When it comes to appealing to your inner child, Journey to the Sweet Challenge doesn’t muck about. Not only does it see you going on adventures where you collect candy, but it gives you a candy house to live in too. It’s an exciting looking project boasting several fun twists on recognisable puzzle genre tropes.
The game, which is currently on Kickstarter in advance of its official release on iOS and Android, is a colorful, cartoony title featuring a large cast of original characters. It’s loosely based on Journey to the West, a 16th century Chinese novel, and in particular the character of the Monkey King.
Except in this case the goal is to accumulate as much candy as possible, which is not a feature of the original text.
Journey to the Sweet Challenge, or JTSC for short, casts you as the Master of Candy. The aim of the game is to venture out into the gameworld and complete stages, accompanied by your disciples. These loyal companions include Lollikong, Kimochu, Sugar.E, and others.
As you progress through these stages you’ll unlock new characters and win resources such as decorations, disciples, elements, candy, and more. Plus, you’ll get to see the story unfolding. You’ll also complete challenges and earn achievements.
JTSC currently contains 81 stages, and each of these is made up of 50 levels, which means there are well over 1600 to complete. You’ll never run out of stuff to do.
But when you fancy getting off the road and putting your feet up you can head right back to your candy house. Better still, you can decorate and renovate it using the loot you gather, from changing superficial elements to adding new buildings.
You can also socialise with your NPC companions, or even your human ones. Players can visit each other’s Candy Houses, as well as challenging them to various stages and cups.
On top of that there are daily missions and lucky missions. There’s so much to do, in fact, that you might conceivably decide to stay at home rather than heading out on a mission. Fortunately, you can send your disciples to do that for you.
JTSC will be out soon for iOS and Android. If the Kickstarter goes well and the stretch goals are reached, the game will come to Switch and PC too.
The Coronavirus outbreak in China has impacted the production of iPhones, and as such, Apple is expecting to make less money during the current fiscal quarter. The company is also expecting worldwide iPhone shortages.
Apple said in a statement that it no longer expects to reach its projected revenue of between $63 billion and $67 billion for its Q2 2020, which ends on March 28.
“Work is starting to resume around [China], but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated,” Apple said in a statement to GameSpot sister site CNET. “As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter.”
The Coronavirus is impacting demand for the iPhone from Chinese customers and the company’s ability to produce the phones, which is why it’s projecting revenue to decrease.
“Worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained,” Apple said. “While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province–and while all of these facilities have reopened–they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated.”
The Coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,600 people in China alone, may also lead to Nintendo Switch shortages. It remains to be seen if the PS4 and Xbox One, and the PS5 and Xbox Series X, will face production issues as a result of the Coronavirus.
The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Hey, all! Turns out that I’m accumulating enough interesting & relevant game discoverability tidbits to do a monthly update – ‘here’s some fun stuff I found on the Internet, and my comments on them’.
So this is the second one of these compendium pieces – here’s the first one. Let’s get it started!
Steam Labs & machine learning to help pick existing games to play?
Funnily enough, I was just talking at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas with other attendees about game discoverability – and their impression that platform companies had underinvested in it.
Well, I think that’s true for a lot of the ‘big guys’ like Sony & Microsoft whose game featuring is still primarily – though not solely – led by commercial concerns (do we own the studio in question? do we have a pre-existing retail relationship with them? Are we pushing a subscription service? Is their game a big hit already?) And Nintendo ain’t that sophisticated yet.
But that leaves Steam, and they’ve rolled out a new Steam Labs experiment, ‘Play Next’, which intriguingly works on titles that you already own. As they explain:
“Problem: You have a bunch of unplayed games in your Steam library, and you can’t decide what to play next. Solution: Our machine learning system helps you to choose, by suggesting the games it thinks you’ll enjoy most, among games you already own.
The Play Next experiment uses the same underlying technology that powers the Interactive Recommender, and applies it to your existing Steam library. Up to three selections are shown at a time. If the first set doesn’t quite grab your attention, you can cycle through to see other suggestions (when available).”
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think Steam has made big strides in discoverability over the past year or so. It’s one of the fairest systems out there for ‘make the right kind of game, & you can have a hit!’
