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Browser games are the main type of games created by Nitrome. After failing to enter the mobile phone market, Nitrome's first flash game was created to see if income could be brought in from them, and fortunately this worked. Browser games serve as Nitrome's main source of revenue, and have been since the release of Hot Air the main type of games Nitrome creates, these games working with advertisements to generate revenue for Nitrome.

Browser games encompass a large variety of genres, ranging from action to puzzle games, though the main type of genre Nitrome focuses on is puzzle. Though the development time varies, they currently range from one to three months. Mat Annal oversees the development of all Nitrome games.

History

Nitrome started making browser games after the abandonment of the mobile version of Chick Flick [1][2]. Nitrome's first flash game was Hot Air, and despite it not making as much money as commissioned work[3], it still allowed for the production of further browser Nitrome games.[4] Nitrome has continued to make browser games to the present day.

Markup language

All of Nitrome's browser games are in Flash, though Nitrome will eventually be making games in Unity.[5] This interest in Unity was previously not shared by Nitrome, as Unity was previously seen as having no advantages over Flash.[6]

Nitrome is currently not interested in HTML5 due to unfamiliarity with it.[7]

For the Nitrome Jam because there was more freedom in terms of what markup language/game engine could be used, some Nitrome games were made in different software: some were in Flash, one was in HTML5, and the rest were in Unity. The Nitrome Jam served as the first time a Nitrome game was made that was browser based but not in Flash, and also the first time Nitrome made a Unity game.

Game development

Development time

The current development time of Nitrome's flash games varies greatly, usually taking two to three months to make, although Nitrome sometimes manages to create a game in a single month, such as (but not limited to) icon games.[8] Nitrome's development time has varied throughout their years of being active. Early on, from from the release of Hot Air (late 2005) to 2007 it took around a month (four weeks[9]) to create a game[10][11], which later shifted to six weeks, eight weeks if the game had to be developed longer.[9] Game development soon became longer, ranging from one to three months to make a game and on average a game being completed in ten weeks[12].

While Nitrome often sticks to a regular development time for games, some games have taken much longer to develop than most games, Steamlands for instance taking six months to make[13] and Nitrome Must Die taking a similar amount of time[14]. Originally, it was thought that longer development of a game would result in more income from ad revenue, however, this proved to not be the case[15], though Nitrome will sometimes still spend more time making some games if the game is enjoyable to work on.[16]

The length of game development, and also the length of a game are determined by ad revenue, specifically, the amount of time that can be spent on the game[17] and what the game can be expected to make back in ad revenue[18]. The budget for individual games are smaller than what Mat Annal was paid when hired by companies to make games[19].

-Although the ideas for most Nitrome games come from Mat Annal [20][21][22], he allows all staff members to submit ideas for games as well.[23][24] To keep track of ideas, all staff members have books where they can write down their ideas, and every month a meeting is held where these game ideas are discussed. [25] [26] Before game ideas can be worked on, they first have to be approved by Mat Annal[27] and upon being approved they can be worked on once that team has finished their current project. Once development on the idea starts, further ideas for the game are brainstormed with others in the office[28]. Ideas may sometimes change dramatically throughout development based on how the game may work when the game's basic controls are programmed into the game and can be used.[29]

Nitrome avoids using mature content in their games, as they do not want to lose their already large audience, as it was their family friendly attitude at the start which allowed them to gain such a diverse audience.[30] Still, Nitrome does sometimes create games with dark themes in them, such as Final Ninja or Nitrome Must Die, though even in these games mature content is avoided.[31] Despite the absence of dark games in recent years, Nitrome still is open to creating games of this type.[32]

Many of Nitrome's earlier flash games used to be coded in ActionScript 2, but since then Nitrome has moved to coding games in ActionScript 3 through Flash Develop[33]. Game art is created with Photoshop[34][35] and depending on the preference of the artist sprites can either be animated in Photoshop[35] or with Promotion[34][35]. Music is created with Logic Pro. In recent years most tools for Nitrome games are created directly at Nitrome[36], such as level editors for different games and game engines[37], though for some of their earlier games Nitrome has used Box 2D to handle physics more complicated than other games.

