2 Witty Ways to Be More Efficient: !!! And ???

I have a system that I like to use *everywhere* when I need to keep track about what I need to do. I mark in text “!!!” or “???” to show what I need to do, and where I was processing. I use this system in reports, writings, code, notes – everywhere.

“Todo” is “!!!”
“!!!” is used as “todo” – it shows a place where something is not finished or needs to done better. I might have a portion of code where I’ve commented “!!!” and put a brief text about what needs to be done. For example, I might have “!!!” in player movement code and text telling “this needs to be done more smooth”. Or, I might have been writing a text and have “!!!” somewhere saying “!!! here we need more information about customers”.

Whenever I need to check out what needs to be done (in whatever context) I can search for “!!!” and find easily the places that need checking. I also use todo list, but I’ve found this way to be quite nice as well. Sometimes it’s easy to make “little notes” in the code rather than update the todo list.

“Where I was” is “???”
Whenever I’m in the middle of something, and get interrupted or I’m taking a short break, I tend to put “???” in the document. I try to avoid interruptions as much as possible, but it’s not always possible to avoid them. At those times, I could use “???” to show me where I was progressing in the code or document. It’s quick way to remember yourself what you were doing. Naturally I erase the marks as I get back to work, so in theory there should be maximum of only one “???” – no simultaneous – in the documents ever.

I’m sure there’s lots of automated products than can handle this type of way, but the good thing with “!!!” and “???” is that they work in any software. If you are making presentations or writing documents or anything, you can use these.

Naturally you need to check out the document for “!!!” and “???” before publishing it…

What to Do When Customers Tell You “Price is Too High”

If you’ve read my articles in the past, you might remember to avoid the first mistake: dropping the price. If you have an expensive product or if your customers are saying “the price is too high” – you can drop your price, but – before you do that take a look at this alternative option:

Let your customers make the product payment in parts: For example, not many of us are eager to buy $100 modeling tool, but what if you could get the tool by paying $10 per month? In western countries $10 per month is nothing, but paying $100 one time might not be available for everybody.

This type of pricing works everywhere: if you have $500 product, why not try giving customers option to buy the product now and pay $100 for six months. Or perhaps $50 for 12 months?

There one problem that you might consider: some people might stop paying you after the initial payment. But that problem is there anyway, whatever your price is. If you are selling games or services, there’s always the possibility for people to make false orders. Some people are giving money back guarantees as they know these dangers. The money back guarantee is given for the reason to help honest people making the purchase. This type of split payments are done exactly for the same reason: to make sure those who want your product can afford it.

The most secure way for partial payment pricing is naturally when your product (or service) is online or uses some online method for checking the product license. When you check the license online, you can easily make sure pirates cannot use the software for long if they try to fool you: you simply disable their accounts if you see something suspicious.

In shareware industry, the standard price for games is $20. Have you considered pricing your game $30 and then charging $5 monthly (for 6 months)? People might not want to pay $30 at once – but they might be interested in getting the game and pay you later.

I bet it would’t hurt to try.

And for more information about product pricing, take a look at previously written article: 18 Approaches for Setting the Right Price For Your Game.

Demo or No Demo at All?

Zeha pointed out that some developers suggest having ONLY a video and NO demo. I’m quite sure there can be found arguments for both views, but I think in the end it boils down to simple math and testing:

First you one can test selling your game by showing only a video and NO demo. After you’ve done this test you can easily see how well (or poorly) “video + no demo” method works. After this (or using separate website) you can test using video AND demo. Now by comparing the results you can tell which method worked better and continue in that direction.

If you have lots of newsletter subscribers, you could construct the test by sending 10% of the people the “video and NO demo” and to 10% “video AND demo”. After this you can tell which 10% performs better, and then you send either video with demo (or no depending which 10% performed better) to the rest 80% of the subscribers.

Making arguments is okay, but I personally think this is a matter of testing and analyzing the results rather than giving opinions.

