Jump Legends Dev story

February 2016

 
 

The Reason

Jump Legends was conceived during my August 2015 U.S. vacation. After having created a number of trial mobile apps, I wanted to build a lasting brand. A title that would be universally recognised and that would be synonymous with evolving the endless runner genre.

There are countless endless runner games in the app stores, I’ve played plenty of them and they are a favourite amongst users. In order to stand out Jump Legends needed to improve or add new features to the genre while simultaneously providing a challenge for users, capturing their attention, and keeping them coming back for more.  Jump Legends is the compilation of a number of improvements I thought added value to this category.

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The implementation of life-like characters aided in capturing a user’s attention.  It took a month to finalize the structures of the characters. The little yellow Minions from Despicable Me were the initial inspiration. Minions are a fun, cute, and well recognised.  I wanted to replicate these traits. I remembered my youth and realised that many of us enjoyed playing with figurines or dolls during our childhood. The Jump Legends playable characters emulate these toys of our past and attempts to add the qualities displayed by Minions. The various roles/professions of each character and their defeated sound effect also build up a personality for the each model. I wanted the user to be able to relate to the characters.

The general look of the levels was inspired by Florian Porkert’s hit game Ball Jump. Ball Jump incorporated a very simple, minimal, trimetric design. I wanted to maintain the nature of these visuals as they allowed the user to focus on the obstacles present, but also to enhance them with the addition of a variety of traps and a small sample of decorative blocks. Decoration was added to give the scenes a sense of warmth and adventure. Trees and vegetation, ruins, astrological objects, and pottery helped in creating a lost temple theme. This look coupled with fluid scene transitions and animations provide a rich experience for the user. The random order of challenges instilled either joy or fear from the user (the next scene could be one with collectable stars, or a very challenging obstacle). A unique user experience was the main aim when designing the scenes, I wanted to bring forth a range of emotions from the users.

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Tap to jump. User interaction has to be very easy. This is a prerequisite for endless runners nowadays, and Jump Legends follows this format. However, instead of making the tap interaction too uniform, Jump Legends adds another level of difficulty within the same gesture. By varying the length of a tap a user can make the character jump to differing heights. The levels are designed to incorporate this feature, for users to overcome certain scenes quick reactions and thinking are required.

Like user interaction, the game objective is simple. Last as long as you can. A users score increments over they time they have spent alive. Flappy Bird is a great example where distance based objectives have worked well. A user connected to Game Centre can also post their highest score onto the Jump Legends leaderboard. Social media sharing is also available and allows the user to share their achievement. Due to the difficulty of Jump Legends, giving the users options to share their accomplishments adds to the fun.

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The Timeline

It took five months to get the first playable version of Jump Legends out and another two months polishing and tweaking it to near perfection. Build 1.0.0 was uploaded to iTunes Connect on the 5th of January. The initial four months was spent primarily on conceptualising and creating the art work and designs for the game. I've drawn a majority of Jump Legends art work on my black note book. It's pages contain some of the most earliest designs.

 

The title Jump Legends was decided in late September. There were a number of alternatives which the game could have been named such as Jump Odyssey and Jungle Jump, however Jump Legends was a name that instantly stuck.

There were a number of walls to overcome as with most game development. The biggest one was the decision to create the game with Buildbox or go native. The pros and cons listed below shows some of my thinking.

 

The decision to stick with Buildbox for the initial versions, was helped by my 2015 goal of utilising and creating a Buildbox game. Buildbox does take a lot of time off the programming side of development. The benefits of visualising your levels, and the drag and drop nature is the softwares best feature. However my programming mind had to be held back as there were many stages where coding would have functioned better at, such as object randomisation and the addition of other features (ReplayKit, analytics etc.).

Once Jump Legends was playable, the next two steps were to polish and promote. I needed to take Jump Legends far. I wanted to see it succeed, and be used by a large number of people. Having only tested the playable version myself, and not having much experience with marketing, I reached out to Buildbox Publishing. Publishing would allow me to run Jump Legends past a number of industry professionals and gain some valuable insight into their thoughts. Buildbox Publishing was a publishing section of Buildbox, promoting quality games built with their software.

I was contacted by Aaron Feliciano, Marketing Manager at Buildbox, shortly after applying for publishing. The guidance and suggestions from Aaron helped mould Jump Legends to what it is today. If you check out the version change logs Aaron assisted me with changes from B1.0.0 to B1.0.14. For those looking to release any game I strongly suggest getting experienced testers and or publishers to help polish the game, a lot of valuable information can be learned.

Jump Legends was submitted to iTunes Connect on the 11th of February. At build 1.0.19 I felt comfortable enough with the look and feel of Jump Legends to submit it for release under my own name.

Unfortunately due to 2016 goal re-alignment, Buildbox Publishing was put on hold indefinitely. I was relying on the networks that Buildbox had nurtured since their beginning to take care of a majority of the marketing aspect of release. 

I have since taken up the role of marketing, and see this challenge as a valuable experience, with the knowledge that can be gained necessary for further success of Fabled Realm titles. Please check out my blog for details on my weekly activities regarding my development days and marketing.

Thus is the development story of Jump Legends. On a final note. The most important part to this whole story is you the reader. The users are the last necessary ingredients, and are the most important. I would like to thank them all, If not for their support and feedback Jump Legends would not be as it is today.

Jump Legends is constantly evolving, stay tuned for the next exciting improvements.

 

Yours sincerely,

Eric Hein

Founder Fabled Realm