Dearest reader,
Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is a small, private game developer founded in 2007. Our current game in development is Pig Eat Ball. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

More game titles are on the right, from Serious Sam Double D XXL to our first, award-winning title Weapon of Choice. Enjoy!

Feel free to contact me if you need more game information!
Nathan

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pig Eat Ball, April Update

Pig Eat Ball, our upcoming action-puzzle game about getting fat and barfing, is still coming along nicely.
Here's what the team has been up to recently.

Andrew Curry is the lead level designer and level builder for the game.  He's been on the project for several years and has designed several hundred levels in the game and there's still more to go!
He's been recently working on the giant overworld levels. Here's just one sub-area of World 1, the "Outer Courts".

Area 1, World 1. View from the level editor
Matthew Barnes has been programming on the game with me for several years as well. Initially he was coding on the level editor, but is now working on gameplay objects. He's been working on a ceiling-type object that you can drive underneath, and the object fades out so you can see the gameplay below.
A view of the ceiling tiles from the built-in level editor.

Here is Princess Bow, moving underneath the tiles, and you can see the nice fade.
Bentley Usher is an intern on the project for this Spring. He's been tasked to do some gameplay code for the various Disguises that your player character can wear. I've done the art, and Bentley is adding the "Pros" and "Cons" code to the Disguises.
After you get a new Disguise, you can see what abilities it has.

Here's Princess Bow in a test level, with several Disguises in the works.
And I've been reworking the World 1 boss. I had a boss in place originally and he was fun and all, but not crazy enough. So the previous boss has been moved to a 'mini-boss' status for World 1 :)
This is very early, and the art is only roughed in and will improve. But here's a peek:
He's pretty scary to play against!
Pig Eat Ball has been Greenlit for sale on Steam.
The current plan is to have Pig Eat Ball go into Steam Early Access in a month or two.
Or you can pre-order the game at the link below, and get a build to play now. This will let you see our changes even sooner, and actually play it as we build it!
www.pigeatball.com

We plan to release the final version of the game some time in 2016.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Show Your Game at a Non-Gaming Expo

In addition to the big shows like PAX and GDC, Mommy's Best Games has shown our games at some very small events. Comic Cons, Pinball Expos, Table-Top shows, Coding events, you may have some of these different events in your area that might let you show games there. In fact, this weekend is the Louisville Arcade Expo, a very fun show we've been showing at for several years.
With that in mind, here are some tips for showing at an event that *does not* feature recently-made video games as the main attraction!

My lovely wife showing our iOS game "Finger Derpy" at the KY Science Center

Free Play

The games are free to try out! You're offering free demos!
You know that, but for the general public tugging their kids through the busy show, everything else is vendor tables. And vendor tables means *things cost money*. It's weird in their minds to come across a booth that let's you play games for free. Some people don't know this. The easiest thing we've found, in addition to simply saying the games are free play, is putting up a simple  'FREE PLAY" sign on a sheet of paper. Obviously, you can get fancier than that if you want.
(If your expo is organized enough to have all the indie games together, clearly marked, you may not need this, so that's cool! )

Non-Gamers

Be nice when showing your game, and understand lots of people there are probably not 'hardcore' and may possibly be put off by your game. Don't take it personally about your game--you are simply getting a very large slice of the general public at non-gaming shows.
Don't be surprised if you get some kids playing, but the Mom or Dad does not want to play. If you have chairs, offer them a seat while the kids play and they may be more interested in your game!


A family getting into our Steam game "Shoot 1UP" at the Louisville Mini-Maker Fair

Xbox 360 guide button

If you use Xbox 360 controllers and have Steam running, and a user accidentally holds the Guide button it will stop your game and bring up Big Picture mode. This is really annoying.
Users are having a blast with your game, but may be so enamored that they don't notice they are holding the wrong button to do something. It may seem obvious "Just don't hold that button" but for some reason Valve has not released a simple option to disable BP mode for the Guide button.

