How You Want Your Games Served: Digital Or Physical?

Digital delivery has been getting more and more popular in the past years. I have recently bought 2 games: Assassin’s Creed (digitally via Steam) and Kane & Lynch (physical copy). There is something strangely nice to actually have the Kane & Lynch DVD box here… but it kind of feels like stone age to actually put the DVD inside the computer.

In Steam, I cannot sell my old games, and the 8 gigabytes load times are bit long for my 2 meg connection, but since I really don’t buy nor play games so often it’s okay for me (I’m more interested in how certain stuff works in the game, and then I usually move on… to make my own game).

To me, I kind of feel that the time of physical copies is coming to the final end. I’m ready to get only digital copies from a reliable distributor. I know there can be some issues with digital distribution, but to me it feels like that’s the way how games will be delivered in the future (if they even are delivered, rather played using some master server…).

This is of course just me thinking, and don’t know what will happen – and when. But I prefer digital ones over physical copies.

How about you, how you like your games delivered: digitally or physically?

[poll id=15]

Best Fast Food Meal Ever – Got 7.10 Eur Lesson About Rewards

I visited a local hamburger hut (got myself a chicken burger meal, cost 7.10 EUR) and spotted a leaflet about their bonus program. The leaflet was 6 pages long. The text was written with a small font. They tried to hint me, that if I buy loads of stuff from their place (but so that a one-time purchase is big enough), I might get some free food at some point. Maybe. It depends.

The reward program was a pretty complex. There were all sort of rules and systems which would get you to certain level, where you could reach platinum something to get 0.37 eur on something when you bought something somewhere sometimes. And, only if you buy certain amount of stuff.

Or something.

I know that eventually it means that I might get some sort of discount, but I didn’t have a calculator at hand and I’ve only studied Math up until the University so I couldn’t solve the puzzle. Maybe the day when we all carry tiny supercomputers inside our DNA I might figure it out.

Anyway, compare this system with another reward system in a nearby pizza store: “buy 9 pizzas, get 10th for free”.

That’s really simple. No any complex mess. Just simple thing: buy 9 pizzas and the 10th pizza will be free. Simple, and clear. And rewarding.

So, in the case we want to reward some people (whether it’s giving them discounts or rewarding them in game), it’s a pretty good idea to tell them how the reward system works (or at least have some sense in it).

Just think of it: would you play a game where the aim is to get points, but you wouldn’t know how to score points, and the game would just give you a bloody long book that would explain how to get points?

Me neither.

I don’t suggest that you should reveal the player everything in your game… but if the player is clueless (or needs to read a several pages of text to realize how some simple thing should work) about how the basic rewards, then something is wrong. Or maybe it’s just me.

Get Free Publicity For Your Game (Maybe. Kind Of. Need Twitter Account By The Way)

I’ve been testing Twitter for some time now, and have been wondering how to use it for business purposes. Here’s one idea I got.

I took a bit of time and programmed a small experimental system to promote games. The service is located at http://gamestweet.net/. The simple idea of this site is to pull any game tweets from Twitter that contain the link http://gamestweet.net/ in the tweet.

Developers can Tweet about their games. These game tweets are shown at http://gamestweet.net/. More people will go check out the site. People will get totally excited about new cool games and will go download and buy them. Spending tons of money.

The system works so that you just need a Twitter account (like I do) and tweet something game related (possibly with your game link or something) that contains link to http://gamestweet.net/.

Go check it out and tell your friends, m’kay?

How Not To Handle Discounts

There’s a nationwide game discount campaign going on at the Finland (peliale.fi). It’s pretty cool, but there’s one thing somebody messed up.

When you are having a huge discount campaign, it would make sense to actually supply the items

(This was taken from the konsolinet.fi – neat Finnish store by the way – and the red text after these games says “temporarily unavailable – more coming in 5-10 days”)

Of course with digital distribution things are better (as long as the servers are online).

It’s Not About The Price

After seeing 99 votes to the poll about game pricing, I must say that I’m pretty amazed about the results. Out of 99 voters, 5 would pay nothing, but 4 would pay more than $200 for a game (that’s pretty amazing if you think of this a bit).

83 out of 99 would pay $20 or more for a solid fun game.

Pretty darn interesting.

[poll id=13]

Does this affect on how you are pricing your game?

