Jul 05 2009

Why

Hi, I’m Tony Fernando. This is my blog.

This is my second website covering flash game development. The original attempt was Alaskagameworks.com.

Alaskagameworks attempted to be and do several things.

  • A label under which to release my flash games
  • A gaming portal
  • A development log
  • A resource site

It’s object was to produce enough revenue from ads to cover the hosting costs. Prior to that site, although I had maintained a handful of websites over the preceding decade I had had no experience with advertising. This appeared to be, and may in fact be a reasonable goal. I learned several things from the Alaskagameworks experiment.

  • Developing games with the object of making money from advertising revenue requires a lot of time and effort.

Producing the 3 games I wrote during the Alaskagameworks project took me approximately 300 hours. In my real job I wasn’t being utilized very heavily, so I had the time.. but I received very little return in any form from the games. They did not become especially popular and therefore garnered little revenue… They received little attention in the flash game developer or indie game developer communities…

Beginner project shouldn’t be expected to make even tiny amounts of money. But I didn’t know this at the time.

  • Running a gaming portal requires a lot of time and effort.

I aimed at putting up 10 games new to my site per week. It took about 4 hours of playing many games to find ten.. and that wasn’t a particularly fun 4 hours either. Actually adding the games took anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on how they were formatted. There are automated scripts and other time saving measures I could have implemented, but my concept was that I would act as a filter, sort out games worth playing, and that would serve as a draw.

This didn’t happen. I’m aware of only 2 people who used the site with any regularity (both of whom are related to me), despite having several hundred unique viewers per day. And several hundred unique views per day is a fraction of the number of views per day I needed to cover the hosting costs of the site. And although my unique viewers were increasing slowly over time, spending the next year doing several hours of un-enjoyable work in order to … not lose money doing unenjoyable work … became unappealing fairly quickly.

Honestly, I came away from the experience with the feeling that the world does not particularly need edited game portals, the open submission ones and -large- editted ones do a good enough job in providing games to people who want to play them.

Then the comment spammers found me, and I became exceptionately demoralized. So I walked away… I had gained some experience and with no one actively using the site I figured it didn’t hurt anyone. I had funded the project with the proceeds from a minor consulting job, and the entire experience was a net wash money-wise. So that’s why I closed the website and dropped out of the flash community for a while.

I’m back.

I had never closed my account with Mochiads, so my games were still active and serving ads to anyone who wanted to play them. The revenue was insubstantial.. but in reviewing the statistics I found that Daytrader was being played about a hundred times a day being served off various Taiwanese websites. In fact this still continues, and I’ll admit I don’t know why (or why they rarely use the leaderboards). The other two games were being played a few times a week each. As of this writing, my games have been played about 50,000 times.

That was encouraging. Several hundred times a week, someone somewhere was looking at something I had done. I’ve written programs in C++ which were seen by 1 other person total. Or none!

Also encouraging was that although these were the best I could do at the time, they were low quality games compared to what is available on the internet. But they still had a lifespan measured in months, not hours… Writing or producing games still seems to be worthwhile. And I enjoyed (most) of that part of the Alaskagameworks experiment.

So I wrote a tiny game, which only had about 40 hours of development time (code and graphics) in order to make sure I could still make my way around an IDE. That game has been played 1,261 times since its release two weeks ago. That doesn’t produce enough money to be interesting, but it’s a lot of people to be playing an amateur game. Which is enough for me.

And that explains comming back into Flash Game development, but not the website. That’s actually easier.

  • People playing a game expect to see a ‘splash’ screen before the game starts. It’s a little awkward not to have one, and even worse to put something like ‘Your name presents…’ unless your name happens to be Sid Meier.
  • There are certain technical considerations in accepted flash game file size which makes streaming some or most of your content (particularly soundtracks) extremely appealing. You can’t do this if you don’t have a server which your game can stream from..
  • I have a real job, and I can afford the hosting fees. If I treat this as a hobby, then this website doesn’t need to pay its own way and I can add content when I want to without forcing myself to go out and find it. I also don’t need to worry about advertising, search index optimization, and all that other not-fun stuff.
  • And finally, if I write something that I want to show off to my Mom or my Grandpa I don’t want to link to Newgrounds, or Kongregate…  (And I’ll say, I like both sites for what they are, and for being open to all submissions. Often some great suggestions come out of Newgrounds user reviews and I intend to continue releasing my games on both sites. Never the less… the quality and subject matter of many games on both sites isn’t exactly appropriate for all audiences).

So that’s the start. I’m going to write a short description of the advertising service I use in the games, and then I’m going to post my four existing games for legacy’s sake. Then I guess we’ll see where I go from there.

Thanks for stopping by,
-TF

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