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#112848 - 03/29/02 03:30 AM Re: It has to be said
granny Offline
BAAG Specialist

Registered: 08/27/99
Posts: 7405
Loc: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA
I wasn't going to get into this, as I am one of the peoples that do NOT download games, or play them online.
But- seems to me that you have a 'game' that most people so far that HAVE given it a try, do not seem to think is much of a 'game' at all. You say it will take time (many, many episodes ) before one would get hooked on your story. I'm sorry, but if you can't get hooked in (at the very most ) 15 to 20 minutes, your 'game' will never get off the ground.
You say page 700 ( or 200, 300 )will have something great??? No one in their right mind is going to get even as far as a page 20 without some kind of reward for getting there.

Also, using 'The Forgotten" as one example, (which was a VERY good game) most people with money to spend do NOT open their checkbook or wave the plastic for the idea of possibly getting interested in another game, then when it fizzles, as ALMOST all that have been attempted to sell in chapters do, the feeling is, "MORE money down the drain." The perception of most players is, why start something that will never be finished.
You insist we are wrong in your case, yet you have admitted already that you will not be able to continue without people buying the product. You must remember, you first have to have a product people WANT to buy.

You have asked for advice here and on other discussion boards, but the advice, mostly GOOD advice, you shrug off, and say you are going to do this the way YOU want & like. That is your perogative, after all, it IS your 'game'. But it is the PLAYER's money, and that is who has to like the product, for the money to flow your way.
If there are so many fans (as you state) that are crazy about wht you are offering, then why have none of them participated in your offering?? Where are they hiding? What are they waiting for?

I personally think LadyStar is a very cute little girl, but a game needs so much more, and from the dozens & dozens of posts I have read so far, it sounds like you have not reached that point yet.
_________________________
Granny Goodwitch

A woman NEVER shot a man while he was doing dishes!

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#112849 - 03/29/02 08:39 AM Re: It has to be said
Anonymous
Unregistered


I have a question Heavycat.Is the cost of each episode 17.95 or is that for the whole game? If there are 5 episodes each at 17.95 that would make the game cost 89.75.Wow.Also it said on your site after the 5th episode a cd-rom game would be made containing all 5 episodes. If that is true why would people want to download the game if they can wait to get their own copy and play at their leisure.
Also if people have downloaded the game and have bought each episode and you decided you havent made that much money on it and quit making it what happens to the people who have played a few episodes and cant continue to the end of the game?They bought the game with the intention of finishing it, they would feel cheated.
I hope you will answer my questions.

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#112850 - 03/29/02 08:53 AM Re: It has to be said
pernilla Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 347
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Granny - those are my thoughs exactly. (Except for the part about the Forgotten which made no sense at all to me since I haven't played it.)

HeavyCat - I made an attempt to reply your post, but my mind is blank. What can I say that haven't already been mentioned? There's no way to change people's mind, and if 20 minutes is what you have to catch their interest, then that's what you have to deal with.

You have simplified your website and that may be a start. It may be enough to make people try the first episode, but if they don't like it enough it doesn't matter that there may be something great on page 700. You need to give the player something that will catch his/her interest. I know of people who have started to read Lord of the Rings but gave up because "all they did was walk". These people knew that things would be happening later in the story but the way to the action was too long.

What I see here is a disappointed game designer who may have set their goals too high (wanting to please everyone) and asked the potential players' opinions too late. It's sad, really, but like Granny said - if the customers don't like the product enough they take their money elsewhere. That's how the market works and game design will always be a trade-off between the designer's dreams and the customers "demands". If you're not ready to change your views, you may continue to be disappointed. I don't know what else to say.

Pernilla

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#112851 - 03/29/02 09:55 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Is the cost of each episode 17.95 or is that for the whole game?

The whole game. $17.95 gets you 52 episodes plus the bonus episode.

why would people want to download the game if they can wait to get their own copy and play at their leisure.

Because the CD-ROM will not be available for at least a year.

I'll answer the other obvious question too: why would someone buy the electronic version and then pay again for the CD-ROM?

