Analysis of our game Woodle Tree Adventures and its sequel Woodle Tree 2: Deluxe+
Hello my friends! In this blog post I would like to analyze our first game, since I think could be an interesting read for the new game developers who are approaching to this world.
We developed our first full game “Woodle Tree Adventures” in 2013 (using the engine Unity3D), even though we were totally beginners we decided to try anyway and see what kind of game we would be able to develop. The game is now available on all platforms (Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox One and PS4)
Even though we were pretty satisfied of our game, the critics judged us very negatively, and this image is surely enough to show you what I mean:
A 28 on Metacritic is a score that could destroy your career (and can knock you down), but overall even if not perfect, the game sold hundreds of thousands of copies and a lot of gamers appreciated playing it. As an example here are some few images that can show you the appreciation of our fans:
That said, I’m not insinuating that you have to ignore the critics and reviewers. You surely have to listen to them, and this is what we did for the sequel of the game Woodle Tree 2: Deluxe; We took as lesson every little feedback that we gained from reviewers and tried to make something unique, this helped us infact to reach a 71 on Metacritic:https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/woodle-tree-2-deluxe+
During this time anyway I always wondered why the first game was so much appreciated by players but not by critics (I still receive messages everyday from fans saying that they loved Woodle Tree Adventures).
Probably the fact is that the game is very simple and many players likesimplicity and even though has bugs here and there, many players ignored them after a while.
Or could be the fact that being our first game and having many defects, many gamers were able to understand this while playing and even have fun thanks to thisfact.
Anyway what I wanted to tell you if you’re starting just now developing games is to not take critics to your game as something personal: try to take them for what they are (just opinions about your game and not about you) and learn from these. It’s not easy for developers to be able to judge their own game objectively after years of work, but it’s surely something that I think needs to be done.
Thankfully there are many gamers like these that surely will cheer you up and make you understand that your work was worth it:
I would like to write a post about the development and marketing of Suicide Guy and its new chapters. (link)
Even if is a game of 2017 (3 years ago), the game is still selling really well thanks to the constancy of our updates and the marketing we’re making to advertise the new chapters and content that we’re adding to the game.
The game has sold for now a total of over 150.000 copies on all platforms (notice that it includes all the chapters) and is still selling consistently like the previous year without major slowdowns.
You can check this in the pie chart below:
Here a graph taken directly from Steam with the copies sold starting from 2017 to 2020 (of course includes sales and deals). As you can see it seems that the curve goes even up and the interest in the game is still very high.
The curiosity about the game is still increasing probably due to the new VR edition that we’re going to release in few months. (You can join our Discord server here for updates: discord.gg/NZJk9Gr)
I noticed that the interest in VR has never been so high, that is why we’re porting the game for all VR devices and at the same time continuing to add content.
Since the game is still unknown by many players, I’m even testing new marketing strategies, for example posting video updates of the game on Reddit. You can check for example This Post
As you can see the interest in the VR edition of the game is incredibly high, with a lot of players that even played the first game and are eager to try this new VR edition!
This kind of marketing is both creating awareness on the upcoming VR game and helping actual sales of the game already released in 2017.
Here some other post examples that I made to create awareness on the upcoming release:
Personally I have to say that even after years after the first game, I’m still having fun to return to the project and continue it with new content.
Thanks to this, the team is constantly expanding, so you can expect new games of this and new series coming out soon!
Remember that you can grab a copy of the game here if you want:
And here a sneak peek of the logo of Suicide Guy VR coming soon
Given the times ahead of all of us, we’ve decided to write a blog post about remote game development, something that in the next months (or years?) will be necessary for all studios. Our team has always worked succesfully in remote during the last 10 years, so probably we have a tip or 2 for you.
We hope that this post will be useful for all the teams that are approaching this new kind of internal reorganization. our team is rather small (composed by 7 developers: 2 programmers, 1 game designer, 1 sound designer, 1 2D artist and 2 3D modellers), but I think this method can be applied even to larger teams of 20 or more.
Here are the 10 suggestions for Smart Working in game development:
Communication is obviously a must, and it’s something that has to be done in all forms: Email, Chat, Voice Chat and Video Chat are all essentials. Here some of the best softwares that we use for this:
Skype (mainly for chatting and voice) Discord (for chatting) Zoom (for video conferences) Slack (for chat with the whole team and team groups)
The project manager must ensure that everyone is updated on the game: is the key figure that must communicate continuously with everyone.
It’s important to communicate only the essentials during working hours in order not to make time wasted for every team member. 1 Voice chat with the whole team every 1 or 2 days is the right choice in order to keep everyone updated on the game project.
the second most important thing is to keep track of everything that has been done by every team member. Depending on the team size I would suggest the following softwares:
Trello (for smaller teams from 2 to 10) Jira (for larger teams from 10 to 50) Monday (for large teams from 50 to 100)
The most important thing is to add deadlines other that tasks for every team member. Also I would suggest to add dependencies in order to keep track of what is best to give priority to: you have to avoid the case in which a team member has to wait for another to complete his task.
