I’m now on Twitter

Anyone who’s interested about hearing about what I’m up to, what games I’m working on and updates on new releases might like to follow me on twitter:
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Also if you want to hear about what games are being put up on my games site, BadViking.com, then you can follow that feed on Twitter as well: Follow BadVikingGames

April 3rd, 2011 Articles Tags: , , , , 0 Comment

I have fans!

This really is great news. I know that a lot of people around the world enjoy playing my games but every now and then I hear from people who seem to have got that little bit more out of a game than most.

I recently got a message from someone who must surely be The Legend of the Golden Robot’s biggest fan. He has reached level 218, killing 5,161 monsters along the way and plans to keep playing until he reaches level 300! That is some serious dedication! If anyone else out there claims to be a bigger fan I’d love to hear from you.

Then the other day I got a message from someone who said he had written a song about Hambo. I wasn’t too sure if he was pulling my leg or not but sure enough this morning I received an email with a link to Hambo Power Song II. Listen to the song here. Mr. Gee has written a whole load of crazy songs that can also be found on that site. Some of them are already game names in themselves so I might just have to see if we can use one for a future game…

March 30th, 2011 Articles Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

Hambo

Another new game! Golden Robot and Hambo ended up being released almost at the same time (just because we had to wait on our sponsor before releasing Golden Robot).

The idea for Hambo came to me pretty randomly while watching TV. People often ask how I get my ideas so I’ll explain what happened with this one. I’d been thinking about doing a physics type game for a while but wasn’t too sure which direction to go in. Two adverts actually inspired this one. Firstly there was an advert for a bank which showed a load of cute little piggy banks running around and then the next advert was a Ferrero Rocher ad where an arrow was fired at a pile of chocolates sending them flying. Almost instantly my subconscious offered up ‘Pig Rambo’ and I knew straight away that I was onto a winner!

RobotJAM did the art once again (and came up with the genius name of ‘Hambo’ for the game). He had a clear vision of how he wanted the game to look before starting, opting for a cute style which suits the game nicely.

We worked pretty quickly on this one, going from idea to full game in about two weeks. The box2d physics engine made all the physics side of things nice and easy and Playtomic handled the level sharing so the majority of the work was in building the level editor (and making it simple enough for anyone to use) and then designing the levels.

We both made a bunch of levels (and my brother George made a couple as well) and then we weeded out the ones that we felt weren’t as good and arranged them into some sort of order.

I’m optimistic about how this game will go down. Initial statistics certainly look very promising (it did a pretty huge 385,000 plays yesterday). It’s rare that I’ll still enjoy a game after testing it over and over but this one I’m still coming back to. It’s great seeing what other people are coming up with in the user levels so be sure to make some yourself!

Play this game…

February 27th, 2011 Games Tags: , , , , , , , 21 Comments

The Legend of the Golden Robot

This game actually started development before Toxers but I didn’t get involved in the project until later. RobotJAM had started the game himself but it was too big a project for one person really so I stepped in to help out.

The basic idea of the game is an RPG where you play as an Indiana Jones style treasure hunter, Indigo Steve. The gameplay consists of fighting enemies and digging up treasures using a similar system to the classic minesweeper game. There’s also an inn where you can play mini-games, a shop where you can buy better gear, and a levelling up system so that you can improve your stats.

Fighting is turn based and we tried to keep it simple while still maintaining an element of strategy. To mix things up a bit we put some ‘special items’ in that can only be found by digging them up which have different effects. We also put some buddies in which are little animals that fight for you, giving you a bonus effect. Buddies can be found fighting for mini bosses so you have to defeat them before they will join your cause.

The Golden Robot will join your side if you can find him and is the only way to defeat the evil wizard. He has been dismantled and is buried in five pieces.

I hope you enjoy playing!

Update:
If you want to find out more about how we made Golden Robot then there’s a lovely article all about it here.

Play this game…

February 26th, 2011 Games Tags: , , , , , 24 Comments

Spitfire: 1940

With the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain last year came a flurry of programs on TV honouring the heroic deeds of those that fought to defend their country. It was inspiring stuff so inevitably I felt the need to make a game on the subject.