The easiest fix is to not have Steam running. Have a DRM-free version of your game without running Steam. There are also Steam community threads in which people are trying to figure out workarounds to it.

Locally-Made, Recently-Made

A lot of regular folks are still coming around to the idea that video games are being made in their own backyard! They may be pretty surprised to learn that you are developing games there. Take some time to explain the cool thing to them and if they express interest in game development, mention your local development support group! Here in Louisville, it's Louisville Makes Games.

The other thing we've noticed is a lot of these shows will have Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart or some other tournament running at the event. That's some tough competition to show your game against! The important thing is to communicate that you are personally making the game they are playing now, and it was made recently--not by a huge, well-funded company (such as Nintendo).

The MBG booth at the Louisville Arcade Expo 2015, with our upcoming "Pig Eat Ball".

Expo Experience

Most of the regular expo moves still apply here. For example, if you want people to remember your game's name tomorrow, print cards and hand them out! You can get 500 custom cards for under $20 at GotPrint, or basically for free if you print them on a 8.5"x11" sheet and cut out a few dozen by hand (or on stock paper). Remember to mention your release date and platform if you have one. And of course take extra cords, connectors, monitors, tape, sanitizer, drinks, signs, snacks, and controllers for backup and any other booths that need help!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Finger Derpy Nominated for IMGA Award!

Doubly Nominated

We have fun news! Our mobile horse-racing game, Finger Derpy, has been nominated, in *two* categories, for an International Mobile Game Award! The 12th IMGA competition recently announced the nominations, and your favorite drunken-horse-racing game is up for "Best Multiplayer Game" and "Guilty Pleasure"!

Finger Derpy nominated for Guilty Pleasure
Finger Derpy for Best Multiplayer!
Here's the trick: The final awards are determined by a crowd vote!
That's where YOU come in. Yes, YOU!

Do you like Mommy's Best Games? And/Or do you like video game development in Indiana/Kentucky? Then please vote for Finger Derpy!
Winning awards helps us with future and current projects. It will help Finger Derpy continue to succeed, which feeds our future games.

Finger Derpy is a game made in the Louisville area, and it features the city of Louisville!
The game is really well received and we love that people enjoy it. To see it nominated out of thousands of games is certainly exciting. But to have it confirmed with the award would seal the deal.

I ask you, I implore you, please take 5 minutes of your time to help our very tiny, indie team win this international game award.

How to Vote for Finger Derpy 

Here's where to vote:
http://www.imgawards.com/awarded-games/12th-imga/

It takes a few steps, but that means each vote is even more valuable.
You do have to register an account and confirm it and all, but then you can vote with one click.
When you register, and it asks you what "You Are" just pick "A fan of IMGA!"

The odd part is you only get to vote for *one game* in any/all categories! So make it count.
Please vote for Finger Derpy in the Best Guilty Pleasure category!
This is not a situation of "vote early and often".
You get one vote, it's very quick once you register, and it really, really helps us.
Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"The 3 That's" for Your Game

"The Deluge"

You know that scene in some movie where the wave is so high, it's over the view of the camera, and it's going to crush the heroes? Well the players are the heroes, and that wave is made out of potential entertainment. Games, movies, TV, books. It's practically infinite, and you're trying to make money in the business. Good luck.

"Flash Memory"

Yes of course. You do get some flash-moments in front of people's eyes. Here and there, you do get times to catch their eye. Someone's Retweet, Facebook share, Steam's recommendation. It's possible. That is what I'm working on improving for my game (and maybe you are too) so I wrote this for myself. It's a sort of an action-list. Or one-sided argument. So this is mostly for me, but if it helps others, that's groovy.
 
I'm getting Pig Eat Ball ready for Early Access on Steam. It's really scary. I know it needs more work and more polish. I've made other games on Steam. Somehow it seems to get harder rather than easier.
Here's what I figure someone should say when seeing my game.

