PART 2: Design. Evaluate. Repeat.
WRITTEN BY ALLISON WAY, SENIOR COPYWRITER & CHIEF EDITOR
A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Chris Puglisi and Kyle McGetrick, founders of MellowMilitia (a successful mobile application company based out of Kansas City, Missouri). As a part of our blog series about mobile applications, we have been following Chris and Kyle on their road to creating The Next Social Word Game.
In Part 1, we covered the first 8 steps to creating a successful mobile gaming app. These steps included finding the idea, deciding on game type, storyboarding, determining mobility, monetizing, coding and using social media to market. Read Part 1 of the blog series here: Part 1:The Evolution of a Mobile Gaming App.
So what's next? We caught up with Chris Puglisi to see how The Next Social Word Game is progressing and what stage of the process the new application is in. Chris and Kyle filled us in:
Currently, Mellow Militia is finalizing design. But as many developers know, this phase can involve several iterations, as new research is performed and feedback solicited. In the last three weeks, Mellow Militia took a step back and took another look at the competition, researched mobile gaming usage, evaluated mobile gamer styles and reviewed feedback provided by potential investors. After careful review and consideration, they decided to embark on another round of design to further optimize, enhance and ultimately appeal to a larger audience.
The Mellow Militia team decided to add two new game modes, each targeting a specific “style” of mobile gamer.
“Initially, we had a single style of gameplay which was based on the original premise of this nostalgic game, though as we dug deeper, we realized that although this game style would appeal to a large percentage of mobile app users, there were other styles of users that we weren’t focused on,” says Chris Puglisi.
The “classic” game mode (the original and only planned game style) required a player to spend 20-30 minutes playing the game. But there’s an entire (and sizable) mobile audience out there that exists that doesn’t have that amount of time to commit to a game. Chris & Kyle realized that, like themselves, they were frequently fielding text messages and phone calls while playing a game.
“We grouped mobile gamers into three categories,” explains the Mellow Militia team. “The first being those that can commit the 20 or so minutes to playing a few ‘rounds’ of the game, the second being those that typically only have a few minutes here and there throughout the day to play, and the third are those gamers that like to play at their leisure, in small increments of time (akin to Words With Friends).”
With the three types of mobile gamers identified, Chris & Kyle were able to rearchitect and redesign the game to include the two additional game modes. Now there’s a game mode that suits every player’s lifestyle and gaming style. In addition, social status, points and achievements can still be accumulated within any game mode. This change is adding several weeks to the design and development schedule (and additional costs), and a few long nights and weekends putting it all together.
"Going back and tweaking is worth the pain," says Chris Puglisi. "Now we have the gameplay fine tuned. The game now appeals to several ‘styles’ of players."
The game is now more focused on continued play and high DAU (or Daily Active Users). When Mellow Militia first presented The Next Social Word Game to investors, it appealed to the player who could dedicate 15, 20 or even 30 minutes to the game. Investors scratched their heads and one asked, "What about the people who don't have time to play for that long?" After the question was asked, Chris and Kyle went back to the drawing board and determined two different styles of users (rapid play and less rapid play) for The Next Social Word Game.
“We’re even more excited about the Next Social Word Game now that we’ve added the additional game modes,” says Kyle of the change. “We truly believe that we have a game mode that suits a variety of gaming styles and fits several lifestyles.”
But Mellow Militia has done more than just reevaluated its audience and gameplay. The Next Social Word Game is also well into the design phase as. The one piece of advice that Chris has for apps in the design phase? "It’s easy to get caught up in design, and trying to create an app that appeals to absolutely everyone. Don't overdesign and overbuild, instead determine which feedback is most critical, scope the effort and determine the value added by that change.
Mellow Militia has proven that it's worth it to reevaluate your game early on. According to Chris, "It is less costly to go back to the drawing board early, before you start coding. It's worth taking the extra time. You may be excited to push an app out to market, but first impressions are critical!"
In addition, Mellow Militia is lining up marketers and sponsors for The Next Social Word Game. The company is also working with investors and looking for more investors to close the round of $250K in funding by mid-January.
“This is very exciting opportunity that has the key elements of success great product, great marketing and perfect timing,” says Kyle. “We’re looking for key investors who want to be involved in the exciting app market and be part of a major title.”
Be sure to stay tuned for Part 3 of building a mobile gaming app!
Want to go behind the scenes of ‘Creating the Next Social Word Game’, including tips & strategies to creating great mobile apps and games? Visit Chris’s Blog.
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