Mar 272010

Phew! It’s been a frantic few weeks here at Shark Soup Studios, and I’d like to say we had time to sit down and take a breather, but I don’t see that happening! It was perhaps even more frantic than we anticipated this week, given that Apple zipped Hungry Birdz through the review process in under 3 days and caught us somewhat by surprise!

It’s been difficult, with this being our first game, our first experience of publishing to iTunes (or, well, anywhere!), and with so many other variables that were unknown to us, to get the balance right; you can read all the advice and information out there to get a feel for the experience overall, but much of it gives conflicting advice and none of it can really prepare you for your own individual experience!

Do you publicise your game beforehand – conventional wisdom says yes, I’m sure – and run the risk of disappointing any expectant fans you might have gained from it should you not meet your deadlines, or should your app be rejected? Or do you play safe, wait until it’s released and then play ‘catch up’ on the publicity?

In fact, this time round, it’s fair to say we’ve very much been ‘winging it’ (no bird related pun intended!). It was even hard to say when we were ‘finished’ with the game, because – and I don’t want to land ourselves in trouble by saying too much at this stage (playing safe again!) – we have a number of big ideas for Hungry Birdz that we intend to feature in future updates; ideas that excited us so much that we were forever saying ‘well, lets just add this and that feature now!’, but you have to draw the line somewhere, or it would never end up being released at all!

That right there is another unknown variable – for us, anyway – in itself; how much do you say about updates and the features you intend to add? Does it put people off just mentioning it? Does it infer that the game seem somehow incomplete as it stands? Or does it show a commitment to give players even more than they have now? To us, Hungry Birdz is very much a complete game right now… it’s just we want to make it even more fun in the coming weeks and months!

Survival mode was one of those features that just evolved out of one of our frequent banterings about what would be a fun variation. It came about when we coded and were testing the hawks for the main game, and found it to be a lot of fun in it’s own right.  What started out as a jokey comment that ‘we should take out the food and just have loads of hawks flying over’ evolved into an entirely new game that is every bit as fun as the ‘main’ Nature and Arcade game, perfectly suited to those times when you want a quick gaming session but don’t really want to have to think about such things as feeding strategies! And as you may have seen, we gave it all new graphics, too!

Perhaps the most disadvantageous thing about having had no prior publicity for the game, from our point of view, is lack of feedback; would people like the game? Now that it IS released, do they like the game? We’re eagerly waiting for any feedback either here or on the appstore, just to see what people are thinking! Just because we liked it, and thought it was a game perfectly suited to the iPhone touch screen capabilities, doesn’t necessarily mean to say it will appeal to the iPhone gaming public! Although, given that ratings and reviews on apps seem to be biased towards a potentially bad review (I mean, that you are asked to rate and/or review a game when you are removing it from your device!), perhaps no news is good news! Perhaps people are so busy playing Hungry Birdz that they haven’t had time to talk about it? ;)

I know. It sounds like we’re full of self doubt, here – we’re really not. We’re just a bit new to all this! We’re quite confident that Hungry Birdz is a really fun little game with just the right mix of frantic, finger tapping fun combined with a little strategy and a simple learning curve to gaining those big points. We’re also realistic enough to know that we won’t get everything right first time, but we’ve learned a lot over the past weeks, as we hope to demonstrate in future releases; both within Hungry Birdz, and in upcoming games we’re working on.

Meanwhile, if you do have any thoughts or feedback, we’re all ears! Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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