Monthly Archives: August 2008

Special Promotion: Azada Game For 99 Cents (Is That a Good Practise?)

Big Fish Games is making the hit game Azada available for 99 cents. Click here to read more about the offer (and remember to use the coupon code AZADA99 in case you want to take advantage of this). The offer ends on August 15.

So… why Big Fish Games is doing this?
I don’t know their marketing strategy, but I’d suspect thre’s pretty clear reasons on why they wanna do this. Here’s some of them:

#1 – Getting new customers under their wings
This is most likely the reason for the campaign. Big Fish Games wants more customers. Heavily underpricing their product (yet reminding that it’s quality game) is a common marketing strategy for gaining customers. They expect these customers to come back and buy later from them, and that’s where the profits are made (and I suppose Azada has already sold loads of copies, so there’s not really big risk in this – besides, the offer lasts only a week).

#2 – Gaining press interest
Campaigns like this wake up the press and developers. People will talk why they are doing this and why they are doing this. Bloggers will promote Azada and write reasons and guess why this or that happens.

I think they got me.

#3 – To piss of developers
Okay, maybe they don’t intentionally want this to happen, but I’m sure somewhere you can find some developers saying how portals are evil because they are selling so cheaply. Yet… they keep contacting portals to sell their games. There will be somebody who says that they shouldn’t be selling this cheap.

I’m not taking sides on this matter – I just simply say that some people might be offended by this.

The fact is that Azada was made by Big Fish Games, so I suppose they have the right to do whatever they want with their game.

The bottom line is: Azada is now only 99 cents, and you have about week to get it.

What do you think?
What’s your opinion about promotions like these? Obviously they are pretty good for customers, but are they good or bad for portals? What about to developers?

3 Reasons Why Diablo 3 Is a Smash Hit

I think there’s 3 reasons why it’s a smash hit (and got Diablo Battle Chest to top selling games list).

#1 – Blizzard made it
Blizzard is great at bringing quality games. They’ve done hits one after another. Okay, any game company can mess a perfectly good product, but I trust them on doing a great job with Diablo 3.

At least for now.

#2 – It’s the same good old Diablo… yet it’s new.
Check out the video below. It shows how there’s so much familiar stuff (basic movement, interface, basic fighting, health, mana, killing loads of monsters, gaining experience) in the game. It’s familiar. It’s something we can accept. Yet, the same time Diablo 3 brings new elements. There’s really big monsters, there’s new fancy powers and followers, the graphics are awesome, there’s plenty of new enemies, new ways to attack. It’s different, but not too different.

#3 – The Diablo brand
Diablo is a strong brand. Somehow I have the feeling that simply by showing some nice pics and telling “Diablo 3 has been published!” will be enough for fans to rush into stores and buy the game.

No wonder they said couple of months ago Hell Unfreezes Over: Blizzard Confirms Diablo 3

Back to (Almost) Daily Schedule

This year I tried to try writing less posts… but didn’t actually manage to write longer posts weekly as I thought. It didn’t feel natural to me. I like writing shorter posts. I like writing about the ideas or whatever (hopefully useful) stuff I’m up to.

The writing (less than) weekly didn’t really work for me. I’m quite amazed how much traffic the site has got even when I haven’t written so many articles, but this option didn’t feel as good as earlier. My holiday is over, and I thought that it’s time to get back to normal. I’m not going to follow a strict schedule that I would force myself to write every day. That’s why I’m back to “almost daily schedule”.

This arrangement leaves room for not saying anything when I have nothing to say.

I’ll aim to post daily (or sometimes more), but in some days I might say nothing.

I enjoyed writing more often, so that’s what I want to continue with. I believe the site will become a greater success when there’s more activity.

How Game Development Teams Can Benefit From Twitter

I started testing Twitter to see what all the hype is all about. I couldn’t possibly see how it would benefit anybody to know if I’m telling that I’m “preparing tea” or “waking up” or whatever.

And to be honest: I still don’t know what use Twitter could be – in general. And that’s what some others are pondering as well.

Who is doing what in the team
I found one pretty sweet idea. Don’t know if it would really work, but I think it could.