Answer: There is an upgrade price from the electronic version to the CD-ROM which is much lower, and purchase (or pre-order) of the CD-ROM includes registration of the electronic version. Either way, the customer gets full value.

and you decided you havent made that much money on it and quit making it

Not going to happen. We have an interactive map for 52 episodes, an 821 page narrative, a game engine, and 3GB of artwork (approximately 1400 files) already developed. It would make no sense at all to throw all of that away. That's one of the main reasons we are as motivated as we are to see LadyStar do well, and I'm certain it will.
_________________________
Scott
Heavy Cat Multimedia Ltd.
www.ladystar.net - Your Magical and Mysterious Adventure Awaits
www.heavycatweb.com - Only the Gameplay Matters

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#112852 - 03/29/02 10:14 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
I know of people who have started to read Lord of the Rings but gave up because "all they did was walk".

lol Would that LadyStar could aspire to a fraction of the success and excellence of Lord of the Rings! I think this probably makes my point better than anything else. LadyStar is not about gee-whiz and instant gratification. It is an epic story of honor and friendship and loyalty.

Such a story cannot be reduced to an elevator pitch or a soundbite. We are not a churn and label company, and LadyStar will be a product of craftsmanship, not assembly lines.

These people knew that things would be happening later in the story but the way to the action was too long.

I'll guess that this did not inspire Tolkien to start again with a blank sheet of paper.

What I see here is a disappointed game designer who may have set their goals too high (wanting to please everyone) and asked the potential players' opinions too late.

Hmmm.. what I see here is exactly what we expected. We never set a goal of pleasing everyone, and I am personally a long LONG way from being disappointed. The response to LadyStar has been nothing short of incredible.
Pleasing everyone is the approach of the sequel and clone game industry where it goes by another name: the lowest common denominator.

There are those who hate the puzzles already. Others don't like the characters. Others want more interactivity and less page-to-page. Still others want more story and less clicking. Some people like the artwork, others don't. We knew in advance that we couldn't please everyone, and we certainly aren't going to put 1500 potential customers in a room and try to dictate a game design from the ensuing discussion.

What we didn't expect was that adventure game fans, who daily clamor for new games before a less and less responsive, big-money, low-quality game industry, would be so difficult to sell an adventure to.

I also note that many of the people who have replied to this thread do not seem to have played any of the episodes past the first third of the first episode. It shouldn't take more than an hour to go through the first two, and perhaps another hour to get through the third (depeding on how long the puzzle takes). It's free. Why not give it a try, since there is no cost involved other than a couple of hours?

As I said before, we will continue to improve, and LadyStar will be the main beneficiary of those improvements. Perhaps later episodes will be of more interest. In the meantime, we really can't do any better than our best.
_________________________
Scott
Heavy Cat Multimedia Ltd.
www.ladystar.net - Your Magical and Mysterious Adventure Awaits
www.heavycatweb.com - Only the Gameplay Matters

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#112853 - 03/29/02 12:27 PM Re: It has to be said
fov Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 12/28/01
Posts: 2964
Loc: San Francisco
i have not been to your website, but i did read most of the posts on this thread and wanted to make a few comments.

i agree that for a lot of people, download = free. you're not going to get away from that very easily. rand miller *may* be able to do it with mudpie, but he's banking on a reputation! also, remember what happened with stephen king's e-book last year? he stopped publishing chapters halfway through because he lost his inspiration. and people who had already started reading the book (and were paying for it incrementally) were left in the lurch. the same thing has happened with numerous fan projects (although those are usually free anyway.) why should i pay money now for an installment of a game that's not even finished yet? from my perspective, i'll wait... if it does get finished, and people rave about it, i can get my hands on it then. if the project's abandoned, i have not spent my money and invested my time in something anticlimactic.

this "shopping cart abandonment" is not just your problem -- it's a very common problem in ecommerce. that's why so many of the original internet retailers have gone under. people will click around your site for hours but when it comes time to pay money, they opt out. most internet shoppers prefer to buy through amazon or another established name than they do through someone they've never heard of before. so even if the game looks nice and sounds promising, i think you'll find few people who want to spend the money online and risk getting something sub-par... or worse, risk being scammed.

