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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do Positive Reviews and PR lead to Being Featured in the App Store?

I had an interesting exchange w/ a guy from g4 who claimed:

"The way mobile games are priced, they're typically an impulse purchase vs. someone seeking them out based on coverage."

That made me stop and think a bit.

Ok. I can't argue that once a game is in front of someone's face its not an impulse buy. BUT, it can only be an impulse buy when its in the checkout lane, not when you have to ask the store clerk what aisle its in.

Where are the swedish fish!?

The holy grail for many app developers is to become a Staff Pick, Featured, and then ultimately hit the Top Charts.  Once you do that, then you have the impulse factor working in your favor.  But this all occurs well after the snowball has already started down the hill. The real question is how do you get noticed by Apple and hit one of those lists?

Going back to my initial conversation, could reviews and positive PR lead to being Featured in the App Store?

With that question fresh in my mind I started noticing chatter about "SuperBrothers: Sword and Sworcery".  Do a quick search, there is a fair amount of buzz about the game online. [insert LMGTFY link here... ]   9.5 from IGN.  Now that is nothing to sneeze at.

OK, so we have positive PR and positive reviews.  Lets check out the top iPad apps... its not listed.  Featured? Nope. Staff pick? Nope. Hot? Nope.

Ah, Release date is tomorrow. Hmm, that is weird. I still was able to purchase it. (downloading now)

So I am wondering, can their positive PR and Reviews lead to being featured?  Lets watch and find out. Its not a fool proof case study... not even close. I don't know if they are advertising.  I don't know if a staff member will feature this game because they like it, without even reading a review.

Still, I find the exercise interesting.

If you see any advertising for the game, please let me know.  As well as if it hits any of apple's charts.

I'll be keeping an eye on it and will report back what I find.  In the meantime, my download is done so its time for some sworcery.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The People Have Chosen

The People's choice for Hackathon came down to a photo finish.  Winner, gets FDT Max. Runner-up, joins the rest of the participants and receive FDT Pure. (thx Bruno!)

Voting was done by using the game's MochiPop score (how often they are played over time).  You can find any game's MochiPop by searching for the game via MochiGames.

When voting came to a close, we had 2 games tied in first at 59 MochiPop: New Continents & Earthquake.

I gave the contestants each 5 days to break the tie by pimping their games and encouraging people to play.  At the end of the five days, both games improved their MochiPop, but one game more so than the other.

Our winner of  Stanford's Hackathon Game Competition's People's Choice 2011 (haha, how long of a title can I make this??) is Earthquake!

Congrats to the winner and congrats to all the participants who will now receive a free copy of FDT Pure.

Thanks to everyone for participating, playing, judging, supporting, and just being Benevolent.

Ok, I promise, no more blog posts about this competition!  ;)

Friday, February 25, 2011

And the Winner is...

The judges have spoken and the votes have been tallied.  It was a very close competition, cheers to all of the entries!  Below are the top three winners from the Hackathon Game Competition.  If you participated and I have not yet reached out to you, please send me your contact information so I can put you in touch with our sponsors. My contact: ickydime[ at ]



$50 donated by Mochi Media
Featured on GamesChart 


$100 donated by Mochi Media
Featured on GamesChart 

Food Bank Delivery
Food Bank Delivery 
by Jacob Grygowski

One Master Adobe Suite donated by Lee Brimelow & Adobe
One Pro License to GameBuilder Studio (once it is released)
Feature Review by JayIsGames 
Featured on GamesChart 

This includes the above winners along with: New ContinentsThe Feeder, and PYC - Pair Your Charity.

FDT 4 Pure donated by Bruno Fonzi of FDT ($129 value).
Invite to Private Beta to GameBuilder Studio 
Single Developer License to Push Button Engine's Isometric Component ($50 value).  
Recognized as Hackathon Supporters and projects will be displayed/promoted in our official records and online releases.

Voting Continues for People's Choice award.  We will announce the winner for People's choice at the beginning of March.

Thank you to all of the judges for taking the time to thoroughly play and critique each game and thus make this event a success: Jeff FultonSteve, FultonIain LobbKeith Peters, and Squize.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Job: Going Freelance / Indie (Game Development)

Roughly two weeks ago I parted ways with Sony.  It was a short ride, but very fruitful.  My exit was on the best possible of terms and I have been told the door is always open to return... which is the ideal situation whenever you part ways.  I believe my exit went smoothly mainly because I made sure I stayed on board with Wildlife Refuge all the way from start to finish and waited until we were in a stable maintenance mode before I made my departure.  I highly recommend making every possible effort to tie up any loose ends and meet any previous obligations before departing ways w/ an employer... although I realize that can not always be done.

Anyways, I learned a great deal from working with the Tucson Studio and feel I am much better prepared to face the gaming Industry.  Without Sony & the people I worked with there I do not believe I would have the confidence I do today to go into freelance/indie game development.

I can not speak about current projects at the moment, but I am sure I will open up more in the near future.

