Bionic Power Bird is a simplistic game. You click the screen and he flies up. Do nothing he slowly descends until he crashes and dies. There’s a random assortment of obstacles to avoid and the score rises the longer you survive. But this seemingly simple formula is a technological opioid. People became so hooked on this formula they’ve been downloading this game like crazy.
Bionic Power Bird
Bionic Power Bird started out as a personal challenge to start making video games. Game design and making is something I’ve dreamed of doing since my early teens. I’ve self studied programming and the arts of many programming languages (C/C++, Python, C#…). But location, the need for a “real” job and my love for playing video games kept this dream lost and locked away. I had even sold the idea of “Episodic” and DLC games to a venture capitalist who then ran off with these ideas. But that was so long ago.
I later was suckered into a Facebook ad for “Build Box 2.0” a drag and drop game design studio that could export to mobile and all these other platforms. I decided to give it a try as the longer I waited the further from my dream I’d go. They had templates for all sorts of games for mobile. But for me personally, I don’t sit down to play a game on mobile, I game in small 3 minute slices of my day to get through a boring situation or occupy my time while waiting in line. Games that I love, like Baldur’s Gate, Bard’s Tale or even the GTA series, don’t play well on mobile. XCOM is to this day the best PC to mobile port I’ve seen. Point being, I wanted a simple formula, that was easy to play in short slices of time, yet was challenging and captivating enough to play over and over again.
The past Inspires the Future
I hate the idea of “clones”, they never do as well as the original and oftentimes the market is flooded with them leading to no chance to success. But the best formula for success in mobile is Flappy Bird. So swallowing my pride and dignity I used this as a template for Bionic Power Bird. I grabbed some art (I suck in the art department) and found the perfect lead character, put it all together and Bionic Bird was born. The next ordeal was figuring out how to compile for iTunes and Google Play store. An entire weekend was lost just doing this, despite the detailed instructions left by the BuildBox team. I had to create a MacOS VirtualBox (I’ll gladly accept donations of MacBooks).
After wading through Hackbook and a variety of ways to install Mac on PC, getting XCode installed, I was finally there. Nope. iTunes is a spider web of confusion for first time publishers. I had to create a profile, game name and certificates on Developers, then publish the game through iTunes Connect. There was no sleep that entire weekend into Monday, a real work day. But I learned the ropes and my Flappy Bird Clone (ugh) was uploaded. I didn’t bother to market or advertise, because this was simply my practice game.
Enter Rocket Shark
Having a published game under my belt, it was time to make the real game. I scoured the internet looking for 2D assets and things to make an interesting game. I found a shark with a jetpack and it was love. With Flappy Bird Simplicity, Mario style levels and epic soundtrack, I worked on Rocket shark for months. Update after update was released, fixing and improving levels, adding level unlocks and the works. Rocket Shark was a fun masterpiece. A really fun game, with multiple levels that no one plays.
The Unexpected Success
Bionic Power Bird just sat in the Google Play and iTunes store, completely ignored and neglected. But somewhere, somehow people started discovering it. I was spending a a fortune on Facebook ads for Rocket Shark, frustratingly going broke on a game no one was downloading without begging. But then Bionic Bird exploded in popularity. Months of being completely idle later, people started to download Bionic Power Bird. The Chaos Rift Gaming facebook page was filling up with likes and activity.
While both games are free, Bionic Power Bird is simply a hit. It was humbling, a huge surprise and completely unexpected.
All I can really say is: thank you!