“I’ve finished my game - now what?” Advice for you...

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by Grey Alien, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    If you want to maintain a mood with the player, then try to negotiate altered logos that fit that mood. A good example is the movie 300 (in theatres now! ;-D) where every logo in the beginning (Warner Bros, etc) has been rendered in an old hammered iron style on the same backgrounds.

    No logos is great for players, but as a business person, you should want some degree of brand recognition. You have to strike the delicate balance between both...
     
  2. Grey Alien

    Indie Author

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    Well I have a nice memorable splash screen and I don't mind showing the portal splash before mine - it maybe gives it a bit of credence, also it's one of the prices you pay to get it on the portals. I don't think of it as a big deal. Yeah also don't forget no URLS in your game or links to your own site!
     
  3. Roman Budzowski

    Indie Author

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    Why before? They don't ask for it. Though I am still not sure whatever before or after is better.

    best
    Roman
     
  4. Grey Alien

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    Roman: well they either want their logo on the title page (thus screwing up it's look) or as a splash screen. Once it's shown it's gone. I'm really not too bother as long as the game sells! :)
     
  5. kjm

    kjm New Member

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    Shareware solution

    I wonder what the communities thoughts are on shareware these days. True shareware, not crippleware.

    It seems the majority of people want to see a financial return on theyre games given all the hard work theyve put into creating them, purchasing media, labour ect.

    Thats only natural.

    After recently viewing the GDC video of Jeff Minter talking about his career, games and thoughts on the industry he mentioned that at one point Lamasoft was facing financial ruin when he decided to release lamatron as shareware.

    He released the full game, and basically said, if you like the game, send me a fiver ( £5.00 ) and that the response he got back was enough to keep him afloat and save his career.

    It was quite a brave move at the time and sort of a last resort because he couldn't find a publisher.

    I was toying with the idea of releasing a game as a full product following a similar approach.

    My main motivation is not really to make money, and to be honest i've spent very little on game dev, so i don't need to recoup much in the way of dev costs. So the idea of shareware ( not crippleware ) seems quite attractive to me.

    If the game circulates in enough numbers and only a fraction of users can afford and be bothered to send a donation the financial return could be more in the long run. Even if the request is as little as say £1.00, it's basically throw away money, kids can afford it via pocket money, adults see it as lose change.
    Obviously you would want to make it as easy as possible for people to send you money, paypal, credit cards, cash postal orders ect.

    This also raises an interesting issue of TAX. Could it be argued that you are recieving gifts / donations and not income, as the payments you recieve are voluntary ? and thus not taxable.

    Free distrubution and copying of the game would be encouraged, peer to peer ect with the idea to saturate the market place with enough volume of the game that it gets noticed.

    I'm lucky to be in a position where the financial return to me, is largely unimportant, not because i'm wealthy, far from it, i'm currently unemployed, but because it's really not that much of an issue. Of course i'd be lying if i said i didn't wan't money, period, just that it's not a main motivation. I could afford to take this approach, so to speak as apposed to not afford to.

    This approach is also attractive when you look at the issue of piracy. There is no point in pirating the game, in fact it would be actively encouraged.

    And of course, you would want to include payment methods, explanations of shareware ect all from within the game itself so it wouldn't be removed or altered. As it probably would via a readme.doc, html ect.

    Looking at all the hassle self promotion, selling the game yourself and the financial loss you take when using portals or publishers, shareware seems to be an attractive approach.

    Of course this all sounds fine and dandy in theory and your game has to be fairly decent to start with and a certain amount of promotion will be necessary to start the ball rolling.

    I want to concentrate on game dev and not worry about the business side of things and after listening to Jeff Minter speak it set me to thinking, that there is another avenue to try.

    Has anyone tried this approach, i'd like to hear your experiences.

    KJM
     
  6. Bad Sector

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    Scott Miller tried it with his first game (to give the whole game for free). He got nothing in return :p.

    Then he invented the "Apogee shareware model" which basically means you give 1/3 of the game (one whole self-contained episode for free) and you charge for the rest. Today this is what most people know as shareware, even in applications (although some applications keep the original idea and just put some nagscreens - see mIRC, WinZIP, WinRAR, etc).

    That worked good enough to build 3D Realms and others followed.

    But since 1995-96 this model has seen a decline. This can happen due to two reasons: a) it doesn't work anymore. b) people don't use it anymore. Scott said in an interview that he believes the reason is "b" case. After they got big and stopped using it, others (id, epic, etc) stopped using it too. Well, that's his theory at least, but it really seems to me that around 1997 shareware saw a huge decline. A gaming magazine i was buying, had a special shareware section in their CDROM and at around 1998 stopped putting shareware games (they focused on tools).

