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Indie mobile games developer currently working on Mean Machines-- an action -packed combat racer for Android. Ask me anything!

Famous Dogg Studios
Nov 30, 2017

Hi, I represent Famous Dogg Studios, a 3-member indie game studio from India. Our primary focus is a top-down action-racing game for Android called Mean Machines (download here). 

A short video demonstrating the gameplay is available here.

The Game is currently in Beta and was one of the first titles to be hand-picked by Google for their Early Access feature on the Play Store in 2016. We plan to roll out the full version of the game in December 2017.

Inspired by RC cars, robot wars and demolition derby, Mean Machines was conceptualised as a fast, fun and highly-accessible combat-racing game and we have spent a little over a year to bring the concept to reality in a compact and pick up and play format. The app has multiple game modes, loads of content to unlock and a tremendous variety in the nature of challenges and battle styles.

We are a highly data-driven team and throughout the development process, we have carefully analysed our users' interaction with content inside the app to continuously improve the gameplay and to guage interest levels for new features and content. 

The game is quite close to completion and we invite Android users to give the beta version a spin!

It is a free-to-play game with very limited advertising and all features including the AI-driven multiplayer mode, an endless play mode and an offline Season with 30 innovative and exciting challenges are all accessible in the beta.

I'd love to answer any questions about the concept, development process (programming, art) and just about anything that you'd like to know about our work. 

Thanks for reading!

https://twitter.com/famous_dogg/status/935492825801621504

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Conversation (58)

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Mean Machines' concept is based on the idea bumped cars. Right?

Dec 22, 3:45PM EST0

If there's an in-app purchase to boost your car, can we use Paypal to pay?

Dec 20, 12:56AM EST0

Mean Machines' concept is based on the idea bumped cars. Right?

Dec 19, 2:17AM EST0

If there's an in-app purchase to boost your car, can we use Paypal to pay?

Dec 18, 2:34PM EST0

What entourage and graphics did you choose for your game?

Dec 15, 4:55AM EST0

What would be your the most effective and useful tip for those who want to be successful in programming? 

Dec 10, 9:07AM EST0

I'd say to focus strongly on programming best practices- using an object oriented design wherever possible, implementing paradigms such as MVC, proper documentation of the code and generally following a style that focuses on reuse of code while minimising redundancy  

Dec 10, 9:56AM EST0

Will this be available on android?

Dec 8, 10:59PM EST0

Mean Machines' concept is based on the idea bumped cars. Right?

Dec 3, 8:47PM EST0

Yes, Ayanna-- to some extent, it is. Think of bumper cars but with a lot more action, genuine competition and plenty of explosions and bigger crashes!

Dec 4, 9:29AM EST0

What software did you use to create visual effects?

Dec 3, 7:46PM EST0

Hello Ayanna, 

Most of the graphics and visual elements of Mean Machines were done in Photoshop. We also recommend a free programme (Windows only) called Paint.NET-- it is easier to navigate and excellent for adding post-processing effects, noise etc-- nothing that you cannot already do in PS, but paint.NET is just much quicker for simpler things.

Dec 4, 9:28AM EST0

Will you be developing this game for iOS too?

Dec 2, 10:31PM EST0

Hi, at this point we are just focusing on trying to not bungle up our Android launch! It is very hard to get discovered in what's becoming an increasingly saturated marketplace so we'd only consider devoting time and resources to an iOS version if the Android version meets are expectations from a business standpoint. 

Dec 4, 9:26AM EST0

What programming languages do you know?

Dec 1, 12:35PM EST0

The programmers on our team have experience (of varying degree) on multiple programming languages through our past work/ academics etc. so we are usually quite comfortable in adopting new technologies and high-level programming languages or scripting languages etc. 

Speaking strictly for what we are working with now-- we use Java, objective C and Lua.

Dec 1, 12:50PM EST0

How did you get the idea?

Dec 1, 12:34PM EST0

It started with a vague image of what it would be like to take good old bumper cars and add a whole lot of explosions, traps and obstacles to raise the stakes!

This simple idea for a combat-racing/driving game grew into the present form of Mean Machines through a lot of refinement, research and trial and error.

Dec 1, 12:46PM EST0

How long did it take you to create this game?

Dec 1, 10:17AM EST0

How many levels and missions does this game provide?

Dec 1, 9:33AM EST0

Hi Faye,

The game's primary mode is called Season 1 which has 30 unique challenges for the users to enjoy and to discover different machines and environments. There is also an endless play mode where the user must endure the non-stop onslaught of enemy machines.

