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About this blog

Link up the line in a way that allows you to reach the end of the level.

 

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Entries in this blog

Link It Up! | Final words XD

Hi everyone! I wasn't posting in a while so I just wanted to let you know that that's it for now regarding Link It Up. However, I really like this idea, and I've seen that some other people share my opinion, so I'd definitely like to come back to it in the future and explore it even further. But, for now, I'll focus my efforts on creating more, cool web games and practice my game dev and game design skills. If you want to follow my journey be sure to follow me on:
- Twitter,    
- GameJolt, or
- Itch Thanks a lot for playing Link It Up!, giving me feedback and reading my devlogs. It's really helpful and encouraging. :D If you still haven't played Link It Up! you can do so on: Kongregate, Newgrounds, GameJolt, Itch, and later this month on Armor Games and Cool Math Games.

Link It Up! | Updates to learning curve

Hey everyone! I've just updated Link It Up! both on Itch and Gamejolt. Previously, I didn't introduce some mechanics properly so I hope I've fixed that with this update. 😃 You can try out the new version here:
GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/Link-It-Up/399152
Itch: https://alienplay.itch.io/link-it-up

Link It Up! | It's Released!

Link It Up! is finally DONE!  You can play it here:
GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/Link-It-Up/399152
Itch: https://alienplay.itch.io/link-it-up I made a short video showcasing different mechanics from Link It Up!
You can check it out here:
https://youtu.be/_VrcioG-g_A I can't wait to hear what do you think about the game!

