The Experiment, Part 3

This post is long overdue, but it’s finally here! So what’s the verdict?

FAILURE

All of the goals I set for the games failed miserably, the games got played nowhere near the amount of times I had expected and earned nowhere near what I expected. So what went wrong? The short answer is a lot of things, I failed to polish the games, I failed to make the core mechanics fun, I failed at following all the advice that I’ve blogged about in the past, but before I get into too much detail let’s start off this post with some numbers…

Monolith Guardian

Plays: 134,000
CPMStar Earnings: $60
NG Score: 3.81
Kong Score: 2.71

Beyond Escape

Plays: 32,000
CPMStar Earnings: $20
NG Score: 3.57
Kong Score: 2.79

Save The Egg

Plays: 15,000
CPMStar Earnings: $1
NG Score: 3.07
Kong Score: 2.32

Now for the long answer on what went wrong.

Beyond Escape

One of the biggest problems in this game is the User Interface. It’s absolutely awful and doesn’t fit together well at all. Even though the background art is nice it appears as if stuff was just thrown on top of it with no rhyme or reason. This made me come to realization that just because someone is a good artist does NOT make them a good game artist. If your artist doesn’t understand basic game design the game will not turn out well no matter how fun the underlying concept is. This issue plagued all three of the games, but it definitely hit the hardest in this one.

At the base this game actually had some potential with its core concept, but the further I got into it the more I lost sight of the my first vision. Originally the game was meant to be a mix between winterbells and endless migration, but got morphed into just another lame distance game as I went. The game also lacked a lot of polish I gave my normal games, but that was not the main reason for its downfall. It was doomed the second I received the art. (Again I would like to clarify that the artist is amazing, but just didn’t understand the difference between game art and regular art which is completely my fault).

Monolith Guardian

This was the only game which didn’t end up as a complete failure. The one redeeming quality is that the game does contain a fair amount of polish, but you can still feel the disjoint between the art and the code. The failing point of this game was not the lack of connection but rather the fact that the the core concept just wasn’t fun. I tried introducing a unique mechanic of having the enemies move based on where they were shot and bounce of walls, but it simply didn’t work for this type of game.

The game also feels very flat and seems to be missing real content. Despite the fact that I introduce a new type of enemy almost every wave it feels like there is no variation in the gameplay. The main strategy for the whole game is to stay at the bottom of the screen and move back and forth as fast as possible. Variety doesn’t mean having a lot of different types of enemies, it doesn’t mean having a lot upgrades, it means the player has to do something noticeably different every so often to get pass a challenge.

Save The Egg

This game was amazing when I made it and is still amazing in my eyes. It deserved to perform MUCH better than it did. The biggest shortcoming on this game was the amount of polish, had I made everything fit together a little better it probably would’ve done better. The game isn’t really targeted towards the NG and Kong market either which didn’t help as far as getting the game distributed. It probably would’ve performed better if played by more casual gamers on sites such as Mindjolt. It might make for a good iOS port too if I could think of a good control scheme. I really don’t have anything else to say about this game.

So what’s next?

For the sake of redemption I intend of continuing this experiment with another one week sprint of game making in the near future. I really do believe I am capable of getting the kind of results I had originally expected. After this experiment had ended I created a game called Castle Guardian which earned several thousand dollars, caused Agitated Ferret to make some real money, received millions of plays, and was legitimately fun. I did most of the development in about 2 days worth of work.

I’ve been focused on a lot of other projects recently which doesn’t really give me too much time to continue this. Unless you’re interested in following my other endeavorer I’ll be stopping “The Experiment” after my next one week sprint. You may have also noticed that I didn’t mention the website that I advertised with these games, but that’s due to my lack of data on the subject. I messed up while implementing tracking, but the money I made from that was pretty small.

Since the whole artist thing seems to have finally blown over I’ll probably return to blogging on a much more regular basis. Writing these things help me realize my mistakes and learn from them. Hopefully they’ll help you to not make the same mistakes I have.

Happy Holidays!

Polish

Polish, I’m sure it’s something you’ve all heard of before, but what does it actually mean?

Most people have their own definitions, but I’ll give you mine.