The game features a multiplayer mode as well as a series of exclusive live challenges which are updated every month with free-to-play challenges in exclusive, new environments.

Dec 1, 9:52AM EST0

How many people are in your team?

Dec 1, 9:22AM EST0

We are three people who worked on Mean Machines and have done the entire development work between ourselves. We are now gradually bringing in more people to join our team for rsponsbilities on the marketing and PR front. 

Dec 1, 9:48AM EST0

What software do you use to develop your game?

Nov 30, 9:14PM EST0

How much time did you dedicate per day to work on the project?

Nov 30, 7:00PM EST0

Hi Casey, we are full-time game devs.

Dec 1, 5:52AM EST0

Do I need real money in your game?

Nov 30, 5:51PM EST0

Hi Christine,

The game doesn't have any paywalls or points that are designed to coerce the user into paying real money-- a moderately skilled user can enjoy and beat most of the game without spending any money at all and there's always the option of watching a short video ad to get a large sum of in-game currency.

Nov 30, 5:59PM EST0

Were there times of conflicting ideas? How did you resolve the conflicts?

Nov 30, 5:08PM EST0

Hi, 

Yes, of course! I reckon there will always be conflicting opinions on even the smallest of decisions in any creative industry and it really comes down to using one's judgement to make a final decision and then backing it up with conviction and hard work. 

Regular testing with small user groups helped us to get a steady stream of quantitative data about the app's performance at every stage which we then debated and analysed subjectively within the team before reaching a consensus. 

Moulding our methods in a way that facilitated rapid generation of new prototypes and following a philosophy of continuous, iterative development were key.

Nov 30, 5:17PM EST0

What software do you use in your work?

Nov 30, 4:53PM EST0

Mean Machines was programmed in Java using the standard Android SDK and its feature set. 

A java wrapper of the Box2D physics engine powers the game's physics and a signifcant degree of abstraction of lower-level tasks such as screen composition and OpenGL rendering were handled with the help of the libGDX framework.

Last edited @ Nov 30, 4:57PM EST.
Nov 30, 4:57PM EST0

Can one player transfer their energy or power-ups to the next player?

Nov 30, 4:40PM EST0

Hi,

No, unfortunately. To be fair though, that's something you will only find in MMORPGS and other predominently multiplayer games. Mean Machines is mainly a casual mobile game and currencies, power-ups etc are all recorded locally on the user's device with no possiblity of being transferred to other profiles/ users. 

Nov 30, 4:55PM EST0

Can the player participate even if they are in another location?

Nov 30, 11:01AM EST0

How many levels does the game have and how do we move up one level?

Nov 30, 10:49AM EST0

As the developers, how can you monetize this project?

Nov 30, 10:43AM EST0

Since the game is currently in a late Beta stage and we haven't done a planned and calcualted soft-launch yet, it is hard to say with conviction that our ads-based monetisation system will be successful in the long term and provide a sustained revenue stream.

So far, the ads' placement and timing have looked promising based on our trial runs but we'll learn more and optimise our approach with time. 

Nov 30, 2:13PM EST0

Apart from games, do you do any other development.

Nov 30, 7:46AM EST0

Currently we are focusing only on mobile games. We do occasionally take up projects for clients for game development or design of UI, icons and other creatives for their existing applications. Client projects, however, are not the mainstay of our business and we mostly develop games that we conceptualise. 

Nov 30, 8:01AM EST0

Is this your first such project? Do you already have a new project in the plans?

Nov 29, 4:01PM EST0

Hi!

We did a very basic endless runner called Doggie Run for mobile as an experimental project when I first set up the Studio-- this was to learn the finer aspects of the industry before setting out to build a team and work on more advanced games.

Mean Machines is our main focus at this point and is our first serious project, as well as the first racing/action that we've done. 

We are taking some time away from this genre and have already started to work on an innovative, casual endless running game where the player picks a predator and runs through a densely populated forest and chases down prey.

I'm including a prototype for the look and feel that we're trying to achieve in this game. This is a very early example and the final version will have more advanced and balanced graphics but I'd love to hear what you think :)

Last edited @ Nov 29, 4:52PM EST.
Nov 29, 4:50PM EST0

Will there be some in-app purchase?

Nov 29, 9:15AM EST0

Hi, yes, there are a few for buying extra virtual currency. We do not plan on adding more-- the game is free to play and we're mostly relying on ads for monetisation.

Nov 29, 9:21AM EST0

If there's an in-app purchase to boost your car, can we use Paypal to pay?

Nov 29, 7:36AM EST0

Hello, thanks for you question!

