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GamingI am developer of Thrive island mobile survival game. AMA

May 6th 2017 by Johndev__ • 16 Questions • 2094 Points

My short bio: I am riding the favorite, Classic Empire, in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs. Since starting my riding career in 2005 after coming to the U.S. from France, I have won more than 2,300 races and $139-million in purses but never the Kentucky Derby. I will answer questions at noon ET (9a PT) on Tuesday, May 2!

My Proof: http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/LeparouxAMA.jpg

Q:

Have you heard of thelegend27?

A:

Thanks for responding.


Q:

Yeah he keeps kicking my ass

A:

PinchBetter: Carina Mia is supposed to run her first race back since Breeders' Cup. I'm also in the Kentucky Oaks with Daddy's Lil Darling -JL

Other than Classic Empire in the Derby, who else are you excited about riding this weekend?


Q:

What was your development stack/engine for the game?

A:

/u/pinchbetter reply


Q:

Unity3D

A:

Tiordalol: You're part of a team, and everyone on the team wants Classic Empire to be 100% for the race. Accidents happen. Anything can happen between now and when we get in the gate -JL

how do you balance the excitement of having a known Kentucky Derby mount but also know something unfortunate could happen at any moment leaving you without a ride in America's most historic race?


Q:

Has creating this game been profitable? Like can this be your sole job?

Would you care to share the metrics on time spent, and earnings?

A:

/u/tiordalol reply


Q:

Rather not share earnings metrics. But as far as hours invested it's been too many. I work around 60-80 hours a week on it for the last 3 years.

It's profitable from ads and full game purchases and I'm full time working on it.

A:

From yesterday: "I ride since I'm 6, currently 19. I've never had a scary experience with horses, but I'm so afraid of speed that I don't ride horses that aren't "safe". It's really difficult for me to have trust in a horse, and obviously it shouldn't. Have you got any advice on how to manage speed when something bad happens, or when the horse is scared?"

The main thing is to trust your horse and have faith in him, and you'll lose the fear naturally. Trust your horse to gain his trust. -JL


Q:

I believes he means how he funded the time before the game was released.

A:

/u/mybangbang reply


Q:

Minimally. Small savings and lots of ramen noodles

A:

Ruddiver: It's more about how the horse will perform that day. Now I have more experience in the race, so I'm not as nervous as I was earlier in my career. -JL

Do you feel more pressure being the favorite? or is it all about how the horse performs that you worry about?


Q:

If I may ask, what prompted you to go full time? Did you have previous game development experience, did you have a regular job that was crushing your soul?

A:

/u/ruddiver reply


Q:

Yeah the job. I had no previous experience but I had some good ideas. I just took a leap and tried my best

A:

@Runs_n_goses: A little bit, but not too too much. Not in a race. Florent Geroux and I like to mess with each other but not anyone else. It's a friendly rivalry. -JL

How much trash talking is there in the jockey lounge area before races? Also, any trash talking happen during the race?


Q:

What's your advice to someone who is trying to make their own mobile game?

A:

For Reddit, use /u/ instead of an @ symbol. For example, /u/RichardBachman


Q:

I would say start small and be unique for the platform and work from there with updates. Lots of mobile games are the same style. Small, simple and pay to win.

A:

sixfourthree: We are handicapping to win the race--see what we need to do to beat the favorite. Put the horse in best spot to win the race. -JL

What exactly do jockeys look for when handicapping a race they're about to run in?


Q:

Is the character modeled after your image?

A:

Thanks Julian!


Q:

Yeah the female one. Will be adding more characters in the next update

A:

downeastkid: Classic Empire first, State of Honor, and Irish War Cry

What horse would you pick in your trifecta?


Q:

Hey there, being self employed, do you ever worry about job security? What happens to you when this game fades from popularity?

A:

Hmm was thinking tossing State of Honor, but I at least have to try this bet!


Q:

Yes, it motivates me to work harder and keep the game fresh.

A:

MostlyH20: I've been fortunate to be on a lot of good fillies. Classic Empire we find the perfect exercise rider for him that gets along good. They respect each other, and it's been going good since then. We're a team. -JL

Thanks for doing this! I've always appreciated your thoughtful, kind hand with your mounts- do you think that has been a significant factor in your success with fillies & mares? Similarly, Classic Empire is reputed to be a bit... erm... strong minded. Have you & Casse come up with any unique methods to get him running when you need him to and not just when he wants to?


Q:

Your game hasn't been updated in almost a year, how is that motivation?