Promote Your Game Using Online Videos and Online Game

Indiepath has shown quite innovative way to market their product – and service. Check out 360shooters.com. At the time of writing you can see a YouTube video about the gameplay (Hint: read that last sentence again and use the same for your product). The game costs massive $1, but can also be played free at pjio. (Hint: again read that last sentence, go to pjio and upload your game there).

I like that idea of showing a gameplay video about your game and distributing it as a YouTube video (where it can actually catch some attention) – then mix with the use of pjio and you can get people to play your game online. Sounds like a really simple way to promote your game or product.

Last tip: Check out Fraps if you want to create game videos.

GameRelease.net Launched

GameRelease.net is a games press release distribution system. Originally it was known as indiegamebusiness.com – and I’ve purchased the service from Indiepath Ltd. I’ve integrated the system to be a part of GameProducer.net Insiders. If you are a game developer and want to create a marketing and promotion campaign for you, then this is the right service for you.

In a nutshell, this means:

  • Insiders can distribute unlimited number of press releases
  • The press contacts came from indiegamebusiness.com and full list can be found here
  • Price as the service launches in US dollars: $150 one time fee, or paid in $15 monthly (for 12 months, total sum $180)
  • Service is good for marketing campaigns: if you need to announce new project, demo, you game launch, major update – you don’t have to pay separately for each press release: you pay once, and then send press stories when you need
  • Service uses mix of emails, RSS feeds and blog displayment (all stories will automatically be seen at GameProducer.net and at PRtoday.net. GP.net placement will be available soon – and they will be listed with a big image (to catch attention), as a list after first or second post in the front page)

For more information about the service: GameRelease.net.
To join Game Producer Insiders and get access to service: visit here.

Feel free to ask me if you have any questions or want more details.

Happy Birthday GameProducer.net – 1 Year Old Today

Today is the birthday of GameProducer.net. It’s been one year since I started writing my thoughts down, and publishing them here online. In total there are 388 posts and 1954 comments in this blog. Since June there has been 74197 visits, and 163789 page views. The site has been active and is receiving increasing number of visitors.

As I write this blog entry, I feel really good. It’s been very nice year, and there has been lots of comments and arguments forth and back in the blog. There has been also lots of guidance from you readers when I’ve been getting too much on a sidetrack, you’ve always remembered to mention gently if entries haven’t been focusing on game production… ;)

The most popular articles have been the sales stats, and there sure has been interesting numbers there. I will keep putting new stats also in the future.

Thank you
There are so many names to thank for their support, so I’ll list some of them here. I probably forget some important names (yes – that happens to me) or type them completely wrong so please forgive me. The names are listed totally randomly (using the good ol’ copy-and-paste-here-and-there-eyes-closed -method).

- Tim Fisher (for being a great business partner – and especially saying me “what’s stopping you” which sort of was the final push for me to start this blog)
- Dan (for posting stuff that actually make me smile)
- Cliff Harris (for the nice interview and being a great example – even though you sell games via portals ;)
- Corvus (for your support)
- ZeHa (for asking good questions)
- Kal_Torak (for emailing me lots of good stuff, and being a positive force here at gameproducer.net)
- MariuszH (don’t know if you are still reading, but I’m thankful for helping me keep the site focus on target)
- Jess Smith (for great interview)
- Gavin Carter (Oblivion game producer – for the interview)
- Scott Miller (for giving a fine interview)
- Jeff Tunnel (for giving great comments as an long time industry veteran)
- Vex (for letting me pester you with many questions)
- Oaf (for letting me test your fine game – it was fine after I finally got it working :)
- Jake Birkett (for fine contributions)
- Sonicron (for good points)
- GBGames (for fine talks about advertisement)
- Petri Purho (great articles and insight about prototyping)
- Guys at ArmadilloRun (for proving how good deeds bring good results)
- Rampant coyote (for great & inspiring articles, although for some reason I always think about Rampart when I read the URL…)
- MrPhil (for support and being the first Insider)
- Charlie (for support and giving insight as AAA title game producer)
- Mike Acton (for support)
- Patrick (for helping me out)
- Nick (for telling me about Audacity… and many other things)
- Advisador (although I still don’t know who you are…)
- Aymes (it’s nice to see guy who originally was testing Morphlings to be a real help with many other things as well)
- Arex (for giving me lots of insight on technology – although I still don’t understand half what he says… ;)
- Ghost Dancer (our newest Insider)

