Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fates Forever - Beauty Pageant Contestant in a Sports Match



Every developer is making or at least considering to make their version of Riot’s e-sport sensation Leagueof Legends (LoL). Fates Forever (FF) is Hammer & Chisel’s attempt to take their piece of the market. What makes FF stand out is that it’s a tablet only multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) going after players that are either new to the genre or lapsed from super competitive browser versions.

Fates Forever is a beautiful game that takes most out of your latest iPad. Sadly, under the fine looks players will not discover a competitive hero brawler with a set of highly diverse champions to play and master. Instead they’ll find a game that is simple to get into but offers little depth or long-term value.

From a business perspective, FF is a bust and its unsuccessful launch may leave investors and execs cautious about the potential of tablet MOBAs. The goal of this post is to break down why Fates Forever falls short. Personally I believe that tablet gaming will be dominated by core multiplayer games in the very near future. These games just need to be designed for that audience .


Gameplay – great design held back by shaky controls


Playing a MOBA is like playing an EA sports game, like FIFA. Each player has a dedicated position on the squad. A team wins when every player sticks to that role and plays as a team.  Going rogue almost certainly ensures defeat (or a quick death at least). It’s like in FIFA if you play as striker you can’t run after the ball. You need to stay close to the offside line and wait for that one golden through pass and score. In a sports games it’s self-explanatory how one should play as a goalie, striker or a midfielder. In MOBAs these different roles aren’t inherently clear - leading to new players feeling frustrated and quitting the game.

Character Design

FF takes an interesting approach to improve accessibility by choosing an animal theme. In a way it makes sense. As a noob to MOBA’s I can conclude that a fox with a bow is likely fast but weak character that shoots from range, while a snail with a magic rod is most likely slow and will slow enemies down with its spells. The approachability of the characters makes it easier to understand what position they play in the field. I’m also likely to try several characters out as I can guess how to play them. This isn’t the case with many browser MOBAs, where the heroes’ visuals often don’t communicate how player should play them – or the complexity of the characters is so deep that visual communication is often not a solution.

Characters in Fates Forever are charming and beautifully made. They also do a great job in
visually communicating the characteristic of each champion. I mean everyone knows how to play
with a fox carrying a bow.

FF does a solid job in character design and balancing. The game is accessible without being a dumbed down version of a hero brawler. Due to clear visual cues and very straightforward character skills, players quickly figure out how to play each character.  After hours upon hours of gameplay, what I feel is missing are the difficult characters. You know, the characters that no one really wants to play with because of their very unique skills that are hard to master. But they are also the heroes that turn into unstoppable forces in the hands of a skillful player who is supported by a good team.

Map Design

Map design and character balancing are the basic design pillars of any MOBA. In general, compact maps enable short sessions but sacrifice the strategic gameplay, while large maps open up game design to long sessions as well as highly specialized characters.

Maps in Fates Forever are not only stunning but also very well designed offering
multiple strategies to for player to employ.

FF offers (only) one beautiful three-on-three two-lane map with a jungle in between, which in my mind is perfectly balanced for a tablet experience. The map is small enough to ensure constant action and shorter sessions - battles in FF take around 20 minutes, which is roughly a half of what they last in DOTA2 or LOL. At the same time the map is large enough to offer variety for tactical gameplay and allow different characters without going over the board with specialization.

Controls

While the map and character designs are spot on for a wide audience, FF falls short by forcing players to use gesture based controls even when tap-for-action would be a far better solution. Don’t get me wrong; I love some gesture-controlled skills in FF. For example, when playing with Dim, a fire mage character, the player drags a finger over the game board setting it into a blaze that burns all the characters in the area. At the same time, dragging your finger to shoot a fireball at an opponent doesn’t make sense, since the basic attack is simply to tap on the target to engage.

Most of the gesture controls in Fates Forever are fruiting but some are exceptionally great.
For example Dim, a fire mage, sets the earth on fire accruing to a path drawn by player.
Hero brawlers are so great because they are competitive player versus player games where teamwork, knowledge and skills are the keys to victory. Sadly, due to the overzealous use of gesture controls in FF, the gameplay takes a deep dive when the battle heats up. Trying to hit another player with a gesture-b based skill shots while moving the chracter (aka kiting) becomes quickly impossible quickly in the game - , which givinges advantage to characters with skills that don’t require gestures.

