Today is an exciting day for me. Last week I spoke to a follower of mine by the name of Matt Goodrich. He was nice enough to give me feedback on my work and to let me know that he's been following my journey since March. I am honored to have his support, so when he told me he just released a new game on the App Store I made sure to check it out. Now even as a small time blogger, I receive hundreds of user submissions for games to be reviewed and I would say about 99% of them wouldn't get a rating from me higher than a 2 or 3 out of 10. I say this because I checked out Matt's game sort of expecting it to be not reviewable, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
I will say this before I continue and even Matt wanted me to make a note of it, this is game is still a work in progress. It's 100% playable, but Matt and his partner work day and night to release updates to make this game experience better and better. At version 1.2, you have a game that is fun to play and offers different modes and experiences to keep bringing you back. The music alone keeps me engaged and the concept is simple and easy to understand that anyone of any age can play it. You can check out his game here:
Something that really impressed me about this game is the free to download AND ad-free experience. It makes me smile especially after my rant about how freemium games are ruining the market. You can still support Matt and his team by purchasing additional level packs. It won't make him rich, but it'll help support him and I really feel like this is the right way to make games. Good job Matt! And if you for some reason don't have a few bucks to throw his way, but still want to download the extra level packs, Matt was kind enough to do a giveaway exclusive to this community. All you need to do is go to my Twitter and retweet my post about his pick of the week. Matt will be selecting 10 winners next week for his Halloween pack.
My Interview with Matt Goodrich
Not only did I find a good game to play, but I was able to open up a dialogue with Matt and ask him some interesting questions about his experience as a developer.
Waldo: When did you start making games? Was there anything that inspired you?
Matt: I started making games when I released PixelMasters in 2012, which was a multiplayer Minecraft server with the Pixelmon mod (Pokemon in Minecraft). This server became one of the top Pixelmon servers, with 300k unique players over the 2.5 years it was active. This is what inspired me to pursue programming for a career. The server was originally only meant for a friend and me. One day, we opened it to the public and listed it on a Minecraft voting website. It grew over time, until it hit its peak of around 600 players online at once. It originally only contained public plugins written by other developers, which I configured and managed, since I didn't know how to code. However, I was inspired to take an AP Computer Science class, and eventually wrote my first code for the server as a tournament plugin, which allowed players to participate in tournaments battling their Pokemon. I fell in love with programming and it snowballed from there.
Waldo: What sort of games did you play growing up?
Matt: The games I played most growing up were Pokemon and StarCraft II (I'm 22). I also played a lot of Gameboy, PlayStation 2, and Wii games.
Waldo: How did you get the idea to make ColorDrop.app?
Matt: ColorDrop.app (I'm trying to trend the .app included) was originally going to be a game where the player controlled an alien running away from a spaceship. The alien didn't want to be warped back into its ship, but it also didn't want to touch the exploding ground (which would have created the platforms). I'm not sure about how this would have made sense. Mainly I thought of the game mechanics and tried to build a story around them. Perhaps the alien's friends were destroying Earth and it didn't want to be a part of it? This was an early idea without much thought. My roommate Kenny Schader, who designed the level packs, suggested simplifying to the style that is now ColorDrop.app, so he deserves huge credit. I would be interested to see the alien game, though.
Waldo: A lot of developers like myself, use games we've played in the past as inspiration for our own games. Was there any games you have played that might've inspired you to build ColorDrop.app?
Matt: Yes, it was inspired by a game called FallDown!. I wanted to make it more complex by randomizing attributes of the platforms, adding effects, preventing players from touching the bottom of the screen, and generating shapes of platforms, such as mazes.
Waldo: What would you say is your strengths and weaknesses?
Matt: My strengths with making games are definitely my programming skills, motivation, and focus. My weaknesses are my artistic abilities, tendency to think too big, and my limited experience with game design. Kenny saved the game design and my artistic abilities were avoided by using programmatic design and minimalism. My friend from PixelMasters, Sarah Wainwright, created the vital artistic elements, such as the icon and advertisements.
Waldo: What were 3 of the biggest mistakes you made in the process of making this game?
Matt: The three biggest mistakes in building the game were my overall awareness of performance, my attempt to implement too many achievements at once, and the lack of early modularization of game components. Some features weren't possible without significant changes, due to poor awareness of performance on mobile devices. I lost about a week of development time trying to resolve an achievement issue with Game Center. I wish I had placed more focus in separating components into individual replaceable features.
Waldo: I really love your monetization model. It's not an easy thing to do to offer a game for free without including ads. I think most developers miss the importance of considering the fun element, first. When making this game, what did you feel like was your biggest objective for publishing this game? Were you trying to build an audience, make money or was this something you and your partner just did for fun?
Matt: My objectives for this game changed over the course of development. Originally, it was just for fun. However, as Kenny and I built the app, we became more and more optimistic about its success. We felt it had potential to appeal to a large audience, unlike apps I've made in the past, such as Common Sense, where players were required to use a Google Assistant. The main objective now is to grow the game as much as possible. This will evaluate the realism of working as an independent app developer and may shape career decisions.
Waldo: Matt, thank you for being a long time supporter of this community and my journey. I wish you the best of luck with your game and I look forward to following you and the many great things I expect to see from you. For anyone else, what is the best way that someone can follow along with any new projects or updates you might come out with?
Matt: There will be more ColorDrop.app updates and content! Additional level packs are being created. I will also be responding feedback, which is best received at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want just updates of new releases, you can follow my apps on Instagram. If you want more insight about my progress, you can also subscribe to my newsletter.
If you have a game that you'd like me to check out, please be sure to submit it through this form.
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