There’s the concept of “daily deltas” in project work. In short: team members would need to write what they are doing (and perhaps adding what they are going to do next). In some teams this list is then compiled and sent to the producer who makes necessary adjustments – if any – for the project. (Okay, this is a darn short description – but basically the idea is to figure out what each person in the team is doing).

I was thinking that Twitter might be useful in providing a log.

Instead of emailing your daily deltas, each team member could start their own twitter thing, and write key tasks they’ve done, unexpected problems they’ve encountered and any major events. The team members wouldn’t write if they had a coffee break or when they went to toilet. Just the major points that have something to do with the project progress.

After everybody has Twitter set up (and the necessary plugins & tools so that the updating takes just a couple of seconds of your time), a web page could be set up where all team members’ Twitter updates would be listed (there’s pieces of software for this as well).

With this, the game producer could get a picture on what everybody on the team is doing. Of course the team members could also check what people are up to. For teams where team members are scattered all over the world, this could provide an excellent way for everybody to see what each other is doing.

I don’t think Twitter should be used by a Big Brother… the key is not to make people feel uncomfortable. I don’t think the producer should just count on how many Twitter entries somebody has. The producer would still need to concentrate on the results – not concentrate on checking how many entries each person has written.

In a team where the team members are located in different countries, I think Twitter could provide useful platform for letting people know what each other is doing. For developers, I think it could provide a nice way to see if people are working on the project.

Of course there’s the problem of privacy: Twitter is public… and game teams most likely want to keep their work private. If public Twittering is okay, then this could work.

How about providing fans information about what feature you are doing
Now as I write this article, I got another idea on how Twitter could be used: to provide information for true fans on “what feature/bug you are working on right now”.

If you have a decent game, you know it’s just a matter of time when feature requests and bug reports start to come from the fans. There are some fans that will follow what you are up to, and will want to know what features the team is currently doing. If you could bring this information via Twitter, you could provide valuable information to the fans.

Would the fans really need this information? I think not really… but we people tend to buy lots of things that we don’t really need. If they find the information valuable (and telling customers what you are up to can sometimes be valuable), then it’s good.

Who knows, maybe it would make a nice press story when people see game teams that use Twitter to inform what they are up to…

Read This If You Are Not Sure on How to Promote Your Game

Every now and then I get an email something like here:

My question is, I dont know how to go about promoting this game or even how to let other sites and people know the game exists! We spent a year on making it and feel its top quality and want other gamers to be able to experience its fun.

If I enroll to insiders are there any schemes setup that will help me promote my product and make the internet game sites aware it exists?

Thanks for any tips or suggestions you might have.

My typical answer is something like this.

Check out marketing tips
The practical marketing category contains some tips that can help you to get coverage for your game. Some of the articles are written months ago, yet have practical information today.

Take a look at some sales tips
There’s plenty of articles about getting sales, so going through them might be worth your time. Just skimming the category headlines might give you an idea or two on how to increase your sales – so it just might be something that you need.

Set up a newsletter
It’s amazing how many developers don’t have a newsletter on their site, so that’s something to consider when you want to start promoting your game. The newsletter is a handy way to get people back to your website.

What comes to the Insider membership: that’s a twofold issue.

Does Insider membership help you to learn on how to promote your game? Yes, if you are willing to take some time to go through the material. I’ve tried to write everything in short way by giving the essentials (I don’t want to waste my time by writing more than would be necessary, and I don’t want you to waste your time by reading anything more than the essential information).

At the time of writing, the Insider have access to special resources that contain dozens of tips on what I’ve done to get tens of thousands of people to visit my websites. The press release distribution tool gives the chance to get in touch with the press.

I must point out that Insider membership alone won’t help you. You actually need to provide newsworthy items for the press. If you have a good story to tell, then promoting your game is easy.

There’s several benefits that comes with the Insiders membership, so go and take a look at it.

If you are not sure if the membership is for you, then please feel free to ask me.

Back to WordPress…

After getting tired of seeing spam and hacks, I decided to close the comments and try a vBulletin for blog posts. This caused some other problems (for example: making possible to comment posts required manual work, and the new system couldn’t use the old categories), so eventually I decided to move back to using WordPress.

I’m now upgrading the system and bringing all the articles here in the system as soon as possible.