Browser MOBAs have solved this with speed controls, which allow players to quickly fire away different skills on the go. Personally, I think the guys at Hammer & Chisel should revise whether it makes sense to have 90% of the skills to be gesture controlled.


Retention – just the bare minimum 


MOBAs, as any competitive games, retain players by encouraging them to master their skills and win matches. Another key retention driver in MOBAs is the champion cycle that I’ll discuss further in the monetization part of this post. In addition to the traditional master-by-playing and character retention, FF deploys four other key progress mechanics to drive engagement.

The welcome screen in Fates Forever is simply overwhelming as it attacks players
with all the info in the game from leaderboards to daily quests and results from last battles.
But there are some good things to it as well - like the integrated community bar leading to chats.

Experience Points

A player earns XP for every completed match. The amount of earned XP depends on the player’s performance in the match. With every level up a player unlocks a new Relic – an item, which they can equip to boost their performance in the battle. For example, Safeguard Relic, when activated, significantly reduces the amount of damage a hero takes for a few seconds. A player can choose only one Relic per match.

Soft Currency

For every completed match, a player also earns Ore, which is the soft currency in FF. Ore is consumed to purchase new playable characters. How much a player earns Ore depends on the player’s performance in a match.

Win or lose the amount of soft currency player gets is pretty much the same.
I call it a communist reward system. 

Overall, Ore is quite unbalanced in FF. Firstly; the amount of earned Ore fluctuates very little. The reward is pretty much the same whether a player ends up dominating in the match or simply hangs out till the battle ends. This really kills the feeling of reward after a successful match. Secondly, the prices for each character vary significantly, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. One logical way is to price the hardest characters with the highest price, so that new players won’t accidentally buy them.  This will offer the most accessible characters at inviting prices, supporting the learning of new players.

Daily Quests

Much like in Hearthstone, FF gives player’s “daily quests”. But unlike in Hearthstone, FF’s quests are poorly balanced and can be very frustrating for non-paying users. For example, a friend of mine, who (unlike me) hasn’t bought all of the characters, gets quests that he can complete only with locked characters. In other words, he should buy a character to complete a quest that will give him soft currency so he can purchase characters. Yup, doesn’t make any sense at all.

Character XP

In addition to the general XP bar, which unlocks Relics, there is also an XP bar for each of the characters. Personally I don’t know what’s the benefit of increasing your character level. Overall FF’s UI is missing many tooltips and instructions, which lead to player confusion. The character XP bar is a perfect example of a feature that desperately needs a tool bar.


Overall the retention mechanics in FF are solid on paper, but lack intensity due to average implementation. There are no events, competitions, guilds or leagues. There’s a global weekly leaderboard, which doesn’t promise any awards for winners. And as stated before, there’s no difference between losing and winning, which simply leads to retention being based on the champion cycle.


Social - and the lack of it 


Playing with and against other players is what makes MOBAs fun and addicting. There’s nothing like teaming up with other players and beating the opposing team by outwitting and outplaying the competition. Social is simply crucial for success of the product. Player acquisition on tablets is extremely expensive, which puts the focus on creativity of the team to come up with integrated and meaningful social features that help to draw new players to the game.  

Party Play

The key selling argument for a tablet hero brawler is the easiness to set up a good old LAN-party. Everyone has an iPad. It weighs practically nothing and is as portable as a magazine. These hardware characteristics make it easy for players to meet up and start a game together.

Starting a game with friends is super easy. Tap on Party button, pick a friend, press play
and start having some really fun time!

FF makes the most out of team play. Adding players is extremely easy and starting a game together is straightforward. But most importantly, playing together with a friend or two is simply a lot of fun. It starts off with clear and calm communication and culminates in screaming, shouting and high-fiving as you team up and break down the competition on your route to flawless victory.

In-game Communications

If you’ve played DOTA2 or LOL you’ve probably experienced the offensive and often racial language from co-players taunting you for every mistake you make. My personal opinion is that mainly kids playing the game use the microphone and it offers little gameplay value while actually decreasing the gameplay experience. Because of this I don’t really understand why FF has added the microphone feature to the game. Theoretically it’s great but in practice it sucks. I’m sure that’s why Hearthstone doesn’t use the microphone.