A:

/u/mostlyh20 reply


Q:

Upto that point, I was releasing updates every other week but felt it was just delaying the inevitable. Since then I've completely remade every aspect of the game and added online modes which is due to release soon

A:

PAdogooder: Not really yet but feel like I will when my son is growing up -JL

Julien! You're my favorite jockey and I will often bet a horse just because you're on him- Louisville native here.

Question: do you ever ride horseback in other styles or for fun? Trail riding or jumping?


Q:

How did you become interested in game development?

A:

/u/padogooder reply


Q:

I've always loved playing games. Runescape took up most of my childhood. I've always liked messing with code and mods too. So it was just natural thing to do. I decided to quit my job one day and decided to fully focus on a new game

A:

kocomma: Top 10 jockeys get best opportunities to ride better horses, but it's also the top jockeys make less mistakes on big day racing -JL

What makes the difference between the top jockeys (e.g. top 10 money earners) and the rest? What do you do differently in a race that sets you apart from the others?


Q:

Oh snap! Runescaper spotted! You still play the game?

A:

What made you want to ride horses? What made you keep the interest in horse riding?


Q:

I try not to play any mmorpg these days, I get too hooked. I play casual browser games lately so I don't spend too much time

A:

colhurts: There's a lot. There's many horses I wish I rode. American Pharoah, Zenyatta, all the big horses are the ones you want to be on. -JL

Which horse that you didnt get to ride do you really really wish you could've ridden?


Q:

Read or listen to any LitRPG? I don't play MMO's anymore for similar reason, just too absorbing, but it's awesome listening to audio books / reading books in relation to them. If you haven't check out the mirror world series by Alexey Osadchuk or Alterworld series by D. Rus.

A:

What made you want to ride horses? What made you keep the interest in horse riding?


Q:

Not heard of it. Will check it out

A:

amb326: I'm not sure, but he wore them in the Arkansas Derby -JL

Do you know why Classic Empire is now wearing glue on shoes?


Q:

What's your game about? I've personally never have heard of it! I am very interested in survival though! Looking forward to hear back from you!

A:

Are TBs your favorite breed? Are there any other breeds you particularly like?


Q:

It's a beta mobile survival stranded type of game focused on survival and exploration. Aimed to be more realistic rather than zombie type of games.

A:

moaia66: My passion for it. I group up around horse racing. I always loved it and always wanted to be a jockey. Obviously I'm lucky with my size, too. -JL

Was it your physical attributes that lead you to the sport? A love of riding? A combination of some sort?


Q:

Like ARK for mobile?

A:

Are TBs your favorite breed? Are there any other breeds you particularly like?


Q:

Without the dinosaurs maybe

A:

skibonit: Hopefully not but never say never. I wouldn't mind being like Mike Smith and getting to ride whichever horse I want. -JL

Do you hope to still be riding in your 50's like Stevens & Smith?


Q:

Like rust?

A:

How excited are you for Channing?


Q:

Without the dangly bits

A:

iwas99x: Those are the best ones. After that, any Grade 1 -JL

Mr.Leparoux, outside of the triple crown and breeders' cup, what is the best race and why?


Q:

Why are all zombie games in beta stage?!>?!


Q:

They're never ending

A:

iwas99x: I really enjoyed Go-Karting but now spend a lot more time with my family and son.

Leparoux,What are your hobbies outside of work?


Q:

Haven't heard of the game, but will check it out!

  1. What makes your game better than others of the same genre?

  2. What's the best advice you have for someone starting the game?

A:

I decided to focus on this game as more of a realistic survival sim rather than zombies and pc. I felt when I started and still to this game that there are no great survival open world games on mobile other than Minecraft so I decided to try my best to bring that to mobile.

For advice I'd say build a bed asap to get your spawn sorted


Q:

How did you learn how to code? If self taught, how would you recommend that someone else do the same? What languages and frameworks did you use, do you recommen them and why?

That's all, keep up the good work man! People like you are an inspiration to us all!

A:

Self taught and most of my learning was just messing with code and modelling programs. YouTube has videos on anything and everything you could need to know.

I chose and recommend Unity because the learning curve is not steep, there's huge amount of resource information and documentation online and is also able to publish on tons of platforms.


Q:

How young were you when you started? Do you think a 20-something year old can still take the path you took?

A:

I was young when messing with html and game codes but I never fully understood programming until later on.

It's never too late to start, I decided to learn unity and focus full time on game Dev at 25


Q:

Is there a bright future in game dev for 15 year olds?

A:

Yes. Great age to start


Q:

I stumbled on your game awhile ago. It's fun and definitely unique. But, do you have any plans to make it more stable? It crashes constantly on iOS. Particularly when I am navigating between the map and such.