If you are working on any games (iOS Mobile or Flash), feel free to hit me up:  


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vote Now for Stanford Hackathon Game Competition

Stanford Hackathon Game Competition has come to a close.  The entries are finalized and I just now sent the entries to the judges.  I will contact the winners and post a blog post as soon as the votes are tallied, which may not be until late next week.

In the meantime, we need to determine the People's choice.  The People's choice will be awarded FDT 4 Max!  The way we will determine the winner is by using MochiPop:
MochiPop is a game popularity index which scores games based on a range of network data such how many plays the game has been getting. 
Basically, you vote by playing the game you like the most!   Since MochiPop is calculated over time we will let the voting continue until February 28th.  At that point we will freeze the MochiPop and calculate our People's Choice.

Here are the entriess:

PYC - Pair Your Charity
PYC - Pair Your Charity


Food Bank Delivery
Food Bank Delivery



The Feeder

The Feeder

Thumbnail for New continents
New Continents

Cheers to everyone who took the time to partake in this charitable game competition... from the developers who entered, to the judges, to the sponsors.  We greatly appreciate all of the hard work!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Reasons to Code!

Barry White of GamesChart recently passed along the press release below.  Being that he is a sponsor of Hackathon's Game Competition I am more than happy to share.  It also appears that you can reuse the same game or at least a variation of it for both competitions... thus more motivation for knocking out a Benevolent game by the 13th!  Good luck to all who enter, looks like there are some nice cash prizes for the winners:


Come2Play and the Linkedin Flash Game Developers Group are launching the 2nd 'Games that Challenge the World Contest' for multiplayer games. Cash prizes totalling $10,000 will be awarded to contest winners!!

1st Place - $5,000
2nd Place - $3,000
3rd Place - $1,250
4th Place - $750

Contest Genre & Judging:
The contest genre is 'Casual Games' and submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

* Multiplayer playability for new and return players
* Replay ability of the game
* Design, sound and effects
* Concept and execution

Developers keep all rights to the games they submit and even previously released games can be entered. 

There was only a handful of entries to last years contest, so the chance of winning a serious cash prize is very high. Check out the winning entries of the 1st 'Games that Challenge the World Contest' here: - If you've got a multiplayer game and you think you stand a chance of winning, why not submit your game now!

Full competition details available here - 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free FDT 4 Pure & Chance at Max!

The Flash community continues to impress w/ its generosity as Bruno Fonzi of FDT added to our list of goodies for Hackathon's Flash Game Competition.

FDT will donate a FDT 4 Pure licence to ALL participants.  This is a $129 value.  Combined with our previous prizes that means you get roughly $180 in software, private beta software, and free PR just for ENTERING the competition.  Since the free prizes are piling up I did add an additional rule: 
You can be disqualified from receiving any prizes if your game is deemed to be not compliant with the spirit of this event.
That rule was added in case someone uploaded something completely un-related to the competition and slap a Hacakthon tag on it and ask for a handout.  

But Wait... There's More!  Act now and we will throw in a free knife set!  ;)   Just kidding about the knife set. But seriously, there is more.  FDT will also be donating a FDT 4 Max license worth $699 dollars!  We created a new category for this prize: The People's Choice and community voting will occur shortly after the deadline.

That brings us to well over 3000 dollars in winnable prizes and that doesn't include the 180 dollars in prizes for all participants.  You really can't go wrong here... make a charitable game and we will hook you up!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Free Software & Prizes for all Game Competition Participants (thx to GameBuilder Studio)

Lavon Wood, of GameBuilder Studio, just donated a very generous offering of software to All Participants.  Just create a charitable game and you are in!  This software includes the following:

- A Private Beta invite to GameBuilder Studio (available to all entries after the competition)
- Single Developer License to Push Button Engine's Isometric Component ($50 value).  This is Available now! All you need to do is validate that you are entering the competition by e-mailing me with your game concept and contact information.  Then either myself or Lavon will send you instructions so you can use this immediately.  My contact: ickydime[ at ]

GameBuilder Studio also beefed up the Grand Prize by offering One Pro License to GameBuilder Studio (once it is released) to the winner! 

Please check out the full list of prizes, rules, and general information on the competition here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free AS3 Game Code!

For those of you who want a jump start on the competition, head over to Iain Lobb's blog and grab the source code that he is graciously giving away.  Even if you aren't joining the competition, you should definitely check out his code.  He was the technical reviewer on The Essential Guide to Flash Games (which basically means he knows his stuff and then some).

I am continually impressed by members of the Flash community like Iain.  He has taken the spirit of the competition and has ran with it.  The Benevolent Bug is spreading!  ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Prizes/Support for Hackathon's Flash Game Competition

GamesChart graciously volunteered to place the three winning games on their featured chart.  I updated yesterday's competition announcement with the updated prizes.

We also have had some nice PR from MochiMedia and JayIsGames.

