Tag Archive for journal

Zombie Outbreak Sim Wrap Up

Well its been around 10 weeks now since we released Zombie Outbreak Simulator (ZOS). I’d like to share some of the experiences we had, and since I have learned so much from other similar articles, I’d like to give something back.

Our plan with ZOS was always to make it just a bit of a tech preview or teaser for Class 3 Outbreak (the RTS), something that’s just a bit of fun to watch and whet your appetite for the ‘real thing’. Having developed the game for so long, and testing/balancing Class 3 Outbreak for a while, I thought that ZOS would get some “oh, that’s kinda interesting” remarks and we’d get a little bit of traffic from some zombie or google maps sites. Funnily enough, I started to see some traffic coming from Digg via google analytics. I went to their website and found that we had been Dugg 30-40 times, which I thought was pretty good. A moment later I was about to head off to sleep for the night and I thought I’d check the site again, and lo’, we had just reached the front page! To our great astonishment and excitement, we eventually shot up to the third most dugg site of the day, getting over 1700 diggs. Our server went down perhaps a dozen times or more but luckily it never stayed down, it would just restart and keep on trucking. rorr.im also mirrored us which helped a little. We ended up having to put up static html files for all of our pages on class3outbreak.com, and that plus some help from our host finally got traffic moving smoothly. Saxon and I definitely enjoyed watching ZOS climb though, it was quite unreal.

I loved reading all of the comments people were leaving at Digg as well, and I made some comments/replies myself. Its great to interact with fans! We were amazed to see that not only would people post what settings they were using for the outbreak, they would even make up entire stories about the little 20 pixel people running around – extensive stories! It seemed to really capture peoples imagination, and I think running the game on google maps played a part in that, because we are using actual imagery. It’d be nice if the people looked a little more realistic but I’m not sure if I can improve them much with only 20 or so pixels.

We weren’t entirely prepared for the traffic when it hit, so we didn’t have mochi ads running, and our adsense banners weren’t really optimized either. It’s funny that after getting played 250,000 times and dugg 1700 times (I’d call that a huge success) we made around $300 in 2-3 days. As traffic levels out it looks like we might make 5-10k by the end of the year at this rate. That’s a pretty good sign to me that making money from advertising in flash games is incredibly hard. Sure, if we had mochi running from the start, we probably would have made a bit over double in the first 2 days, but that’s still peanuts for something that was so popular. I’d imagine getting the game to spread successfully over portals and get 10’s of millions of plays could start bringing in some half decent money too, but we are in the middle of seeing what we can do in this department.

When you consider the super great article: “You should be making a premium flash game” and games like Fantastic Contraption, we are very keen to try selling our game at some point, ie when there’s enough game there to charge for. If we punched in the Fantastic Contraption sales numbers with our current traffic levels we would be making over $90k a year, not too shabby. And yes, the games are both extremely different, and its impossible to know whether we would reach the same level of success as Colin did, but it is interesting to guesstimate these things…

Since ZOS has gone online we’ve also put up a facebook page that has reached over 1700 fans, and a forum which is already producing a lot of conversation. Feel free to join either!

You might be wondering how C3O is coming along… we hit a slight snag which requires another 2-4 weeks work, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer. Ah games and their so called release dates… :)

Thanks for reading!

Zombie Outbreak Simulator now on Kongregate

Saxon just finished making a version of the game to be accessible on Kongregate. Should be interesting to see how its received there. Check it out: http://www.kongregate.com/games/BinarySpace/zombie-outbreak-simulator

This version has no mochi ads, and we receive 35% of ad income from Kongregate’s ads. Will soon find out what the difference is! If you yearn to play the game ad free then go forth and play there :)

Zombie Game Announcement

We have decided to release the first meaningful teaser for Binary Space’s upcoming game! While we are still giving away very little at this point, we can divulge that the game will be about those rather popular brain hungry zombies. I can hear you groan all the way from Australia, “another zombie game?”. How dare you! …I mean, yes another zombie game! However being a huge zombie movie and game fan I can tell you it will be completely unlike any zombie game before it.

I must have wanted to do a zombie game ever since I first saw Dawn of the Dead who knows how many years ago. Then when the new version of that movie came out, shortly followed by 28 days later and others, I developed a bit of an interest in all things zombie and survivalist. I’ve wasted many an hour and much of my own precious brainz playing Left 4 Dead, The Last Stand 1 and 2, and also tried out Pop Caps latest game Plants Vs Zombies, however I can’t understand all the hype surrounding it. I’ve also devoured World War Z (did you know the movie is coming out end of this year?), The Zombie Survival Guide and numerous other zombie novels. The only thing remaining is to go on one of those zombie walks…hmmm.

