Ginger Roll is a 3D arcade platformer game that first released globally for Android devices in January 2016 and for iOS devices on March 25th 2016. It was released onto the Amazon App Store on January 2016. It was the fourth game released by IRF Media, a games studio that primarily makes games for smartphones and tablets.
Before we dig deeper into the game you might want a little introduction about our company. IRF Media was founded in 2015 by Adnan Ramzan and our mission was to make high quality, engaging and highly entertaining games. We also wanted to make industry changing games as we felt that games were just following games that were just commercially viable.
There were a lot of match-three games and strategy games because they would bring in the most money for the big AAA companies. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with match-three games or strategy games. They are very fun to play and some are very well made and well polished. But after a while they all get a bit repetitive and the main difference is that they have just been re skinned with different characters.
Anyway I digress, the first game that IRF Media made was Blast Off, followed by Balloon Assault and Bird Flight. Ginger Roll would be the biggest game that IRF Media would develop yet.
There were a couple of different ideas for games we had before actually developing Ginger Roll. The first game idea we came up with when brainstorming was an Office game. The basic premise of the game was tapping on things that would come on screen to smash them to pieces.
The second game idea we came up with was a bomb disposal puzzle game. Both of these games we felt had no depth and substance. Both of these ideas were cast aside in favour of Ginger Roll.
The Birth of Ginger Roll
The inspiration behind Ginger Roll came from my little nephew Saif, who has ginger hair.
Saif was very energetic and loved to run around the place. Therefore I thought I could turn this into a game with Saif as the main hero of the game. So I let the rest of the team know and we started working hard on development of the game.
The basic story behind the game is that the evil child genius Iblis is trying achieve world domination and Saif tries to stop him. As punishment Iblis puts him into a zorb ball and sends him into an alternate dimension.
Since the main character’s hair was ginger and you would literally have to roll in the game it made sense to name the game Ginger Roll. It also served as a pun for the dessert.
In the game players have to roll and move past platforms, obstacles and enemies while collecting cookies and completing each level and defeating Iblis at the end.
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We decided to release it for mobile platforms as it is widely becoming one of the most popular choices for gaming and it would be easily accessible for most people as most people do have a smartphone or tablet.
We made Ginger Roll with the game engine Unity. The reason we chose Unity was because it was easy to use and relatively easy to programme. Another good thing is it is available for near enough all mobile platforms which suited us very well.
We decided Ginger Roll would have 3D graphics because it suited the style of the game and it be more engaging. The art style that we wanted to go for was to make the game look high quality graphics. We wanted the characters and graphics to look cute, endearing and appealing.
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An early mockup of the different characters of Ginger Roll. It doesn’t really look pretty but I suppose it didn’t have to yet.
Doing the graphics was a bit of a challenge as we had to keep changing small things around. However in the end we made the graphics to how we wanted them to appear and were happy with the changes.
When we were designing the characters of Ginger Roll we wanted to go for a look in which the characters looked cute. The before picture of the character Akowla looks slightly creepy and weird.
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The after picture of Akowla looks a lot more friendly and it uses brighter colours. Thus making him appear affable and more friendly. I think the latter picture looks a lot better and he looks more cute. Whereas the former makes him look bizarre (kind of like a weird looking Teletubby).
Another thing that we had to decide about was the controls of the characters and how the player would move the character. There were a couple of options. Players could tap on the screen as to which direction they wanted to take the character.
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The alternative was using the accelerometer of the device to move the character around. This would include tilting the device and so the character would go in the right direction. We decided to go with the alternate option and use the accelerometer controls.
We decided to do this because we thought that it would be fun and a kind of unique way to move the character around. Well this turned out to be a headache to implement. We had to tweak it and change it so many times. Sometimes the character would move too quick and fall of the stage. Sometimes it would just be too difficult to control the character. Other times it just wasn’t possible to move the character.
Putting everything together was a challenge as well but because we had an excellent team on job we did it. We had to make sure everything was right including the character design, level design, menu, sound effects, music, enemy designs and much more. It is hard work putting a game together but it is worth it in the end! We are just glad we had a lot of Redbull to keep us awake and sane, we should be sponsored by them by the amount of Redbull we’ve chugged down.
After months of testing and tweaking and changing things we finally got the controls right in which it was not too difficult nor was it too easy. The character wouldn’t get out of control and it was easier to control and move the character.
We learnt a lot when making Ginger Roll but one of the main things that we learnt is that you need to test, test and test. You need to make sure you test to game thoroughly for any bugs or things that aren’t right. Testing is very important.
When we released the game in the beta stage we got excellent feedback back from our users. This feedback was vital in improving the game and making it better.
When developing a game, marketing the game is one of the most important, if not the most important things you can do. Marketing plays a massive part in bringing awareness towards your game and getting traction and more downloads towards your games.
