Things Not To Do In Your Hopefully-Commercially-Viable Flash Game
NB: This was written a week after the release of the game in 2009. Slide Racing proved to be a great slow burner, and updated stats are at the bottom of the article. This piece was written for fun – take it with a pinch of salt.
I recently got my first sale of a Flash game, and here in bullet point format I present my lessons learnt and what I did wrong.
1. Do not tease players by including an Upgrade Shop that does not stock car parts.
2. Story is boring. Even with murder(s) and suspense and near-constant innuendo. Players hate you for making them click through it.
3. If you find it enjoyably challenging, it is too difficult for players.
4. Speaking of challenge, make the difficulty setting automatically set to rise if people are successful. This gives bad players the chance to fail repeatedly to make it easier.
5. Do not draw characters all on one layer. This stops all possibility of even slight animation. (A breathing animation works wonders!)
6. Do not draw characters in an unusual style. Even if it works, players will hate it.
7. Do not draw in vector, however good you think you are.
8. Hold the player’s hand.
9. Using Keeley Hazell as a reference for a character was largely appreciated. Possibly try with Kelly Brook next game. Or Lindsay Lohan from when she wasn’t so weird.
10. Do not include an ‘Instructions’ button. The people who need them most are least likely to read them. Integrate them into the first thirty seconds.
11. If your music is well executed, complex, and interesting, people will find it distracting. Ambience and neo-nothing works better.
12. Keep naming NPCs ‘Adolf H’. The number of people offended is small enough to not create a negative reaction, and large enough to make other commenters feel united in badmouthing the occasional politically correct activist.
13. Do not submit it on a day when every submission in Newground’s top 5 is unusually high scoring. It crushes all hopes you had of getting featured.
14. Achievements… Actually worked well. Cool.
My favourite feedback across the net on Slide Racing:
1. “wtfthe music sux on it and the dad dies this game sux”
2. “wow guys this game makes me hot”
3. “i like the game, but why is there a story?”
4. “best game ever.”
5. “one of the worst games ever created.”
6. “i am shaw michael”
7. “the story is stupid and doesn’t fit with the game so this is sucks”
8. “i’m suprised i thought it would be horrible but i sorta don’t mind it”
- ~180 hours to create, in 2 months (very rough estimate)
- Scored 3.71 on Newgrounds.com, 2.83 on Kongregate.
- Earned $1235 so far – a $600 primary sponsorship allowing ads, a $500 non-exclusive sponsorship (pending – Addictinggames, owned by EA, so I trust it’ll go through), and $245 in ads from CPMStar. Minus $110 as a commission for the auction site – the fantastic flashgamelicense.com
- This means it has earnt $6.86 per hour spent. I know I can do much better than this, and I am keeping a timelog for my current game. Learning experience and all – here’s to attempting to get at least $10/hr next time! [Ed: The next major game got $50/hour. Improvement! Also, ad revenue and new licenses eventually pushed Slide Racing up to $15/hour.]
The game has 550,000 views throughout the internet as of this splitsecond.
All in all, not bad for attempt number one. Now, onto the next game!
Update after 2 years
Slide Racing ended up having a superb long tail, getting 5000 plays/day for a good 18 months or so, and recently The Man with the Invisible Trousers has fallen below it, despite being released over a year later to greater initial success. (Slide Racing presently records 1750 plays on average.)
It has almost exactly 5 million plays in total. My financial documents say Slide Racing has made $2300 so far, and it continues to make roughly $25 per month.
Written December 31st 2009, last updated 23rd Jan 2012.