    Like if Apogee's model died with the Apogee (the name) itself.


    Has anyone from here tried the apogee model though? Well, i raise my hand! When Nikwi was still a shareware game, it had the first 10 levels from a total of 30. Did people liked it? I don't know. The game is hard (the free version now is easier than the original) and very few people got past the shareware levels. The game had many bugs (fixed in the free version) and there was lack of any music. I made $0 from Nikwi, but because of these issues, i don't know if the reason was that i gave 1/3 of the game for free.
     
  7. JoKa

    Indie Author

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    Don't most of us still use this model? I wouldn't say 30% is a requirement, depending on the game, less content can also do fine.
     
  8. Bad Sector

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    I was talking about the 1/3 idea (which i followed to the word :p). Although all the time i'm here, i've got the impression that most people use timed demos instead of giving a part of the game as shareware.
     
  9. Grey Alien

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    Interesting discussion. Yes it's very rare to see that old shareware model nowadays. I remember it well from the days of Doom, Hexen, Duke etc. I guess the differences between that model and timed demos are: a) once a timed demo expires you can't play it anymore whereas you could with a shareware game b) depending on your skill you may only complete a few levels in a timed demo, or maybe you'll finish half the game whereas a shareware game has a fixed number of levels.

    However, I can imagine that the old shareware model failed in cases where the first free episode was too hard or too long and people didn't want to buy the next part. Don't forget that portals have done a lot of testing with the timed demo before settling on the 60 minute trial, so maybe it is a pretty good model for making sales...?
     
  10. Bad Sector

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    I can't speak but for myself. There are some games that i would give ("share") to others if i didn't knew that they were time limited. It may be the case with others too, they may not share games with others. Portals rely on people to go to their sites to get stuff, but the shareware model seems to rely on the fact that if someone likes a product/game will give it to people (s)he knows, which in turn may do the same and from all this "spreading" of the product/game, someone might like it enough to get the full version (or pay back). And except that, if the product/game is spread a lot, it becomes known. But for a game, it needs to actually have some content to be valuable for sharing. Personally, i wouldn't consider valuable (for sharing) a demo (which has one or two levels) and the same applies to time limited games.

    The question possibly is, do we want people to share a part of our games? IMHO the methods used today to self-promote a game (demos, time limitation) are hostile to this idea. Also, i believe that word of mouth is much more effective if the person "who knows the game" can give something to the person "who learns about the game".

    Maybe demos aren't really suited for small -possibly unknown to the masses- developers. A demo may be too centralized - gamers expect to get a demo from the developer (via a website, magazine, or similar medium). And the developer expects from gamers to get the demo from their (the developer's) site. For a small developer to even give the demo out, may be something very hard to do: the gamers won't go after it - they'll go after the known developers, the names they know.

    However, what if a developer gave value to the game's demo by giving extra stuff? Gamers would like the demo (assuming that the game is good, of course) and they would like to share the experience with their friends. Some of them may like it enough to want the rest of the game. All of them will learn the game (and with some splashy and catchy tricks, the company behind it).

    The demo itself may become not only promote the game, but also the developer and possibly it's other games indirectly, because the "awareness points" about the developer would increase a bit :).

    ...

    Okay, random thoughts again, feel free to say i'm wrong :p
     
  11. Grey Alien

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    I'm also wondering if the current state of the Internet versus how it was 10 years ago has something to do with the lack of shareware. For example, 10-15 years ago, computer shops used to have shareware games in them on disk (1-2 disks) that you could buy really cheaply. Also people used to copy disks for their friends, and people used bulletin boards to download stuff. These days you wouldn't want to make your friend a copy of save Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst on CD because it would be a pain in the arse so you just tell them where they can download it. Also there is less "invested" in terms of time when you download a game from the Internet vs buying a disk from a shop or getting a demo from a BBS. In fact some studies show that 56K modem users actually have a higher conversion rate because they've invested more time in locating and downloading the demo.
     
  12. Bad Sector

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    Well my (hidden :p) question still applies: are people going to do that?

    From personal experience, i know people who play downloadable games and i play some too. But i never told anyone about a game i liked (exception: aveyond - but that's mostly because i know that my friend will like it - and even then, i warned her that the game is time limited) and never anyone told me about a game he or she liked (except overhyped stuff we all know). I'm not going to do "advertisement" to my friends, so i would only tell them about something if it had some value for them. I assume that this is the case with others.
     
