I am working on a New Game!!!

Now that NSMOD is basically done and in the can.  I was thinking about starting on my next game, then I got this idea out of the blue.

This idea screams Write Me.

If you like Tetris like games you will love this new game, I think it is familiar and yet very unique.  The best part for me is that it will be so easy to write (no custom levels, it will just get harder).

So barring any major major projects with my day job I should have this game done before xmas.

Not much to report

Well Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!! has not been selling gangbusters so I have not had any numbers to report.

We have not sold more than 20 for any platform, 0 on Amazon MarketPlace.

I have done a couple of things, lets see what works and what doesn’t

1. I have created a Free To Play version of Norkal for the iPad and iPhone.  This version is Ad supported and includes 90% of the functionality, there is a unlock feature to give you the other 10%.  I submitted this to the App Store last week.

1a. I have updated my artwork in the App Store

1b. I have updated my app description in the AppStore

1c. When this is available I am going to kick of a massive PR mailing.

2. I am having a back 2 school sale on the Playbook version (now $0.99) hopefully I will be featured again and we will see what happens.

2a. I have updated my Description in App World.

3. Marbles – Before the Playbook RIM had a promotion where they would give a free Playbook to anyone who submits an App, Marbles was my participation in this program and was released before I even had my Playbook.  Marbles is also a good example of why you have to test your application on the target platform.  Marbles works really well on the PC (with a mouse) but did not work that well with touch, the jack would go off in all different directions.

By the time I discovered these issues my Adobe development kit had expired and I was not interested in paying to update a free app.

Last week I noticed that Marbles has had almost 9,000 downloads, despite some really bad reviews.

I have fixed up the “Flick” mechanism and now the game play is actually rather fun.  I have not juiced up the graphics so it still lacks “Polish” but it is still free and now has a link to Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!!

Marbles came out on Thursday and already has over 175 Downloads.  So I guess free works, I will see how my free iPad version goes before deciding what to do next.

almost a month – results – more thoughts

Sorry I have not been posting as often as I said, but

  1. I have been busier than I anticipated
  2. Not much to report, sales have been very slow.

The current tally is:

Playbook 20
iPad 12
HP 11
Amazon/Android 0

I am definitely not going to quit my day job.

Currently I am very disappointed with the Playbook sales.  I was featured on a couple of web sites Playbook Daily and BestPBApps I admit they are not the Times, but I only sold 4 apps based on this coverage.

Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!! is also a featured app in BlackBerry App World but over the weekend that only led to 4 sales. (damn you Olympics?)

On the iPad side I have been busy posting on forums and sending our press releases, nada on the forums, nada on the  press releases, but then there is a longer lead time.

So what do I do next?

Unlike coding I do not know how to find the correct answer?

  1. Was my Press Release missing the target?
  2. Does the “Cartoon” style turn of my target audience?
  3. Is the app too expensive?
  4. Does the description not work?
  5. Do I need better icons?
  6. Is there some other problem?
  7. Do I just need more time?

More importantly when do I start panicking and/or give up?

My current plan of attack is:

  1. Wait and see what happens with App World?  Will sales pick up?
  2. Get the iPhone version ready
  3. Create a free (ad) version for the iPhone/iPad, not keen on this since the ad does pollute the purity of the game.

I have also been working with apppromoter.com to improve my copy/press release/pr distribution, but I am currently leaning towards a more formal “re-release” when the free iPhone/iPad app is ready

My wife asked me how you make money on a free game, I replied volume.


almost a week – results – my thoughts

Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!! has now been live for almost a week, it went live on iPad and Playbook last Thursday and on Amazon (Android) and HP on Friday.

I am a little disappointed with the results at this time, I expect to have to work hard to “Market” NSMOD and did not expect it to sell triple figures in the first week, but I did “hope/expect” to have a release bump while NSMOD was in the “Recently Released”  zone.  Unfortunately that was a very short window.

I have planted a lot of “marketing seeds” this week, hopefully some of them will start to sprout over the next couple of weeks.

I also hope everybody is not 100% focused on Tiny Wings 2.

HP TouchPad  This was the biggest disappointment as I have only sold 3.  It was always going to be bang or bust.  My thinking went that there is over a million of them out there, and NSMOD is still high on the recently released list.  But obviously those million units are sitting in peoples desk drawers and not being used.  It was pretty easy to port to the HP TouchPad so the effort was not huge, so no big loss.

Kindle Fire (other Android) So far I have sold 0, I never expected to sell many, but I need to come up with a marketing plan.

iPad: 7 units, I think my Dad bought most of them :-)   I have focused a lot of my effort on this over the last couple of days, so hopefully we will see an up tick next week, and in a couple of weeks I have some plans which should increase awareness.