There are already plenty of games where you fly around shooting planes down so we opted for a different approach in Spitfire: 1940, choosing instead to put the player in charge of the whole operation involved in defending Britain. We thought we could do a good job of it but were never 100% certain that it would make for a fun game and there was a lot of tweaking to be done before we were happy with it. In the end though I feel that it turned out pretty well and I have enjoyed playing it myself so I hope others will too.

It’s one of the more serious games that I have made with robotJAM (artist on many of my games) and a departure from our usual tendency to add humour to our games. We felt that this deserved a certain level of respect and with that in mind did plenty of research around the subject and tried to base the statistics for the planes based on how they performed in real life.
Play this game…

January 24th, 2011 Games 23 Comments

How Does a Flash Game Developer Make Money?

People often ask me how I make money developing flash games since they are free for people to play. Hopefully this short article will offer some insight into how to monetize flash games and provide some data that might be of use (or at least interest) to other developers or people wanting to make money from flash games.

The short answer is that almost all of the money in the flash games industry comes from advertising. I make some money from having adverts in games and I have a site (BadViking.com) where I also show adverts. Sites with bigger user bases are able to make significant amounts of money by showing adverts. In order to obtain those user bases these sites pay to sponsor games (among other things).

What that means is that they pay for the right to have their logos and links put into a game. Because of the viral nature of a flash game it will quickly spread to many sites (provided it is good enough) and will be played several million times generating a significant amount of traffic (and therefore advertising revenue) for the sponsor of a flash game.

Of course it doesn’t always work out that way. Some games will flop and the sponsor could make a loss so they have to choose carefully which games to sponsor. Make a good enough game though and you could certainly net a very nice sponsorship deal which is what can make being a flash game developer profitable. At the short end of the spectrum there are games that go for a few hundred dollars but at the other end there are games that can sell for tens of thousands. Primary sponsorship deals make up almost 70% of my revenue.

It doesn’t stop there though. Most sponsors allow you to sell secondary licenses of your game. In these versions of the game you switch out the branding for that of another sponsor with the condition that the new version is locked to one site and is not allowed to spread virally. Obviously these sell for less than the main sponsorship but are still a valuable source of income and currently account for 10% of my revenue.

The rest is made up by advertising, whether that be in the game or on my website. The one source that we don’t get any revenue from oddly enough is our user base. We rely on the users to generate advertising income but they don’t actually give us anything in return for the right to play our games. In some ways that does seem like an untapped source of income but on the other hand it would be a huge shame to have to make users pay for the wealth of free games that can be found on the internet.

It seems though that we are on the verge of change as micro-transaction systems are starting to crop up in many of the top quality games on offer. Happily this does not mean that we are about to see the end of free entertainment on the internet. Almost the opposite in fact. Every day free to play games with higher production values than ever before are being developed.

I myself have implemented micro-transactions in one of my newest games, Toxers. Players can spend a bit of money to buy extras for the game such as fun weapons or in-game currency. I had been hopeful that this could be a great additional source of income without compromising the free to play philosophy but it seems that the majority of players do not share this viewpoint.

Some people do pay for some of the extra content in Toxers which is great but the income from that has been somewhat disappointing. It is hard to tell whether Toxers simply wasn’t the right game for micro-transactions. Certainly there have been some big successes with micro-transactions but we will have to think hard about whether they are worth the extra effort spent developing the additional content in future games, not to mention the negative response from players who don’t appreciate the idea of spending money in flash games.

January 11th, 2011 Articles 14 Comments

Blow Things Up!

Another new game out! That’s three within about a week of each other. Obviously they haven’t only taken me a few days to make they’ve all just been sitting waiting for sponsors and release dates to come along.

Blow Things Up is my first attempt at using box2d, a physics engine that handles all the collisions and physics simulation in the game. It’s a fantastic tool that is very versatile and can be used for any number of game ideas.

Blow things up started out with me just playing around and trying to get to grips with box2d. The original game featured a character that could shoot cannons at structures to knock them down and I was going to invent a whole bunch of different weapons that would help him achieve his goal. With that in mind I started trying to come up with a way to create realistic looking explosions using box2d but once I had a method I decided that it was so much fun just clicking to create explosions that I could make a game using just that as the core idea.

