Liliana Rocha: Mastering creativity and testing for ASO

By
Homa Games
/
September 3, 2021

This series highlights the work of Homa’s colleagues and partners, new or renowned, big or small, famous or just starting, but leaving a mark on the industry by their exciting contributions and personal touch. Let us introduce you to our Homa Heroes.

At Homa Games, we’re always looking for ways to make games accessible for the largest number of people. As games have a huge visual component, many designers and artists are involved in the process. We talked with Liliana Rocha, Marketing Artist, about her journey into the gaming industry and how she contributes to games’ success through graphic design.


1. Tell us about yourself and your past experience, how did you get into designing for a gaming company?

I was always interested in game design (being a very avid gamer myself), so very early into my university studies I decided I wanted to focus my masters degree on Game Design, namely narratively driven games. I worked at some indie studios as a game artist/graphic designer for a couple of years before joining the casual-mobile company Miniclip for 5 years, where I experienced the functions of a game artist, marketing artist, and promo artist.

Due to my experience in marketing within the casual gaming industry, I ultimately joined Homa Games to share my learnings and help the company grow.


A normal day for a Marketing Artist can go from designing a game logo to playing/recording the current game prototype and defining a marketing strategy.

2. How would you describe a normal day at Homa Games?

A normal day for a Marketing Artist can go from designing a game logo to playing/recording the current game prototype and defining a marketing strategy. Sometimes we need to balance requests from several different games under production at once, so a good dose of prioritization and time management is needed. And if the creative team or marketing team also needs an extra hand with some last minute illustrated assets, I can also pitch in.


3. So there’s a new game ready to be released. Which are the main elements to take into account when designing for the app stores?

  • Icon—first contact for many users with the game, so it needs to be distinctive
  • Screenshots—summarizing in 3 screens the gameplay ‘narrative’
  • Promo Video—showing in less than 5 seconds what the game is all about
  • Feature Graphic—designing an illustration of the game  for store featuring
  • Game Logo—will be present on the video, creatives, feature graphic, and ingame


4. How can you make sure a game it’s going to be a success with ASO?

There is never complete certainty of success while designing an ASO plan. App store optimization is dependent on the product’s clarity and marketability, so changing an icon, screenshots, or feature graphic won’t do much if the game is flawed or doesn’t have longevity.
Every game is different, and each one draws in completely different players and demographics, so that’s why it’s important to establish a good AB testing plan before the game is ready to publish. To make a good campaign, one must understand:

  1. The core gameplay of the game
  2. The types of messages within the game
  3. If there are iconic visual elements that differ from other games
  4. What our competitors are doing within the same genre/theme


5. Can you share an example?

Sure, let’s use one of our main games to exemplify. When Farm Land was going to be published, the original icon presented the main purple stickman farmer in front of a barn.

While doing my initial research, I realized that message/structure was incredibly common on the game store, so a new visual strategy was in order.

After playing the game and understanding the core mechanics, I concluded that we could focus on several different messages:

  • Planting
  • Watering
  • Harvesting
  • Taking care of farm animals
  • And ultimately, teamwork

As you can see, the first AB test results were incredibly conclusive, and after a few days and additional tests we understood that the mechanic of hiring new farm members was the most important and visually iconic.


6. Can you share some tips for designers wanting to get into the gaming industry?

  • Focus on your strengths and improve them
  • Stare at your weaknesses, draw a breath, and steadily try to bring them to a comfortable level
  • Don’t be afraid to try new branches within the creative industry, that’s how you clarify what you want to be specialized on
  • Understand the importance of each team when designing a game
  • Be aware of the hardships each team faces during development, so you can easily reach a compromise if the need arises
  • Don’t be afraid to fail and avoid perfectionism


7. What’s the game you never stopped playing?

I don’t play multiplayer/live-service games, but there are some videogame jewels that i revisit quite often:

  • The Curse of Monkey Island
  • ‍Dragon Age: Origins
  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Grim Fandango
  • Undertale
  • Super Mario World
  • Witcher 3 & Thronebreaker
  • The Sims


8. Everyone at Homa Games enjoys your designs for social media, can you show us your favorites?

I think Kaiju Run’s Summer Holidays and Farm Land’s Watermelon Day are currently my favourite campaigns. Those were very fun to design.

Game art based of Farm Land and Kaiju Run.


9. How do you unlock creativity?

That’s a very broad question, and it differs completely from person to person, but I'll try to share some usual pointers for artists:

  • Engage with fun/creative people, brainstorming is the best way to unlock ideas
  • Browse works/series/games of people that already inspire you, but also brand new artists! We all have our preferences, but sometimes we need to face new & fresh perspectives
  • Don’t be afraid to daydream, some ideas need to be nurtured to grow
  • As silly as some trends are, sometimes being in the loop will allow you to consider different strategies and understand what people are craving for
  • As basic as it gets: go for a walk and observe the world around you

Idle Landmark Tycoon

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