Archive for Development Journal

Zombie Outbreak Simulator for iOS Now Available!

Zombie Outbreak Simulator for iOS is now available! It is available for $1.99 from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. You can get it here http://itunes.apple.com/app/zombie-outbreak-simulator/id499283436?mt=8

If you buy it, it’d be great if you could post a review on the app store (good or bad!), thanks!

We hope you enjoy this mobile version of Zombie Outbreak Simulator, we look forward to seeing how it is received!

Regards,
Jay and Saxon

Zombie Outbreak Simulator for iOS – Trailer

We have just released the trailer for Zombie Outbreak Simulator on iOS. We are very close to release now! Thanks to all the testers for their feedback. Fingers crossed we will be on the app store in a week or so.

iZOS Final Update Video

Here it is, the final development video update! This means we are 100% feature complete and now in beta testing. If you haven’t already, sign up to become a tester here: http://tinyurl.com/8a6art8

Check out the complete video here for the final additions:

Zombie Outbreak Simulator for iOS now in Beta!

Zombie Outbreak Simulator for iOS is now in Beta! This means that we are essentially feature complete and are ready to begin testing!

We only have a limited number of keys to giveaway, but if you can help us do a great job testing our game then we would love to hear from you.

If you’d like to test Zombie Outbreak Simulator and have access to a 3rd gen or higher iOS device then please fill out this form: http://tinyurl.com/8a6art8

Thank you, we look forward to releasing soon with your help.

Regards,
Jay and Saxon
Binary Space

4th iZOS Update

Had a slight delay in posting this to the blog but here it is!
New features in this version include iPhone4 support, shooting civs, idle civs, and a new Netherlands map.
Here it is:

Had a slight delay in posting this to the blog but here it is!

New features shown in this video include iPhone4 support, shooting civs, idle civs, and a new Netherlands map.

New release: Shotguns!

Play it now: http://www.class3outbreak.com

Image

It’s been far too long before the first weapon release, and we thought we’d start off by bringing you a shotgun in this latest version. The shotgun works differently from the pistol, in that you aren’t just clicking targets to shoot, you line up a template over as many zombies as possible and fire. Any zombies caught at close range will be scattered to the winds, while zombies further back will be damaged and pushed backwards.

Press 2 to ready the shotgun and aim the template, click to fire. If you decide you no longer want to fire, press 1. Shotgun is limited in ammo, and shells aren’t easy to find, so conserve ammo!

The only person to carry the shotgun for now will be yourself, and your friends provide backup fire using just pistols.

Other changes:
– Pistols are infinite ammo for now. This may change again if/when melee goes in.
– Pistols fire slower and are less accurate
– Zombies are faster
– Infinite zombie spawning from fog of war is out for now. We will revisit this later, but for now it has a few problems.
– Shooting in general should be more reactive. If you click to shoot now, you’ll get instant feedback rather than waiting for the survivor to pull his weapon out and fire. You still can’t fire as fast as you click, though.
– Survivors turn quicker and are more responsive to move.
– Fog of war radius larger
– Zombie/civ stats back in
– Numerous other balances/tweaks. Please tell me what you think of difficulty for “normal” suburban maps.

Hope you like it!

Regards,
Jay and Saxon

Crowd Funding Class 3 Outbreak

So far we’ve been developing Class 3 Outbreak in our spare time, with over 2000 hours spent during the last 2 years. Our goal is to turn Binary Space into a business. We love making games, and want to be able to work on games like Class 3 Outbreak full-time. To that end we are looking to raise funding in several ways, one is through government grant funding, another is through crowd funding.

We’ve recently been awarded a couple of grants by South Australian government funding groups, which we are of course pretty stoked about!:

– $50k from the South Australian Film Corporation
– $10k from the South Australian Creative Industries Program

We’re in the final contracting phases on these, and expect to be able to switch into full-time development of Class 3 Outbreak from around June.

This will keep us going for a couple of months, but what then?