Fling | Postmortem

Hello everyone! Fling has been released more than a month ago so I decided to share some of my stats from different platforms and my experience publishing there in the format of a postmortem. First of all, here is some basic info about Fling: I started working on it on 28th of December 2018 I started doing devlogs on GameJolt on 1st of January 2019 Game was released at different times on different game portals, but first public version was out on 28th of January 2019 on Itch & GameJolt Based on feedback I got from all different game portals I published Fling on I drew the following conclusions: What went right? One month deadline
I'm really happy that I managed to stick to my original 1 month deadline for main part of my project, I needed some more time to properly integrate Kongregate, Newgrounds and GameJolt APIs, but at the end it was very close.
This goal helped me keep my project in scope and it gave me the feeling that everything will be worth it in the end.
I think that one or one and a half months is ideal time span for the types of project that I’m currently focusing on so I’ll keep trying to stick to this schedule for my future projects as well. I improved as a game designer
As my first larger project it was pretty scary to even start making Fling. I think the thing that really helped me out with that is prototyping my ideas before committing to project.
Prototyping is something that I think most game devs know they should do (myself included), but we never actually do it.
It’s easy to think that the first idea you get is the best one, but in my experience that can’t be further from the truth. My level design process
My previous games were either one level or endless runner types of games, so figuring out how to do level design was big part of this project.
Luckily, Mark Brown from Game Maker’s Toolkit made some awesome videos on this subject. Here are the ones that helped me out: 4-step Level Design of Super Mario 3D World Mega Man 11's Levels Design These two videos were great food for thought, especially the first one with its 4 step “formula”.
For my game, I wrote down in notepad all of the game mechanics that came to my mind that can synergize well with Fling’s main mechanic, which is traversing environment using only your grappling hook.
Some of the ideas that I wrote down were good, some of them weren’t, but the most important thing is to keep thinking and keep brainstorming, some cool ideas will come eventually.
After doing this I decided that I wanted to make 30 levels for Fling. So, in order to make the things easier for me I broke that down into sections made up of 5 levels each.
Every section introduced one new game mechanic and my idea was that this will help players to master the grappling hook mechanic over the course of the game (it seems like I didn’t managed to achieve this, but hey, I tried).
In order to get inspiration for my levels I first came up with the name for the each level. This is something I heard that Tim Ruswick, from Game Dev Underground, uses in his games, and it worked quite well for me so I’d definitely recommend it. Version control
There’s not to much to talk about here. I knew that I should use some sort of version control for my projects in case that something goes wrong, but this was my first time doing it.
It helped me out a lot, especially later on when I had different versions of Fling for different game portals and with different APIs integrated. Promotion/marketing
This one was big for me. I didn’t actually count how much time I spent on promotion/marketing but I think it took more than 30% of the development time.
First off, I started my devlog page on GameJolt. After a couple of days I realized that GameJolt promotes your page more if you do devlogs regularly, that helped me to reach around 300 views on my page before I even published the game. Besides that I also got some followers on GameJolt which will help me with my long term goals.
Besides that, I also figured I’d publish my devlogs on Itch Community Forum. I’m not sure if this had any substantial impact but in the end I reached around 100-200 views on Itch before publishing.
The one thing that surprised me the most was that forums are great way to reach people that can help you throughout development. In my case, I was active on TIG. On there I reached around 800-900 views before publishing Fling and I think it played a big role in how successful my game was.
So, what is the main takeaway here? Start promoting / marketing early. It doesn’t have to be anything more sophisticated that a few GIFs here and there (at least in the beginning). The point it to make people aware and interested in your game.
What went wrong? Tutorial
Tutorial is probably the most important part of your game. It teaches player how things work inside your game and it sets the expectations for the whole experience.
If your tutorial is frustrating people will most likely think that your whole game will be the same and they will most likely give up before they even learned how to play.
I managed to make Fling’s tutorial hard for a lot of players. It was interactive so the problem wasn’t that people didn’t want to read through big paragraphs of text (like you do now ), the problem was that I layed out first level incorrectly which, as a result, made it harder for players to reach the end.
The second part of the tutorial was at the level 4. Here, I tried to teach players how to swing. My mistake here is that I didn’t give players proper feedback on how many times they need to swing and that made the experience frustrating for some players.
This could have been easily fixed just by putting a counter that displays the number of swings you have left before completing a level.
Just make the tutorials as easy as possible to follow, make them and optimize them for completely new players. People who have never seen your game. Also, give players proper feedback because that’s one of the reasons games are fun in the first place. 
Players want to see when they make some progress so make sure they know how far they’ve come. Music
There’s not too much to talk about here. First off, I tried using Bosca Ceoil and I couldn’t make anything good enough. Then I tried drumbit (online tool for music creation) and I managed to put together something OK.
I didn’t enjoy this process at all and I’m pretty terrible at making music so the thing I’d do differently next time is I wouldn’t make music myself.
There are a lot of free resources online to find awesome pieces of music for any type of game. For my next project I decided to try out Jukedeck and it already sounds a lot better and way less repetitive. Level design mistakes
As I said previously level design was something I was overwhelmed by, so it comes as no surprise that I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Some people thought levels were designed well and some people didn’t share the same opinion. Which is fine. I can’t cater to everyone.
However, I think that I can improve my level design technique a lot for my next game. Will definitely let you know how that goes once that game is done. Problems with Unity WebGL
The last problem I’d like to mention here is Unity’s WebGL. It doesn’t work all that well in my opinion.
It takes a lot of time to export, around 10-15 minutes in my experience which is a lot more than it does for Android or Windows (around 1 minute). Obviously, this makes it difficult for me to update my game when I have different versions of it for different game portals.
Also, loading takes 10-20 seconds and it always seems like it freezes at 90%. However, Unity seems to be looking more into HTML technology lately with their preview package called Unity Tiny and option to export to WebGL using Web Assembly standard. So hopefully these issues will be less and less noticeable over time. We’ll see.
Stats (3/7/2019)
Armor Games: 38K plays            (68/100)
Newgrounds: 3.7K plays            (3.42/5)
Kongregate: 5.2K plays            (3.1/5)
GameJolt: 700 plays, 1.5K views        (95% positive)
Itch: 1.1K views                (4.4/5)
Game Distribution: 200 plays Here are some of my thoughts and opinions on platforms listed above.
Armor Games
Where to even start here. Armor Games was obviously a huge part of this project and most of the plays Fling got were from their web portal.
They are very supportive of indie game developers and even though they handpick games that will appear on their website they are not afraid to take chances with more experimental games.
Besides promotional benefits they also offer various financial benefits as well. In my case that was $200 for a branded non-exclusive license, but I’ve seen some games go for more than that. It depends a lot on a type of game how much they think it’s going to be successful. Newgrounds
Newgrounds is awesome web games portal and as one of the first big ones they had a lot of time to perfect their trade.
On Newgrounds your game is almost guaranteed to reach a few hundred people. This might not seem like a lot but trust me, the feedback you get from these players can really go a long way.
So, why am I mentioning this here and I didn’t say the same for Armor Games. 
Well, as I said Armor Games handpicks their games and if you’re just starting out you probably won’t be able to make your game good enough for Armor Games (like one of my previous titles).
On the other hand Newgrounds lets you publish whatever you want on their platform. This can help you gain a lot of valuable experience as a newcomer.
To promote you game Newgrounds has systems like their P-Bot’s Daily Picks. Basically this bot picks 5 games/movies every day and places them on the side of the front page. 
As you’ve might guessed this can help a lot, and it did with Fling. It was placed second on the day it launched.
Also, Newgrounds offers their API that includes medals and leaderboards as well as some other stuff. This can help you extend the length of your game and offer additional challenges for some of your players. Kongregate
Kongregate is another giant of web games industry. They offer different ways to promote and monetize your games.
On Kongregate you earn ad revenue from your games and you can increase your slice of the pie by integrating their API or by making your game exclusive to their website. Anyhow, their CPMs are quite good so ads can be a nice source of revenue.
Another great thing about Kongregate is that they hold monthly contests. These contests reward 15 best games of the month with certain amount of money.
Surprisingly, Fling won 15th place for the February and the prize for this spot is $250. Of course if you get higher on the list you can earn more than that. Anyways, I’m really happy for this result. GameJolt
GameJolt is platform that doesn’t exclusively focuses on web games but it’s still a viable option.
Devlogs I wrote here helped me get some followers for Fling early on and it definitely helped me with launch.
It’s also good that they give you option to integrate their API into your game and reward your players with medals (or, I think they call them trophies on there) and spots on leaderboards. Itch
Itch is pretty similar to GameJolt. It doesn’t offer API integration (as far as I know) but I think they offer you more ways for your game to get discovered.
It didn’t do all that much for me in this instance but like GameJolt they offer people a way to follow you and Itch also has a quite big Youtuber community and both of those things will help me with my long term goals so I’ll keep publishing my future games there. Game Distribution
Huh, I was honestly very disappointed to see that Fling did this bad on GD. They have very bad CPMs, in my experience, and their platform started getting cluttered with simple, mostly low quality and low effort games which definitely won’t help your game get discovered.
So in the end I decided to stop using GD altogether for my future games. In the end I wouldn’t call Fling a success but it wasn’t a failure neither. It was my first larger project that I’ve actually taken seriously and I learned a lot in the process of making it.
This was also my first time writing postmortem for one of my projects so I hope it's informative and helpful.
If you read through this whole postmortem you deserve a medal for your efforts. XD
Thank you so much for reading! If you have any feedback regarding my writing skills you’re welcome to let me know. Thanks in advance. If you're interested in playing Fling you can find links on this page: https://www.gamedev.net/projects/1206-fling/  