SoPCON I – Meet Fellow Indie Developers (Event Takes Place In Gothenburg, Sweden, 11-12 July 2009)

Today I was informed about The First SoPCON (for indie developers). It takes place in Sweden so especially Nordic people (hey, that includes me too) should take a look at it.

This is taken directly from their website:

As every game developer with self respect has their own conference we’re happy to announce SoPCON 1!

Spell of Play Studios has been active as an indie game studio since 2004 and using our own digital distribution platform hUb and our unique view on game development we have slowly but surely built a vibrant community of gamers and developers.

We now want more developers and partners to join us to increase the breadth and quality of the games released on hUb.

SoPCON 1 is the place to meet us and other developers for some gaming, jamming and ranting.

When and Where

Gothenburg, Sweden, 11-12 July 2009.

How

A limited number of invitations have been sent out to a select few developers. If you have not got one you are free to contact us at; sopcon1@spellofplay.com, and tell us who you are.
Cost

No, though you have to arrange your own meals and accommodation.

More Info

Contact us at sopcon1@spellofplay.com or make a post in the SoPCON forum

Sponsors

Would you like your company exposed on SoPCON? Feel free to contact us for any marketing and/or sponsorship opportunities.

I’ll skip the event (gonna be out-of-town, out-of-computer, out-of-whatnot that time), but in case you got interested, check it out. Here’s the link again: Spell of Play

How Not To Reward a Player…

I got back from my small trip, and got this pretty strange incident. I tested a golf game in my cell phone. The game is pretty simple, pretty easy to learn and quite fun too. While easy to learn, it’s not so tempting for new users…

Let me explain. The first time I tried the golf game, I was hitting the ball badly and sometimes it went far, and sometimes not so far. Eventually I got the ball in the hole, with a result like +9 over the par.

Before I let you know what the game did, I’d like you to ponder a bit: how would you reward a first-time player who uses 13 swings (instead of 4) to finish the first hole?

Think about it a moment. I suppose you might think that the game would like throw some victory particles and congratulate or something, but not this game. The moment I hit the ball in the hole, the game displayed word:

“Bad”

I was like… what? Okay, I knew it wasn’t perhaps my greatest game ever, but when I eventually managed to get the ball in the hole, the game says to me “bad”. How many times a 4-year old kid would play the game? (the controls were such that a 4-year old could handle it, at least with little help).

Game was a pretty fun, but I think you might want to think twice to blame players when they complete something. If you think of it: how many times a 4-year old would play the game that says “bad” when they complete something?

(I dunno, maybe they rely on the fact that most 4-year old kids can’t read…)

No More “Weekly Prototypes” (Well, At Least In The Way I Did The First Four…)

I did four prototypes in the past weeks (have missed couple now) and yesterday I wrote about prototypes versus ideas. After these thoughts and protos, I kind of feel that spending couple of hours for protos is kind of like too little. There are some guys who hack code together in 4 hours or so, but programming a proto in 2 hours gets little too much.

I started to feel that I could not fully think about different ideas, since I knew that it’s pretty tough call to program the idea in just 2 hours. I liked the Nudgers prototype a lot. It sparked some more ideas to me (one was similar type of storytelling game where people would control a planet, and then collectively vote what they would do when their race is encountering challenges. It would be something like a mix of “play by email multiplayer game” and “strategy game”.

Right now I’m going to stop doing the weekly prototype (well, stopped it couple of weeks ago – let’s say that I’m mentioning this now), and think of something else. I guess I was prototyping “prototyping” to see how it feels. To me, 2 hours seems too low to get more decent things done.

But, since I always want to experiment stuff… I started pondering that some sort of collaborative weekly (or bi-weekly) challenge with you guys could be interesting.

I’m not sure yet what could it be, but it sure would be interesting to do this “prototyping/idea brainstorming” with you guys (that’s one thing Nudgers got me thinking by the way – it’s much more fun when there’s people involved).

My first idea was some sort of “game design challenge”, but instead of that… I wonder if we could do something bit different – like write a “(really basic) design document / concept” for a game in 1-2 weeks. Or, perhaps think of new ways to do some game design issues (like “how to reward players”).

What could be useful way to “design games” together so that it could help and inspire people – and perhaps even help you solve some dilemmas in your own game’s design?

Thoughts?