Devlog #20: Sonar Smash News and Content Patch

Hello! I’m fedellen and welcome to my 20th devlog. I’ll be using a bit of a different format for this one as I’ll be writing a bit about all of the changes and additions for Sonar Smash’s new content patch, v1.1.0. Last Thursday night we were excited to find out that Sonar Smash had been featured in the App Store’s “New Games We Love” category. This quickly inspired us to make a little content patch and continue some development immediately.

Apple Feature by the Numbers

As of writing this its been just over a week since our feature. We’re currently still on the bottom of the list but we expect to be bumped off the next time they repopulate. After our first three weeks of launch we were very proud to have grinded out about 1,000 downloads between the App Store and Google Play Store. Now since the feature, we’re well over 13,000 downloads and still getting 700+ per day.

The curve is coming down quickly but it’d be a fair guess to say that we’ll be over 15,000 downloads before this is over. This news has been extremely inspiring for us. The optimistic side is that if we can get one feature, then we can get the next game featured too. It has the potential to turn our little hobby passion project into a real profitable business in a “5 year goal” type of scenario.

There are lessons to learn with every success that we won’t ignore. In terms of monetization we could have done a lot more. Sonar Smash was made as a free app with ads. There is one in-app purchase which removes ads, info splashes, and enables offline gaming. While downloads soared, sales remained fairly consistent with pre-feature numbers. Which means more people from our communities have bought the game than these random 12,000 new Apple players. The ads have generated almost triple revenue than the sales during the feature — I expect this to bottom out soon though.

Sonar Smash Content Patch 1.1 Screenshot
Sonar Smash Content Patch 1.1 Creatures Screenshot

Content Patch v1.1.0

New Content

  • Turtle Relic: Summons a Turtle Ally which reflects projectiles and slowly shoots enemies.
  • Two Unlockable Skins; The Green Dolphin (Purchasing Full Version, and the Pink Dolphin (Achieving 8,000 Score)

New Enemy Types

  • Crabber: Lays slowly moving Crabmines which will overwhelm the dolphin if ignored.
  • Sea Pony: Flings a Whirlpool Blast directly at the dolphin; pushing and inverting controls if hit.
  • Clownfish: Rapidly fires 5 Clownsparks at the dolphin when it’s path is crossed.

Misc Changes

  • Relics will now spawn at the vendor even while low on rings
  • Added debuffs display; Invert Controls and the Star Shooter’s Slow Effect are the current debuffs
  • Changed Inverted Controls to a 10 second temporary debuff
  • Rate and Purchase screens have been rephrased
  • Tutorial has been rephrased, lengthened, and color enhanced to hopefully provide more clarity
  • 9 new in game Achievements related to new content (Local Only)
  • Increased Pacifist bonus from 100 to 500 score
  • Added Puffer Savior bonus, 100 score per puffer

Bug Fixes

  • Powerup display bug during gameover screen fixed
  • Fixed a rare buff list display bug
  • Resolved some vendor cost alignment issues ( might have caused more; D: )

 

Adding three new enemy types to the procgen has vastly changed the dynamic of the gameplay. Personally I’ve had a ton of fun bug testing this time. Each of the new enemy types have their own unique behaviors which raises the total to ten enemy types.

The Crabber uses the same code as Astral Defense’s “Miner” which drop annoyingly slow but destructible mines. Sonar Smash’s best player (100,000 SCORE?!?!?) and an awesome pixel artist / indie dev, Jin9310, suggested the Sea Pony which has now become the most annoying creature in the sea. It fires it’s own whirl attack directly at the dolphin, reflecting all of your shots and throwing you to the side, and leaving your controls inverted for 2 seconds afterward. And the dangerous Clownfish fires a volley of five sparks which can end your run very abruptly.

Our favorite addition this patch has to be the Turtle Ally. You can summon him by obtaining the Turtle Relic from the vendor for 8 rings or finding one in a chest for the pre-game select screen. He constantly swims slowly towards the dolphin’s current X axis, reflecting anything which manages to hit the little guy, and randomly shooting his own little turtle shot. He plays a very important role in countering two of the new enemy types, the Sea Pony and the Clownfish. Hes also very small and hard to use which makes for the perfect fall guy every time you game over.

A common complaint we’ve had from players is that they don’t understand how the movement works at first. The Touch Control system I’ve made seems to vary significantly per device, has a bit of a learning curve, and players often get confused by using the word “drag.” As such we’ve revamped the tutorial a bit and made it last a bit longer.

We tried to address our monetization a little bit this patch as well. Our old purchase screen neglected to mention what the in-app purchase actually did before they clicked on the purchase so we rephrased it. In addition we’ve added the Green Dolphin skin for anyone who purchases the full game. The other skin added to the game, the Pink Dolphin, is unlocked by achieving 8,000 score or higher.

Sonar Smash Content Patch 1.1.0 Gameplay Screenshots

Next Time

That concludes this little patch notes and news update devlog. Looking forward, we’ll be working on adding in Boss Waves to Sonar Smash next. I want to release the next patch with at least 3 bosses so we can cycle through them and keep things feeling random and procedural. We’ll also be working on Rainbow Sparkle Time and possibly some other projects that we’ve started.

Thanks for reading!
fedellen, Pixel Pajama Studios
o/

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