Polish has very little to do with art in the game, it revolves more around effects that enhance the game play, how the game is balanced, and all the little extras that can possibly be added to the game. Let’s get to dissecting these!

Effects:

There are millions of effects you can add into a game, there’s no possible way I could list them all out here so I’ll focus on ones I use often or have used recently. (In no particular order)

Parallax Backgrounds(Different Layers of the background are moving at different speeds)
Items on the screen that do nothing but add aesthetics to (Clouds, Bubbles, Etc..)
Particle effects added where needed
Transitions between different screens (Fading In/Out, Coming in from the bottom of the screen)
When a screen displaying how much score/money you earned after a certain time period have it start and 0 then rise up until it gets to the actual number
Sound effects when an event happens
Background Music
Button Hover Effects
Tremors
Glowing Items
Font Choice
Health Bars
Game talking to you
Red Flashing Effect when you get hit by an enemy
Enemies flashing white when you hit them with something
Blood spouting from an enemy when hit
Death Animations
Explosions when appropriate
Displaying How many points you earned on the screen (+10 showing up somewhere when you kill an enemy, or the words “Headshot” appearing when you get a headshot)
Indicators telling you what enemy is about to come
Don’t leave any ugly solid color backgrounds, change them to stylish gradients
Instructions being displayed at the beginning of the game
User Interface being readable and using more than just plain numbers (Gauges, Bars, Etc..)
Item Descriptions and upgrade graphics
Simple and intuitive to navigate through the game.
Pause Button, Mute Button, Quality Button
Logical Controls
Changing from Day to Night

These are the ones I could think of off the top of my head, but trust me, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more. Effects alone are very often the difference between a mediocre game and an amazing game so never decide that they’re a waste of time or not important enough. I plan on coming back and editing this post with new “Effects” as more come to mind, so come back to this post in the future. If you can think of any common ones please post them in the comments so I can add them to the list.

Balance:

Balance, this can often be very tough, but it is necessary if you want to be able to consider your game polished. For a game to be balanced, there needs to be a game play curve. New players need to be able to pickup your game very easily and get right into it. If they’re not having fun, or don’t understand what to do immediately you have failed. During this time you should introduce new game play mechanics. After this phase is over there should be a moderate challenge to keep the game interesting, but not too hard that it frustrates players that are still getting involved in the game.

At this point players should have invested a large amount of work into the game and want to complete it no matter what. You should now use this time to challenge all of the players skill they have acquired throughout the duration of their game play. This part should be very hard for players, but again, not pointlessly annoying. You should avoid making any part of the game too long or too short as this will lead to boredom and or disappointment. That’s about all I have to say about balance, this varies a lot depending on the type of game.

Extras:

Last, but not least, are extras. These are things such as Achievements, Cheat Menus, Bestiaries, Special Modes, Level Editor, etc… These are things that can really make your game stand out from the crowd. Adding these things gives an extra dimension to your games, it can turn a 5 minute game into something that you spend hours and hours on (Endless Migration, and Amorphous Plus are great examples of this). If implemented correctly your player will become deeply involved trying to experience everything you’ve placed in the game.

Conclusion:

If there’s something you could add to your game that will make it slightly better, you should. You can do polish incorrectly, but you can NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH POLISH. These things will quickly add up and make your game really separate itself from the bunch. Graphics, of course, help with a game, but they simply do not compare when it comes to the effect polish will have. A well polished game will most likely score better than a game with art from Picasso.

Now go polish your games!

The Experiment Part 3 is still coming, there has been a delay due to the programmer for the website being slow. In the meantime I have managed to develop several more games, I should have around 5 large game ready for the initial release :)

The Experiment, Part 2

Alright, so the development portion of the experiment has just finished yesterday. I have managed to get three games to point of where I want them so those are the three games that will determine how I fair in the contest.

Other Games

As for the other 4-5 games I developed during the contest time frame, they will be finished, but not included in this contest as far as scoring goes. These games include: Avoider, Dodger, Runner, Clicker, and Defense. (Yes, they will all get real names once art has been added to them). It should take 1-2 hours to implement art and polish to each game when I get back around to them. Unfortunately many of the artists I contacted did not respond so I was unable to get everything needed.

