Super excitement ultra times! I released a new game for iOS and Android, GemWords. It’s a gem-popping anagram-solving supergame of some educational value.
‘Casual’ puzzle games are not well regarded in the indie game development world, especially those that involve popping gems. It all smells a bit Zynga and more than a little derivative to most, or is considered a ‘cheap’ grab for some mass appeal instead of presenting a true artistic vision baked with layers of metaphor and dripping integrity. Screw those guys. I wanted to make a game my Mum might enjoy instead of looking at thirty seconds of Pretentious Art Game IX and saying ‘well done, dear’ before forgetting about it. I wanted to make something that my wife could play on the bus without inducing epilepsy in the passenger behind. I wanted to make a game that people that don’t make games might like. I wanted to see if I could make a puzzle game that someone might buy, devoid of paygates, peer-pressure and ploughs.
I think I succeeded. The game is a little shallow once you master the (non-trivial) gem moving mechanics, but I think the mechanic has enough depth to give a good few hours of entertainment, which is sufficient for a free / $1 mobile game. The anagrams serve double purpose: providing visible progress during the gem popping round, and then as an intermission during their solving round.
You can grab the full game or the free demo version from http://www.pixelsyntax.com/gemwords
So how is it doing? The free version has had a healthy number of downloads (somewhere around ~600 at the time of writing), but hasn’t charted particularly high. To get onto the free app radar you need thousands if not tens of thousands of downloads. With so many popular free apps in circulation making it into any of the top 100 charts (and so increasing the game’s visibility) is a slim chance.
The paid version though is another story. It doesn’t take all that many sales to make it onto the charts as download numbers for paid apps are orders of magnitude smaller than those of free apps. GemWords made the top 100 Educational Games chart, reaching #35. Unfortunately this didn’t translate into many new users seeing the game. I suspect there aren’t a great deal of people specifically searching for learning fun times. But it was nice to get some visibility.
Once Apple get around to accepting a screen clipping bugfix that’s currently in their approval queue I will be uploading a version with higher resolution graphics. I’m interested to see if the act of simply updating an app triggers any new download activity.