Game art style suggestions for next game?

Nibbie
Posts: 4
Joined: 2010.10
Post: #1
We're a small indie studio that's about to start on our second game but we're stuck on what 'art style' to go with. These days games like Angry Birds, Cut the rope and PvZ seem like the style to go with.

Our first game was very colorful with lots of funky characters, but we're debating going all dark and artistic for the second game. I know the style can depend on the game concept but if we do a very good concept and game with great artistic graphics, will people even care to take a second look?

Here's the trailer and style of our first game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pOIHmMa7dk


Any feedback greatly appreciated![/b]
bbb
http://www.bigbadbrush.com
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Post: #2
I also went all cute and cuddly on my first two games but I'm trying something a bit different with my third.

There have been successful games in all sorts of styles. Bloody, doodle/stick-figure, even some downright horrible programmer art. Based on that I haven't got a clue how the look of a game affects sales - people just seem to buy what's in the top lists. I'd guess something polished and maybe a bit different wouldn't hurt however, and may help secure a feature slot. Getting Apple to notice your game may be more important than anything else at this point.
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Nibbie
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Post: #3
(Oct 9, 2010 12:49 PM)Frank C. Wrote:  I also went all cute and cuddly on my first two games but I'm trying something a bit different with my third.

There have been successful games in all sorts of styles. Bloody, doodle/stick-figure, even some downright horrible programmer art. Based on that I haven't got a clue how the look of a game affects sales - people just seem to buy what's in the top lists. I'd guess something polished and maybe a bit different wouldn't hurt however, and may help secure a feature slot. Getting Apple to notice your game may be more important than anything else at this point.

Wow! I just checked out your website and games, and they ALL look very good! Did you program and do the art yourself? The style and physics look so fluid.

If you don't mind me asking, how well did they do?

It seems like getting top spot or getting Apple to notice is key. I have friends who worked for iPhone dev companies, and they had to go and present their game to prove they can be featured. Any pointers for an indie group like us?

Also, if you have a twitter account, follow us @bigbadbrush
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Post: #4
For better or worse I do all the art/code/audio myself, though the rigid body physics in Pinch 'n Pop! and Pollywog are courtesy of Chipmunk.

Pinch 'n Pop! did relatively well. Partly because it was released in 2008 when there were "only" 10,000 apps in the store and mostly because it was featured by Apple. It wasn't a runaway success by any means (barely scraped the top 100) but it paid for itself in the first month. Pollywog on the other hand was a disaster - lets not speak of it again Sneaky

I haven't heard of devs having to present and prove themselves to Apple, though if you're in a position where someone of influence at Apple will listen then you've already got an advantage. For most of us the App Store is a big black box - with a small slit you stuff apps into.

I'm making squat on the App Store right now so I can't really offer any advice worth taking Wink My strategy right now is to keep releasing stuff till something sticks, or till I get bored and find something else to keep me busy.
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Nibbie
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Post: #5
Wow, you've got quite a great one man shop going on there. I'm surprised that Pollywog was a disaster. It looks like a nice polished game.
I'm also surprised you're making squat?! Could it be a pricing issue? Have you dropped it down to 0.99 to see if it sales rose in numbers?
Either way, definitely keep going at it and release games until something sticks. For what it's worth, I think your games look pretty cool. I'll let you know how my game goes and if or if not it does well Smile

Re: ...prove themselves to Apple. The company actually hired a PR firm that had ties with Apple. I'm not too sure if this is fact or not. It was just info passed down to me from a person who worked there.
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Post: #6
I've tried all sorts of pricing, even free. Pollywog was downloaded almost 350,000 times during its free promo - got a few hundred sales at 99¢ immediately following that, but it didn't last.

All I know for sure is that once your app's visibility is low in the App Store there's no point lowering the price. People who find it at that point aren't the typical impulse buyers, and they'll just buy it if they want it - even if it's 2 or 3 bucks.
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Post: #7
(Oct 10, 2010 12:24 PM)Frank C. Wrote:  I've tried all sorts of pricing, even free. Pollywog was downloaded almost 350,000 times during its free promo - got a few hundred sales at 99¢ immediately following that, but it didn't last.

Wow, that's over ten times the number of downloads we got for TouchAttack on the free promo (about 30k downloads over the two day promo period). The free promo didn't seem to help sales much for us either [edit] not directly as much as we had hoped, but the side-effects of cross-promotion definitely helped [/edit] -- although it's a style of game that was developed before we understood the market so it's not entirely unexpected. However, we did use it to spread the word about Ace Omicron with an in-game ad on one page and that did get thousands of click-thrus, so the promo was worth it from that standpoint.

Frank C. Wrote:For most of us the App Store is a big black box - with a small slit you stuff apps into.

