Game Seminar at the College of St. Benilde

15 01 2018


      We were invited by Ms. Gwendelyn Abacano Foster last week to a seminar at the College of St. Benilde (CSB). Featuring Mr. Ian Garner. Ian Garner works with Another Indie, an independent game publisher from China, that has published multiple critically acclaimed and commercially successful games such as Lost Castle. This was another opportunity for us to learn, especially publishing our game to China, which we don’t have any idea on how to go about it.

Mr. Ian Garner

     We also have a new contributor to the game – Faith Dimaranan. She’s a game development student at Asia Pacific College. We really need someone, aside from Jap, with game knowledge and game logic to help us in other aspects of our mobile game. She is helping us in fixing the localization, achievements and optimizing the game.

   Ms. Faith Dimaranan

     Jap and Faith joined me at the seminar. We had trouble finding a parking space so we were a bit late when we got to the seminar. There were a few attendees, maybe about 20-30 people. Some were students and some developers. The topic was familiar, like finding a hook (selling point) of your game, and how to email publishers about your game. He also mentioned that developers should always attend events like ESGS and Gamecon because these are the places to get good feedback than having feedback from game testers. It is better to showcase your game to gamers and developers, because they have a better game sense, meaning they know what to look for in a game. He said that Google is not accessible to China, so we really need to have a local publisher in China to have our game published. We can email publishers directly and if our game catches their attention, they will publish it.

     After the seminar, it was a good opportunity for us to show our game to Mr. Garner as well as to the other developers to get feedback. Unfortunately, a lot of people were having photo ops and were pitching their ideas as well. So we showed our games to 2 other people. Ian Christian Sevilla, who is a game developer, programmer and College Instructor at CSB. He also gave feedback last 2016 at ESGS. When he saw it he said it improved a lot, but he commented on the User Experience once again. He gave some feedback on fixing visuals for a better experience for the user. While playing, he commented that we fix the balance of the game. I thought he was referring to the balance of the playability of the characters. He meant the balance of the progression of the game. He said that the game should have a slow progression, we should teach the player what buttons to press first before making him fight monsters at once.

Mr. Ian Christian Sevilla (with backpack)

     He gave us a link to how the Megaman game made players experience each ability at the start of the game.

     Actually, it made sense, because he really had a hard time figuring the controls when he was playing the game. Faith and Jap immediately had ideas on how to fix this.

     Kevin Brian Valmonte, a game developer, programmer and college instructor at CSB also tested our game. He said that the game looked good, and only needed to be polished. Instead of pressing a button to continue from a tutorial, why not just tap the screen to continue. He also said to fix the loading screen, there was a lot of dead space and we should remove the delay between screens. He also commented on the art, but that was just his preference and it wasn’t really that important.

     We had good feedback here and Faith has volunteered on fixing the tutorial integration in the game. She is also optimizing the localization so it will be easier to add more languages later.

     It is good that she has game programming knowledge and she figured out what part of the game needs to be fixed. We are now applying improvements from the feedback we gathered and Faith has committed to helping us optimize and polish the game.

Article and Pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou

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Paul Streitz’s Animation Project

13 10 2017

     Last October 10, 2017, Grace emailed me about Paul Streitz giving a talk about “A Philippine Animation Movie Company?” to be held on October 12 at the New World Hotel from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, the talk was for free. I was curious what I can learn from the talk especially the marketing of animation shows, so I registered for the event.

     The talk started about 1:50 pm and ended about an hour later. Paul is a writer and producer from the US, who wrote some books on economics and a string of musical plays for theaters in New York. Paul explained the reason of why he is in the country –  half-jokingly he said after his divorce, he had money to do some animation projects for his past musical plays but he didn’t want to invest a lot of money in building a team of animators to do his project. So he figured out that coming to the Philippines where a local animation company can animate his play entitled ‘Madison Avenue The Subliminal Movie’ in flash animation for 90 minutes before he dies. The idea is to prolong the life of the property; as a live film has a shorter lifespan.

     After the brief introduction, Paul showed the business side of the film business, where the dollar and cents were broken down to show that there is money to be made for all the parties involved – from the writer, owner, producer, distributor, merchandiser, and production company. He showed estimated figures for big hit films such as the Simpsons and a not so well known film only shown in the US but the profit figures are still worth the effort. Mickey Mouse and the financial side of the merchandise part of the character was also highlighted. He said that other stories with expired copyright could be ideal animation projects such as ‘Treasure Island’, Wizard of Oz’,’Oklahoma’ and ‘Annie’.

     Paul then proceeded to pitch his string of plays such as ‘Oh Johnny’, ‘Madison Avenue’and other plays. Being 20 years in market research, he showed some figures that Madison Avenue has great reviews from both critics and audiences alike. He continued to explain the character, about the surprising plot and remastering the sound to make it up to date and recorded the dialogue for the animation project. Paul also talked about Gary Cherpakov, who was the brilliant music and lyrics writer for his plays. Paul was all praised for Gary whom nothing was hard for him to write,  as it all came naturally to him and the work could be done perfectly in a day or two. Instead of using rhyming words, Gary was more on rhyming the sounds, and in Paul’s opinion ‘Oh Johnny’ is one of the top five best musicals.

 

       After the talk, there was some question and answer portion and some light snacks for the attendees. I don’t know anyone in the group except for Grace, the rest were composed of freelance 2D and 3D animators, animation teachers, students, producers for events and live film. After a few minutes of staying around, I left the venue but Grace and other people stayed for many more minutes to ask Paul for more questions. Grace said Paul was more on the music  – 70% rather than on the animation – 30%.  Anyone who was interested to talk to Paul further was invited to lunch the next day at the same hotel.

