Flying Nashi – とびなっしー ranks #1 in the Japanese App Store
Listen to the amazing story of how an AppsFresh student named Sergio made his first iOS game in a week and reach #1 spot in the Japanese iTunes charts.
He is giving all his secrets away. A must-hear!
Welcome to the Mobile app flipping broadcast. This is your host Yohann Taieb. My goal is to help you get the most out of reskinning apps. Whether you are already a full time entrepreneur or trying to get a business going, this broadcast is for you. We will be interviewing professionals that are already doing app reskinning for a living. We will also invite source code sellers to get to learn both what they have to offer and finally we will talk to industry experts to learn how to become more productive at flipping apps and now without further ado let’s get started.
Today I have an amazing amazing guest. His name is Sergio Carrilho and Sergio is one of my students that took the course the flappy bird clone source code. I don’t want to say too much about Sergio. The only that I want to say is that he made it first in the Japanese app store after taking that course.
Yohann Taieb: Hi Sergio! How are you?
Sergio Carrilho: Hi, hello. Fine.
Yohann: Nice to have you hear on this show.
Sergio: Nice to be here with you.
Yohann: My pleasure.
So it’s a little bit of a different story. In the sense that, you were the first in the app store. But before we even get there I want to know what’s your background? What type of job… Is that a hobby for you? Or what’s your background? You know where do you live and all those little things about you.
Sergio: Basically I live in Japan in Tokyo. And I am an Engineer. I have a Master’s in computer science. But basically my main job is on security. Software security, mobile applications security. So making games I can say it’s a hobby. That was the first game I ever made basically.
Sergio: I have ever made for the app store.
Yohann: So you tried before probably. Even myself before I was in app store I was doing flash or C++ or computer stuff. I am sure that’s what you tried before right?
Sergio: Yes yes.
Basically byte and java. It was mainly a hobby. Actually I took this opportunity with this game was to learn about iOS and cocos2D studio and how actually the applications work with app store and the process and so on. So it was more like…well an activity to learn more about iOS and app store.
Yohann: Ok so it was mostly of an education purpose.
Sergio: Yes exactly.
Yohann: So basically you were not expecting much out of it right?
Sergio: Not exactly. One of the things that I also wanted to try was the marketing component. Because I was really amazed with the story of Tinder. I mean the guys they would like to throw parties to throw the advertisement. So I actually wanted to try what works and what doesn’t work. So basically I also went to the night clubs like in on the weekends. Basically breathing stuff about my game and I not know paying drinks to some people to install it. It was also fun like learning more about advertisement. Actually what works and what doesn’t work for the Japanese market. I also thought it was like a big market. So it is worth learning about it.
Yohann: And also yeah and tweaking and see what works and what doesn’t.
Yohann: So first let’s explain to the audience the game that you made. So it’s a clone of the flappy bird game. Now what was the name of that game that you made?
Sergio: So it’s Flying Nashi とびなっしー Nashi is a Japanese character.
Yohann: Ok so is that a famous character? I personally have never heard about that character before? So is that something that everybody knows in Japan?
Sergio: Ya it’s a very popular character actually. Well, there are many characters so it’s one of them.
Yohann: Now what I was wondering when I saw it in the app store is that usually there is like copyrights you know on characters. Tomorrow I cannot just use any Pokemon characters you know, I will have to have the rights to use it. So how did it work for you?
Sergio: Actually this character is kind of interesting because it’s a character for one of the prefectures.
So basically who owns it, it’s kind of difficult to find out. So what I did was when I was looking for a character, I was looking at the app store to see which characters were being used and by who. This character has been used by many games and many applications.
Yohann: Got it.
Sergio: So the next step I did was actually to get in contact with the owner, right? But it was quiet interesting because I have contacted different people that were supposedly the owners. And most of them they were not really the owners. So I got some approval to use. I got some mails with no answer basically. So I used the character anyway and I contacted the people saying that I’m going to use it.
Yohann: Ok yeah, so basically you covered yourself. In the sense that if somebody says you didn’t talk to anyone or just did it on your own, you actually now have written approval from people.
Yohann: Ok ok I see.
Now I just want to tell to the audience that there is a website out there that tells you which characters, I am not going to say open source but characters that have no copyrights. In the sense that you can use. For example there are a plenty of fairy tale characters that I use myself. For instance Frankenstein. So you can actually use Frankenstein in any of your games. You can also use Dracula, you know vampires. Plenty of those very famous characters like you know comic characters or drawings that you can actually use and there is no copyrights on it for many reason. Because it’s been here forever. In the sense that those characters were created before copyrights were ever invented. You know before the actual system of copyrights was invented. So anyone could just go there and just use them. Just type on Google, list of characters that have no copyrights and you will have 100′s of them, literally 100′s of them.