someone asked a question about whether adventure gamers would be willing to buy GK4 if they promised not to trade it or lend it out. if that's what it took to get another GK game made i think yes, absolutely, the majority of us would sign a contract saying the game would never leave our hands. in fact, i know people who have gone out and bought copies of MOE for the sole purpose of showing Sierra that there is a market for more KQ games. BUT, those are games with reputations. adventure games become popular through word of mouth. we're not the most outgoing bunch (heh, or would that be the most adventurous?) for the most part, i think we like the security of playing games in a similar format to games we have played in the past. we have no qualms about replaying beloved games over and over. and we're not willing to put out money for something that, in our minds, should be free (remember, download = free), is not completed yet, and has not been endorsed by our peers.

and if i really want to spend that much time downloading something over my dial-up modem (which i don't), i would rather download an entire fan-made game that i don't have to pay for. but in general, i'd probably be more inclined to grab one of my favorites off the shelf and play it again.

all this said (and i'm sorry the response got so long, but there were many threads to respond to!), i am going to take a look at your website when i get the chance!

-emily

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#112854 - 03/29/02 02:13 PM Re: It has to be said
mszv Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/18/02
Posts: 1565
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA (left my bel...
Hi there Heavycat,
Good luck on your game. I have a few comments, both about your posts, and then, a few about the games. It's a longish post.

Asking for input.
In my humble opinion, when you ask for input, this is what you do, you ask for input - shorter is better, and try not to be too "strident" (your words). If you went to the right source, and asked in the right way, people will reply with a full range of replies - not all of which you were looking for. People will say you are crazy, that they hate the game, that they don't understand it, that they will never pay for it, etc.

Then, what you do is say "thank you very much for your comments", and offline, read them, and see if they apply in your situation. As a common courtesy, and, if you ever plan to ask for comments again, get back on the forum and post a reply. Summarize the comments, objectively, unemotionally, and conclude with some changes you are making (if you are making any), based on the comments. People like to think that their comments were helpful, and that you made decisions based on their comments.

You don't need to justify your decisions to us, it's your game. However, the other important caveat is that you should not "yell" at us, even if you didn't mean to (I'm sure you didn't). Just because we did not download or buy the game does not mean that we: won't play games with women protagonists, won't play games with complicated stories, won't download games (some will, some won't). All it means is that, for whatever reason, some of us are not playing your game.

Other things you should not do when asking for input (my opinion)
- don't denigrate other games or game publisher, even if those big name publishers are scum. The adventure gamers on this forum love adventure games, and they play a lot of them.

- don't denigrate Microsoft. I know it's tempting, but stay on track.

- don't tell us how hard you are working. We won't buy the game because we feel sorry for you and your team, we will buy the game because we like it. Again, stay on track.

A few game related comments
- getting them hooked on the story and the game. It's a game, you don't have much time to get people interested. I agree with other posters - 20 minutes max. You can't make gameplayers different from what they were.

- your site. Yup, it looks like a kid's game, actually it looks like those Japanese cartoon/comics. I assume that was your intent. Also, your protagonists are kids, unless you demonstrate otherwise, most people will think this is a kids game. So, I assume you want to appeal to a younger demographic, (kids, maybe teens). I don't know if they play adventure games. This is after all, gameboomers, most of us are "boomers", so we can't help you there. Even if you personally don't want the game market divided into kids and adult games, that division exists, in my opinion, most adults will not play kids games.

- no music. I want sound and music in a game, even a game I download. If I didn't want both sight and sound, I'd read a book or a graphic novel. I'll settle for a reasonably simple soundtrack, and some simple sounds, but I want audio.

- demo. I can't tell if you are doing a demo, If you aren't, I think you should.

- size of downloads. I got a bit confused. You are asking people to download 5MB and 10MB files, multiple times? Yikes! I have broadband, so it's not a problem for me, but if you aren't targeting the broadband market, those downloads had better be small. If I misunderstood, and the downloads are smaller, my apologies.

- Independent games. There are people who make independent games, not a lot, but they exist. Did you go to the Independent games festival that was part of the Game Developers Conference 2002? Here's the link - http://www.igf.com/ . Incidentally, the winner made an amazing little adventure game - I can't speak highly enough about it (Bad Milk), and they made it in their spare time, for not much money. I'll post some other info about it later, gameboomers.
_________________________
mszv, amarez in Myst Online (KI 89257)and my online worlds.

blog - http://www.amarez.com, Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/amareze

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#112855 - 03/29/02 04:59 PM Re: It has to be said
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 35369
Loc: southeast USA
What happened to the online versions of the first 2 episodes? I was going to try the second one yesterday but it disappeared. The nice thing about the online versions was that they required no download or installation.