If you or your company would like to get involved with supporting or promoting the event (or Hackathon in general), please contact me at: ickydime { at }

Much love for the Flash Community right now...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flash Game Competition (Stanford, Adobe, Mochi, JayIsGames & more!)

Stanford University's 2011 Hackathon is throwing a three week long Flash Game Competition in conjunction with their upcoming philanthropic coding marathon.  We have lined up prizes valued over $3000 and an all-star cast of judges!  Anyone can enter so check out the details below and post any questions you may have.

DEADLINE: February 13th at Noon PST


As Wikipedia states, Benevolence is the act of, or a general inclination towards, charity. However you interpret the theme is up to you.  Possible ideas include but are not limited to:

  • The game could be about charitable acts in general.
  • It could be about a particular charity.
  • It could draw awareness to a certain cause.
  • It could educate on an issue.
  • The game could be unrelated to charity but then donate its proceeds to a charity.
  • It could take the word Benevolence and twist it in any manner that deems fun an appropriate.
Judges will be instructed to choose a game that not only do they enjoy the most but also ties best in the theme described above.





  • FDT 4 Max donated by Bruno Fonzi of FDT ($699 value). The voting for People's Choice will occur shortly after the deadline.

  • FDT 4 Pure donated by Bruno Fonzi of FDT ($129 value).
  • Invite to Private Beta to GameBuilder Studio 
  • Single Developer License to Push Button Engine's Isometric Component ($50 value).  Generously donated by GameBuilder Studio to anyone who wants to use it in the competition. This is Available now! All you need to do is validate that you are entering the competition by e-mailing me with your game concept and contact information.  Then either myself or Lavon will send you instructions so you can use this immediately.  My contact: ickydime[ at ]
  • Recognized as Hackathon Supporters and projects will be displayed/promoted in our official records and online releases.

  • MochiAds needs to be enabled to ensure that we can find your game in the database.  However, since this is a charitable event, you do not need to use the standard network ad.  Instead, feel free to use a 'Custom Ad' that coincides with your game's theme/charity.  
  • Tag Your Game: In order to properly find your game, you must tag it “hackathon2011” without the quotes.
  • You can be disqualified from receiving any prizes if your game is deemed to be not compliant with the spirit of this event.

This contest is directly tied to Stanford University’s Hackathon, which is a software development branch of Dance Marathon. Their 24hr Hackathon will start on February 12th and finish on noon of the 13th in conjunction with this contest. All entries to this competition will be considered part of Hackathon and thus gain the recognition and promotion from the Hackathon organization. You will retain all rights to your code and final creations. You can learn more about Hackathon at their website.

Post any questions you have below. Good luck!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wildlife Refuge: SOE Tucson's Latest Facebook Endeavor

I haven't been able to speak much about what I have been doing at Sony since I joined in June.  Our game was tightly under wraps until our quiet beta release this past November.  After a month of bug fixing and additional features I think its finally time to dust off the keyboard and try to put a couple sentences together about the game.

The first question I always get when I mention if I am working on a Facebook game is...   Is it like Farmville?     I dislike Zynga... I dislike their practices (towards customers and employees) and I dislike the 'spaminess' of their games.  Therefore, I cringe whenever I get thrown in the same lot... but to answer the question, yes... looking at it from the big picture it is kinda like Farmville.  They are both on the facebook platform, they both use isometric engines, they both involve tending/caring for things, they both allow you to decorate/personalize your space, and they both rely on helping and interacting with your friends.  

So yeah, our game falls into the Farmville genre... BUT OUR GAME IS DIFFERENT DAMMIT! ;)

Our game, Wildlife Refuge, drops you into the African Savannah and tasks you with helping the native ecosystem.  You get to explore the terrain in your jeep (Away3D) in hopes of finding and rescuing rare animals which you can take to your refuge to nurse back to health.  You can assist your friends through gifts, neighbor visits, and best of all... Animal Mating!  I'll let you check that last one out for yourself... :)  

I've really enjoyed being a part of this project, more so than I think I would have enjoyed a typical facebook game, since it has some noble/rewarding goals.  We are tied to non-profit charities (ex: Cheetah Foundation) and thus some of the money you spend on the game can go to a good cause (besides helping pay my rent).  We also have a fair amount of educational content in the game to help players learn about the African ecosystem.

I am going to shy away from going into details about the game's development and design decisions at this point and plan on touching on those points in a post mortem down the road.  Right now the game is very much alive.  We are fielding bug reports/feature requests from our player base while trying to improve our virality, stickiness, and overall profitability. 

We have gotten some very positives reviews (4.7 out of 5!) as well as some nice accolades (top 10 facebook games released this year).  However, the last line of the InsideSocialGames article shows that there is much room for improvement: "Sadly, despite how well-made the game is, it only has 58,000 MAU."  

I'll touch more on that in the post mortem, but for now I am going to enjoy my remaining holiday before I jump back into trying to help this baby get off the ground.  As for you, take a minute and check out our game: Wildlife Refuge.