The main in-game communication tool in MOBAs in the ping message system, which allows players to quickly choose and send a pre-written messages to the team. Fast messages like “Follow Me”, “Help!”, “Defend!” are enough to work as a team in the heat of the battle. FF badly lacks this feature, which easily leads to un-collaborative sessions.

No Guilds, No Events

Finally what really supercharges social in MOBAs are the team based competitions and events. FF doesn’t have any guilds or events (yet) and thus the game lacks social pressure, which draws players back to the game. For example, if I’d be a part of a team and there would be a competition going on, I’d make sure to rack up as many wins as possible during the short period of time.


Monetization - like League of Legends but not even close


Lets be clear here, apart from Riot’s League of Legends (LoL), a five years old game that makes over 600 million dollars a year, no-body else comes even close. Valve’s DotA2, which is regarded as the runner up in the genre, made only around 80 millions in 2013. Think about what the 5th or 10th most played MOBA makes a year.

How League of Legends monetizes

To understand better how MOBAs monetize one should take a glance at the true master of the genre that is incredibly successful - League of Legends (LoL).
The backbone on monetization in LoL is the character rotation system, which gives players access to only a fraction of characters at a time. Each week Riot cycles a new selection of champions for players to try and locks the ones player learned to play with last week. This weekly cycle drives retention and engagement by driving players back to the game to play with new set of characters every week. It’s also a great driver for conversion, as players purchase characters they tried last week.
To keep the character rotation model alive through the years, you need to introduce new characters to the game through cadence. As with character rotation, introducing new characters impacts both player experience and monetization as it reforms the balance of this highly competitive game.
League of Legends monetizes through character. That's why they have lots of them.

New characters enter the game with much anticipation as the game does a great job in community management. Supported by launch hype, Riot skims the player base by always making the new characters extra strong so that the maximum amount of players would purchase the character at the highest price. When the community complains about the overly strong new character, they respond by saying that players just haven't yet learned to play against it - encouraging more purchases as players urge to learn the weaknesses of this new champion. Finally, a good while after launching the new character, Riot tunes it down based on "feedback from community". Just in time before they introduce a new overly strong character.
In addition to hero rotation and the steady introduction of new characters, League of Legends also monetizes through character skins, which allow players to customize their favorite champions. Also boosts, such as doubling the value of soft currency earned from each match, are extremely well selling items in LoL.

How Fates Forever tries to monetize

The bottom line is, FF is not making any revenue. Apple featured the game at launch and that brought them into top 150 grossing list on the iPad, but ever since the game hasn’t made an appearance on the list. With a soft launch period of one whole year, this is a devastating blow for any company, let alone a startup that has all of its eggs in the same basket. Here’s why I think the game is in a downward spiral.

1. Selling Characters

Character rotation is the key driver of monetization in FF.  FF also introduces new characters to the game but unlike in LoL they have been very conservative and haven’t used the skimming strategy in conjunction with over-powering the new character.

This is how you destroy retention and monetization. Create a bundle pack that gives players
not only current but also the future characters. Not only will you not make any revenue off your
most engaged players but you'll also destroy your main progress mechanics - earning soft currency
from matches in order to purchase characters.

They’ve also kicked off their global launch with a $20 bundle, which gave players all the existing and upcoming characters. So not only did they cap the maximum revenue of an engaged player to the tiny sum of $20, but they also took away any motivation for monetized players to retain. I mean I already have all the characters so I don’t care about the soft currency I can earn by playing. There are no other progress meters than that so I really don’t need to play that often.

2. Technical Difficulties

Despite spending a year in soft launch, Hammer & Chisel never got their technical performance up to par. On an older iPad mini the game simply lost its frame rates and crashed when the battles heated up. What that means is that FF is not only limited to iPads, but it can also only serve the top end devices on the market.

3. Lack of Retention

Firstly, missing competitive and social features, such as events and guilds, is in my mind what really hurts retaining players. There’s just no sense of progress for engaged players. Sure, leveling up is ok, but there

Secondly, the first time flow in FF is weak. They’ve taken the 6 battles model that Hearthstone uses so successfully and watered it down to a few boring and restrictive battles. So instead of showcasing the fun of a multiplayer hero brawler, FF just teaches you how to play the game. Personally I’d re-create the most fun matches player can have with NPC characters in a single player campaign mode.  I’d have players learn the value of teamwork and the role of different characters by playing with bots and NPCs instead of concentrating on teaching what each button does in the game.

