Mobile Game Development Walkthrough

Maks, CTO - April 7, 2015
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So there was this other day several years ago. I was young and fresh. I already knew several things about actual application development and I was young and enthusiastic (I prefer using this word over ‘stupid’ for reasons) so as you are probably guessing I decided to create my own mobile game as a one man army fueled with the trendy startup spirit and Angry Birds did just hit stores and boomed. Do you know what has happened? I failed and it hurt real bad.

Do you know what I have lacked back in the day and why I have not succeeded? First of all I was doing everything on my own. Secondly I knew the development process on a nice level however I did not possess any other relevant knowledge I wish somebody would have shared with me back then.

However I do have some valuable experience I believe you will find useful hence I will share it. I will consider it a win if I have really helped somebody so feel free to share those thought in the comment section! And we begin.

Marketing

Back then this word has only associated with sales guys who are always smiling in a highly unnatural manner while selling you a vacuum cleaner. Today I realize proper marketing is essential and does infect deserve the first honorary place in our walkthrough and is a required starting point for your new game. If you want a game people would be playing you will require them actually knowing about your app. Otherwise the odds are you are developing a game for yourself and several; friends of yours. Not more nor less.

Start off with a research. Know your enemies and rivals. Make sure you are comfortable with your future marketplace (App Store or Google Play). Those are loaded with all kinds of apps and there are surely some that look like whatever the idea (like a strategy game or races or actions) you have. How are they doing? Are they successful? Why?

Love what you do. But don’t love your particular app, you should enjoy all of them. Study on success of others, analyze it, and use the knowledge to your advantage. Play some really popular games to see what triggers people into loving them. The more time you will be able to invest on this stage, the better your realization of a successful application be. Find out why are people downloading and playing these applications over others. Make notes.

Ideas!

A common mistake all developers share is the belief any built app will be downloaded and played. This strategy rarely works as supposed to. You should be building what your target audience will be interested in rather than trying to get them interested in whatever you wish to offer.

You probably already have some ideas from the marketing research. Use those rather that blindly following whatever you think will work better. It just might not.

You have also noticed that most great apps are simply reimagining of great old ideas that have already proven they work and are loved. Low-risk solutions are just the thing to get a lot of attention if realized in a decent manner. Make sure your game will be of interest to large audience segments like children, teenagers and adults combined. If you have an idea make sure it is:

  • Engaging
  • Entertaining
  • Intuitively understandable
  • Addictive
  • And nay be polished with smooth graphics and quality sound

All of those factors will work for you only when combined. Remove one and your app will probably fail.

Design it!

It’s finally time to start realizing your ideas into something lovable and visible to others. However there are more tricks you should be aware of on this stage. Remember all design has to be done before you actually begin coding.

Make sure your design catches the eye of your potential players. It is your way of reaching them and it will be the first part anybody notices. One more valuable point to why you should have everything designed before development is that you require to know every possible aspect of your application before trusting others with it. You may use screenshots of similar apps to make sure where you should be headed and you may also use those for communications with new developers you have not signed NDA’s with.

Development

Development always begins with many choices. The toughest one is probably choosing a correct team of people that will be willing to deliver your vision to end users. One of the best ways would be outsourcing this step because it would ease a lot of pain. However you should always choose outsourcing service providers wisely. I myself am working in this industry for quite a while and would prefer well equipped and experienced teams of developers from service providers rather than going through loads of chores and tasks while hiring an entirely new team for a project however, as I said I have worked in outsourcing for long and I have seen things. I was involved in projects that were previously outsourced by companies who were not really great at their job (that is the kindest description that joke of a code ever got from anybody by the way) and we had to go through everything from the beginning. This resulted in extra time required for the project and customers are not as trusty after firs time they got burned making the overall process even harder and painful to all parties. But, on the other hand, if you choose a service provider wisely you will have lots of trouble off your back.

If outsourcing is not your kind of thing you will have to go through the following:

  • Decent game developers are really hard to find as most of them are already in over their heads with projects. The hiring process also takes a lot of time as all of the following has to be considered:
    • You will have to filter applicants
    • You will have to interview candidates
    • Potential developers will have to sign NDAs and other legal aspects have to be managed
    • Your idea requires some explanation and you will have to make sure your team will be doing what you are expecting of them

However a decent team is an investment you can’t afford neglecting. You will be constantly updating and maintaining the app even after it is developed so you’d rather stick with just the proper people. Or then again, you may call outsourcing providers for help. They are already equipped with all you might need.

In either case when you are in the hiring process you should only share general project descriptions without revealing curtail details. No NDA – no cooperation.

By the way you should register as a developer and get through all the specifications and SDKs and other things in the platform you will be developing for. This registrations does not mean you will have to commence development on your own. It just states that there will be some process going on from your brand name.

Coding

This process should be pretty much covered with the team you have agreed on in the previous step. Two major factors you should still pay attention to is the icon and an ad hoc.

  • The icon: This is clearly the future face of your application. Something people will be seeing on their screen every day. The first impression. Surely it has to be good. Have several sketches, ink them, send them for additional artwork and develop in in a proper format.
  • Ad hoc: This is a very special version of the app. It will be installed on your smartphone before the testing phase hence you will be able to play with it to ensure the game is all you have wished of it. If you are happy with the results you can move on to the testing phase.
  • This phase is also great for configuring your future marketing campaign. How will you be earning money? With within-app sales or via ads? Will your app be free or premium? All those things matter and you will require to leave enough room for yourself in the future like the ability of adding pieces, creating promos, push notifications, discount and loyalty programs, etc.

Testing

Testing is as vital to any development project as blood and oxygen are to your body. Debugging is not the only thing you should be doing. There are also usability tests and other vital things you would require to be sure at. You cannot be the only tester. Sure developers may have eliminated the bugs and you love all and get all in your game.

Things look smooth and simple. To you. You have cherished this game for quite a while now and you know every corner of it while your users don’t. Will they love it? Will they be able to use it? There is only one way to find out and that is proper testing. And I would definitely recommend outsourcing for this task as people who are not as close into your app will deliver you best results.

Go for it!

After all the above processes are done with all that is left is to simply enter the market. Mail the app to the Store for a review. This task should be commenced by you developers at best. If all is fine all you are left to do is more marketing making sure everybody knows about your game. Be a winner!

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