★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Can anyone help critique our game?

01-18-2011, 05:13 AM
#1
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 168
Can anyone help critique our game?

Hi everyone,

I work at a small developing firm and we've recently released what we feel is our strongest title yet. Some of you may have seen it in the games forums, but it is a match 3 style puzzle game with a different twist. I'll let the gameplay video do the talking:


iTunes link: http://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/boom-boom-gems/id412693517?mt=8

As you can see from the gameplay video, we put a "spin" on the typical match 3 game and while we think it's tons of fun (especially the bluetooth multiplayer aspect, some very intense tournaments going on in the office), there doesn't seem to be much feedback in terms of what we can do to make it better.

We want to continue to improve this game on a regular basis. The game was released on Jan. 13th and our first update is slated for submission the middle of this week (retina support, interactive tutorial, local leaderboards, awesome spanking new main menu) but we would really really like it if some of you more experienced devs out there can look at this thing and maybe give a few suggestions as to how we can improve it.

Also there is the age old question of marketing. What exactly is the most effective method out there aside from being featured on the app store?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Ezmobo Games!
Check out our dev blog for sneak peaks at our upcoming titles.
01-18-2011, 10:09 AM
#2
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 194
Send a message via AIM to DrummerB Send a message via MSN to DrummerB
The game looks very neat. I think the graphics are very polished and good enough.
So if you want to improve it, I'd work on the gameplay. If I understood correctly, what you do in this game is, you tap in balls of the same color to make them disappear. It might look like a puzzle game, but I think it really isn't. You don't have to reorder the balls or manipulate them otherwise, you just tap them. I'd consider it as an arcade game of some sort. And tbh I found it a bit slow for an arcade game. Especially in the beginning of the video. Maybe you should add a new game mode, where the balls come much faster from the beginning. Take a look at Tilt to Live. First they had Classic mode and then added 'Code Red' which they call 'Classic mode on Crack'.
Oh, and I think there is a sound bug. Sometimes the "tap sound" is interrupted.

Developer of Practice Pro for musicians.

01-18-2011, 01:11 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
first of all, it looks very nice! Good presentation!

At this point I will say that I am a harsh critic. You have to be at this point if you want to consider making it in this business.

Your game looks nice and on the positive, it is very easy to understand quite quickly what the rules are. It took me no time at all to understand how to play.

Now for the negative - this is a very familiar game, and it's been done before. Reminds me very much of things like "Push Panic," a very popular game around here recently. This game can compete with that one aesthetically, but sitting through 3/4 of your video I find PP to be the deeper game judging on that alone (chains, X2, etc) To be honest, I did pay for PP and after a single long-term session I was through with it (again, I am a harsh critic).

Where to go from here? Well your work is done, your game looks very nice, I'd go far enough to say it is definitely feature-worthy by Apple for the positive (and even some of the negative) reasons above. But being deserving vs what actually happens are two different things...

For me, at this point I value a captivating gameplay experience above all else (and a strong presentation to support that). Looking at your game, it's got some very strong potential and it can grow into something with some added depth, and that might make it easier to sell to critics/reviewers. As has been mentioned, look at what's going on in very successful games like Tilt to Live and what it is about titles like that which people really enjoy. You don't need to emulate it, so much as use that as a springboard to see what other refinements/alterations can be done in your own game. Important: Making a game more complicated won't necessarily ensure anything, depending on a whole host of other factors. If someone can't pick up a mobile game and understand at least some of it's depth within the first play session, they may never pick it up again. This is one of the true challenges of designing for this market!


2nd question, "what's the most effective method of marketing?" Well the most effective is simply throwing lots and lots of money at it! This quickly becomes prohibitive for most devs however. You need to utilize the resources you have, become an active poster in bigger sites like TouchArcade and Neogaf, etc (participating in lots of other discussion, not just your own game). Build and maintain strong communities on Facebook, twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc. Run viral promotions to get your name out there and entice people to see what you are about and help to spread the word. Educate yourself about all the larger game media sources and generate/maintain as many useful connections as you can in those communities. All of this stuff doesn't cost much money, but it requires a heavy dedication of time. I've spent about a year and a half building a lot of very useful contacts up, and I am still behind the 8ball.

Otherwise, of course, developing an app is likened to buying a lotto ticket - so the more unique quality products you've got available, the more chances you have to "hit it big" and of course, it's within your best interest to create some simple way of linking all your properties together (have a "more games" page within all of your apps, etc. At this point, developing a new app is getting more and more money and time consumptive, so be sure and keep a finger on the pulse of what's going well out there in the scene and what you could make that might be interesting.

Just be patient and work hard. It's getting more difficult for smaller teams to succeed in this arena as there's more push from headline-grabbers like EA, id, Gameloft and Chair, but there's still plenty of room for well-developed indie apps to get some notice if they re mindful of their audience, and relentless in their approach
__________________
twitter - HeadcaseGames.com
Puzzling has Evolved - Get 180!
FreeAppTracker.com Win ANY app you want, daily!
01-19-2011, 02:27 AM
#4
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 168
great suggestions!

