Monthly Archives: June 2007

Travelogue 360 Rome – New Angle on “Find Hidden Objects” Game Genre

“Find hidden objects” genre is very popular, and one of the newest games in this genre is Travelogue 360: Rome – The Curse of the Necklace. This was the first time I saw 360 degrees angle on this type of games (and after that I noticed game Travelogue 360: Paris while checking this game).

Finding hidden objects in games is simple, yet popular among bestselling games. Technically it doesn’t require much – but in terms of gameplay it can be addictive and fun.

Travelogue Rome lets user rotate the camera around the level, which is (again) simple – yet interesting addition to this genre. I personally have been thinking about 3D “find hidden objects” game (and waiting when somebody does one), and Travelogue Rome gets closer to this. Now there’s not just one picture of a room, but player needs to rotate the view in order to find the hidden objects.

I suppose evolution might be towards adventure gaming, or perhaps to 3D and animations in this genre. We’ll wait and see when this happens, and stick with 2D pictures meanwhile.

Violence Doesn’t Sell – Just Look at Manhunt 2

Violence in video games doesn’t necessarily increase sales – especially when violence limits the game getting distributed. Manhunt 2 by Rockstar Games received AO (adults only) ESRB rating .

This lead to couple of problems:

  • Sony and Nintendo won’t accept AO games. This means that Manhunt 2 (in it’s current form) won’t be published on PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo Wii.
  • UK banned Manhunt 2 – which means it won’t be sold anywhere in the UK. Other countries might ban it too.

Since some consoles are out of question, the next thing is to try to get the game on PC. That’s okay, but the problem with PC platform is that major retail stores such as Wal-Mart and others don’t accept AO games. This means while the game is published on PC, there’s not many proper distributors who would actually sell it.

Take-two (publisher) has to now think about alternative solutions. They might consider making the game suitable for consoles, but perhaps leaving original version to PC. Additional (perhaps not so profitable) option is to also look at the digital delivery channels (Steam and others) and consider how well the game could sell via Internet. Since digital delivery is still in it’s infancy, it might not be a profitable solution for game like this.

Looks like violence doesn’t sell after all, even though the common sense might say otherwise.

Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind Mentoring Launches

This is not directly related to game production, but anybody who enjoys blogging might find the following information useful. Yaro Starak – an Australian entrepreneur and blogger – has recently launched a blog mentoring program called Blog Mastermind (that’s an affiliate link – so bear in mind that I’m receiving a commission if somebody joins the program through my recommendation).

I have been following Yaro’s business for quite a some time already, and have exchanged some emails with him. As I haven’t joined the program, I cannot recommend it personally – but since I know Yaro and have seen Yaro’s free Blog Profits ebook I can recommend people to take a look at what he has to offer.

The program boils down to this:

Mentoring program will give his step-by-step guide on how to create, build and grow a popular blog that consistently pays you $1000 to $5000+ whilst you have fun working just two hours per day.

That’s Yaro talking – not me.

There are two other things to remember: Yaro is giving $30 per month early-bird discount for those who join within the next 7 days. This is one-time offer, and after the initial period this discount won’t be available.

Another thing to consider is that there’s unconditional 30-day money-back-guarantee: if you aren’t happy – you get your money back.

If you are into blogging for passion and profits, then go on and take a look at the Blog Mastermind mentoring program – you’ll find Yaro’s sales pitch & more information about the benefits behind that link.

Tiny Things Sure Can Be Annoying…

We are processing with animations for our Edoiki game and our outsourced animator has got almost everything working fine:

  • Exports are now working nicely (after little bit tweaking)
  • Motion capture helps us to get top quality animations
  • Animations are getting done in a fast manner
  • Price is good

Almost everything is fine: the animations are nice, and our animator is doing a quality job.

There’s just one problem…
… we cannot get the motion capture to “keep the character in one location”. Currently the character is animated nicely, but he is moving away from origo coordinate – and this causes problems in the game. In the game the character moves away from the spot where he is supposed to stay so that the engine can handle the movement in the play field.

Death animation is okay (since we need to play it only once), but sneaking doesn’t work the way it should (because we need to loop the sneaking).

Our animator is checking on this, but any help (or ideas on how to solve this problem) are gladly taken. It’s a bit frustrating (not really – but a bit) to get very close to the perfect situation, just to see some small issue is messing up everything.

Tiny things sure can be annoying sometimes.

“How Organized Are You” – The Ultimate Test

Here’s a quick test that can tell you how organized you are. It has one easy step that includes counting, and second step that includes checking the results:

The First Easy Step: Count the total number of icons (shortcut icons, game icons, folders, documents etc.) you have in your computer desktop

Count all text files, shortcut icons, exes… anything you might have in your computer desktop.