 

When Looks are just not the Main Point


Fates Forever is a game that has a lot of great things going for, but it is countered by so many flaws that in the end, the game is a niche product with no commercial success. The game is beautiful and accessible but it does a poor job in engaging players new to multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) while simultaneously dropping the ball on players who are familiar with the genre. FF features approachable and visually interesting characters combined with unfitting gesture controls. It is a social competitive game with no social networks or competition. Finally it’s a polished product that has a confusing UI and poor technical performance on lower-end devices. 
 
Looks are not even close to the priority when making a highly competitive MOBA. Gameplay, balancing, team play and competition mechanics should be the cornerstones of development. It a sport, not a beauty pageant. 
Although the game is visually stunning, looks are deceiving. Graphics are only one component of a game and time after time great gameplay has proven to be more important than great visuals. FF is a good light version of a MOBA and I suggest everyone to give it a go. But please, don’t judge the genre based on it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

MOBA Success Series: the Market


Most likely, the number one reason you're reading this post is because (good) MOBAs have proven to be an extremely lucrative businesses. For example, Riot Games' League of Legends generated $624M in 2013. Number two reason for reading this post is comes likely from the fact that 0% of DotA or LoL players are playing MOBAs on mobile or tablet even though probably at least half of them owns a tablet device. Number three is simply the growth of tablet market. Tablets are perfect for MOBAs. They have a touch large screen, internet connection and they are used mostly at home, where the sessions can be long and uninterrupted. Put two and two together and you'll quickly realize why there are dozens of developers racing to take the dominant spot as the number one MOBA on the new platform.

In this post I'll analyze the market for mobile MOBA's concentrating specifically on competition and players. In my next post I'll deconstruct my favorite mobile MOBA, which most likely you haven't played. 

Multiplayer Mobile Battle Arena?


In all simplicity multiplayer mobile battle arenas (MOBA) is a gaming genre in which two teams of 3 to 5 players try to destroy each others' command centers, heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map. Two of the most iconic MOBAs out there are Valve's Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and Riot Game's League of Legends (LoL). Both of the games are extremely popular and most importantly, run only on Windows and Macs.

MOBAs are hero brawlers in which teams work together to destroy each other's
bases located on the opposite side of a mirrored map. The appeal comes from action
filled gameplay, team work and careful character balancing.
MOBA sounds like a fun and easy game but in reality it's impossible for majority of players to enjoy DotA or LoL. In fact simply getting into these games is a chore. First step is the installation of the game client. Prepare to wait up to hours even when connected to high-speed internet. Second step is the update - just when you think the wait is over, prepare to wait a lot more. Third step is the beyond boring tutorial. Even though these are free-to-play games, their onramp is something you'd see in a console game - filled with long texts and full of self-evident instructions. Fourth step is getting humiliated. Just when you think that all the waiting and learning transforms into fun action your first sessions will be simply about respawning and getting extremely confused about the in-game shop and why you can't slay any of the opponents. Unless you have a good friend next to you guiding through each of these steps and beyond, fourth step will be your final one. 

But if you manage to get through the on-boarding bootcamp, you're in for life. Best of MOBAs are extremely well balanced offering incredible amount of depth, they rely on team play and they are highly competitive. Most importantly they are not only fun to play but also fun to watch. For example, over 32 million fans watched League of Legends tournament finale in front of a sold-out Staples Center. At peak, more than 8.5 million fans were watching at the same time on line. 


In order to understand what MOBAs mean to the player you should watch the FREE TO PLAY documentary. It is a feature-length documentary that follows three professional gamers from around the world as they compete for a million dollar prize in the first Dota 2 International Tournament.  


BEATING COMPETITION


If your goals is to takeover and grow the MOBA market in tablet the first step is to examine who is it you're competing against. The easy way would be to narrow down competition to just MOBAs on tablet. This approach may easily lead you to a conclusion that the direct competition is both limited and weak. 

Playing a MOBA requires between 10 to 35 minutes of uninterrupted playtime. Because of the nature of the session and the time it requires, most people play MOBAs at home, where player will have the opportunity to choose between a tablet or browser version. This is why I suggest including browser MOBAs into the list of competitors as well.

