One of the biggest complaints about Grisly Manor was that it was too short. So, from the outset, The Lost City was designed to be much larger in scope.
For one, the mechanics of changing seasons in the game required four times the artwork for much of the game. Grisly Manor took seven months to complete whereas Lost City took a little over a year. In addition to all the art assets, this game has a dynamic inventory, a text engine to support localizations (translations), a map that keeps track of where you’ve been as well as your current location, and a journal that keeps track of clues you encounter in the game. A hint guide has been included as well — all in all, it has a lot more content!
What’s great about all of these additions though, is that I can now use them in future games going forward without having to recode them from scratch. As a result, new games should no longer take as much time to complete!
Along with all the new content, were there any new challenges that you encountered during the making of Lost City that you didn’t see during Grisly Manor?
The Lost City is about five time the size (and gameplay length) of Grisly Manor, so keeping everything loading instantly, playing smoothly, and just the overall management of the game were probably the biggest challenge.
Also, from the outset, I designed the game to run on every iOS device, Android, Kindle Fire, and the NOOK tablet — luckily, Corona’s system of “code once, deploy everywhere” is amazing in that regard. Corona is such a fun environment for me to code in; I really enjoy the syntax of the scripting language. It lets me be creative while also being flexible and powerful.
In less than a week after its release, you managed to get The Lost City up to #2 in the Amazon AppStore and #1 in several Apple App Store charts worldwide.
What’s your secret to such an immediate jump-off success?
I believe the biggest key to that success was making Grisly Manor free on iOS devices and then placing a large “New Game” badge on its main menu, which linked to The Lost City. In the past week or so, Grisly Manor has been downloaded a little over 2 million times — that’s a lot of new people who instantly learned about Lost City!
Any other marketing or anything on top of that?
I actually did no marketing or advertising whatsoever for Lost City. I have not contacted any review sites yet either.
For each release, Apple gives you 50 promo codes to hand out to family, friends, and reviewers. The conventional wisdom is to send these all out to review sites in the hopes of getting picked up. I followed this advice for my first two apps and I found it to be so disappointing. You craft all the e-mails, send out all the codes, and then… nothing. No response at all. It is totally understandable as every developer is blasting their game out too, and the websites simply cannot respond to everyone.
So, for my next two games (Grisly Manor and Lost City), I gave away all 50 codes on the TouchArcade forums. They have such a passionate community on that site, and I get tons of genuine, heartfelt reviews in all the App Stores around the world.
Well, lots of people put their games up for free — what else did you do to get so many downloads of Grisly Manor in only a week?
I simply made the full version of Grisly Manor available when I put it up for free — it’s not a “lite” version, there are no ads, in-app purchases, or any other unnecessary distractions.
I think that the players are a little stunned at that, as they are used to playing free games with lots of popups and other interruptions to the experience. As a result, Grisly Manor has received a ton of five-star reviews and has propelled back up in the App Store worldwide, as well.
Both The Lost City and Grisly Manor hold the #1 spot in many countries right now, and I am beyond excited that so many people are discovering and enjoying the games!
So, after Lost City, what’s the next big hit we can expect to see from you?
Work has already begun on a proper sequel to Grisly Manor, which I will resume in full force after taking a well-deserved nap!
Nap API is now available in our latest Daily Build — thanks for talking to us, Joe!
Thank you, Hetal!