Sergio: Ok ok. That’s very good to know.
Yohann: So give us a number. So what I know is that you hit first in the Japanese app store. Now what did it correspond to the number of downloads on a peak day?
Sergio: On a peak day, basically, the total number of downloads right now is more than 70,000 and on the peak day it’s mostly on weekends that’s what I realize. Mondays are not that good and on the weekends, well the best, like the best weekend was I think if I recall was like 10000 or 15000.
Yohann: Very nice. Very nice.
Sergio: And that was actually quite interesting because in the beginning I played with the physics of the game and it was kind of difficult. And I thought it was ok like that. So in the first week or in the first two weeks I got a lot of complaints from people telling it’s difficult. So as soon as I made it easier, I got like a huge peak of downloads and it was amazing. Like 15,000 downloads like overnight.
Yohann: It’s funny to say that because the actual source code from the flappy coco course is made to be difficult. You know that’s actually the main purpose. The objective is that it’s very hard that you can only get to very low score. So how did you do to make it easier? Did you play with the variables at the beginning of the file? You know what I am talking about? You know like there is a variable that says what is the distance between the pipes. In the sense that you can actually play with that and say like let’s say between we are going to make the opening between the pipes longer or have the pipes more away from each other so the player has more time to recover. Is that what you really did to make it easier?
Sergio: Well not really. It was actually playing with the size of the character.
Yohann: Oh ok got it.
Sergio: Where it actually hits the pipes or not. Because I also didn’t want to make it very very easy because that goes against like Japanese culture. If it’s too easy they will just not play it.
Yohann: Right. There is no challenge anymore. That’s right.
So what I did was basically play with how it hits the pipes. Because for me, the pipes distance is fine.
Yohann: So you are going the easy way. I didn’t even have to think about it. But you are right You just have to resize the main character and make it you know just a smaller size and it would be easier to play because it won’t hit the pipe that often. Definitely.
Yohann: Alright. Ok got it.
So you said that was the first time you actually had a game in any stores? Am I right?
Sergio: Yes correct.
Yohann: Have you actually tried before to get something done?
Sergio: Not really.
Yohann: So that was your first shot?
Sergio: Ya that was my first shot.
Yohann: Ok Wow!
I mean I got to be honest. Congratulations. You can do even better than myself. I consider myself as being up there. I have been in the industry for a long time and I can assure that my first shots were horrible. In the sense that the number of downloads were not even close to what I was hoping for.
Sergio: Ok. Well may be there was like a beginner’s luck.
Yohann: Who knows. It could be.
Sergio: Let’s see the other ones. That’s what I am actually testing with the other one which is the second one which is a reskin for the white tile and well let’s see how it goes.
Yohann: Well ok. So first tell me more about the source code. Are you planning to add more functionality to the game or you are going to leave it as it is?
Sergio: Well, I’m actually kind of I am thinking of adding levels in-app purchases. Like right now I am more kind of interested to making new games.
Sergio: So for now for the next 1 or 2 months I will probably release one more game and then I will go back to this one.
Yohann: Ok. Because there is still plenty of options. I mean the codes is made in such a way that it is accessible for any level.So there are some functionalities like that I took away from you know. Into he sense that I removed facebook and twitter share. But you are only 1 step away from adding that.
Sergio: Yeah. Actually I saw the source code. There is actually a lot of stuff you can do with the source code.
Yohann: Yeah you saw that. Ok so you are a computer scientist so you can actually understand what is written there. Yes, so as you noticed there is plenty of things that can be added you know , you are like only 2 step away from adding facebook and twitter share. You can also add email sharing. You can email somebody about the game. You can also add video adds. That’s also a good source of revenue. It’s as easy as you know turning off and on some stuff. There’s many reasons why I removed that. I wanted to make it easy so anybody could do it. But I wanted to make sure that if you want to go the extra mile, it is doable so you can add in-app purchases and things like that. You can remove adds and things like that. Actually there is definitely lots of potential. And actually as a matter of fact some other students went the extra mile. You know they like hired a freelancer to add those features to their app. Because you know, once you know you are making money out of it, then you know you are like why should I just not reinvest some money out of it.
Sergio: Ya that’s true. That’s totally true.
Yohann: Now question. How much did it cost you to just make that game? Between the source code and the graphics and everything else that you may have had to do. Tell me.
Sergio: Well let me see in total, I had to buy some stuff like the music and some graphics. So for like the game well $100 for the apple developer program. So I would say may be $250 may be.
