Archive for April, 2009

Ludum Dare 14 was huge!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Wow!

So, I have no idea what just happened, but Ludum Dare 14 was our biggest yet. With 121 entries from around the world, that’s a-lot!!

From my quick check, the highest we’ve had to date was high 60’s (though I was pretty sure we did an 80 entry compo at one point). *shrugs*

I started on an entry on Saturday, but didn’t get all that far. Friday (besides taxes), I was caught up administrating, making sure the whole thing actually happened. Sunday, making sure it ended.

Wow, I guess we’ve grown. 🙂

I actually don’t mind missing my chance to enter, since it’s quite cool watching the machine at work. Nearly everybody having a good time, stuff getting done.

As mentioned earlier, it’s usually Phil and I that push the buttons making the site run (with help from Mike, Seth, and our community). Phil’s away traveling on a bit of a vacation, so that pretty much left the site running in my hands. Of course, the one time Phil’s was away just had to be our biggest compo yet. 😉

I can’t complain really. The compo nearly runs itself now. Beyond PR, I have couple hours of work before and after to handle, it’s quite self sufficient. IRC was hopping all weekend long, lots of regulars helping people out, and bashing the theme the minute it was first announced (a tradition). We also have feeds of desk photos, motivational posters, food photos, and time lapse video to keep things fun.

The feedback thus far has been extremely positive. So much, that it may be a good idea to start some pre-planning for Ludum Dare 15 soon (August). We’ve crumbled under our own weight a few times in the past, but I have to say things went quite smoothly.

It might be about time to bring more people in to the crew. Tackle some of the rule and submission nuances once and for all. Oh, I’m sure there’ll be “meetings” in the coming months. 😉

The shelf-life of Smiles

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Smiles has been available for nearly 6 months in the App Store now. From the stories you may have heard, not all iPhone titles necessarily do well. But if you consider that the game was developed by one person in 4 months, it lives under the charts, and has only 1 Apple mention to it’s name, it’s actually done alright. I’m hardly “rolling in the dough”, but I can make ends meet.

It’s been a great ride. Smiles scored itself a nomination in the IGF, which is something I’m immensely proud of. It’s also been collecting extremely high regards on nearly every website that’s taken a look at it. One of the cooler ones to date has been the Silver Award from PocketGamer, which I just recently found out is actually more than a mere banner graphic.

smilessilveraward

Pretty awesome. 🙂

But in the perspective of things, given the whole pace of the iPhone market (30k Apps in less than a year), I’d say it has finally run it’s course.

I launched Smiles at $4.99, a price point that was ballsy at the time, and even more so today. I was offering quality and content comparable only to the top tier titles, and games for other high profile systems as the DS and PSP. Those that noticed appreciated it, but it was message that was hard to communicate to people. The only way I could really say this was with the price itself. So I stuck to my guns. For nearly 5 month, I sold Smiles for the benchmark price of $4.99. I never really sold in high volume, but I sold in enough volume.

In the iPhone market today though, I no longer think $4.99 is doable. Unless you’re one of the lucky few featured in Apple’s banner or TV campaigns, you need to play the impulse volume game. The higher the price, the more a user will think before buying.

After my IGF sales bump during GDC, I put Smiles on sale for $2.99. This revitalized my already declining bumps sales, and gave me a solid few weeks of record earnings.

As a test, I put the prices up to $3.99 earlier in the week. I was going to give it until Monday before considering any further price changes, but my sales dropped so much the past 3 days I had to put it back to $2.99. Statistically speaking, Monday and Tuesday are my worst days, but Monday at $2.99 was far better than all 3 days combined (and then some).

Smiles has exhausted pretty much all the major iPhone gaming sites. In promoting the game, I contacted nearly every major gaming blog and site that covers iPhone games (even off hand). Obviously with a very cutesy casual game look, and being a matching game (one of the most tired and done genres of casual games), it would be a battle getting though the e-mail tips box of larger blogs like Kotaku, TUAW, or IGN. It was still worth a try though.

And now… it’s not quite bargain bin, but I have to be conscious of what people will actually pay in the off chance they discover it. Lite version to full version up-selling, and finding new ways for it to be seen.

I’ll continue talking about the Smiles ports soon. I’m finishing up my writing project shortly, taxes today, running Ludum Dare this weekend, and perhaps attending something in a few weeks.

Ludum Dare 14 This Friday

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Just a quick note.

Ludum Dare 14 is this Friday. It’s usually Phil and I that run the compo (with Mike and Seth, and our awesome community of regulars), but IGF Champion and Goat Owner Extreme Phil Hassey is off on his North American Tour next week, leaving me to see if I can remember how to use all his compo scripts. 😉

If you’re not familiar with Ludum Dare, we’re probably the oldest make a game in 48 hours competitions on the internet. Started in 2002, as the number suggests, it’s our 14th full-on 48 hour competition. We’ve actually far run more than that (unofficial compos as they were called), even a 24 hour compo originally (AKA. Ludum Dare Zero).