When compared to existing zombie games, ours will be in an untried and untested genre, with different game play, and quite different graphics. The game has just reached its first playable state, which is quite exciting, and the scariest thing about it is that the game play will present a lot of new challenges that haven’t really been tackled before. Well I can’t say much more but I’m confident we will soon be bringing you zombie madness in a way that should get you pretty excited.

Concept art from Binary Space's upcoming Flash Zombie Game

Concept art from Binary Space's upcoming Flash Zombie Game

The concept art you are looking at here was illustrated by myself (Jay) and it’s one of my first few attempts at any sort of “real art”, drawn using Photoshop CS2 and a Wacom. This particular image was copied from a photograph of a foggy street in the US, where I could envisage people leaning from windows and firing out. So I copied the street and then added in the people and zombies afterwards, keeping their forms extremely simple to hide my lack of skills in that department! I feel it works well for the subject matter though, luckily for me! It could probably use another zombie up closer so you really know what they are, but I’m on a bit of a schedule and my skills possibly aren’t developed enough to tackle a highly detailed rotting corpse close up!

Finally try not to read into the image too much, its much like the box art from old Amiga games – it certainly doesn’t represent the game play, genre or POV at all! Well, it does a little…

If you’d like to be notified when major updates are announced or when the game itself comes out, make sure you sign up to the newsletter on the right hand side of the page.

Until next time!

Pre Release Hype for Flash Games

Aside from popular sequels, I don’t think I’ve ever received or read any form of pre release marketing for a flash game. It may have something to do with the size of the games, or the general idea that flash games are quick, disposable and not really worth doing much marketing of any kind. Or perhaps people are afraid that they will tip off ‘the competition’ to the kind of revolutionary game they are developing? That’s quite certainly the case for us!!

So for the last couple of months I’ve been mulling over exactly what to release about our supercalifragilistic game, which will both interest gamers but dissuade developers from making a clone before we do. As it stands, even though our programmer, Saxon is coding his first ever game in flex to what I think is a very high standard, I’m still concerned that someone with more time or a bigger team could see what we are making and do it before us. Whether this is a valid concern or not, I’m not sure, but to be safe we are going to start hyping the game around 1 month before release so that there is almost no way we can be cloned.

In an attempt to build hype for our game, and reach as many people as possible, I am planning on releasing a range of teasers, newsletters, videos, development journals and press releases in around 1-2 months time. In the beginning I expect we may only attract the attention of other game developers via the development journals, and then once we’ve announced the genre and general premise of the game, hopefully we can start to build a sizeable subscriber base to our newsletters, twitter followers and rss feeds. I’d imagine we will announce the game’s big ‘hook’ or selling point only 1-2 weeks before release.

I’m planning on trying some “War of the Worlds” kind of press releases, which are written as if the game’s events are actually occurring, except of course they are so absurd that the reader hopefully has their interest piqued and goes on to watch a posted youtube clip, screen shots or something similar. With any luck these might be successful enough to gain preview write ups in online mags or get dugg, and further build our subscriber base.

I’d also like to think that this game is kind of a “casual game for hardcore gamers”. I know many hardcore gamers play casual games (I’m one of them), but I’m still going to try pitching our game in this manner to try and bring more attention to the fact that flash games can be enjoyed by more hardcore gamers, and that they can have some level of depth.

Well that’s about enough rambling for now… I’ll have to try and get some links coming in now for this development journal, perhaps Emanuele Feronato will link to this or my other articles? If you are coming from his site, then huzzah!

Thanks for following, and sign up for our newsletter on the right, or follow me on twitter to receive more updates in the future.

If you have anything to contribute I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried your own form of pre release marketing for flash games before? Do I not know what I’m on about? Set me straight or give me your opinion!

MochiAds Free Hosting

I got a reply back from Mochi saying there are indeed “no strings attached” to their free hosting service for flash games. I was impressed by their reply speed too, it gives me confidence that if there’s any problems in the future I’ll be able to get in contact with someone. So we will continue to host our site, but the game is hosted on their servers, and they handle the huge flood of gamers foaming at the mouth to play our awesome games!

I was initially concerned with the price of hosting a large-ish flash game, since if you get a successful game on your hands, your bandwidth fees go through the roof. It also seems quite hard to find a host that is “digg proof”. I’ve read articles where people have gone with one of the big name hosts, even ones which advertise being digg proof, and they still go down. Part of the problem may be poorly optimized websites, but it seemed like a big price tag attached to something that isn’t guaranteed to stay online.

