Mobile Game Prototype: Initial Conception, Planning & Research
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Looks like you've found my blog that's covering the mobile game I will be creating! This is another project that I will be doing as part of my final year of undergrad study, however it will be slightly different to the dissertation blogs that you may have / have not yet read. So I'll try answering some of your burning questions!
What's this set of posts for?
As part of one of my modules - Game & Media Creation Processes if you want the official title - we are tasked with creating a prototype mobile app. Stressing prototype here; this project only has a lifespan up until the start of January before moving onto the next project in this module. The app will by no means be completely perfect, but it will be at least in a playable state, particularly as we will be uploading this onto the Google Play store. This will also require a weekly series of blog posts detailing updates of the game's development - so watch this space to see how the mobile game evolves! 📱
Got it. So how will you develop this mobile game?
Development will occur using the Unity game engine, with the app being made playable on Android devices only. This is the university's recommended route with completing this module's assignment, which is a bit inconvenient when your whole family are iOS users! Fortunately, the uni is kind enough to loan myself and any others an Android device so that we can meet the requirements - no need for the broke uni student to purchase a second phone, phew...
This project will also be a team-based piece, however due to Covid-19, team sizes are being restricted to 3 max. as many of us (myself included) are completing our degrees remotely at home rather than on campus. Doing things this way should make it easier for us to manage and communicate with our team members, especially when there's many factors to consider (different time zones, different internet connection speeds and so on).
Ok, so you'll be in a team. Who are you going to be working with?
I'll be working with 2 others on this mobile game, both of whom I have done previous team-oriented projects with over the first two years of my undergraduate study. Luckily, we all get along very well & have good chemistry, plus we have a pretty good idea of each of our strengths and weaknesses. Our team's codename is GMC, which could be the first initial of each of our names, or it stands for "Great Minds Create" - perhaps its both!
There's also a good chance I will be our team leader as we work on this - being a team leader has become the norm for me in any team-based project I've taken part in since joining Kingston Uni, including Game Jams - so if it happens again, then hopefully I can keep us all in good spirits & help ensure we deliver a top-ranking (prototype) mobile game!
Sounds like a strong and stable team. Have you had any thoughts about the game you will be making?
When the semester began, I already had some thoughts about things to consider when dealing with mobile games, particularly what makes the successful ones so good. I jotted down my first thoughts that you can see in the image below:
In case its hard to read my scribbled notes (my handwriting can be much nicer I promise), I'll do a breakdown of my thought process.
Most successful mobile games that come to mind tend to be ones that use very simple actions in order to play them. Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Temple Run, and many others often use very simple actions that the player can quickly learn, ergo making it very easy for anyone to pick up and play. Games that are more dependent on complicated or lots of actions can still be successful, but you automatically lose a lot of the market. According to Udonis, statistics for 2020 show that roughly 58.86% of the mobile gaming community are casual gamers. This is closely followed by puzzle & arcade games, at 56.5% and 55.08% respectively. I would argue that this indicates that games requiring fewer mechanics are typically going to do much better on the mobile market than those which are more complex. Clicking the below image will take you to the article if you would like to read more.
So our mobile game will likely use a basic action to be as accessible as possible to as many users as possible. Awesome, but there's still more to consider. The next beast I think we need to be conscious of is the replay value.
When I say replay value, what I mean is how would we get users hooked enough to the game that they would want to keep playing it. Classic methods usually involve long, progressively more challenging levels or an endless runner game loop. Currently, the team and I feel it would be more practical to use the endless game loop mechanic for this project. This is mainly because the prototype will only be a... well, a prototype, and not a polished product. It also saves us worrying about designing enough appropriate levels within the given timescales, but our plan is not yet confirmed by any means.
The final titan to slay will be how we could effectively monetize our game. Now, I very much doubt that we would actually add in functioning means of making money out of our prototype, but it's still important for us to consider. After all, everyone needs money, and as much as we might love making video games, we need some way of earning that dough!
Monetization through mobile apps is arguably the most important item on this list. To give you a sense of how important, the site App Annie made a forecast prediction in 2018 that consumers would spend $156.5 billion in app stores by 2022. Their predictions seem to be on the money, as a recent report from them shows that consumers have already spent over $23.4 billion via app stores in early 2020 alone. These recent figures no doubt have blown up massively thanks to Covid-19, but I think this very clearly highlights just how much money can be made via mobile gaming if done correctly. You can click the images below to take you to their corresponding articles should you wish to find out more.
There are several ways in which to effectively monetize a mobile game, the most obvious one people might think of is to just make the game cost money in order to download it. This works easily for any established name or brand, as consumers know exactly what they are buying into, but for the indie (or independent) developers such as myself, consumers will be far less willing to purchase our app(s). This means that in order to generate revenue off the app, we need to have things in the app that could make us money.
I won't go through each one explicitly, but the most common methods for generating revenue in the app are via the following:
Mobile ad mediation
In-app purchases (IAP)
My team and I will continue to think over which method will most naturally fit with our mobile game as development begins to take place in the coming weeks. We'll also figure out the best tool to help us with project planning, such as Trello or Jira, the art style we'll go for, and many other aspects. Its still very early days, but as a teaser, here's a quick sketch a member of the team did to help visualize one of our ideas that we felt might have the most grounding!
How come you're only now making a post about this? Why is there nothing for September?
As of publishing this post, I would have finished week 3 of my first semester, and I feel I should explain why I am only now making this blog rather than at the beginning of the academic year.
The new structure for my modules involves having all of them occur every Wednesday, so there's only been 3 sessions in total thus far. The first 2 were very introductory with getting us to think about the importance of game loops and their mechanics in the context of successful mobile games, the importance of QA, testing and debugging, logging bugs, monetization etc. This was then followed up by sorting out a team to work with for the project, which I was able to sort out quickly.
So, in fairness, I would say there wasn't too much to really warrant unique blog posts for until this week, hence why this is my first one!
As already mentioned, this will be a weekly series which will showcase updates made to our mobile game up until the end of 2020, so make sure to stick around and check back here every week to see the hottest and latest changes!
With that, I thank you all again for coming here and reading my post, and I shall see you all next week :)