Thinking of Making an Indie Game?


So, I’ve been making Indie games for years, with very little success, usually because I write obscure little games that don’t usually see much action. So I decided to write something that many gamers do love, an Idle Upgrade Cookie Clicker. I decided to go with the same format as the original by Orteil because IMO its the best and I much prefer the straight forward layout compared to modern idle games. I also decided to theme it around climate change as it’s something that I care about (hoping that it rubs off on a few others). I decided to make it free to play (because obtrusive ads are horrible and paid is DOA) with the option of video ads to generate coins for those that don’t want to spend any money on coins. I opted to integrate Facebook for backup / restore and the usual social features such as login, inviting friends, sharing, gifting, leaderboards.

So how does a cookie clicker perform these days? Lets take a look at some numbers since release a couple of months ago:

Note that the above mobile downloads required me to spend around $200 across Apple search ads and Google Adwords, so I’ve made quite a loss.

So the game wasn’t performing well, but was performing slightly better than most of my other games. With this I decided to put out a version on Kongregate and Newgrounds, (both great game portals with some pretty decent games) to boost the games visibility, which is ok as long as you can put up with the extremely toxic communities. Seriously some of the users (calling them gamers would be a serious stretch) on there were absolutely dropped on their heads at birth, if you are fine dealing with petulant kids then you can turn it into a pretty fun pass time.

Today I have:

After placing the game onto those portals I did see a nice jump in mobile installs, but it was very short lived (a couple of days), its just not an effective marketing tool, especially considering the toxicity of the community and the abuse that you will have to deal with. Also, take note, when you do place a game on a web portal, expect it to be lifted (without permission) and placed all over the place so that some blood sucker can earn ad revenue from your hard work (the word cunts springs to mind).

So in summary, paid ads do drive installs works, but you will need a LOT and I cannot stress this enough a HUGE AMOUNT of money to get your game noticed. Web portals like Kongregate and Newgrounds help the game initially but once the toxic community has done with you, your game will have 0 visibility, so any visibility gains will be short lived. Take a look at the ratings for my game:

  • iOS – 5 stars
  • Android – 4.5 stars
  • Facebook – 4.8 stars
  • Kongregate – 2.65 stars
  • Newgrounds – 2.68 stars

Indie game development for making money is dead, will I still continue to make indie games? It’s fun creating games, so maybe, do I expect to ever earn money from it? No, very unlikely.

If you are thinking of becoming an Indie game developer, I recommend only doing so if you get enjoyment from it, if you expect to earn a living then try something else.

Big List of Popular Flash, HTML5 and Unity 3D Web Gaming Portals

Big list of web game portals / sites that accept games mainly from Flash, HTML5 and Unity 3D developers:

Facebook Alexa rank 3
Y8 Alexa rank 761
Kongregate Alexa rank 1375
Miniclip Alexa rank 1750
Kizi Alexa rank 1816
Newgrounds Alexa rank 2624
Poki Alexa rank 2985
itch.io Alexa rank 3449
Armor Games Alexa rank 3472
A10 Alexa rank 4164
Pogo Alexa rank 4955
Big Fish Games Alexa rank 5113
AGame Alexa rank 6009
Addicting Games Alexa rank 6657
Paco Games Alexa rank 8024
Girls Go Games Alexa rank 9280
Zepak Alexa rank 9516
Ninja Kiwi Alexa rank 10681
io Games Space Alexa rank 11295
NotDoppler Alexa rank 14516
Games Games Alexa rank 15194
Yepi Games Alexa rank 21526
Nitrome Alexa rank 24779
KHBG Games Alexa rank 24690
Game House Alexa rank 28541
Free Online Games Alexa rank 28628
Games Freak Alexa rank 35802
MAD Alexa rank 36964
Box10 Alexa rank 43227
One More Level Alexa rank 48128
Mouse Breaker Alexa rank 52226
Games 2 Girls Alexa rank 54837
io-games Alexa rank 56104
Fun Brain Alexa rank 57127
Frip Alexa rank 60455
Puff Games Alexa rank 65496
Crazy Monkey Games Alexa rank 68705
Flash Games 247 Alexa rank 72799
Game Gape Alexa rank 76718
Mind Jolt Alexa rank 78550
Bubble Box Alexa rank 80294
Cool Games Alexa rank 90502
Zapak Alexa rank 95136
GameZ Hero Alexa rank 109726
Spil Games Alexa rank 152091
Game Garage Alexa rank 1295785

* Alexa rank accurate as of 2nd October 2017

Cookie Clicker Save the World free game for iOS, Android and Facebook Gameroom

Just released my latest mobile and Facebook game Cookie Clicker Save the World targeted at raising awareness of climate change in a fun and challenging gaming environment. Gamers playing the game are gradually introduced to various climate issues and what can be done to help, such as recycling, using wind power etc..

