Defendy Rocket: Development Update #9

DEFENDY ROCKET TRAILER

Before we begin, in light of the fact that the game hasn't really changed much over the last month or so, we've put together a new Defendy Rocket trailer, focusing on the sheer amount of customisation available in the game:

DEFENDY ROCKET PROGRESS

It's been a while since we wrote one of these development updates for Defendy Rocket. That's mostly because we've been trying to solve the remaining large, over-arching technical problems we needed to solve in order to release the game in a condition that we were happy with,  and there wasn't really much to talk about in the mean time.

For those that haven't kept up over the last couple of months, the advertising solution built into Unreal 4 (Admob banners for Android; iAD banner for iOS) isn't ideal. We really want to ship the game with interstitial video ads (UnityAds is our preferred vendor for this as they only focus on video game related ads and not "your phone has a virus" type ones) and the engine doesn't support it out of the box. We've spent the majority of the last month trying to work out what it would take for us to add support ourselves.

Well that month has been a mixed bag of downloading the Unreal 4 source for ourselves, failing to get the thing to compile iOS binaries with UE 4.8, then trying a preview build of UE 4.9, which would fix iOS but break our ability to deploy to Android. Finally Epic released UE 4.9 properly and that helped us fix most of the remaining issues (we've still got a little work to do with iOS, but we're in a place where we could ship the game tomorrow if we chose to).

Over the last two months we've had two plans, both involving shipping the game around mid September:

  1. If we successfully got UnityAds implemented, we would re-work Defendy Rocket's metagame to support video ads properly. We've had a big plan about this written down on paper for quite a while now and mostly involves incentivising playing the harder difficulty levels for more stars and/or presenting optional video ads to the player to award bonuses. Note: This absolutely does not mean adding egregious 'Free-2-Play' type mechanics, e.g. stamina bars or overpriced in-app purchases. We both hate these practices and you'll never see them in a TriCat game. 
  2. If we absolutely couldn't get UnityAds (or any other form of video ads) into the game, we would leave the game in its current form (basically what we shipped in BETA #2) and take the hit on any possible revenue the game could generate. Obviously this would not be ideal.

MAKING A DECISION

As we looked into creating a UnityAds plugin in-house, it became more and more clear that this wasn't going to be a realistically achievable task. Looking for support on the web just seemed to highlight how big a task this was going to be and that the people who had tried similar things had mostly failed to get anywhere. Without a full time programmer, or any plugin experience of our own, I think we could pull it off eventually, but we estimated it would probably take at least a month or two and we simply weren't willing to take the risk (bearing in mind, that for all we know, that might be two months before we hit a big technical snag and we just couldn't pull it off).

Luckily, rather than default to option #2, another option has presented itself to us in the last week or so:

It seems that right now there's at least one major vendor working on these sort of plugins for UE4: Prime[31]. Prime specifically has a couple of plugins that would suit our needs wonderfully and there's always a chance that, in the meantime someone will put out a UnityAds plugin. Epic have also mentioned video ads recently, so we're curious to see what they suggest.

This got us thinking about where we should go next. There's not a lot of reason for us to release Defendy Rocket right now (we're not going to run out of savings any time soon and we have no publisher obligations). There is the question of when exactly the right time is for Defendy Rocket's release, but there's no reason to think any time soon would do it any favours. And so, late last week we made the following decision:

We're putting Defendy Rocket on hold until the correct time to release it presents itself.

Basically means we'll be transitioning onto another project in the next week or so and keeping on eye out for an advertising solution that we're happy with, rather than spending any more time dealing with this stuff in house.

OUR NEXT PROJECT

In the mean time, we've invested a lot in mobile development (we bought a Mac Mini; an Apple developer ID - for which we needed to spend money on an @tricatgames.com email address, a company iPad and various other bits and pieces to help support us) so we've decided to produce another mobile game. 

We've yet to discuss any details about what this game will be, but we're aiming to make a much smaller game than Defendy Rocket, with the aim to release it in a very short time span (~1 month). We'll obviously discuss this a lot more once we've had time to sit down and decide what this will be.

WRAPPING UP DEFENDY ROCKET

One of our plans for Defendy Rocket was to put out a much bigger BETA test than the ones we've done so far, focusing on testing the videos ads and the meta game surrounding it. Originally, when we discovered that getting the video ads into the game was going to take longer than originally expected, we put everything about this on hold and released a smaller BETA test instead.

Now that we've decided to definitely implement video ads (and the focus has shifted from 'IF' to 'WHEN') we've decided to release that larger BETA test after all. Pretty much immediately in fact. But obviously we don't have video ads ready to go right now, so we came up with another plan:

  • This week we'll be finishing up the last few bits and pieces of the game and reworking the meta game to support video ads.
  • For now, the 'video ads' will just be presented as a 30 second, un-skippable animation of the Defendy Rocket logo moving across the screen. This will give us enough feedback about whether these ever become intrusive to the user.
  • Early next week (hopefully) we'll be releasing that final BETA test to a much larger crowd than the previous ones. We'll then transition onto the above mentioned mobile project.
  • As we continue work on the new game and wait for an advertising solution to present itself, we'll be keeping a eye on the feedback for Defendy Rocket and making changes and performing bug fixes as necessary. The idea being that, when the time comes, we will be switching in the real video ads, submitting to Apple and releasing the game almost immediately.

JOINING THE BETA

If you have any interest in being part of this final BETA test and you have access to an Android device (mobile/cell or tablet), please email: tricatgames@gmail.com and provide us with your name and Google play email address (we cannot add you to the BETA test group without it).

Posted on September 7, 2015 .