Completed Games

Now let’s do a quick breakdown of the three games I manged to complete. I did not record time that it took to implement art so I’ll try to make a reasonable guess for all of the games.

Beyond Escape (Used to be Jumper):

Game Size: Large
Game Type: Distance
Game Length: 30 – 60 minutes
Total Dev Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
Art Costs: $430

Monolith Guardian (Used to be Shooter):

Game Size: Large
Game Type: Shooting
Game Length: 30 – 60 minutes
Total Dev Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Art Costs: $220

Save the Egg (Used to be Dropblock):

Game Size: Small
Game Type: Avoiding
Game Length: 1 – 2 minutes
Total Dev Time: 2 hours 0 minutes
Art Costs: $70

So that’s $720 in total art costs which starts me off at -$360 for this contest. I have fairly large expectations as far as performance goes for these games. If my guesses are correctly I will have earned that back on ads alone in a matter of days. My competitor managed to complete 6 games during the allotted time, with total art costs of $150 starting him off at -$75 for the contest.

Expectations

I enjoy making guesses about how my games will perform so I’ll list below expectations for the first two months. After two months have passed, I will go back and analyze actual performance to expected performance.

Beyond Escape (First two months):

Expected Plays: 3,000,000
Expected CPMStar Revenue: $3,000
Expected CTR: 20%
Expected NG Score: 4.00
Expected Kong Score: 3.75

Reason: This is a fairly unique game that has a whole atmosphere incorporated to make the game very enjoyable; this is something I haven’t tried doing before. It has stellar graphics along with a large amount of content so I expect it will fair well as far as distribution goes. No matter how this game performs, I’m very proud of how it turned out.

Monolith Guardian (First two months):

Expected Plays: 2,000,000
Expected CPMStar Revenue: $2,000
Expected CTR: 25%
Expected NG Score: 3.80
Expected Kong Score: 3.60

Reason: This game turned out to be a fairly generic space shooter aside from a twists which will hopefully keep it interesting for users. It’s a well built game, but I don’t feel it stands up to the others as far as the wow factor goes. Despite this, I still think it will spread well due to it’s outer appearance.

Save the Egg (First two months):

Expected Plays: 500,000
Expected CPMStar Revenue: $500
Expected CTR: 10%
Expected NG Score: 3.80
Expected Kong Score: 3.40

Reason: This game actually deserves to perform better than I expect it to, out of the three games this is a close second to Beyond Escape in terms of my favorites. The concept for this game is very simple, but I’ve managed to turn it into more of a novelty. I’ll wait until it’s released to tell you more :) .

Analysis

If all goes according to plan I should $5,500 pocketed from this 7 day frenzy, and a nice 1,150,000 clicks to our website. The long term revenue should be closer $10,000 and 2,000,000 clicks after 6-12 months if expectations hold. Hopefully I’m not being too ambitious with these numbers, but they’ve been estimated based on the success of my previous games.

The clicks to the website should earn approximately the same amount as the ad revenue so that would mean all the revenue statistics posted here should be doubled. I also intend on selling a couple non-exclusive licenses to give all this revenue a nice boost. If my numbers are correct that means I’m worth about $1000/h as far as coding goes!

In my next post I will include the swf files to the game both prior to and following art implementation. Hopefully some of the games will be released as early as tomorrow. The follow-up to this post should be coming in the next few days once I’ve released everything.

Stay Tuned!

The Experiment, Part 1

An unnamed friend and I decided to have a contest with one another to see who could create the best games in a 7 day time period. We are currently three days into the contest (It was broken up into two three day programming periods with one day to implement art) with the second set of three days commencing tomorrow. I plan on using all of the concepts I’ve blogged about so far. Hiring Artists, Making a Great Game, Doing Self Sponsorships, Submitting to the Top Portals, etc…

Goals for the Contest:

1. Find out how much you are capable of developing in a 7 day timespan
2. Find out the true potential for self sponsorship (CTR, Bounce Rate, Best way to attract users, etc..)
3. Test the effect of small games vs. large games
4. To not slack off :P

Rules of the Contest:

1. You may only program during the days of the contest.
2. After the 6th day of the contest you will have one week to hire artists, and collect the art.
3. You will have one day a week after the last programming day to implement art you’ve acquired.
4. All the games are to be self sponsored.
5. Sources of revenue include Ads, Non-exclusives, and contests.
6. Each walk through and high score click is worth $.01
7. All other clicks are worth $.03
8. Clicks from China are not counted.
9. $500 bonus for getting approved on unnamed site.
10. All art costs are counted 1/2 against your earnings.

