Developer Debrief: How Clever Turtle achieved global success with Brick Builder

This week, we sat down with the Michele Matriciani, the developer behind Brick Builder, Coda’s latest hit game. Brick Builder is different from our previous titles because it was built on a Coda concept, and it is the first game to come out of the Coda Partner Program.

What is a Coda Concept?

With a comprehensive view of all hyper-casual games in the market, Coda’s technology automatically tags games. It’s then able to consolidate and analyze all market data to detect signals of demand in the market. We use these signals to make predictions and identify concepts that are likely to achieve a CPI below $0.20.

What is the Coda Partner Program?

The Coda Partner Program offers select studios access to the latest hit game concepts. Coda concepts are made available directly on the Coda platform, so that partner studios can start prototyping right away. Our Games team also provides best practices and feedback to make sure developers test and iterate as quickly as possible.

Michele Matriciani was one of the first members of the program and develops under his studio name: Clever Turtle. Read for more on how Michele was able to publish an iOS game for the first time and make it a chart-topping game in 8 different countries.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you started Clever Turtle?

Clever Turtle is really just me and sometimes my girlfriend who helps me with design, game styles and graphics  I studied computer science about 10 years ago, but game development was always just a hobby. About a year ago, I started becoming especially interested in hyper-casual games. It looked like there was a lot of potential in this market, and so I decided to dedicate more time and get more serious about game development. I moved to part-time with my job and created “Clever Turtle”.

Q: What did your game development process look like when you first started?

Initially, I didn’t really research. I would just start building any idea that came to mind. Now, when I look back at those games, I realize that those game ideas weren’t great.

Q: So, how did you start coming up with game ideas after those early days?

I started spending more time brainstorming and thinking about the game idea, probably about 1-2 weeks. I used YouTube to browse hyper-casual games and watch the gameplay of Top Chart games. I would always follow the Top Charts. I usually tried to replicate some of the ideas that I saw or combine different ideas together to come up with something new. 

Michele was able to optimise Brick Builder into the best version possible through the Coda Partner Program

Q: As one of the early adopters of the program, what made you want to join?

I had worked with other publishers, but I wasn’t able to get a game published.  After joining Coda, I started using the Market Intelligence dashboard, which made it a lot easier to analyze games and see which game mechanics were working well. The Market Intelligence dashboard gave me a clearer way to do my research, analyze the market and come up with better game ideas. The Coda Partner Program gives you an even bigger boost by sharing proven concepts. It gives you a better chance to get good test results on your game because it shares ideas based on current trends. So, I can just go and look at the latest good game concepts that Coda has shared and start from there. 

Q: Can you share the process behind Brick Builder’s launch and how you worked with the Coda team?

I actually had started prototyping for this game a while back, just for a couple of hours, and then decided to ditch it. Then, when I saw a similar concept from the Coda Partner Program, I picked it back up and looked at how I could repurpose it.

I spent 5 days on the first prototype. After it got good test results, I started building the levels and the playable iOS version of the game. During the first month, we did a couple retention and then monetization tests. After each test, the Coda team helped me make improvements. They did a great job with market research to constantly find new ways to improve the game.

We then spent some time on game design, adding a shop with new skins and additional prizes, and optimizing the game. Coda provided new 3-D models and graphics to make the game more engaging. I was in contact with the team every day throughout the process. And, of course still in contact now as we continue to work on Brick Builder. I’d like to thank the team for all of their support. 

Brick Builder's popularity has been credited to the stacking mechanic, running gameplay and bonus levels.

Q: What do you think made Brick Builder so successful?

What made this game a success is for sure the stacking mechanic, which was definitely a strong trend. Also, the running gameplay keeps users engaged.

I think that collecting a lot of bricks combined with the ability to build bridges between platforms brings a feeling of satisfaction. The surprise at the end of the levels and the bonus level also helped make it more appealing.

Q. How many games had you prototyped and tested before launching Brick Builder?

I probably tested more than 15 prototypes in the past year since I started.

Q: How do you prototype?

Once I have my idea, I spend no more than 1 week prototyping the first version of my game. I focus on gameplay and create 1-2 levels. I don’t polish the game. I just make sure I can record a good video to test as fast as possible. 

It’s important to focus on what you learn when you fail because you can always find ways to improve. 

Q: What would you recommend to developers who are just getting started with hyper-casual games?

First, don’t give up. At the beginning, it’s hard because you spend time on your games and think they will be very good. But, you generally end up with bad test results, definitely below your expectations. It’s important to focus on what you learn when you fail because you can always find ways to improve. 

I would also suggest that you don’t immediately start prototyping when you come up with an idea. Spend some time making sure your idea is promising. Think it over and try to justify it first. 

Look at Top Chart games, but don’t copy them. Try to think about concepts that could use similar mechanics or elements from those games. Innovate the concept by bringing something new to those game ideas.

We’ll leave you with Michele’s recommendations. As you can see from Michele’s experience, the key is to keep prototyping and testing. Coda Concepts are proven to have a better chance at success, and we are starting to see increasing performance with each new game that our partners submit.

So, if you’d like to make your process more efficient and receive hit game ideas every week, check out the Coda Partner Program.

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