The use of repository is something that needs to be done always and is useful so that every team member can access the project and add his assets. Here some of the best softwares for this:
We mainly use SourceTree, but since it’s not meant for game development, it sometime has problems due to conflicting branches and files size. Probably with larger teams and projects, the best software to use is Perforce.
If a team member does not know how to use it well enough, or does not know the game engine, is always better to make him send his asset files to a specialized team member: he’ll be able to integrate with more efficiency the assets, without the risk to break the whole project.
Frequent and clear feedback from team member supervisors are indeed important, and must continue throughout the whole day. When working remotely, you do tend to work in a bit of a vacuum and it can feel like you have no idea whether you are doing a good job or not, unless you get lots of feedback.
Feedback can be provided directly with screens or mini videos that can help to understand what is the actual feedback referring to.
A useful software is Teamviewer, used to control directly a computer from another: we use it internally even when two programmers need to work on the same script file.
Documentation is important to be clear and precise, you can’t afford to have docs that are not understandable by the whole team. If this occurs, the project manager should improve the documentation or even rewrite it completely.
This includes both technical documentation, game design documentation and assets documentation.
The reality is that the single developer is going to make a lot of decisions in a vacuum without feedback most of the time, so having as much background as they can is necessary so that the decisions he takes are fairly good. Be sure that everyone is using the same software for writing documentation (Word and OpenOffice are the most common ones) since passing files from one user to another could create problems.
Writing documentation through cloud services is probably the best way to avoid any kind of problem: we usually use Google Docs since it includes even sheets and files for presentations. Everyone can edit the same file online in real time.
It’s easy to be distracted when you work at home, but is fundamental not to lose time or even work outside working hours.
Since you have your laptop at every hour of the day, it’s possible that you’ll sometimes work extra hours, but we would recommend not to do this: a lot of scientific papers found out that working too much hours without the right balance will inevitably cause a long-term lowering of productivity.
At the same time is easy to lose concentration due to the household chores you have to do: you have to find a room in your house that is sufficiently isolated in order to avoid this.
Be distracted is as easy as losing the morale for a team member. Working remotely is never easy, so try not to be too pretentious with your team members: since you’re always distant, is easy to be offended or misunderstood.
You can try to use extra hours for external team activities like playing an online videogame! This can definitely improve team bonding.
You probably have a Game Design Document for your game, and everyone needs to follow it as much as possible.
One suggestion we have, is to write more than one GDD: in addition to the in-depth and long main document, other shorter and more concise docs needs to be written in order for every team member to easily access it.
The shorter docs could even be ad hoc for every team group (one for sound designers, one for 3D modelers etc).
Use always Google Docs so that everyone can easily access them without the need to download large files.
Don’t forget to continue to market your game! Even if you can’t attend anymore to gaming events and conferences, this doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to reach millions of gamers.
Online social marketing is today probably the most efficient way to present your game to the public in relation to visibility and earnings.
Social media campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Ads, Reddit and Linkedin are probably the most efficient ones. So keeping your gamers updated and engaged on your games even in these difficult times is the key.
This is something that I would suggest in normal times, but of course is starting to be almost impossible to meet your team in real life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The real life meetings are essential and we think needs to be done at least one every two weeks: This helps to focus on the game direction and even to strengthen team union.
If real life reunions are impossible, we would suggest to at least make a video conference call using Skype or Zoom.
It wouldn’t be a game development guide if it didn’t have some extra content :)
One last suggestion is to find your best workplace at home: if you have a notebook, you can work almost everywhere and will be tempted to work in the most unimaginable places (on your sofa or the toilet for example), but we would suggest to find the place where you will have in the most correct posture.
Your back will thank!
Here you can find other useful articles about remote development:
Hello my friends! In this post I would like to talk about sales and marketing analysis on Steam during a period starting from 2014 to 2019.
I think a lot of game developers could benefit from this analysis to understand how the market has changed and if it’s really more difficult today to be able to sell your game to the mass.
Sales Chart Analysis
I’ll start by sharing this sales chart of all our games starting from June 2014 to September 2019 (5 years)
Woodle Tree Adventures has been our first game released in 2014. As you can see, even if there were few games on Steam (less than 4.000), the game didn’t sell a lot of copies during the first release days. (today there are 30.000 total games on Steam).
At that time the game has been approved with Greenlight, while today there is a faster way usingSteam Directto publish your game.
During 2015 we released a lot of other experimental games (The Deer, Heaven Island VRMMO, Heaven Forest VRMMO and more). These games did perform nicely with thousands of copies sold during the first days, but it wasn’t constant through time, so in the long term didn’t continue to sell well as you can see from the sales chart.
In 2016 we released the sequel (Woodle Tree 2: Worlds) that did perform well, but not like the first game, probably due to many games released on the store too.
In 2017 the number of games on Steam tripled, so we feared that our new game would not perform well, but we were wrong. In July 2017Suicide Guy has been released and during the first week the revenues surpassed the ones from all our past games combined. As you can see from the chart, sales did not stop and continued thanks to the fact that we continued to update the game with new levels and improvements (for example Christmas and Halloween themes levels)
In 2018 we released a new chapter of the game called Suicide Guy: Sleepin’ Deeply that performed pretty well even though the games on Steam doubled once again (with almost 30.000 games total). During these years we continued to expand and update our most successfull games: this helped to maintain sales constant through the time without releasing new games.
