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14 games in 2.5 years

We have just realized that ICYou Development Team has finished until now 14 games in 2.5 years of which 10 have been officially released, 1 unofficially released, then canceled together with another one. 2 more are going to be released in the next few months

Even if in fact there are only 2 games, technically, re-branding is serious work so it looks damn productive!

The 15th completely new project is in early development.

Prizes on the way

Hello!

We owe a huge amount of apologies to all those people who have been waiting for prizes for a long time. Our logistic issue has been solved so many prizes are on the way. We have probably managed to cover around 70% of the current winners and we anticipate to reach 100% next month.

We know that some of the prizes are not available anymore so we have contacted many of you to ask if we could send replacements. We really hope that you will forgive our lack of communication for the last 6-8 months and that you will accept our deepest apologies. Hopefully will not go through and experience like this again.

A happy end of the season to you all!

Huge Catchup

It has been more than 6 months since we have last updated this blog. Some reasons are objective, some subjective, but let’s say that we have recovered from a somehow complex situation. All good now, we go forward. This development team is doing better than ever.

So, the highlights for the last 6 months would be the following:

  1. We have “silently” released Manchester City Striker Challenge. The games looks good and people are playing it. More about this release once it is fully official
  2. We have “silently” released Chelsea FC Striker Challenge. The game is still in beta so there is not content available beside the Practice Challenge. But the game is out there.
  3. We haven’t released Celtic FC Striker Challenge and we don’t think we will release it. But the game is ready, so, who knows…
  4. We have almost finished Liverpool FC Striker Challenge but there seems to be some issues with another company having games with Liverpool FC. The project is on hold.
  5. We are almost done with Real Madrid Striker Challenge
  6. We are also working on a Chinese version of one of our game
  7. We are working on the third big project.

Considering the size of our team, I think we are really busy these days which is a damn good thing.

 

About Project Planning – Take 1

The summer is still here but some of us are back and a bit too relaxed maybe… But nonetheless, the things are moving. Of course, not as fast and efficient as usual since not all the team is back. But, we have planned for it.

One of the biggest issues in the game industry right now is bad planning. You don’t have to go that far to find out same stories everywhere – studios that have extremely talented people but who fail to deliver on time, budget or quality. Makes you wonder is there is an issue with people in this industry or with the nature of the industry in itself.

In our experience, failing to deliver on time can be ok if the budget and quality requirements are respected. On the other hand, failing to stay in the allocated budget can generate really big issues since you cannot make sure that you will provide enough Quality to justify going over budget. It is interesting that there is no ideal recipe. Video games are entertainment, but also a form of art. You never know how people will react to something that you create. That is why the Quality of the product cannot be properly guaranteed. As a result, investing in a video game on any platform comes usually with a higher risk than in other industries. On the other hand, high risk comes with great rewards. You never know when you will hit the jackpot… And the reason people are still heavily investing in this industry is related with the high amount of success stories out there. If you come to think about it, at the beginning of this year, Apple announced a record-breaking December with over $1 Billion in mobile app sales – Source.

Since quality cannot be guaranteed, it is probably best to strive for delivering on time and on budget. And here is where the planning is extremely important. You need to set yourself realistic goals and always strive for the perfect functionality of the minimum viable product instead of looking for perfection. But this is a different topic.

Planning is a complicated business even if sometimes it can look just like a list of things that have to be done and that is all. First of all, in this industry in most of the cases companies are made of very passionate and dedicated people. Many of them are not primarily motivated by money, they are motivated by striving for that “quality” that cannot be guaranteed.  This means that planning has to motivate people. And people are not so easily motivated by a list of tasks on a sheet of paper… Continue reading About Project Planning – Take 1

Striker Challenge done and submitted!

Last week we finally managed to finish the game. As a result, it has been submitted to the Apple Store where it awaits Apple approval. This process can take a while, depending on how many times we will be rejected.

