Posts Tagged simulation
Ever wanted to start up a tech firm? Got an idea that seems stupidly awesome and original? Or just fancy running a business, warts and all? There’s a fairly safe and inexpensive way of experiencing that life coming to iOS later this year. That title is Hipster CEO, a game which challenges players to “take an idea from their dorm room to Wall Street, Zuckerberg-style”. We had a word with Dublin-based developer, Ger Kelly, on his vision for the game and just how it came to be.
148apps: Where did the idea for Hipster CEO come from?
Ger Kelly (GK): Well firstly I have a huge passion for tech startups – I love reading about the causes behind startups’ success and failure, exciting new technologies, marketing techniques, stuff like that. Whenever I tell someone I work in a startup they always say that they’d love the opportunity to do just that. I wanted to give people a taste of what running a startup company is like – fun but difficult. It isn’t all air hockey tables and free beer but when it works, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Secondly, I was a video game addict as a kid – particularly sports/business simulations like Championship Manager and Theme Park. I always felt games like that were different in the sense that you were especially proud of what you did – like bringing some low-tier football team all the way to the Cup Final – you always wanted to tell your friends. Even now one of my fondest teenage memories is winning a league title with my favorite football team – which probably says a lot about my adolescence! I felt that there was room for a tech startup simulator in the same vein.
The name came about when a friend called me a total hipster because I guess I can be a little snobby about my musical taste at times. I had a few other ideas for a title but people really reacted really well to Hipster CEO so I went with it.
148apps: The idea of the game seems pretty lighthearted, will that continue throughout the game?
GK: The Hipster element of the game is simply a veneer, the game will create the experience of building a tech startup as closely as possible. I think the Hipster shtick appeals to a lot of people in a fun way and I want people to have fun playing this game. However, the gameplay will be firmly rooted in reality so there won’t be any “wacky” investment offers tabled or disgruntled developers setting fire to their desks. On second thoughts I might include that last one!
Stuff like the Social Network movie and TV shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank makes every man and his dog feel like they could grow a startup company into a huge success but, as anyone who has ever built a startup will know, it’s a lot of hard work. There are so many things you need to get right to build a winning product: quality development, creative marketing, and of course sales. It might sound crazy but so many tech startups out there have no sales strategy starting off – Hipster CEO will encourage players to start making revenue from day one.
Players will need to get the right balance of these three in order to succeed, all the while keeping their staff happy, handling investors, and dealing with the media. That sure seems like a lot but trust me that’s what a startup CEO has to deal with on a day-to-day basis!
I hope my app puts a smile of the face of those who play it because they feel rewarded not just because of some jibe at hipsters.
148apps: Will the game solely be quite text focused, or will there be more game-style graphics too?
GK: I really wanted to have a basic graphics pane which displayed your character, your employees, your office and stuff like that but it’s just not feasible for the first version. Like being able to see your little team graduate from your parent’s basement to some swanky, playground-esque office would be awesome. I have some design skills but nothing on the level that would be required for proper animation so I’ve had to shelve that idea for now. It will probably be one of the first things addressed if the game takes off.
I think Championship Manager showed that you can just have words and numbers on the screen and still create a totally immersive experience.
148apps: Will it be a one-off payment game, or will there be in-app purchases involved?
There will be a one-off payment and the option to get additional investment via in-app purchases. I want to stress, however, that you don’t need to make any in-app purchases after getting the app in order to build a great startup – it’s merely there as an option. I’d actually prefer if players declined the option to take investment completely and slowly but surely built a solid company but I know there’s people out there who will just want to get to a certain level as fast as possible.
148apps: Is there a way of completing Hipster CEO? Or is it more open ended than that?
GK: It’s open ended. Each character in the game (including you as CEO) has certain stats that will grow and shrink based on their performance. If your company goes broke you’ll have the option to build another startup with the skill set you’ve developed. Most entrepreneurs fail with their first few startups so it may take players a few different cracks of the whip before they really hit the big time. It’s totally possible of course that they have a huge success of things and start getting acquisition offers to decide upon.
There will be an online leaderboard of all the players worldwide so you can see how you measure up as a CEO in the game. I’ve a lot of long term ideas for the game too – like inviting the top players around the world to become virtual venture capitalists in later versions of the game which other people can pitch to.
Sounding a pretty intriguing idea, we’ll be keeping a close eye on Hipster CEO‘s progress. Further information is also available at the game’s site. It’s hopefully set for release in October. Thanks to Ger for taking the time to answer our questions!
With the recent iOS release of XBLIG darling, Smooth Operators!, we checked in with creator, Andreas Heydeck, to learn more about the team behind it and their inspiration.
148apps: Who makes up the Heydeck team? How many of you worked on Smooth Operators?
Andreas Heydeck (AH): The team consist of me (Andreas Heydeck), and…graphic artist Murry Lancashire. I’ve also [had] some help with graphics from Scott Tykoski, and music from Zack Parrish…[as well as] a couple of ‘consultants’ from the call center world.
148apps: Where did the inspiration for Smooth Operators come from? Why a call/contact centre?
AH: Well, I’ve worked as a programmer at a multinational call center for quite some years now, and I’ve always thought that the inner workings in a call center is a pretty good setup for a management simulation game. The mechanics and game rules are already there. But, what basically happened was that me and a couple of friends from work went for a couple of beers, and we joked about doing the game and what cool features that could be put in to it. So, the day after I started working with it.