Since this time last year, as a community we’ve been providing a new theme every off month. We bumped our schedule up to 3 compos a year (every April, August and December). We also have an extremely active community, that tends to either spontaneously make things, or run mini-compos and drawing competitions on occasion. You can catch all the action in #ludumdare on irc.afternet.org.

All this week is Theme voting. We’ve been collecting themes since last month, and now is the chance for the community to sort through them.

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/

There’s a new poll each day, and on Friday I assemble a list of the highest voted themes throughout the week for the final vote. Then Friday night, we begin.

Tune in to the website Friday night to catch April’s theme.

Smiles Statistics at GDC

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

For GDC, I decided to make a special version of Smiles. On the surface it would look like the Lite version (Free Smiles), except I re-enabled statistic tracking and high scores.

Here is how the visitors at my IGF kiosk did.

General Statistics
Total Time Played: 7 hours, 39 minutes
Games Played: 131

Zen Statistics
Total Time Playing: 4 hour, 12 minutes
Games Played: 78
Games Won: 33
Total Moves: 2640
Total Undos: 29

Drop Statistics
(note: limited to 200 matches per round)
Total Time Played: 3 hours, 26 minutes, 59 seconds
Games Played: 53
Total Matches: 5500
Highest Multiplier: x44
Total Ice Cracked: 1098
Total Rocks Broken: 1
Most Floating Matches: 2

Zen High Scores (by Moves)
3/25/2009 – 33 Moves – 1:59
3/25/2009 – 34 Moves – 1:30
3/27/2009 – 35 Moves – 1:22
3/25/2009 – 36 Moves – 1:55
3/26/2009 – 37 Moves – 1:45
3/26/2009 – 38 Moves – 1:57
3/27/2009 – 39 Moves – 3:40
3/26/2009 – 40 Moves – 2:54
3/26/2009 – 40 Moves – 3:14
3/26/2009 – 40 Moves – 4:14

Zen High Scores (By Time)
3/27/2009 – 35 Moves – 1:22
3/25/2009 – 34 Moves – 1:30
3/26/2009 – 37 Moves – 1:45
3/26/2009 – 45 Moves – 1:50
3/26/2009 – 42 Moves – 1:51
3/25/2009 – 36 Moves – 1:55
3/26/2009 – 38 Moves – 1:57
3/25/2009 – 33 Moves – 1:59
3/25/2009 – 50 Moves – 2:34
3/26/2009 – 62 Moves – 2:51

(note: Drop was limited to 200 matches per round, except it let you finish any combo you had going before stopping)

Drop High Scores (by Score)
3/26/2009 – 87,320 – 64,830 – 200 Matches – 2:16
3/26/2009 – 80,455 – 38,190 – 228 Matches – 2:30
3/25/2009 – 57,260 – 30,855 – 206 Matches – 2:48
3/26/2009 – 38,840 – 16,430 – 215 Matches – 5:56
3/25/2009 – 38,405 – 26,545 – 160 Matches – 2:09
3/27/2009 – 37,300 – 15,285 – 204 Matches – 3:48
3/27/2009 – 37,290 – 25,105 – 205 Matches – 6:00
3/26/2009 – 35,850 – 14,135 – 202 Matches – 3:54
3/27/2009 – 35,690 – 8,768 – 206 Matches – 2:38
3/26/2009 – 35,680 – 11,305 – 200 Matches – 2:40

Drop High Scores (by Combo)
3/26/2009 – 87,320 – 64,830 – 200 Matches – 2:16
3/26/2009 – 80,455 – 38,190 – 228 Matches – 2:30
3/25/2009 – 57,260 – 30,855 – 206 Matches – 2:48
3/25/2009 – 38,405 – 26,545 – 160 Matches – 2:09
3/27/2009 – 37,290 – 25,105 – 205 Matches – 6:00
3/26/2009 – 38,840 – 16,430 – 215 Matches – 5:56
3/27/2009 – 37,300 – 15,285 – 204 Matches – 3:48
3/25/2009 – 29,630 – 14,435 – 196 Matches – 9:18
3/26/2009 – 35,850 – 14,135 – 202 Matches – 3:54
3/26/2009 – 35,680 – 11,305 – 200 Matches – 2:40

Drop High Scores (by Matches)
3/26/2009 – 80,455 – 38,190 – 228 Matches – 2:30
3/26/2009 – 38,840 – 16,430 – 215 Matches – 5:56
3/26/2009 – 32,075 – 7,415 – 209 Matches – 3:21
3/25/2009 – 19,715 – 3,420 – 209 Matches – 5:02
3/27/2009 – 35,250 – 8,320 – 206 Matches – 3:05
3/27/2009 – 35,690 – 8,765 – 206 Matches – 2:38
3/25/2009 – 57,260 – 30,855 – 206 Matches – 2:48
3/27/2009 – 37,290 – 25,105 – 205 Matches – 6:00
3/27/2009 – 37,300 – 15,285 – 204 Matches – 3:48
3/26/2009 – 14,550 – 1,710 – 203 Matches – 5:10