For game developers of all skill levels, the mobile market has been something of a frontier where new ideas and concepts can be brought to a wider audience. With the success of games like Angry Birds and Pokemon Go, among others, many independent developers are using mobile releases as an opening to a larger industry.
Among those studios looking to make a mark on the virtual marketplace is Sherman-based Archelyte Entertainment Studios, which recently released its first game for both Android and iPhone. Trey Van Zandt, project director, lead artist and lead programmer for the three-person studio, came up with the idea for the studio nearly three years ago, but only recently made that dream a reality.
“We quickly realized what we had in mind was going to be bigger and more expensive than we originally anticipated,” Van Zandt said recently during a break from his day job as a web developer. “I’ve had the idea to go into game development since I was 10.”
It was about nine months ago that the development of the studio and its first game, “Ninja Surf,” began to gain momentum, he said.
“You play as a ninja riding a missile through space for an unexplained reason,” Van Zandt said with a laugh.
For his first game, he said he took inspiration from 2011’s “Jetpack Joyride,” which follows an unnamed protagonist riding a jet pack through a mysterious science lab. With his game, Van Zandt said he wanted to give players the ability to control which direction the character rides in using finger controls.
For the studio’s first few releases, Van Zandt said he wanted to focus on the mobile market due to its cost effectiveness both from a release and development standpoint. However, his end goal is to become a developer and publisher for console games, he said.
“What has opened up indie developers to be able to even get a foot in the door was the mobile market,” he said, noting the market allowed for ideas that many publishers wouldn’t consider. “Publishers do what is safe.”
Despite the low cost of a mobile release, Van Zandt said the market comes with its own hurdles, most notably how saturated the medium is with other products. For the weeks leading up to release, Van Zandt said he was focusing on the marketing for the game.
As another way to increase exposure, Van Zandt said the studio plans to use a free-to-play model, with features and bonuses unlockable through currency that can be purchased with real money or through game play. In other games, certain items and features can only be purchased using real money. In-game ads will also be used as a secondary revenue generator, he said.
“Every single aspect of the game can be unlocked in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.
For its second release, Van Zandt said the studio is looking at releasing a mobile puzzle game titled Power Pipe Mayhem, with a tentative release set for November 2017. For its third release, Archelyte plans to release StarCore, a computer game focused on spaceship creation and development.