In 2019 we’re still updating our past games (Suicide Guy and its expansions) while working on new bigger projects. I’ll update the post when the new games will launch!
Has the Steam Market changed?
Yes of course, but I think is still possibile to sell well on this platform. A key factor is to create an original game and continue to update it even after the release date.
You really need to keep the game up to date and keep asking players for feedbacks: this is an approach that we’re using right now even for our console games (Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One).
This not only keeps the sales stable through time, but helps you create a more profound bound with your fans. (after all it thanks to them if we can keep making games!)
As a final consideration I would like to say to all the developers to not be afraid by the numbers of games released every year on Steam. I have read a lot of articles on various gaming websites alarming all the developers, but If you really have an original idea and have enough game development experience to create a full game from start to finish, then you just need to focus on your game only.
Of course is still possibile (as it was before) that a gamedoes not sell well: afterall there are a ton of different variables that could make a game sell poorly, but you need to keep that as an experience for your next game.
Thanks for reading! I’ll continue to udpate this post too, if you have feedbacks let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodle Tree Adventures is an old school platform game with a catchy and unique art style! Explore a total of 6 worlds and save the lands with the magical water drops you’ll find through your journey, bringing back peace and balance and finally becoming the new hero!
The development of the game has been pretty difficult due to some request from Microsoft in order to fit their standards. It took about 3 months for the conversion from PC (Steam) to Xbox One.
For example we had to handle the users, achievements to include, general optimization and a lot of things that were new for us.
I hope you’ll enjoy this deluxe edition, have fun!
Hello! In this post I would like to talk to you about our next project in development for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 “Woodle Tree 2: Deluxe”.
This is actually a remake of a game released in 2016 on Steam called “Woodle Tree 2: Worlds” (link)
The game was pretty successful at his time with over 20.000 copies sold, but we were not able to include all the concepts and mechanics we wanted due to time and budget limit.
Thanks to the great success of other games we’ve release in last years (like Suicide Guy and more) we now have the budget to be able to create even a greater title!
We started the development of this new version in June 2018, trying to adapt the whole game to Nintendo Switch. Since it’s an open world platformer, the effort has been huge considering the limited hardware and the fact that our target was to achieve 60 fps.
Here a glimps of the map of the whole game, comprehending over 9 levels + new different platforming areas:
The remake we’re trying to achieve will comprehend a total redesign with new levels, characters, new cutscenes, improved game mechanics and much more.
Hello my friend! In this post I would like to talk about the game development process we’ve acutally used during the last years for our games.
To start by, I would suggest you to read even the “Agile Game Development with Scrum” book by Clinton Keith: Amazon link
The process we’re acutally using is very similar even if it’s applied to a much smaller scale studio (of 5 people instead of 200).
What is Agile?
Agile is an approach for developing products using short and fast iterations.
The ideas is to make small features for the current project in small periods of time. In this way the results of each iteration are used to adjust the project plan: each iteration is like a short project in itself.
What is SCRUM?
SCURM is an iterative and incremental Agile process that produces demonstrable working software every few days: for example a build of the project that can actually be tested.
How Agile can be used for Indie Games?
I think Agile can be really useful for indie game studios if used wisely: Since the initial concept of a game does never perfectly reflect how the final game will be, I think a Waterfall Development process is useless in most cases.
We usually start with the Concept of the game and then start the Preproduction and Prototyping process for testing the main mechanics of the game.
While we’re still in the Production process, the Concept and Design core of the game can still be modified depending on the feedbacks of our testers that are testing the first prototypes. If something is not working well in a game mechanic, we’re still able to modify it without great effort from the Programmers.
This is just an example, but this process can be used to every phase of the development: for example while the Sound Designer is making the sound effects of a character and the Animator is making the animations for it, the Game Designer can test both and give feedback on how well the sound effects are linked to the animations.
Personally I think that Concept and Design can be modified through the entire development process of a game (even in the final Post Production stages) if this does not change too much the Deadline Release.
I think Agile can be even extended while working on multiple projects at the same time. We usually develop 2 or 3 games at the same time and Agile is really useful since some of the ideas, concepts and mechanics could pop up in the development of a game and can be used even on other projects.
This process can even be useful to avoid Dependencies of members of the team: for example if a programmer is waiting for the animations of the main character in order to finish the code for the run mechanic, he can meanwhile work on other mechanics or on another project.
It’s important to have a cohesive team, since the potential savings in cost for team is lost when time and effort is wasted through iteration delays and dependencies between team members.
One of the most interesting phrases from the Agile Game Development book referring to the best team Clinton worked with is:
“Much of the chemistry of that team is a mystery to me. There doesn’t seem to be a formula for how such teams can be created, but I’ve found that it’s quite easy to prevent such teams from forming” - Clinton Keith
Agile and Scrum are surely some of the things that really can help these kinds of team to form since it allows all the members of the team to communicate and have a larger view on the project.