5th Planet Games launches Dawn of the Dragons for Android

5th Planet Games logoGame developer 5th Planet Games today launched Dawn of the Dragons for Android in North America (and worldwide later this week). The social MMO has come along way for the indie developer who first launched the title on Facebook back in May 2010, and later released for Kongregate and Armor Games.

We first heard about Dawn of Dragons flying its way to mobile for iOS in January, and then the game hit the Apple App Store weeks later in February (review). Chief mobile officer Rob Carroll told us that there’s no differences between the iOS and Android versions, but users can play simultaneously with other players on either platform. As for cross-platform play between the mobile offerings and the web-based versions, 5th Planet Games decided to not let the mobile and web versions talk to each other due to the game being developed in Adobe Air and to allow the mobile version to have its own exclusive content. Carroll also adds the Android port was published in partnership with 5th Planet Games by an unnamed publisher (the studio will announce details about the publisher soon). (more…)

Game of Thrones Ascent developer Disruptor Beam joins Zynga Partners program

ascent

Social game developer Disrupter Beam, known for its Game of Thrones Ascent title based on the hit HBO TV show, today announced it has joined the Zynga Partners programs.

Game of Thrones Ascent is a city building and management sim adaptation of the TV series of the same name, originally based on George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire.

Game of Thrones Ascent launched on Facebook as an open beta back in February and was recently made available on Kongergate. AppData estimates that the game currently has 295,107 monthly active users, down from its April 26 peak of 397,421 MAU.

The partnership with Zynga is bound to increase the number of players thanks to social gaming giant’s powerful cross-promotion tools. On its recent Q1 2013 earnings call, CEO Mark Pincus revealed that Zynga’s network consists of 253 million MAU across all platforms, 65 million of which are on mobile. The partnership will also bring the game to Zynga.com.

“One thing that I’ve learned in my years of starting and building companies is that gaming companies cannot always be solely responsible for 100 percent of their ‘hits.’” CEO and Founder of Disruptor Beam Jon Radoff said in a statement. “Partnerships are integral to the success of any game company and any game, so we are thrilled to now be working with the amazing team at Zynga to move into the next phase for Game of Thrones Ascent!”

Check in with our weekly posts on the fastest-growing Facebook games by MAU, DAU and top emerging games posts to track the effect of the partnership and see if moves up the charts.

You can also read our full review of Game of Thrones Ascent here.

Kixeye/Inside Network panel: Unity vs. Unreal for the next generation of browser-based games

INJB_KIXEYE_FeaturedImageIn case you missed last night’s jobs event hosted by Kixeye and Inside Network, here’s a quick recap of the panel “The Next Generation of Browser-Based Games: Unity, UDK and Beyond.”

As it happens, each of the panelists involved with the topic are 1) hiring and 2) currently working on games that straddle not only the web browser platform (open web, games network, Facebook Canvas games, etc.) but also mobile and tablet. Toward the beginning of the discussion, Kixeye panelists Dan Rubenfield and Scott Howard revealed that their respective projects — mid-core strategy or combat games, both — were actually being built with different engines despite likely targeting the same platform. Howard, who’s been at Kixeye longer and whose project began development almost a year ago, is working on a Unity 3D game. Rubenfield, whom Howard brought on about 10 months ago, settled on Unreal as the engine for his project.

When asked by an attendee why the two games were being built differently, Howard and Rubenfield explained that the engines and tools selected to craft a social mobile game depend almost entirely on timing. Yes, most of Kixeye’s current games are built in Flash — and they’re very successful on Facebook Canvas. But Kixeye wants to stay ahead of the game in developing social and mobile titles and so its producers consider many different engines and frameworks instead of sticking only with what they know. As Howard explained, when his project started, Unity 3D was simply farther along and had more tools available to developers. When Rubenfield’s project started, Unreal had matured somewhat and had what his team needed to build their game. In six months, who knows — there could be three completely new engines or frameworks that developers could be leveraging to make the next generation of social and mobile game.