The Step Number Two: check the following points and see your results:

  • “I didn’t count”: you have either a very short attention span or you are just being lazy. Go back to step one and come back after you’ve finished.
  • 1-7 icons: either your math is poor or you’ve just installed windows: no game producer will have that few icons. Get more stuff to do.
  • 8-19 icons Good, you’ve managed to keep things tidy and put unnecessary stuff in folders properly. I bet your physical desktop is clean too.
  • 20-49 icons: There are some unused icons on your desktop. I’d suggest creating couple of folders in your desktop and then simply putting unnecessary stuff to those folders. You might also delete some old images or installers that you don’t need any more. Oh, and if you don’t want to delete those .zip archives, then simply move them to one folder to get more room for important things.
  • 50-89 icons Locate the trash can. There’s an icon called “Recycle Bin” in your desktop (hopefully). If you can find it, put some stuff there – okay?
  • “I lost count”: Either you don’t take seriously tests like these or your desktop needs some serious cleaning. Group some stuff properly, and perhaps delete something unimportant – and come back to do the test again.
  • 90+ There’s not much hope for you – keep on getting lots of stuff to do simultaneously, adding more programs and buy a new computer when hard drive comes full…. remember to ignore tips about doubling your productivity and keep getting assignments (which you can then place on your desktop).

There you go, hopefully you enjoyed the test.

My own result: 30 icons (pretty clean). What about you?

How to Trick Customers to Buy Your Products

I recently saw a discussion where one guy said he had got an unethical idea how he perhaps could trick customers to buy from him. While some people would think it would be an easy way to gain some money, there are some fundamental flaws in this type of thinking.

Tricking people is tricking yourself
The fundamental problem with this type of “how to trick some people to purchase something” is that it focuses on the first sale. Not 4th or 6th sale – but first. It could be said that it’s one of the “principles of marketing” to focus not just on the first sale, but the fact on how to get your loyal customers to buy again. Over and over.

Getting 1 dude to purchase 10 times is much easier than getting 10 new customers to buy once
That’s the problem. The cost of getting the first sale is much higher than getting the second, or third sale from single customer. If your strategy is to trick customers – you end up tricking yourself since getting new customers requires much more effort from you than selling to your old customers.

And then there are the charge backs…
The other truth about tricking people: it just leads to more credit card charge backs. If your product is flawed, and you’ve tricked somebody to purchase it – he will call to his credit card company and require a chargeback. You end up empty handed.

And talk about word-of-mouth
Another reason why tricking people is not a good strategy, because there’s absolutely no viral aspect in it: nobody wants to recommend a product that’s not working. You won’t get anybody to recommend an useless product if they were tricked to purchase it.

Bottom line
Strategies based on tricking people are not going to work: they won’t help you build long term relationships and income. Since trickery provides no value to customers – it cannot sustain.

Whenever you are thinking if you should do things that sound unethical, ask yourself: “If I’d be the customer – would I want to be marketed in this way?”

The only way to trick customer to buy something is to provide extraordinary value.

7 Tips to Make Moving Smooth

Our office (read: home office) is moving, and there’s so many things to do – and so many things to remember. Here are my seven quick tips that have helped us to make the moving smooth:

#1 – Make sure you have enough time
This is the most important thing to remember. Finding boxes and packing everything in your house (or office) won’t happen in one day. Make sure you have plenty of time to move – don’t try to do too many things at once. It most likely will just cause a mess (like the broken glass I managed to “create” yesterday when I was in “haste”).

#2 – Make sure your Internet connection is working
This tip is probably something I don’t even need to mention: naturally every man out there will make sure that the Internet is working in the other location. Anyway, make sure you call in advance to check out when the Internet connection is ready. We are currently packing everything, but I’ve made sure that the network connection will be working couple of days before we even move to the new place. This ensures that you can be online and deal with business issues smoothly.

#3 – Spend some bucks on quality
We won’t need to hire helping hands in the move, but we have rented a proper trailer to make sure sofas and rest of the furniture are easy to get to the new location. Spending few extra bucks for proper transport helps.

#4 – Make sure you have proper supplies
Packing tools from scissors, to tapes to garbage bags to newspapers to packing tape are must to have. Make absolutely sure that you have plenty of these so that you can pack everything in a proper manner.

#5 – Don’t be afraid to get rid of trash
The last time we moved we had lots of stuff that went right into the trash can. I think it’s very important to make “tough” decisions and simply get rid of stuff. There’s still some stuff that weren’t unpacked after the previous move in our apartment, and some of these might easily go into the trash bin. Do you really need all that junk you’ve collected in the past years?

#6 – Make paperwork as soon as possible
I don’t enjoy doing paperwork, so for me it’s a great motivating factor to get those ugly things done right away. You are going to have to do the paperwork anyway – so why not do them all right in the beginning? That way you can then concentrate on the actual move.