Can you have more than one episode installed at once? Would you need to uninstall a played episode before installing the next episode.

How do saved games work? Do you need a saved game from the end of version 1 before you can play version 2 or 3? With the entire game, would you need a save from the end of Volume 1 before you could play later volumes?

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#112856 - 03/29/02 05:07 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
We've taken the first two episodes down for the time being in order to better promote episode 3, which, as a "puzzle" episode, is more representative of the adventure portions of LadyStar.

The nice thing about the online versions was that they required no download or installation.

Well, technically, the online versions were even more of a download than the .zip files, you're just downloading one location at a time instead of all at once, and the data is not compressed either.

Can you have more than one episode installed at once?

Yes. The episodes will synchronize with one another and the main game menu.

Would you need to uninstall a played episode before installing the next episode.

No. You can if you need to, however, if you want to save disk space. The Windows version episodes each come with InstallShield and uninstall programs.

How do saved games work?

Due to the way inventory and point scoring works, it is not possible to save games in mid-episode. You can, however, start the game at the beginning of any episode without a "saved game" from a previous episode.
_________________________
Scott
Heavy Cat Multimedia Ltd.
www.ladystar.net - Your Magical and Mysterious Adventure Awaits
www.heavycatweb.com - Only the Gameplay Matters

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#112857 - 03/30/02 03:25 AM Re: It has to be said
granny Offline
BAAG Specialist

Registered: 08/27/99
Posts: 7405
Loc: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA
Once again, just a few posts up, you said-
"The response to LadyStar has been nothing short of incredible."

If so, as I asked before, where and who are these people? If they really think it is so incredible, why are they NOT supporting your efforts? If this response is from gamers that truly want your product, have any of them bothered to register? If so, you should be in wonderful fiscal condition, and maybe this thread wouldn't exist.

I sincerely am not trying to be nasty, Scott, I am attempting to understand just what you are really looking for.
_________________________
Granny Goodwitch

A woman NEVER shot a man while he was doing dishes!

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#112858 - 03/30/02 09:47 AM Re: It has to be said
Cherie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 09/23/99
Posts: 1217
Loc: Tacoma, Wa USA
I agree with Granny. I did go to the site and found it to be a "cutsie", it would not appeal to me at all. It says very little.

I can appreciate the frustration "Heavycat" feels,
with a lack of sales and a huge investment. I think he should take 3 steps backward, rethink his position. It appears that he is reaching out for constructive suggestions on how to get the sales up, however he seems to be venting.
_________________________
Cherie

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#112859 - 03/30/02 11:29 AM Re: It has to be said
Jenny Offline
Grande Olde Dame
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 12/04/99
Posts: 31223
Loc: Northwestern New Mexico, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by heavycat:
Because the CD-ROM will not be available for at least a year.
Scott, I just saw a pre-order for the CD at Chips & Bits, which said "coming soon". Is the timetable still a year away?
_________________________
"Once you give up integrity, the rest is easy." Anonymous

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#112860 - 03/30/02 12:58 PM Re: It has to be said
Kathy Salisbury Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 121
Loc: USA
Hi Scott,

First I must apologize for not writing sooner. We had some email contact a while back, and I think I owe you an email.

I've been looking over all you've done, and think it is remarkable what you have accomplished. You went into this with a very professional attitude, and created a product that is clever and fun, with involved story lines. You have a real dedication to your mission of providing quality entertainment for girls.

The adventure game market is a tough one... that is certain!! Casual gamers are more likely to buy card games, for instance. And these are much faster and easier to develop.

I've tried to keep my development costs to a minimum as I learned by pretty well doing everything myself. The graphics on some of my early work make me cringe now! I certainly made many mistakes.

I've spent most of the last year working on the new game at:

http://www.pharosgames.com/cherokee/

and I feel if this one doesn't do well enough for me to make a living at it, it may be my last game. So I can definitely empathize with you.

