Saturday, July 5, 2014

Two and a Half

I hate to start with a cliche but time flies. Its been two and a half years since I have posted an update!

I'm still going strong at Kihon. We are in beta on our 4th title: Conquest of Champions which is in Early Access on Steam or you can download it from the site on PC/Mac. Eventually we want to get it to tablets and be cross-platform but the current focus is to iterate quickly on the desktop.

In 2013 we launched Dojo Danger.

In 2012 we launched SketchPhrase.

Earlier in 2012 we raised a round with Rick Thompson and made Kihon a legit business... well, I guess it was always legit but raising a round, hiring employees, etc really raises the stakes a bit.

And then of course there was Baby Monkey which I posted about in 2011.

On a technical side I've gone from Flash to Cocos2D to Unity3D.  I personally still have a soft spot for Flash, especially when it comes to tweens and animations.  However, I must admit Unity3D is a pretty powerful engine from a team's perspective.  Cocos2D was OK but I'd recommend skipping over it and just going straight to Unity3D, especially now that they are making an effort to support 2D natively.

I still keep my hands in the code and game production though admittedly is becoming less and less over the years.  I'm probably spending less than half my time coding now while the rest has gone to running the company and everything that entails.

I hope to post a bit more about the business side and the inner workings of Kihon as I originally intended when I was just starting years ago... however, I would be naive to promise such a thing.  Hopefully I will be on here again soon though. Until then!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Freebie! Baby Monkey weekend Give-away

Kihon is running a special this weekend by offering Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig) for free.  If you haven't already, now is the time to check it out!

Still hesitant?  Whats wrong with you!  Check out this review, it sums up our new features such as Costumes, Backgrounds, Free Monkey Bucks, etc.  Review.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Speaking Monday at UofA

I'll be at UofA Video Game Developer's Club this coming Monday, Nov. 21st.  It'll be at 5pm in the Gould-Simpson building, room 813.  I believe non-students can attend.  More details can be found on the club's homepage:

If you are in town, come check it out.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig) ... THE GAME!


Kihon partnered with youtube sensation Parry Gripp. It was released in app store this morning and can be found here.  Its based on Parry's popular Baby Monkey youtube video.


Parry also released a Game Trailer to accompany the release which you can check out below:


Sooo. What are you doing here still reading?  Go download Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig)!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Would you like to connect? Casually?

I am looking forward to checking out Casual Connect Seattle this week.  If you have any interest in meeting up, shoot @kihongames a tweet and we'll work it out.  We should be carrying a demo around of our latest game, which is finished but we are just coordinating some launch details.  Hope to see you there.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

1 Year of Sun Turns a Developer into an Entrepreneur

June marks 1 year since I packed up, left my corn-fed Indiana life, and moved to the Tucson desert to make games for Sony.  I had the chance to ship one game with Sony, which was an outstanding experience.  But unfortunately, the Facebook landscape changed enough during development that the virallity of our game (wildlife refuge) did not stand a chance and we ended up in the red.  Turns out, our game wasn't the only one struggling at Sony Online Entertainment and the Tucson studio was closed back in April (along with Seattle and Denver).

Soooo.  Why am I still in the desert?

Good question.

Besides the perpetual sun, lack of tornadoes, and beautiful mountains, I also found a job here.  I use the term 'job' loosely here as most jobs typically pay money... ;)

Myself and 4 colleagues started a game studio we dubbed Kihon.

I am very excited to be a partner in this adventure into the world of indie development.  I do not think I could have found a more talented, passionate, and enjoyable group to collaborate with.  Follow our antics on twitter here.

Nuff of the mushy stuff.  I plan on writing more on Kihon.  Feel free to drop any questions below... What would you like to know about making mobile games, about starting a studio, etc.   I'll try to be as transparent as possible.

Cheers for reading!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Do Positive Reviews and PR lead to Being Featured in the App Store? ( Part 2 )

In Part 1 I decided to follow #Sworcery and see if positive reviews and pr could lead to being featured in the App Store.

As I stated before, this is by far not a fool proof case study since I do not know if #Sworcery is doing any advertising in conjunction with their PR.

With that disclaimer out of the way, lets see how #Sworcery is doing.  Last we looked they were not in any of the list: top apps, featured, staff pick, hot, or new & noteworthy.