Desired Player Reaction 
or 
"The 3 That's"
1. What is that? 
2. I have not done that.
3. I want to do that.

"What is that?"

Your game has to be instantly recognizable. The same of course goes for movies, children's books, comics, any visual medium. When you see my game, I want you to *know* for certain it is Pig Eat Ball. Not some other pixel-art retro looking game. It's very difficult to find a unique, intriguing style.
So far, the best way I've found is to enhance the qualities unique to your game, through gameplay, but also through your art. My game has lots of kinda-gross-funny barf. So I continue to find ways to "up the barf".

And if you see my game, and don't know the name, I want you to want to find out. You need a look for your game, such that if the viewer does not know the game's name, they'll still remember the look for next time that they see it. And hopefully they'll actually find out the name, and want to learn more.

Ask yourself: What is the thing in my game, that when player's see it, they'll know it's my game? Is there something unique? What exactly is it? Can it be improved or enhanced?

The current 'barf situation', not perfect, still refining it.

"I want to do that"

When someone sees your game, you want them to say: "I want to do that". It's a very simple goal for your trailer or gif. When they see a movie trailer, they should want to watch more. Games are different--people should want to do, to operate, the very thing they are watching in the trailer. It should get them excited to do the thing you are showing them. If you can't communicate that, you're doomed. At the end of the trailer, does the person know the cool thing to do in your game? Do they want to be in your game world?

"I have not done that"

*You* know your game is fun. You are taking for granted that they, the viewer, think it is fun. Meditate on this: The viewer does not think your game is fun. They have no idea. This is the hardest part--the ephemeral part. You have to communicate the fun parts of your game, to a cold person--someone who has no impression of your game.
I love running and shooting in games. I love shooting monsters. I love jumping on platforms. But I have played many of these. It's very common for me to see a game, that has these components, but the video has not convinced me that it has something unique to offer.
Is the game hiding something cool? Perhaps. But I will never know. If the game 'spoiled' a cool looking thing in the trailer, I may have gone for it, and played the game. But as it stands, I will never play that game. Maybe if it didn't hold back, and showed me the cool thing, I would be more interested.

"75% in the trailer"

Whenever I watch any game trailer, I assume the game only spoiled 75% of the cool parts in the trailer. If you showed me 3 really cool things, and I want to experience those 3 cool things, then I'll hope for one more hidden cool thing. If you show me only 1 thing that is half-way cool, I now assume you have one other thing that is only-sorta-barely cool that you are hiding. So if you spend your trailer only showing me something sorta-cool, but you are in fact hiding 3 amazing things from my view--I'll never know (or not for a very long time), because I've passed on your game.

"Not the last boss!"

No one wants the final cool thing to be spoiled in the trailer. Why? Well, obviously the surprise of the final boss/area/thing is ruined. But I think the real sadness would be, that it would mean your game doesn't have enough to show me--that instead only the final conflict--the thing most people will never get to it, had to be used in the trailer, in order to build up enough cool things to show me a single minute worth of your game. That would be sad.

"What else is there?"

But you may say, "but what if they only think there is barf (or whatever) in your game?"  Well, now you have a good problem. The problem is, you have their attention, and you have to find "the rest" to tell them more. That's okay, you'll find more. But the first part is, getting their attention. This is about making sure, they even know about your game *at all*. Focus on that right now.

1. What is that? 
2. I have not done that.
3. I want to do that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Development Year in Review 2015

We can't find out what's wrong or what went well if we don't take time to see what we've done!
With that, let's look at what Mommy's Best Games did in 2015!

We released a new game this year, Finger Derpy. We also re-released 4 of our classic games, as enhanced ports to Steam, and called it the "Mommy's Best Action Pack".

