Interview with Red Hot Labs!

The folks of Red Hot Labs were kind enough to answer a few questions for is! Let’s read:

0. What is the history behind Red Hot Labs?

Red Hot Labs built several mobile games to explore the mobile space.
During this time, we realized that mobile analytics and mobile marketing
was quite different than the web and much more difficult to get right.
Seeing this as an opportunity to help the greater community, we pivoted
the company into analytics and marketing tools and built a product
called Toro. Toro automated the creation of and optimization of
campaigns on the Facebook ad network. We focused and optimized around
ROI positive ad campaigns, using post-install data to influence your
marketing strategy. We decided to join Google in February 2015 to focus
our efforts on reaching and helping as many developers as possible.

1. Tell us where you came up with the idea for this game. What were your
inspirations?

We were looking for a game in the social casino space that would
primarily generate money. Slot games were by far the biggest category
and was heavily crowded with many apps. We started looking at other
genres and noticed that the ARPU of bingo games were almost as high as
slot games and the genre was much less crowded. Thus, Bingo Blast was
born.

2. What version of cocos2d-x did you use?

We originally began with version 2.1.0 but have since upgraded a few
times.


3. How did you decide to use cocos2d-x instead of Unity, Unreal Engine
or SDL?

We experimented with writing native apps first (iOS native and then
Xamarin for Android) but didn’t like either. At the time, cocos2dx was
the best 2d based game engine that was cross platform, including web.
Unity was mainly 3d and Unreal was not available yet. Development speed
and iteration was way faster than the other platforms we tried, so that
was a huge plus too.

4. What features did the engine offer you that made development easy?
What do you wish the engine did better?

We liked that compile times were basically zero. Once the engine is
compiled, you’re just copying the JS files to the device and
relaunching, so iterating was very fast. The downside to this is
debugging through the JS can be a bit of a pain. At the time, we
couldn’t set breakpoints and step through to find the sources of bugs.
We preferred to iterate on iOS first and then fix bugs for Android,
since this was the fastest.

5. What tools did you use besides the engine?

Nothing outside of the standard mobile development tools (Xcode,
ADT/Android Studio, etc).

6. What 3rd party libraries did you need to use?

We mainly used 3rd party ad networks, social networks, analytics, and
crash reporting services. We had to write custom bindings for all of
these which was tough at first, but easy once you understood all of the
magic that was going on.

7. Did you create the art yourself? What tools?

The art was all done in house using the standard Adobe creative suite of
tools. All of it was hand drawn on a Wacom Cintiq.

8. Did you create the music yourself? What tools?

We did not create the music ourselves and purchased/licensed the music
and sound effects from various sources.

9. Will you continue to make games in the future?

We are not currently developing new games and are only
maintaining/running the existing games.

10. Lastly, any advice for those also making games on how to get to a
release point?

I think simply releasing something is easy but a successful release is
much harder. With any product, getting it in front of real customers
early is key. This is not yourself and not your team, but real world
customers. The more you understand how they interact with your
product/game and if they’re actually enjoying it, the more likely you
are at being successful. It’s also a delicate balance of creative
intuition and science. Once released, knowing what metrics to measure
and what is considered “good” will help you focus on the right parts of
the game.

11. Do you use SDKBOX?

We just very recently integrated with SDKBOX and are now using it for a
few plugins.

12. If yes, what plugins are you currently using?

We are using the Vungle and Google Analytics plugins at the moment.

13. What plugins do you wish SDKBOX had?

More support for ad networks (AppLovin, AdMob, Tapjoy, etc) and
analytics services (Mixpanel, Amplitude, etc) would be great.

14. Did SDKBOX make integrating these plugins easy and save you time
adding these services?

We are a bit of an anomaly in that we had already written our custom
bindings for most of our services, but migrating from those to SDKBOX
was really easy. Thinking back on the pain that we went through to
understand the custom bindings layer, this would have saved us a
tremendous amount of engineering time and effort.

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