We’re using the IndieGoGo crowd funding website to raise money to keep us working full-time for as long as possible. So we are asking for your help to support us in our indie endeavors! If we reach our target of $50k, that will allow us to keep working for several more months, and put us on the path to being profitable and self-sustaining. But any amount would still be a big help – we’ll work for as long as we can afford, or work part-time.

 

C3O Mockup

C3O Mockup

IndieGoGo allows us to give away pre-orders for our game, along with perks if you spend a certain amount. All of the perks include free access to all of the paid features, as they are developed. So when we start charging our other players for those, pre-order customers get them for free. When we introduce virtual currency, we’ll also give you some for free. And of course, whatever amount you give us, you’ll receive our undying gratitude, for helping us make Class 3 Outbreak a reality!

Our primary plan to become profitable is to make Class 3 Outbreak “freemium”. It will always be free to play, but players will have the opportunity to purchase additional features if they wish. We’ll have a virtual currency via which you will be able to buy extra items such as weapons, and we will offer exclusive paid features as well.

To kick off our crowd funding efforts, we’ve just released a Royal Wedding map for the game. Saxon quickly coded in Prince William and Kate Middleton and some onlooking crowd members, and I drew up the Westminster Abbey map. Of course, zombies descend and make a mess of their wedding. We think it’s pretty funny, and so hopefully a lot of other people think so too. If it picks up steam and spreads then we will be very happy!


We have outlined a feature set for Class 3 Outbreak on the IndieGoGo website, head on over, check it out and please support our game. Thanks!


Class 3 Outbreak’s Editor now in Open Beta

We are happy to announce that the open beta version of Class 3 Outbreak’s Editor is out now! Saxon has been working hard on this over the last year, and in the mean time C3O is closing in on 1 million plays. With the new editor, you can now paint down maps in your local area, then unleash the zombie hordes upon your street, workplace or school. Map creation is achieved by painting down colors over the top of the satellite imagery – red for walls, green for trees and grey for flat ground. There are a few basic tools such as a line tool, free hand tool and fill, with the ability to change brush size as well. Once you’ve finished, you can publish your map and share it with friends or fellow gamers.

Class 3 Outbreak beta world map

The game has also been moved to www.class3outbreak.com, where you’ll see that we have a world map showing the location of outbreaks across the globe. Maps that are published are moderated by myself, and if they’re of high enough quality, they go on the home page as one of the red markers. Even if you don’t get featured, you can still play and share your map.

Class 3 Outbreak beta editor with low fences

So now that our most important feature is out the door, we will be moving back to gameplay, so that players can load up their neighborhood map, then begin the task of surviving the outbreak. Unlike any other game, you will walk the streets and be familiar with your own surroundings. Very first on the agenda is controllable units, I believe we will be starting with just one controllable civilian, then we will go from there.

We look forward to seeing what maps you come up with. So far I’ve been deluged with about 60-70 map moderation requests in 2 days, which is a good sign. Tell us what you think, constructive good or bad criticisms are welcome. If you’d like to follow development as we get back into the fun stuff, you can follow me on Twitter @JayWeston or Saxon @SaxonDruce. Then there’s our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Class3Outbreak and the forums.

Cheers,
Jay

Class 3 Outbreak – A Retrospective

Let’s Make Games is a volunteer group which organises events to help foster the local game development community in Perth, Western Australia (where I live).

A couple of months ago, Nick Lowe from Let’s Make Games asked me to present a talk on Flash game publishing, at an event they were organising with talks from a few local game developers.

There are many ways to publish Flash games, and I’m no expert in any of them. So I decided to present a ‘history of Class 3 Outbreak’, including details of how we published C3O, and some other miscellaneous info about Flash game development.

Here is the video of my talk (in two parts – total approx 25 minutes):

 

Thanks to Richard and Ben from Let’s Make Games for preparing the videos.

If you prefer reading to watching, you can also see the original slides for my talk, along with the original notes.

For those of you who don’t want to watch a video or read slides, below are some of the highlights of the talk.

