a free sample of their game or app, developers would not need to go the iPhone route of making both a “Lite” version of their game and a full, paid version of their game.  The trial version was suppose to make the free/lite version un-necessary. 

    Good plan, but it’s not working.  Best I can tell, free games and apps get anywhere from 10 to 100 times more downloads than games and apps with free trials.  People actively search out free Apps.  They don’t (and in fact CAN”T), search for apps or games that support trials.

    I don’t know what the solution to this is, or if there even is one, but right now if you want to build a user base for your games on Windows Phone, free is where it’s at.

     

    XBox Live Ceiling

    As I mentioned above, Krashlander has been available as a paid (99 cent) game since launch.  And, for pretty much this whole time, it has sat right at the bottom of the XBox Live titles in the Marketplace.  In fact it is actually above a number of them.

    GameLevel4

    Krashlander living under the XBox Live Ceiling

    Now, in some ways this is great and I am happy Krashlander is doing as well as it is. However, given how XBox Live games are promoted and positioned in the Marketplace, I don’t see Krashlander, or any other indie game for that matter, ever being positioned anywhere but below a long (and getting longer) list of XBox Live games.

    I’m not here to complain about this.  It is what it is and I’ve voiced my concerns to those that matter.  I just want to express my opinion that as things currently exist, routing around the XBox Live games by going free seems to be a better bet.

     

    Let EVERYONE Play

    There are a lot of countries that have the Windows Phone but are not able to purchase games.  They can play all the game/app trials and the free games, but they can’t purchase them.

    Releasing a free version of Krashlander will let these folks play my game and hopefully help build a “following” for my games. 

    I’m getting blog-fatigue, so I’ll wrap it up.

    Conclusion

    It’s still early days with the Windows Phone ecosystem.  I expect things to change often as Microsoft figures things out.  Someday it may make more sense to focus more on paid games again instead of free Ad based games. If that is the case then I’ll adjust.   Staying fluid, I think, is the key

    With the Nokia deal there will hopefully be a momentum push for Windows Phone and it will reach critical mass.  If it does it’ll be a whole new game for us developers.

    -Jeff Weber
    www.farseergames.com
    @jeffweber

    Look for Krashlander and Krashlander Free in the Windows Phone marketplace.

    Krashlander Gameplay for Level 13 and Level 16

    Just uploaded a couple gameplay videos for krashlander.  These videos show the game on an actual device (Samsung Focus).  My primary reason for showing these is to help anyone having some trouble playing the game.  A few have told me they are having trouble with level 16 and others have told me getting a perfect score on level 13 is impossible.

    Hopefully watching these vids will help.

    Apologize for the poor quality. I currently do not have a good camera for recording live gameplay.  These were done with my iPod touch.

    Here are the vids:

    Krashlander Level 13 Triple Kill on Samsung Focus

     

    Krashlander Level 16 on Samsung Focus

    Building New Krashlander Levels (Sneak Peak)

    I’ve been working on some long overdue new levels for Krashlander lately.  My plan right now is to create 9 new levels for total of 24, then release them in an update. (More levels will come in future updates)

    I just finished my first new level.  Since the new levels are a bit more difficult then the original levels they take a bit longer to build and test.  This first level took me about 8 hrs total to create and test. This, of course, is spread over several days as I only get about 1.5 hrs. a day to work on my games.

    One more thing you may notice is that I’ve relaxed the need for “realism” in the landscape.  Many of the slopes and such are just “floating” in the sky.  This was done for 2 main reasons.  I get more performance because I don’t have to render quite as much, and it allows for more interesting and intricate levels.

    Here is a sneak peak of the first new level.  The first image is what the level looks like as I build it out in a sort of wire-frame mode.  The 2nd image is what it looks like after I add all the graphics.

    GameLevel1

    Wireframe view of level

     

    GameLevel2

    Finished level (no background)

    Request For Cool Krashlander Level Design Ideas

    Have you been playing Krashlander on the Windows Phone?  Do you have some great level ideas?  As I begin to finally add some more levels to the game, I thought I’d reach out and see if anyone has any cool ideas they’d like to share.

    For right now I’m just looking for level design ideas rather than new game features.  If you have do have some ideas, please sketch them out in your favorite drawing tool and send me a screen capture.

    You can send your ideas to farseergames@gmail.com

    No promises on whether I use your idea or not but I do promise I’ll look at and consider all ideas.

    -Jeff Weber
    @jeffweber