Yohann: $250 to make it to you know the first spot in Japan. I would say that is a sweet deal. Yeah?
Sergio: Ya it is indeed.
Yohann: I mean in America it is not even a price of hiring one Engineer for one day. So can you imagine a company like candy crush. I mean you did beat companies like candy crush or you know clash of clans, super cells. All those big companies you beat them all.
Ya ya for 2 weeks.
Yohann: Ya I know I mean. I got to say that’s amazing. One man against those big companies that have 100′s if not 1000′s of employees. How does it make you feel?
Sergio: Well it was like really cool to see it on the first spot. It was nice.
Yohann: So what did your friends and family say about that?
Sergio: Well congratulations. Well the same old things.
Yohann: So did that motivate them? So did you try to get them to make the same thing as you.
Sergio: Ya actually, I got quite a couple of friends interested in that because… In the beginning people they were saying common like with flappy bird, come on. It’s just….
Yohann: There is no way.
Sergio: It’s not going to work. Then they saw the number increasing. Eventually when it entered the tops like 10, 2nd and first, people started realizing we can actually make some money.
Yohann: Well nobody believed it until it actually happens.
Sergio: Well maybe around me, maybe 4 or 5 friends that already started…
Yohann: Now I mean you are the master you know you are the master in your circle and you made it.
Sergio: Not really and it’s nice to see people, well, investing their times doing some cool stuff.
Yohann: Well definitely, you definitely had some positive impact on them. In the sense that they saw it that it works, so they actually want to try on own their own. So you motivated them to go to the next level, learn more, create their own business and living a different life style. Definitely.
Sergio: It’s not only that. If some more friends doing that actually we can do some stuff doing together. Well that’s more power actually.
Yohann: It’s a win win. Definitely. And it’s motivating for you too. In the sense that knowing that you have some friends around you doing the same thing, you guys can interact together, exchange ideas and come up with some new things. Definitely.
Sergio: Yeah definitely.
Yohann: So now little bit about the reskinning process. So how did you think like on the scale from 1 to 10, how difficult was the reskinning process of changing all the graphics and sound?
Sergio: I did it all by myself. So basically changing things is very easy. It’s really straightforward. All the files are well organized and the names are very clear. So well, if you have the resources, it’s quite easy. It’s just drag and drop and then like clean and build.
So the only thing that took me some time but I also wanted to do it was like doing the design myself and like choosing the sounds and everything. Well, once you have the resources, I mean it’s really straightforward.
Yohann: Now question. It was more of a education purpose to create the graphics on your own, right?
Now did you follow my video or you already know how to use you know like image processing software like Photoshop or Gimp.
Sergio: Well I have used it like long time ago. But basically I followed your video. I got some very nice tips for example I don’t remember which one that you mentioned that these icons, like the icon packages there.
Yohann: Oh so you went to appsfresh.com and got those professional icon templates?
Sergio: I actually didn’t get it because I only saw it afterwards. But I will definitely get it. Because I spent some time making the icons and I mean like it’s really easy to just use that package.
Yohann: Ya definitely. I mean I am going to say it again, icons are so important. In the sense that this is the first thing people see about your app.
Sergio: And I mean like I talked with a couple of friends and they actually told me I don’t want to have some icon on my phone that looks bad. It makes my phone look bad.
It is true. Icons they really make a difference. They really make a difference in the app store. So if your icon… I am not sure about other markets but like in the Japanese market there is this concept of Kowaii which is cute. If your icon doesn’t look good probably the people they will not download it. So I would say I spent like around 15% of my time and just drawing the icon and playing it again and again and again until I was like kind of satisfied.
Yohann: So your icon primary color is basically yellow. Like you know some kind of like yellow bird right? Like very bright yellow right?
Sergio: Yeah yeah…
Yohann: With 2 eyes and a cute face on it right?
Yohann: And what I liked about it is that the yellow color is very prominent. In the sense that it takes the whole icon and not just one face or one bird within the icon. It’s actually taking the whole icon like icon itself was a bird.
Yohann: That really stands out. In the sense that it takes the whole icon.
Sergio: Yeah yeah.
Yohann: Question on the next app that you are working on white tiles one. Are you planning on doing the graphics yourself or you going to get a professional freelancer or graphic designer?
Sergio: Well actually I have done it myself and it’s in the app store. And I released it on when was that like last week.
Yohann: I want to know that secret sauce. I mean you always find the right themes pretty you know pretty easily. Because many people are asking me how do you find the right themes or you know the right trends to apply to a game? It seems that you kind of know your market pretty well.