Fear not! The rejections from Apple Store are a very common thing. Apple are doing policy changes on a weekly basis and that makes it really hard to keep up to sometimes. As a result, submissions succeeding on the first try are quite rare and they happen mostly for really experienced teams, who know how to properly handle a submission. We are almost there, with 8 successful submissions until now, of which 1 or 2 on the first try.

As you can see from the lack of posts on the developer blog it has been a tough period now, trying to finish the game before vacation. Even if we had to do some small feature cuts we have done it and the team should be really proud about this. Those who are familiar with the development process for games know how rare are those cases when you can finish on time with decent quality and in budget.

 

Since the only unknown in the process is the Apple Store submission outcome, we will probably release with the first teams in September. This doesn’t mean we are staying idle, of course. We will add a huge feature, Team vs Team, and we will further optimize the app. We still have some small features to add back. All these will be available on a later patch.

Meanwhile, Powershot needs constant care and maintenance and we still haven’t deployed the mega-patch, which is probably the patch with the most fixes and additions since Powershot was released.

But, it is vacation period now. July is here, Sweden shuts down…

Have a great vacation and see you in August!!!

Summer is here!!!

Week 24 updates

First of all, even if it is not entirely official,  we have a new name for our future product and it is Striker Challenge! The name has been chosen like this because this is what you do in the game – you get into the skin of your favorite player and you must finalize. You are a striker. Can you resist the challenge?!

Beside the name, we are now in what we call the “boring phase” of the new project. This means tuning the game mechanics, adjusting the interface, general quality assurance, translations etc. We are getting really close to the beta, which will be in about 3 weeks from now. Beta means game ready or the final testing period. Once in beta, we will run another week or so of additional testing and then the re-branding period will start. Right now is branded for Celtic FC, but we will need to do the same for 3 other teams.

*these are work in progress images. They do not represent the final look of the product.

The game will be ready for release after the transfer period ends, since the teams will swap players around and we will need to adjust the lineup. Since each player is “hand made” redrawing usually takes some time so we will actually have the game ready for release sometimes at the beginning of the autumn. An official release date will be announced.

Summer is also here, which means vacations. We will slow down a bit, of course, but we will continue working on the first patch for the mechanics, which is the support for team vs team competitions for Striker Challenge. Basically you will be able to play against other clubs, score and together with other fans like you, win really crazy prizes… More details in the future.

Powershot Challenge will also get his long awaited patch this summer, which will contain Applifier support, a lot of bug fixes and some game user requested improvements.

In the meantime, we are also thinking about our future game…

Jumping Winners

We run a highly competitive game. But even the most competitive game can be mastered which means that there is the possibility that if you learn a few good tricks, you can become a Champion.

We define a champion a winner that managed to win at least 5 challenges. Right now, across all our teams, we have many champions, and before we introduced the tier filtering system, we even had people winning as much as 15 times.

One thing that we have noticed is that many champions are jumping from a club to another and, obviously, they are winning there too. In this case, we think we might have a problem, because there is a very fine line between what is ethically fair in this particular case and what is allowed by the game itself.We have on one side the profit part and on the other side the service value and quality. While we need money to continue existing as a service, we also need ethics in order to maintain the actual “value” of our products. We define value not as how much it costs but in what the app means to you, the players.

A champion jumping to play from one club to another is allowed by all means. Winning different prizes is also allowed by the game mechanics. But that doesn’t mean is ethically fair. The fairness break down even further when a champion is limited to participating only in high tier challenges and he creates secondary accounts in order to win the low tier prizes too. And when a champion does all the above and also wins the same prize twice, in consecutive challenges, then we have a big ethical problem. We haven’t even talked about going after prizes that the winner cannot take advantage of.