After the first three days I have managed to develop 5 games and start on a 6th one.

The Games

1. Jumper
2. Shooter
3. Avoider
4. Dodger
5. DropBlock

No, I have not actually named any of the games yet. I’ve just given them temporary titles based on the concept, titles will be decided on the last day. The last three games are fairly similar to one another, but should have a very different feel once the art is implemented.

Jumper

Game Size: Large
Game Type: Distance
Game Objective: Get to altitude X in the least amount of days possible
Game Features: Upgrades, Pickups, Special Mode, Enemies, Achievements
Game Length: 30 – 60 minutes
Total Dev Time: 6 hours 45 minutes
Art Costs: $430

Shooter

Game Size: Large
Game Type: Shooting
Game Objective: Complete all 25 waves with the least amount of deaths possible
Game Features: 25 Waves, 20 Unique Enemies, Achievements, Upgrades
Game Length: 30 – 60 minutes
Total Dev Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
Art Costs: $180 (probable)

Avoider

Game Size: Small
Game Type: Survival
Game Objective: Don’t get hit by any blocks and collect the coins
Game Features: None
Game Length: 1 – 2 minutes
Total Dev Time: 1 hour
Art Costs: Searching for artist

Dodger

Game Size: Small
Game Type: Survival
Game Objective: Avoid the meteors and space debris
Game Features: None
Game Length: 1 – 2 minutes
Total Dev Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Art Costs: Searching for artist

DropBlock

Game Size: Small
Game Type: Survival
Game Objective: Avoid falling blocks as they pile up
Game Features: None
Game Length: 1 – 2 minutes
Total Dev Time: 1 hour
Art Costs: Searching for artist

As you can see so far I’ve managed to develop 2 large games and three small games. On the fourth day (Today) I intend on polishing the two larger games by fixing any bugs, and adding more effects. The following two days will be dedicated to creating more small and medium games. Art costs for all the games combined is expected to be somewhere between $1000 and $2000 which means I will be starting the contest at a $500 to $1000 disadvantage.

As for the person I’m competing with, I’ll let him decide if he wants to posts the statistics and analyses on his games. He has focused more on small and medium sized games so we will be able to see how they compare to my approach with some larger games.

I think I’m going to end up hiring 5 or more highly skilled artists in the next week. I’m hoping that they will all be able to stick to this very short deadline I have put in place. These games will not fair well without some kind of aesthetics to enhance the game play experience.

We’ll see how the games perform when they’re released a little under two weeks from now. I will be updating you all with more blog posts on their progress and revenue. Once these games are released the posts involving this contest will become more statistical and attempt to draw conclusions about self sponsoring and development times. Hopefully they will be very interesting reads for all of you! I’m very interested in seeing the results of this contest myself.

Stay tuned!

How to self sponsor

Despite having never self sponsored a game before, I feel this is something I should have taken advantage of the past and other developers should take advantage of in the future. Let me break it down.

The general consensus among sponsors is that 1,000,000 plays is worth $1,000. Most sponsors will try to guess how many plays the game can bring in and then make an offer accordingly. Fortunately for you, if you self sponsor, you can actually earn more than $1,000 per million plays.

CPMStar

Alright, first things first. Go to CPMStar and sign up for both a sponsor account a developer account; This will allow you to earn 75% of the profits your game makes from ads as opposed to the normal 50%. This may not seem like much, but it can be difference between $20,000 and $30,000 if your game turns out to be a success.

Play Button Now on to how to actually implement advertisements for maximum revenue. The most common placement of advertisements in games is in the pre-loader. This placement generally gives the highest eCPM, and is the most accepted among players so let’s focus on it. The first thing you need to do is make sure that after your game has loaded it does not immediately jump to the menu screen. In order to do this you need to have a play button that appears after the game has fully loaded (or not, more on this later). Several sites block in-game advertisements by overlaying their own advertisements on your game while it is loading. Adding a play button forces users to at least see your ad and give them a chance to click on it after the game has loaded. Placing your play button in an awkward spot or making it hard to see will also increase the chance of players to click on the advertisement; this, however, is more shady than I like to go.