References

  1. Pocket Gamer: Studio Profile: Nitrome: Rather than search for new clients, Nitrome returned to work on a project it had begun before the BBC contract came along, a mobile title created in J2ME called Chick Flick. Yet in the time between the conception of the game and Nitrome's return to it, the market had changed. "Because we'd taken so long to do it, we had the likes of Gameloft that were really aggressive in that space, as well as all the Ubisoft ports to compete against. "We thought, 'You know what? Nobody's even going to see our game.' So we reluctantly gave up on that idea and said, 'Okay, well we know Flash...'", 18 July 2013, retrieved 8 September 2014.
  2. Game Developer's Blog - Nitrome: Memory Lane: Chick Flick!: We gave up on it [Mobile Chick Flick] ultimately as we realised [sic] we did not have the funds we needed to market it., 22 November 2013, retrieved 12 July 2014.
  3. gotoAndPlay(): spotLight: Nitrome: Our first game was Hot Air which did ok but didn’t really make the sort of money we were used to getting from client commissioned work., 27 June 2007, retrieved 8 Sept 2014.
  4. Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Three Quarter Dpad - Steamlands: The Interview: We made a game (Hot Air) to show what we could do to prospective clients and to see if we could sell enough licenses to gaming sites to cover the cost of making it. To our surprise we did so we made more and the rest is history!, 7 May 2011, retrieved 8 September 2014.
  5. Game Developer's Blog - Nitrome: Bump Battle Royal Fan art! → Comment by Jon Annal: We are playing around with unity. So you can expect some future Nitrome games to be using unity., 9 July 2014, retrieved 9 July 2014.
  6. Jay is Games: Link Dump Friday №247: We [Nitrome] have nothing against other web technologies but at the moment we see no advantages to using HTML5 or Unitly. [sic], 32 Dec 2014, retrieved 10 Sep 2014.
  7. Nitrome on Twitter: [1]: @gladel not really. It's tons of work to port and html5 is not something were that into....maybe with Unity5., 5 Sep 2014, retrieved 10 Sep 2014.
  8. Game Developer's Blog - Nitrome: Mobile Page Update → Comment by Nitrome:: It's hard to be too accurate as we do them at all sorts of lengths. Usually 2-3 months. Occasionally we manage something in around a month still though like the icon games for example., 16 July 2014, retrieved 17 July 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 fgl: Chat Event - Nitrome: → [Mat Annal] nitromemat: rocketman - we used to spend around 4 weeks now it is more like 6 or occassionally [sic] 8 if it slips, 23 June 2009, retrieved 8 September 2014.
  10. Jay is Games: Nitrome stylesheet and interview!: [Jay] How long do you usually spend working on a single game? Do you focus on one title at a time or rotate projects on a daily/weekly basis?
    [Mat Annal] In general we just work on one game at a time and we try to spend a month on each game...we do have the occasional side projects that we take on at the same time though so then it involves a bit of juggling.
    , 4 June 2007, retrieved 17 Sept 2014.
  11. ': Matthew Annal (Nitrome) Interview: FreeGamesNews: How much time did it take to develop your two first games, Hot Air and Sandman?
    Mat: All of our games roughly take the same amount of time to make which is about a month.
    , ? ? 2006, retrieved 17 Sept 2006.
  12. Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: A game can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to develop... As more of our games seem to be bigger now on average I would say most games take around 10 weeks to complete., 22 November 2011, retrieved 17 Sept 2014.
  13. Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Three Quarter Dpad - Steamlands: The Interview: It [Steamlands] ended up taking about 6 months in total to develop., 7 May 2011, retrieved 30 August 2014.
  14. Jay is Games: Link Dump Friday №247: In direct answer to your question Steamlands was by far the biggest title we have ever taken on (though Nitrome Must Die took a long time too). [...] Interestingly we learnt [sic] this lesson from Steamlands but still went on to spend almost as much time on Nitrome Must Die [...], 23 December 2014, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  15. Jay is Games: Link Dump Friday №247: Unfortunately I think the biggest lesson we have learnt [sic] with our bigger games is that spending more time on them really does not lead to much if any extra revenue., 23 December 2011, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  16. Jay is Games: Link Dump Friday №247: Interestingly we learnt [sic] this lesson from Steamlands but still went on to spend almost as much time on Nitrome Must Die so perhaps we will stubbornly still do it on occasion just for the reward of the game we get to make., 23 December 2011, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  17. Jay is Games: Link Dump Friday №247: When ad revenue dictates the time you can afford to spend on a game..., 23 December 2011, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  18. Pocket Gamer: Studio Profile: Nitrome: "We wanted to make something bigger than we have been able to make with our Flash games, which were constrained by a ceiling of what we might expect to get as a return in advertising,", 18 July 2013, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  19. Gamespy: Indie Spotlight #2: Flash, Bang, Boom: He [Mat Annal] also acknowledges that these funding models have a more limited return, and you have to learn to work within a smaller budget. [smaller in this case referring to the budget being smaller than the budget Mat received when he was working contract] ', 17 August 2010, retrieved 9 August 2014.