The actual method I used to create the explosions was fairly straightforward but it seems to produce good results so I decided not to delve deeper into creating a more sophisticated method. Basically all I’m doing is applying a force to the centre of an object if it is within the blast radius and the force strength is greater the nearer the object is to the blast. This does have drawbacks (the main one being that if an object is really large then the bomb might register as being too far away to affect it even though it is right next to it since it is only actually registering at the centre of the object) but I feel that it generally works well in the scope of this game.

The main difficulty in making Blow Things Up was coming up with good level designs. I made a simple level editor to help me make the levels which did the job reasonably well but I found it very tough to come up with a variety of levels that were both challenging and fun. I think the levels ended up being a bit on the easy side but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Players don’t always like to have too much of a challenge and there are at least a few levels in there that are a bit trickier than others. I wanted players to enjoy the experience of just having fun blowing things up and not getting too bogged down by levels that were too difficult. Also, to add more of a challenge for those players who want it, I added in a trophy system which will award you a trophy if you use the minimum number of bombs possible for a level.

Update: I feel that I should update this post just to say that in its 2nd day of going live this game had just under 250,000 plays, a new record for me for the most plays from a single game in one day :) That equates to almost 3 plays every second over a 24 hour period! I’m very pleased with how the release of this one is going.

Play this game…

Toxers

Two games released in two days! Toxers is without a doubt my biggest and most ambitious project yet and happily that was reflected in the sponsorship deal that we managed to get for it. The bulk of the work for this game actually came when it was in its final stages. We spent a considerable amount of time bug testing and balance testing and just adding in those extra bits of polish to ensure that come release it was as good as it was ever going to be.

In Toxers you take on the role of unlikely hero Bob Steel in a post-radioactive-ice-cream-factory-explosion Metropolis city (yes, in case you hadn’t noticed we like to add the odd bit of humour into our games. Our Panda series is a good example of that). As Bob Steel you are tasked with searching through a bug infested city while seeking out survivors, completing missions and upgrading your firepower.

The actual game design came from one of Rob’s (robotJAM, the artist that I’ve worked with on several games now) friends, Cathy. She was also a huge help when it came to play-testing and spent hours painstakingly playing through the game to make sure that it was all working the way we wanted. The game’s difficulty was something that we struggled with for a while. We wanted to keep it challenging throughout to keep players interested but not so difficult that they would give up. That involved a lot of tweaking of both weapon and bug stats but hopefully we got there in the end.

The toughest enemy in the game is a huge bug called Bugzilla and he’s everything you’d expect from a final boss! Bugzilla is not easy to defeat but it is certainly possible (and can be made easier if you choose to buy premium items).

One reason for making a more ambitious project was because we wanted to trial micro-transactions properly to find out if they really are a viable revenue option for the future. Initial statistics look promising and I will be giving an update to my thoughts on micro-transactions post as soon as I feel we have enough reliable data to make a more informed decision about them.

In the meantime check out the game and have a look at the premium section to see how we’ve implemented the mochicoins micro-transaction system.

Play this game…

November 13th, 2010 Games 10 Comments

Brain Waves

It’s been a while since I’ve released a game so it feels great to be getting another one out there but it’s not because I haven’t been busy! In the time since I released The Dreamerz I have in fact finished four games that are all in various stages of being released. Oddly enough Brain Waves was the last of those four to be made but it is the first to be released. Sometimes sponsorship deals can take a while to finalise and then the sponsor might want to wait to release the game. Also most sponsors seem to ask for a period of exclusivity where the game only appears on their site before it goes live. All that can mean that it can take a while for games to actually get released.

Brain Waves on the other hand went from idea to release in around two weeks which is a pretty speedy development cycle. The other games that will appear on here soon were far bigger projects and took a considerable amount of designing, creating and bug testing before they could be deemed ready for release.

