The engineering team here at MeeWow is only two people -- my co-founder, Joe Trdinich, and me. Despite both having computer science degrees (we met in undergrad at Carnegie Mellon University), we come from pretty different professional backgrounds. Joe has been a software engineer for his entire career, however, he’d been focused on server technologies and had never built a game. I had a couple of jobs that involved some software engineering work (mostly writing testing tools) but had also never coded a game from scratch. So, there’s no doubt that we’ve both learned a lot about how to build games during our time with Tap Empire!
Both Joe and I have more experience building software than with any other aspects of running a mobile game studio (or any other type of company for that matter -- MeeWow is the first company either of us has started!). So, the biggest hurdle hasn’t been actually building the game, but instead, we’ve realized that we needed to spend a lot of our time leveling up our skills and knowledge related to marketing. We didn’t have good answers to questions like, “How can we get people to know our game exists?” and are learning more every day about how to grow and scale up the business. We also discovered that we have a lot to learn about user experience/interface design, and often find ourselves iterating on the best and clearest ways to communicate information about the game to our players.
Ben is the co-founder and CEO of MeeWow Games. He co-created Tap Empire with his business partner & MeeWow Games’ CTO Joe Trdinich.
I’ll always love Plants vs. Zombies, a game that I was fortunate to work on while I was at PopCap. I was the producer of the iOS version and learned a lot about designing highly polished games during the project. Peggle, another PopCap game, is a favorite of mine too. I’m often using various communication tools on my phone (Slack, Messenger, Discord, etc), and typically try to check out at least a few new and interesting games every week on both my phone and tablet.
The original design ideas for Tap Empire came together in mid-2016. Joe and I wrote the first line of code for the game in October of that year, and we formed MeeWow Games in January of 2017 to pursue to the project full-time.
Questions like this are always interesting to think about in the context of games. The easy answer is that we, presumably like most game developers, want our game to entertain people. But I think there’s a layer deeper than that, and it’s worth scratching the surface and forcing ourselves to elaborate further. As part of my career producing and designing games, I’ve spent a lot of time researching what science knows about the psychology of human motivation. It turns out that we, humans, have learned a lot about what drives us to want to engage with all kinds of things -- games, work, relationships, etc. I’ve often been surprised at how infrequently those learnings are applied by teams designing products where engagement is a fundamental part of the business, including games. So, the design of our game is unique, and it blends game mechanics in some new ways with the hope that our players will find the experience provided by Tap Empire to be unique, compelling, engaging, and fun -- particularly in ways that aren’t already offered by other games!
To elaborate a bit on the scientific research mentioned above, our game is fundamentally a hybrid of two distinct genres of games. One is “idle games” (also called “incremental games”, “clicker games”, or “tapper games”), which are grounded in decades of motivational research and can be Googled further by searching for “Self-Determination Theory”. The research found that looking at people’s behaviors (did the player come back tomorrow, did they buy something, etc) is not enough because there are different kinds of motivation that drove people to take those actions -- intrinsic and extrinsic, at a high level -- and while the behaviors they drive may look similar in the short term, the longer-term effects of those motivators are quite different. The research shows that intrinsic motivation (engaging with something because it satisfies your core, human needs) is much more sustainable than extrinsic motivation (being compensated with things in exchange for your time/work/effort) -- and in terms of motivational impact and ability to drive sustained engagement, it’s not even close. We’ve designed our game to be as intrinsically motivating as possible, so we’ve focused on making the actual act of simply playing and progressing through the game as compelling as it can be. It’s for this reason that we combined that idle games genre with the map-based progression game mechanics familiar to Match-3 or saga game players.
There’s still a lot we’d like to do. At the time of this writing, the campaign mode of the game contains 11 Empires, and we’re nearly ready to ship our third, free, bonus downloadable Empire. We’d love to continue the game’s story by adding more content to campaign mode, and we have no shortage of new and interesting mechanics to explore in future Downloadable Empires. That whole feature -- the ability to download bonus/side content that doesn’t affect the main game -- was designed to be our sandbox to try new and crazy things, so we’re eager to design, build, and release more worlds and content over the coming months!
Please go to the iOS App Store or Google Play Store and download Tap Empire. Once you’ve spent a bit of time with the game, we’d love to hear any feedback you have -- just email us at [email protected] or via the “Send Feedback” button in the game’s settings menu. If you enjoy it, or if you think our unique game mechanics are at least interesting, tell a friend! Feel free to reach out if you’d like to chat further. We can be reached at [email protected] Thanks for playing!
About App: Tap - Automate - Thrive -- it's that simple! Just tap to make money and level up your business in this casual incremental idle auto clicker. Tap to earn gold, tap to level up, and tap to automate your business as you progress through endless empires and unlock upgrades galore. Just tap to make money and grow your business into an epic millionaire empire. Millionaire? Keep tapping and level up to create your billionaire tycoon empire!
Date: September 28, 2019
Developer: Ben Ahroni - CEO/Co-founder MeeWow Games
About developer: Ben is the co-founder and CEO of MeeWow Games. He co-created Tap Empire with ... Read more
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