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Designing Flash Games for Fun and Profit

Will Alexander | 21 Sep 2011 15:00
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IriySoft's success illustrates how the internet eliminates geography as a barrier for designers as well as players. IriySoft is based in Bryansk, Russia, a medium-sized city about 250 miles southwest of Moscow, yet they've partnered with major global sites like Miniclip and Addictinggames and have made games on their own. IriySoft's biggest hit, the tower-defense game Cursed Treasure, has been played more than 40 million times, says IriySoft's CEO Dmitry Pavlenko.

The most common mistake Hughes sees among first-time developers is people who try to do too much.

Getting Started

Chris Hughes has two words of advice for anyone interested in making Flash games for fun and profit: "stay simple." The most common mistake Hughes sees among first-time developers is people who try to do too much. Starting off with a simple game has several advantages, Hughes says.

First, completing any game inevitably takes longer than expected. Each new feature added makes it more complicated to design, code, and debug. First-time designers who try to make a game with too many characters, levels, or features often wind up frustrated in the latter phases of game design when everything has to come together. Those cool additional features can always appear in a sequel or followup title.

Second, the market has a short attention span. "The majority of plays in a Flash game typically come in the first few months, or even weeks, of its life cycle," Hughes says. This makes it easy to break into the market, but tough to recoup a long-term investment of time and energy, Hughes says. Successful games can have a long "tail" period in which they continue to get plays for months or years, but their initial burst of popularity rarely lasts, Hughes says.

Third, successive releases allow designers to build reputations for themselves and their intellectual property. Hughes points to the Flash portal NinjaKiwi as an example. One of their earliest games, Bloons, had a simple, effective premise: monkey throws darts, darts pop balloons, finish level to pop more. The success of Bloons led to a sequel, player-made levels, a series of spin-off tower-defense games. NinjaKiwi and other developers have also brought the brands they built online to make successful games for Android and iOS.

"This is definitely not an easy market to make a true living in. But the money is there, and it can be done. We get about 30 games a day being submitted. The best games always sell, and they sell for a whole lot," Hughes says.

Will Alexander writes about a lot of things, most often women's health. He has a blog at http://stretchyourmind.wordpress.com/. The Embassy of Kazakhstan owes him $1,000.

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