My 2012 at Preloaded

Posted on 2 January, 2013

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It’s been a very interesting year at Preloaded.  The studio has moved from releasing a single Unity title in 2011 (my first game after joining the company, Boccia for Channel4 Paralympics), to developing almost exclusively in Unity.  Alongside a number of awards, Preloaded’s nomination for Develop’s Best Independent Studio 2012 was arguably the most significant marker of progress and profile.

Footfall

My first game launch of 2012 was our Facebook game, Footfall.  Developed for Channel4 the concept focused on developing a social game with real-world business values behind it.  Through the guise of running a shoe-shop the player is tasked with generating a profit whilst balancing the environmental and sociological impact of their business.  Instead of the traditional and singular bottom-line, the goal is to excel in something social enterprises refer to as the “three p’s”; people, planet and profit.

FootfallMontage

Aside from the usual challenge of developing a fun game with meaning, one of our main concerns was  discoverability, given that the game would be running on Facebook and was likely to receive little in the way or marketing and publicity.  As part of the development we delivered two solutions to help ensure user numbers.

Firstly, Channel4  supported a marketing campaign using Stardoll, a virtual paperdoll community with a focus on fashion and design, and aimed precisely at the same teen girl market as Footfall.  Alongside traditional banner advertising, the campaign included the creation of a Footfall club page, and the ability for Stardoll members to earn rewards for playing Footfall.  Launched mid-December, the Stardoll campaign resulted in a surge of high-quality engaged players.

Secondly we developed an iOS companion app.  This allows players to check the status of their game at any time (Footfall shops sell shoes in real-time whether the player is watching or not, based on how trendy their current stock is, and how competitively the shoes are priced).  The app also includes a shoe viewer allowing players to show-off all the shoes they’ve unlocked (at stunning retina-resolution), and a top-trumps style game played using unlocked shoes.  The app is due to launch at the beginning of 2013, and will be the final element of the Footfall project.

SuperSight

Supersight is a game that extends a suite already developed by Preloaded as part of the SuperMe site.  Using a combat mechanic for its gameplay, the narrative deals with resilience and facing up to fears.  By adventuring through a series of arenas the player is introduced to a variety of enemies, each of which represent a different type of fear.  The different enemies have their own unique way of confronting the player, and require different strategies in order to be defeated.

ss_shot04

SuperSight was developed as a cross-platform Unity project, with mouse and keyboard controls for the browser version, and touch-controls for iOS and Android phones and tablets.

Supersight is now available on iOS and Android, and can also be played in your browser.

Disney Fairies: Lost & Found

At the beginning of December we launched a hidden-object game featuring Tinker Bell and all her friends.  Adventuring across Pixie Hollow, Disney Fairies: Lost & Found was developed and launched to coincide with the theatrical release of the fairies film, Secret of the Wings.  Another cross-platform project (this time for iOS and Android phones and tablets) the game was developed with a team at Disney Interactive in the UK.

Challenges included developing a highly extendable and scalable product, ensuring the gameplay and tone  maintained the integrity and quality of the originating Disney IP, and localising it at launch for six languages.

multiplatform

Launching initially just on iOS, performance has been good so far, with the game peaking at #1 on the iPad Kids and Puzzle charts, and #1 on the iPhone Kids chart.  It also amazed us all by reaching a high of #4 in the iPad games chart, only being beaten by heavyweight titles GTA: Vice City, Angry Birds: Star Wars and Fifa 13.

Whilst this was a great start, there’s more to come in 2013.  The Android version of the app will launch early in January and will contain an additional 4 languages, bringing the total to 10.  The iOS app will be updated accordingly, and there are exciting plans to extend the app with additional content towards Spring.

What’s in store for 2013

In a word, change.  After spending two varied, challenging and rewarding years at Preloaded I’ll be leaving in January for pastures new.  My next role is one I’m really looking forward to, and one I hope will be a significant chapter in my career.  I’ll leave the details for another post.

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Posted in: Games Industry, Work