Free to play comes into place in our white-label catalog: not without any issue!
Early 2017, we were ending a new version of the adver game for Volvic, and a very too much quiet work for hire period was about to start, due to a brutal end of a previous project (without detailing it here, this project ends up with lawyers). So, it was too quiet, and I don’t like it too much. I prefer when it’s a little too much more less quiet(*). We had to launch new projects and increase our commercial prospection. We (..I..) decided to lean on the next event that was at the same time an event considered as big marketing campaigns and achievable in term of development schedule.
(*): reference to a french movie: Jamel Debbouze in Astérix et Obélix Mission Cléopâtre
From January to end of March: less than 2 months
Yes, even if Easter is mid April, marketing campaigns launch way before that, and planned around 6 months before that! We trusted ourself to develop and deliver fast, and we observed that they were not too many competitors at that time.
We chose to create 3 games in 2 months
They are insane will you say?! I can answer you: yes, we are. But we did not chose to create 3 games from scratch, 2 of them were already part of our white-label catalog! The third one, it was more like a remake than a full game from scratch.
First gameplay, we already have one version, but developed quickly from assets from the Unity asset store by an intern last summer, and I can say that I was not really satisfied by the result. It was consistent with the investisment we made on that game: little time, no money, a learning exercice. We have to remake the gameplay (or at least the feeling you get when you cut objects), visuals (pretty basic) and for once, the free2play model for this game.
Finally, we have a lot of work, but still, with an existing game, nothing to design, I was pretty confident about timing.
This one was already in our catalog, with a polished version visually, a complete, usable game. So, only a reskin. At least, should have. Only. Well… if we could add some juice to its gameplay, and some consumables, incentive like we say, we should do it. We take some time to think about it, and we have the luck to get interesting ideas that will make the game really enjoyable to play with, for a casual game, or maybe hyper casual.
Bubble Hunter copies the wrap paper bubbles that we enjoy to burst under your fingers, and you just have to tap bubbles to earn points.
The original version is like this:
For the new version, we add a limitation on the number of taps you can do during a level, and a little cute animal hiding behind the bubbles that you have to catch when he gets out. As it’s for easter, the bubbles are turned into chocolate eggs and you earn more points when taping on the animal! You must observe and act quickly, two things that were not present in the previous version of the game.
Free2Play, free 2 play, free to playyyyy
Yes, as we always include the lottery at the end of a level (+rules, subscription with an opt-in form for the newsletter, a link with mailchimp, etc…), and a minimum of go back flavor: no push notification here, but pictures to collect while you unlock chocolate squares, it’s a minimal free2play game. Those chocolate squares are earned while winning golden eggs hidden randomly behind chocolate eggs, in the bigger grids only, not in the smallest one that is the only one accessible when you start the game for the first time. Once a full picture is unlocked, you can download it to make it a background.
To play, you must use coins: you earn some of them each day, then you use them by launching a level, and you earn coins while you play, depending on how well you played. The smallest grid is easy to play but you won’t earn a lot of coins with it, and you can not have golden eggs with it. So you have to earn more coins to unlock the upper grids. It’s your choice to either replay multiple times the same grid, or increase both price and rewards of any grid: earn enough coins to launch the next level and earn more coins! There’s a little of an idle game in this.
So the player can always play, you get the possibility to launch an ad to earn the minimum amount required to launch the smallest grid. You can launch the advertising even if you can not launch a big grid, that means that if the smallest grid cost 20 coins to play and you have 85 coins but want to launch the biggest grid that cost 100 coins, you can launch the ad to be able to launch it (and keep the 5 coins left for you)! A good way to invite the player to play freely while increasing usage of ads (30 seconds video that you can not skip).
By summing all of that, you still have a limited gameplay, but always a little more to do that incentivize the player to keep going, and watching the brand, and subscribing to the newsletter and the lottery.
We also added hundreds of egg skins, and even interactive items in the overall interface, that the player can unlock with pieces! Alisson did an awesome job for this part!
For it to be complete, we could have made the eggs as consumables and you can buy a pack of eggs, say 10 of them, with coins, and remove the need for coins when launching a grid, but we did not think of that and did not have time to develop it either.
So here it comes Easter Hunter:
Easter Kinect Runner 3D
The third game was not planned at the beginning, but we were invited to expose to the Gamers Assembly (as I was part of the board of the SPN a network for digital companies in the area, it was the right thing to do to be part of this local and national event), so we thought it would be bad to not take the occasion. And we did so by creating a game that could fit the event, playable in a video games fair, that would attract families to our booth, so we can be busy and use a survey we created for the occasion. We simply used Google Form for it so we could start gathering data for our others games we wanted to build, and test our future players.
So we decided to have a reskin or the Motion sensor 3D runner that we just ended creating for Volvic as part of our white-label catalog. A game where you run and collect chocolate eggs. Still the same theme! Here it is, the game that brought families to our booth and made a lot of people laugh (especially when you go through a psychedelic tube).
Here are some quick parts of a walkthrough:
La Maison du Chocolat
Ok then, but the goal is still to increase our catalog and mainly reach new customers. We did our homework by reaching out a lot of chocolate factories as Easter is a lot about chocolate, and we did found one that was going to launch a campaign very video games oriented… but without any video games. They did not really had any budget for that, so we did a partnership: they offered gifts, cross promotion on social networks, we bring the video games and the lottery, and we can do cross promotion from their game to every one of ours.
Within a few days, we agreed on the final visual design in the game: not of our taste, but very much alike the customer corporate identity and in direct link with their marketing campaign, that’s what is important. The official La Maison du Chocolat (The house of Chocolate) video games were published in the stores in March, about the same time as Easter Hunter, with a specific collection and a lottery.
1, 2, 3.. 4 ??
Yes, your count was accurate! But I cheated: there is a fifth game which has slipped in this post, even if we ended up delivering only 3 games between mid January and mid April, which makes 3 months and not only 2.
The fifth game is Burger Slasher, the one that was the base game of Fruit Ninja with eggs. But we already had a work for hire contract when we first developed this one, so it was less prioritized and put on hold for a few months, it was not ready at all for Easter. That’s why we could use its assets, the 3D eggs in the Kinect game. And that Kinect had to be ready for the mid April event, the Gamers Assembly.
Mid March, we had Easter Hunter and La Maison du Chocolat ready to publish. It’s still 2 games (ok, one gameplay only) delivered in 2 months. Between mid March and mid April, we reskinned the Kinect runner and continued the Fruit Ninja-like with burgers to deliver and publish it later on.
I think that’s a rather good job, and that’s also what we sold to our customers: the industrialisation of development and deliveries between 2 weeks and 2 months depending on the game category. Adding La Maison du Chocolat to our customers list gave us benefits afterward, so that was a winning strategy for us.
- Modeling and 3D animations: Stéphane Landry
- 2D art and Spine animations: Alisson Stirchler
- additionnal 2D art: Meghan Martin
- Game development: Guillaume Thorel, Jérémy Valéro, Benoit Constantin, Frédéric Rolland-Porché, Wladimir Dassonville, James Van Der Straeten
- Web portal development : Corentin Martin
- Concept arts interns: Candice Dunant, Mathys Bernard