Sergio: Ya I think that is the thing. So I kind of know what the Japanese like or don’t like and actually my goal and my target is for Japanese market. That’s why I do the whole localization thing and try to find themes that they think it’s nice or…
Yohann: And you bring up a very good point. In the sense that you are not just doing a game for the whole world. You are doing a game for a specific store. In the sense that it’s a lot more targeted. You know that culture better than anybody else. That’s what people should learn from you. Sometimes we are like oh ok I am just going to do this theme. But you are right some themes just are not going to work in some stores. But they do really great in some other ones.
Sergio: Yeah definitely.
Yohann: Ok. So now what’s next for you? You’re still going to keep it as a hobby right? You still want to just learn now right?
Sergio: So basically for now I have released this new game well which is called happy finger. It’s based on the white tile and I am currently working on another game. Probably it would take me 2 or 3 weeks. But yeah, well I have kind of like learned all I wanted to learn. I talked with a friend which is a graphic designer.
Yohann: Ah there you go.
Sergio: Ya so it will make like things easier. Because I mean, I lost a lot of, I mean not really lost a lot of time. But I mean…
Yohann: You could save more time if somebody’s doing it.
Sergio: Yes definitely. I have to learn a lot.
Yohann: How long did it take you to make your first Flying Nashi game?
Sergio: It took me one month.
Yohann: Oh yeah definitely. You just did it on the side, right? You still have your full time job.
Yohann: So a few hours here and there right?
Sergio: I could have actually like 3 days I think. But I mean I wanted to actually tweak it and basically to find the right background music. So something catchy and basically to well, to actually draw the character very well and find a nice background and time to advertise to go those like night clubs.
Yohann: So let’s talk about that. So you actually went. You were in Japan, so where in Japan were you? So you went to night club in which city?
Sergio: Japan in Tokyo.
Yohann: In Tokyo. So you were there you know in a club and you talk to some random people out there in the club. So is that what you did?
Sergio: Ya completely random people. And I did some prints of the character with a website and a link and I was just like leave it on the table. Pay some drinks to some people just to install the game. All of this kind of stuff.
Yohann:That’s kind of interesting. I am going to have to try that. That may be a great pickup line. Hi, do you want to download my game?
Sergio: Ya ya.
Yohann: I will definitely have to try that. I will let you know if that works, ok?
Yohann: Well it did work for you. So hopefully it is going to work for me right here in Miami. It’s a bit of a different crowd but I will give it a shot.
Now, so how do you plan to take it the next level? Are you planning to make more and more games or you want to try different types of apps. May be you know go into photo apps or anything like that? Do you have any plans or is it too early for you?
Sergio: No, actually I have some ideas. I have a quite a lot of ideas. One of the things to get into this app was to learn iOS. So I have a couple of ideas for apps which are not games. I am kind of like baking them still. My final goal will be by the end of this year to make a very big app.
Yohann: So now you are planning to step away from reskinning and going with your own original apps. Is that what I am understanding?
Sergio: Yes yes.
Yohann: Ok good.
So basically you took the reskinning process to help you understand the whole mechanics and whole domain. And now that you understand what’s going on you want to make your own app right?
Sergio: Yes yes.
Yohann: That makes sense. Definitely.
Sergio: That was like really amazing. I think, well, the price for the first step I think like it’s super super cheap like compared with what I gained from it. It was basically an understanding of the app store. It was basically an understanding of how advertising works. And I mean like your course, it was really like form zero to one hundred you know.
Sergio: It teaches everything.
Yohann: You actually saw that at the end you had your game in the store and money was coming in. So how did you feel when you got your first dollar out it?
Sergio: That was interesting. That was definitely interesting and I was like ok actually I am making something. It was like at the time it was like 15 Yen. 15 Yen is like what around 20 cents. I don’t know. It was like so ok let’s see in the beginning like I just wanted to basically cover my expenses. So yeah, well but it’s doing quite well so.
Yohann: Good good. Good to hear.It’s interesting.
It’s always a great story to hear that you are not expecting much and you are just covering your price so you just you know get the education out of it. And actually now you actually can make a business out of this.
Sergio: Ya sure sure definitely.
Yohann: So from what I understand did you read any book before? Anything that has to do with mobile apps?
Sergio: Not really not really. It was like form zero so….
Yohann: So people out there, they know that reading books is always a plus but it’s not mandatory, right? So you are the living proof that you can do it without reading a book and just by jumping in. That is what you did. You just took the course and hit the top chart.