January

Pig Eat Ball is the main project, but after talking to Nintendo and Sony and wanting to have the game on those platforms, it's clear we can't do it as it stands. The game is written in Java and simply won't run on consoles. I talk to John Meister from nearby game group Super Soul and we start working together. His team starts to port the game to Unity. This will allow us to more easily choose what Pig Eat Ball is available on.

In the meantime I start heavily working on Finger Derpy. Matthew and Andrew continue work on Pig Eat Ball core content. This means Matthew is writing code for new gameplay objects, and Andrew is designing and building new levels.

February

I focus on Finger Derpy and getting deals with local businesses to support the game. Here in the presskit, you can read more about our integration with Louisville landmarks.

March

More of the same, development wise.
Plus we show our games at the Louisville Arcade Expo!

April

Finger Derpy launched April 9th
Released Finger Derpy! First to iOS on the 9th, then to Google Play on the 19th. We held our big "Chomp the BIT" launch party that Friday. We organized the event in which 25 local developers showed off their games at an arcade bar in town.
Apple featured the game in the App Store as a 'Best New Game' which was a big deal and really helped downloads.
Also youtuber 'Cuqquake' featured the game, got plenty of views, and we've gotten a decent number of user reviews saying they saw the game on her channel.


May

During April and May we showed Finger Derpy at 10 local shows (in 5 weeks). It was exhausting. Between all of them, the Pegasus Preview Parade and the Thunderblast were beneficial in terms of download numbers. I think this was a matter of 'correct engagement' with large crowds that actually were interested in games.
Some of the events we showed the game at just had lots of drunken people. There was high traffic, but low interest/engagement/memory retention. Just because there's lots of people at an event doesn't mean you should show your game there.

June

Started porting the Mommy's Best Action Pack to Steam. This involved changing the games Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP, Explosionade, and Game Type, and making them great Steam ports. These games were all originally released between 2008 and 2011. They were made in XNA.
This involved adding lots of extra, though small features, which takes time. Some of the games did get new content as well, such as the collectible MBG pies in Weapon of Choice.
Scott Slucher from the U of L area started as a coop student working on the port.

July

MBG Action Pack porting by Scott and myself.
I also help Andrew and Matthew continue on PEB. We try to limit too much extra additions because John has to constantly port things from the old Java to the new, half-working Unity build.

August

Much of the same as July.


September

Shipped the Mommy's Best Action Pack on September 23rd!

For Pig Eat Ball, we're continuing to wait on the Unity build to be finished and usable on our side. Until we can write new code in the actual Unity build and until I can give Andrew the level editor that way, we have to continue with the Java build, which is tough having two versions being developed.
 

November

Finger Derpy Thanksgiving update!
Got featured again by Cupquake, definitely helped our player numbers.
Working on Pig Eat Ball gameplay in Java, as the Unity build continues.
Steam Autumn sale for MBG Action Pack.

December

Finger Derpy Winter update!
Unfortunately no big youtubers covered it, but the numbers were up through Christmas.
Working on Pig Eat Ball gameplay as the Unity build continues.
Steam Holiday sale for MBG Action Pack.

Finances

This was our most prolific game year, if you look at straight 'games shipped'--we ported 4 games and released 1 new game. So 5 games were released in this year. But this was our worst year financially.
Serious Sam Double D XXL continues to sell well and supports us, but it's sales are slowly declining.
In years past we were releasing one big game every two years. 2011 was Serious Sam DD to Steam, and 2013 was Serious Sam DD XXL to XBLA and then back to Steam (with lots more content).
2015 should have been Pig Eat Ball, in theory, but it's simply not finished. So instead, we released a free-to-play game, with ad-supported revenue and In-App Purchases, but while it made some money, it has still not covered it's development costs. Then we also released 4 ports of our older games, but they did not sell as well as hoped.

2016

The good news for January is Super Soul finished the Unity port and the game works great! We're working on the game now in Unity and things are moving swiftly.
This is the year for Pig Eat Ball.
Let's make it great, and get it out the door!