As a result we (robotJAM and myself) wanted to do a much simpler project that we could finish quickly before getting stuck into the next big project (which incidentally is already under way). We drew inspiration from other simple but effective games that often involve several minigames in an attempt to make something that was fun, challenging and competitive. We had seen some other games that involved reaction/skill tests that seemed like they had potential but were generally lacking and we felt we could do better.

We put together a series of minigames that we felt would test people and bring out their competitive side. Leaderboards and facebook integration were a must for this kind of game to enable players to compete with other people around the globe as well as their friends. This is the first time I have attempted to integrate a game with facebook and (with help) it seemed very simple to set it up so that you could post a score to your facebook account (although it must be said that I didn’t play a very big part in setting that up! I have Rob and another developer he often works with, Long Animals, to thank for that).

Anyway, enough waffling, I hope you enjoy playing and competing in Brain Waves! Make sure you post some scores to facebook. I look forward to seeing what kind of impact that might have on the viral spread of the game.

P.S. Stay tuned for my new releases which will be updated soon. Toxers is my biggest game so far in all respects and will hopefully be going up tomorrow.

Play this game…

November 11th, 2010 Games Tags: , , , 11 Comments

Bad Viking

BadViking.com

If you have played a few of my games you may have noticed that some of them appear to be sponsored by a site called BadViking.com. This is actually my own website and I have self-sponsored several of my games (meaning I have my links and logos in the games). BadViking.com differs from this website in that I host games on there from other developers as well as my own.

I hand pick all the games that go onto BadViking.com by playing them first to make sure they are of a high enough quality. I also try to ensure that the site is family friendly, something that I believe to be an important consideration.

The Bad Viking brand was something that I came up with one afternoon after deciding that it was about time I owned a website to publish games on. I drew several little viking characters and refined them until I had something that I liked. The actual name of the brand came later. I bounced a few ideas around, Red Viking, Little Viking, etc before finally settling on Bad Viking. When coming up with a website name a big factor is whether or not the site name is available and I think ultimately that was what led me to BadViking.com.

The decision to self-sponsor some games was made in an attempt to drive more traffic to BadViking.com. It’s a more long term strategy to trying to make money from Flash games since you don’t get the up-front payment that you get with a sponsorship. Instead you have to hope that over time your website will become more popular and that you can make more money from on-site advertising.

I found it difficult to decide whether to aim for sponsorships or to go for the website model but now that I have given both methods a proper run out I have opted to focus my attention more on developing than on publishing. There is a lot of competition in the publishing sector and a large number of already established sites with huge user bases. As a developer you don’t really get the sense that you are competing with other developers. A good game is a good game no matter what other developers are producing around the same time.

I do still maintain BadViking.com and publish games regularly but it is not my main priority at the moment.

September 26th, 2010 Articles Tags: , , , , , 0 Comment

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Bad Eggs Online 2

Bad Eggs Online 2

Escape To Hell

Escape To Hell

The Ninth Realm

Falling Elephants

Falling Elephants

Super Villainy

Super Villainy

Hambo 2

Hambo 2

Ninja Bear

Ninja Bear

Bad Eggs Online

Bad Eggs Online

Battle Beavers

Battle Beavers

Synapsis 2

Synapsis 2

The Adventures of Red

The Adventures of Red

Blow Things Up! 2

Blow Things Up! 2

Animal Raceway

Animal Raceway

Hambo

Hambo

Legend of the Golden Robot

Spitfire: 1940

Spitfire: 1940

Blow Things Up!

Blow Things Up!

Toxers

Toxers

Brain Waves

Brain Waves

The Dreamerz

The Dreamerz

Panda's BIGGER Adventure

Panda's BIGGER Adventure

GearCopter

GearCopter

Popopop 2

Popopop 2

Planet Basher 2

Planet Basher 2

Panda's BIG Adventure

Panda's BIG Adventure

Planet Basher

Planet Basher

Orbit

Orbit

Popopop

Popopop

Panda: Tactical Sniper 2

Panda: Tactical Sniper 2

Bubblebot

Bubblebot

Panda: Tactical Sniper

Panda: Tactical Sniper

Salmon Survival

Salmon Survival

Pondskater

Pondskater