Dokusen: The Art of Domination (iOS puzzle game) — A month later

It’s been a month since I released my latest iOS game Dokusen on iTunes. At first I considered polishing some aspects of the game and releasing an update, but to be honest the idea of developing a new game from scratch is more attractive, so I’ve stared down that path instead. So in a sense you can consider this post a “post mortem” of this game.

At heart, this game was an experiment to see if a bigger focus on visuals would reflect in more popularity in the store. I also spent a much larger chunk of time advertising on net forums, on roughly 20-30 different sites.

From a downloads perspective, my personal goal was to get at least twice the downloads of my previous game. Initially things went great, with the number of downloads from Dokusen in the first two days surpassing those from the first week of my previous game. Unfortunately downloads suddenly decreased after that on the 3rd and 4th days, such that I only reached 75% of my target downloads (to date, Dokusen got 1.5x of my previous game’s count). Though this is a bit of a disappointment, I should look on the bright side because at least things are going in the right direction. The large spike on the first two days is still a bit of mystery to me, since with previous projects downloads leveled off at a much slower rate. Oddly, I got a large majority of downloads those first two days from France.

These numbers are a further confirmation that advertising on net forums is not a great way to pull in downloads. I did, however, get some good feedback on the game’s rules from on a board game forum I posted on, since it shares some elements with Go and Reversi.

A week or two ago I talked to one of the people who informally tested for me, and he remarked that my previous game was much more fun and easier to understand. This was good feedback, though altogether not that surprising since I feel the same way. Ironically, with Dokusen I had tried to build a game that would be popular with others, but not necessarily myself.

For my next game (codename “T.E.” for the time being), I am planning on making something which I enjoy more myself, in terms of both coding and gameplay. I also plan to make a proper tutorial, as well as get more playtesters (please leave a comment if you are interested in helping). This next game is rooted in a longtime passion of mine, and the work I’ve done on it already is more challenging and interesting than Dokusen. I’m aiming for a release in 3-6 months if things go well.

Though I implied this project was mostly done, I am always open to feedback on Dokusen or any of my other apps. If you looking for someone to review your game I am OK with exchanging reviews of your game for mine.

Dokusen: The Art of Domination Released [“go”-influenced puzzle game for iPhone]

Dokusen is a casual puzzle game which was just released on the Apple App Store for iPhone. It was heavily influenced by a favorite board game of mine called Go, and the game’s title “Dokusen” means “monopoly” or “domination” in Japanese (独占) in Japanese. It also shares some similarities with the classic game Othello.

Players take turns coloring one square at a time, and the game ends when all squares are colored, with the winner determined by the one with the most squares of their color. This may sound simple, but things get complicated fast since after both players take their turns, colored squares will “grow” outward to neighboring squares. The concept is a little bit like Conway’s Game of life.

As you progress through the levels, you are challenged with more and stronger opponents, and also have to rebuild when hit by falling meteors. The game is free on the app store, with no advertisements or in-app purchases.

You can see the game’s iTunes page here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dokusen/id1000275892?mt=8

Note: I was having problems the iTunes at one point. You can try searching for “Dokusen” in the app store if it doesn’t work.

This is the game’s app preview video:

I plan on writing followup posts with more details on the game, and maybe a brief tutorial. I’ll also be talking more about how I developed the game, so stay tuned!

Game Credits

App Preview Music: Throcke

Game Music: Eric Skiff

Game Sound Effects: http://www.freesfx.co.uk

Beta Testers: J.W. and K.G.F.

Dokusen: The Art of Domination – Coming soon to Apple App Store [6/22/2015]

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After the usual week and half wait, my latest game was approved by Apple for distribution in the App Store for iPhone. I’ve decided I’m going to release it on Jun 22, but before then I’ll give a little more information about the game.

Dokusen, which means “Dominate” in Japanese, is a casual puzzle game that was loosely based off the ancient board came of “Go”, and involves trying to capture more space than the opponent(s) through a series of turns where each player chooses to claim a square. For those who are not too familiar with Go, you can think of it as being similar to the more modern game of Othello (sometimes called Reversi). An interesting fact is that this latter game was invented by a Japanese person and was influenced heavily by Go itself.

Since this game is free, and I’m developing it as a hobby, you might wonder why I would go to the trouble of setting a release date and delaying like this, when I could deploy my app to the app store with a few clicks.

One of the reasons is because I’ve heard that games released on Sunday statistically have more downloads, though I don’t have a great amount of faith in that. All things being equal, just changing a game’s release date to a different day of the week shouldn’t change the number of downloads that much.