Blackberry Playbook 10 (the winner :-)   Like the iPad I have some things in the works which should bump these numbers over the next couple of weeks,

Total: 20 – still a little early too quit my day job.

Come back next week (Monday?) for another update

How do I think the tablets will perform?

I thought I would record my predictions for the relative performance of the four tablets.

Blackberry Playbook

I actually think this will be my best performer.  The market place is not as saturated (so it is easier to get noticed) and RIM has been very approachable, and has said they would help me promote Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!!

I have not been able to (or figure out) how to engage with Apple or Amazon.  Apple and Amazon both have “web forms” you can fill in, and then they respond with a standard email.  RIM has these JAM road shows which gave me an opportunity to meet with RIM directly.

The other nice thing is that RIM is more transparent about who you need to contact. It was relatively easy for me to find the email addresses of the appropriate Development contacts.

When we look at my call for Beta Testers I got a very strong response from Playbook users, and some very positive feedback (no bugs found).

I predict a very strong start, which will taper off very quickly and then hopefully provide steady (but low) unit sales.

Apple iPad

I need this to do well.  There are so many iPad’s out there that I only need a small percentage to purchase NSMOD, that is the theory, but the challenge is still how do I get noticed?

When we look at my call for Beta Testers I had no response, this despite posting on multiple forums.

I predict a slow start, which will steadily grow, and provide reasonable on going unit sales.

Amazon Kindle Fire

I would like to think that with around 2 million Kindle Fires (and other Android Tablets) out there, I should be able to do well, but the Marketplace is very crowded with Android apps.

And again I had no response to my call for Beta Testers.

I am also worried about the market fragmentation, I have tested NSMOD to death on the Kindle Fire, but with so many different tablets I am worried that it won’t work on some of them.

I have no sales predictions, it can do very well, or very poorly, not sure there is anything in between.

HP TouchPad

This is a complete wild card, there are about 1 million units out there, but how many are still being used?  On the plus side there is very little competition so NSMOD will be visible on the recent list for at least a couple of days.

With one post I got an amazing response to my call for Beta Testers, so hopefully my entire market has not already played the game.  Again the feedback was very positive and no bugs were found.

This could go two ways, one I make some decent sales in the first couple of weeks, or I make no sales.   I do not expect to make significant sales after the first couple of weeks.

Check back here next week to an update

Which tablet is the most profitable for small Indies like us?

That is the question I hope to answer over the next couple of months.

I plan on releasing Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM!!! simultaneously for:

  • Apple iPad
  • Blackberry Playbook
  • Amazon Kindle Fire
  • HP Touchpad (really, yes really)

NSMOD has been submitted to the perspective app stores/worlds/marketplaces/catalogs and if all goes well it will be accepted later this week or early next week, or when hell freezes over.  (RIM has already approved it, yeah RIM)

For the first couple of weeks I plan on publishing my sales figures almost daily on my twitter feed, so you will be able to watch me become a multi-millionaire in real time.

I say almost daily as I actually have a big project and some travel in July (yes, a little foolish of me to release when I have other things to do, but who said life was easy).

After that I will update weekly and then monthly as needed, possibly with some fancy graphs and charts if I can figure out how to use Excel.

Well fingers crossed, and see you on the other side.

Just a quick Update

I know it has been awhile since I posted, and I still intend on writing that article about the different Development Environments.

Unfortunately real life (and job) keep taking up my time.

Norkal’s Space Maze of DOOM (it has a name now) it mostly done.  I am starting a quasi-public beta program to find any issues I might have missed.

After the beta program I hope to release this Summer (yeah).

The other thing I am thinking of is releasing all my sales figures (not just relative numbers) so we can get a true view of how much money one can make as an independent developer and which platform is truly the best one.

Now I just of to think about how to market this baby.

iPAD/iPhone, Playbook, Android, HP TouchPad, Win8, O’my

In my first posting I stated I would be posting every week.  That was about 3 months ago.  Unfortunately after kissing the children goodnight, and spending time with my wife, oh, and this day job thing.  I find I do not have much time left over for my fun job.  At least if I want to avoid a costly divorce.

Fortunately the world does not depend on my Blogs and my children do depend on my kisses  I do not think anybody even knows my blog exists, a fact I need to change, maybe you can help me with that, any ideas, seriously? I need to change that.

The reason I started this blog is that I am creating a game for the tablet/smart phone market.  I have read <sources> that just putting a game into the App store is not sufficient.  There are about 200-1000 new apps submitted to the various app stores / day, (the figure depends on the source, platform and the day).  So you need to spend some time marketing your app to actually make any sales.

I have also read that a Blog is a good way to build interest.  Trouble is it need to be entertaining and self deprecating enough for people to want to read it…..ahhh there’s the rub, especially when I’m a bit of a geek, no sh*t, I hear you cry….and language, at least the written in English type is not necessarily my strength.