There is a book called "The Tipping Point" that may interest you. Did you know that Hush Puppies, for instance, nearly went out of business? They "caught on" with a small group of kids in New York, and this spread until the brand was well established.

It might be that way with LadyStar. It needs to catch on with young girls. I would say even 7 year olds could play these games, and the artwork and characters would really appeal to them. You just need this to really catch on with a particular group of young girls, and when they start telling their friends, it will spread!

Good luck!

Kathy


Edited by looney4labs (06/26/07 05:10 PM)
Edit Reason: updated link
_________________________
Kathy Salisbury
Pharos Games
http://pharosgames.com

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#112861 - 03/30/02 01:30 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
We have had numerous registrations. The problem isn't that we're completely without customers, it is that the registrations are not keeping pace with the demonstrated interest in the site and the episodes. As the number of downloads increases, and the amount of traffic on the site increases, registration levels remain about the same, which leads me to believe that there remains a significant group of people who are downloading as much as they can, but waiting to register for some unexplained reason. It should not be this difficult to sell a $17 product.

It appears that he is reaching out for constructive suggestions on how to get the sales up

Well, as you mentioned, it can be somewhat frustrating, but whether or not I or anyone else is frustrated is secondary. I spent many a day frustrated before this game would even run properly. smile

If nothing else, it is clear that LadyStar does not appeal to adventure game fans, even though it is an adventure game. Our choice to do artwork in an anime style has led people to believe that our game is only suitable for young children, which makes it even more unlikely that any real attention will be paid to the story or the characters, or the puzzles.

Apparently it is not enough that it be an adventure game, but also that it have a particular kind of story and characters, which was the basis for my original comment about subdividing the market.

Players and potential customers, when presented with something new and unfamiliar, it seems, have little patience for exposition and introductions, and so have not given LadyStar any time at all to do what all stories must do.

And so, it will never be known by many players whether LadyStar is or is not a story only for young children (it isn't), because in order to know that for sure, the story must be told, and that cannot happen in the first third of the first episode.

Every single feature of our game (and web site) now, from the characters to the story, to the interface, etc., and even the title; has been criticized as a negative at one point or another. Were we to act on every suggestion we've received, the only alternative would be to scrap the game and web site, and start over, which isn't practical, nor is it fair to our existing customers.

saw a pre-order for the CD at Chips & Bits

Chips & Bits is not authorized to offer the LadyStar CD-ROM for sale (mainly because there is no LadyStar CD-ROM right now). I have seen that offer as well, and I haven't the foggiest idea what it is they think they are selling. If anyone is planning to purchase LadyStar on CD-ROM, please order from Heavy Cat Multimedia's web site at www.ladystar.net There are no other companies (other than the CafePress merchandise) authorized to sell anything related to LadyStar at this time.

The LadyStar CD-ROM cannot be published until all of the episodes have been released, so it will be at least a year before we can begin shipping it. In the meantime, we may offer a pre-order of the CD-ROM which would include registration of the electronic version.

I appreciate everyone's comments. smile
_________________________
Scott
Heavy Cat Multimedia Ltd.
www.ladystar.net - Your Magical and Mysterious Adventure Awaits
www.heavycatweb.com - Only the Gameplay Matters

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#112862 - 03/30/02 01:54 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Hi Kathy,

I've been looking over all you've done, and think it is remarkable what you have accomplished.

Thanks very much. I appreciate the compliment. smile

You have a real dedication to your mission of providing quality entertainment for girls.

Well, girls are one of the four groups we originally thought LadyStar might appeal to. Anime fans (who won't need any explanation as to what bishoujo sentai is) will probably appreciate LadyStar too. Perhaps casual game players could also think of LadyStar as an introductory adventure game. We'll see.

I would say even 7 year olds could play these games, and the artwork and characters would really appeal to them.

That's quite possible. I think 7-year olds may need help with the reading level at some points, but you're probably right. I really do appreciate the encouraging comments, and ometedou (Japanese for congratulations) on the new game! smile
_________________________
Scott
Heavy Cat Multimedia Ltd.
www.ladystar.net - Your Magical and Mysterious Adventure Awaits
www.heavycatweb.com - Only the Gameplay Matters

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