How to develop a mobile game, release it and get first installs in 2 months without relevant gamedev experience

Is it hard to create a mobile game? Well, you can do it, because I have released game that was developed, coded, drawed, published and promoted by myself! That's the story how it was

How to create a mobile game

Game creating process starts from an idea, isn't it. Yes, if you an amateur. And No it's not starting from an idea if you a Pro or, let's say, if we're talking about commercial level game.

The proper game creating process starts from market research and analysis. And that's what I did.

Crimsonland

I think you know this game. We were spending hours smashing those strange creatures and getting those magic abilities and perks. That was awesome!

Crimsonland Android Mobile Screenshot
Crimsonland Android Mobile Screenshot

So I tried to repeat my childhood game experience and install mobile version of Crimsonland that is available right now. Aaaand I didn't like it :( What exactly dissapointed me:

  • Mobile game is complitely different from desktop. And what was convinient on desktop is totally uncomfortable to me to play on my Smartphone
  • Original Crimsonland is very dynamic and engaging. And mobile version with exactly the same gameplay is not so funny and dynamic. It's boring :(

Just 2 points but it's critical. Crimsonland is a beautiful game. But it's about desktop PC. The same gameplay and mechanics loses everything it has on mobile. So that's the point and that was the starting point to me.

I know this idea works and it fits market needs (because as I know Crimsonland is commercial positive product, but I just guessing). Than I just need to make mechanics and gameplay more casual and mobile-friendly. But save zombies, creatures and this simple and addictive behavior for a user.

And yes, I think you get the "Crimsomania"-name now

Developing Game Mechanics

To understand the process I have start from the very beginning.

When I had started Crimsomania there were a lot of rogue-like games. But classic rogue-like game is kind of boring to me. It's about looting, long play and something else. So I don't like classic version of rogue-like games. End that I excluded this type of gameplay (or I guess - architecture would be better here) from the list.

But there was no Archero-game when I had started Crimsonland. Because Archero is a rogue-like game with casual mechanics added. And that's brilliant!

Archero Android Gameplay Screenshot
Archero Android Gameplay Screenshot

But you know what? I am not a Pro Game Developer. And I just didn't know about Brawl Stars with its gameplay that I didn't know I was looking for

Brawl Stars Android Gameplay Screenshot
Brawl Stars Android Gameplay Screenshot

Ok. I was choosing between several main game mechanics:

1. The Character is standing and only able to shoot. The enemies are going from the top to the bottom

Game Mechanic #1
Game Mechanic #1

2. The Character is standing and able to move to the left or to the right and only able to shoot in the line direction in front of him

Game Mechanic #2
Game Mechanic #2

Hm... It reminds a classic fly-shooter! Exactly. And again - I didn't know about mechanics where a user is able to move the character in any direction. So sad )

So how to choose between two options above? To make a decision I need to look wide-eyed.

Setting and environment

Do I have static level or dynamic? Of course I want to create a AAA-game with tones of well-designed levels, but I'm a single poor developer and I have limited resources. So there are two options: all levels are static or levels are dynamic generated

Visual style of my game that I preferred didn't match with generated maps (levels), so there was only one option - the levels are static.

Ok. The levels are static, so the character is not going anywhere. It's static too. And that means that moving the character to the left or to the right doesn't make any sense. So it's obvious, option 1 is my main game mechanic:

Game Mechanic #1
Game Mechanic #1

Looking ahead it's boring and poor gameplay mechanic ) but first things first.

Level Design

I made a couple of backgrounds just to make the picture not so dull. And for decoration I created some static stuff like fence or damaged cars. It's not perfect, but I thought I'd do it better when there were some game purchases from my users. I've never been so wrong

Levels Backgrounds
Levels Backgrounds

Meta

In order to add some meta\looting I developed different types of wall that can be destroyed by the enemies.

To making a lot more fun and increase retention I added different types of weapon with its own features:

1. Simple Gun. Low shooting speed, low damage

2. Uzi. Automatic Middle-end weapon

3. Shotgun

4. Mini gun. Powerful auto-killer

5. Bazooka. Low shooting speed, but huge damage

6. Multi Missiles Machine. Like Bazooka, but multi shots!

7. Nail Gun. Shots with nails that fly through all the enemies

8. Freezer Machine. Damage + freeze

Collectibles

What's next. Collectibles. It's nice and enjoyble element of the game. We love loots. Items appears in random order and in random place. Some types of items appears more often than others. For example, Doom Items is more unique and more powerful, so the player has less chance to get it.

I tried a couple of mechanics for collectible items:

  • You need to hold your finger for some time to collect it
  • You need just tap on the item to collect it
  • You need tap several times to collect it

And it's interesting moment. Holding a finger on the item looks good. But in this option the gameplay loses some dynamic. The player can't increase the speed of looting. And that's the point. In this moment the player becomes just a passive player. If you are not able to do anything all is left - just hold your finger and wait. "Wait". In hypercasual games its a part of gameplay. But here it's something bad.

So the player has to do something. He has tap. And here it is. Here are some dynamic in our boring gameplay. But it's not the end. I can do it a lot more dynamic and engaging.

First of all, I added a progress bar for every collectible item. That's right - the player has to do multiple taps on the item to collect it. Just pretend... the enemies are going in front of you, they are attacking you, people are dying, you'll gonna lose your defending wall you'll gonna die! And here are some juicie collectible with... a lil bit money...or Doom Item that is able to destroy all the enemies in one moment! Yeah! You start tapping until you get it. In this moment the player going through the hardest decision - what to choose: attack the enemies or collect the item that can save him.

Nice!

Oh yeah... one moment. I made random count of taps a player has to do to collect it. Who's the evil now? :)

UI, Menu, Meta

You spend 20% of your time in game menu at least. And the Menu is what you see for the first time you open my game. That is the very first touch. And it's very important for me as a player. So it needs to be good.

Crimsomania Game UI Elements
Crimsomania Game UI Elements

For zombie game I took classic grunge-postapocalypsis-dirty style. I developed buttons, panels, progress bar, backgrounds and of course - beautiful animated effects.

And for a cherry on a cake I wrote two melodies: one for the menu and one for the main game:

It was my first fully released game and it's not perfect. Actually I think it's pretty shitty now. But it was nice as gamedev experience and C#-practice. C-syntax, compiling, courutines and lots of this stuff - that was nice

And in case you want to try my game - follow the link (GooglePlay)

P.S. You may ask "Hey, you were talking about first installs!". Yes. If you're a newbie in GameDev, you may find a lot of materials about HOW TO CREATE a mobile game. But there are extremely little information about HOW TO PROMOTE the game you've developed.

And it's a huge layer of GameDev industry. I'm not gonna talking about it because I now nothing about it :) My game has 100+ installs right now in GooglePlay. How did I get it? I'm experienced in GoogleAdwords. And I prepaired and tuned a company for promoting Crimsomania when I'd finished it. Aaaand I did some tiny mistake in my GoogleAccount... I chose a post-payment method. And in this case Google Starts your company which I didn't want to, because my company wasn't ready.

Anyway Google launched Ads I'd created and that's how I got my first installs. I payed around $50 for 50 installs from India. Yep. That's it. Pay attention for what you do :)

Thank you for your time!