Monster Snack – What It Is and How It Came to Be!

Those of you following up with our news on Facebook and Twitter, may have already heard about our upcoming iOS game, Monster Snack.

Monster Snack - What it is and how it came to be!

Soon after the release of Fashion Getaway, we decided to take a break from long development cycles. Thus came to be the idea of a fast-paced, rather unforgiving, endless runner. And we were going to finish it in just 1 month, from conception to App Store submission!

Continue reading

Posted in Development, Game Design, iOS, Monster Snack, Usability | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Total Game – Shape Your Game’s Present and Future

In a very concise blog post on free-to-play game design by Nicholas Lovell, I watched marketing theory evolve once again. I have to be honest, it had been quite some time since I last saw any marketing concept re-modeled to fit an industry as seamlessly.

To cut a long story short, Lovell presented two marketing concepts, AIDA and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but with an interesting gaming twist; the renowned Funnel model and his Pyramid, respectively. If you’re not familiar with the two traditional marketing concepts, I highly recommend that you give yourself a chance to look them up.

Although both the Funnel and the Pyramid are great tools to keep everyone in a game development studio on the same page, when it comes to actual development and the need to monetize, there were a couple of things that weren’t stressed enough, if at all; competition and future potential.

Continue reading

Posted in Game Design, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game Usability Testing for Indies: It’s Easier than you Might Think! (Part 2)

This is the second in a three-part series of articles detailing how we designed and deployed usability testing for our latest iOS game, A Clockwork Brain.

The research, design, and deployment of usability testing took one month from start to finish. Prior to this, none of us had any experience with designing formal usability testing. I, myself, have had some experience in questionnaire design and facilitation of experiments, based on previous work in university research.

The first article explained our choice of hardware and software and detailed the set-up costs. This article examines the game itself and explains its usability testing procedure.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • Knowing your game.
  • What kind of players we wanted to invite and how we recruited them.
  • Discovering what to test.
  • Designing the first (of the two) usability scenarios.
  • Using the iGEQ questionnaire and open-ended questions, during testing.

Let’s begin!

Continue reading

Posted in A Clockwork Brain, Total Eclipse, Usability | 1 Comment

Game Usability Testing for Indies: It’s Easier than you Might Think! (Part 1)

As some of you may know, Total Eclipse is a small studio, with a core team of five. Even though we’re small, we consider usability testing very important.

In the past, for three of our largest productions we had a publishing agreement. The publisher had been in charge of doing usability & beta testing for our games, with camera recordings, questionnaires, targeted player groups, the whole lot. We used to get the videos and watch them as a team afterwards. I’ve got to tell you, especially during the usability, those videos were most of times heart-breaking and not in a good way. That taught us how important usability is and how crucial it is to test things outside our core team.

In our studio, we also tested our games with friends and family but in a much more informal setting – them playing, and us, behind their backs watching and keeping notes. However, for the last two years we’ve turned to self-publishing; we no longer have access to a publisher’s usability perks. As a result, for our latest iOS game, A Clockwork Brain, we decided to design the usability session from scratch. Continue reading

Posted in A Clockwork Brain, Total Eclipse, Usability | 4 Comments

10 Things I Learnt from Hiring the Wrong Person

Our latest endeavor at Total Eclipse is a puzzle game for iOS devices, titled A Clockwork Brain. It’s a spin-off from our very successful Hidden Object/Adventure series, The Clockwork Man and we’re about to release it in the coming weeks.

There came a point in the production of the game that we decided it was time to move from the prototype graphics we’d been using until then, to the final ones that we had envisioned.

That meant that we had to look for an artist, who would be working remotely, full time on the illustrations and UI elements that were needed for the game. Since this task
was to involve a freelancer, I decided to place an ad and wait for the right person to
come by. Continue reading

Posted in A Clockwork Brain, Art, Business, iOS | 5 Comments

Managing Assets – Part 2: Setting Naming Conventions

This is the second part of the “Managing Assets” series of posts and deals with asset naming. If you missed the first part, on asset quality, you can find it here.

Asset Management - Part 2: Setting Naming ConventionsAsset naming conventions reflect a really simple concept: How to name assets, or parts of assets. However, when it comes to adhering to those conventions, it’s anything but easy. Continue reading

Posted in Maya's Dress Up | 3 Comments

The Story Behind Storytelling – Part 1

The Clockwork Story: Genesis

The modern day has seen some dramatic changes in the field of writing. Less than a hundred years ago, a reader could expect a novel with paragraphs that went on for a page and exposition that carried on for an eternity. That was a time of tell, don’t show and visual writing was unheard of.

The Story Behind Storytelling - Part 1

A novel these days tends to be quick paced, consisting of three lines conjuring images to the mind. This has largely been the result of how pervasive movies have become. Eventually, the precepts of screen-writing seeped into novels and short stories, changing the nature of writing at its core.

My education was firmly rooted in classical literature. I’m a movie fanatic and love plays. Video games were a hobby and pastime that I really loved but I never thought about writing for them more than passively (usually when a game’s story was bad and I thought that there was no way I could do worse). Still, familiarity breeds curiosity and when the opportunity came about, I couldn’t turn it down. Continue reading

Posted in The Clockwork Man, The Clockwork Man 2, Total Eclipse | 5 Comments

Managing Assets – Part 1: Setting Asset Quality

Today I’m going to talk about the way we work with assets here at Total Eclipse. This first post on asset management will discuss quality, forward planning, and balance.

Managing Assets - Part 1: Setting Asset Quality

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Maya's Dress Up | 5 Comments

The Clockwork Man – Steampunk goes Casual!

This article was originally posted at Gamezebo.com on Aug. 30th, 2010. We have since updated some of the images and text.

The birth of The Clockwork Man World

Think London, England, turn of the 19th century. You are walking down glistening wet streets dressed in your best Sunday dress (or gentlemen’s suit). Something momentarily blocks the sun; you glance up and see a commercial zeppelin flying above, probably bound for Heathrow. The world of The Clockwork Man is much like our own, and yet not. It is filled with wonders of Steampunk fiction, where the ingenuity of the industrial revolution blends with futuristic steam-powered machines. An amalgam of anachronistic technology, Victorian values, fashion and décor makes up this familiar and yet fictitious world that had never been attempted in a casual game before. Back in 2008, creating something like this was quite a challenge (and risk) for us in Total Eclipse.

Still from The Clockwork Man introductory scene

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Business, Our games, The Clockwork Man, The Clockwork Man 2, Total Eclipse | 3 Comments

Sharing outfits between users in Maya’s Dress Up

Maya’s Dress Up is our most recent game, available on iOS devices. It’s a dressup/make over game where the player gets to style up Maya and her friends, using various clothes and accessories. Because we believed that players might like to publish their creations, we included sharing features, such as Publish on Facebook and Email to a Friend, ever since v.1.0.0. The player has been able to send an email to a friend, attaching a screenshot of an outfit she had created, along with a URL to the game’s website.

Outfit sharing in Maya's Dress Up

As part of our next game update, we wanted to let players import an outfit that a friend had sent them. In other words, if the receiving player had the game installed on her device, she could import the styling selections of her friend directly into the game.

The easiest and most obvious way to do that was to use Custom URL Schemes.

Continue reading

Posted in Development, iOS, Maya's Dress Up, Our games | 1 Comment