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Depict - A Multiplayer Game Postmortem

04-12-2010, 12:23 PM
#1
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 183
Depict - A Multiplayer Game Postmortem

Hey everyone, we finally sat down and wrote about our adventure building and supporting Depict. Check it out and let us know what you think. We're happy to answer any questions.

http://makeshiftgames.com/2010/04/12/depict-postmortem/

James Jacoby - Developer, Makeshift Games
Depict - The Multiplayer Drawing & Guessing Game. Get Depict »
Chuck the Ball - a unique action puzzle game. Get Chuck on iTunes »
Ms. Chuck the Ball - new levels and gameplay! Get Ms. Chuck on iTunes »
04-12-2010, 02:14 PM
#2
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 172
Thank you for taking the time to write a post-mortem so other aspiring devs like me can learn from your experience. Although you are disappointed with your initial results, I'm glad to hear that you aren't throwing in the towel and I hope that your persistence will be rewarded.

Do any other devs want to share their experiences using various hosting providers like Go Daddy? How about using a cloud for scalability both in terms of performance and cost?

04-12-2010, 02:19 PM
#3
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 183
Another thing I forgot to mention is that email support is a lot of work. When the game is doing well, I answer 20-30 support emails a day. Also, a lot of people attribute their inability to connect to the game to us when in reality a questionable internet connection is probably to blame.

James Jacoby - Developer, Makeshift Games
Depict - The Multiplayer Drawing & Guessing Game. Get Depict »
Chuck the Ball - a unique action puzzle game. Get Chuck on iTunes »
Ms. Chuck the Ball - new levels and gameplay! Get Ms. Chuck on iTunes »
04-12-2010, 08:38 PM
#4
It's always good to see a post mortem with a game I am familiar with.

My girlfriend and I DLed Depict a long time ago, and it was extremely easy to get into. I thought the pixel graphics were nice, and the multiple choice was a pleasant addition so that people didn't need to type, misspell and complain.

I've also heard about Smartfox Server and had considered using it a long time ago for a Flash game. I had no idea the licenses got so expensive.

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone
04-12-2010, 10:13 PM
#5
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 183
We considered writing our own server, which is a project I had attempted a long time ago and never finished. We realized it would have taken way too long and would have been more like developing two large products instead of just one medium sized one. If you put a price on your time (which you should) then it's a no brainer. Let's say your time is worth a modest $50/hr. Do the math; there's no way you could create a product as robust in a week and a half. Still hard to swallow if you are small like us, but if you really need the unlimited license, then you are probably in a situation where you are going to make it back eventually.

James Jacoby - Developer, Makeshift Games
Depict - The Multiplayer Drawing & Guessing Game. Get Depict »
Chuck the Ball - a unique action puzzle game. Get Chuck on iTunes »
Ms. Chuck the Ball - new levels and gameplay! Get Ms. Chuck on iTunes »
04-12-2010, 11:25 PM
#6
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: NY
Posts: 515
Interesting article and glad you guys are are not jumping ship. This line "It’s sad, but it seems like fewer people “get” pixel art every day" is so true. I gravitated toward portable gaming (itouch, now ipad) because it seems to be the only place where developers are being more creative instead of every other game being a first person shooter. I hope things work out - I'm buying an iPad version of Depict.
04-13-2010, 05:31 AM
#7
Thanks for posting this. Always interesting to read about other devs' experiences.

You mentioned in the blog post that you guys broke even. Does this take into account your hourly wage?
04-13-2010, 05:57 AM
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesj3k View Post
Another thing I forgot to mention is that email support is a lot of work. When the game is doing well, I answer 20-30 support emails a day. Also, a lot of people attribute their inability to connect to the game to us when in reality a questionable internet connection is probably to blame.
I anticipated that well in advance of my first release, and rather than answer tons of e-mail I decided to set up a forum (used phpBB in my case). That allowed people to gather and talk about Rogue Touch, and help each other out in many cases. A lot of questions people have will be the same, so why hand write it over and over when it can be served up for everyone to see and comment on?

Running a forum is still work, and you have spambots to deal with. If you get a few early, trusted gamers you can always enlist them as Mods to help keep the place ship-shape. Despite all that, your own participation is needed. But I really enjoy the forum interaction so it's not a problem!

Forums are great on multiple levels, having a little "community" for your game(s), people helping each other, and me having enough time to keep doing my normal consulting work (which you know, actually pays the bills )

--- ChronoSoft ---
Support your roguelikes! Play Rogue Touch today!
Spirit Hunter Mineko: Demons Reach --- Work in progress! Follow us on Twitter!
04-13-2010, 01:15 PM
#9
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by CommanderData View Post
I anticipated that well in advance of my first release, and rather than answer tons of e-mail I decided to set up a forum (used phpBB in my case). That allowed people to gather and talk about Rogue Touch, and help each other out in many cases. A lot of questions people have will be the same, so why hand write it over and over when it can be served up for everyone to see and comment on?

Running a forum is still work, and you have spambots to deal with. If you get a few early, trusted gamers you can always enlist them as Mods to help keep the place ship-shape. Despite all that, your own participation is needed. But I really enjoy the forum interaction so it's not a problem!

Forums are great on multiple levels, having a little "community" for your game(s), people helping each other, and me having enough time to keep doing my normal consulting work (which you know, actually pays the bills )
Ooh, setting up a forum sounds like a great solution to offloading the need to personally answer a lot of emails. I guess that's why forums are such a popular customer support tool for so many real world products (including Apple's own developer community).
04-13-2010, 03:01 PM
#10
I receive between 2000-3000 emails a day for The Impossible Test. Since it has such a high rank in the charts right now, I am getting swamped with emails! It takes hours and hours just to go through all of them!

I also agree that in-app purchases are not good for low download apps. If you only get around 20,000 downloads a day, the BEST you should hope for is $200/day. On the other hand, if your app is really high in the charts, then in-app purchases are AMAZING! It's best to experiment with download numbers before you switch to freemium. Also, remember that you can have multiple in-app purchases so you can double or even triple your opportunities to make money!

I make games at PixelCUBE Studios! Follow me @naveen_pcs