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Flash games in Multimedia Fusion - Ads, analytics, leaderboards and distribution

Hey folks!

DISCLAIMER: this post is HUGE and will not be of interest to most of you who are not game developers. It's meant to be a 'survival guide' to game developers who use Multimedia Fusion and that are interested in having ad monetization, analytics, leaderboards, cloud saving and distribution to their games. Many people who developed Flash games in Multimedia Fusion or Clickteam Fusion 2.5 were affected by the recent shutdown of Mochi, a company that provided all of those services and that were the standard choice for this community of developers.

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If you are a Flash game developer (using Multimedia Fusion or not), this guide might be of use! The caveat is that we MMF users can't directly edit the ActionScript code of our apps, so we can't easily integrate with any service; we depend on platform independent services or stuff that had its API integrated to MMF through an extension. However, general Flash users can use this guide as a compilation of services that I have already gone through the trouble of researching and comparing.

If you're still with me, keep reading! :)




There are lists going around on where to go if you are a Mochi orphan, but most of it doesn’t apply to us MMF users. Since we depend on extensions that are developed by volunteers in the community, that fact is that many extensions simply stopped working at some point, and many are not supported anymore.

So, a lot of research later, this is what I found to be the current state of things: there are some viable, working, easy enough alternatives for everything that Mochi used to do! These were the things that Mochi provided in a nutshell:

1. Ad monetization. You decide when and where to show ads in your game, and you get paid everytime you do so.

2. Distribution. You upload your game somewhere, and it automatically appears in several arcade sites, therefore bringing traffic to your game (and its ads).

3. Analytics. You can check some graphics and see at a glance how your game is performing in terms of retaining players and making money, what sites are driving more gameplays, etc.

4. Leaderboards. With minimum effort, you tell your game to send a score and user name to some server, and then call a function that displays an overlay on top of your game showing a leaderboard.

Mochi did all that with varying degrees of quality. They are gone now, which is sad. The good news, though, is that if you are a MMF user and you know what you’re doing, you can get all that to work again, and maybe even make it a little better than before!


Ad Monetization

I found 5 MMF-supported services that will allow you to show ads and get paid for it: CPMStar, FGL Ads, Ad4Game, Kongregate and Mindjolt.

1. CPMStar 

Service page: https://www.cpmstar.com/
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/64779-Want-to-use-CPMStar

This MMF extension can’t be made readily available for download, so you need to PM Looki or Steven in the Clickteam forums for it. When you create your account in CPMStar, you’ll need a ‘sponsor’ to approve it. Currently, Steven has a sponsor account in there, so he can approve you (he’ll get a cut of the game ad revenue, but that cut will NOT come from your part; it’ll come from CPMStar’s cut).
The biggest advantage of CPMStar over the other 4 services is that it gives you some control over when and where to show ads, and which kind of ads. You can either call a ‘Preroll’ ad which should be displayed while the game loads, or an ‘Interlevel’ ad, which is meant to be a banner you can place anywhere. Currently I’m troubleshooting with Steven and Looki to filter out video ads in moments when only a banner would be appropriate, but I’m sure we’ll get that solved soon!
PS.: I don’t think CPMStar offers any kind of distribution for your games; you have to get that done by yourself (but we’ll get to that).

2. Ad4Game

Service page: http://ad4game.com/
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/86174-Example-Ad4Game-Ingame-Ads-support

Pharanygitis developed the “Flash Images Plus” extension, which is required to integrate Ad4Game, as well as an example on how to integrate its ads in MMF. Both are available from this link: http://nijumi.com/cf25/. His example works quite well! I know very little about this company and their site sucks at providing clear and useful information before you create an account (in fact, all sites suck in that department compared to Mochi), but the flexibility on how and when to display ads appeals a lot to me! If I can't get CPMStar to work as I need, Ad4Game us surely the next one I'll try using myself.

