Well, the Kongregate contest has come and gone and we managed to squeeze in our entry which you can play over here. Overall, you could say it was a disappointment with only 1500+ plays and a rating of 2.59. This is our post-mortem of what went wrong.
We originally had plans to collaborate on a new I.P with some other local developers but unfortunately they were busy. So we decided to release a Comrade in Arms Training Room, which would teach players about each character and their special skills. The reason why we decided to do that was because we had not created our enemies in the game, save two turret types and even then they had no A.I. The plan was to increase visibility for Comrade In Arms, let people know about us and if we won something then great!
It would be a challenge to even get the Training Room up, but we decided to go for it anyway. Cut to a month later and we managed to finish 3 training rooms out of the four characters. The Saboteur, Traceur and Chasseur which you can play here (if you didn’t click on the link before!). We thought that it was pretty fun and a good introduction to the characters and that people on Kongregate might like it….well we were wrong.
What went wrong
1) We released the game without testing it on a lower spec computer. This caused a bug in the obstacle courses for players that caused the character to randomly rotate around. This bug only occurs if the framerate is below a certain threshold so by not testing it on lower spec computers, we didn’t realize it was there.
2) Releasing an incomplete game. The first upload and publish game on kongregate only had the Saboteur and Traceur in it, we put in the Chasseur a few days later. The problem was then that people saw it as incomplete and gave it a low rating.
3) The Training Room wasn’t considered a “real game” by many. The idea of the Training Room was to teach the player skills in a fun way, but there being no enemies to kill, many felt that it wasn’t a complete game.
4) The initial 4 stages of the training room was in a “virtual” environment and quite a number didn’t make it to the Obstacle Course which had more interesting visuals. The initial impact to try to get them to play more wasn’t there as all they saw was a blank stage with some green lines.
5) We rated our game a 5/5 and it immediately shot to the top of the Unity leaderboard. Unfortunately due to the reasons above, players started to rate it really low and it disappeared into oblivion.
With all these negatives, what did we gain from this experience?
1) Generally people found the concept interesting and felt that it was promising.
2) Some comments and reviews pointed out some things which we could improve.
3) Made us realize that the next time we release Comrade In Arms, we will need to polish it to a high level and make sure it makes an immediate impact. The players are not very forgiving and have a short attention span.
4) Discovered Kongregate as a viable release platform, rather than us creating a whole new microtransaction system from scratch, we can leverage off Kongregate’s system and inbuilt audience
All in all, do the positives outweigh the negatives? Should we not have joined the contest? Should we have waited a little longer and released all 3 characters at once? There are many things which we could have and should have done but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. The lessons learned will stay with us and make us more determined to create a great game. We are now working on getting the multiplayer up and running and hope to have it available in the next 3-6 months.