Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pokemon Tower Defense's Final Release! A postmortem, and looking forward to the future!

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Visit the PTD: Pokemon Center - a place to trade pokemon, get your Daily Code, adopt Pokemon, view your items and change your avatar!

It has been a long time coming but the end of Pokemon Tower Defense is here! From start to finish it has been a year and a half. Blood, sweat and tears! But the outcome has been more than worth it. We have leveled up, and evolved so much from the beginning. We went from hobbyist to full time game developers. From no fans to thousands of fans. This is only the beginning of our long journey and we want you to come with us!

As you move forward in any stage of your life it's important to look at your successes and your mistakes. There is a lot of valuable information in these things, especially your mistakes. In our case we will examine what I think went right in PTD and what went wrong. These things will help me with the development of PTD 2.

What Went Right

1. Crossing Pokemon with Tower Defense - This was the most critical element to the success of the whole game. Fortunately we got it right. I knew just the name Pokemon Tower Defense would catch many people's attention but the combination of elements will make them stay. From catching pokemon and using them as your towers, to having your towers stay leveled up and evolved between levels. This is something that I plan to continue and expand for the sequel. Adding breeding and pokemon holding items among other things will help the game move to the next level.

2. Community Involvement - Adding the feedback button and asking for help to improve the game, especially in the early stages of the game really helped to build the community. This is something that we will continue to do with all our games. Your feedback from comments, emails, votes on polls heavily influences the direction that our games take. Votes usually affect the games directly.

3. Weekly Updates - Waiting for the game to be completed was something that I couldn't afford to do. Releasing a game is similar to rolling a dice. The odds are mostly against you. The longer you take to roll the dice (release a game) the more risk you take on. Working on a game for some months and releasing it as an Alpha helps me to see if people are into a game and see if its worth spending more time on. Once the game was a success people just wanted more and more. I thought it would be great to have a new release each week almost like a TV series. Fans would be looking forward to the release each week, keeping the interest in the game going while being able to expose the fans to new ideas that I have for future games.

4. Pokemon Center - The Pokemon Center, most specifically the Trading Center was a great success even though it is very basic right now. It gave a chance for you fans to trade each other. I was also be able to add other options like the game corner to add other things to do in the game. The Pokemon Center will get improvements for the sequel that will make transferring and trading a whole lot easier. The ads on the Pokemon Center also help to fund the development of the game.

5. SnD Coins and Adoption - Snd Coins and Adoption really help fund our future games and also gave you the fans a chance to support us more directly while getting something in return. This system will be used for all our future games including PTD 2. In the near future we will add more ways to get the coins.

6. Game Story - Adding the story to the game (most Tower Defense don't have a story) really helped to make the game more compelling and gave a lot of chances to add cameos for characters from the anime and game. Also it added the opportunity to add references to other media that I enjoy. PTD 2 will have a new story that is loosely related to the first game.

What Went Wrong

1. Weekly Updates - Yes, I know I put this on the what went right section but it also went wrong in a lot of ways. I really think the quality of the game suffered due to the quick update schedule. While I'm proud of how the game turned out as a whole I know that if I had more time the quality would have risen drastically. Many times I found myself with a lot of interesting ideas but not having the time to implement them in time. The story suffered a lot also do to quick updates. Epic fight scenes were turned into just something mentioned in the dialog instead of me being able to show it. For PTD 2 we plan to take more time to make sure everything is like we want it while still trying to maintain a good schedule. More on that later.

2. The Grind - I felt that while some grinding was acceptable it was impossible to continue playing without having high level pokemon. This resulted in many people using the hacked version or having to grind out their characters while doing something else. I don't think this is fun and I want to reduce the need to grind in the sequel as I don't think it adds anything to the game. Shiny hunting will remain relatively the same but that is something that is optional.

3. Multiplayer - I had many grand ideas for multiplayer but I never got the time to fully realize those ideas. Also the way I set up the attacks in the game didn't lend themselves for multiplayer which affected how synched the levels are (not very). For the sequel I want to rebuild the attacks to work for a multiplayer setup. Also focus more on the multiplayer as it adds re-playability to the game.

4. Updating the game - Another big part that went wrong getting the update to the players. A lot of sites probably have older versions of the game that don't even work. For the sequel I want the game to check for the latest version and update itself so that everybody can get updates instantly as I put them up and I also won't have to be sending out updates to 5 different sites.

What else do you think went right and what else do you think went wrong? Let me know.

Now for the future!

My main focus now will be working on Hero Tower Defense, but that game will not be moving at the same fast pace as PTD so that will allow me some time to work on PTD 2 and our Creature Universe game (Project ANPO). I know some of you just want me to work on PTD 2 but the reality is that I also need to focus on original games that can take Sam and Dan games farther than a pokemon game can. Since we don't own the rights to pokemon I can't put the game on the different app stores and sites like Kongregate. Also PTD can get shut down at any point and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it so putting all my eggs in that basket is not a good idea.

I'm sure Dan will mention on this week's Hero Tower Defense blog but HTD is going to be getting some significant changes in the graphic department that will help speed up the development.

For Project ANPO Dan and I got to talk a lot about how the game will work and we made good progress on that. What I hope to do this month is work on a prototype so that I can start testing out the different mechanics that we have in mind and so that you guys can check it out and give us your feedback.

For PTD 2 the question I get asked the most is "When is it coming out!?" Well to be honest I don't even know when it's coming out. I will keep you guys posted. I did have an idea which is to make a special mode that has a lot of re-playability that will use the generation 1 pokemon (since I have all their stats and graphics already created) and release that first which will give you guys something to do while the game is in development. But even this mode will take a while to build so I don't have any specific dates to give out. Just follow me on Twitter and follow the blog for weekly updates to the game.

Alright guys, I really appreciate all the support for this past year and a half. I hope you enjoyed the game and if you want some more then I will be working hard to keep it coming. Thanks for everything you do!

As always let me know what you think!


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