The game is an idle builder / tapper based in the near future where current day currencies have been replaced with a new cryptocurrency called cookies. Players have to research and buy new technology to reduce carbon emissions reducing mankind’s impact on the environment.

Game features include:

  • Bake cookies by clicking on the cookie moon, use cookies to purchase items and technology that help the climate and produce more cookies.
  • Use cookies to buy over 200 upgrades and mods to speed up carbon reduction and cookie production.
  • Earn over 200 achievements.
  • Use powerups to speed cookie cooking production.
  • Evolve your cookie mastery to gain extra benefits.
  • Daily bonus awards.
  • Login with Facebook, invite friends, share progress and compete with friends in the cookie master leaderboards.
  • Offline cookie cooking.
  • Random blessings boost your play.
  • Deal with random curses such as striking workers, maintenance shut downs and more.
  • Endless play allows you to play an indefinite amount of time

Cookie Clicker Save the World is available for free on the App Store for iPhone and iPad

Cookie Clicker Save the World is available for free on the Google Play for Android

The game is also available for free on Facebook and Facebook Gameroom

You can find out more about the game at the official Cookie Clicker Save the World website.










Upgrading from Unity 5.4 to 5.6

Recently had the need to upgrade a couple of projects from Unity 5.4 to 5.6 and after much trial and error and scouring the net for solutions I finally managed it. My project uses two plugins which do not play well with Unity 5.6, these include:

  • TextMeshPro – Do not use the version that is currently on the asset store (Version: 1.0.55.0b11) or your project will explode, instead grab it from here. If you already have a version of TextMesh Pro installed into your project then delete it (backup fist!), then install the version this link
  • Chartboost – Update to version 6.6.4 as previous versions do not compile with Unity 5.6!
  • Facebook SDK – Deleted old Facebook SDK 7.8 including the Facebook related stuff in the Plugins folder, installed latest Facebook SDK from fresh!

By the way, if you see errors appear, shut Unity down and reopen the project them allow, most of the time the errors just disappear.

From Unity 3D to Facebook Hosted!

So I decided to have a go at getting one of my mobile games up and running on Facebook’s site, chatting to other game developers they warned me to steer clear as its a pain and it will eventually break when they change to the next API release etc… Of course I didn’t heed their advice and went ahead and gave it a try. The main reason being that Facebook now host game content for you, so you no longer need to host it on your own web site using up your own meagre bandwidth and best of all you do not need to buy and manage SSL certificates, whats not to like.

Exporting to Unity WebGL

So the first thing I did was export a build to WebGL gave it a quick test. However I didn’t like the Unity logo, app name or full screen button at the bottom of the screen so I opened up the exported index.html and commented out the following lines of html to remove them and provide a clean clutter free view of my game:

      <div class="logo"></div>
      <div class="fullscreen"><img src="TemplateData/fullscreen.png" width="38" height="38" alt="Fullscreen" title="Fullscreen" onclick="SetFullscreen(1);" /></div>
      <div class="title">Tens Junior</div>
    <p class="footer">&laquo; created with <a href="http://unity3d.com/" title="Go to unity3d.com">Unity</a> &raquo;</p>

Set the screen resolution

Ok, I wasn’t happy with the default screen resolution that Unity exported my game at so I changed it, taking into account that my game will be shown in a frame on Facebook, so I changed the canvas width and height in the Unity WebGL export settings dialog to 480×800. Lovely, it now fits on a 1080 display.

Create a Facebook App for your game

So I now have an app that I can submit to Facebook and have it hosted by them, the next thing to do is to go and create a Facebook app. To do that head over to the Facebook Developer Site and create an app. When creating the app ensure that you add the Facebook Web Games platform and in settings ensure that you have WebGL and Simple Application Hosting enabled. In general settings also ensure that you at least provide App Name, Email Address, Privacy Policy URL, App Icon (1024×1024) and select the Games category.

Uploading your game to Facebook to be hosted

In the Facebook Web Games section, locate the Simple Application Hosting section, just beneath that there is a link named “uploaded assets”, click that link, a new browser tab will open which takes you to the Manage Hosted Asset section, click the add and setup button to the top right then under Hosting Type select Unity (WebGL).

