December 15th, 2012 | By Miyuki Hata
Doug James, from Jaxel Studios, has recently released Shuffle 5, a game with a much smaller budget than you’d expect. He managed to release an entire Android app with $300 USD and 9 months of time.
The game itself, Shuffle 5, is a word jumble game where you are given five letters and need to unscramble them into a word. James started development by purchasing a paid template from Game Salad Helper. Don’t think that everything went smoothly though just because he used a template.
James’s goal was to create a simple game using clean graphics with a large language compatibility. He ran into several snags along the way from finding dictionaries in the proper format to getting the Game Salad Helper template to read non-standard letters. The first problem that James had to solve was that the template only included watermarked graphics. Luckily, he managed to find a willing graphics designer to work for $100 USD.
The next problem was finding dictionaries in csv format and getting them read. James hired someone to create a macro and formula to combine the dictionaries and automatically root out five letter words. At the moment there are 7 compatible languages, and there may be more in the works. If you’re interested in the dictionary files, the five letter word versions or the complete ones, you can potentially purchase them from James.
He also hired a coder to help him utilize the csv files for the dictionaries, and to fix issues with the tables in the template. In the end though, a small file, under 10mb’s, and a quick running game were maintained.
The final version of Shuffle 5 is a game with over 45,000 words, 7 languages, high score tables, and different game modes. It’s inexpensive, and quite polished. At the moment it’s even on the “Best Selling Games” list in Denmark.
What separates this app from others is that when James first started planning Shuffle 5, he asked 8 different developers in India how much money it would cost to commission a game of this magnitude developed, and the average price was around $8000 USD.
Instead, James did most of the work himself and hired three separate people at a rate of $100 each to complete the game. If you compare that cost to what it actually cost him financially, then James managed to save quite a bit of money by taking the extra time to do it himself.
It’s true that he was lucky to find people willing to work at a low rate, but a lot of the success of game development is based off of timing and James managed to accomplish a lot with a small team, and a low budget. Even his advertising campaign cost $30 and has seemed to be working well enough.
Jaxel Studios is a Denmark based small team of developers for iOS and Android. They pride themselves on making games safe for all ages and as a result avoid bad language, violence, blood, and any other graphic content. Their mindset is that they want to make apps that people can play with their children without worry.
You can find more information about James’s personal story with Shuffle 5′s development here. Shuffle 5 is available through Google Play and is currently pending approval from the App Store. Don’t forget to follow Jaxel Studios on Facebook and Twitter.
I’m also planning on reviewing the game shortly, so look forward to that soon!