I have been playing video games since I was four years old. I have played retro classics from Super Mario World to Pacman and modern masterpieces like Skyrim and Rocket League. I grew up alongside these games, during the largest leap in game development and technology to date. Graphics went 3D then HD, televisions got slimmer and by the end of the first decade in this millennium more games were being developed for phones than all dedicated gaming devices put together. Games have shaped the way I look at the world; they have become a part of me.
I don’t recall my first gaming experience. I was lucky to have older brothers who not only purchased many great PC titles but put an emulator on our computer to run hundreds of NES and SNES games. I had endless hours of fun playing game after game, bingeing Harvest Moon, and conquering enemies in both Warcraft 1 & 2. It was easily my favorite pastime; while my brothers all enjoyed video games, I loved them!
I didn’t always play to my maturity level; in the same day, I could play Putt-Putt Travels Through Time or GTA. I played whatever I could get my hands on, which was a lot of games. I played many games to completion but found myself cycling through titles searching for only those with the most engaging mechanics or story lines.
As I went through elementary school, I discussed games with friends. I denounced rumors of China already having Halo 7 or that Michael, the kid who sniffed glue, had an uncle who “worked for Nintendo”. After school I focused less on homework and more on completing levels or unlocking characters. One of my favorite memories was a moment during a vocabulary test when I knew the definition of the word “adjacent” only because I had heard the sound bite “MUST BE PLACED ADJACENT TO THE GRANARY” every time I didn’t place a granary touching another one in Stronghold Crusader.
My love for video games continued through junior high- to the point where I started coming up with my own game ideas and writing rough game design docs. However, that love started dwindling as I got into high school and my time was spent more with friends, and games became an after thought. Occasionally I would hang out with a friend from elementary school, who I truly didn’t believe when he told me he had Halo 3 nearly a month before release. His dad actually worked for a computer hardware manufacturer and they had computers and parts all over their house. They also had modded or flashed all their consoles so they basically had every game in existence.
I loved going over to his house, playing the newest games, setting up our own server and playing CoD4 with all his friends. Unfortunately my friends didn’t want to do that kind of thing, so as high school went on I spent less and less time with this friend, and I stopped playing video games almost entirely.
High school came to an end and so did many of my relationships with various friends as they went off to college, moved out of state or just became too busy with jobs or girlfriends. I had messed around with programming iOS applications during the boom of the AppStore and made a few subpar applications. On a snowboarding trip I took with some friends, I read the infamous tweet by Dong Nguyen.
I hadn’t worked on a mobile game in over a year, but I saw this as an opportunity to jump at my very “original” idea of making a flappy bird clone. No one else thought of that, right? I developed the game and art assets in three days and sent it to Apple on February 11th. It takes generally about a week or so for Apple to review and process an application, so on February 19th… Flappy Chick was born!
Between submitting the app and its launch, twenty other Flappy Bird doppelgängers were released via Apples AppStore alone. That being said, Flappy Chick did surprisingly well with over 50,000 downloads in the first week. Ad revenue brought in about $600, which wasn’t bad, but the game could have been more profitable had the $0.99 ad free version released the same day. Due to issues creating a Licensed Partnership, the paid version wasn’t able to be released and that is why my name “Austin Farnsworth” was shown on the AppStore instead of “Klick Ink L.P.” (my company’s name).
The following week no less than 2,000 more Flappy Bird clones came on the scene, and my downloads plummeted to under 30,000 and revenue to $400. The paid version finally released, but by then the craze was over. The app capped at nearly 100,000 downloads and netted me about $3,000. This “success” prompted me to spend my free time developing many more mobile games with simple mechanics. None of the next 10 games I launched performed anywhere near as well, so I ended up shutting down Klick Ink L.P. in early 2015, and the apps were all removed from the AppStore April 2016 when I didn’t pay to enroll another year in Apple’s developers program.
Summer 2015 I created a prototype for a game that I came up with in 2008 that is based on a favorite flash game I used to play. I expanded the concept with several artistic changes and game redesigns, but for now I have put that project on hold. My hope is to resume production on the game sometime next year. I don’t want to reveal much about the game so as to not fall victim to overselling a game. What I will say is the game is a 2D modern world RPG that focuses on comedy, community puzzles and a fun grind as its incentivizing mechanics. My hope is to have cross platform save files and a Virtual Reality port that is activated by taking a pill- like in The Matrix.
So… why am I writing a blog and not working on the game?
Well, first, it is much easier to write this article than to make a game. With no money or partners involved, getting the full game to come to fruition in a timely manner just doesn’t seem possible. I’m not Scott Cawthon, okay!
The second reason I am doing this is to generate buzz or to attract others to the project early on. I need a new artist, but- more importantly- I need fans. Individuals who are interested in my work. I saw with mobile games that the market is just too saturated for anyone to ever see your game. Unless I have thousands of dollars for advertisement, no one will ever play my game even if I were to finish it. So I am taking a different approach.
I also want to reinvent myself and my company. I want to have an open dialog with anyone who comes across my work and be totally open and transparent about my projects going forward.
The final reason I am making this blog is simple: I love video games. I consider myself a gamer, but it seems at times like I am the only one who still really enjoys video games. I know this isn’t true, but there has become so much negativity surrounding video games. Every complaint anyone has ever made about any video game ever is by default a “first world problem”. So then why is there so much toxicity and rage amongst players? Why so much vitriol directed toward developers and publishers? The only truly positive voice I have seen online is Extra Credits.
I would like to join them as a positive voice and share why I still unabashedly love video games despite the problems this industry is facing. With the dozens of broken games, micro-transactions, lack of support and developer’s lies, I would like to weigh in as to why some hatred may be unwarranted, or at least offer the perspective of a long time gamer and budding developer.
Follow me, and I will show you the world of gaming through my eyes.