Author Topic: Are there plans for a mobile version?  (Read 2093 times)

Offline Mivo

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Are there plans for a mobile version?
« on: November 08, 2011, 10:44:54 PM »
I haven't been around here for a while, so, "Hi!" -- I'm glad to see Arcen Games are still going strong. :) (I actually just started, finally, getting deeper into AI Wars.)

But anyway, around May this year I picked up an iPad2, fully expecting it to be one of those spontaneous "want this shiny toy!" purchases I'd regret within a week, or two at the most. Surprisingly, I fell in love with it and it now shares my gaming time pretty equally with the PC.  What it is missing is one of my favourite action puzzle games ever: Tidalis! So, are there plans to port the game to iOS? Or at least Android? Games of this genre seem to be thriving on that platform. I was surprised by the web version, by the way, but that was a great idea!

(I've seen Unity games on iOS, so it may not be too complex to port?)

Offline x4000

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 10:58:34 PM »
Welcome back!

In terms of a mobile version, this is something we've talked about, but I think that the only way this would really work is on the tablets, not the phones.  Which is fine for you, but I'm an iPhone4 user and don't have an iPad. ;)

One of the big limiting factors on the original iPad was that it only had 256MB of RAM, which was really pushing it.  The iPad2 is a lot more promising in that regard, but optimizing for any mobile device is pretty different from doing the same for a full computer.  To even get started, we'd need a couple of copies of Unity iPhone, which would set us back north of $3k.  Then there's at least a few weeks or a month of development time, which would cost us even more in terms of lost opportunity.

What it really boils down to, at base, is that we don't already know how to develop for iOS -- all the tricks and techniques specific to any platform take time to learn even if you don't have to switch engines.  These things always take more time than expected.

So then the next question becomes "could we even make the money back that we invested in making the port?"  My thought is... maybe.  On our PC and Mac version combined, we've still only earned back about 35% or 40% of the cost we actually spent to make the game.  I really love the game and am glad we made it, but we just never could get it to connect with a large enough audience to offset the cost of making it.  I know a lot of iOS and Android developers (well, half a dozen), and their experiences are kind of a mixed bag.  There's a lot of competition in those markets, and not a lot of visibility unless you happen to get a big hit.

In a lot of respects Tidalis would be a better fit for those markets than it was for the PC, assuming we could nail the controls in a touchscreen-only environment (which I've thought about a lot and believe could be done).  But there's still a lot of risk there, and given the financial beating I've already taken on Tidalis it's not something that really excites me, honestly.  Actually, porting in general doesn't really excite me -- I'm an indie dev to make games, and I've seen what happens to companies like Introversion that spend too much time just porting endlessly.

All of that is to say, I think that the only ways a port of this game to another platform would happen were if: 1) we made a ton of money on other projects and could afford to dedicate a new programmer to just doing the port to see what happens; 2) or if we partnered with some other individual or developer who took the existing code, did the port and took the financial burden of that part of things, and then split the profits with us; 3) if the iPad3 or similar is so similar in specs to your average Mac that the porting trials just really go way down, and/or that we port another game to the platform and thus already have the tools and expertise to do Tidalis also.

We've actually talked to a couple of other indies about the partnering-on-a-port idea for Tidalis, but it's always fallen through for one reason or another.  It's something I'd love to see happen, because I think playing this on a touchscreen tablet could actually be the definitive experience if it's done well, but at the same time I don't want to be the one to do it.  I have easier and more fun ways to make a living at the moment is really what it boils down to.  :-\

Anyway, hope that answers the question at least!
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Offline Mivo

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 11:51:22 PM »
Thank you, that was more detail and information than I expected, and I appreciate the candor and the "that's how it is" description of the situation. (You're great.) I still find it hard to accept that Tidalis has been a money drain, as I experience it as such a wonderful game whose potential just doesn't seem to be recognized by a larger portion of the market.

It's probably the negative effect of the first, brief impression making it seem like yet another block-based match-3 title, but that's been chewed on before already. Ironically, on iOS, this would probably be a plus, if, as you pointed out, the controls were done well. (I'm still surprised at how nicely the tablet works for gaming; even genres I didn't expect to have a place at all, like (casual) racing.) I can see why the risk may simply be too high or feel like throwing more money at something without a near-guaranteed return, especially if it's not even fun to work on.

I wish I could think of a way to help and make a port more likely to happen, but this seems to be a "it's what it is" situation, and from the sound of it, you have already explored this in quite a bit of depth.. Hey, I could buy the Valley game, though a 2D sidescroller ...  :o  I'll watch the video.

Offline x4000

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 08:45:01 AM »
My pleasure, Mivo.  I figure a lot of misunderstandings get avoided with candor rather than trying to hide things.

I think that you're right that the first impression Tidalis makes isn't helpful to it, as it looks too similar to a match 3 until you really sit down with it.  The overall style that we went with, which I love, really also wasn't best suited to our existing audience on the PC.  We have sold maybe 70,000 copies of the game at this point, but a lot of those were at an incredibly discount so that we made less than a dollar on each one.  We developed it out with a budget assuming that it would make at least as much of a return as AI War has, and were assuming that would be easy to hit because the genre was broader.  Boy were we wrong!  If we'd developed Tidalis out smaller, in a more niche fashion, it probably could have broken even at least.

I really haven't written off Tidalis for mobile platforms, I honestly think it could happen, but I also don't think it would be in the next year, and not likely in the next two even.  Someday I think it will see a resurgence based on things we might do with our other titles; it just won't be leading the way onto new platforms, but if we go to one of those platforms on our own for some other project then this would be an obvious one to port as well.
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 12:28:00 PM »
The overall style that we went with, which I love, really also wasn't best suited to our existing audience on the PC.

Well if it is any consolation to you, I like Tidalis. Sure its not my favorite game in the world and maybe not even my favorite real-time puzzle game, but I still think its a good game that was well worth my money.

Offline x4000

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 12:29:16 PM »
I appreciate that.  And, really, the game was an enormous success critically, and the players who have played it much tend to really love it.  So I don't look on it as a failure as an actual... game.  It was just a financial disaster, which is a completely different thing.
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Offline Mivo

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 07:16:45 PM »
My pleasure, Mivo.  I figure a lot of misunderstandings get avoided with candor rather than trying to hide things.

It breeds customer loyalty. I think most people don't mind hard or even downright bad news, as long as they feel that they are communicated with in an open, same-level manner, rather than getting fed the "company lines".

You know, Tidalis is the reason why I ended up buying AI War and its three expansions, and I just bought AVWW as well, which is another purchase that without Tidalis may not have happened. For some of those 70,000 Tidalis buyers the situation may be the same, so while it didn't meet the financial expectations, it did help to introduce Arcen Games' titles to a wider audience.

Well, the night is still young, so I think I'll give AVWW a whirl and share my thoughts in the appropriate place. Thanks again for your response, Chris. :)

Offline x4000

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Re: Are there plans for a mobile version?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 07:18:23 PM »
Cheers Mivo, we really appreciate folks like you -- thanks for your support of our work, it means a ton!
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!