      The presentation was really new to me, as I am not exposed to musicals, much less to animation musicals. I don’t recall any popular flash animation that pops out right of my mind to compare with the proposed ‘Madison Avenue’ film. If ever pushed through, I think it will be tough for the local animation production company to present the proposed musical to highlight the music, the choreography and character movements that the target audience would respond to.  But just the same, I wish Paul and the team would do well on the project. As for me I’m just focused on finishing and launching the mobile game in the next few weeks and editing and improving our web series.

     Less than a week after the talk, I got to listen to the CD of the Madison Avenue songs that Paul’s assistant handed out each participant. The songs were really nice, clear and had a happy feel to it. It was only after hearing the various songs that I got to appreciate the proposed movie as the songs, message, and topic are one of a kind.

 

 

 





Google Developers Night 2017

28 07 2017

July 26, 2017

     We were invited to the Google Developers Night by GDAP (Game Developers Association of the Philippines) at the Google Headquarters in Bonifacio Global City about a week before the event. We were not sure what the event was about as there was no agenda about it, but we were prepared to showcase our updated mobile game if needed. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our game and also to check out the office of Google. 

     The event was scheduled from 6 pm to 9 pm; we arrived at around 6 pm but the event started around 6:30 pm and ended almost 10 pm. The Google Headquarters was a cool place, especially for creative people. You could see the artistic design influences on the detail as well as the furniture. 


      There were about 50 people invited to the event, but there were other uninvited guests and students who came but Google did not refuse them entry so the guests ballooned up to 90 people; luckily the food was sufficient for all the guests. 

     Before the talk started, I was surprised when Solon Chen, one of the board members of GDAP and the General Operations Manager of Kooapps, approached us and said that he saw our game at GameCon 2017, and said that it had vastly improved from the version he saw at ESGS 2016. He said it was a good game and we did a good job.  That was the best compliment from a GDAP board member yet.

Solon Chen

      There were two talks that night and both of them were helpful as we continue to polish our game even more. The first speaker was Derrick Mapagu, the creator of the Flippy Bottle Extreme game. This game was the first Filipino-made game that was No. 1 in the Google Play store with over 18 million downloads.  The topic was about Game Monetization.  Most game designers and players are not fans of this topic, but for the game, studio to survive, this needs to be addressed. Basically, the topic was how your game would make money. There were many ways, the simplest was selling your game at a price. If you offered your game for free, you can place ads in it or sell items within the game called In-App purchasing. We learned that players don’t like ads much; they can be annoyed by it and just drop the game but if you do it right ads can have your game make money. The information presented was really cool and it gave us ideas on how we would apply this to our game.

Derrick Magpagu

     Alvin Juban (GDAP President), Chelle Obligacion-Gray (Google Ph), Lei Bautitsta-Lo (James’ wife), Gwendolyn Foster (GDAP / Most Played Mobile), James Ronald Lo (Indigo Entertainment / Agent Aliens) and Derrick Mapagu (Most Played Mobile / Flippy Bottle)

     The second speaker was James Ronald Lo, President of Indigo Entertainment and the creator of Agent Aliens, a mobile game for Android. Agent Aliens was their first game that was their own Intellectual Property (IP). His talk was fascinating because his experience with the game mirrored ours. He introduced a demo of his game at the ESGS 2016 like us; he also got some feedback, and they had to address these in the game. He was very thankful to be invited to the event because it made people notice his game.


    Agent Aliens at GameCon 2017

     James was excited to do a soft launch at Google Play to get more feedback for his game. He promptly had a meeting with a Google representative who gave him pointers on how to get his game featured at Google. Getting featured on Google gives the game more opportunities to be viewed worldwide. The representative’s first suggestion was not to do a soft launch. If your game is not yet finished, doing a soft launch would just give a bad impression of the game. The second one was to do localization by translating the game to different languages; the players from those countries would feel the game was made for them.

     When the game was launched last January until February 2017, he got about 2,000 downloads. He did everything, social media, workers, family friends, but this was the best that the game could do. Then he was surprised when it got featured in Google Play, and it was given a 4.3 star rating. Immediately, he got 190,000 downloads in less than a one month. The game was downloaded in other countries as well; China and Vietnam had the highest percentage of downloads; incidentally, these were also the countries that he translated the game too. Of the top 8 countries that downloaded the game, 7 were from Asia.  Overall, he said to focus on making a good game first. If your game is good, everyone would take notice.

     After the talk,  dinner was served by our hosts; Jap and I then approached James to ask more about his experience, and we also showed our game. He gave us advice and feedback on how to improve our game, and he encouraged us to enter ESGS once again to market our game. He said this is where gamers, developers, and publishers take notice. One advice he gave us, which he also included in his talk: “If you can show your game without giving excuses, then you know that your game is good.”

     Towards the end, GDAP announced the different events remaining for this year. Aside from ESGS, there was G-star Game Convention, which was offering all-expense-paid tickets and accommodations for 5 companies to Busan, Korea. And some upcoming talks with people from Unreal.

     This event inspired us, and it also showed us that we still have a lot more things to consider for our game. Overall, we were excited; too excited that I already registered entering our game at the Indie Arena in ESGS 2017.

Article and most pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou; other pictures from Chelle Grey (Speakers with GDAP and Google officer), Internet (Solon Chen) and Edward Tan (Agent Aliens)