I read somewhere that doing business without marketing is like smiling in the dark. You might know you’re doing it but nobody else does. It is absolutely true and it couldn’t be more true in this day and age, especially in the gaming business.
There are many different ways you can market your game and build awareness. The simple fact is that there are millions of games on both Google Play and Apple App Store and to make the game stand out amongst the millions of games it is vital you do marketing. If you don’t do marketing you would have to be really lucky or have a leprechaun on your team!
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It is very important to start the marketing as early as possible. I recommend starting as soon as you have something to show for. In hindsight this was one of the mistakes we made. We didn’t really start marketing too late but we could of done it sooner.
We did a number of things to market the game. This included:
- Press release – Writing press releases of the launch of the game and submitted it to various press release distribution services.
- Teaser trailer – Released teaser trailer to show Ginger Roll on Youtube. We did not want to give away too much of the game as this was a couple of months before the official launch of the game. So instead of giving away too much we just showed the a couple of different levels.
- Meet the characters – We also published a meet the characters video on Youtube. This video had a little introduction of each the characters as well as some characteristics of the characters. The video also shows a segment of the story. We thought this was a fun way of introducing the characters and story of Ginger Roll. As well as that we published a music video for Ginger Roll on Youtube as well. The music was rap song about the game, and the lyrics described what the game was about.
- Launch trailer – This was the full trailer showcasing the different aspects of the game including the various worlds and levels and the characters as well. A trailer is one of the most important things to make because it actually showcases your game. Check out this article on making great trailers.
- Youtubers and Reviewers – Youtube has become a massive part of gaming and getting a popular Youtuber can boost downloads. We emailed promo codes to tons and tons of mobile gaming review websites and Youtubers. We did get a few websites to post about Ginger Roll and got a few Youtubers to cover the game. In hindsight we should have gotten more Youtubers to cover the game. Check out this list of people who cover games, its pretty useful.
- Social Media and Blog – We posted on social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus. We posted development pictures, interesting news, articles, updates on Ginger Roll, videos and pictures. We also kept our blog up to date on our website with development updates and just generally what we were up to. Once it would be published on our blog would also publish it on other sites like Stumbleupon and Reddit. Looking back we should have utilized those more.
- Landing Page – This was just a one page website that was done using WordPress. It had the features of the game and what the game was about. Also we included videos, pictures, social media links and download links to the game. The main outcome for the website was to direct people to download the game. We also had a page for Ginger Roll on the IRF Media website.
- Forums – This is where I think we didn’t do enough on. We should have been more active in the forums and been communicating with the community because that was our target audience. We did post screenshots, trailers and promo codes on various forums but we just didn’t do it enough.
- ASO – App Store Optimisation is similar to SEO. You have to put in the right keywords into your description and keyword field. We did optimise our description field to include all the right keywords into it to optimise it for further downloads. Although some say this isn’t really a big deal, it is worth making a good description.
This was a long and lengthy discussion between the team. Should we make the app free? Should we do make it paid. Although there are pros and cons to both pricing models. Many developers that develop games for mobile platforms are opting for a free download but with ads and/or in app purchases. This lets anyone download it and try it out.
Although not everyone will buy in app purchases, research shows that only 1-5% of gamers spend money on in app purchases. It might sound like a small amount but if your game has loads of downloads then it is worth it.
We decided to make the app paid because we felt the game had high quality graphics, nice music, sound effects and great gameplay and was just more of a premium product. The game was ad-free so never included any ads at all.
Some games have players buy in-app purchases to progress in the game and others have an ‘energy meter’ which we didn’t think suited the style off the game and would put users off. As it was a premium game we tried to keep in-app purchases to a minimum.
However I think the best pricing method to use when releasing a new mobile game is to make it free with optional in-app purchases. I think this is the best method because it allows you to build an audience and fanbase and as its free anyone can download it.
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Conclusion & Future Plans
Recently we released the lite version of Ginger Roll on Google Play. This allowed users to try the game out before they would actually buy it. Ginger Roll Lite lets players play the first world and the first fifteen levels for free to test the game out. Ginger Roll Lite has ads which can be removed by purchasing the full paid version.
We also released our own official t-shirts of Ginger Roll on Amazon. You can check it out here. (Some shameless self promotion there!)
In terms of the paid version we have a big update coming out for Ginger Roll which we think will make the whole experience of playing Ginger Roll so much better and make it much more entertaining than it already is.
For our games studio IRF Media we have a massive upcoming project that will take IRF Media to new heights. All I can say is the wait will be worth it!
We are pleased with what we have achieved with Ginger Roll and are very proud of it. We hope to be continue updating Ginger Roll and adding new features to it. We would like to thank all our fans and thank you for reading this postmortem all the way to the end. We hope you found this postmortem useful. If you want to keep up with all our new projects and updates, the best way to do it is join our fan club.
If you are interested in getting Ginger Roll, you can get it for iPhone/iPad here, and for Android devices here or forAmazon devices here.