Link It Up! | Feedback needed!

Hey everyone! I'm close to launching my web game Link It Up! and I'd really appreciate your feedback before I release it. Link It Up! is a puzzle platforming game in which you need to link up the line in a way that allows you to reach the end of the level. It's a web game so there's no need to download anything to play it. I'm looking for feedback regarding my game's learning curve and level design (how difficult it is and are there any difficulty spikes) You can try the game out here: https://alienplay.itch.io/link-it-up Password is: e3Sgz% Thanks in advance! 😁

Link It Up! | Devlog #5

Hello everyone! Welcome to my 5th devlog Since my last devlog I've made a small, yet very effective improvement to my game's tileset.
I think it just looks waaaay better now.
I also found a simple solution to combat "aggressive players" who'd drop enemies onto spikes Also, there will be achievements for Link It Up! and they will be available on every web portal I publish the game on.
As you can see on the image bellow there will be 3 achievements. Completionist (for completing the game), Collector (for getting all collectibles) and You Got It (for getting half way through the game). Most importantly, I managed to make all 30 levels for the game. I think that these levels are pretty nice.
They showcase different mechanics and use every one of them in a few interesting ways.
Levels are mostly focused on puzzles but if you have some platforming skills you'll be able to get more collectibles. The next thing I need to do is to test these levels. 
If you're interested in playtesting Link It Up! just DM/PM me here or on Twitter and I'll make sure to let you know when you can do so. Thanks! Make sure to subscribe to my Newsletter to get notified when I release Link It Up!