Jay and I started development on C3O in March 2009. In November 2009 we released Zombie Outbreak Simulator (which has been played over 800,000 times since), and in April 2010 we released Class 3 Outbreak (which has been played over 650,000 times since).

One of the background themes of my talk was to cover some of the mistakes we made during development of C3O, and what we learned from those mistakes. Here’s a summary of them:

Mistake 1 – When sponsors want Flash games

We first released the Zombie Outbreak Simulator (ZOS) on our own website. We weren’t sure how it would go, but a few days after it was released it appeared on the front page of Digg. For the next two days it received 90,000 hits per day (about once per second).

We thought that a Flash portal might want to put ZOS on their own site, to get that traffic for themselves. So we asked some portals if they would be interested in sponsoring ZOS.

What we learnt was that most Flash games receive an initial spike of plays, and then die off very quickly. Therefore sponsors are only interested in games before they’ve been publicly released. It was therefore too late for us to try to get sponsorship for ZOS.

Our traffic confirmed this – within a week it was down to 10,000 plays per day, and then soon settled at around 1000 plays per day.

Mistake 2 – Why sponsors want Flash games

We originally thought that sponsors wanted to sponsor games so that people would go to the sponsor’s site to play them. It turns out that sponsors actually want the game to spread virally to hundreds and thousands of other portals. A sponsored game will include links back to the sponsor’s site, which will drive traffic back to the sponsor.

Our game is built on Google maps, which uses a key that locks the game to a single website. This meant that it was impossible for ZOS to spread to other portals, and therefore no sponsor would want it.

Mistake 3 – Back to back releases

We initially planned to release ZOS as a preview for C3O, to help build interest. We could have released ZOS earlier, but we waited until we had almost finished C3O, with the plan being to release C3O one week after ZOS.

In hindsight that was a crazy idea. We got caught up in the excitement surrounding ZOS, which consumed all of the free time we had planned to use to finish and release C3O. Then we went into the Christmas period, where spending time with family left little time spare for development of C3O.

In the end it took us about 4 months to release C3O after ZOS. Part of the reason was that we modified C3O so that we’d be able to sell it to sponsors. We bought the imagery for a region of Leicester in the UK and embedded it into the game. This made it possible for the game to spread to portals, because the Leicester map could be played anywhere. The original Google-based Washington map would still be locked to a single site – so we planned to link it back to the sponsor’s site.

Mistake 4 – Too boring

When C3O was ready to release we started to see if any sponsors would be interested in it. We didn’t get as good a response as we were hoping for.

The average Flash gamer has a very short attention span. They need to be hooked within the first minute or two of play, or else they will just go and play any of the other hundreds of games which are constantly released. C3O takes around 15 to 30 minutes to play, and starts slowly. Also we had cut so many features from our original plans in order to finally release something, that the game had little replay value. The end result was a game which wasn’t very attractive to sponsors.

This chart shows how long people were playing our game for, during the first few weeks after release. A large proportion didn’t make it to the 15 minutes required to play a full game.

Our best sponsorship offer was for $4500, but in the end we decided not to accept it, and instead we released C3O ourselves on our own site. We thought we might be able to do better than that with our own ads.

Mistake 5 – Too big

When we developed C3O we decided to make it 800×600 pixels in size. It turns out that many portals can only handle games up to a maximum of 650 or 700 pixels wide. Therefore some sponsors won’t accept games wider than that, since it reduces the number of portals the game can spread to.

Our first and third top sponsor offers couldn’t accept an 800 pixel wide game, and asked if we could make it narrower. We tried reducing the size but didn’t like how it looked. So this was another reason why we decided to release the game ourselves.

So in the end we self-published both ZOS and C3O, earning revenue solely from the many ads we placed in and around the games. Below is the chart from the most interesting slide in the talk – how much money we’ve made. This shows our cumulative revenue, expenses and profit. We’ve made about $3000, spent about $2000 and so have a profit of about $1000.