148apps: Did any particular games inspire you while making the game?
AH: The obvious one would probably be SimTower, but also Corporation Inc. When you play the game, you will also notice some elements from your typical Tycoon type of game.
148apps: What encouraged you to port it over to iOS?
AH: The mobile gaming market it so much bigger than the XBLIG market, and so it’s an attractive platform to develop for. I’ve also heard people say that this game would be an awesome iPad game, and it was a good challenge for me to port it.
148apps: What challenges did you come across, going from XBLIG to iOS?
AH: First, I wasn’t sure what way I was going to do it…I chose to go for the Monogame framework, and it was quite easy. However, as with any new platform, there are some kinks and obstacles you need to overcome, but it wasn’t anything major. The biggest ones was adapting the screen ratios of iOS devices, and also to cut down on the memory handling, which isn’t really an issue when you develop for Xbox or PC (especially not with a 2D game). Oh, and changing the controllers from a pointer to a touchscreen.
Thanks to Andreas for taking the time to answer our questions. Smooth Operators! is out now as an Universal build, priced at $2.99.
Sometimes it seems like the majority of free-to-play games focus more on arbitrary time limits and less on actually making a compelling experience. Dave Calabrese, President and CEO of Cerulean Games, feels pretty much the same way. Not content with many of the current freemium sim-style games out there, he and his team set out to create something more akin to one of those meticulous “tycoon” style games that were all the rage back in the 90s. It’s a tall order, but it looks like Vineyard Valley is coming along quite nicely.
148Apps: What inspired you all to create a virtual free-to-play rendition of that “build a vineyard” dream most world-travelers seem to develop?
Dave Calabrese (DC): This entire venture actually started because a friend of mine from school contacted me one evening. She informed me about a large community who used to play a game called My Vineyard. That game went offline over a year ago, however the community has been dying for something new, and nobody would listen. So I did the research, and felt it was a viable business direction! We spent 3 months just having fun and planning out something awesome. So we took all our notes – everything from the community, all of our own ideas, and ideas of what the general public wants and nobody is giving them – and assembled it into the Vineyard Valley that you see planned today!
148Apps: I see in your Kickstarter description that Vineyard Valley won’t be using typical free-to-play “pay to win” models or rely on energy. So how *are* you making use of the freemium model? Is it primarily through Vinos? And what exactly are Vinos, anyway?
DC: We have a pretty cool system that we are using to monetize the game. We call it the Five Point monetization system. The concept is – as you may have guessed – something where we monetize on 5 separate levels. Only one of those actually has the players spending real money – and that is where Vinos come into play. You earn them by running your business properly, and you can purchase them using real money. Aside from that one and only currency exchange, the player won’t have to spend physical money – which allows us to keep it freemium. The other four methods incorporate partners, advertising and more.
148Apps: I’m intrigued by the more classic approach to a business sim you’re using for Vineyard Valley, especially the idea of trading wine between players. But why exactly would players want to buy and sell wine from each other? Is there some sort of added incentive to exchanging with someone else aside from simply seeing what other players have created?
DC: Good question – and I think you are going to really dig the reason. Part of your vineyard is you have a shopping village. This shopping village is something you design and build just like anything else in the game. You start from essentially a wooden stand on the side of the road, and build it into a full blown village with shops, cafes and more. This is where some of that classic business sim comes into play. Your vineyard in the game – just like when you go to a real life vineyard – sells bottles of wine. This wine shop is located in your shopping village. You choose what is sold there. Now, each wine will have a type of rating which denotes its quality, uniqueness and more. Say you create a wine that has a very high rating. You can choose to put a bunch of its bottles in your shopping village, however you could also sell a bunch of bottles to your friends. Just like in classic business sims such as Theme Park, NPC visitors come and tour your vineyard, and shop in the shopping village. The higher rated wine you have, the more it will attract more visitors. Not just rating, but also the proper time for the right wine – a pumpkin wine might attract more visitors around Halloween, while a refreshing Ice Wine might attract more visitors in the middle of summer.
148Apps: Since you’re obviously trying to avoid making Vineyard Valley too much like the majority of other freemium sims, what other games might you be using for inspiration? My guess is older PC business/tycoon titles, which I’m all kinds of okay with.
DC: Exactly, older business sims. Specifically, the original Theme Park from the mid-90s. Today’s business sims are nothing more than seeing how well you can follow the leader while mindless clicking things. See, that’s also what made My Vineyard different – there was a lot more you could do than just mindlessly click and follow the leader. We’re of course staying as far away from cloning My Vineyard as possible, however the base inspiration is still there – design and build in a sandbox environment, and have fun with your friends.
148Apps: Are there any pointers you’d like to share with prospective winery managers eager to jump in to Vineyard Valley once it’s released?
DC: Once you finish watching the game introduction (yes, the game has an ongoing story), think through the base options and decide on the initial kinds of fruit crops and wines you want to develop. Just like the wine, you can also sell and trade the raw ingredients with your friends. Maybe your vineyard will specialize in grapes along with citrus fruits, while your friend’s vineyard specializes in grapes and stone fruits. That’s a great opportunity to trade with each other. Maybe you will also become an expert in citrus fruits and have very special fruit types available that others won’t so easily get…
Thanks to Dave for setting aside a few minutes to discuss digital wine with us. Anyone interested in backing Vineyard Valley’s multiplatform development can do so on its Kickstarter page, and the sooner it gets funded the sooner we can all presumably start with the fruit fermentation.