“Precautions To Take During Playing”

I was just reading Kane & Lynch manual (borrowing some ideas for the main menu) and I spotted this warning text section in the end of the manual. Here’s what it says (with my comments in italic):

PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE DURING USE
Just count how many of these you have followed…

  • Do not stand too close to the screen. Sit a good distance away from the monitor, as far away as the length of the cable allows (I was like always staring the screen like from 20 cm away in my childhood)
  • Preferably play the video game on a small screen (40″ Plasma screens anyone? One interesting thing by the way is the fact that the makers of the game promote a contest where you can win 40″ LCD when you register to Kane and Lynch website…)
  • Avoid playing if you are tired or have not had much sleep (LAN parties anyone?)
  • Make sure that the room in which you playing is well lit (Typo in their text… but anyways – this is like soooo-not happening. All the scary things happens in dark. Therefore – we play in dark.)
  • Rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes per hour while playing a video game (Hah, like that has ever happened!)

Why they try to achieve by printing these warnings anyway? (My guess: to avoid legal problems)

Story Or Not?

I’m not so much into stories in games. I care more about the mechanism and player interaction, the story itself is pretty irrelevant for me – at least now. I can play a game of risk with friends of mine and be totally happy. I can shoot some zombies online with my friends, and it’s totally cool. I can even play my own box stacking game and be one happy camper, even when there’s no story.

Some players are totally different. When I’ve asked people what makes Fallout 3 such a wonderful game, I’ve got answers like “the world is designed (or “written”) and that you can influence how the plot goes”. Some guy said how he had experienced different missions killing mutants somewhere and helping some folk elsewhere.

What’s your thoughts?

Do you prefer games that have a strong plot? Or do you prefer games that focus only on gameplay? (I suppose ideal answer could be to “have both”, but this one makes a more controversial poll…)

[poll id=18]

Sneaky Way To Price Your Game Higher And Get More Sales

Make it possible for players to pay the game in parts (paying $5.99 for 3-4 times). People are used to paying $5.99, but think $20 is much for casual games. Therefore… let them pay $6 four times (total of $24 minus fees, which takes it close to $20ish profit) and they’ll do it.

Yes, there’s already credit cards that can handle “split payments”, but the psychology of “it’s only $6 per month” is a killer.

Trust me on this.

Or, just try it out for 30 or 60 days and see what happens.

Arr, Ye Pirates! (Example On Timing Your Marketing)

Today is the “talk like a pirate day”. Tell Tale Games is giving Monkey Island for free today because of the special day.

Perfect viral marketing idea. Just check your Twitter or browse some forums and I’m sure somebody is telling about this special offer.

This is practically (almost) free publicity for Tell Tale Games – it’s a pirate game. It’s a pirate day. It’s a fun thing. Fun things go viral. Viral means traffic. Traffic means sales. Good job.

Arr!

Talk Like A Pirate Day Is Coming

Thanks to Temposaur I now know that talk like a pirate day is coming tomorrow. My hunch is telling me that it’s not about software pirates… but those other pirates who sailed on Caribbean several hundred years ago, with parrots on their shoulder and eye patches covering their – umm – eyes.

Anyway, I thought to skip those Caribbean pirates and talk like a software pirate right away:

  • The Pirate: “Your game sucks. That’s why I don’t buy it. I crack it.” (Juuso: and keep on playing?)
  • “I will buy your game if it’s good enough” (after 5 years he’s forgotten this)
  • “Anyone got licence key for [name of game]?” (yeh we do, we like bought the darn game you know)
  • “EA is evil.” (yeh, so what? Stop whining you whine-whiner)
  • “Piracy isn’t stealing” (technically correct but doesn’t make it any more acceptable…)
  • “You suck!” (loads of sucking I see)
  • “Everybody else is pirating, so shall I” (Hey, I saw bunch of guys jumping off the cliff, I wonder why you didn’t join them?)
  • “I cannot afford to buy games, I only have this brand new Quad-core computer, iphone, PlayStation 3, 40″ inch TV, cable with me” (poor you, I guess all the fancy gadgets took all your money and after all, those darn casual games cost as much as $5.99 so I can totally relate with you)
  • “DRMs suck!” (well, at least this is something I totally agree with)

Any more additions?

Here’s One Reason Why People Buy Indie Games (Part 2)

In the post few days ago I covered one reason why people won’t buy indie games. I wanted to show how most developers are 99% focused on developing game, and 1% focused on “how to sell it”.

I understand very well why portals take up to 70% (or more) of the profits. It’s pretty simple: they do all the really hard work. That’s quite a big statement – I know – but it takes much more effort to sell anything than it does to develop something.

I can prove it pretty easily.

First of all: I’m pretty sure there’s loads of guys who read this and strongly disagree with me. People who think that development is much harder than selling. These guys might think about this paragraph “you are so wrong here”.

And that proved my point: It’s hard to sell – even a new idea. Now, just imagine how much more work it is to get people give money as well.

Anyway, back to the point.

The reason why indies have hard time selling something is mainly because most people haven’t thought about this at all. Developers just think that they put the game out and people will buy it.

Their marketing efforts looks like this:

  • Wait for people to find the game site.