3. FGL Ads

Service page: https://www.fgl.com/
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/85893-Mochi-Media-is-shutting-down-(/page4

Look for Pharanygitis’ post on page 4 in this forum thread. The extension allows both Preroll and banner ads, although you can't decide very precisely when to hide a banner, which might be problematic to control the context when banners are appearing or not (you can set a countdown time for it to disappear, though). Pharanygitis is still working on this extension, though (it is quite recent as I write this), so this may change soon!
FGL also offers the possibility to sell branded versions of it to potential sponsors if you wish to do so. I didn’t try any of that myself, but I know some people are quite happy working under that model too.
It should be noted that two other services mentioned below are also part of FGL: Gamersafe (a cloud storage / leaderboard / IAP / achievements solution) and Flash Game Distribution (an automated way of making your game flow to several arcade sites). As far as my current understanding goes, you can use Gamersafe as a standalone service while going for some other provider for serving ads. However, Flash Game Distribution is tied up to the FGL Ads service (you must integrate their API), and they will automatically add a Preroll ad while your game loads if you choose to distribute it via Flash Game Distribution.

4 and 5. Kongregate and Mindjolt


Kongregate developer page: http://developers.kongregate.com/
Quick Kong MMF extension:  http://community.clickteam.com/threads/80645-Beta-QuickKong-(alternate-Kongregate-extension)

Mindjolt developer page: http://developer.mindjolt.com/
Mindjolt MMF extension: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/71459-Mindjolt

Kongregate and Mindjolt are a different science. All I did was confirming they really work with MMF (reading several forum threads and testing the extensions), but I have no hands on experience with them. From what I understand, both are game portals that have a lot of traffic, and they both get their ad revenue from ads positioned all around their site and from preroll ads that are displayed while your game is loading. The extensions are only used to connect your game to their services (and in Mindjolt’s case, you have to call an action in the extension to start the Preroll ad), but you’re limited to their policy and method to place ads. You can’t go like “you know what, I’ll show a quick banner here while the player is looking at his highscore”. They decide when and where to place ads, not you. You simply integrate the extension in your game, upload it on their sites, and they’ll get you a part of the money they manage to get from the traffic your game has. The Quick Kong extension also has a “Send Stat” action, which from what I understood is used only to track events that can then be retrieved as some sort of analytics report. Don’t trust me on those, though. I didn’t dig a lot on these two and could also use some insights on them.


Distribution

You can basically go two ways here: either you monetize your game with a provider that both manages to place ads and get traffic (Kongregate, Mindjolt and maybe FGL), or you monetize your game with a provider that focuses only on allowing ads in your game (CPMStar, Ad4Game and FGL) and then use some other method to get your game in as many sites as possible.

Each approach has its pros and cons. You could even do both! If you go with Kong and Mindjolt, it should be pretty straightforward: use their API (extensions linked above) to connect your game to them, and upload your game on their sites. If you decide to go the other route, though, you should probably start by using one or more services that automatically spreads your game to many arcade sites, and then manually upload / send emails to other arcade sites. The automatic approach should be quite easy, while the non-automatic approach will obviously give you a lot more work, but it can be useful to squeeze some more bucks from your game - I don’t know how much, I’m a real noob to this ad monetization thing!

Anyway, here are some of the ‘massive’ approaches (tks Steve for the info!):

flashgamedistribution.com - This service is part of FGL, and there was a recent change in how it works. In short, right now it only allows you to use Flash Game Distribution if you integrate your game with their API / extension, which will make it display a FGL managed preroll ad! It surely looks promising to increase your traffic, but limiting the distribution only to FGL Ads-enabled games removed a lot of the flexibility of Flash Game Distribution. Looks to me that using Flash Game Distribution will force you to use FGL as your ad provider.

http://www.talkarcades.com/gamefeed.php - I haven't explored this option yet.