So I Designed a Swimming Pool Game…

My holiday is over and now it would be time to get back to work… as soon as this bloody fever goes away. First time in my life I have a fever after a holiday (usually it’s in the beginning of it).

During the holidays I didn’t spend much time on computer, but I spent time reading books and designing. It was fun: walking outdoors and just thinking games. All kinds of games.

Here’s what I came up with after few hours of pondering. It’s not a video game, although the in terms of design it could be a video game with some additions and modifications.

SHARKBALL

Sharkball is a swimming pool game where two teams try to score goals. There’s just a small twist: one of the players is a shark that you must avoid!

You can play sharkball in any kind of swimming pool.

Sharkball requires at least 5 players, but is more fun if there’s 7 or more players. There’s no limit to how many players can participate, but with 20 or more it might get bit too crowded.

Two teams try to score points, and one of the players – the shark – tries to catch somebody and become part of the winning team.

EQUIPMENT:

A light weight ball (can be anything from tennis ball size to football size or bigger).

Something to tie around the wrists for everybody in one team (For example: a small piece of cloth or thick rubber string should do). All the players in this team should have same colored piece of cloth to ensure that it’s easy to see which players are in the same team.

OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME:

To score goals by touching the opponent’s pool side with the ball.

Shark player’s objective is to become part of the leading team, since shark player in the end of the game loses.

PREPARATION:

The oldest person will be ‘the shark’ first. Rest of the players will be divided into two teams.

There should be equal number of players in both team, although it’s not totally necessary. One team should wrap something around their wrists to indicate that they belong to the same team.

Two opposite pool sides will act as ‘goals’ in the game.

Teams should go near their pool sides, the shark player goes to the center of the pool.

The youngest person gets the ball first.

RULES FOR THE SHARK PLAYER:

There’s one shark in the game all the time.

1. The shark may only move by diving.
2. The shark should wait 5 seconds before diving again (this is to ensure that shark player remembers to breath sometimes, and to give some time for people to escape in certain situations)
3. The shark tries to touch anybody in the team that’s currently leading (the team that has more points is said to be ‘leading’). In case of tie, shark player can touch anybody in the game.
4. When shark player catches somebody (who is in the team that’s currently leading, or if it’s a tie), that player becomes the shark, and the shark becomes a normal player and part of the team (and is no longer the shark). Possible team sign (wrist cloth) should be swapped between players when this happens (to indicate that the old shark now belongs to the team, and is no longer the shark)
5. If the shark touches somebody who doesn’t belong to the leading team (and it’s not tie), then nothing happens and the shark must try to catch somebody else.
6. The shark can only catch people when he (the shark) is diving.

RULES WHEN PLAYING IN THE TEAM:

Players (or at least some of the players) should keep track about how many points each team has.

1. You try to score a goal by touching the opponent’s side of pool with the ball. When you succeed your team gets a point and you should give the ball to the other team (and give them some space to start playing again).
2. You may not move if you have the ball.
3. You may not touch the ball after you drop it (somebody needs to touch the ball before you can touch it again).
4. You can swim, but are not allowed to dive.
5. If the diving shark touches you, you become the shark (and, if you have one, give your wrist cloth to the shark).
6. You are not allowed to push or touch other players and are not allowed to take ball from the player who currently has the ball.

Players should keep their team signs (wrist cloth) visible so that it’s easy to see who belongs to which team.

WHEN BALL GOES OFF THE POOL

If the ball ever goes away from the pool, the player who threw (or kicked or gave it force) the ball last must fetch the ball and that person now becomes the shark. Notice: if you throw somebody with the ball, and ball bounces off – the person who threw the ball becomes the shark.

Basically: you should not try to throw other people with the ball and hope that the ball goes out of bounds – since you will become shark then.

The ball should be returned to the place where it was thrown and when the game continues, the shark must wait 5 seconds before he can dive.

END OF THE GAME

The team that scores 10 points (or any pre-determined number) wins the game. The other team and the shark lose the game.

If there’s still sun where you live (we ran out of it here in Finland), then try it out.

Psst… by the way. Some people seemed to like the design. It got voted 1st plaze in BGFD’s July 2008 Game Design challenge – out of 4 contestants.