Make a game that’s 10 megabytes… Alright, you don’t actually need to make a large game, but you need to make it look like it is. Make the game take 10-30 seconds to load regardless of whether your game is 10 Megabytes or 10 Kilobytes. Forcing a load gives the player a chance to observe the ad and click on it. Fast computer can load games that are under 2 megabytes before the CPMStar ad even displays, this is of course, would be otherwise lost revenue for you. Players will have no way of knowing the game isn’t actually loading so it won’t make any difference to them as long as you don’t go overboard.

Game Over Put an ad on the Game Over or Game Complete screen. After a player has finished your game, they often want to go play something else. Placing an option in the middle of their screen can often help their decision making. I would advise against inter level ads due to their low eCPM and annoyance to users.

With these strategies you should be able to earn at the very least a $1.00 eCPM.

No More Waiting

A normal sponsorship generally takes the follow course:

Place the game on FGL
Wait 2-3 weeks until you receive a bid you’re pleased with and accept it
Spend 1 week+ Implementing sponsors links and logos exactly how they want along with other requests
Release the game exclusively on the sponsors site for 1 week
Release the game around the web

Time As you can see this process can take over a month, as a result this distracts most developers from starting on a new project (We’re all guilty of obsessively checking new bids, emails, etc…) With self sponsoring you don’t have to deal with any of that. Once you’ve finished developing a game you can implement branding and exclusive content how you want and release the game in the very same day.

Your Rules Another great benefit to self sponsoring is that you don’t have to abide by a sponsors rule. No being forbidden from selling non-exclusive licenses, no being forbidden from implementing ads in your game, and no being forbidden from releasing the game immediately. Non-exclusives and ads are a great source of revenue. Sponsors that don’t allow them take away from your potential profit.

Advertising Your Own Site

A lot of this stuff will overlap with my previous article “Making the most from your game (Sponsors Edition)”

Sponsors Let’s look at why sponsors sponsor games for a moment. They’re expecting to make more money than they’re paying you by implementing links and logo’s that go to their website. If you create your own website you can have all of this traffic, and more, to yourself. I’ll warn you up front that your first few games will probably not make as much money off of this as a large portal could due to the fact they already have an established user base. Assuming you stick with it, your own user base should grow and you’ll be making as much as the big dogs in no time. Look at Ninja Kiwi and Nitrome.

What’s Needed There’s a few things that you will need in order to make this a viable option. You will have to develop (or hire someone else to develop) a web portal that’s somewhat up to date with the current competition: Comments, Ratings, Walkthroughs, etc…. If you have more money to throw around you can make advanced systems such as Badges and User Submitted Content. You will also need to create a splash screen and a logo.

Maximizing CTR The standard sponsorship consists of A Splash Screen, A Play More Games Link, and Logos Scattered Through The Game. While these things are all great, they probably won’t get you a CTR much higher than 5%. In order to get into the 10% – 50% range you will need to implement some of the following items: Highscores, Badge Incentives, Exclusive Content, Walkthrough Links, or a Level Editor. Highscores are a great way to get players to your site after they’ve finished playing your game, but they need to be incorporated into your site somehow. Instead of a Play More Games Link (or even in addition to) you can have a Play This Game With Badges Link which should be much more appealing to many of today’s flash game players.

Exclusive Content Exclusive content is a great way to increase your CTR. This traffic is even more valuable than a click on say the splash screen. Not only does it encourage the user to visit your site so they can obtain bonus content, it also encourages them to continue returning to your site every time they want to play the game which can easily turn them into a regular. This also goes along with having a level editor on your site to encourage user interaction with your game and get them more involved (On your site nonetheless).

Walkthroughs Lastly, Walkthrough Links are another great way to increase the amount of traffic to your site. With the proper game and proper implementation it is possible to get a CTR of over 50% from this alone (Jmtb02, I’m looking at you). Converting Walkthrough clicks into regulars is harder than most of the other types of clicks, a good way to increase your chances is to commonly mention the exclusive content your website has in the game while you’re telling the user how to beat it.

