Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Game complete - todo: get rich;

This post is about something that most indie gamedevs suck at. Marketing... Or really what to do before marketing. Our game WordRoom is completed and shipped to four platforms with a common Windows Azure based back end. There will always be updates and new ideas, but the game is playable and most bugs are killed off.

We have a constant stream of new players and in this volatile online environment most of the try it once and disappear in the search for a game that suits their preferences better. That's perfectly fine, our game is a niche game for word gamers. The number of played minutes per day stays pretty much constant. Of course we want the numbers to increase, but how do we do that?

As I see it we have several ways to increase the amount of minutes played.

Try to keep players


The first way is to try to keep players to stay and one way to do that is to merge a small amount of social gaming into this game. In the current version we have a chat but it only works for the Windows 8 version due to the restriction of screen space on mobile devices. The players are pretty much cut of from each other apart from the gameplay itself. There is also no way to mock your opponents, like posting it to Facebook. This is something that we will have to add.

We have a new secret social feature being developed right now that will help to keep players around.

However, there is a very special kind of players, the POWER PLAYERS that play a lot. These are the people we need to reward. Some of them even posts new word lists to us. An idea is to create a reward system within the game so that you perhaps earn rank every time someone plays a category that you created.

Yet another feature is badges and achievements.

All of the above boils down to communicating back to the user. That is what we need to improve!



After all the above is fixed, we need to advertise. This is where our skills are next to zero. I don't know how to market a game or where to place the ads. Also the amount of cash we can spend here is limited. We have been pondering a lot about alternative marketing, such as funny Youtube videos and so on. Anyhow, this is where we need to improve, big time...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Artifical value

I have an ongoing experiment. We have a game called WordRoom that is supported on four platforms. Three of those are free (with ads) and one is $1 for a download. The platform we charge for is iOS.

My thesis is:

"By paying for a game, you are less likely to uninstall it since you've created a fictional value. By uninstalling the game you'll feel that you've thrown you money away and/or admit a bad decision".

My data is not statistically secure yet but it points towards that our iOS users have the highest return rate of all platforms.

The experiment goes on...

The other platsforms are Windows 8, Windows Phone and Android.

Monday, March 11, 2013

More polish - all that extra

Looking at WordRoom, we are closing in on a final set of features that we want to include. One new *secret* feature is under development and will be shipped in the Windows 8 version first and then ported to iOS, Android and WinPhone. Why Win8 first? Simply because we find it to be the easiest ecosystem to develop for and the certification time is only hours.

Are we done then?

Putting aside the fact that we always need new word lists and languages, we still have to continue to polish the game. Adding animations, sounds and fine tuning the graphics and such stuff. The new iOS version, for example, is a complete graphical remake. Every image is pixel perfect and nothing has to scale. The next update will focus on bringing more animations into the game. Like dust and smoke when you get your stars and perhaps achivements. I think people are more likely to return if the package looks good.

It's very satifying to have reached this stage of the project and somewhat scary to realize that the actual gameplay part of the game is so small compared to the polish...

What do you think could be added to the game that would fall under the categories of 'polish' or 'extras'?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Polish your game, programmer art style

This is just a short reminder of how important it is to polish your game. To begin with, I'm a programmer. I make programmer art. If you are a designer that would like to contribute to WordRoom (4 different clients and styles), please contact me!

Before polish number 1
The first image is the original iPhone version released about a week ago, in the beginning of march. It has kind of a design, but I'm not really happy with it. The buttons are different heights and since I'm using a generic background image, the edges are blurred. The icon used to represent a player looks just plain bad.

I needed to take this one step further. So what I did was:
  • Fixed margins on each side. Aligning the logotype and buttons to those margins
  • Created pixel perfect button backgrounds for each width and with a common height
  • New User icon. This will later be replaced with avatars in the near future.
  • Tried to balance the color scheme to get a balance between the buttons and background.
After polish number 1
My next step is to pass this around to get comments and tweak it a little more. After that I'll have to implement the new style on every layout in the game.

What do you think? And please remember, this is programmer art...

Monday, March 4, 2013

The experiment has begun!

As stated in a blog post earlier, WordRoom for iPhone is an experiment. The thesis to prove is that iOS users in general are more generous than any other platform users. I believe this is true.

Exibit A - myself

I try to use different platforms whenever possible and iPhone-using-me bought apps all the time. Mostly games for my son, but still I bought them. I never argued about 99 cents.

Exibit B - bad model in Microsoft Store

Microsofts store offers trials. That's great for the consumer but not so much for the developer. A lot of people will buy an app for 99 cents to try it out. Microsoft removes that business from developers and overall lowers the turn-around of their store.

Exibit C - android users in general

Always want everything for free. I haven't met an android user that wants to pay for anything. :) (oh, this is going to hurt)...

Results will be posted as soons as we have some hard (objective) facts! :)