  20. Gamasutra: Interview: Nitrome's Annal on Keeping Their Retro Flash Game Ideas Fresh: I do still come up with a lot of the ideas myself [...], 2 August 2010, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  21. Pocket Gamer: Studio Profile: Nitrome: "I find it a little uncomfortable to say that I come up with most of the ideas... but I do come up with most of the ideas.", 18 July 2013, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  22. Gamasutra: We ask indies: Aaron Steed, creator of Ending and Red Rogue: [Aaron Steed:] A lot of the stuff we do at Nitrome is out of Mat Annal's head., 8 January 2014, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  23. Gamasutra: Interview: Nitrome's Annal on Keeping Their Retro Flash Game Ideas Fresh: But I think that the reason we manage to get so many good ideas is more down to us opening it up, so that everyone in the team gets chance to pitch in their thoughts and be able to bounce ideas off each other., 2 August 2010, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  24. fgl: Nitrome - ActionScript programmer Job (London): At Nitrome every team member gets to put their own input and ideas into the games we make, so if you if you want to make some quality games with the benefits of a regular salary and top of the range artwork this could be the job for you., 29 July 2008, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  25. ': We ask indies: Aaron Steed, creator of Ending and Red Rogue: [Aaron Steed:] Him [Mat Annal] and his brother carry "idea books" around and have something of a process for constant game ideas., 8 January 2014, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  26. Gamasutra: Interview: Nitrome's Annal on Keeping Their Retro Flash Game Ideas Fresh: We have a monthly meeting where we sit round and discuss what we have came up with, and we each keep little books so we can write them down when we think of them… [...], 2 August 2010, retrieved 19 July 2014.
  27. Gamespy: Indie Spotlight #2: Flash, Bang, Boom: "We [Nitrome] primarily work in teams of two, and when a team is ready to start a new project, they pick from the ideas we [Mat Annal, the artist, and the programmer] have approved together...", 17 August 2010, retrieved 21 July 2014.
  28. fgl: Chat Event - Nitrome: nitromeheather: Hardcircle: We tend to have two people working on a game at once - one artist and one programmer. We agree on an idea at the start and then try to brainstorm ideas with everyone in the office. It then takes between 3 and 8 we [weeks], 8 July 2009, retrieved 21 July 2014.
  29. Jay is Games: Nitrome stylesheet and interview!: We usually have a pretty set idea of what we are trying to achieve with the core concept and that usually ends up playing how we envisaged but we try not to pin the actual levels or elements down too tight early on and they usually evolve quite a bit based on what we think the game plays like when we have the basic controls working., 4 June 2007, retrieved 22 July 2014.
  30. Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: Really it makes sense to keep your potential audience as wide as possible and it just happened that our first games had no blood and were very family friendly..., 22 November 2011, retrieved 22 July 2014 (page crawled 7 June 2012).
  31. Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: [...] when we diversified a little with our themes with some being a little darker we tried not to do anything that was going to spoil what we had already made… [...], 22 November 2011, retrieved 22 July 2014 (page crawled 7 June 2012).
  32. Game Developer's Blog - Nitrome: Happy Friday = D → Comment by Jon Annal (jon): Nope we haven't stopped making "darker games"., 12 July 2014, retrieved 23 July 2014.
  33. 'Internet Archive Wayback Machine': Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: ...the games get written using Flash Develop., 22 November 2011, retrieved 25 July 2014.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: The art is handled either in a combination of Photoshop and Promotion depending on the artists preference and what he is doing,..., 22 November 2011, retrieved 25 July 2014.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 Flashjolt: Interview with Nitrome’s Matt: Matt: We use Photoshop for all the pixel art and some of the team use Promotion to animate where as others just animate directly in Photoshop., 18 May 2010, retrieved 25 July 2014.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Startfrag - Interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director at Nitrome: ...most tools we have built up ourselves over time so we have our own custom level editors for example., 222 November 2011, retrieved 25 July 2014.
  37. Aaron Steed on Twitter: [2]: Made a new Nitrome platformer with @Mis_BUG http://www.nitrome.com/games/superstocktake/ … - the physics engine was a nightmare, but the end result was fun, 19 March 2013, retrieved 25 July 2014.
  38. Flashjolt: Interview with Nitrome's Matt: Originally it was definitely Sponsorship that produced most of it with Ads, Licensing and Royalties being a welcome but small amount on top. Now though most of our money comes from the advertising….it’s amazing to see just how much that part of our business has grown over time!, 18 May 2010, retrieved 30 August 2014.

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