Ps.
When I release my next large game, assuming I don’t get an amazing offer, I’ll self sponsor and blog the results.

Income

Alright, here’s my income for every game broken down. I missed a lot of stuff and didn’t include expenses such as commissions and art, but you should be able to get a general idea.

Breakdown by Type

Main License – $40,500
Non Exclusive – $3,075
Advertising – $14,371
Contests – $550

Total – $58,496

Breakdown by Game

Penguin Massacre – $18,859
Medieval Rampage – $10,887
Medieval Rampage 2 – $15,797
Gravity Mouse – $462
Between the Lines – $1165
Road Rage – $991
Cell Warfare – $3243
Mech Slayer – $900
Blob Survival – $507
Icy Evade – $238
Smiley Collapse – $1,500
Other – $5314

Total – $58,496

Here’s the plays graph I showed in an earlier post, you can see how it compares to the income graph.

Breakdown by Source

Cell Warfare

Cell Warfare Primary – $1050
Cell Warfare Andkon – $200
Cell Warfare Kong Weekly – $150
Cell Warfare Armor Non-exc – $350
Cell Warfare Kong monthly – $250
Cell Warfare Kong Ads – $1093
Cell Warfare Api Int x 2 – $150

Medieval Rampage

Medieval Rampage Kong Ads – $287
Medieval Rampage CPMStar Ads – $2,500
Medieval Rampage Sponsorship – $7,600
Medieval Rampage Gamezhero – $500

Medieval Rampage 2

Medieval Rampage 2 Kong Ads – $2,074
Medieval Rampage 2 CPMStar Ads – $1,623
Medieval Rampage 2 Sponsorship – $9,250
Medieval Rampage 2 Andkon – $600
Medieval Rampage 2 Mo – $500
Medieval Rampage 2 Addicting Games – $1,500
Medieval Rampage 2 Weekly – $150
Medieval Rampage 2 API int – $100

Penguin Massacre

Penguin Massacre Kong Ads – $575
Penguin Massacre Armor – $225
Penguin Massacre Exclusive – $16,000
Penguin Massacre CPMStar – $2,059

Other

Google Adsense – $200
Between the lines Ads – $1,165
Blob Survival ads – $507
Shodge ads – $117
Icy Evade Ads – $188
Gravity Mouse ads – $462
Bubble Fighter ads – $97
Double Dodge Ads – $135
Road Rage Ads – $991
Falling Blocks Ads – $165
Smiley Collapse Primary – $1,500
Mech Slayer – $600
Mech Slayer non-exc – $300
Overmode Primary – $4500
Other Kong Ads – $100

Making the most from your game (Sponsors Edition)

This post is going to be a little different than most since I will be focusing on helping sponsors rather than developers, but hopefully they will still find it interesting. Alright, so you’ve just sponsored a flash game for $X and you’re trying to at least make it back, what do you need to make this happen?

There are several different strategies used to maximize how many people get to your site from the game you’ve sponsored.

Basics

The Essentials The standard things in every sponsorship include the Splash Screen at the beginning of the game, a More Games link on the menu, and Linked Branding throughout the rest of the rest of the game. These will get you a decent amount of users to come to your site, but nowhere near the amount if you were to implement ALL of the suggested items.

Branding You should have branding on every single screen of the game, and all the branding should be linkable expect in the actual game play. This won’t result in many direct plays, but it constantly plants seeds of your portal in the back of players heads which will make them either likely to visit it on their own or be more likely to click on branding next time they play a game sponsored by you. You should also have Play More Game links on both the game complete/game over screen and the shop/upgrade screen if the game has one.

Advanced

(These may require you to create things for your site)

Exclusive Content This is one that can bring in a huge amount of visitors and force players to continue returning to your site if they want the full experience of the game. This can range from anything as a small aesthetic item for the character to several levels being locked at the sponsors site. Try not to go overboard with this and only ask for some non-essential items to be exclusive (A level editor would be a great example). Make sure it’s advertised clearly in the game.

Badges If your site has badges, take advantage of them! Players love gaining achievements, a lot of players refuse to even touch games before they land on Kongregate because they don’t want to waste time playing somewhere else when they will have to do it again on Kong. A link in the menu should be enough to advertise this feature.

