The One Million Dollar Headline

Headlines are important. They either get your attention or not. The headline I use here, is to get your attention.

I made a small test when the Tribal Trouble sales stats went online. Previously I had made one sale stat post to one forum. The post had a headline like here:

Headline #1: “New Game Sales Stats at”

When announcing Tribal Trouble sales stats, I used this headline:

Headline #2: “$60,000 sales!”

Which one gets your attention? Headline #2 of course.

The post with headline #1 got only 2 replies, and fewer clicks to while headline #2 generated 15 replies in just a short period of time, not to mention about heavy more traffic received. Simply thinking how to present posts have a great effect – in this case it was the serious boost in traffic & interest.

Headlines matter. Whether they are blog posts, website headers, or press release headlines – you need to have attractive headlines to get people’s attention.

8+1 Ways to Annoy Players

There was a very useful post at TooNormal

Mike presented 8 +1 ways to annoy players:

1. Make sure your uninstaller is incomplete and broken.

2. Violate my quick-launch bar.

3. Use program groups/folders named after your company.

4. Release buggy un-tested games.

5. Force installations to the C: drive.

6. Self extracting archives make great installers.

7. Sh*t on my desktop.

8. Don’t test with non-standard or international keyboard layouts.

bonus: 9. Laptops don’t exist.

I can’t but agree.

Chasing Two Rabbits

These are so nice to read… a quoted zen story:

A martial arts student approaches his master. The apprentice has a question. “I’d like to improve my martial arts knowledge. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”

“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the master, “catches neither one.”

Graphics Matter kindly informed me about this:

SHMUP-DEV, a community site based on shoot ‘em ups, announced today the end of their very first competition, labeled “Horizontal Shooter with BOSS!” and bagged in a cluster bomb full of action packed games!

Shoot over to and check out reviews, screenshots, and play some great shooters! Even the lower ranked ones are a blast, so dont miss out!!

I checked the site, and tried few of the entries. Most obvious choice could have been the TOP 3, but I wanted to browse some of the other entries… The 9th entry got my attention. I simply couldn’t resist the graphics of this game, had to try it.

Here’s the pic I saw:

(Even though it’s bit blurry, the graphics style got my attention – it felt positively different compared to other entries)

The game visuals matter. Good graphics don’t suggest that the game is good, but (good/interesting/weird/different) graphics might be the reason why people download your game in the first place (especially if they haven’t heard about it before).

Sales Stats: Tribal Trouble – $60,000 Net Income

Title: Tribal Trouble
Developer: Oddlabs
Released: 1st April 2005
Team size: 4 full-time + 2 freelance
Time of development: 2� years (includes startup of the company, with many months spent on business
plans and other bureaucracy.)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Links: Download / Buy

Price US $29.95
Direct online sales: 1500
….. Windows: 460 (31%)
….. Mac OS X: 680 (47%)
….. Linux: 160 (11%)
….. Undefined: 200 (11%)
Portal sales: 400
Danish box sales: 650
German box sales: (sorry, not allowed to say)

Downloads: 100,000 (initiated – from own server)
- Windows: 60,000
- Mac OS X: 25,000
- Linux: 15,000

Conversion rate: 1.5%
- Windows: 0.8%
- Mac OS X: 2.8%
- Linux: 1.1%

Net income: US $60,000 (roughly)

– Music/SFX/GFX: US $6000
– Servers: US $2000
– PR (press releases, gifts for PR competitions): US $600
– GDC (trip for 3 to San Jose + flyers and merchandice): US $4800

Tribal Trouble Developer Sune Nielsen added:

Of course there are a lot of other expenses, but none tied directly to Tribal
Trouble. These include hardware, software, rent and saleries (though they are
low :)), amounting to more than US $40,000. Our first fiscal report isn’t done
yet and I’m not the one working on it, so this is as close as I can get at
the moment.

- press releases
- reviews
- banners
- IGF nomination


We have gotten a lot of downloads by being on the front page of, and on their games page. Other than that, the press releases and the many online and hard copy reviews have generated the remaining downloads. We tried out banners at a few sites, but they didn’t convert enough. The IGF nomination also gave us quite a lot of good publicity.