What happens is that all the other players will rightfully feel cheated. You would think  – “But what do you care? A champion maybe spends a lot of money to win, so it is good business.”. Well, we do care. Good business also means fair business. Long term survival is based on how the “business”, which translates into actual people, us, is treating their customer base. We do not define our product as a money maker. Profit is important because it allows us to exist. But we like to think that what we have is a product that can bring the joy of a real collectible to the real fans, people who really care about their teams and who deserve those prizes by all means.  Allowing the service to be taken advantage of is bad business.

We know that Powershot can be frustrating sometimes because there can be only one winner per challenge. That is why we want to give everyone equal chances of winning. An “untrained” team has no chance against a champion team. It is “unfair” to match them against each other from the start.

Thus, since we manage each winner/champion personally and we don’t leave soulless systems to take care of it, we are aware of any issues or not-so-fair play situations. And yes, for those not playing fair, this is a friendly warning that can be followed by a swift resolve.

Not everything is perfect…

From time to time we have frustration periods coming. Sometimes are determined by external factors, sometimes are internal. In most of the cases both factors are contributing to an issue.

In developing our next game, for which we have name but we won’t tell yet, we had a pretty smooth period. Everything went as planned, even better actually, we have managed to squeeze in a longer polishing period and we also managed to add many new cool features. This means that somehow we are even a bit ahead of schedule, if we take in account the MVP of minimum viable product.

An MVP is usually thought with absolute minimum type of features that you need in order for the product to be good to be put on market. It does actually represent a completed product, it will work, but it is not containing any cherries on top. Think about a car without the actual improvements – the paint job is cheap, no acclimatization, plastic seats no heating, no acoustic isolation. But it does work and it will do the job.

One of the cool features in top of MVP we are implementing, for example, is Applifier. This is a great advertisement service that allows you as a user to gain in-game currency, while you, the developer, will receive money for advertisements watched by the user. It is a nice, non-invasive and fair service. Thus we want to use it across our apps to answer a question that we heard often from users – “Is there another way to gain Tokens?”.
All went smooth on Android until we tried to create an iOS version and we have hit an error which we have tried to solve for 2 weeks. Of course, 2 weeks in real time, because we cannot afford to spend too much time per day on fixing something that doesn’t work. We tried to contact Applifier guys, but we got no answer yet. This became a big frustration source because we really want this feature in our game, but we cannot have it for now due to strange issues.

In this cases there is usually one solution – feature cut and wait for better days. We might actually be forced to do this next week which we think it honestly sucks… But we need to move on.

The “Bugs” Time

I am sure most of you are familiar with what a bug is in software. If not, we can tell you they are the most nasty type of “bugs”, because they tend to be expensive and hard to “exterminate”. When and why do we deal with bugs, you may ask?

Well, we deal with bugs at the end of a production cycle. Whenever a product reaches one of the final stages, fixing things that don’t work or correcting things that are not done right is know as bug-fixing period and in some cases “Hell”. That is because some projects which are not managed correctly, can end up in a situation when they need major extended fixes and the bug-fixing will take more than the actual developing process. And that is usually very, very expensive. That is what makes the products to be postponed most of the time. In the rest of the industries, this is called the Quality Assurance period and it is a very important period…

Strange enough, in games industry the QA period is usually not considered so important. For some reason, most of the industry looks at it like this – “Well, there shouldn’t be any major bugs”. This approach may kill a product.  For a mobile game that has a very short life-spawn on a device, a major bug means a hit under the belt. Knock-out. That person who discovers that an app does not work , he/she will uninstall it immediately.

As a result, we have budgeted some serious QA time. This means more than 30% of the budgeted time for the actual development. Because it is not enough to have a fun product. You need it to function as intended as well.

Angry producer

As you can see, our producer is getting really stressed about it…

Summer is coming

Summer in Sweden is something really special. It is not only the fact that the nature is reacting explosive to long days and warmer weather, it also the fact that the Summer it is a very special treat for a cold northern country. You can already feel the vibes. People are more relaxed, smiling more often, walking slower, daydreaming… It is a nice feeling, yet discomforting at the end of a project :). Continue reading Summer is coming