Interview with Seltice Systems

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A lot of the games Seltice Systems has released were already available before Android gained in popularity. Some of them have proven to be very popular, with some new promising games just released or in development. Time for us to check with Ben McGaughey on his experiences so far and what the future may bring for him.

Ben, thanks for participating in this interview. Do you have an introduction about how Seltice Systems has started and what it currently does?

Ben McGaughey

Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.  My name is Ben McGaughey, and I am Seltice Systems LLC, it’s currently a one-man operation.  I’ve been developing websites professionally since 2004 and creating games for mobile devices since 2010.  I have actually been making games as a hobby for 20 years (I’m 32 now).  Started with QBasic :)  Making games is my passion, and has been my dream since I was very young.

You have already published quite some games on the Play Store. Some of them even broke the 1.000.000 download mark. Why did you start making games for Android?

Yes, the free versions of a few of my games combined have amassed over 4 million total user installs on the Play Store, formerly the Android Market. For Christmas, 2009, my wife bought me an iPhone.  After downloading my first app, I knew I had to be in this game, and this was my opportunity to write games that would be played by a lot of people. I’m a PC, and I didn’t have a Mac at the time, so I checked out Android’s developer program. In January 2010 I signed up as an Android developer and ordered the G1 dev phone.  Within about a month I released my first commercial game that was a port of a Flash game I had written years earlier and I got my first sale. One of my favorite memories is when I hit my 100th sale the day before I went on a vacation in early 2010.

Which are the tools you currently use for developing games? And which tool would you like to use in the future?

I used to use Eclipse and Java to write all my games.  I had to re-learn Java, and go through a lot of examples, and I bought a few books that I skimmed. Now I use Monkey (http://www.monkeycoder.co.nz/).  With one code base I can build for Android, Flash, iPhone, HTML5, GLFW, and XNA right on my PC (and Mac).  I can completely write and prototype my games in Flash or GLFW first, then build them right to my Android devices for more testing. 

I still do my final Android builds in Eclipse with the Java code Monkey creates. I also do all my testing on Android devices and not the emulator. I will use Monkey for my future games.  I absolutely love it. Something else that made life as an Android dev easier is that I also wrote a program that pulls my Google Wallet / Checkout numbers every hour so I know exactly how many games have sold, to where, and when for every game. I have some fascinating and bizarre stats regarding sales figures.

A lot of developers who also create games for iOS complain about the fragmentation on Android. What is  your take on this?

For my early games, it was awful.  Sounds, graphics scaling and game speeds were all a mess on all kinds of different hardware. This was something I used to dwell on this. I was getting bad reviews from people because their phones didn’t run the game as I intended. It felt like I was losing players and money for something I couldn’t control because I couldn’t afford all these devices. It took over a year, but I finally told myself to stop getting mad about something I couldn’t fully control.  I just had to create the best games I could with the resources I had and hope for the best.

For my newer games, Monkey has solved a lot of these problem, so my games are working correctly on a lot more devices.

With literally thousands of games available, what do you try to get noticed? Any marketing techniques you could share?

1) My biggest secret is to be first.

I know that pretty much sucks right now because it feels like there’s almost nowhere left to be “first”.  I put games in the Android Market (Play Store) when there was literally nothing else out there like those games.  The early adopter rule helped me a lot.

2) The second big secret is coming up in a search within the stores themselves.

My first games were basically sports games that people searched for, like Golf and Pool. Since people were searching for these sports, I was getting found, and it really got the ball rolling.

3) Twitter

I’m all over Twitter now as http://twitter.com/benmc and I’ve found that communicating with other game developers is a great way to get involved in the community and market.  We indie developers are all in the same boat here, so sometimes we just talk about the industry with each other, but then we’re there to retweet for each other when a new game comes, for example.

4) I’m just starting to get on Facebook, but it’s a little foreign to me.

5) I’m getting feedback from indie gaming forums.

The last two games you released (Dice Racers, Scorched Monster) have a distinctive retro-look. Where do you get your inspiration for games?

I decided one day that I wanted to create retro platform game, something like the old Nintendo games I used to play.  I always wanted to create a game like this, and decided it was time to stop waiting, and just do it. I’m also a huge fan Meganoid, StarDash, Commander Pixman, League of Evil and Mos Speedrun.  Seeing these games come out on mobile and be so successful really inspired me to get started on this long-time dream of creating a retro, pixel art, platform game. I’m getting much better at creating pixel art, so I look forward to creating more games in the future using this style.

On Twitter we saw you are working on a new title. Could you tell us a bit about it, and what the challenges are you’ve encountered?

Zombie Rundown

Actually, I’m working on 2 other games right now; and one of those is also a pixel art game called Zombie Rundown.  You’re basically a hillbilly in a camouflage truck running down zombies. I haven’t had many challenges with this game.  It’s pretty simple overall.

The other game is for a client.  It’s the first time I’ve taken on developing a game for someone else, but it’s going amazingly well, and the game is going to be a kick! The challenge with creating any game is “finding the fun”.  Sometimes what you imagine will be awesome turns out to be a real bust.  So you have to flip flop all the time, and prototype endlessly until something just clicks, and you find the fun. For both games, I’ve found the fun.  And I’m really excited about each of them.

If you look at the current games available in the Play Store, which one would you like to have developed yourself?

Tiny Tower.  I adore the graphics!   There’s just something amazing about their pixel art that I love.

The market for mobile games is changing a lot. Hardware is improving and soon we may see integration into other hardware like televisions and such. What will be the biggest change for creating mobile games looking in the future? Will there be room for smaller developers?

The biggest challenge will still be getting noticed in my opinion. As for there being room for small developers, I believe that small developers are going to be very popular in the future of gaming. Giant blockbuster games have their audience, but I personally think that smaller, artistic, game-play centric games will keep getting more and more mainstream. What I love most about the indie game development community is that we often times focus our energy on gameplay and creating bursts of fun with the little we have to work with. I personally think these games will be far more popular than any other type of game in the future. So, yes, there will be room for us :)

As mentioned before, a couple of your games have been downloaded more than 1.000.000 times. What is the reason for the success?

Dice Racers

I kind-of went over this above, but I think my previous successes were in a large part due to the fact that I was first on the scene in many cases and I came up in searches. The other factors would have to be attention to detail and polish.  I updated a lot and was unable to sleep if I knew there was a glaring bug in a game that was live. You’ll notice that many of my games have zero permission requests.  People love this, and so do I.

I also answered nearly every support email.  I did my best to help everyone that needed me.  I actually don’t get many support emails any more as the games are working quite well. The most common support request I get is how to transfer their game to a new phone, and I have a bookmarked link for that.

That’s it for our questions. Thanks Ben for answering them! Is there something you want to share with our readers?

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to do this interview.  Anyone can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/benmc or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/selticeapps if they have follow-up questions or they want to play our games.

Ben McGaughey – Seltice Systems LLC 

Seltice Systems on Google Play

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Author: Tom View all posts by
The owner of this website. Has an interest in all things related to Android and mobile gaming. Also runs a Dutch Android blog at AndroidGaming.nl.

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