Pro-tips for new Indies: 5 W’s for social media strategy noobs


TL;DR – Have fun with social media. You’re a human talking to other humans, so act like it. Choose the platforms you use and the content you share carefully.

There’s a million of these “Social Media 101″ blogs; this is a little longer than most, but hopefully gives a few more start-up specific insights. Further reading and summaries at the end if you’re pushed for time.

Social media hooziwatsits. Online marketing. Twittermajigs. Ain’t nobody got time for that.


Continue reading

Funetization: Riddle Stone Saga – shooting for the King (and missing)

UPDATE: Ooblada mailed me, kindly (and very sportingly) providing some feedback. I have highlighted the updated info in the text. Thanks, Ooblada – I look forward to the next update. 

Since writing, Riddle Stone Saga has been renamed to “Riddle Stone”.

I haven’t had a chance to post for a while due as its been cray cray busy over here, but I wanted to write something so I put down just a few words on a new game I’ve been playing – and loving – and why it’s not going to make any money.  

Since finally beating Candy Crush Saga (self-five) I’ve had a casual game addiction shaped hole in my life. As I apparently can’t learn from my mistakes, I jumped straight into the first saga-type puzzle game I could find.
“See you!” I think the fuck not.
Note, not a King title, for once.  

PT4NI: I know that feel, bro: How to survive a start-up

This post originally appeared on Published 2013.

New company formed, super-stoked about new IP and your shiny new team!

w00t! Livin’ the dream!

What you might not know about is that you are about to have a very tough year, ‘cos enthusiasm doesn’t pay the bills.

You will have no money. You will be tired. You will get frustrated.

Beyond making a game (that’s the easy part), you will encounter a ton of financial, business and logistical challenges you probably never anticipated. Luckily, there are lots of useful people, organizations, resources and tools out there for folks in our position.

give up

Continue reading

Funetization: Engineering Addictiveness – Introduction

The “Engineering Addictiveness” and “Implementing Addictiveness” series of posts were originally published on in 2013.

BEFORE WE START NOTE: This post turned into somewhat of a monster, so I have broken it into several chapters (just like Candy Crush \o.O /) in the hope it is more digestible. Please leave a comment if you would like to share some thoughts. Thanks!

A primary goal of casual games design is replayability, or more precisely, retention. Getting people to download your game is one thing; making sure they come back to it (and eventually spend) is another. Continue reading

Funetization: Engineering Addictiveness part 1 – Gameplay

Retention through rewarding gameplay

An obvious place to start is of course the core gameplay. You know how it fundamentally works so I will save stating the overly obvious.

Candy Crush Saga has a great mix of easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master gameplay, interspersed with a wide variety of bonuses and rewarding, unexpected and chain events (watch the end of Level 113 for an example).

The beautiful animations, imaginative recipes and the ever-cascading Sugar Crush events are King’s version of the bells, whistles and lights you see on a bank of casino slot machines.

In those city builder games by that other company, this might be referred to as a ‘positive feedback loop’, where every player action – no matter how minor – is rewarded with shiny stars and pleasant sound effects. The Pavlov’s Bell of social games design.

Continue reading

Funetization: Engineering Addictiveness part 2 – Saga-fication

Retention through measurable progression: The Map (Sagafication I)

The next most notable feature of Candy Crush is King’s ‘Saga’-brand board as standard.

Watching your player-piece move through a world is much more immersive than checking a list of boxes as complete (see Angry Birds, Cut the Rope etc).

It’s a little more of an investment per production, but the ability to see at a glance how far you’ve come is worth it. Dividing each chunk of levels in chapters serves several other purposes too – a chance to show story, clear short-term goals, manageable chunks for content updates, and of course the pay wall (more on monetization later).

Continue reading

Funetization: Engineering Addictiveness part 3 – Product-focused design

I want moar!

The importance of progression is further supported by some more product-focused design choices outside of core gameplay; these are mechanics commonly found in free-to-play games, and are used to encourage the player keep returning to the game and/or convert to payers and/or bring new users to the game.

As with its measured distribution of key events, King implements these other common mechanics with a higher degree of subtlety and respect for its audience IMO – an approach which appears to be working out well for them (for example, as opposed to a Zynga-style spam-a-thon and constant sales pitch).

Continue reading