Their marketing efforts could use some from this expanded list
They could add for example this sort of stuff in the list:

  • Find a publisher/portal/distributor and let them handle sales (if you don’t want to do anything else than games, then go for this route). This might be pretty close the only thing you need (in case direct sales & marketing isn’t your thing).
  • Test & tweak your website (you are currently losing sales, did you know that?)
  • Track where the traffic comes from, apply tracking codes and promote more where things work (Google analytics – free tool – is a good friend of yours)
  • Set up Twitter, Facebook (and possibly other accounts) and link these from your blog (takes practically no time and can automatically build your links)
  • Set up a mailing list and start collecting leads (especially good for games that are under development such as mine)
  • Start promotion early (my Dead Wake game has already got good amount of traffic, and I’ve done very little marketing)
  • Use the indie game press distribution to get the news out.
  • Learn to tell stories and build anticipation…
  • Give cool videos (about the game and also about you, the developer)
  • Get interviewed!
  • Blogs are good.
  • If you decide to build a community… keep it fresh and active and get some evangelists to spread the word (give your players tools to promote the game)
  • Make your community members “own” the game (credits, special avatars or recognition)… then help them promote the game.
  • Get familiar with community marketing campaign ideas
  • The more often you release (whether it’s a screenshot, rumour, concept art, video, trailer, sounds… or anything) the more interest you’ll gain
  • Set up cool contests – these draw traffic
  • Apply some of the more than 100+ (and growing) marketing tips

There’s tons of things developers can do to market their games. My own plan has been pretty simple for Dead Wake:

  • Announce news (or new stuff) frequently (with minimal effort, focus being in development – not in marketing)
  • Get people’s emails (to grow my audience and make sure people who found the site will come back) and remind them about the game’s progress to build a list of buyers when the game is available for purchase.

I have done very little marketing work for Dead Wake for the reason that my first priority is to get the game out. Now it’s 95%+ development, 5% marketing/community. When the game is out, I expect that the ratio goes almost the opposite at least for this year. The good thing is that while I’ve done some promotion (PRs, sent emails, and that sort of stuff), I’ve actually got more interest than ever (the fact that it got featured in PC Gamer by they coming to me was one of the pretty nice highlights). People are eagerly waiting to see the new versions and want to know when it’s out.

And that’s just one guy doing a tiny bit of marketing.

How Torturing Yourself Can Help Get More Development Done

If you really love to develop and play games, here’s one trick you might want to try:

Stop playing games until your game is finished. (Or next major milestone achieved).

For many developers, this might not be a big deal (we don’t play as nearly as much we used to play when we were teenagers, right?) and many of us play very little if any. But if you enjoy playing – even a little bit – then this trick might work.

Take playing away. Don’t allow yourself to play games (excluding your own game for testing purposes…) until you’ve finished the game (or the next milestone). You might feel bit of anxiety in doing this, but it also gives you a one more reason to code your game. Make a promise to yourself that you “reward” yourself by allowing you to play as soon as your own game is done.

After you’ve finished the milestone, the funny thing that happens (I can almost guarantee this) that you actually might be much more thrilled about the development status – that you forget to reward yourself with “playing”. You see how much more rewarding it is to get stuff done.

Might feel like torturing (not playing)… but don’t get a quick fix (playing). It’ll get much better to wait a bit and then feel absolutely great about the progress done.

Here’s One Reason Why People Won’t Buy Indie Games (Part 1)

If you hang around at indie forums, there’s a certain pattern that you can see. It’s about how indies develop & market their games. Here’s a breakdown on what these guys do.

Game development effort:
In development these guys spend tons of time doing the following:

  • Go through technology possibilities and choose the right platform
  • Make demos
  • Create design documents
  • Play and test different games
  • Estimate work effort to create a game
  • Purchase graphical assets
  • Compose
  • Read and learn more about project management
  • Get familiar with game design
  • Build a level editor
  • Fix DirectX problems
  • Add mac support
  • Port the game to iPhone
  • Write a game development blog
  • Participate in game development forums
  • Ask questions
  • Talk with friends about design issues
  • Squash bugs in code
  • Handle multiplayer
  • Add particle effects
  • Handle budget
  • Create cool new features
  • Program physics in game
  • Add different libraries
  • And 7000 other things that come up during the development

Marketing effort:
When it comes to marketing, their plan is:

  • Wait for people to find the game site.

What’s wrong with this plan?

Are There Really That Many Idiots Online? (Or Am I Just Lucky?)

The games I play are mainly online multiplayer.

Whenever I mention this… I get flooded with answers about “how everybody is idiot online” and how “all games are full of cheaters”. (Okay, this happened once – and haven’t asked this more than once – but kind of makes a more interesting point-of-view in a blog post when you exaggerate “a bit”.)

So anyway.

Am I being lucky?

I’ve played online games for almost a decade (time sure flies), and I think that like 99% or more has been good gaming. There was some incidents that ruined (or harmed) the game: in Rogue Spear one team member constantly exploded a grenade near his teammates. In Battle For Middle Earth there was some players who shouted “n00b” and left the moment they thought that our side was losing (I always played every single game to the final end, even if I knew I would lose – I got thanked for that). And… that’s pretty much it (if you don’t count the one incident where I was playing Zombie Panic mod and one guy started saying Michael Jackson jokes – it kind of felt against the immersion I think).

If I look at my online gaming career… I can say I’m one happy camper. I’ve never really expected cheating in games and never really whined about how bad something goes… and surprisingly I’ve been able to participate in sessions (no matter what the game has been) where people actually work together on something – and things go nicely.

What’s your take on this?

Habits Are Hard To Break

I’ve re-started my “daily blog post” mission for this blog, and it’s strange how difficult it is to break the habit. I just gotta keep publishing these posts. It’s kind of like a public promise I’m giving – and I want to keep that promise.

Creating this sort of habit works for pretty much anything: whether it be game development or using Twitter… it’s hard to break when it has come a habit.