The best way in my opinion is full disclosure.  Oh no, just putting in words like ‘full’ and ‘disclosure’ is bound to get me filtered.

That is why I am being honest about why I have created this blog in the first place.

I need to do more, so I hit upon this idea.  If I were to release my app on all the four (five?) main tablet platforms simultaneously and release the relative sales figures for these platforms would anybody be interested?  I suspect small dev’s like myself would be.

I am also willing to share my thoughts and experiences with those same readers.  I know a great deal about stuff, probably because

I am an old Fart and have been programming since I was 10, and I am now 44, in other words I started using computers before most of the world knew what computers were.  I have released some “free” software on the Commodore 64 and the Amiga, those were the days when an individual could write a meaningful game with out having to spend 100 million dollars <source>.  But then I entered the real world and a real job and my “hobby programming” took a back seat to life the universe and everything, or in my case wife, children.

Let me continue by sharing a little bit about my path to where I am now.  I currently have a half finished game running on 3 of the 4 target tablets, and the anticipation of the 4th with in the matter of days (weeks?).

Diddly doo, diddle doo (wavy, music to indicate a step back in time)

Last November I heard about the RIM Playbook promotion, if you wrote a Playbook App RIM would give you a “free” playbook.  So I knocked together a couple of apps in Adobe ActionScript and submitted them to Playbook App Store.

“Free” in this context. Meant many  hours invested in creating my two apps So not very free, if you consider my current hourly rate, but that aside

I enjoyed creating the apps, but they were not that good (more on that in a later post) and they were not really the kind of thing you could charge for.

But the question, on everybodies lips was then was ‘what next?’, well maybe not everybody but certainly aforementioned wife.  I felt that maybe I should create a better app, one which I could take pride in.  So that was my plan to create a “quality” app for the Playbook.  One with “Polish” <sources> something I would feel was worthy of charging real money for.

I played around with a couple of ideas and finally hit on a concept which I felt would work well on a tablet.

I also wanted to do it in C++, and that required the Playbook NDK, so I waited for that to come out, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, then I got tired of waiting and decided to write the game for the iPAD, well that was my excuse for the technology investment, (and I stand buy it!).  So I took the C++/OpenGL game engine which I was developing while waiting, bought a Mac and an iPOD touch, and within a couple of days I had my game engine and current test levels running on iOS.  At this time my goal was to target iOS first, and the heck with Playbook.

And then a funny thing happened, I was accepted into the Playbook NDK Beta program.  There I was all set to send RIM an email saying how poorly we developers were treated by RIM. And thanks but no thanks.

(I may write a blog about my thoughts on this at some later date but possibly not)

But then I thought, what harm is there in downloading the NDK and taking it for a spin.  Less than a day later my game was running on the Playbook, it was that simple.  Well maybe not if you count all my previous experience but it felt simple.

That then brings us the 4 target epiphany I had a couple of weeks ago.  It started when I read on engadget <source> about the latest HP touchpad ebay sell-off.  I tried to get a Touchpad when they did their initial fire sale over the summer, not because I really wanted one, but for $100 why not look at it, this was also before I purchased an iPAD and I was curious to know how I would enjoy a larger tablet.  Unfortunately I was not able to buy a Touchpad at the fire sale price over the summer.

But this time I struck gold, and was able to get one.  My thinking is that there are 1 million of them out there, with out the same developer love as you can find in the Apple and Android market places.  On the surface it sounds like there might be a bit of a hunger for a decent game.

So armed with my new Touchpad I just now finished getting my game running on WebOS.  It ran the second time (the first time my y-input axis was inverted), which is blowing my mind.  I am scared sh*tless that I might have to debug it, since at this point of time I have not figured out how to get the visual (or any other version) debugger working, but for now I am rather chuffed.

I have also picked up a Kindle Fire so next target is Android, I started on this a bit but got  stumped by the piss poor debugging environment and documentation, but I think the approach I have taken with WebOS will work for Android so hopefully that will be up and running soon.

I think I will also do a Win8 version, but not concurrently.  The Main issue is that Win8 may not (probably does not) support opengl, so I need to convert it to Direct3D, not a big issue I have done Direct3D work in the past, but I do need on focusing on delivering something.

In my next post I am going to share my thoughts on the four different development platforms, and after that I may talk about the design/implementation process for my game.

So see you next week month year

p.s. wow that was a really long post, maybe I should break it up into parts and post it slowly over the next month :-)

Hello world!

Hello World is the default title WordPress created for this Blog.

It is as good as anything else I can come up with.

The purpose of this blog is to share with the big bad world my experiences while building an “App” company in my spare time.

I hope to post about once a week, and have some good ideas percolating (well I think they are good ideas, you may think otherwise)

But for now this is a place holder post so that I can tick this task off my list.