The Philippine-based indie studio, AppSir Inc., has been successfully creating innovative games using Buildbox for quite some time. From their stunning visual novel game, The Last Yandere to their recent success, the experimental horror based platformer Dere .Exe, they’re definitely making a name for themselves in the app business and game dev world. In fact, their latest game, Dere .Exe recently hit over 50,000 downloads and was trending on Google Play.
We were honored to have the opportunity to chat with Darius Guerrero, founder of AppSir Inc., about the creation of Dere .Exe, game development, and his strategy for success.
Buildbox.com: What is your background, how long have you been making games?
Darius Guerrero: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and went on to have my first job as a facilitator and resource speaker for seminars sponsored by the Philippine Government and other companies. I made my first game using Visual Basic in 2008 for our high school project, and I thought it was pretty good. I made three more games immediately after that using VB and PowerPoint, and I wanted to become a game developer since then. Unfortunately, outside of school, I didn’t have access to the internet and good computers, so I got sidetracked for a while. I then started other hobbies making short films and comics. Some of which won me some contests when I was in college.
How did you get started in game development?
This story is really cheesy. I met a girl at work who’s addicted to mobile games. I wanted to surprise her by making a game starring her. She loved it. I got back to making games again. I then found out that I could tell a much better story with games than I could with comics and movies. It’s much more immersive. Other game developers I talked to started making games because they wanted to earn money like Flappy Bird did, which is fine. I didn’t start because of that though. I did it because I was crazy for this girl, and I wanted to tell this big story too. See? I told you it was cheesy.
All of your games are so creative. What’s your process for coming up with game ideas?
I study the Buildbox forums and think of games that other people aren’t doing with Buildbox, such as visual novels and adventure stories. When I’m in the mood to make an arcade game, the best results come when I combine two game ideas into one. Sometimes I take an arcade game then I modify and improve. It’s what I learned from Trey Smith.
All my apps and games are connected, storyline-wise. Even the non-games like OBVI Call Recorder and Horus Dim Screen. Whenever I have a new game idea, I consult my handy-dandy notebook and determine where it fits in the timeline. It all leads up to something big.
What were your inspirations for Dere .Exe?
I first thought of making Dere .Exe when I read about this arcade game called ‘Polybius.’ I then read up on a bunch of video game-related horror stories. Dere .Exe’s is loosely inspired by the obscure website http://anniesroad.com. The ‘Saw’ franchise also inspired it a lot in terms of storytelling and the plot-twist ending.
Dere .Exe was created using Buildbox. How long did it take you to make the game with our software and how did it help with your game development process overall?
From concept to release, the first four levels of Dere Exe took less than a day to make. The ‘modified’ level, which is the longest, took me two nights. To be honest, I’ve tried a dozen other engines before I ended up with Buildbox. I don’t think any one of those engines could have made Dere .Exe. Theoretically, they could, but it would take at least six months longer.
The surprise moments in Dere .Exe, the way the game progressively changes into something else, the sudden UI changes, those things require hardcore skills and gallons of coffee if I attempted to do it with other engines. Mid last year I tried to make a game with another engine, and I think I got a bald spot pulling too many of my hair strands just trying to implement an in-app purchase system. Buildbox is the most amazing game engine I’ve ever tried, and I’m sticking with it.
Without giving away any spoilers, could you tell us the story behind Dere .Exe?
Dere .Exe exists in the universe of its prequel ‘The Last Yandere,’ which is inspired by the real-life CIA’s Project MKUltra. Dere .Exe is a ported .exe game extracted from a corrupted disk that survived the city-wide destruction event of ‘The Last Yandere.’ As you play the glitched game full of bugs, you could feel something from inside the phone, as if the game is trying to talk to you.
Currently, Dere .Exe has earned 50,000 downloads and has received over 1K reviews. In your opinion, what’s the key to game dev success on the Google Play platform?
Download the Google Play Developer Console app on your phone and whenever you have the time, read and reply to reviews. Since Google Play has been known to review games much faster, update as soon as a user reports a bug. One user reported that when he pressed the back button, his progress got deleted because the entire level would restart. I didn’t update it for a few days because I thought it was a minor thing. Then, I noticed my ratings dipping down. A ton of people experienced the same thing!
So, don’t get lazy. Update as soon as you read about a bug in your game. Oh, and about updating your game. You think Google Play doesn’t manually review their apps? Dere .exe got rejected once because one button linking to our website didn’t go to our website because of a misspelled URL.
The reviewer and I talked about it, and he was kind enough to send screenshots of this, and I was able to fix the button problem with no violations. Make sure all your games are as polished as they can be, no matter which store you submit them to. Also, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to put your game out there. Do some marketing.
What have you done marketing wise to help get your game noticed?
Since the game happens after the plot twist ending of ‘The Last Yandere,’ I told everyone that ever liked the visual novel to try Dere .Exe. I replied to a lot of reviews in ‘The Last Yandere’ and told them about the game. This gave it an early boost, eventually surpassing its prequel in the number of downloads. Some people who I didn’t get to talk to would recognize the woman in the icon and get them curious.
When I posted about Dere .Exe in the TouchArcade forum, the first response was “Nice to see Kara again! I missed her.” If they didn’t know about ‘The Last Yandere,’ Dere .Exe now helps boost downloads for its prequel. This is why I made all my games in the same universe.
On marketing Dere .Exe, I posted vids on my Instagram about my computer glitching out. I also created a fairly unique trailer. Since my Reddit account has 4000 karma, I was also able to post about Dere .exe on various subreddits. With the release of Buildbox 2.3.3, I just published a PC version of the game a couple of hours ago, and this will get it some more attention. I also have some Youtuber friends that will be posting let’s play videos of the game soon, and I’m pretty hyped. When they do, I’ll ramp up the marketing even more.
What is the one piece of advice that you have for aspiring game developers or entrepreneurs?
Use Buildbox and stick with it. No other engine comes close in terms of ease of use, convenience, speed, support, and turning the game ideas in your head into an actual game.
Any upcoming games to be on the lookout for? What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
You know that girl I told you about in my response to question number 2? She’s close to finishing her first game called ‘Sorority Rites,’ and it takes place before ‘The Last Yandere’ and ‘Dere .Exe’. She wrote the story herself and used Buildbox to make it. We want to get married and turn this into our family business. Expect a ton of unique games with twist endings, all sharing the same universe.
You can learn more about Darius Guerrero and the team at AppSir Inc on their website.