Tiny Bubbles: „Unity für 2D-Spiele“-Fallstudie
Veteran indie developer Stu Denman had a grandfather who had worked on the Manhattan Project, and afterward studied the physics of soap bubbles. Half a century later, Stu couldn’t get his grandfather’s bubble work out of his head. He was dreaming bubbles at night. But would he be able to turn the seed of an idea into a polished, fun and challenging game?
Ein bezauberndes, preisgekröntes Physik-Puzzle-Game
Als technischer Leiter in AAA-Studios waren Stu Denman Teams aus mehr als 30 Spieleentwicklern unterstellt. Irgendwann verspürte er aber den inneren Drang, selbst ein Spiel zu entwickeln. Dank der umfangreichen und flexiblen Tools von Unity konnte er Tiny Bubbles entwickeln: ein cleveres, bezauberndes und mitreißendes Puzzle-Spiel mit über 160 Leveln.
- Einsparung von Tausenden von Dollar für hochwertige Asset Store-Plugins.
- Einsparung von Monaten an Entwicklungszeit mit dem Lokalisierungstool
- Gewinner mehrerer Awards, einschließlich Google Indie Festival, Intel Buzz: Best Overall PC Game, Seattle Indie Games-Wettbewerb und Mobile Games Forum Indie Showdown
Der Funke, der ein Feuerwerk der Fantasie auslöste
Zu Beginn des Projekts hatte Denman nichts weiter als eine vage Idee im Kopf. Er wollte unbedingt ein Spiel mit Seifenblasen im Mittelpunkt entwickeln, aber wie genau das Spiel aussehen sollte, war ihm noch völlig unklar. Die Erweiterbarkeit und der modulare Aufbau des Unity-Editors gaben ihm die nötigen Freiheiten, mit verschiedenen Ansätzen zu experimentieren.
„Um herauszufinden, was Spaß macht und was eher öde wäre, entschied ich mich dazu, in Unity einen Editor anzulegen, mit dem ich das Spiel spielen und testen konnte und sofort wieder in die Entwicklerumgebung wechseln konnte, um Dinge zu verschieben und anzupassen. Die Flexibilität des Unity-Editors hat die Spielentwicklung wirklich unglaublich bereichert.“
„Unity befreit mich von der Last, all die Dinge erneut entwickeln zu müssen, die ich in der Vergangenheit selbst entwickelt habe“, erklärt Denman. „Stattdessen kann ich mich auf interessantere Technologien konzentrieren, die ich bisher noch nicht ausprobieren konnte. Die Blasenphysik ist ein großartiges Beispiel dafür.“
Hundertfacher Nutzen einer Investition
In addition to adding his own tools, Denman also used many pre-existing tools from the Unity Asset Store, and he says that they offered an incredible ROI.
“Sometimes you don’t comprehend how much work and polish it takes to complete a project and compete in a market that’s so competitive. But when you throw your game in front of players, you realize, oh my gosh, I need to add an effect here. I need to improve the look of a feature there.
“So being able to go to the Asset Store and find a tool there–probably for 100 times less than you would spend making it yourself–is just phenomenally awesome. It saves tons of time for sure,” Denman says.
What’s more, he often experiences that the assets he initially acquires for one specific reason hold hidden benefits elsewhere. TextMesh Pro was a good example of this:
“I grabbed TextMesh Pro to add icons in my text and‒not only did it allow me to do that quickly and efficiently and for very little money‒but it had a tremendous number of other very cool features I could take advantage of that I never expected.”
Das Spiel mit Blasen: ein universales Recht für alle?
The result of Denman’s experimentations was an award-winning game with over 160 intriguing puzzles. The game mirrors the actual physics of bubbles in the real world with regard to pressure and surface tension, interaction, and cascading chain reactions.
“Bubbles are this elemental human thing. There’s just something fascinating about bubbles that everyone loves regardless of their age, sex, or culture. And I wanted to offer this great new way to play with clusters of bubbles to as many people as possible, including people who are color blind or rely on eye trackers. In order to that, though, I needed to be in as many different languages and platforms as possible, and that’s definitely one big reason why I chose Unity,” Denman says.
Using the I2 Localization plugin from the Asset Store, Denman was able to store all his languages on a Google Spreadsheet. He could then share the spreadsheet with translators. Once approved, the text was automatically pulled into Unity.
“I was really blown away by how ridiculously easy it was. It would have taken me probably two months or more to make that same software. I got a third of the game localized in a single day, including the integration and tutorials. And it’s going to save me hours and hours,” he says.
Einblicke und Monetarisierung in Echtzeit
Once he created the prototype, Denman was eager to see how people would respond to his experimentations and what they would actually do in the game. In order to do so, he enabled Unity Analytics and began to send it out to friends.
The Unity Analytics dashboard has enabled him to look at things like, for example, which levels take more tries to win or at which levels people stop playing the game. In order to base some potentially critical business decisions on sound data, Denman plans to continue to use Unity Analytics when the game goes to beta.
Will they pay to play?
One major decision Unity Analytics will help with is Denman’s business model regarding monetization.
“The market is challenging out there right now, so it’s important that I choose the best model for the given platform and market. All of those markets have different kinds of players, so you really need to test retention for those different types of players in order to have an idea of which one is going to make you the most money.
“Sometimes if your retention is lower, it’s better to go premium, and if your retention is higher, it’s better to go free-to-play. Unity Analytics lets you look at retention and make a decision based on data.”
In order to be ready for a free-to-play audience, Denman is prepared to complement Unity Analytics with Unity Ads and IAP. He has already integrated ads into his design in a way that will offer a good player experience to different types of players.
“I use reward-based ads for the hints and power-ups and the puzzles. If the player is struggling and they need help, they can watch an ad and get a reward like a hint. The hints help make the game accessible to a wider audience. It allows casual players to get through some of the more difficult puzzles, where a more hard-core player might prefer to labor through the solution.”
Denman has taken full advantage of what Unity offers. First, the flexible, modular design helped him follow his interest when he only had an inkling of what the final game would look like. Next, the Unity Asset Store and his own custom tools enabled him to focus on the core of the game itself. Finally, Unity IAP, Ads and Analytics are helping get the game right in a way that will enable him to get paid for all his hard work.