That's pretty darn accurate.
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Post: #8
(Oct 9, 2010 01:33 AM)bigbadbrush Wrote:  Here's the trailer and style of our first game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pOIHmMa7dk


Any feedback greatly appreciated![/b]
bbb
http://www.bigbadbrush.com

Sorry I didn't respond to this on my previous post but I got distracted by a phone call.

Looking at your trailer it reminds me very much, graphically, of our first game for iPhone, Touch Attack. Like Frank, we released that back when there were only a couple thousand games available. What we learned from that is: graphically, you can do a great job, but what the folks really want is popularity (and I'm not saying that because we think it's the greatest game, BTW, look at the next sentence). We saw other games like ours do *much* better in sales which didn't even have the same level of graphics by far, and they even had terrible gameplay and quality in comparison. So obviously, word-of-mouth, virality, etc, mean much more in that crowded market.

The brutal reality is that the iDevice game market is frightfully massive. It's purely a gamble on the order of lottery tickets whether or not you'll break even, much less pull in a modest profit, and so fussing over graphics art style doesn't really seem to help one way or another.
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Nibbie
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Post: #9
Then maybe the question to ask is how does a small indie studio become part of the 'popular' crowd of iphone companies. We're small so we don't have the $ to invest in a huge marketing campaign or hire a PR firm. Instead we're doing all we can on forums, social media sites, friends and family. We're also looking to send to reviewers and will cross our fingers.
Any suggestions?

btw. Saw your game. It looks pretty good too!
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Post: #10
(Oct 11, 2010 11:24 AM)bigbadbrush Wrote:  Then maybe the question to ask is how does a small indie studio become part of the 'popular' crowd of iphone companies.

Probably the only feasible way to get there anymore is to make a great game and hook up with a publisher. The odds are so low nowadays that even a "gimmick" game most likely won't go anywhere without some incredibly lucky viral ground-swell.

Publishing to iOS can be incredibly fun, but you need to fully understand that it is about as likely you'll do well there as playing the lottery. The market is fully saturated. I would say *over* saturated at this point. The primary reason we're still messing around with iOS is for fun. We also have a super-awesome game in the pipeline which is primarily targeting desktops, but we will probably do an iOS version because we can, on the side. Even though we have the skills to do it, we have a hard time coming up with any justification to see iOS as a primary target platform anymore.

(Oct 11, 2010 11:24 AM)bigbadbrush Wrote:  We're small so we don't have the $ to invest in a huge marketing campaign or hire a PR firm. Instead we're doing all we can on forums, social media sites, friends and family. We're also looking to send to reviewers and will cross our fingers.
Any suggestions?

That's about all we do too, other than loading bucks into the advertising machine, which is outrageously expensive in my not so humble opinion.

(Oct 11, 2010 11:24 AM)bigbadbrush Wrote:  btw. Saw your game. It looks pretty good too!

Thank you Smile
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Post: #11
(Oct 11, 2010 11:24 AM)bigbadbrush Wrote:  ...Instead we're doing all we can on forums, social media sites, friends and family. We're also looking to send to reviewers and will cross our fingers. Any suggestions?

Biggest user forum is Touch Arcade. I've never been able to cause much of a stir there but it's still worth posting in the upcoming and release forums. At least a few people will see it, and more importantly, the "right" people might see it. I posted my Silverfish alpha trailer there recently and it got picked up for a post on the front page. That was encouraging, though it was included in a round-up style post and got out shined by fast cars and a machine gun toting Jesus Blink That same post got me some publisher interest, but I managed to fend them off in only 2 emails Cool

I had a bad experience sending out a press release and promo codes for Pollywog. I got a few genuine replies but only managed 2 actual reviews, plus a flood of email asking for paid reviews and/or advertising. I'm not sending out any codes for Silverfish. If certain sites asks I'll oblige, otherwise it's just scammers or a complete waste of time.
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Post: #12
We had pretty good success scoring reviews for Ace Omicron. There are at least a dozen that I've seen, most of which have been great, and I know there are more reviews of it out there now. One reviewer was scathing at first on iPhone until she played it on the iPad and felt it to be so different and better that she went back and revised her first review. Plus we had like three interviews as I seem to recall. It was all pretty fun. Ace Omicron overall has been a great experience for us. Heck, Omaha Sternberg just reviewed it a couple weeks ago (thanks for the great review Omaha! Smile ). For some reason, nobody seems to like my spaceship, usually complaining about the lack of detail. Sad If I knew that ahead of time, I would have gone for detail! Actually, a much more involved game was in the works, but we had to cut all that stuff out to make the iPad grand opening date on time. Everyone seems to like the background music though, which I am proud of.

We spend about half our promo codes on the Touch Arcade forums and the other half for reviewers.
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