MakeGamesWithUs

Learn to create iPhone games and publish your own game to the App Store.

creative direction / user experience / product

OVERVIEW

Originally named MakeGamesWithUs, Make School began as a summer program to teach developers how to make iPhone games. And, to subsidize tuition costs, the company produced and published select games in partnership with student developers. I oversaw game publishing while also mentoring and teaching students about game mechanics and UX.
Sushi Neko
A clone of Timberman I designed, used in a project-based game development tutorial.

CONDITONS

While I worked with each developer on game design as part of the educational experience, we only considered publishing a game if the developer reached a UX-polished, playable prototype. Still the idea was to make a large volume of games and I was sometimes making the art for 4-8 games at a time, with the help of freelance game artists and designers.

PROBLEMS / SOLUTIONS

The companies goal was to publish lots of games. That means we needed a lot of students making it the whole way from learning how to program a game to completing a playable prototype to finally publishing their game to App Store.

So problem #1 was always, "not enough students are completing their games". One of the most effective ways we improved completion rates/time was by making template games. And so, based on the types of games students were building, we identified 3 different types of templates to make: infinite runner (like Jetpack Joyride), puzzle (like 4 Pics, 1 Word), and multiplayer (like Words With Friends). Making template games helped speed up development time and more students were able to publish games. And since the asssets in the templates were standardized, it made making UIs much easier for our freelancers.
Endless Runner Template
We built template games to speed up development time. These were essentially working prototypes, made for modding and easy UI adaption. Menus, layouts, and UX by me. Sprites and backgrounds by Seth Byrd.
Another issue is that the types of games students often want to make are overly-complicated and hard to make. From the beginning I did a lot of coaching so as to deter a student from over-scoping their game. Our mantra was "fun, simple, remarkable". The templates also helped to limit and focus a student's game.

We ultimately created a collection of royalty-free art assets, called Sprite Hoard. We still applied UI designers as-needed, though these assets were a great option as placeholder art as well as final assets for some games.

GAMES!

In total we made UIs for about 50 games and ultimately published about 40 games. Many more were published by students without a partnership with the company! Below are just a few!
Pod Perfect
Match-three style game.
UI by Iris Martin.
Lets Hang Out
Meet-up-with-your-friends, calendar app. I did both the UX and UI of this app.
Ridiculous Climbing
Very fun game design! The character climbs up a huge wall dodging obstacles and then falls netting birds on the way down. A riff on the game Ridiculous Fishing.
UI/illustrations by Seth Byrd.