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Run·Wild uses PR to help soft launch.
Published a year ago
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Does PR help development?

THE PARADOX

This story is a paradox.  I want to write an article about how you can use PR to find help to finish your game.  I want to do this by using PR to help me finish our game. This article is the first one I’ve written to help in our search for that support. And thus it will form the first step in that article on how to use Made With Unity and other game promotion sites to get help.
So how did we get here? At the end of 2015 we started work on Run·Wild for mobile phones and tablet devices. This was not to be a full time project as we still needed to feed our families, but it was one that would be our own and say something about the kind of games we wanted to make.  Right from the beginning it would be a quick-to-develop endless runner which would allow the player to unlock pieces of short stories about the playable game characters.  The primary goal was to make something beautiful, innocent and narrative.  A game everyone would enjoy and one to which players would respond well.

AN ADVENTURE RUNNER

At its core it is a storybook interspersed with gameplay to unlock the next part of the story. Very simple and easy to understand.  Something we like to call an ‘Adventure Runner’.  An adventure game which doesn’t progress through puzzle solving, but progresses through token gathering.
With the help of a couple of very good friends we put together a good design, a good plan, a good collection of stories, good music, and implemented a good game. There were some issues with the art style early on, but in the summer of 2016 we found a distinctive 2D illustrated look that we loved for our 3D game.  With some investment from the founders we could pay an old friend to build the assets we needed and by the end of the summer we had the initial assets for soft launch.  

SOFT LAUNCH

At this point we had been working on Run·Wild, alongside other projects, for almost a year.  There was still some final polish and bug fixing but we had very little time to spare.  Nevertheless, just before the end of 2016 we soft launched Run·Wild in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.  We were mostly happy with our version 0.1.  
We all took a holiday for Christmas and New Year.  Returning to the game after this break, we could see there was still a lot of work to do before it is a polished game.  We have all played and made a few games so spotting and fixing the problems should be easy... right?

TOO MUCH DETAIL

So here we are at the present: the end of February 2017.  We have found that fixing the game is a big challenge for just the two of us.  We are so close to the project that we can see every flaw.  We’ve written to-do lists, prioritized them, set targets and estimated the time to fix them.  But if we do everything it will take months.  We’ve over-analysed everything and reduced the problems down to too much detail.  Now, the more time we spend planning, the more we doubt ourselves that we’re making the best use of our time.
We are hoping to get some help from our friends in the game development community.  After much discussion the top 4 issues that need work are:
  • Jumping
The player drags a finger on the touchscreen to move the animal left and right, then the player lets go of the screen to jump over obstacles.  The game arena is quite wide so short swipes left/right/up/down would not work as well as dragging. We needed another mechanism.  Our best suggestion is having ‘jump pads’ before obstacles so that animals automatically leap when they run over one.  
  • Understandable game flow
To progress in Run·Wild, the player has to perform tasks to complete missions that unlock stories.  The tasks get increasingly difficult and the player needs to collect ‘forest sprites’ that will allow them to upgrade and improve their ability to complete tasks.  None of this is explained very well and we need to hold our players' hands through this, so to speak.
  • UI design
Our original design for the UI had animated characters that delivered storybook illustrations to the player.  Due to time constraints this was reduced to simple static images and the written pages.  We want to return to a ‘Candy Crush’-like progress path but this will need illustrating, animating and implementing.
  • More Variety Early
The first missions of the game all take place on the same green environment with Freddy the Fox.  After a while this first area begins to look very simple and repetitive.  Later missions have more difficult tasks, use different animals, and vary the scenery.  However, we feel that more variety is required in the scenery and effects to keep the visuals interesting and engaging at the beginning.
All of these will take some time to implement and all are important.  In a small team of two, it is very difficult to agree what is the most important.  You, as a game developer and game player reading this article, can help; which do you think should come first?  If you do help, then you will contribute to our follow up story about how PR helps or doesn't help finish a game in soft launch.
 
 
There are two ways you can help Run·Wild get better.
  1. Fill in our survey of just 2 questions, (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FGHTC36) and vote for which of the 4 areas should be looked at first.
  2. You can offer your advice and suggestions.  Leave a comment on the survey, question 2, https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FGHTC36. All that I get will go on the blog and in future articles.
If you're having problems finishing your game and think this kind of PR would work for you, publish your own story. I'd love to read it.
Andrew Hague
Owner, Game Programmer
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