Highscores If the game is relatively short and score based this is a great one to implement. Unlike MochiScores which are all in game, your scores should be located on your site. This forces players to see the sponsors site after they click the submit button. Although this many not transfer to many return visitors, it can be a nice source of traffic.

Walkthroughs A large amount of hits can come from here. The click through rate on walkthroughs can be extremely high assuming the game is fun and has at least one point where the user will get stuck and not know what to do next. I personally end up clicking around 75% of walkthrough links for games that I play for more than 3 minutes. Make sure this is widely visible at all points during the game. If the game is good, this should be able to bring in more plays than any of the prior suggestions.

Other

CPMStar Ads While these won’t drive traffic to your site, they can help you earn a decent amount of money off the game you sponsor. Correctly implemented ads can earn you eCPM’s of $.50 – $1.00 with CPMStar. Placing them both at the beginning of the game, and at the game over screen with a forced action to change screens and a forced load time will result in the highest eCPM possible. If you happened to sponsor a really successful game for a reasonable amount, you can earn your money back from just these.

Performance Based Deals This will probably end up costing you more money in the end, but hopefully it will pay for itself. This type of sponsorship encourages the developer to distribute his game all of the web trying as hard as possible to get on every last portal. Some games are able to reach almost every large portal in existence from just viral distribution, but for the majority of games an extra push from the developer will help the game earn a lot more plays.

Now get to sponsoring (preferably my games).

How to hire an artist

Scroll down to see the original article

Since this has gotten a ton of exposure I’m going to try an explain myself a little. I’m leaving the originally article 100% in-tact so people can continue to read it. Please stop flaming me, I don’t mind if you disagree with my viewpoint, but please give me constructive criticism rather than telling me to die in a fire. It makes you a hypocrite to make death threats at me for not treating artists how many of you want.

I would like to start off by showing you this great comment made by Kathryn:

UPDATE

It seems most of you have a problem with how I worded the article rather than I what I actually said in the article. When I originally wrote this it was intended for developers to learn how to get the best art for good prices so it sounds very condescending to artists. I realize that now and I apologize. I greatly appreciate the work and effort that goes into each graphic an artist makes.

We unfortunately live in a market that is determined by supply and demand. Most businesses with the intent to make money will not pay more than they have to for a certain product. I am not trying to “scam” or “rip-off” artists, I’m letting them quote their own prices for what they believe their work is worth. I am not forcing, or tricking anyone into working with me. All artists I work with seem to be very thankful.

Some of you complained about the way I deal with payments, which actually surprised me to a great extent. There have been several times I’ve been working on a game with an artist only to have him/her walk out on me halfway through. Paying after guarantees safety for both parties.

Alright, now about the part the majority of you are most upset about, my “Keep them in the dark” comment. My wording on this was poorly thought out. Many people claim about this being unethical, but in reality it’s how all businesses work. When a company makes a profit, does it take that profit and evenly split it up among all of it’s employee’s? No. The most it ever does is sometimes gives bonuses which I also do when a game performs very well. As I’ve said before, I pay artists based on what they believe their work is worth rather than the estimated value it increases a game by. I’m sorry for anyone that finds capitalism to be the devil.

Please continue making comments, I will try to explain myself more and continue updating this post. Sorry for any poor grammar, I typed this up fairly fast.

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Original Article Starts Here

I’ve hired a bunch of people to do art for some of my largest games, I thought I would give a little insight on what do when hiring yourself.

How to find an artist:

I recommend looking through art sites such as Deviantart for an artist which suits your taste, or any other site that has a decent art community such as Newgrounds. There’s a few reasons you want to find an artist this way. First of all, they’re cheaper. These guys aren’t used to making a lot of money for their work so they will be more appreciative of the chance even if they are being payed slightly less than what professionals are payed. Second of all, they’re better. The quality of art you can find through this method is pretty amazing, and the vast amount of artists guarantee you will find something that suits your tastes and needs. Unless you have a specific price you want to pay in mind, ask THEM what they are willing to charge for the project. This usually causes people to give offers that are lower than what you normally pay, and will make them happy.

