09 Oct 2009
E4 ‘Summer of Games’ Round-up
Well, summer’s gone and my E4 games have been live for months, so it’s time for a self-indulgent retrospective.
This one got pretty much the reception I expected: a decent level of traffic/linking and reasonable ratings, nothing outstanding, but I’m proud of the attention to detail.
As Rob pointed out during development, we probably could’ve just produced one of the subgames, called it Kitten Herding, and attracted more traffic to a far shallower game. Sad but true.
Somehow I completely misjudged this one. I thought the use of CAPTCHAs (which are encountered by almost everyone who uses the web) combined with simple typing-based gameplay would make it ‘go viral’ to some extent. It didn’t happen. Maybe people didn’t get the gimmick, or dislike CAPTCHAs too much, or maybe it was simply too boring to play, I’m not sure.
Had my sense of what grabs attention online deserted me completely? With this game I was carefully combining retro nostalgia with an outrageously torturous challenge, counting on love-it/hate-it reactions and coverage from retro-loving bloggers. I knew it wasn’t E4-target-audience material, but hoped that would be outweighed by traffic, publicity and an appreciative minority.
Luckily it paid off, resulting in hundreds of mentions/links, good traffic (it’s already the third most played homegrown E4 game) and delightfully crazy people trying to complete it (seeing it featured at Retro Reunited was great fun).
- The Guardian’s ‘The greatest internet sports games of all time’
- Metro article
- Possibly the first completion evidence to surface
- A scathing 0/5 review from Square Go
- A speedrun video showing the whole course
Although I’ve devised/coded 50-60 Flash games, the core illustration/animation has almost always been supplied by a specialist, so tackling that aspect myself was daunting. The final results lack the kind of strong, effortless styling you’d get from someone who draws all day, every day, but by slogging away and making careful choices I think I got away with it.
In my former day job I always tried to push my employers (with partial success) to commission music for games rather than chuck in stock material at the last minute; audio quality matters. For these games I was lucky that Tom Kincaid was willing to work miracles with a limited budget, meaning I was able to email a description and receive a perfectly-tailored game soundtrack a couple of weeks later.
I’m currently working on another game project with Rob and Tom, and with any luck will find more clients willing to let me raid my
notes.txt file for quirky game concepts.