#7 – Don’t get too much work when you move
I have had some work while we are packing and preparing to move… and I’m afraid that I’ve got perhaps bit too tasks on my calendar. I really recommend clearing your week (as much as possible) if you need to participate in the move. It will make things much smoother when you’ve ensured you haven’t got too many responsibilities.

And final bonus tip: enjoy moving. Moving can be a new good thing – so enjoy it. That will make any kind of moving smooth.

Plimus eCommerce Provider Now Offers Newsletter Service

Plimus recently announced that they are offering a free newsletter service for all Plimus vendors to keep in touch with their customers. With this system, Plimus vendors can now:

- Create monthly newsletters to your customers
- Follow up unclosed sales with follow-up emails
- Offer upgrades to existing customers
- …and much, much more

Bear in mind that this is only for sending emails to past customer so you might still need to stick with other newsletter system to provide information to non-customers. Nevertheless, it’s a step forward from Plimus.

US May Non-PC Game Sales $815 Million

Non-PC game and hardware sales tells quite clear language: Nintendo is doing great. Just look at the hardware sales: Nintendo Wii 338,000, PlayStation 3: 82,000. While Sony’s market revenue change is positive (look at the third chart), Microsoft has a bigger market share and more growth – and Nintendo leads. Retails software sales also tell tough message for Sony. While PS2 is doing well on the charts, there’s not a single PlayStation 3 games in the top selling list. On the other hand, there’s several products by Nintendo and Microsoft (and Activision as well).

Here are the numbers for the May, non-PC sales by GameSpot:

MAY 2007 US RETAIL HARDWARE SALES (All numbers approximate)

1) DS: 423,000
2) Wii: 338,000
3) PlayStation Portable: 221,000
4) PlayStation 2: 188,000
5) Xbox 360: 155,000
6) PlayStation 3: 82,000
7) Game Boy Advance: 81,000

MAY 2007 US RETAIL SOFTWARE SALES (By volume; all numbers approximate)

1) Pok̩mon Diamond (DS РNintendo) 331,200
2) Mario Party 8 (Wii – Nintendo) 314,400
3) Spider-Man 3 (PS2 – Activision) 248,700
4) Pok̩mon Pearl (DS РNintendo) 238,000
5) Wii Play (with Wii Remote – Wii) 249,000
6) Forza Motorsport 2 (360 – Microsoft) 217,300
7) Guitar Hero II (with Guitar – Xbox 360 – Activision) 183,600
8) Spider-Man 3 (360 – Activision) 139,800
9) Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars (360 – Electronic Arts) 137,700
10) Guitar Hero II (with Guitar – PS2 – Activision) 130,900

MAY 2007 US SOFTWARE MARKET

Publisher / Market Share / Year-on-year Revenue Change
1) Nintendo / 22% / 139%
2) Activision / 20% / 151%
3) Electronic Arts / 17% / -10% /
4) Microsoft / 7% / 408%
5) Sony 6% / 18%
6) Ubisoft 5% / 2%
7) Take-Two 4% / -43%
8) THQ 3% / -4%
9) Disney 3% / 298%
10) Sega 2% / 31%

Skype Gets Into Casual Gaming

I saw an interesting piece of news at indiegamer. Skype – the online calling company – is going to enter to casual gaming world. Skype’s Game Channel will have access to huge installed user base, and according to businessweek Skype software will cater to distribution, DRM and e-commerce requirements.

Skype says that it’s really easy to make your existing games Skype compatible, and they will provide all the help developers might need. They are after games less than 10MB to download, and will host it on Skype’s servers. For larger games additional arrangements may be required.

Besides file size limitations, they mentioned that they are preferably after multiplayer casual games so that Skype buddies can play against each other. (Which for us would mean that we might think to approach Skype with our upcoming Edoiki game)

Director of Skype Developer program announced:

“People are increasingly using Skype to interact with one another, with many choosing to play simple games like checkers or backgammon. However, the tremendous size of Skype’s user-base makes it an ideal environment for multi-player and community-based games in which people can play against or collaborate with one another,”

“We hope the Skype Game Channel becomes a popular entertainment destination within the Skype community. Our goal is to make it as easy and profitable as possible for the developers, while keeping it simple and fun for consumers to use”

I must say this is very interesting move from Skype, and we wait to see how Skype survives in the casual gaming world. There are lots of big players such as Big Fish Games already (and probably more coming as we speak) so Skype will need to make sure their user base can get the games properly.

It’s interesting that Microsoft (for example) has their own casual game portals, but they haven’t used Messenger to advertise their casual games. I suppose they have a good user base waiting there. (Or if they have advertised it – at least I’ve missed them).

For more information about the Skype Game Channel, proceed here.