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Will local 'Cownado' be the next Flappy Bird?

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Sep 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-26 04:00:23-04

CINCINNATI -- The success of the wildly popular smartphone game “Flappy Bird” showed that anyone could a make a simple fun game and turn it into a phenomenon. “Cownado” could be the next game to capture the top spot of the App Store charts and -- if the local developers behind the game have their way -- your attention, too.

“We wanted to make a fun, addictive game,” said Kenny Lykins, co-creator of Cownado. “With mobile games now, everything’s done for a short attention span, so we didn’t want to put too much into it.”

How You Play

Cownado is a simple game: Players control a platform rotating around the outside of a tornado; tapping the screen changes the rotation of the platform. The objective is to use the platform to bounce a cow flying through the vortex and keep it within the boundaries of the tornado. Each successful bounce nets the player one point.

If the cow flies out of the tornado, it’s game over.

In action, it’s a bit like playing a frantic game of pong against oneself.

The School of Google

Cownado is the first app created by Lynest Company, an LLC founded by Lykins and his friend Matt Ernest for the purpose of publishing Cownado on the Apple App Store. Lykins and Ernest began development of the game in January 2015 with no prior experience in programming or app development; their only IT-related experience came from video production work for their company, Youphoria Productions.

With an intriguing game concept, Lykins and Ernest had to figure out how to create the game and get it published. Lykins said that learning development came from one key location.

“Google,” said Lykins. “That’s pretty much it.”

Lykins and Ernest used a program called GameSalad, a beginner-friendly suite of game development tools, to create the game. Lykins’ fiancé Emily Turner created the game’s artwork using an iPad, a stylus and an app called Paper. From there, they used GIMP, an image manipulation program, to touch up the art.

Getting Published

While the actual game development fundamentals came relatively easily to Lynest Company, Lykins said the act of publishing the game threw a lot of hurdles their way.

“It was very difficult,” Lykins said. “You have to become a registered Apple Developer. That’s pretty easy, but in order to publish as a company, we had to register as an LLC, get a tax identification number for copyrights, and a D-U-N-S number. With the legal stuff out of the way, we had to get a bunch of certificates and provisioning profiles for the game, which allow it to be played across various Apple devices.”

Lynest Company launched the game after six months of development on June 19. According to Lynest, the game has reached 500 downloads so far.

Lynest is optimistic about the download metrics he has seen, considering Lynest Company is an unknown in a crowded space. In the coming months, Lynest Company plans to ramp up promotional efforts through a series of viral stunts that tie in with the game.

Play Cownado for Free

Cownado is a free download. Lykins said because of their unknown status, they felt people would be more likely to take a chance on their game by not having to pay for it. They achieved monetization by charging for powerups and offering a package that unlocks all the playable cows and removes the ads that play after a few Game Overs.

Cownado is only available through the Apple iOS App Store, but Lykins said an Android version is set to be released next month to coincide with a Halloween update that will bring a new theme and new cows to bounce around. Lykins also said he would love to make a Windows version, especially if the rumors about Microsoft’s Xbox One game console’s future support of Windows apps come to pass and allow players to experience Cownado on the TV.

Lykins said he has lots of ideas for future games, but he and the team want to prioritize supporting Cownado through seasonal updates first. For now, Lykins is excited by the future prospects of the game and proud of the work he and his team did on creating such a uniquely addictive experience.

”We just wanted to make the most basic game possible that’s also addictive,” explained Lykins. “I think we did it. It’s hard to find some game idea that isn’t too similar to something else, but I think we did that with Cownado. There’s nothing else like it out there.”