A:

Yes. The new update has a whole new optimised and designed world. Also all code has been optimised. I have tested it on low end devices which couldn't run the game at all previously and now they can run it with good FPS.


Q:

How's it going chief?

A:

Good, thanks


Q:

Will I be able to play this game offline? My data charges are already through the roof and I'd like to be able to play this when I don't have access to WiFi.

A:

Currently the game is single player and will always be an option to play. Online will be optional


Q:

The reviews seem like there are a lot of intrusive ads. Does the paid version completely eliminate ads?

A:

Ads are removed when purchased but they are something I want to improve in the next update. For online they will be minimal at game start or endings but I am leaning more towards reward ads which can be optional.


Q:

I've not played the game, but will check it out now. Based on the ratings, controls gets the lowest score out of the 3 categories. Are you doing anything to improve the controls, and if so what?

A:

In the next update I am releasing. I've completely redone all of the controls and character controller. It makes controls 10x better. Much more fluid and easier to control. Similar to GTA style controls. Also added controller support


Q:

What's you're favourite mobile game and why mobile game development?

A:

My favorite mobile game I've played is probably a game called Warspear. It's like a pixel style mmo. It's been a while since I've played but it's a cool game.

I chose mobile because I feel alot of mobile games are the same. Freemium pay to win games and feel there is alot of potential to create unique games. Mobile is still in early days


Q:

How would/did you pitch the game. What makes it special?

A:

I would pitch the game as a realistic survival game for on the go


Q:

Can you add a reddit easter egg?

A:

Maybe


Q:

Is there an iOS version of this?

A:

Not yet. Will be releasing after online update


Q:

Mr. Wright do you you ever ask questions to other people in there AMA'S?

A:

I read alot of AMAs


Q:

Mr. Wright what is your day job?

A:

Game development


Q:

What were you doing before getting into game development full time?

Do you have a degree?

How many ideas did you put down on paper, or whitebox, or whatever your ideation process is, prior to arriving at the one you finally stuck with for Thrive?

When you first started with Unity, did you envision developing for the mobile platform or was it something that arose through experience?

When working solo, how did you motivate yourself to continue the grind? -- I freelance, and I take mostly short term work because I tend to struggle to motivate myself to continue my own projects after working on them for a month or so. I'd love to hear about your experience working towards success so that it might help me continue to work on something of my own for longer.

A:

I was working in a computer company that destroys data. I don't have a degree.

Before starting Thrive island I prototyped a few ideas like racing games, infinite runners and similar games but felt they had already been done a million times on mobile.

When I settled on the idea of a mobile survival there was none at all other than Minecraft so felt it was urgent to get a foothold in that market.

Players comments and ideas motivate me to continue and the thought of going back to a real job helps me work harder.


Q:

Ya played knack?

A:

Nope


Q:

I'm sorry but what type of game is this? I ran around for ten minutes and didn't see anything.

A:

Logs and stones on the floor with help you get started


Q:

How much money do you make per download?

A:

Ranges from $0.001 to $3.50


Q:

I'm assuming you initially developed this for Android. How much extra work was it to port it to iOS? For beginners, would you recommend only sticking to one platform? If yes, which one?

EDIT: It looks like the iOS version is a ripoff, but you're developing for iOS as well so the question still stands.

A:

Porting to iOS won't be a huge change as all controls are same. The main reason I've been holding off iOS is I want to release once the game is at a point where I feel there is enough content, fun and multiplayer.

I'm hoping I don't get ant hassle releasing considering that game copied my game name and released first on iOS.


Q:

This game looks a lot like rust and the forest building wise, did you get any inspiration from those games or is it a coincidence? Also how do you rate unity VS unreal engine for a new developer.

A:

Building was inspired by ark although I want to expand on it to make it more realistic when adding parts.

I've not tried unreal engine so wouldn't have an opinion although I think unity is a great way for new Devs to learn


Q:

Not sure if you're still answering or not, but what do developers like yourself do against people stealing your namesake? I've seen a lot of garbage games on apple called things like "thrive island survival simulator" and things of that nature that completely rip your game off, and it's definitely a pretty common practice in mobile app development. Is there any way to combat it?

A:

I once emailed Google play about it and they wanted a letter from a lawyer. I contacted a lawyer and they wanted extortionate rates to write a letter to cease and desist. So I just ignored it and warned players on social media. Since then Google just removed it, I haven't contacted Apple until I release there.

I've learned to just accept it as I would be spending all my time stopping that stuff so I just focus on my game.