Pictured from right to left: Anthony Pecorella, producer for virtual goods of Kongregate; Jordan Patz, lead game designer of nWay; Dan Rubenfield, executive producer of KIXEYE; Scott Howard, executive producer, KIXEYE

Pictured from right to left: Anthony Pecorella, producer for virtual goods of Kongregate; Jordan Patz, lead game designer of nWay; Dan Rubenfield, executive producer of KIXEYE; Scott Howard, executive producer, KIXEYE

The second part of the panel discussion shifted toward actual job experience and interview techniques. Not surprisingly, all three companies represented on the panel (Kixeye, Kongregate and nWay) were actively interviewing for engineers, programers, designers and artists for their current and future projects. Kongregate in particular is looking for producers that can work with developers to increase performance on the game network’s system, which requires a skill set that calls for both technical and design backgrounds. Based on feedback from each of the four panelists, the following advice was provided to job-seekers:

  • Make games — This is the single most important piece of advice the panelists could offer. If a job seeker wants to convince a developer that they can make games, they should actually make them in their spare time. This can be on any platform: pen-and-paper, Flash, ASCII, in a class full of kindergarteners. Just as long as the game works as a finished project that can be demonstrated to the developer. Also, common sense, never plagiarize code from someone else’s project and submit it with an application — the person that wrote the original code might actually be the interviewer.
  • Be acquisitive in knowledge — Many applicants have college or graduate degrees in computer science or even in game design and likely could score high on tests. But this is not enough to convince developers that a candidate is smart enough to learn new ways of coding or scripting and keep up with the fast-paced work environment where an engine might be obsolete in less than a year. Howard tests for this capacity by asking candidates what are the last three things they’ve read and why; Rubenfield asks questions designed to make candidates think through a problem out loud; Jordan Patz of nWay looks for the underlying personality of the interviewee to get a sense of how smart they are; and Anthony Pecorella from Kongregate presents a test where candidates have to adjust the design of a game and explain their changes.
  • Don’t be a dick — This is the second-most mentioned pointer from the panelists. It seems like an obvious point, but in the creative industry, there are many strong personalities with passion for their work. If a candidate is not mindful of how to behave in a tight-knit social situation or cannot present a professional demeanor in a work environment, they’re unlikely to get the job no matter how brilliant a programmer/designer/artist they are. Yes, candidates are likely to be nervous in any interview; but mind your manners, answer questions in complete sentences and don’t trash-talk previous coworkers — the games industry is small and the trash-talked person might actually be working at that company already.

To those of you unable to join us yesterday, we hope to see you at future events. To job seekers in particular, we urge you to look at each of these companies job openings (here, here and here) as well as the Inside Network Job Board.

Dawn of the Dragons available on iOS

dawn of dragon

Game developer 5th Planet Games today announced the launch of Dawn of the Dragons on the iTunes App Store. Previously released on Facebook, Kongregate, Armor Games and its own site, Dawn of the Dragons’ is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and 5th Planet’s top-performing title.

The game features a deep single-player storyline, as well as optional multiplayer gameplay that includes player alliances with raids and player-versus-player action. The single player campaign contains zones filled with energy-based missions and boss battles, while raids and PvP elements are played by spending stamina and honor. Dawn of the Dragons is free to play and available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices here.

We talked about the project with CEO Robert Winkler, COO Braden Moulton and Brian David-Marshall at GDC Online back in October 2012. Shortly after that chat, 5th Planet hired Rob Carroll as its Chief Mobile Officer, who began overseeing the development of both Legacy of a Thousand Suns and Dawn of the Dragons on iOS.

You can read our preview of the game here and look forward to a review soon.

Kongregate pledges $10M towards mobile gaming, former Zynga VP heading mobile division

Untitled-1This morning, online gaming platform Kongregate revealed it’s getting in on mobile in a very big way.

The company announced the launch of the Kongregate Mobile Developers program, a $10 million fund that will help indie game developers working on free-to-play mobile titles. Kongregate’s parent company (and massive brick and mortar retail chain) GameStop will back the platform as it offers distribution, financial, consulting and marketing assistance to the developers taking part in the mobile program.

The assistance being offered in the newly-launched mobile program is expansive. According to Kongregate, games already in development can qualify to earn cash advances in order to cover final build and integration expenses. The company will also provide free consultation with developers about monetization; the company says it will also have creative services, quality assurance, gameplay testing and competitive research to offer developers. Kongregate also says it will manage paid ad campaigns for selected titles on thir-party networks, handle PR and work with various app stores to get partner games featured.

We’re told many of these services will be available in certain amounts based on a tiered partnership, similar to how Kongregate works with developers on its web platform (with more services and marketing assistance available based on different revenue splits for a game). However, Kongregate Co-Founder Emily Greer explains to us this won’t be apparent at first because Kongregate will be working mainly with developers who will receive top-tier treatment from the getgo, with each case being tailored to a specific game.