  13. Emmanuel

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    Our customers refer friends a lot, they always have. my game space (my Big Fish Games) was created so they could monetize their referrals. There's over 237,000 people signed up as of today.

    Best regards,
    Emmanuel
     
  14. soniCron

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    The heck if I can find it again, but I ran across a story on the Web from an old-time shareware developer who converted his software to trialware, and the increase in sales was dramatic. (An order of magnitude greater.) The idea was that if someone doesn't have to pay for something, they almost invariably won't.

    Shareware is a relic of the days before the Internet was big, when distribution was the major limiting factor. Today, it's not hard to get your game downloaded by (tens of) thousands of players. So, indeed, this "viral" approach to distribution is neither necessary nor beneficial anymore. (That's not to say you shouldn't use other methods of virality in your software.)

    For an indication the faith-based pay model's efficiency, look at many open source donation lists. Even large projects have trouble raising more than a couple thousand dollars. Fortunately, they're not trying to make a living off their work...
     
  15. kjm

    kjm New Member

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    Yeh, i can't say i'm suprised by the fact that experience shows crippleware generates more income than shareware. I still think shareware has alot of merit, but maybe needs updating in some new original way.

    There a couple of other business models i've been thinking about.

    1. An outright sale of your game to an individual or publisher. A one off fee for the game. Selling all rights to your game and any future income it might generate.

    2. Selling your game as above, but via Auction. E-Bay ect. Obviously you would need to advertise the up comming sale to some degree and deal with the legal transaction at the end of it.

    It seems to me, that in some cases, an outright sale of your game guarantees at least some financial reward, whereas relying on sales / royalties depends purely on the volume sold.

    I suppose it comes down to how much faith you have in your game and your financial expectations for it.

    KJM
     
  16. Grey Alien

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    Bad Sector: maybe you are not the "normal" type of casual gamer though? Who knows but I'm pretty sure, like Emmanuel says, that people DO tell their friends about games.

    Sonicron: Yeah agree, it's a sad truth that if people don't have to pay, then they probably won't. There's an interesting book out now called Freakonomics and one of the things in it is about a guy who delivers bagels to businesses, and people pay on a trust basis i.e. if they eat one they put $1 in a box. He logged all his stats and was able to find out what percent of the population basically don't pay and that certain firms had more trustworthy people in them than others - interesting.

    kjm: I personally don't like EITHER of those options. For option 1, go here for an example of why not: http://www.squashysoftware.com/makingplatypus.php and for option 2) it sounds WAY too manual for me i.e. selling my time for money instead of generating passive income through royalties.
     
  17. Pelican

    Pelican New Member

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    This shareware debate is interesting.

    I'm a game developer for a living, and have been working on a small game in my spare time, and I have always planned to go the shareware route - ie release a demo with a limited number of levels, and try and urge people to shell out $10 for the full version (via my website).

    Following these forums I've realised that this is rather against the norm for indie games (in terms of cost and distribution). I'd really like to avoid portals - if people can be persuaded buy directly from developers, it means they can devote more time, money & effort on future works, which should benefit everyone (except the portals :) ).

    My hope is to make a little money, hopefully more over time, which will allow me to spend more time doing my own games (like many people here, I think).

    The game I'm working on is definitely NOT a 'casual' game, so it seems I'm going out on a limb somewhat.

    I'm still planning to pursue this route, but of course may change my approach when things go horribly wrong (or most likely, just very quiet). Since I am still working full time (well, nearly, as a contractor) this is a low-risk strategy for me.

    As it's my first post here, I'd also like to thank everyone for sharing their experiences - it's been very informative. I plan to do the same in the future.
     
  18. Grey Alien

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    Hi Pelican and welcome! Stay for a while, stay *forever* ....muhahahaha! (kidding)

    Well if your game is non-casual the portals might not take it anyway. But there may be some more specialist people that you could partner with for affiliate sales. For me, selling my games on my own site ONLY would have been suicide - I'd have lost money. I made so much more money from using the portals. That's just my situation of course.

    Good luck and keep us informed of your experiment.
     
  19. Bad Sector

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    For a while i thought that this is a topic in the casual games subforum (most of the time i use the "new posts" feature and almost always i never look in which subforum a post is made :p). Fortunatelly for me, it isn't since i would be offtopic :).

    So, yeah, i'm not the normal type of casual gamer. Actually i'm not a casual gamer at all :p. I didn't had casual games in my mind when i was writing the lines above.
     
  20. lakibuk

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    There's a casual games subforum?
     

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