acatcalledfrank

Cynicism and blind optimism in equal measures.

Games

The-Bureau-XCOM-Declassified-logo
May 26, 2014

Deconstructing XCOM

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a bad game. Not all, entirely, 100% bad, but distinctly sub-par. I wouldn’t recommend playing it, but if you are going to then be warned there will be spoilers here. So, XCOM, in broad strokes: the voice-acting is ok, but the script is dreadful. The story has potential, but is told […]

RADIAS
October 27, 2013

RADIAS circles the plughole

I’ve been working on a new game for the last couple of weeks, on and off. It’s called Radias, and it looks quite nice. The visuals are all shiny and clean, it runs well on various iOS devices and has a few cool  little UI touches in it. I’ve got some interesting ideas for how […]

Ideas
September 29, 2013

Announcing Game Two

I’m going to make another game. Hooray! At this point this is more of a declaration of intent than an actual announcement, mostly because I have nothing to announce – I’m still kicking around ideas at the minute, but I’m aiming to turn these vague ideas into an actual game some time this year. Possibly […]

Vaas
August 17, 2013

Far Cry 3: the gap between player and character

OK, so firstly: Far Cry 3 spoilers ahead. Like, game-ruining spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You’ve changed, man

Character development is a weird thing. Watching a character change and grow over the course of a story can be a fundamental to a satisfying narrative arc; the immature rich kid becomes a principled man, the girl from the streets flowers into a strong, confident woman who doesn’t need to smoke, and so on.

There are plenty of books and films that gift/curse their characters with interesting (and sometimes even profound) changes, but far fewer games that do it with any success. I think that this is partly due to a lower standard of writing in games in general, but I think it’s also much harder to write believable character development into a story when the character is controlled by a player, ie you. Unless the story and characters are written well enough for the player to relate to them, the player herself experiences nothing of the change portrayed on screen.

- Read More -

CUBD
August 4, 2013

The £0.69 question

I’m facing a dilemma.

I’m sure it’s a dilemma lots of people (specifically: indie game developers) are facing around the world, but I’m just going to talk about me.

I made a game. It’s called CUBD. It’s a 3D arcade-puzzle game for iOS, and I think it’s pretty good. CUBD plays like a combination of a Rubik’s Cube, Bejewelled and Tetris – it’s fun, colourful, simple and addictive, and I know several people who are hopelessly hooked on it.

CUBD won an nVidia competition while in beta, and has been awarded a prestigious Mobile of the Day award by the FWA (it’ll be featured on the 31st August – check it out!). I’ve got a solid five star rating on the App Store with about 30 reviews, and have been retweeted with praise for the game by people from Mike Bithell to Flash’s own Twitter account to thousands and thousands of people.

All of which has resulted in a grand total of about 170 sales. Not bad, considering 60% of the apps in the App Store have never been downloaded, but hardly on the scale of Angry Birds. To be honest, it’s not even on the scale of Hair Removal (“Oh, my god, there are so many hairs on my face in such a short time. Who can help me, please!”), a frankly shit-looking game that’s currently invading App Store Top 10s around the world, but there you go.

“Oh, my god, there are so many hairs on my face in such a short time. Who can help me, please!”

170 sales equals a lifetime profit of just under £70. Considering I worked on CUBD for about a year (as a side project, not solidly) that’s not a great income. Thankfully I’m not a full-time game developer and I don’t rely on sales of my games to survive. CUBD was a labour of love; the whole project was a Fifty Shades of Grey-ish mixture of pleasure, pain, curiosity and stubbornness.

So what’s my next move?

- Read More -