In this pong esque arcade game, you collect blue balls to get as many points as possible while weaving through red balls. Yellow balls and green balls will you do good, but be wary of the black balls!
How did it start?
I’ve known that I wanted to be in computer science since about sixth grade. Back then, I would spend days drawing up game ideas on pen and paper, but of course, never programmed them. Years later, at the start of my Junior year, I still had no programming experience, and my small school did not offer any computer science classes; things were looking bleak. That year, however, I discovered I could take online classes through a program called Virtual High School. They offered a course on Video Game Design, and that's where I learned everything I know.
The class took about 6 months to complete, and during that time I learned the ins and outs of Unity. Starting out with no prior coding experience, I would say the course taught me a lot, as immediately after, I began working on one of the old games I drew up years ago. The game was called Paddle Fall. Now, the class didn’t teach me everything, of course, and I found myself referencing the Unity Manual frequently (an immensely useful tool). I’ve also come to learn that Google is a developer’s best friend.
The idea I had for the game was almost like a twist on pong. The player controls a paddle on the bottom of the screen. Balls fall from the top of the screen; the objective is to collect the blue ones and dodge the red ones. It was a perfectly simple concept for my first game. I began with the gameplay and ignored menus and UI until towards the end (bad idea). I was just starting out, and I was more comfortable with programming rather than graphic design, so I tried to put it off as long as possible. After getting the player movement down, I moved on to the spawning system for the balls. Following the basic mechanics, I created a title screen, death screen, and used a non-copyright soundtrack (I’m not a musician). The game was looking good so far, but it needed more. After feedback from friends, I added a pause button, a leaderboard, and an in-game shop where players could purchase skins and power-ups. I highly recommend adding a shop to any game, it gives players an incentive to keep playing. It also gives you the option for in-app purchases, if you are creating a free-to-play game.
To make money off of the game, I integrated UnityAds and In-App Purchasing into the game but made sure not to make the ads excessive. The worst thing a game can have is too many ads. I also used Firebase to keep track of the game’s analytics (highly recommend this). Firebase allows you to see what players are doing inside the app, tells you their average session time, and what sources the installs came from. I published the game to the Google Play Store since that only cost me $25. Putting an app on the IOS store costs $99 per year, something I could not afford.
To get the word out about my game, I spread the word to my friends and family first. Following which, I posted about it on social media, and on Reddit (r/PlayMyGame, r/Unity3D, and r/GameDev are good subreddits). I also posted the game on several databases such as IndieDB, SlideDB, GameDev, and IGDB. The most lucrative thing I did, however, was starting a Google Ads campaign. Google Ads allows you to set a budget per day, which is great for indie developers who can only afford so much. On top of this, I also started an Instagram account to provide updates and news to players, in addition to marketing to new people.
In total, it took me about a year for me to get Paddle Fall to where it is today. It took me a lot of learning, especially in areas I didn’t expect to need to worry about. Some people don’t realize that there’s so much more that goes into a game than just programming. There’s graphic design, sound, music, marketing, writing, and a whole lot of late nights. My word of advice to any aspiring developers: Be ready to learn, work, and fail. I cannot tell you how many times I hit a block in the road and thought I wanted to stop. Even simple things can turn into huge problems if you don’t know how to persist. Game development is all about persistence, and you really need to be ready for that, even after the game is published. The work goes on with updates, marketing, customer service, and providing the best experience to the players Right now, my game is still new, and is certainly still growing, and that's what’s important. It doesn’t matter where our game starts, or where it is right now. What matters is that it’s growing and improving.
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