Sergio: Definitely, the course was like a really really good way of starting up and I mean like it takes you like through all the process as I said from 0 to 100 so yeah, before I even touch the code until I am in the app store.
Now ok that’s pretty much everything that I wanted to know. Is there any online resource that you could advice to anyone that would love to get any type of information to simplify their life in the mobile app business?
Sergio: Yeah, some of the resources that I use it’s actually like from one of the episodes of your course, it’s to get resources from the game developers. Like images and sounds. One really nice software that I looked a lot for such a software and I found it is this Audacity, which is free like for like sounds and I really recommend it. It has like lots and lots of filters. You can make lots of stuff. You can also see for the happy finger game and for this like Flying Nashi, actually the voice is my girlfriend’s voice. So I just changed the pitch and…
Yohann: You just made it like higher pitch and is that what you did?
Sergio: Yeah yeah…
Yohann: Got it. Definitely. And actually I am using Audacity to edit this podcast.
Yohann: Ye thanks for mentioning that. Definitely. It’s a free software for any Mac computer. So just look for it on the web. It’s called Audacity. Ok? Look for it. It’s free. It’s a great software, very stable and very easy to pick up. And it can help anybody not just for the mobile app industry but anything that has got to do with sound engineering. Definitely. Thanks for this bit of information. Definitely.
Sergio: A recommendation would only be a I am kind of struggling with kind of these good software to make advertising in movies. There is like short movies. Because I am in Japan, I heard about this some stage app. Ya but. Well I cannot download it in the Japanese app store. So this one looks good for making introduction movies. And I haven’t really found a nice way of doing this movie. So if you have some recommendation.
Yohann: It’s perfect timing. I’d rather say I did not do any promotional and did not talk about it yet. You can go on appsfresh.com and it’s basically one of my partner Harlan that created an after effect script. It’s basically you download it and it creates a 15 to 30 sec trailer for your app.
Sergio: Ah great!
Yohann: We’re actually applying the reskinning process to the videos for creating videos. In the sense that you take 3 screenshots of your app and you say what is the name of the app and a little description and as soon as you double click on the script, it’s going to pickup those 3 images and it’s going to create a whole app trailer out of this.
Sergio: Ok definitely cool!
Yohann: It’s that easy! You know just drag drop 3 images, 3 screenshots and run the script after effect and you are done. And you know full screen, full resolution video app trailer that’s you can hit straight for google play and things like that. And you should definitely check it out on appsfresh.com and just type video trailer and you will find it there.
Sergio: Ok, going to like take it like right now after this talk.
Yohann: Oh ya definitely. I mean it’s something new like no one’s ever thought about doing something like that. Definitely and anyone should have something like that. It just saves time and money. Overtime you would save so much time and so much money. So it’s a no-brainer to me.
Sergio: Yeah yeah. I have been like wasting time testing software and movie and it just doesn’t do what I want.
Yohann: Ya I know what you mean. What we want is just a cookie cutter solution. You know something simple that you know just drag and drop a couple of things and press a button and be done with it.
Sergio: Yes yes.
Yohann: You don’t want to go full-scale an start creating you know professional commercials. It’s not what you want.
Sergio: Exactly. Definitely.
Yohann: Well that’s pretty much it now. So how can we get in touch with you?
Sergio: Well email or just drop me like a Skype call whatever.
Yohann: Ok so what’s your do you have a twitter account?
Yohann: What’s your handle? You don’t use it that much do you?
Sergio: Not really. Well let me share with you after this talk and…
Yohann: I am creating the show notes so no problem that works.
Sergio: Actually it’s like seergio.
Yohann: That’s it?
Sergio: Ya that’s it.
Yohann: So Seergio. That’s super easy. Good job!
Yohann: Cool. Alright well thanks for everything Sergio. I am sure people are going to love your interview because it’s full of gold nuggets. Even myself I learned a lot of things from you. And I wish you a lot of luck and lot of success in your mobile app business.
Sergio: Ok thanks a lot to you and thanks a lot for the course. It was really amazing and while I keep up doing this great job and helping everyone out there.
Yohann: Thank you always like to have some words of praise so it pushes me to motivated me to keep doing it and go to the next level to bring even more value to you guys. Thank you.
Sergio: Cool thank you very much.
Yohann: Alright Sergio keep in touch good luck.
Sergio: Ok thanks.
Yohann Taieb: Thanks for listening to the mobile app flipping podcast, if you find this podcast interesting, please subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review. Sharing is caring, spread the word.
You can also follow me on twitter, at Yohann305. Also, come to appsfresh.com, you’ll find all the episodes, the show notes, and resources to make you more productive.
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