Link It Up! | Devlog #4

Hello everyone! Welcome to my 4th devlog on Link It Up! Since my last devlog I made some smaller improvements to my game. One of those improvements is that now, when you move the line, both dots leave a marker that helps you to understand where will the line be if you reset it. Besides that, I added some optional collectibles (well, in the level bellow they aren't really "optional" :D).
I plan on using these collectibles for some kind of non-linear level progression. I'm still not sure how it is going to work though, so if you can point out to me some games that use non-linear level progression I'd be very thankful for that.
For now, it's just a thought that I have, we'll see how it goes. I made some levels as well. Last time I focused more on making platforming levels and this time and focused more on puzzles, and I'm quite satisfied how some of these levels turned out.
Here're some examples: I'm near the end of this project and I'm really satisfied to see how it comes along. 
Hopefully, I'll manage to finish it before the deadline I set for myself. I still have to make about 10 new levels, then choose the best ones for the final game, and of course to figure out the progression.
I hope you'll enjoy the game when it comes out. Thanks for reading this devlog! If you haven't seen my showcase video of Link It Up!, Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/embed/eAIpr8_R8hE  

Link It Up! | Devlog #3

Hi everyone! Today I've made quite some progress on Link It Up so I decided to share it with you. I had a lot inspiration for levels focused on platforming, though I made some puzzles as well.
I'm still testing out different mechanics but I'm also trying to use existing ones in new and interesting ways. Here's the new mechanic I added yesterday. You can now use these switches to change states of all connectors. If connectors are red you can't attach the line to them. For blue line I found two new use cases. First, if you're precise enough and your timing is correct you can bounce off yourself like this: Second, enemies can be bounced off. This requires some planing upfront but when you succeed at it it's quite satisfying: That's it for now.
I hope you like the progress I've made so far and if you have any feedback or suggestions feel free to let me know. Thank you all for following my devlogs! ------------------------------------------------ I uploaded a video to YouTube showcasing some of the mechanics of Link It Up! Check it out here: Link It Up! Gameplay

Link It Up! | Devlog #2

Hey everyone!
This is devlog #2 for Link It Up! a game in which you have to reach the end by moving a line. As I said in my first devlog I had a lot of interesting ideas for Link It Up! so I immediately started working to implement them. I added bouncy line. Basically, instead of using normal, black line, in some levels you get to use blue, bouncy one.
Here's one of the levels in which you have to use it: This level in particular focuses more on platforming than on puzzle element of the game and it changes the pace from relaxed to something a bit more tense.
Which is cool in my opinion, but definitely let me know what do you think about it. I also added patrolling enemies, but for now I only have one level with them in which you'll be introduced to how they work. Hopefully, by the end of this level players will have an understanding about how they can limit or completely change enemies patrol routes. In total I made 10 levels, that I'd most likely have to tweak a bit later on. My plan is to make about 20-25 levels but I'd like to polish them more then I did so in my previous game, Fling.
I plan on having something like a closed beta testing for Link It Up! when I finish all of the levels to make sure they're interesting to play. Make sure to subscribe to my Newsletter to get notified when that happens. I hope you like how the game is going and as always any feedback is appreciated I'll see you all in my next devlog!   Follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my Newsletter.

Link It Up! | Devlog #1

Hey everyone! I recently started developing my new web game. It's called Link It Up! and it's a puzzle platforming game. 
In this game you need to link up the line in a way that allows you to reach the end of the level. I prototyped this mechanic and made a few levels:
I already have some cool ideas about how I can use this mechanic in an interesting way. Graphics are "inspired" by the game Rotate (you can play Rotate on Armor Games). 
I really like the art style of that game so I decided to basically copy it for now. This allows me to practice my skills as a pixel artist a little bit,
and also it's nice to have a good foundation for something I usually struggle with, which is art. Now, I'm going to test out some of the different mechanics I'd like to include in this game, and I'll definitely post GIFs of all of those mechanics here.
Hope you like the idea! You can Follow my devlogs here, on GameJolt, Itch or on Twitter. Last thing I'd like to say is that if you just want to play the game when it comes out you can Subscribe to my Newsletter.
You'll get updates when I start a new project, when you can playtest it and when I release it. Reminder: I'll post Fling postmortem at the beginning of March with all the stats, ratings and some of my thoughts on that game and how it went.

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