This chart is the breakdown of where we made our revenue. Our biggest earner is our Google ads, even though only around two thirds of our plays have been on our own website where the Google ads are displayed.

Note these charts are in Australian Dollars, which are currently worth about the same as US dollars.

It’s been a while since we’ve posted any game updates to our blog. What we’re working on at the moment is a new version of Class 3 Outbreak with an editor. This will make it possible for anyone to choose anywhere in the world (where the Google maps image quality is good enough), draw in the locations of the walls, trees etc, and then send in the zombie apocalypse.

When we’re ready to go into full beta testing we’ll post an update here calling for beta testers. In the meantime I’ve been posting some preview screenshots to our forums: 15th October, 2nd October, 20th September, 5th September, 16th August, 3rd July.

For more updates on how we are progressing with the editor you can keep an eye on our forums, or follow me on Twitter.

Saxon

BSG’s sponsor search and Flash Game License

About a month ago we finished the first version of our zombie game, Class 3 Outbreak, and began pimping it to a list of sponsors. We decided to first try and contact a list of 20 or so via email, since I have the spare time to be able to talk in depth with sponsors myself, and being the cheap penny pinchers we are, we wanted to avoid giving FGL any money! FGL (Flash Game License) is a service which helps flash developers find sponsors for their games. So a few days later I got a few bites, but nothing that ever eventuated. For some reason, as also happened with ZOS, we got some sponsors saying “great game, how much?”, followed by no response afterward. Pretty strange, but I guess they mustn’t have wanted it that badly.

After that dismal little failure we decided to put the game on FGL and see what sort of action we’d receive. Over the course of a couple of weeks we got bids that started at $300 and eventually reached $5000, funnily enough one of the high bids was from a sponsor that we had emailed but who never responded. It seems like a lot of sponsors are now just depending on FGL and ignoring emails for sponsorship, unless this was just in our situation and our game, its hard to say. FGL’s bidding system is very easy to follow, and the transparency of who’s bidding and how much is great to help drive your price up. The percentage FGL takes is very fair – in our case we had no offers and ended up with $5k, I’m not good enough at maths to make up a % increase for that, but maybe something like lots%?

After chatting with Adam a bit and exchanging emails, I also found that they actively hunt down sponsors and market your game to them, something that I didn’t expect to see. We certainly came away from it feeling that we had been well taken care of and that every single sponsor possible had seen the game.

In the end we actually decided not to take a sponsorship at all. The two top bidders both had attractive offers, however one of them wanted a 700px version of the game (too small for our taste) to fit their portal, and the other one we felt suited a more traditional banner advertising/cost per click sort of model, and that ultimately fell through as well. Also for $5k we were still a bit on the fence as to whether we could make that in advertising and donations, and felt a little uneasy about giving up some money if the game did exceedingly well. Judging from ZOS, we “only” need to get a few million plays to make $4-5k, and Saxon and I both agreed that since we were making this game for fun, we’d prefer to go the riskier, more fun approach of self sponsoring. We also felt that we may gain more newsletter subscriptions, forum members, search engine rankings, and facebook fans this way, and we would really like to build a community around the game.

Once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to FGL, we were thoroughly impressed in every way! I can’t recommend them enough. Something else I’ll quickly touch on is FGL’s great First Impressions service. We submitted our game to First Impressions, and quickly got 20 really well thought out and highly varied opinions with detailed feedback and suggestions. Well worth the money.

Stay tuned to find out whether our self sponsoring was a good idea or not :) We have already appeared on Digg, but it was nothing compared to the landslide of traffic we had for ZOS. Funny, since C3O is the playable ZOS! I’m also emailing a few games websites and press, however it seems that a lot of them only cater to ‘downloadable indie’ games. Some specifically say no flash games, which I feel is possibly due to the glut of low quality flash games out there which make some people think that they’re all going to be poor. Really, whats the distinction between a flash and downloadable game apart from how you get hold of it? Anyway, I was trying to end my post, not start rambling about something else :)

Thanks for reading,
Jay