How NOT to find an artist:

Do not look for either professional artists, or an artist that has done a lot of game design work in the past. The problem with artists who do this as their full time job is that they’re usually expensive. Compared to what you can find through art sites, these guys tend to cost an arm and a leg. Artists who have done a lot of game design work are also bad for a similar reason, they know how much flash games can earn so they expect a decent percentage of the profit. It’s ridiculous to pay something 50% of a sponsorship when you can find someone else who would accept $500 for the same job. When your game sells for $10,000, the difference in cost is a multitude of 10.

Artist payment:

Make it clear to whomever you hire that they will not be payed until ALL the work is completed, unless it is completed by a predefined date, and unless it matches or exceeds expectations. Sometimes I have an issues getting all of these things, but if you give someone a job they’re expected to treat it as so even if they’re just a hobbyist. Paying prior to the completion of the project is a bad idea for several reasons. Only paying for the finished work encourages the artist to finish their job faster, if you pay up front the artist has no motivation to finish quickly. Similarly, if you pay up front the artist could disappear and you may never get what you payed for!

Keep them in the dark:

This relates back to what I talked about earlier. If an artist knows how much their artwork will increase the value of the game they will then feel they deserve that amount of money. This is not how a market economy works, you hire whoever is able to do the best job for the lowest amount of money, anything else is a loss of money on your end.

Timelines:

Give strict dates about when you need the art done (even if you don’t) and give consequences by deduction in pay if the art is not completed by the date. Unless the person you’ve hired happens to be very punctual, you will need strong motivation to make sure they finish the art in a timely manner. Try to only hire people ages 18+ (I may sound a little hypocritical here), kids are generally less reliable and have more IRL things come up that they can’t control. I’ve had several bad experiences with this.

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Update: Look at this. All businesses function around it

I’m xdragonx10 on reddit by the way.

Game Plays

I’ve added up every game play all of my games have ever received to date. I rounded everything to the nearest 50,000 for simplicity.

Mochibot on Medieval Rampage – 3,250,000
Armorgames for Medieval Rampage – 2,200,000
Estimated other for Medieval Rampage – 500,000 (Messed up a version of the game and some hits were not tracked)

Mochibot for Cell Warfare – 2,000,000

Armorgames for Cell Warfare – 500,000

Mochibot for Smiley Collapse – 500,000

Armorgames for Smiley Collapse – 450,000

MochiAds for BS – 1,450,000

Mochibot for Double Dodge – 650,000

Mochibot for Icy Evade – 1,000,000

Mochibot for Shodge – 500,000

Mochibot for Mech Slayer – 1,650,000

Mochibot for Bubble fighter – 350,000

Mochibot for Colloid – 450,000

Mochibot for Gravity Mouse – 2,300,000

Mochibot for Burst Cannon – 150,000

Penguin Massacre – 11,050,000
Armor
Kong
Other

Between The Lines – 4,500,000

Road Rage – 1,900,000

Medieval Rampage 2 Armor – 1,000,000
Medieval Rampage 2 Mochi – 5,300,000

Estimated total – 41,150,000

Pie graph of plays per game:

Game Grading Scale

Here’s a general scale to grade your game on. The goal of it is to get a general idea on how well your game has performed after it’s been released. Add up the points from the first three categories to find your score, then use that score to see what your game “Grade” is.

Game Success

Points – Total Revenue

1 – $1
2 – $50
3 – $100
4 – $200
5 – $500
6 - $1000
7 – $2500
8 - $5000
9 – $10,000
10 – $20,000

Points – Newgrounds Score

1 - 1.6
2 – 2.0
3 – 2.5
4 – 3.0
5 – 3.25
6 – 3.5
7 – 3.75
8 – 4.0
9 – 4.15
10 – 4.3

Points – Plays

1 – 100
2 – 1000
3 – 10,000
4 – 50,000
5 – 100,000
6 – 200,000
7 – 500,000
8 – 1,000,000
9 – 3,000,000
10 – 10,000,000

Grade:

0-1: F-
2-3: F
4-5: F+
6-7: D-
8-9: D
10-11: D+
12-13: C-
14-15: C
16-17: C+
18-19: B-
20-21: B
22-23: B+
24-25: A-
26-27: A
28-29: A+
30: A++