Anyway I think we will be trying out Mochis free hosting option and see how it holds up. Hopefully we get some big social media/digg/stumbleupon traffic and can report back on how it goes. I think we will still have to invest in a modest/high end hosting solution like a VPS or basic dedicated option, but at least I won’t have to fear big ‘bandwidth exceeded’ fees.

I’m pretty confident we can make a reasonable profit with advertising on our homepage now as well, whereas before it looked like either a tiny profit, or at worst, a small loss.

If anyone else has used MochiAds free hosting I’d like to hear what your experience has been.

Thanks for reading!

Flash Game Development Journal

I’ve read a few great development diaries from other people such as Emanuele Feronato and I thought I’d do my own for Binary Space and for any other developers who are walking down a similar path. I’m not sure yet exactly what I’ll write about week to week, so I’ll just write when I feel I have something interesting to talk about.

Small Biz
At the moment our game is at very early stages, and we’re familiarizing ourselves with how the whole industry works. There’s just the two of us, a programmer and myself (artist/designer), so the whole thing is run very much like a small business I suppose, with the owners doing a bit of everything whilst trying to steer the ship. So yes we are in this to make money as well as make fun games. I have another business that is doing well, so I can afford to spend as much time as I like on the game. I’d say its one of the harder things to do, trying to perform your main roles whilst trying to figure out how to host a website, what is a CPM, what is a CPC, whats a good CPM/CPC, how much bandwidth will we need, what’s our game going to be worth, what’s a good company name and a million other little things. But I feel like I’m getting a reasonable handle on all of this now, so I’ll be writing about my expectations, thoughts and plans, without giving too much away about our game in the short term!

Numbers and Best Case Scenarios
I must admit I’m a little surprised at the numbers for flash games, specifically: the low cpms for advertising and high game hosting fees almost cancel each other out, and depending on various factors, my maths say that we will be either making a small loss on our homepage or a small profit. I’ve looked at a ton of dedicated host options and content delivery networks, both of which are fairly expensive. Then there’s also Mochi’s free hosting option, which I’m looking into closely. I can’t help but think there must be a catch, so I’ve emailed them to confirm!

Home Page Numbers
If we look at some exact numbers, a successful game can do 30 million plays in a year, and I’ve heard from other developers that they still get up to 5-10k visits a day one year after their game is released.
For this example, I’m going to take Mochi’s standard CPM (money they pay per 1000 views/plays) as a very reasonable 0.50c, and I hear Adsense is roughly the same for entertainment. So for the home page, getting 10k visits a day (yes this is best case scenario), you should expect to make an un-whopping $10 a day or roughly $3500 a year, possibly double or triple that daily rate in the first few months of release, I’m yet to pry too much into other developers to get this figure. Guessing numbers of views on your home page is always going to be mega-ballpark because it all depends on sponsor deals, your own marketing efforts, whether you were Dugg, how good your game is, and so on. So say $1-5k on your home page a year per great game…

Outside the Home Page
For everything outside your home page, you’ve got sponsorships and mochiads. For a game that does 30,000,000 plays, mochi might give you around $10,000, and you might manage another 5-30k from sponsor deals again depending on how much they like your game. I have little idea what the upper limits are for these guys, obviously they will be trying to part with as little money as they can, whilst you will be asking for as much as possible. Flashgamelicense.com is certainly a good site, in that it definitely creates a bit more competition among sponsors to get your game.

Wrap Up
So for a killer flash game you might make tops, $50k a year. That’s using the standard advertise, sponsorship, mochi route that most people take. Depending on how long it takes you to make this game, 50k is either paltry or awesome. Either way I swear money must be getting left on the table somewhere. I mean, 30 million or so plays in a year or two – that’s a really, really big number. If you did that in other game industries, you’d have a massive hit on your hands, but with flash you might make an average wage. Yes the scales are much different, but when you work out an hourly earn, its pretty average. Plus when you consider that other free games like Mafia Wars on Facebook are killing it to the tune of millions a month, the same should be possible to at least some extent with flash games.

You could say its a combination of a flooded market, mostly sub par games, and unfortunately low advertising rates that causes it, and that’s possibly true. However I’ve been in business for a little while, and while I mainly want to make fun games, I also find it fun and challenging to make money! So while our first game will follow the tried and true, standard portal/advertising/sponsorship formula, that will just be to get our bearings, get some experience under our belts, and then we already have some plans for something different for the next game.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Other Sites
If you’d like to read some existing dev blogs/reports then:

Emanuele Feronato
Fun Face

Elite Games
Gaming your way
Gamasutra: “Wheres the Cash in Flash”
… are all great places to start.