There has been no direct impact on sales/downloads from the GDC. This I have also heard from other IGF finalists. The GDC mainly gives an advantage in getting publisher and other business connections. The press coverage from the fact that we were nominated gave some peaks in sales. Especially when the danish Computer World online wrote about it.


In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the game is published in retail by Halycon Media, at 29.95 EURO. Being from Denmark, we decided publish it there ourselves, and have had some success getting into the stores, but not all stores are willing to cut out the publisher/distributer links. The Danish box is sold for 299.95 DKK (just under US $50). By far the most copies have been sold to stores, but we have also sold a few from our website.

Sneak peek: More ‘Secret Game Project’ Concept Art and a Production Shot

New concept art
New concepts from the game artist Penguinx (take a look at his site, the art is just beautiful).

Looks darn good as usual. Note from Penguinx:

I’ve done some more character sketches too, and soon we can move on to a color scheme test and, then, the actual portraits.

So, more concepts coming soon.

Production shot
Now, here’s the first in-game shot. I cut some corners to make it bit more difficult to guess what game concept lies behind the rules. Here’s the shot.

And, as already mentioned several times – subscribe to the newsletter if you want to get informed when the game is available to play.

Another Site Update, Comments?

I received lots of feedback in a short time, and made few changes to the
- played around with the font
- added background image (‘the flying dragon’…)
- centered the main content.

What do you think about the site now? Still worse than the old one… or any chances the new one is better now?

Again – let me know what you think. I would also like to know why you prefer old or new site. Thanks.

New Visuals & Layout – Feedback Wanted

Introducing the new site visuals. I’ve modified the banner and added a system which will tell you the ‘next entry’. I’ve also changed the color from orange/yellow/brown to blue. I also added couple of more links… and did little tweaking here and there. Hope you like it.

For comparison, here’s the old site pic:

And here’s the new site pic:

Feedback: comments & criticism wanted!

Consider Different Cultures In Games Production

Consider symbols/settings you use in your game, and show them to people before you use them in your game.
Not long ago I learned something totally new about games production: people are politically very aware, and notice cultural aspects. Somebody might get offended if you don’t.

Some days ago I posted secret game project concept art.

The image is here:

After showing this picture to people and explaining that these would be the evil/dark units in the game we got comments that the characters/symbols had similarities with the following themes:

Issue #1 – Similarity with Turkey’s flag
I agree that the symbol has similarities with Turkey’s flag (somebody said it reminded he about Islam/Turkey). Just look at the picture below and compare the flag with the symbol that units have (in the picture above). This is a coincidence – not intended.

First of all I need to say that I noticed the similarity and we discussed with the artist before we showed the concept art in public. I want to make it really clear to everybody that the similarity was a pure coincidence, and the image/symbols don’t reflect our opinions on any religions or Countries. We don’t think that Islam/Turkey is evil nor have any meaning to bring this kind of message to public. We change the symbol to some japanese/chinese character (maybe ‘evil/dark/black’ and ‘good/light/white’).

The main reason in bringing this issue up is that you fellow game producers can learn or be reminded as well. I don’t think we all need to do the same mistakes. The lesson learned: Remember to consider symbols/settings you use in your game and test them with people. It just might backfire to you if you ignore different cultures in global marketplace.

Issue #2 – Other similarities, although not so serious ones…
Similarity was found with Dr. Zoidberg (from the terrific Futurama series) and Cthulhu (the Lovecraft monster – great novels & great RPG game btw):

(Found this Cthulhu image using google picture search. The same image appeared on several pages, so if somebody can point me to author, I’d be happy to put his link here.)

As you can see, they have similarities with the Dark Chi Wizard. That was unintentional, but sometimes it just happens – I guess it’s the same as with game ideas: sometimes people get same kind of ‘unique’ game ideas just to find out someone else is already working on it… It’s fun to see how people can spot these kinds of things – and it’s fun to notice how people comment and bring these up.

In this case we won’t do any changes, our concept is ours and if it has similarities with any cartoon or fictional character, then be it.