PG Connects speaker spotlight: Tim Wicksteed, Twice Circled

Get a handle on your game's scope and think small!

PG Connects speaker spotlight: Tim Wicksteed, Twice Circled

It's just weeks to go before Pocket Gamer Connects 2014.

Our first conference will be held in London on 20-21 January - you can find out more details here.

So to whet your appetite, we're finding out more about some of our speakers.

Tim Wicksteed runs one-man indie game studio Twice Circled, based in Bristol, UK.

Launch at the start of 2013, Tim's first commercial release, a space RTS called Ionage, was released for Android in the summer. He also maintains a number of open source Android libraries to help with game development.

Pocket Gamer: What do you think has been the most significant event for mobile games during 2013?

Tim Wicksteed: That's a tough one. 2013 was my first year as a full-time indie so my perspective of the market has changed dramatically over the year.

I think one trend for 2013 has been the release of new hardware. With the latest generation of dedicated gaming consoles - Xbox One and PS4 - and the first microconsoles - Ouya and GameStick - all hitting the shelves, not to mention curve balls such as the Nvidia Shield and Oculus Rift, we have more choice than ever before in how, where and when we play games.

Although none of these are mobile devices (with the exception of Shield), they will no doubt shake-up the whole games industry as gamers and indeed developers migrate between hardware.

What will be the biggest challenges and opportunities in 2014?

I think the biggest challenge for everyone making games in mobile at the moment is the rising cost of user acquisition.

I suppose the biggest opportunity will be finding a way to attract users without paying for them.

How will indie developers fare? Any advice?

There's bound to be some breakaway hits in the indie scene, there always is! But for the majority of developers, I think 2014 is going to be even tougher than 2013 in the mobile space.

My advice to indies is to not try to compete with the big boys; find your own corner of the market and concentrate on that. Forget about trying to get high in the charts and concentrate on directing users to download your game directly from your site or via reviews/articles in gaming news sites.

The downside of this strategy is that there is a limit both on time (how long your game's release is newsworthy) and volume (how many gamers read the sites you target), so more than ever it's important to get a handle on your game's scope and think small!

Also take advantage of the cross platform tools that are out there to widen your net. It's totally possible to sell 1,000-5,000 copies of your game so if you can develop it in just a few months then you'll be getting a respectable return on your time.

How big do you think the East-meets-West opportunity is, and which markets are you most excited about in 2014?

Ionage was a F2P game which is huge in the Asian markets so that's where I'm most interested in exploring.

As well as the potential to reach new audiences, I think there are a number of opportunities stemming from the differences in culture. For example, genres that are less-common in Eastern nations.

What are you expecting to learn from attending Pocket Gamer Connects?

I'm eager to learn more about accessing the Eastern markets. Plus I'm looking forward to meeting other developers, publishers and no doubt some of the wonderful folk from Pocket Gamer!

What were your favourite mobile games of 2013?

I really like the 'choose your own adventure games' made with the Choice Of Games engine. I recently finished Zombie Exodus by Jim Dattilo, which is probably my favourite.

It's amazing that a completely text-based game can put you on edge. One night, playing alone in the house, I had to get up to check the front door was locked after hearing an ominous noise.

Finally, what's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you enforce on the industry?

My New Year's resolution is to take more weekends off!

As for the rest of the industry, I would force platform holders to have charts based on ratings instead of download numbers, and revenue per user instead of total revenue (for F2P games).

In other words based on quality rather than quantity.

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Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.