The game features something called Performance Kits which become available after the user has completed the first 6 challenges in the Season. These kits can be used to boost the speed of your machine, add more armour and even perform high-speed, rampless jumps to fly over incoming enemy machines!

The in-app purchases have a pack that can be bought for less than $2 which reduces the costs of all Performance Kits by 50% (in terms of the virtual currency of the game). 

We use Google Payments for in-app purchases and I do not believe that they let you use Paypal.

Nov 29, 7:57AM EST0

How long did it take you to develop the game to its beta version?

Nov 29, 7:03AM EST0

Hi Paul, 

I haven't been counting the exact amount of time to be honest with you! Some of the phases especially early on (such as preparing some design mockups, laying out the high-level structure of the code etc) are typically run in parallel to other projects so it is hard to attribute an exact duration of time to those. 

That being said, it roughly took us 15 months to develop the game from the stage of a very rough concept with sketchy, hand-drawn art to where it presently is. Some personnel changes during the development did slow us down but I'm glad to report that our team is now very stable and we are now as efficient as we've ever been. 

Nov 29, 8:07AM EST0

After all the bumping and power-ups, how does a player win the level?

Nov 29, 6:56AM EST0

Hi and thanks for your question

There are around 14 very different and unique types of challenges in Mean Machines and they further have variations in the strength of enemy machines, number of enemies, time allowed to the user to defeat the enemies etc so overall, the objective of the game varies from one level to the next.

The general concept in most levels is to battle a set number enemy machines and destroy them all to win and progress to the next level. 

Environmental features, traps, explosives, power-ups etc play their part throughout game which is sometimes intended to aid the user and in other scenarios, to pose an additional challenge!

Nov 29, 8:13AM EST0

What are the costs involved in the development?

Nov 29, 5:58AM EST0

Hi, thanks for your question!

We are a small team and have a fairly diverse experience of working on mulitple programming languages and technology suites between ourselves so we were able to make this work to our advantage by not needing to invest (not at the initial stages, at least) in expensive licenses for game-engines or other assisting technolgies. Mean Machines was mainly programmed from the ground up in Java and we used open-source or free frameworks and wrappers for certain features in the game . We owe our gratitude for the team at Badlogic whose libGDX libraries have proved rather helpful (http://www.badlogicgames.com/wordpress/)

The main costs were related mostly to business activities-- renting a workspace, bills, salaries etc. 

Being a small unit, each individual is responsible for an entire department such as programming, design/ animation etc but we also share duties when it comes to marketing and promotion of our work and have mostly done this organically on social media, so far. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions that you may have about which platforms we rely on and to what extent. Cheers!

Nov 29, 6:20AM EST0

If AI is operating the other cars, how smart can they be?

Nov 29, 5:58AM EST1

Hi Maria,

The AI techniques that we are presently using in the game are not fully autonomous and for the most part, the AI players or machines use a set of parameters to evaluate their situation in the game at regular intervals and then adapt their policies or actions from a predefined set of possibilities that have been programmed into their behaviour.

We use our understanding of the game and its mechanics to determine the skill level of the human player and tone the AI down by allowing it to make non-optimum decisions to allowe the users a fair chance at beating a challenge. At their best, AI machines will almost be unbeatable by even the most experienced players despite the fact that we do not use any cheats such as allowing them to go faster or by negating damage incurred by the AI. 

Hope I've answered your question. 

Last edited @ Nov 29, 6:27AM EST.
Nov 29, 6:26AM EST0

Can we also access and enjoy the game without the internet?

Nov 29, 4:47AM EST0

Hi, yes you can!

To keep network use limited and to make the game appeal to a wider, more global audience, we consciously moved to restrict online elements to simple network-interactions such as fetching live scores, leaderboards, profile images etc. The actual gameplay is always simulated locally on the user's device and 2 of the 4 main game modes do not require the user to be connected to the internet at all.

Hope this answers your questions.

Nov 29, 6:07AM EST0

Is there a desktop version or is it only applicable for smartphones/iPhones?

Nov 28, 11:05PM EST0

Hi and thanks for your question. 

Our development process is such that we first essentially create a desktop app (windows, OS X) for the projects that we work on but the focus is to deploy on mobile so the dimensions of the viewport, controls, physics, gameplay, UI and most importantly, all third-party integrations and services such as leaderboards, social-media etc are all developed specifically for mobile.

Simply put, the public version of Mean Machines is presently only available for Android but we will consider (and look forward to) opportunities on more platforms, with time. 

Nov 29, 6:12AM EST0
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