Now go to your Unity exported WebGL folder and zip up all the files, this should include index.html, TemplateData and Release folders, ensure that index.html is in the root of the zip. Go back to Facebook Manage Hosted Assets section and click the Upload Version button, select the zip you just created then upload. The file will show up as processing, after a while this will change to Standby, at this point you can push your app to production by clicking on the small Move to Production button (If you want to later replace the build with a new version, simply move the build back to Standby by clicking the Move to Standby button, delete the build then re-upload a replacement.

Once the build is live you can visit your app url (see the Facebook Web Games Page URL in the Facebook Web Games section of your apps settings). Visit this URL and you will be able to test the game. Note that your game will not go live however until it is reviewed by Facebook and approved.

Getting reviewed

I am quite lucky with my game because I do not require any extra permissions. The game only logs into Facebook, uses the players profile picture and shares the players progress via the share dialog. To get the ball rolling you need to click the Add Products button to left hand side of the screen in app settings then select “App Centre”, fill out a bunch of info about the app including short / long description, app icons / screen shots etc. Once that is added you can submit for review. Note that if you need any additional permissions such as publish_action then you will need to provide additional info during submission.

Finally don’t forget to make your app public (go to the App Review section of the apps settings and click the button at the top of the screen, this will toggle your app between live and development mode).

The end result can be seen by taking a look at Tens Maths IQ Challenge on Facebook.

Facebook Share Dialog Borked!

Checked your games with Facebook integration lately? Noticed how they no longer share the title and descriptions that you so beautifully crafted?

Ok, there seem to have been some changes over at Facebook to the share dialog from what I understand you can no longer specify the contentTitle / contentDescription of the post being shared when you share a link, instead it is populated with Facebook scraped data. This is quite devastating for game developers that would like to share a custom story of the player doing something cool in their game. There does appear to be a way around it however, the link that you supply to the Facebook dialog is scraped by Facebook and any open graph tags (OG tags) are read and used to describe the content in the Facebook share dialog. Now using a simple server script we can generate a page with the tags in based on data passed to the URL via GET. A simple such script would look something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
    <meta charset='utf-8'>
	<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<?php

	$title = $_GET["t"];
	$description = $_GET["d"];
	$icon = $_GET["i"];
	$title = htmlspecialchars($title);
	$description = htmlspecialchars($description);
	$icon = htmlspecialchars($icon);

	echo "    <meta property='og:title' content='" . $title . "' />\n";
	echo "    <meta property='og:description' content='" . $description ."' />\n";
	echo "    <meta property='og:image' content='" . $icon . "' />\n";
?>
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

You would obviously need to work this into some type of landing page or the page your user will be redirected to when they click the link in the shared post will be blank!

Facebook now host Games up to 500MB!

I’m usually so busy that I miss cool stuff sometimes, anyway, I’ve discovered today that Facebook will now host WebGL (including Unity) and HTML5 game content for you for free. So gone are the days of having to host your own and get a SSL certificate etc.. There are some limitations however such as 500MB max content size, 500 max files and no use of scripting languages such as PHP. Still for most uses its great.

You would not believe how m any times I had to retype that last paragraph! My son gave me a gaming keyboard and after years using tghe same keyboard, its proving very difficult getting used to one with bigger keys!

Ok, more details about this cool new Facebook feature here

Tens Maths IQ Challenge – Free Puzzle Game for Android and iOS

Train your powers of mental arithmetic to clear each level by matching up tiles that total the target value in this fun and engaging educational maths puzzler game.

Super fun and super easy to play with gradual level progression, making this puzzle game ideal for kids and young adults that need to get that quick thinking maths edge at school and college.

Get a math IQ rating at the end of each level, gradually increase your mental math IQ over time and become a mental arithmetic math genius.

Stuck? Use Freebies that you have earned from previous levels to get free math solutions.

  • Endless play
  • Increasing difficulty
  • Easy, medium and hard modes of play to fit different age / ability ranges
  • Up to 32 different users can be play on a single device, making Tens ideal for class room activities and competitions
  • Measures and reports each users math IQ giving kids and parents the opportunity to see their improvements as they play
  • Musical numbers to give an added attraction to younger players
  • Tutorial mode to help youngsters learn how to play the game easily
Two versions are available:
Tens Maths IQ Challenge
Tens Junior Maths IQ Challenge
Tens Maths IQ Challenge

Tens Maths IQ Challenge