Today the landscape has changed for #Sworcery... drastically.  Right off the bat, they are listed as 3rd on the TOP PAID iPad Apps list.  912 Ratings at 5 Stars... wow!  Scrolling down... they are listed #6 on the TOP GROSSING ipad Apps list.  OK, lets check featured.  New and Noteworthy for all apps? Nope. Staff Favorites? Nope.  Wait a sec... there it is scrolling in the top banner.  iPad Game of the Week!  Ok, so its the game of the week, but its not in the New and Noteworthy. Interesting.  Moving on to What's Hot.  Nothing. Not even in the banner.  So it went from no where to the top charts and it is not considered Hot... interesting.  Lets check out the Games Category.  Featured and in your face, top iPad Game of the week showing up in the top banner.  Also, #1 under New and Noteworthy.  Ok, so it wasn't noteworthy for all Apps, but apparently very note worthy for games.  Strange, since other games appeared in New and Noteworthy for all Apps.  But anyways, moving on to What's Hot for Games.  Nope, not there.

Ok, in summary:
#3 in Top Paid Apps
#6 in Top Grossing Apps
Displayed in Banner for 'Featured' and in the Games Category as iPad Game of the Week
#1 in the Games Featured list

Not to shabby. Hell, that is freaking awesome for them.

Idiocracy - Zach Braff

Do I think the PR, reviews, and general buzz helped them get featured as iPad Game of the Week?  Of course I do.  Can I prove it?  Unfortunately, I can not.  Without access to the 'GateKeepers' at Apple, no one can.

One could argue that this game is spreading due to the twitter integration which is there for ANYTHING you click on.  I personally haven't seen many tweets on it, but apparently others have as Hilary Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief at IGN recently posted:

Starting to feel like  tweed are zombie chants. I see one and it's like, "They got you too!"
I am sure that has helped.  Do a quick search, results keep trickling in. It is an endless stream of free advertising goodness.  They are owning the word 'sworcery' in the seo world and its working to their favor.  Regardless of whether it intrigues twitter users or pisses them off (due to spam) it is drawing attention to the game.

Ok, so that is one aspect outside of traditional reviews/blogs that is helping their numbers.  What about word of mouth? Do people enjoy the game?  I would think most of these people tweeting enjoy the game... otherwise they wouldn't post it on their wall.  But tweeting in game content is not quite the same as telling your friends that this game is awesome, go check it out.  Judging by the fact that 852 of the 915 ratings are 5 stars, I think it is safe to say this is getting positive word of mouth.  Only 25 Four stars. 9 Three Stars. 2 double stars. And 23 singles.  That is incredible!

I honestly don't get it. Maybe I am not far enough, but I find this game extremely boring. Sorry.  I respect the fact that it is indie.  I think it has a cool art style, yet I am not enthralled by it.  Music is great, A+ there.  But as a game, its flat out boring. Lots of clicking and panning.  Just not my cup of tea I guess.  I would have given up on it long ago if I hadn't spent 5 bucks and wasn't writing this blog series.  I'm going to keep clicking my way further and hope the game opens up into something more fun. But for now, I would tell my friends to not waste their money.

Anywaaays, 852 Five Stars?  Top iPad Game of the Week?  I guess I am in the minority on that one.  I'll be interested in seeing if a majority of these initial reviews are from people who have been following the game for awhile and have bought into the buzz.  Now that it is featured and mainstream, I wonder if the majority of future buyers will appreciate the indie flair.  I suspect Part 3 of this blog series will look closely at the reviews and any changes in the charts.  Can the game maintain its position or was a just a burst?  That insight may just help us deduct just how #Sworcery made it into the featured list and onto the main stage.  Stay tuned.  And as  always, share your thoughts below.

I don't see the need to post a part 3.  #Sworcery's reviews have stayed strong, dropping just slightly under a full 5 stars.  Apparently I am in the minority and my theory that their ratings would drop have been debunked.  They have fallen out of the top 25, but I would not be surprised if they jump right back up there when the iPhone version is released or if they even choose to run a special below the 4.99 mark.

In summary, I believe the reviews and PR helped, either by getting them noticed by Apple or getting them noticed by the masses and then by Apple.  A solid product, twitter integration, and great community relations also played a major role from my outsider viewpoint.