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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Havent posted in a while

So I've been rather busy. Mostly with side projects not related to indie development but this happens when you aren't doing indie work full time. But! Some great things have been happening. We have gathered another artist and another programmer in our ranks. White Box is five strong now! We are a real indie group! So we are now in full swing on pumping out the rest of the work for our next title.

Sad to say to some degree that this title is an experiment for our group too. Another testing of the waters to make sure our group works. But I have already don't about 2/5 of the art for the game so kicking out the rest will be easy.

Also, we are going to be working with adding Facebook posting abilities from the game to give your high score on your face book. This should be an interesting attempt at some free advertising.

On an un-related note. I'm also in the middle of giving Marty Mongoose a rather large upgrade. I'm giving it a graphics overhaul in a lot of ways, adding 20 more levels, changing the challenge curve to actually ramp up from learning to puzzles, and in addition to that, I'm also making the first few tools collections later in the game, forcing you to use each tool as you go as well as learn the basic tools better. Also re-did all the music. So a pretty large change!

We are going to get everyone together at the bar this Friday to talk about the direction of White Box and locking down the project we want to finish as well as whats on the horizon. It has taken a bit to get to this point and were being very careful about who we let on the team but I think we will be stronger for it.

Another approach we are going to take son is kick starter. This is a site meant to let people pitch their ideas to millions online to get starting capitol for them. We are planing to do this with White Box to get funding for new equipment and software for the team. Were starting to become something interesting now. I will update as we roll on.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

App Madness

It's been a while since I wrote a blog here. I've been really busy with side projects. At this point I am certain that Marty has run its course and it has gone where I expected. One last thing I've done though is enter it into an app competition on a site called

I know it wont win. I simply entered it because I got an email from their team asking for volunteer app creators to try out the first tournament. So what the hell? I'm up against a great game called Zombie Juice in the first round they deserve to win and they will. It is a great example of what a group of people can do.

The reason I'm posting about this though is the benefit of you, the reader, if you have happened to find your way here. Currently Appmadness does a tournament every month for free. (they will probably start charging entry fees once people start seeing the site. But it's things like this that help get your app out there and yet another example of the different ways to do it.

So now, I am handling the art and other parts of creation on a new project with two other people. One who is an actual programmer! So win! Currently there is no information on the white box site but it is a super hero based flying game. Dodging things you want to dodge, picking up things you want to pick up. Rather strait forward but it will be more polished than Marty.

My issue is that every time you pick up new people you need to sort of start from square one. What I mean is that I spent a lot of effort making a practice game and now we seem to be making another practice game to get our feet wet as a team. Not to say this game wont be an improvement but it is still a testing of the waters to make sure we can actually make a game.

I really plan that after this one we will have a real game we can work on. With a cool art style and a neat idea. Lets hope we push this one out soon to get cracking on the fun stuff. But I suppose you have to put in your time first. Takes a lot of mistakes before you hit the right stride.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

To be Free

So some time has passed since the release of Marty. My expectations were met in that it hasn't sold very much. Maybe about 30 copies. But the free version is some where around 600 sold. Still not amazing numbers but for an individual person, that's not too bad. This tells me a few things though...

First and obvious is that people like free things. They will grab just about anything to give it a try if its free. That being said though, you run a risk of killing your market if you release a free version AND a pay version. Most people, if they like the game or not, will only grab the free version. If the game is spectacularly addictive then a good portion will probably return to buy. But most will fiddle with the free version while they are bored and that's about the extend of it.

Now at this point, you ask yourself the question. How many of these people would have been willing to spend 99 cents if there wasn't a big ol "FREE" staring them in the face first? From my personal experience (and granted this can only be an assumption based on my game and reading) a free version is actually hurting your chances at sales. People will grab it up before paying money some wont like the game and will never return. Some will like the game but not go through the hassle to buy the full version. After all, they have a free version to mess around with until they are tired of the game's core idea. And a few will like the game and go the extra mile to buy it.

This obviously changes with game quality, how you introduce mechanics, etc. But I do believe there is a base knowledge to be had here in the concept of free and pay games.

So at this point you have to ask yourself. "Do I make it free or pay?" In my personal experience it may have been more advantageous to just make Marty a 99 cent game and leave it at that. In a realistic approach of what the game is (and if any of you have been reading this blog from the start (probably not) you would know that this first game is more an experiment than an attempt at fame.) it isn't that amazingly ground breaking and could use a lot of polish. Mechanics are given to you all at once. There aren't really any bread crumbs to make you want more past the free version other than more levels and maybe the jet pack and gravity orb. The tools aren't handed to you one by one to help learning. There are a mess of things with Marty that could be improved and Marty will make a return in a later game that promises to be more polished and fun.

So my solution to the current problem of Marty is to eventually make the full game free and throw ads in it. The current free version will live its life in quiet solitude. This should spike sales again for the last time and maybe get some ad coverage.

So is iAd the way to go?

Well, ads do pay money. My free version apparently has an issue on the 3Gs (the most widely used one still) where the ads don't show up fully and this doesn't' count as an ad hitting so I'm not the best model for it. But if you look at companies like Zynga (words with friends, Hanging with friends, and just about any other time sink game you can think of on the mobile market) they have ads on just about anything they can fit ads on and their pay versions only offer no ads becase you know they are annoying as hell.

But what they do offer is a genius platform that makes you load the game up over and over again clicking through ad after ad. They have connectivity with friends and basically free viral advertising by letting you find your friends through face book and twitter. Every time you close, another friends wants to play a game. You get 3 games going at once and you are clicking through more ads than my game will display in its life on any one phone.

My point is simply that YOU need to decide what is best for your app. Is it better off marketing as an app you pay for? Or is it something that is modeled in a way that will support multiple ad shows? Will you be hurting you game if you have both free and pay?

What I have learned, personally, is that if you plan to have both free and pay versions; you need to offer something more than just more levels and one or two carrots in the pay version. I think some where in the back of my mind I knew this, but launching your first game on your own is exciting and you want to get it done.

I'm sure Marty could have thrived on more levels as an incentive to buy but the polish just wasn't there. I will probably visit it again and smooth out some rough parts here and there but another thing I have noticed is that apps run their course in the mobile market quick. Marty still makes some sales each day and that's great and I'm sure it will continue to do so. But the success of your game overall is decided rather quickly. Thousands of apps hit the app store all the time so you need to hit it as hard as you can and get your name out. Ultimately, how you use that time is up to you but be sure you know your product before choosing free, pay, or both.