Virome – Update

Virome is the new colour-matching game from Centrifuge – the makers of the hit drawing and describing game: Interference

It came about from a quick game we made for a game jam – where the theme was Small World. See previous posts for more on that.

After the great feedback we got from other game developers during the game jam, Ludum Dare, we decided to expand the game and put it out into all the app stores.

It had been called Superbugs, during the game jam, but once we decided to put the game out we discovered that there is already a game with that name. So, after consultation with an actual scientist (Berni’s brother at York University) we chose the name VIROME. It refers to the viruses that live in the human body – so it seemed appropriate. Plus – there was definitely no other game with that name!

Nathan expanded the original concept to include 28 increasingly difficult levels. Complete those and you unlock the Daily Viromes – a new Virome to defeat each day. This mode is ideal for competition among friends and family as you all see the same puzzle on each day.

There is also a Random Virome – which gives you a unique puzzle each time you click it. So, you’ll never run out of puzzles to try. As we say – a scientist’s work is never done!

It is now available in the app stores for Windows, Android, iOS and Amazon Kindle – check the website for links: viromegame.com

 

There are MANY colour-matching games out there – usually match three or more of the same colour to clear a grid. Virome is a different take on colour-matching that involves matching the colours to the viruses – which will involve some colour combining as well as making sure that no cell gets overdosed! It will have you addicted in no time. Download it now before it goes viral!

 

 

 

Zeitgeist – How Trump Influences Online Games

When you are running a game where there is mainly user content generated – like Interference our drawing and describing game – you get to see the current zeitgeist. With players being able to start games on any topic it’s something we find fascinating, seeing what subjects players describe and draw over time.

Recently, as you would expect, there’s been a lot of Donald Trump popping up in our games. Some seem to be complimentary and others humorous or insulting – as you might expect in real life! Not just our US players but everyone all over the world has an opinion on what he’s doing.

Descriptions that players put in to start new games have been showing what most consumes players’ thoughts – these include some of his key election pledges such as “Drain the swamp” or “Trump’s wall“.

It’s also interesting to read the discussions taking place between the players in the Comments after the games. Recently some have been upset about the negative representation on the President – and some have resolved to try to resist this in future – as our community is usually very supportive and respectful of each other.
As game devs we obviously have our own opinions – but Interference is resolutely neutral – like the BBC 🙂

During the election period there were fewer Hillary Clinton pictures or mentions – except in relation to Trump. For example the charming portrait below:

Obama didn’t get as much attention when he was president – but again can be seen popping up in relation to Trump in more recent months.

Needless to say – it’s not only our game that Donald J Trump is affecting – he has been appearing in more games that any US president before.

For example Surgeon Simulator added a special Trump mode where you could give him a heart transplant with a gold or stone heart (At the time of writing stone hearts are winning with 56%).

A new game called Mr President came out, where you play a bodyguard and can decided to save (or not) Ronald Rump, a billionaire president, from a raft of crazy assassination attempts.

There are a slew of mini games such as Trump Donald – where you can just spend all day blowing his hair with a trumpet.

So, love him or hate him at 100 days in to his presidency he’s certainly been influencing popular culture in a big way. All eyes are on him to see what he does next.

 

How to get Seen in the App Store – Maybe…

We have made our UWP (Universal Windows Platform) app for Interference – so how do we get it seen in the App Store? It’s an indie game and it’s free to play – but so are many others in the store.

However, it is also a really good game for all devices – especially those with pens, such as the Surface range – so therefore perfect for Windows Ink. It just so happens that there’s a Category in the Windows Store called “Apps for Windows Ink” – so how can we persuade the custodians of the Store to let our Interference app in?

The apps in there already have been there quite a long time and not many of them are new and on the Universal Windows Platform – so surely Interference would fit in well and be able to show off the Ink’s awesome capabilities.

However, we do not know who the mysterious custodians are – searches via Twitter or the internet do not yield any identities. Well, you can’t blame them – if they let us know who they were – they’d be bombarded with pleas, bribes and offers of all kinds of favours all day every day!

So, we wondered what we could do. Then we decided – let’s mount a CAMPAIGN! We would try to impress the @windowsstore via Twitter. We started back in January – with Day 1. Each day since we have tweeted at the store and included an amazing gif of one of our players playing Interference by drawing a picture.

We have tweeted a plea and a gif everyday since then – we are up to Day 41 today 🙂

Sometimes we try to appeal for sympathy:

Other times we are vaguely threatening:

Then we tried bribery:

So, how’s it going? Well, we’re not in Apps for Windows Ink yet (or even “Apps for Artists” ) – but it’s fun to do each day and just maybe one day….

 

Discoverability – the Struggle is Real!

So you’ve made your game and you think it’s awesome. Even your friends and family think it’s awesome – so how do you get people to play it? Or even find it among all the millions of games out there?

Thinking about Interference – our first game, we have new players join every day. They say things in the comments like:

Vick the Stick 2 days, 3hours ago
“This is hilarious! 😀 ”

PointyCatEars 10 minutes, 30 seconds ago
I laughed so much at this one X)”

Bun 4 days 6 hours ago
“OMG I’m dying here 🙂 How did I not know about this game?”

How indeed? That is one of the biggest problems for indie developers. How do you get eyes on your game?

So, what have we tried already?

  1. Internet
    As suggested by all the best guides on this “discoverability” problem we have got an eye-catching website and the front page features the highest ranked pictures of the week so far, as well as some reviews from the app store. We have also put how to play the game and a link to download the app – for players who don’t want to play the web version. We made it easy to join up and sign in – using Facebook or Twitter, or even a Microsoft login.
  2. Social Media
    Interference is on Facebook and Twitter and I post to both platforms several times a day. I choose both morning and evening to ensure we hit most time zones. Guides always stress that pictures make posts more interesting, so I always include some art work from the game:
    Recently – to make posts even more noticeable I have been posting animated gifs of particularly good or funny pictures to grab more attention. Check out our feeds to see more!
    Facebook doesn’t seem to work too well for the game. The only people who share the posts are my own personal page and the developers parents! We ask friends and family to share – but very few ever do. However on Twitter we have a lot more success. By following other indie game studios and devs, art and drawing groups and interesting individuals we have a good rate of retweeting and likes.
  3. Other websites.
    The biggest spike in new players came when we had an article on the MS Power User website. It was about an update we’d made to the Windows app – but we had a flurry of new players from all over, particularly Indonesia. We already have players from all over the world and this is one of the nice things about Interference – it’s not just a game it’s a community. So, what other websites can we use to promote our game?
    We found this useful list on LinkedIn – called Indie Games Pusher  a list of many webpages, blogs and other media that help Indie Game Developers. Just need to get on that now 🙂
  4. App Stores
    How to get on the front page of an app store – or even in a featured collection  and who decides this seems to be a well-guarded secret. Obviously the most popular games are there due to downloads and reviews and ratings. But, what about “Apps for Artists” and “Apps for Windows Ink“? Interference would be perfect for either of these collections and yet our pleas to the few Microsoft evangelists we know have not produced any results, yet.
    We have a brand new shiny Interference UWP App which we’d love to promote, yet many of the apps in these collections are old and have been there for a very long time. It would be lovely if the app store would feature new apps in here – even if it’s just for a few days. They could have a more vibrant and exciting collection if they did this. We’ll never get 1 million players without a bit of help! 🙂

In conclusion – we will keep on trying everything we can think of. We even went on a TV quiz show and talked about the game at length – we just hope they don’t cut it all out when they screen to show next month!
We’d love to hear from other indie devs about the cunning ways they have promoted and marketed their apps. Please get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn  🙂