Before I go into more detail about all the bells and whistles that make the game special, I’d like to touch on several lessons that I learned during this marathon. What else could I call at 12-month, $20,000 project but a marathon? Development was certainly no walk in the park.
What I Learned
1. Not all hard things are worth doing, but most things worth doing are hard.
They may be “hard” because they’re emotionally draining, intellectually challenging, or physically exhausting. Or because they require courage or hope or self-control or tenacity.
App development can grind you down. Just when you think you’re ready to launch you discover a mission-critical bug. Or the day of launch, the company managing your burst campaign promotes the wrong app. Oops.
Or your first designer flakes out, so you hire a second designer. And your second designer finds a way to game oDesk’s Work Diary and charge you for hours he didn’t work. So you must hire a third designer, and sure enough, when the dust finally settles, you’ve spent three times as much on design as you budgeted. Ouch.
2. You must have unusually high risk tolerance.
You must prepare to bleed money every month—money that may never find its way back to you. The app marketplace offers no guarantee. Yes, when you’re sacrificing money, sleep, and the intangible costs of passing up other opportunities, apps can grind you down.
3. Cussedness is the only thing that will carry you through.
Your developer forgets to include the in-app purchases when submitting the binary. Because of this little oversight, you miss the time window for the soft launch in Canada. You haven’t benchmarked your average revenue per user. When it comes to spending advertising dollars, you’re flying blind.
So what causes you to keep answering the emails, making decisions, and paying those invoices?
Tenacity. Pluck. Dogged determination.
Or my favorite synonym—cussedness. Viva Match Battle is finally live in the App Store, and when I think about how this could possibly be, the only thing I can come up with is good old-fashioned cussedness.
My parents never used profanity, but if they did, they would tell you I can be stubborn as hell. Most of the time, stubbornness is a liability, but every once in awhile, it morphs into an asset like a caterpillar into a butterfly.
I’m proud of Viva Match Battle. I’m surprised as anyone that it’s finished. And I’d like to share with aspiring app developers what this particular 13-month project has taught me:
If you want to make games, you need cussedness in ample supply.
Now onto the match 3 source code…
Last year, I started playing a game called Zookeeper Battle. My team had release Viva Stampede, and we wanted to add a second game to the franchise. Why not create a cool, standalone multiplayer version?
I could go on and on about the project’s delays, extra expenses, and frustrations, but I’ll spare you. The punchline of this joke is that Viva Match Battle is now finished.
And it’s awesome.
I know it’s usually in bad taste to call something you have created awesome. But Viva Match Battle is our biggest, best game yet. It took for -friggin’-ever to finish. It doesn’t match what I had envisioned in my head. It probably has some bugs and imperfections that I haven’t discovered yet.
But I finished the marathon and created something beautiful, a piece of art.
→ Overview of Viva Match Battle
- Codebase – Native Objective-C with no third-party frameworks
- Development – Over 420 hours in addition to the original Viva Stampede codebase
- Social Sharing – Share game (to Facebook and Twitter); Share score (to Facebook and Twitter)
- Gameplay Mechanics – 5 rounds per battle, and 30 seconds per round; two competitors make matches to accumulate ATTACK and DEFENSE points; points are tabulated after each round
- Secret Sauce – “Active Link Matching” gives skilled players a competitive edge by enabling them to make multiple matches per second
- User Experience – Multiple levels of custom artificial intelligence guarantee players a challenging battle even if a real player is unavailable; both real and simulated battles affect players’ rankings.
→ Specific Features of Viva Match Battle
- iOS 8 compatible
- Universal app with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch support
- Addictive match-three multiplayer gameplay
- Beautiful artwork and retina graphics
- Special power-ups for reach character
- Collectable costumes for each eachers
- Lots of in-app purchases—26 total
- Game Center leaderboards with worldwide rankings
- Incentivized Vungle video ads
- Xplode Grid More Apps widget
- Xplode interstitials at game over
- Practice battle
- How-to-play tutorial
- Review on App Store
- Share with Friend (email)
- Sound On/Off
- Power-up Store
- Costume Shop
- Appsflyer integration
- Tapdaq integration
- Tapjoy advertising integration
- Flurry analytics integration
- Revmob integration
- Pushwoosh push notifications
Frequently Asked Questions
→ How many images are there to change?
You can download the assets list here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0xba7te1ljhv41s/VivaMatchBattle_Assets.xls.
You can’t reuse the app icon, character and costumes artwork, or backgrounds, but you can reuse the animations and other UI elements, such as icons, buttons, and toolbars.
But let me offer a word of advice: the more unique and beautiful your game is, the better chance at long-term success and profitability it has. If you put the bare minimum into design and reskinning, then you’ll likely make the bare minimum back.
Put simply, the best way to stand out in the App Store is to create a superb game.
→ What is the average cost to hire an artist to redesign the necessary images for a reskin?
I honestly don’t know. I haven’t yet hired an artist to redesign Viva Match Battle. The cost will depend on the project scope, and the project scope usually depends on the total number of new assets to be created. And better game artists tend to charge more for their work!
I would say this: don’t be this code if you hope to save money on design costs. This is a big game with a lot of potential, and you can maximize that potential by creating beautiful artwork.
→ Is the “tutorial” something that I can easily understand?
“Something that I can easily understand” is hard thing to quantify. Though my team always strives to create step-by-step reskinning instructions that are easy to follow, we never recommend that people with no programming or coding experience try to reskin games on their own.
Most people hire a mechanic to work on their cars. They understand that their time is better spent focusing on their own areas of expertise. Rather than learn Xcode and Objective-C, I would urge you to hire a talented iOS programmer who can handle all of your reskin projects and free you up to do the more valuable work of looking for new opportunities, fine-tuning monetization, forming relationships, learning best practices, and growing the business and revenues.
The app business is like any other business, and your results will vary based on your individual capacity, business expertise, experience with apps, and level of motivation and desire.
→ What is the monetization strategy you implemented into this game?
Viva Match Battle has 26 in-app purchases, so the game’s earning potential is tied primarily to addictive gameplay. Players can play 3 battles before they run out. Battles replenish automatically after 10 minutes, but for players who don’t want to wait, we provide two options: 1) they can replenish lives immediately for $.99; or 2) they can replenish lives by opting to watch a Vungle video ads. So incentivized video ads represent another revenue stream. We also have More Apps/Free Game buttons in a few
→ What ad networks are used?
Xplode Grid More Apps widget and interstitials (Game Over); Vungle video ads.
→ What SDKs are integrated?
Flurry (analytics), Appsflyer (tracking & analytics), Tapdaq (marketing), Pushwoosh (push notifications), Tapjoy (advertising), Revmob
→ How many types of IAP are there?
There are four types of in-app purchases: more lives, more power-ups, unlock characters, and unlock costumes.