Bomb Digger case study: releasing a game with extra features if played on the official site

How many games have you played around the web allowing you to play only the first levels unless you play them on the official site?

I always wondered how people react to this feature, that can be quite an interesting way to drive traffic to your site, where you surely placed a lot of ads.

This is the story of Alexander V. Trukhin and his first Flash game, Bomb Digger

bombdigger

It is remake of old Boulder Dash style game, inspired by old ZX Spectrum Down to Earth game.

Alexander loved this game, made a remake, designing his own levels and graphics.

Talking about level design, Alexander is afraid the game is too hard… anyway this is his experience:

« People say some portals don’t like limited versions, and maybe full version might have a more successful distribution. Unfortunately I learned it after distribution already started…

The idea was allowing players to play only demo levels unless they play the game on the official site. It was my mistake.

The game was found too hard for most people… Only 4 players of 155 score submitters passed demo levels!

So, most of them had no reason to go and play it on the official site.

Many players lost all lifes in demo levels, it is absolutely impossible to understand… I have several interesting levels for a sequel, but with nobody who can pass them, I think… :)

I have 500 plays and 50-60 visitors to my site per day.

I think about 1000 site visitors per day would be good result. I have ideas about new levels and features, but I think it have sense to make a sequel only if first version will be successful.

Inspiration comes from handdrawngames.com – they have a site with several versions and a community.

The plan was to make versions 2, 3, and so on… with new levels and features, but if people can’t pass learning levels…

Eh, in “eighties” players were more… hardcore.

And a bit about programming.

I had a problem with perfomance when I tried to make first prototypes.

First prototype used an object for each non-empty cell in the game field. It worked well for small one-screen (15×15) fields, but I wanted to use large levels with scrolling.

Optimization included:

– Painting unmovable objects as static graphics (bitmap): walls, green area
– All objects are objects, but also use bitmaps and their rotation is simply rotation of clips
– Destroying static objects painting a black square over them (some bugs exist…)

Maximum field size is 96×96 = 2880/30 (cell size). It is enough and I don’t need to use several blocks.

Unlike all Boulder Dash games I saw, there is smooth movement of objects instead ‘jumps’ from cell to cell.

At a first sight it wasn’t a problem, but it requied to remake collision algorithm.

I think it looks significantly better.

All in all the game engine is quite simply: array maps, onEnterFrame loop for all movable objects and many small codes for each type of object to describe its behavior.

P.S. The interesting fact is I had no ActionScript experience and first prototype was written using JavaScipt and worked in a browser. :)

Porting to Flash worked without big changes (except small input and output functions). »

What’s your experience with games fully playable only on their official site?

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215 GAME PROTOTYPES EXPLAINED WITH SOURCE CODE
// 1+2=3
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