A bigger reason is that by giving myself a few extra days I can more carefully plan my marketing strategy, which at this point will mostly consist on advertising an several forums. I did a bit of this for my previous game, but did it with less organization and several weeks after the game had been released. I’m hoping my renewed advertising efforts, plus a greater focus on visuals and ease-of-use in the game itself, will give a little more favorable results this time.

But above all, doing this makes me feel more like I am doing Game Development with a capitol “G”, meaning it’s much more than just writing a bunch of code. By doing this I can get a little taste of what it means to truly design, implement, release, and market a game – the full end-to-end process which is similar to what real game companies do (albeit at a much smaller scale). I’m also hoping that whatever I learn with this experience will be useful down the road, regardless of what I end up doing 5 or 10 years from now.

Wanted: beta testers for new mobile game

My new mobile game project is making some progress, and I’m at the point where I want to have some other people starting taking a look at it soon. So if you are interested in being a beta tester for my new game, please let me know.

The game is a casual puzzle game, loosely based off a certain Asian board game.  There is a space theme for parts of the game.

For now it will be only iPhone, but I may make an iPad or Android version later.

Even if you don’t have an iPhone, I would still be interested in people who can look at the visuals and gameplay and give feedback. If you do have a iPhone, you’ll be able to play the game on your device.

In order to send you information about how to download the game, or give you permission to watch a video of the gameplay, I will need your email address. Since you probably don’t want to post it on WordPress, you can email me here.

playthefieldgame [at] gmail.com

If you help out, I’d be glad to advertise your game or website on this blog in return.

The below image is a very early prototype image. This is just a teaser, since the gameplay and visuals have improved much since this.

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Play The Field version 1.2 released on the apple store [iPad / iPhone game]

Version 1.2 of Play the Field, the minimalistic puzzle/RTS game, is now available on the Apple store, for all iPad and iPhone devices. You can get it here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/play-the-field/id985621862?mt=8

This release has a few balance adjustments and bug fixes, including a mistake that prohibited devices below iOS 8.2 from running it. Any devices with 8.0 or later are now supported.

However, the biggest thing added to this release is a new mode – survival mode. It’s goal is to see how long you can survive as you struggle through over 20 stages of attackers, gradually increasing up to a dizzying frenzy of enemies.

The music has also been improved, with an additional song from Eric Skiff’s Resistor Anthems album.

Play The Field 1.1 released with iPhone/iTouch support

Version 1.1 of Play The Field, the minimalist RTS game for mobile, has just been released on the iTunes store!

While this is technically an update, containing some minor balance tweaks, bug fixes, and menu refinements, it is effect also a release of a new game since iPhone and iTouch support has been added.

Originally it wasn’t my plan to make a iPhone version so quickly, but when thinking of how to get my game out to a wider audience I did some research and discovered it wasn’t so hard after all. I did face some challenges which I’ll discuss in detail in a future post.

Because of the smaller screen sizes on iPhone/iTouch devices, the difficulty of the levels can vary from the iPad version, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing. Because of that, In a few places I modified the level to make it a bit easier on the iPhone/iTouch version. Nevertheless, I think the best experience will be on the iPhone 6 or 6 plus, though all device types are supported.

I also have added a short (~20s) app preview for the iPad version as well as some of the device types for iPhone. Here is the game on iTunes for those interested:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/play-the-field/id985621862?mt=8

Play The Field – Apple Watch version (ok, not quite yet…)

I’ve been excited about Apple Watch for some time now, and today I got my first look at one in person. It was surprisingly light, with great physical design and eye-catching UI. After playing with it for a few minutes, though the interface had some quirks overall, it felt responsive and easy to use.

I’m already thinking about how awesome it would be to create a version of Play The Field for this new device, though it will probably be months before I can get my hands on one of these. An even bigger issue is how to adjust the game to accommodate the smaller screen size and battery requirements, but I have some ideas related to that already.

Personally, I haven’t worn a watch in over a decade and find them annoying. And yet the idea of a completely new platform for gaming, and apps in general, is quite refreshing as well as challenging. Judging from the fact there is already over 3,500 3rd-party apps for the Apple Watch, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Though there have been competing watches, from the little bit I’ve researched on these they don’t seem as good or functional as the Apple Watch. Having said that, there are still many limitations on the version version of the watch, for example apps cannot be created which work stand-alone on the watch. Instead it just acts as a controller, and most of the real processing happens on the iPhone. Fortunately, much of this is due to purposeful limitations on the SDK, which Apple is rumored to (at least partially) lift in the next few months.

At the same time, I’m still open to some of the competitors, such as Pebble, to improve to the point where it is worthwhile to develop on those platforms. While I do enjoy Apple devices, I try to stay away from devotion to any platform, and will always consider other options for any future development.