Wednesday 30 July 2014

Disappointing stats about Beekyr

In this Blog post we are going to try to explain how our old school (hard) game tried to become a casual game:

Since October 2014,we have launched many versions of Beekyr for Android and OUYA.
We continuously were checking the game-stats from all players to tweak the game-play and make it more playable for everybody (or the casual gamers).

We reduced the difficulty many times: 
We made the game from something very hard to something playable. A few months after we added new difficulty levels to have something really boring for us but just easy enough to avoid the players getting stuck in some levels of the game.
Just to let you know, we added difficulty levels keeping the hard game-play for those who are good at shmup or similar hard video-games.

This is what we did:
  1. Initially we created the game based in the main developer game skills (a guy that can play Ikaruga till level 4 with no continues).
  2. Tested in many people and felt sorry for them... So we created a new Normal mode, and the previously called Normal, was moved into the Hard mode.
  3. Still felt sorry by looking at the stats... We created the Easy mode. 
  4. As people still was getting killed fast in vertical level, we added instructions.... that nobody would read...
    Tutorial level 2 - Instructions.

  5. Instead making the first level boring for everybody we decided to create a tutorial pack of 2 levels. And they became level 1 and 2. (World 0)
    Level 1 : Beginner
  7. People still got killed too soon and they still didn't read the instructions. They somehow go blind and just click click click (or tap tap tap)
  8. We forced the instructions to fill the screen for 2 seconds in the tutorial levels. And yeah! That worked!
  9. But still, there was plenty of deaths so we finally made Normal mode a bit easier and the easy mode was a lot easier... 
Level 2: Beginner

Level 2: Arcade

We went through all these steps to reduce mortality in our game and increase fun for those who are not that good playing... We did this till we released the latest version of Beekyr on the 10th July (for PC and iOS) we have learned that PC gamers play far better than smart-phone casual gamers. Not only that, casual gamers are terrible players! They just want crazy easy games.

So we ended up in a limbo where Beekyr played in the easiest level (novice) seems to be very boring to gamers. And really hard for those who are casual mobile gamers.

How do we know this? We had some crazy unexpected stats:

We gathered some stats of July 2014:

July Stats.

8050 times the game was opened.
There was 16.037 Game Over events.
From which, 6500 people died in Stage 3. (the old stage 1)

But what about the tutorial levels?
Tutorial levels
hardly have any enemies or bullets . And there are no obstacles.
We really though nobody would get killed in those levels but stats say otherwise:

Playing in NOVICE difficulty:

  • 733 games ended in stage 1
  • 476 games ended in stage 2

Playing in NORMAL difficulty:
  •  466 games ended stage 1
  • 1434 games ended stage 2
That makes a total of 3109 players died in the TUTORIAL levels in, what we think, easy modes.

That is the 20% of the games played are finished in the tutorial levels. (When players loses all 4 lives.)
At least we halved the game over events in Stage1: we went down from 6500 to 3100... Still pretty bad for first levels.

What does it mean?
Is this the end of the era of difficult games?
Shall we just make silly games for mobile-phones and stick with the real games into PC and consoles?
Will at least the indie studios won't make commercial games but fun and hard games?

Is people used to commercial games where they want to keep you playing to sell you later DLC, merchandising or sequels or the games. Is it good for the video games scene to keep lowering the difficulty to unreasonable levels just so sell more?

We, mostly the indie devs, come to save the world from boring & easy games!

Go on, try to play harder games, it is a lot more fun! And they're good for your mental skills! Play and challenge a game like Beekyr:

Beekyr : Eco Shoot'em up 

Remember us, KaleidoGames, we will never make easy games! You want hard fun games, then play our games. We won't disappoint you.

Stage 19: Expert mode

We believe that money comes AFTER the fun and the challenge.

By the way, Vortex Attack will be awesome!

Wednesday 30 April 2014

ATF experiments in Adobe AIR (in Android)



After we developed out latest app PerfectBrew for Android (helps you making teas!)
We realized it takes ages to load (well... 10 seconds!) but we want it faster. We had one unique texture atlas with PNG (2048x2048), fully crowded with everything....
In order to be able to expand our app later on we have decided to split it in 3 atlases (same contents for now)
  • 1 PNG (1024x2048)
  • 1 PNG (1024x1024)
  • 1 ATF (1024x2048)
We wanted to make sure we use ATF as much as possible without breaking the graphics (as it doesnt support preMultiplied Atlas!)

We compressed out PNG to ATF with:
png2atf.exe -c e -e -q 10 -4

And here are the results:

1 big PNG:
Loading time: 9-10 seconds.
VRAM used (right after loading) 3 PNGS: 31Mb

3 PNGs:
Loading time: 9-10 seconds.
VRAM used (right after loading) 3 PNGS: 37Mb

2 PNGs + 1 ATF:
Loading time: 8-9 seconds. 
VRAM used (right after loading) 2 PNGS + 1 ATF: 29Mb

We couldn't speed up the load unless we had some textures loaded AFTER the app started. But this was just an experiment where we forced the program to load everything at start.

We used ATFs in Beekyr (a ton of textures there!) and it was a lot more noticeable as there are a lot of ATFs in the game.

I hope this can be useful for somebody!

Monday 28 April 2014

Porting Beekyr for OUYA: (Part II)

After a few months of the release, the game was kind of hidden somewhere in OUYA market.

We barely had many downloads. We had an In App Purchase for 1.99USD.  It was a pretty good deal considering you are getting a good console game. But don' t be hasty, Master Meriadoc.

The current live port was running at very low FPS (25-30) with mayor slowdowns, and that was killing the experience. Not many people enjoyed the game as OUYA controller lagged even more than usual due the FPS problems (explained here) and its OUYA own native problems with WIFI-Bluetooth interferences, which has been fixed recently with 'ChupaCabra' firmware update.

Gamers thought the game was pretty bad, so it didn't have a chance of success... Download were pretty low (about -2 a day?) and sales almost zero.

We left that version and we lost all faith in OUYA ... So we would leave that version there till we could find a solution...

A few months after we got offerd to show our great game in RetroMadrid (thanks to Indie'o'rama !)it was a truly good second opportunity to show that Beekyr for OUYA as a good shmup / shoot em up game.

It was very important what we had to fix its performance problems and implement the rest of updates we have been working on for the GooglePlay version. We had to fix it!

After a lot of talks with the OUYA guys during months, they realized that Beekyr hawas the kind of game that should be running at 60FPS easily but the didn't know how to do it with Adobe AIR. Air was not the problem, it was OUYA OS and its forced 1080p resolution .. In fact I didn't find the answer anywhere. I had to dig in Android forums till I found something that could work, the answer was for Android tablets and since OUYA is android...... It could work. There was a way to limit high-resolution screens, forcing the app to display at lowers resolution. We could use half the 1080p resolution with a very simple line on the descriptor XML file...

Are you ready? This solution is nowhere else!

<supports-screens android:smallScreens="false" android:normalScreens="false" android:xlargeScreens="false" android:largeScreens="true" android:anyDensity="false" />

That's it.

With that line we are forcing the OUYA to run at 960 x 540.
OK, we admit the graphics are not as sharp but the game runs super smooth even with the screen full of bullets and enemies! That's what we want: 60FPS!

We liked the performance so much we improved some other bits of the game and added full support for X-ARCADE.

We went to that fair and after almost 20.000 bugs killed in one day and about 40 people played non stop in the whole fair.... We have the feeling this game has future and everyone in the fair loved it!

How about you?

Go for it, get the game now! It's super cool.
In just a couple of days we have had more downloads than in the past 3 months together!

Enjoy the high-frame rate!