Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Android indie developer interview: Steven Kaydn

Welcome to another Android indie developer interview. When you finish reading this one, you'll probably double your knowledge about game engines, learn quite a few graphics and sound resources sites and get to know an interesting Australian student who has created quite a few good games. Ironically, he never gave much thought to monetizing his work, so if you're looking for a get-rich-quickly story, you might be disappointed. Have a good read and take a look at the games after you've finished, because they're quite cool.

Bartek: Tell us something about yourself. Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do in life?

Steven: Well, I go by Steven, I live in Eastern Australia, and I'm currently studying IT.

Bartek: When did your Android adventure start and how? Why did you decide to do it?

Steven: My Android adventure started about one year ago. I came across App Game Kit, by The Game Creators. I had been a long time fan of Dark Basic, so I decided to give AGK a shot. After making a few games in it, I purchased the full version and published my first game, iSheep, on Google Play.

Bartek: How did you learn how to create apps?

Steven: I originally started coding back in the days of QBasic. My brother showed me how to open it up and taught me the basics of programming. From there, I learned most of what I know about programming from books (my brothers university textbooks as it happens) and simply figuring out things by myself.
When I came across App Game Kit, I decided to try programming again.

Bartek: What libraries/frameworks do you use?

Steven: App Game Kit :) I chose it because of my BASIC origins, and the fact that it's multiplatform.

Bartek: Have you tried other game engines as well?

Steven: I've tried quite a few different game engines. Game Maker: Studio, Construct 2, Unity3d, 001, Game Salad and Stencyl, just to name a few. GM: StudioConstruct 2001 and Game Salad are far too limited for my needs. I prefer to have absolute control over every aspect of my games. Stencyl is quite interesting, but still limited. Unity is great, but unfortunately, it isn't for me, mainly because it's for 3d games. I'm definitely not good at 3d :)

Bartek: How long did it take you to learn App Game Kit?

Steven: I picked it up almost straight away. I had previous experience with QBasic, so it was really just a matter of learning the different commands.

Bartek: Where do you take app/game ideas from? How do you know if they have a chance to be successful?

Steven: Most of my game ideas come from other games. Knowing if they're going to be successful? I don't :) I mainly code for a hobby, so if people like my games, good for them.

Bartek: Where do you get resources from?

Steven: A huge number of places. I make some of them myself, I get a lot of my music from incompetech.com. My sounds come from a few different places, SoundJay is one of the places that I've gone to a few times.

Bartek: Could you list some of the sites that you use?

Dodge Those Balls
Steven: Sure. Here's the big list:



http://www.drpetter.se/project_sfxr.html (software)


Another good list:

Bartek: What other programming tools do you use?

Steven: None really. For my App coding, it's done almost completely in AGK. I use things like GIMP to help with the graphics design, Audacity to modify sound files, VideoPad to make trailers etc. I also code in Visual Studio, FreeBASIC, and a few others (like HTML).

Bartek: How long does is take you to make a single app?

Steven: That depends, the quickest I made one in was 160 minutes, that includes designing it, coding it, making the graphics and compiling it for Android. The longest one took 2 months. That includes making levels for it though.

Bartek: How much are you making on your apps?

Steven: Not much at all, just a few dollars a month from the ads.

Bartek: How do you monetize your apps? What ad networks do you use if any? Do you have any advice on it for others?

Steven: So far, I've used IAP, ads and paid versions. None of them have worked out well for me though. Of course, I'm not really trying to make money off my apps, if I were, I could probably make quite a bit more.

Bartek: Why are you not trying to make money on your apps? What's your goal with them?

Steven: I really just make them for fun. But I'm thinking about trying to monetize my next one.

Bartek: Which ones of your apps were the biggest success and which ones were below expectations? Why?

Steven: Dodge those Balls is my most popular app so far. But Neon Bunniez has come below my expectations, with most users uninstalling it. But Ryder FREE seems to have the most ability to go well, with 1000 installs in the first 2 and a half weeks.

Bartek: Do you use any marketing techniques or ASO to promote your apps?

Steven: I do try to put good keywords in my descriptions, although I don't go overboard with them.
Most of my initial app installs come from posting about my app on forums.

Bartek: What forums/review sites have worked for you in the past?

Steven: Not many :) Xda's okay.
Making Money with Android is quite good (they love for you to post about your games!). But apart from those 2 forums, most aren't interested at all about your games.
I've had almost no feedback from popular review sites. I have managed to get a few posts from smaller blogs and such though.
In fact, I've had exactly 2 responses from major review sites. And I didn't even contact one of them, they found my app first :)
Bartek: What Android devices do you own?

Steven: I have two Huawei Android phones. I also have Blue Stacks Android emulator, if that counts :)

Bartek: Do you have any favourite games?

Steven: A few of my favourite games would be Ninjump, Subway Surfers, World of Goo and Sniper Shooter.

Bartek: What are your plans for the future? What do you want to create/achieve?

Steven: I'm currently working on a multiplayer game, more for the sake of understanding how to make that sort of thing then to try and get it popular. My current plans though are to spend less of my spare time coding and get out and do stuff!

Bartek: What advice would you give to other developers (something that you wish you had known before yourself)?

Steven: Focus on all aspects of it. Not just the coding. The graphics are just as important as the coding side of the game. Make sure your games are well polished before you publish them and DO spend heaps of time promoting your app on forums, submitting to review sites etc.

Bartek: Where can people find you on the Internet?

Steven: You can find me on Playboard here: http://playboard.me/editors/52c1fffa4dc454681a51cff9
Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/audaciagames
Here's my website: http://audaciagames.com/
TapFame: https://tapfame.com/steven-kaydn/

Sorry for focusing on interviews only lately. I'm hoping to surprise you with some new posts soon, but as of now, there are still a couple q&a sessions in production. If you're curious about other developers' tools and experiences, visit the blog in about a week.

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