Thanks for the great suggestions! Being able to get criticism from fellow developers is invaluable, as right now we haven't had a lot of user feedback.

@DrummerB
It's uncanny, because just before I made this post we were discussing the prospect of adding game modes and the game I demo'd to make my case was in fact Tilt to Live! I also noticed that the game starts slow but the solution for that is still in discussion.

Thanks for pointing out the bug. We will look into it!

@headcaseGames

Long and informative post! You made some great points that we'll be adhering to while we plan the future of this game. It's true that the developing environment here in Taiwan tends to over-think and create products that are often complicated. One of the fine points of game development is indeed understanding just exactly how much "less" will result in "more" and I believe that will be the most difficult aspect for us.

And yes, the app store environment has become much harsher than it was when we first entered. It is discouraging to see many large corporations taking up much of the spotlight and it feels like smaller developers are having a much more difficult time getting eyeballs.

Nonetheless we will keep trying. Thanks for the encouragement!

Ezmobo Games!
Check out our dev blog for sneak peaks at our upcoming titles.
01-19-2011, 03:54 AM
#5
Nice polish. The game needs something more though. What you have now is more like a one-trick pony. More like a "survival" mode. You need the "campaign" mode where there are goals and maybe a story. Perhaps other mechanics and scoring methods, too. Nice start though.
01-19-2011, 08:10 AM
#6
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftest View Post
Nice polish. The game needs something more though. What you have now is more like a one-trick pony. More like a "survival" mode. You need the "campaign" mode where there are goals and maybe a story. Perhaps other mechanics and scoring methods, too. Nice start though.
I take issue with this. Please iOS developers keep your crappy stories out of my mobile games! When I'm on my phone I really just want to play, everything that takes time away from that should be cut IMO. Arcade games with "a story" are a no-no IMO. See the mentioned Tilt to Live. Now put a story in it. Suddently you have a much weaker game, no matter what the story is.
01-19-2011, 09:32 AM
#7
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Mansfield, OH
Posts: 94
Send a message via ICQ to Graz73 Send a message via Yahoo to Graz73 Send a message via Skype™ to Graz73
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazygambit View Post
I take issue with this. Please iOS developers keep your crappy stories out of my mobile games! When I'm on my phone I really just want to play, everything that takes time away from that should be cut IMO. Arcade games with "a story" are a no-no IMO. See the mentioned Tilt to Live. Now put a story in it. Suddently you have a much weaker game, no matter what the story is.
I kind of disagree. The story has to fit the game.

A game like Solitaire, Tetris or Boom Boom Jems, needs no story, and should not have one.

Some games can use a very thin story. For instance, Mario is trying to rescue a princess in Donkey Kong, of the angry birds are trying to get back their eggs.

Other games need a more detailed story. Military games, or RPGs totally need one.


About this game:
I have 2 basic thoughts:

The name. "Boom Boom Gems?" What is that about? It sounds like a badly translated Asian game. a Gems usually have facets, and are not spherical. These are not gems, but either pearls or balls, or even "billiards"

Second, going with the spherical thing, it mgiht be neat of the balls were shown to "ROLL" this woudl be simply done by having the balls with symbols on them showing the symbol gradually roll to the top.

Do you need art for an App? Check out my comics:
Cy-Boar
01-19-2011, 10:06 AM
#8
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graz73 View Post
I kind of disagree. The story has to fit the game.

A game like Solitaire, Tetris or Boom Boom Jems, needs no story, and should not have one.

Some games can use a very thin story. For instance, Mario is trying to rescue a princess in Donkey Kong, of the angry birds are trying to get back their eggs.

Other games need a more detailed story. Military games, or RPGs totally need one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazygambit View Post
Arcade games with "a story" are a no-no IMO.
We are talking about adding a story to this game, which would be totally unneeded IMO. Of course RPGs need a story! Arcade games, not so much.
01-19-2011, 01:22 PM
#9
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazygambit View Post
We are talking about adding a story to this game, which would be totally unneeded IMO. Of course RPGs need a story! Arcade games, not so much.
Not true... A story doesn't mean a 1000 page script.. Angry birds, cut the rope, fruit ninja etc all have tiny stupid stories.. It helps to immerse yourself into it because to give the gameplay a frame.. Any frame is better than none.. And it helps branding alot.. If you can even combine that with some cool characters even better.. Thats the general approach to all casual.. You have it yourself with shelly.. Imagine your game without him..
01-19-2011, 08:52 PM
#10
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.Ugly View Post
Not true... A story doesn't mean a 1000 page script.. Angry birds, cut the rope, fruit ninja etc all have tiny stupid stories.. It helps to immerse yourself into it because to give the gameplay a frame.. Any frame is better than none.. And it helps branding alot.. If you can even combine that with some cool characters even better.. Thats the general approach to all casual.. You have it yourself with shelly.. Imagine your game without him..
what! and all this time I was under the impression that shelly was a GIRL octopus. I mean, the pink and all as well. But wait.. Barney was pink.. well, purple actually.

*mind blown*
__________________
twitter - HeadcaseGames.com
Puzzling has Evolved - Get 180!
FreeAppTracker.com Win ANY app you want, daily!