And last but not least… all you readers. It’s been great to get comments and emails from you and I’m looking forward to see more of them in the future. I read everything I get, and I’m “bit” busy so the answers might take sometimes quite long, but I do my best.

So, what am I expecting the next year to bring?
- More interviews: Unfortunately two of the promised interviews couldn’t been finished (for people moving to different companies and being buy), but I’ve already been promised to get one interview. I’m going to get some other people to share their insight.
- More sales stats: This naturally depends much about game producers’ willingness to contribute, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty of more sales stats in the year.
- ‘Secret Game Project’ – the “simple” and “quick” project has not been so “simple” and “quick” as I initially planned. Lots of setbacks (which is good) have occurred, but also lots of learning. I’m going to write a more detailed post about the setbacks and what changes have been done. It’s been good experience, and gets even better.
- Daily posts: I will keep writing – well, at least publishing writings – daily to keep the site fresh.
- Contests: spam contents was a great success, and I’m going to have some other contests, because who wouldn’t like to get free stuff?
- Surprise: Something blogging related that I’ll announce in the nearly future.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to RSS feed and the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the juicy parts like sales stats or new interviews.

Hope to see you all here in the future also – let’s make a great next year.

iDevGames Launches 3DU: 3D Game Development Contest

iDevGames – a great Mac game development community in my opinion – has launched a development contest. Unity, invites developers to put their skills to the test by creating 3D unique games in just 30 days. To enter, simply request a free contest version of Unity Pro, the Mac-based cutting-edge game development tool, or use any 3D development tool to enter.

Prizes sound very good for indie game producers who want a jump-start the development:

  • The first place winner will receive Unity Pro ($1499 value).
  • The second place winner will be given Unity Indie ($249 value) or receive a 33% discount on Unity Pro ($500 value).
  • The third place winner will be given Unity Indie ($249 value)
  • AND all three winners will get an ATI Mac Radeon X1900 XTl ($399 value).
  • All qualifying entrants receive a nine month Unity Indie license

To enter, simply apply here before December 18 (11:59 PM GMT). Winners will be announced following the end of the contest on December 22, 2006 (11:59 PM GMT).

For complete rules and conditions, please visit the 3DU Contest page.

Challenge #7: Why Collisions Do Not Work?

It’s been some time since the last challenge, so here’s a new challenge. This actually came friend of mine. He asked me:

“Have you ever written a really nice collision routine and spent ages trying to work out why it does not work?”

Can you guess what was the reason why the nice collision routine did not work? The only hint I can give that this same problem occurred to me when I tried getting particles on screen, and I saw nothing on screen.

Don’t Hide the Buy Button

This morning I received an offer about an opportunity to get some traffic to my site. The offer was from Alexa. The sales speech and price seemed pretty okay, but there was a tiny problem with the email.

He never mentioned the website URL where I could actually buy the product
That is very a simple thing to do: remember to put a link to purchase page. The guy never mentioned it. The guy who sent me an email probably thought that I would “find my way to the offer” – but no way am I going to spend time to find that page. And I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of others who won’t bother as well. I’m not even sure if I could find that page. Same type of behavior can be found from sites selling games.