In short, MOBA competition can be divided in three categories:

1. Direct fast follow of browser MOBAs

Instead of understanding the essence of MOBAs and combining this gaming experience with player habits on tablet direct fast follow of browser MOBAs simply copy core features and art style from best in class MOBAs. These fast follows don't really add anything to the genre and are frankly inferior to the browser MOBAs the copy from in all aspect from art and controls to game depth and balancing. The only selling argument for these games is that they are on tablets but the poor technical implementation combined with lack of knowledge in how players play games on tablet versus on the browser kills any accessibility the tablet platform might offer. 

Case Example: Heroes of Order & Chaos 


Heroes of Order and Chaos (HOC) looks like League of Legends on mobile from the far. Yet first sessions reveal clunky controls, server instability, poor balancing and unintuitive UI, which is why this game hasn't been able to garner mentionable success after being live for a year. Instead of getting first mover advantage on the market HOC is a checklist for mistakes to avoid when creating a tablet MOBA. 

2. Simplified fast follow of League of Legends 

One of the cornerstones of best in class MOBAs is combination of carefully balanced characters and map design - a combo that is the foundation of team play, depth and extremely long player lifetimes. Simplified versions of MOBAs on mobile disregard how and why players traditionally play these games choosing to focus on player versus player action and short sessions. The result is a fast and accessible mobile MOBA but because of very limited depth and teamwork player lifetimes are short.

Case Example: Solstice Arena 


Solstice Arena succeeds in what it intended to do - and that is getting players into the game fast. Yet the simplification of this title has gone so far that it has rubbed off the depth and strategy elements that make MOBAs so successful. Straightforward maps and one dimensional characters are great for the first sessions but offer little incentive for progressed players.

3. The Browser MOBAs

Frankly speaking, unless you have unlimited resources and time combined with a strong IP, there's now way you can steal players from leading browser MOBAs. The amount of work that has been put into these games results in unique competitive advantages, which allow to cater to the devoted fan base. Fast following DotA or LoL results only in a disappointment for both the developer and the players. 

The only way to compete with leading browser MOBAs is through differentiation enabled by the tablet platform. First step is accessibility. Rework on-ramp flow to support new players instead of scaring them away. Second step is session length. Aim for shorter sessions. Uninterrupted 25 minute long sessions are perfect for teenagers but if you want adults playing your game, cut that in half. Third and by far most significant step is game design. What's the point of copying design mantras such as last-hit rule* if your aim is to capture new players? By obeying to all of the existing game design mantras developers simply destine themselves to fast follow. On the other hand, dropping these mantras will open up doors to unique hero brawlers designed specifically for tablets. 

*Last-hit rule in MOBAs means that player who makes the killing blow gets all the precious experience points. Because of this rule there are no truly supportive characters who could concentrate only on enhancing and healing team members. This rule also dictates map design.


WINNING PLAYERS


My suggestion though is to take a more objective look and identify your competition based on the players you're after. Most likely you're looking at two of the following indirect competitors. 

1. Mobile Mid-Core Players

After playing games like Clash of Clans, Kingdoms of Camelot and Game of War for several years I doubt how many repetitions of these games players can endure. Don't get me wrong, building and battling is fun but we all know that free-to-play tower defense genre is about timers and speedups instead of action and progress. 


Village defenders, which are simply copies of each other, are exhausting the market.
I personally believe that a sizable portion of these players would be happy to abandon or at least reduce their daily grind with production timers and use that saved time to take on players in an action packed hero brawler. 

Because of the longer uninterrupted sessions MOBAs don't compete directly with card battlers and tower defenders. They won't fight mid-core games for those short sessions that occur throughout the day but they will take over players when they get home to their tablets. Because major portion of monetization in mid-core games takes place with longer sessions and the fact that these players are getting bored out of their mind, MOBAs posses that billion dollar market opportunity. 


2. Lapsed Browser MOBA Players

Browser MOBAs require an extensive investment of time from their players. Just getting into the game will take hours and then in order to enjoy it an average user will need at least a hundred of hours of playing and watching gameplay videos. With each match taking anywhere between 30min to an hour it is safe to say that despite enjoying the genre, not everyone can afford spending tens of hours a week on a game. 