And here’s a huge list of arcade sites to which you can manually upload (I hope they don't take this page down!)
http://wiki.mochimedia.com/w/page/15156191/Flash%20Game%20Portals%20to%20Submit%20Your%20Game

I never did any of those actions regarding distribution (I was using Mochi till a few days ago). I’m putting these references together for your convenience, but unfortunately I can’t help you troubleshoot if you run into any problems, so please do some research (and let me know how it actually works in the comments, if you will!) ;)


Analytics

Ok, so let’s be honest here: Mochi analytics actually sucked. It did have some good looking dashboards, but that was eye candy only, as ultimately it didn’t really help you track and slice your players’ usage data in metrics that you could actually use to improve your game. I guess that the very basic info (how many ads were shown each day, what was your eCPM, etc) will be available in any of these ads platforms I’ve mentioned. If you just wanna look every once in a while how much money you are making, you probably won’t need anything else. If you do need some serious metrics, though, you will need to integrate your game with some sort of cloud-based data collection service. From all that I researched, two looked better to integrate with MMF: Scoreoid and Game Analytics.

Scoreoid

Service page: http://scoreoid.net/
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/81036-Easy-cross-platform-high-scores-cloud-data-storage-push-notifications-with-Scoreoid
I’ve been using it for the past month and I’m very happy with it! It allows you to store player info on their servers, which you can then pull somehow and paste in Excel to slice and dice your data as you see fit. It will also allow you to create cloud based save for your players, if you want to create a persistent world or something. Manwich created a nice tutorial + example on how to use Scoreoid from within MMF. One strong problem about them is that they don’t offer any easy alternative to download all players’ data at once. We had to create a little application that pulls all info, one field at a time, and export it as a CSV. It does work, though! But since my game doesn’t take any advantage from cloud saving (I use Scoreoid as of now solely for collecting game usage analytics), I would first try to implement Game Analytics before going for Scoreoid.

Game Analytics

Service page: http://www.gameanalytics.com/benefits.html
MMF usage: see the link for Scoreoid's MMF usage! Basically, you would need to use the GET Object and go by the same approach demonstrated by Manwich with Scoreoid. It basically consists of you being able to connect your game to Game Analytics and then send them your data points. What seems to be their big advantage is that their main focus is analytics, so they provide on their site tons of dashboards breaking your data in all possible manners. I’m not sure if you can download all of your data in case you need to slice and dice it in a spreadsheet to see stuff not supported by their web dashboards. Also, while Scoreoid is a paid service beyond a certain amount of players, I believe Game Analytics is free without limits, but again, I have no hands on experience on this one. Ah, I don’t think it can help you with cloud saves, this one is really focused on analytics.


Leaderboards


I never got to integrate Mochi’s leaderboards into my games, so I can’t compare nor provide a lot of info here, but here’s what I got:

Gamersafe

Service page: https://www.gamersafe.com/developer/gamersafe_guide.php
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/65412-Beta-GamerSafe

Gamersafe looks like the leading option here. It has a nice extension developed for it, through which you can submit scores and then call an action that displays a leaderboard. Seemed to me like you don’t have to do anything other than calling the function (it already manages to create and display scores in an organized list). Haven’t tested it. It also allows cloud saving and has solutions for achievements, IAP, Facebook integration… Again I haven’t tested any of it, but it surely does sound like a great service and a great extension for MMF!

Scoreoid (again)

Service page: http://scoreoid.net/
MMF usage: http://community.clickteam.com/threads/81036-Easy-cross-platform-high-scores-cloud-data-storage-push-notifications-with-Scoreoid

From its name, one could guess that managing high scores was the original purpose of this service! I can see it being used that way to great effectiveness, but I haven’t tested so I can’t tell for sure. Scoreoid doesn’t offer a graphic interface from the shelf to display the scores, so you’d have to download the info with the GET Object and then parse the resulting xml string to get the individual scores, and then code a way to display them on screen (this is actually what the aforementioned tutorial by Manwich is all about). It’s a little more bureaucratic than Gamersafe, it seems, but should also give you more control on how the leaderboard actually looks. If you can't code very well, try Gamersafe. If you prefer to customize the looks of the leaderboard to integrate it better with your game, go for Scoreoid!

____________________________________


Well, that’s all for now!

I don't know, maybe I'll have the discipline to keep this post as an up-to-date overview of Multimedia Fusion capabilities for the aforementioned services, as I discover more about them and test them myself. Won't make any promises, though, since time is scarce these days! :)

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Cheers!

Gabriel “NecroLuigi”