Hiding the buy button
In the past Reflexive – a great game portal and makers of some fine games – didn’t have a direct buy button (at least not one that could be easily spotted!) in their website. I once actually had to ask one friend of mine where the buy link it is located? He said that “you first need to download the game, and then the buy button is inside the game”. How some player who wants directly buy some game can know or remember that? I personally think there should be a buy link anyway – and by looking at their website today, you can see the direct buy link for each product (after clicking “more info”). When I was searching for one DVD I googled for “buy [product name] extended edition DVD”. I was actually looking for a buy link. Now, if the website misses a buy link – they probably miss some sales.

If there’s possibility to serve more customers even better, it should be done. There’s at least two major reasons why I think the buy link shouldn’t be hided:

  • Buy button helps people find your site from google (if you use text) – those who are looking to buy certain game might use google (or some other search engine).
  • It improves customer experience: if somebody wants to buy something, there should be clearly visible ways to do that.

I don’t think there’s need to put hundreds of “BUY NOW” buttons everywhere, but there should be clear ways to buy the product. There’s no need to be shamed about putting a visible link. You are doing a favor for those who actually want to buy the product. They don’t want to spend time searching for the button, they want to spend their time buying & playing your game.

7 Creative Ways to Advertise Your Product

In this article I will go through 7 tips for advertisement. All of them are free or inexpensive – and of course creative.

[1] Your own car
Have you ever considered using your own car to promote your business? I have no clue if this would have any impact, but painting a logo of your business or putting a big website address URL with a slogan might actually get somebody’s attention. And, as it’s your car you are free to do whatever you want with it. I know there’s taxis doing this type of advertisement – so why wouldn’t you?

[2] T-Shirts
Another way to advertise your product would be using T-shirt. Go some local store and order some T-shirts with your product logo and website printed on them. Every time you go out to lunch, somebody sees your fancy looking T-shirt and might get interested to visit your site. You could also gather some people and give them some free T-shirts – and let them do advertising for you…

[3] Presentations
When you are doing a presentation somewhere (which might be almost irrelevant to your business), you still might want to add your website in the end of the presentation. Even if the presentation is not directly linked to your product (like let’s suppose you are giving a presentation about making games) you might want to mention your own website (and tell “this is my site where we show what games we have done”). Some of the listeners might actually want to visit your site, even though you weren’t initially talking about your own product.

[4] Messenger titles
This type of advertisement works better if you have a long list of contacts. Simply put a short website URL and mention some key words about something new. For example, put: “yourdomain.com – new website” as the description for your nickname in Messenger. Some of your contacts might notice and check your site, and put a word out.

[5] Mention big numbers
Mention big numbers. I can say number $113,160.53 with a website link, and people are eager to check out the link. For some reason we people want to hear success stories and if somebody has made $113,160.53 selling games, that must be interested. Even you might got interested to check out how the money was earned, don’t you?

[6] Banner advertisement
I’m not talking about website banner advertisement, but physical banner ads. A word of warning: this style of advertising might actually be illegal depending on where you live. But, if it is legal, then consider making a cloth banner (with really a big font and a logo about your product) and displaying it in your apartment window. In some cities and in some rent houses this is illegal, but if you happen to live in an place where it’s legal – then it might be worth trying.

[7] Magic words “Free” and “New”
People are hungry for these words. Even you and I are looking for “free” and “new” stuff. The problem of course with free is that it might attract people who are looking for something cheap, and you cannot advertise Rolls-Royce using “free” as it might sort of make the whole brand and image of quality useless. But, even then – word “free” can be used somewhere. Some people say “free demo” (which sounds okay to me) or “free newsletter” (which sort of sounds cheap for me – I don’t know why), and people like to catch these. Everything “new” is always good, we people simply like new stuff. Combine this with other tips.

Bonus tip: Be Yourself
This is perhaps the most important advertisement tip I can give: be yourself. Whatever you choose to do, be open to opportunities and look things with open mind, but really think if these type of tricks & tips suit for you. If you think mentioning big numbers sounds bad, then simply don’t do that – or feel free to use them in a way that suits your style. It’s important that you feel okay on how your product is advertised.