Tablet MOBAs aim to target this audience of lapsed or lapsing browser MOBA players by offering them bit lighter and a bit more action centered version. These players are extremely valuable as they not only know how to play these games but also understand the importance of community. The hardest part is finding the balance between accessibility and depth. Simplifying too much will take away the much needed depth of gameplay while not simplifying enough will result in a browser MOBA on a tablet with inferior controls and limited amount of content. 

3. New Players

As the tablet market grows so does the amount of players on the platform. New players, who aren't looking for short sessions will be compelled to spend their evenings with an entertaining hero brawler instead instead of speeding timers.

My personal view is that in order to reach this audience game requires strong word-of-mouth. This is an audience that owns a tablet for other reasons than playing games but with an encouragement from a friend this may change. And by encouragement I do not mean a Facebook invite. The thing what makes tablet MOBAs great is that there's no effort in taking your tablet with out when you go and see your friend. Few team battles after you're hooked.


TOUGH COMPETITION, WORTHY PRICE



Tablets offer an opportunity to grow the MOBA market and engage new player segment that hasn't previously played these games. As the growth of high-end tablet segment continues we'll be seeing rush of MOBAs on tablet and an extremely tough competition for the top position. In addition to platform specific competition, tablet MOBAs will also face competition both from existing and upcoming browser MOBAs as players will seek deeper experience and more content. 

In my opinion a developer that can capture the essence of a social hero brawling game and convert it into a tablet game without clinging to all of the design mantras of established MOBAs will takeover, grow and hold the market for tablet MOBAs. I believe that a combination of accessibility and depth is the winning formula.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Game of the Week: Colossatron


Halfbrick's Colossatron: Massive World Threat is a paid game with several well-integrated free-to-play mechanics, such as dual currency and pay-to-continue. It's one of the most engaging, graphically unique, well designed, and masterfully executed games you can find for $0.99.  

Progression in Colossatron is very straightforward. There are seven countries, each of which consists of four cities. In order to progress from one country to another, a player needs to beat all four cities in a row. The cities are progressively harder, so it’s no easy task. In case a player fails to beat a city, he has to start again from the first city of the country he’s in. 

Colossatron is a blast! Everything from graphics and gameplay to the storyline is polished to perfection.
Gameplay in Colossatron is extremely easy and rewarding - at least during the first levels. The game is built around a giant robot snake (aka the colossatron) that destroys cities, which are defended by an army. You could think that a player needs to control the colossatron. Instead, a player’s role is to catch floating powercores and insert them tactically into the rampaging snake robot. Check out the video below to make sense of what I mean. 




Combining powercores in the heat of battle is simply a lot of fun! Some combinations are straightforward and logical, for example by inserting three missile launcher powercores, you get one big missile launcher. And, of course, combining three big missile launchers turns into one massive missile launcher.  Other combinations of powercores are more tricky, for example combining a laser beam with a missile launcher creates a flamethrower powercore. 

There are both soft and hard currencies in Colossatron. A player earns soft currency based on how much destruction he causes within a level. Hard currency is earned in more special occasions, such as destroying all four cities, or by randomly finding a hard currency power core inside a level.

A player mainly sinks soft currency by modifying the the colossatron between levels. Hard currency, on the other hand, can be used either to unlock and permanently boost powercores or (and more importantly) to instantly revive the colossatron and thus avoiding having to replay all the previous cities. This pay-to-continue mechanic is most likely the best monetization source in Colossatron as nothing is more frustrating than coming an inch away from beating the country and being forced to replay all the four cities from the beginning...  

There are two main reasons why Colossatron: Massive World Threat still unfortunately remains a niche hit: 
  1. It's a paid game in the free-to-play world. With the price tag of $0.99, game installs are limited to a fraction of what could be with a free game. It’s a shame as this is a game I believe a lot of people would love. 
  2. Level design: Simply getting rid of the price tag won't turn Colossatron into a successful freemium title due to the structure of the current level design, as well as the overall amount of levels. 28 levels are simply not enough. The little overshot level design would also quickly result in an overwhelming content treadmill for the team. Maybe streamlining some of the videos between lands and reusing land graphics would help with content creation. But based on how polished the game is, I'm in doubt that the team would compromise production value just to publish more levels. 

Do yourself a favor download Colossatron and check out the launch trailer below:
App Store: 
http://bit.ly/1fGCUWl
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1fokU2g
Amazon Appstore: http://amzn.to/JKz6Zp