Of course, you still have overwhelming numbers of games out there. But I particularly like this innovation because – sure, it’s post-purchase. But if people feel like they are managing their backlog of already-purchased games better, they may be more inclined to buy more.
Wanted to particularly highlight these two Tweets:
#1 – “In 2013 median indie games made approx. $110K and top 25% made $590K. – In 2019 median indie games made $1400, and everything below that basically $0. Top 25% made $12K, which is obviously not sustainable. – You have to be in the top 5% of indie games these days to make $413K.”
#2 – “@sergiogarces Some other quick observations from the dataset: – There are 30K games on Steam – New indie releases have levelled off. But still pretty high. – Median revenue per game has been dropping since 2013 peak but is maybe levelling out now new indie games are levelling out.”
So, wow, 30,000 games on Steam now? That’s… quite a few. The Twitter replies on this thread were also interesting, with Charles Goatley noting, in relation to the scarily diminishing median revenue: “25% of 499 games released in 2013 is 124. But 5% of 8384 in 2019 is 419. That’s 3x more games being “hits” in 2019 than in 2013.”
So maybe that might make some of you feel a little bit better? But my favorite response was from RimWorld (smash hit, folks!) dev Tynan Sylvester, who sagely noted:
“It used to be that people were mostly prevented from succeeding by gatekeepers like Steam. Now they’re fail[ing] because customers just aren’t interested in their work. The second one is more psychologically challenging, but not necessarily worse.”
“Thread about whether it’s worth doing a demo for your Steam game *pre-launch*: Devs talk a lot about doing demos for your game after it has launched, but not so much about pre-launch demos. I decided to find out for myself whether it was worth doing one ðGET READY FOR GRAPHSð.”
But if I was to TL;DR to you, I would say here’s Mike’s best attempt at a takeaway: “I learnt that demos [may] heavily reduce the number of people who wishlist your game, which seems detrimental… But then, maybe people who play the demo are more likely to buy it? I didn’t learn anything, did I”
But he concluded that he would not try a similar experiment – free Steam demo on the game’s main page – again, because it was definitely not a clear win, statistically.
The general takeaway here is – it’s not even possible to A/B test this type of thing, unlike in some other areas of F2P games or websites. And Yes, Your Grace already had buzz before this experiment – its now up to #75-ish in most wishlisted pre-release games now. So difficult to split out the demo effects from all the other variables.
But Mike did note an interesting (not necessarily Valve-endorsed) trend of making a separate game entry for a free prologue to your game – as done by Backbone – and then trying to get people to hop across to the other app to additionally wishlist your game there.
I think this CAN work, but also is a bit of a hack and will probably only work for some VERY specific types of game. We’ll see! (It’s good – and fair – that Valve doesn’t explicitly prevent this, though.)
To finish out, here’s some other neat things you might have missed:
– I know, this newsletter talks too much about Steam and not enough about other platforms. So here’s an interesting tidbit from Ars Technica about how one particular Google Stadia ‘free’ game for Stadia Pro seems to be faring. (Not great, but it’s very, very early days for Stadia, and the dev presumably got paid a lump sum anyway for inclusion.)
– Lastly, I enjoyed this Chris Zukowski article on actually talking to your customers, one on one. There’s an argument you can also or additionally do this well via surveys & Discord. But the general sentiment is correct – you need to identify (& size!) your player base and engage them, both pre and post-release.
We were scheduled to get a single free game from Epic this week, a deck-building strategy title called Faeria. But, the tides have shifted, the tables have turned, and now we’re getting a giant open-world game in one of the biggest series around.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has been added as the second free game this week on the Epic Games Store. In my review back in 2015, I praised the way Assassin’s Creed Syndicate stitched the gameplay into its narrative, how it elaborated upon Unity‘s black box assassination system, and how the story was better told through two protagonists rather than just one. I closed the review feeling optimistic about the way Syndicate would lead the direction of future Assassin’s Creed; then, Ubisoft promptly took a year off and completely overhauled the franchise with new approaches in Origins and Odyssey.
Instead, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the last of its kind. If you want to see what it was all about, it’ll be free (alongside Faeria) come Thursday February 20. Until then, you have a couple more days to snag this week’s freebies, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Aztez. The Epic Games Store took a cue from Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate‘s protagonists: Two is better than one.