So you have a good idea for a smart phone App game, have checked the market and researched similar ideas, made any legal inquiries, and decided to go ahead with your App. While you may not want to pursue a patent for your game – it may be prudent to pay for a patent search to ensure you are not infringing on someone else’s patent. A patent attorney will be able to give advice on this score.
DEVELOPING THE IDEA
You can further develop your game idea by creating a story board. Measure the dimensions of your smart phone, including its specific screen size, and using a graphics program or by hand create a visual replica of your phone. If you keep this visual replica true to size it helps to visualize how the App might work.
Play with the logic of your game by creating a sequence of imaginary screens on your replica. If you create one screen per page you can then turn the pages to see how it flows. This simple exercise can help to highlight any problems such as repetitiveness or a lack of drama or tension, as well as helping to work through the logic.
You also need to consider the graphics. Do you envision a particular look or are you open to suggestions? Examining the graphics of some live Apps will provide a launchpad from which to develop your own ideas. Particularly if your game has a main character – consider the gender, age and even species of your character.
FINDING A PROGRAMMER
At some point you need to find a programmer and get quotes. You can use a local company or venture on line using sites such as Freelancer or Odesk. The freelancers on these sites will have earned ratings from previous clients which provide a useful guide. You might feel more secure if using an international freelance site, to hire someone working within a team rather than working solo.
Another important consideration is the payment arrangement – will you pay the programmer per hour, or according to set milestones, or on the completion of the job? In essence will you pay per hour of work done or pay for the delivery of product. Paying per hour might make it difficult to control costs and provide little incentive for quick completion of the job. On the other hand an accurate quote may be difficult, and an underestimated quote may lead to rushing the job.
With regard to the graphics – is your programmer creating the graphics themselves or are they working in tandem with others? If you have specific ideas about the look of your game, make sure you provide examples of similar graphics to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Your programmer will obviously need clear instructions. You can provide the story board you created earlier with comments explaining each screen, as well as other specifications such as flowcharts, mock ups of the game, and a full feature list.
Communication is important so it is wise to choose a programmer fluent in what ever language you speak; there is no point in creating needless frustrations.
So you have decided that your idea passes muster, you have found a programmer and communicated your game. You now need to monitor its progress – this is an art in itself.
It is your creation and you should try to take control over the process. Even though technical aspects may be foreign to you, refuse the temptation to leave events entirely in the hands of the programmer, while at the same time recognizing their expertise. Find a balance between taking control and giving away some initiative. The balance will depend on the particular relationship and job, and on whether you are using a local company or an international freelancer site.
It is a good idea, regardless of the payment arrangement, to work out some milestones such as the delivery of artwork. Particularly if a main character is involved, ask the programmer to provide the graphics first and approve these before moving ahead.
There is nothing like the excitement of playing the first test version of your App game. Your idea has become a reality. Seek advice from the programmer with regards to testing as there are several options. Get plenty of people to play test the game with instructions to select and test all features.
DECIDING ON A PRICING MODEL
Another consideration is the pricing of your App and how to generate revenue from it. You can sell it directly for $0.99, $1.99 or more. Alternatively you might offer a free version which contains advertising as a revenue stream. Some companies offer a free lite version with the option of a fully featured paid version. In App purchases are another revenue stream to consider – where players are given the option to buy a specific item such as a ‘life’ to complete a level.