Frequently Asked Questions
How to get started
The architecture and basic concepts of the engine are explained in "Flock Basics". After reading it you should have an idea of the engine's capabilities and limits, and how to use it to connect your clients. A step-by-step tutorial for setting up a new project in Eclipse can be found here. The SDK includes a couple of (simple) examples which work out of the box. Have a look at them to see the engine in action.
How to monetize a multiplayer app
This answer is only scratching the surface; we are working on expanding it. Essentially multiplayer games require recurring hosting server expenses, hence it's necessary to earn more revenue from a single user than the costs which he produces. $1.00 will allow one player 2000 hours online gaming, which is four years of playing ten hours a week (or 10 years playing four hours a week). Depending on how much you expect your average user to play, you'll need to generate at least that much revenue per user to be profitable.
Considering the problem of the initial userbase, we recommend to always launch a free version (eg. alongside a paid one). This will drastically increase the number of available players in the lobbies (much to the advantage of players of a possible paid version). Based on our experience, ad supported games with non-intrusive ads (eg. just after the game) easily earn many times the costs of the hosting. We've had very good experiences with AdMob as ad provider.
If you plan to provide a paid version, you need reasons for your users to buy it. This could be an ad-free version (which would hurt your recurring revenue), but also to provide other incentives such as additional levels, inventory, new difficulties, etc. (and perhaps reduce the number of ads).
Another way to earn revenue from users is by providing in-game purchases of certain inventory items. See Zynga for a very successful company implementing this model (Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc.). Here is a great post about 8 ways FarmVille is designed for engagment, some of it's ideas could be applicable for your game too.
How to achieve the initial userbase
Building a vital initial userbase is the first and primary challenge when launching a multiplayer game. If the critical mass is achieved, users will get connected within a couple of seconds. Our case studies on Connect Four Online and Don't Connect Four have shown that it is possible to achieve a critical mass within one or two days with no marketing at all.
You should plan your release in advance and think of ways how to reach as many people as you can at the launch date. Prepare a blog post about the project, talk to other people in advance, perhaps send a mail with a beta version to bloggers you know from planetandroid.com. Ask for reviews and at launch submit your post to your favorite social news site.
Celebrate the release with a small release party with friends, the real-time statistics interface makes it fun to watch the players connecting, and you can take over if a game needs just one player more.