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POST MORTEM. Ethan Einhorn - History SEGA Producer, Digital Content Sonic The Hedgehog iPod Super Monkey Ball iPhone Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection.

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Presentation on theme: "POST MORTEM. Ethan Einhorn - History SEGA Producer, Digital Content Sonic The Hedgehog iPod Super Monkey Ball iPhone Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection."— Presentation transcript:


2 Ethan Einhorn - History

3 SEGA Producer, Digital Content Sonic The Hedgehog iPod Super Monkey Ball iPhone Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection X360/PS3 Future Premium iPhone games Ethan Einhorn - History

4 Chris Sharpley - History

5 Consultant Art Director at Other Ocean Interactive, & Learning Manager at Holland College, Prince Edward Island. 15 years working as a digital artist and designer in the video game industry. Recent credits include "Ultimate Mortal Kombat" on DS and "Super Monkey Ball" on iPhone.

6 Previously worked on "Archer Maclean's Mercury" for PSP and "Mercury Meltdown" on PSP, PS2 and Wii. Similar art production pipeline to Super Monkey Ball. Games made use of a prototype tilt controller for the PSP. Chris Sharpley - History

7 Pitch to Apple - easy to imagine mechanics Gameplay tied to the strengths of the device Can Other Ocean stay for a few weeks? Along Comes iPhone

8 Work begins on the stage demo Game up and running in three days Two programmers, and one artist. Crunch Time

9 Four stages Photo-realistic backgrounds (not in final version) ‏ Place-holder UI Apple Town Hall – The Debut

10 Twelve weeks to have a full-featured product ready No specific release schedule Surprise request to show the near final product to the public Quick to Alpha, Quick to Beta

11 In Apple we Trust Internal excitement Hitting on day one A high profile opportunity for Other Ocean. LAUNCH!

12 Level Design

13 Initial SMB game design required at least 100 levels. Rough ideas were modeled in 3D and explained on annotated design sheets.

14 Level Design



17 Design meetings allowed the team to explore their designs. Many of the rough ideas were thrown out. All were modified. Some levels were combined with others. Level Design

18 Eventually 150 levels were chosen to be properly modelled and tested. All levels were intended to be completed by players in less than 4 attempts. This would have meant that the entire game could have been completed in just 2 or 3 hours.

19 Level Design Each level was given a secondary objective: Collect the bananas! Many levels were adjusted to make banana collection more challenging. An extra 10 unlockable levels were added as a reward for collecting bananas.

20 Level Design After testing gameplay, we decided our bonus levels would use 25 bananas instead of the usual 50. At one stage, we used apples instead of bananas.

21 Level Design Final game used 110 levels. Levels were tested and assigned a difficulty rating. 10 "Classic" levels were imported from other Monkey Ball titles. The final order was intended to evenly distribute levels based on dexterity, fun, speed and difficulty.

22 Art Production

23 Art style for Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone inspired by "Banana Blitz" for the Wii. No Wii assets were actually used - everything was recreated for the iPhone. (...apart from 4 monkey sprites from "Touch & Roll" on the DS)‏

24 5 unique sets of level textures. Each world used one checkerboard texture, and one abstract texture. Checkerboard textures were used for rectangular sections. Abstract textures were used for non-geometric sections. Art Production

25 Level animations were kept simple. Mostly slow rotations and horizontal movement. Large vertical movements caused camera motion that would confuse the player.

26 Art Production Tutorial was planned for the game, but not included in final release. Our ability to release updates via the Appstore allowed us to add a tutorial to the game.


28 1. LISTEN TO FEEDBACK, RESPOND QUICKLY Understand the value of user reviews Read the needs of the audience Learn to better target your audience through product updates

29 1. USE AN INTERNAL TEST TEAM IF POSSIBLE. Instant feedback. Less confusion. Speeds up the development process.

30 2. DON’T PLAY PRICE WARS Don’t under-charge for your Apps Keep the highest price you can while staying in the top 50 A good brand is evergreen, and every week brings new users

31 2. STRETCH A NEW DEVICE TO ITS LIMITS. If a cell phone has “console power”, create console content. Casual gamers want high production values.

32 3. CONSIDER THE PROs AND CONs OF “LITE” VERSIONS. Good for New IP and complex games Less helpful for well- reviewed games that are already easy for consumers to understand.

33 3. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE CHALLENGE OF BRINGING A HARDCORE GAME TO A CASUAL MARKET. Casual games aren't “simple” games. Sometimes, content has to be added to make a game suitable for a casual audience.

34 4. MANY OF YOUR USERS WILL BE NEW THE PROPERTY A high number of consumers state that their first exposure to Super Monkey Ball is on iPhone Do not assume that your customers will buy your game based on brand awareness alone.

35 4. MAKE EFFICIENT USE OF COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN PUBLISHER AND DEVELOPER. Tight deadlines require quick responses. Spanning three timezones can be challenging.

36 5. USER REVIEWS ARE KING This product is not tracked on Gamerankings or Metacritic. User reviews begin to act as a massive forum, both for owners of the game and curious customers Thousands of reviews for SMB

37 5. WHEN CREATING 100'S OF LEVELS, START SIMPLE, THEN ADD REFINEMENTS. Dealing with 100's of assets can be confusing. Start with basic ideas, then add complexity.

38 6. DON’T MAKE IT TOO HARD Customers do not want a steep learning curve There is a need for players to feel success for every two minutes of gameplay Getting to the end of a game should be foolproof

39 6. AGGRESSIVE DEADLINES FOCUS THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS. Only the most important features of the game could be addressed. Time wasn't wasted on superfluous features.

40 7. BUILD TO THE DEVICE Super Monkey Ball succeeded in good part because only the iPhone was capable of delivering on the ‘tilt’ gameplay The mechanics are very easy to describe and demonstrate

41 7. NEW OPPORTUNITIES CAN BE RISKY. Super Monkey Ball for the iPhone was initially a risky venture. Its success opened us up to a wide range of iPhone opportunities.

42 8. MAKE SURE CONSUMERS “GET IT” IN 10 SECONDS If an iPhone game does not look fun right away, players will move on “Over the shoulder” impressions are important Keep tutorials interactive

43 8. AN SMALL, EXPERIENCED TEAM CAN BE MORE AGILE. Expanding the team was an option. Adding less experienced members would probably have slowed-down production.

44 9. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE SMB Monkeys all control the same No jumping No pressing / touching Just tilting

45 9. BE OPEN TO WORKING WITH LICENSED I.P. Use licensed I.P. and recognizable brands to your advantage. This strategy can provide resources that enable you to develop your own I.P.

46 10. CONSIDER THE PLAY ENVIRONMENT Bite-sized gameplay Make saving your progress frequent and invisible to the user Avoid dark backgrounds

47 10. IF POSSIBLE, USE A TEAM THAT UNDERSTANDS A BRAND. Team were already fans of Apple, SEGA and Super Monkey Ball. SEGA of Japan places a high value on developers who appreciate their I.P.


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