Archive for March, 2009

The GDC and IGF Retrospective

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Just a few hours ago I could barely move. Nearly crawling my way out of bed to attack the day (ahem… night), after the long flight home.

I’ve since returned to my regular routine of pacing around my studio (i.e. basement), between moments of awe e-mailing and ranting everywhere it seems appropriate (forums, twitter). As I exhausted all those wonderful forms of communication, it seemed to be right time to start the required retrospective post.

To say I had a great time would be an understatement. Had I been around for just the usual routine of random game industry talks, I could see myself having just a “good” time. But being part of the IGF Mobile, attending the Independent Games Summit, IGF+GD Choice Awards, and the numerous other events and gatherings I was invited to put it over the top. Putting a face to the name/avatar of dozens of people I know from the Internets, hanging out with fellow developers, and catching up with friends and former coworkers was a blast.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this great community.


At the IGF+GD Choice Awards, Petri Purho of Kloonigames and Crayon Physics fame had this to say.

Winning the IGF is something that can generally change the course of a persons life

I’d say though, not winning the IGF can be pretty great too. 😉

iPhone is a tough market. There’s pretty much no disputing that. I’m not planning to fully disclose my sales numbers, but I figured I’d share some details to celebrate the occasion.

The day before my IGF nomination (late January), I hit my all time low of 1 sale. I’ve never sold zero copies, but obviously I was close. This was before my “lite” version. All I had pushing the game was the original $4.99 version, in addition to a pair of $2.99 versions of standalone Zen and Drop.

So the IGF nomination hits, blam, sales are back from the dead. Nothing big enough to put me on the charts, but it got people talking again.

A few days later, “lite” version Free Smiles hits the store. It didn’t have too much immediate impact, but I’d attribute most of my sales thereafter to the lite version.

Then comes the Game Developers Conference. After a great day of IGS festivities, hanging out with Nelson and a couple ToJam guys, back at the hotel Phil and I make a wonderful discovery.


Where does that lovely image go you ask?


Heck yeah! So officially, Smiles has now been featured by Apple. Not individually yet, but as part of a collection of titles of some significance. Woo hoo!

Day 1 of that was by far the most sales I’ve ever made in a single day. Those numbers slowed quickly, but were still very good. Over the next few days, I finally broke on to Strategy and Family charts for the first time. I’m not sure if being on these charts has helped the momentum, but I quite enjoy seeing myself listed. As of right now, Smiles is #42 Strategy and #29 Family in the US. In my home country of Canada, well, I could use more love there. 😉

If you looked at the image above, you might have noticed a sale price. Yep, to end the night Friday, I put Smiles on sale. $2.99 for the full game, or $1.99 each. That resulted in a boost in sales, roughly following a similar curve to Apple’s initial IGF page results. Day 1 of the sale broke my prior “sales in a single day” record (though I earned less from it).

That’s my brief look at GDC and being featured for the first time. I’m going to leave the $2.99 sale up for at least today (Monday), and update the icon (even though you’ll only see it in iTunes and not the App Store).


Thanks to everyone that made my visit to GDC incredibly memorable, the judges for choosing my game out of the 100+ entries, and the IGF and GDC organizers that gave me this great opportunity to show more people my game.

Smiles at the IGF Mobile – Friday

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Friday was the short day. Wednesday and Thursday we exhibited 10-6, where Friday was 10-3. Went back to the hotel and vegged that day, before heading back out to hang with the Fantastic Contraption guys.

My neighbors were the Secret Exit guys. I ended up spending a bulk of the show goofing off with Tuukka, an artist on Zen Bound. The Secret Exit guys refer to him as the “prankster” of the bunch. I stepped out on occasion, one time to see a talk (Experimental Games Workshop). When I got back, my sign changed.


Good stuff.

I had a great time at the show. I’m kicking myself for not taking any video, but there weren’t many opportunities it seemed practical. Something else I should have done was put a little red Canadian maple leaf icon/sticker on my kiosk. The reason, I ended up watching as CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) interviewed my award winning neighbors (Secret Exit) for Canadian TV, and completely ignore me… the only Canadian in the IGF Mobile too. 😉

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. Sitting in a hotel lobby blogging. Plane leaves at midnight, and it’s back to Canada. Ta ta.

Smiles at the IGF Mobile – Wednesday

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

First day of exhibiting. I have to say, I’m exhausted. Feet ached, and limped a bit throughout the day, but I loved it.

Here’s a few photos of the completed setup.


And a little closer.


I’m sharing a hotel with Phil Hassey of Galcon fame, and he had an amusing idea about creating some cheap signage. Hilighers and posterboard. At his booth he has a nicely done caracture of his goat Cuzco with a very supermarket-like sign advertising his sale. Me, I needed an “I’m not here” sign, so here’s what I came up with given the tools I had.


For the most part you didn’t see this, since I stuck around all day. Still, I was ready in case I had to step out. Left the sign and some cards when I finished for the night.

Dead tired, but I’ll be there again tomorrow. Hopefully, I can secure a chair for the day.

Smiles at the IGF Mobile – Tuesday

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Live from San Fransisco, it’s… me.

As you may or may not have heard, I didn’t win. But that’s alright, I’m still here to exhibit.

We’re sharing booth space with the IGF main competition entrants, which is great. That way, when people come to see the cool IGF games, they’ll find us too. Here’s my slice.


Other cool stuff, Apple put up a page of us IGF Mobile entries. Very awesome. The part I love though, Smiles is the 1st game listed on the page. I’ll have to take some shots of iTunes when I get home.

Also, it seems I finally hit a chart. Smiles, for the first time, was on the Strategy Game Top 100 in the App Store. It wasn’t that high, but I saw it. I’m looking forward to seeing what a day of “on a chart” sales looks like.

That is it for today. I’ll be sure to snap a photo of it properly set up. I don’t imagine it’ll change much on Thursday/Friday, but if I can think of anything related to snap, I’ll be sure to do it. Until tomorrow.

Road to the IGF (Mobile) Video – Part 2

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I’m back. This time, I’m ready for GDC!

Come take an early look at the madness I’m bringing with me to the conference.

As you can probably guess from the lack of Smiles PC/HD progress posts, I will not be demoing it at the conference. I am still bringing both laptops though. The big one will be doing something else instead.

Enjoy! 🙂