(more…)

Doctor Who expands onto Kongregate, Newgrounds and Armor Games

BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games today announced Doctor Who: Worlds In Time is coming to three new platforms: Kongregate, Newgrounds, and Armor Games. Not on the list? Facebook.

Until now, Worlds In Time has been available to play on its own site but players have been able to login with Facebook Connect. The BBC tells us there are more distribution deals in development. Speaking to us last week, EVP Digital Entertainment & Games Robert Nashak told us the game’s already seen substantial traffic growth from these deals, but didn’t reveal any specifics.

Even though these platforms don’t command the same number of users that Facebook does, they’ve proven incredibly lucrative for many developers. GameStop-owned Kongregate is becoming a serious contender for attracting developers onto its network, especially since it handles advertising duties (particularly tempting for smaller companies without a large budget to spend on acquiring users) and contains a substantial audience of hardcore players.

This isn’t the only BBC social game to find success away from Facebook. In September, Nashak spoke with us at length about Dancing With The Stars: Keep Dancing and how the BBC runs the game on the websites of TV channels that air Dancing With The Stars (or a regional version). Even though the game doesn’t appear on Facebook, it’s a successful title that keeps fans engaged with the brand year round. That said, the company does still have some games on Facebook like Top Gear and Jane Austen: Rogues & Romance through its partnership with 6waves.

You can read our review of Doctor Who: Worlds In Time here.

Dungeon Rampage gets major update, officially launches across the web

Rebel Entertainment’s social free-to-play action role-playing game officially launched this week on multiple platforms, sporting some serious updates. We sat down with General Manager Mike Goslin to check out what players can expect.

Dungeon Rampage initially came to Facebook in March and we reviewed the game shortly afterwards. Since then, Rebel’s made a point of refining the game’s graphics, adding new regions, enemies and items and also removed the system that used keys as energy. Instead, keys now open chests, which can now provide players with extra hard currency. Gold coins, the game’s soft currency, can now be used to purchase anything in the game except vanity items like character skins. Cross-platform play and in-game friending are also going live this week.

Goslin showed off an upcoming character called the Pyromancer. The Pyromancer is a fire mage who happens to be possessed by a demon, and his “Dungeon Buster” attack involves letting the demon out to wreak havoc across the game screen. Goslin also tells us the Vampire Hunter character is about to get a new skin based on Chinese mythology.

Goslin tells us Rebel Entertainment plans to update Dungeon Rampage regularly, much like a larger developer would for a full-fledged MMORPG. Some of the updates we got to see examples of included themed content based on holidays or real-world events (like the Olympics), as well as an entirely new game environment to explore. Likewise, the developer is planning to launch another update to the game’s weapon system that will allow players to effectively buff their weaponry and create unique combat effects that will aid them as they move through the dungeons.

Rebel Entertainment is also featuring a “Founders’ Week” from now through September 11. During this time, players will receive special in-game bonuses including a bonus character skin.

Dungeon Rampage is now officially launched on Facebook, Kongregate and its own website.

5th Planet Games launches Legacy of Heroes exclusively on Kongregate

5th Planet Games announced today that their super hero-themed collectible card game (CCG) Legacy of Heroes is now free to play exclusively on Kongregate.com, a games portal purchased by brick-and-mortar video game retailer GameStop in 2010.

In Legacy of Heroes players start as freshmen in the Phaeton Project, a school for young super beings known as Emergents. Using strategic thinking and a little luck, players compete in head-to-head card battles to build up their decks. Players can also customize their decks, participate in league play, complete special missions and purchase booster packs

As Inside Social Games previously reported, 5th Planet Games found great success in expanding from Facebook to other platforms and games networks. After launching Clash of Dragons on Kongregate in December 2011, 5th Planet Games reported 300,000 installs in just 30 days, a company record they in large part credit to Kongregate’s handling the promotions.

Legacy of Heroes was written and illustrated by Brian David-Marshall, who’s written for Marvel and DC comics in the past. David-Marshall was Principal and Co-Founder of New York-based game design consulting company To Be Continued LLC when it was acquired by 5th Planet Games earlier this year.

CEO of Kongregate Jim Greer said that he’s excited to support the launch of Legacy of Heroes exclusively on Kongregate, noting 5th Planet Games has published some of the most successful games on the platform, with titles receiving more than 20 million gameplayes.

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