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#112863 - 03/31/02 01:45 PM Re: It has to be said
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 34868
Loc: southeast USA
Quote:
Originally posted by heavycat:
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 sounds like they're taking a wait and see attitude. It's hard to judge a book when you've only read part of the introduction. Most game demos plunge you into the midst of the game to give you an idea of the gameplay. LadyStar doesn't seem to be so much about the gameplay as about the story. And how would you make a good demo of a story?
If I want to decide whether to read a book or not, I don't read the first chapter. I look at reviews and see if it's the sort of thing I'd like. And there aren't any reviews for LadyStar. The part of the game with the most meat in the story isn't out yet. We're still in the introductory part. When more of the story is revealed in future episodes and you start getting into the really interesting stuff, then we'll see some reviews. But right now there's no real word of mouth from fellow gamers on what the whole game (and the quality of the whole story) is like.

I think someone else posted that if you want to do a serial-type story, you have to have some hook that makes people want to see the next episode. It doesn't seem to be there yet. Maybe by the time you finish the free volume it will be there and you'll get more registrations.

Quote:


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.

How many anime fans are also adventure gamers?
Are most adventure gamers not anime fans?

I just wondered. I'm not specifically a fan of anime, though I do enjoy cartoon movies on occasion and some of my favorite games are animated ones (Monkey Island 1, Toonstruck, Discworld 1+2, Simon the Sorceror 1+2). But LadyStar doesn't really play like a game the way these games do.

I'm not saying it's bad that LadyStar is different. But it is different and some people who download will decide it isn't what they thought and that it isn't for them. This has less to do with the game using anime graphics than it does to do with how you interact with the game.

If I try to imagine the LadyStar characters in a game which played like Monkey Island, I come up with something very different from what I see in LadyStar.

Quote:


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.

You call it an adventure game, but it really seems more like an interactive storybook. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it means your potential customers may not be who you'd expect.

Quote:


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 [b]must do.

[/b]
But you're marketing it as a game, not a story. People try it and it's not quite what they expect.

Quote:


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.

I'm glad you have consideration for your existing customers. Your customer care service is better than with most game companies.

One thing I don't really understand is why you apparently never considered midi files for sounds. Midi files are tiny compared to mp3 or wav files and you wouldn't have to increase download size by much at all. And many webpages on the Net contain embedded midis which don't seem to cause problems with browsers. It may be too late to do anything about it now, but I'm curious as to why you chose not to use midis.

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#112864 - 03/31/02 02:14 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
How many anime fans are also adventure gamers?

I suppose such a question could be answered by the number of sequels to Final Fantasy. Granted, it is a console RPG, but the basics of the RPG and the adventure game, namely story, characters, etc. are similar with the only real difference being the absence of combat in adventures.

Are most adventure gamers not anime fans?

Based on the responses here, I would say yes. So far, the animated appearance of the characters has been roundly criticized as a chief reason not to play the game, appeals citing similar characters in numerous other successful and popular adventure games notwithstanding.

I'm not saying it's bad that LadyStar is different. But it is different and some people who download will decide it isn't what they thought and that it isn't for them. This has less to do with the game using anime graphics than it does to do with how you interact with the game.

So by changing the description of the game from "adventure game" to "interactive storybook" somehow the game will suddenly match expectations and become better than it is now? Somehow I think the words "interactive storybook" would irrevocably consign LadyStar to the "FOR KIDS ONLY" category of games and further limit what little appeal it may have had to adventure game fans.

I can say that the recent falloff in registrations has prompted some serious discussion of making LadyStar into a "Visual Novel" or something similar. It would take a great deal of pressure off the development schedule not to have to include puzzles, inventory and multiple-path interactive maps in an attempt to appeal to adventure game fans who would rather play something else.

Unless fans of adventure games begin to evaluate games on their own merits instead of comparing them (always unfavorably) to what has come before, the game industry will continue to churn out dozens of uninspired clones for which players will be expected to pay top dollar.

It is flatly unfair to compare LadyStar on a one-to-one basis with many other adventure games by companies like LucasArts, Sierra, or even Her Interactive. All of these companies can bring immense resources: millions of dollars, nationwide distribution and teams of dozens of salaried professionals to bear on the development and marketing of their games.

In such an environment, the sale of even a single copy of a game like LadyStar is a profoundly remarkable event. We have not only accomplished that, but many other things as well. Unfortunately, it seems, that is not enough.

If I try to imagine the LadyStar characters in a game which played like Monkey Island, I come up with something very different from what I see in LadyStar.

If I try to imagine LadyStar with the development budget, equipment and marketing staff of LucasArts, so do I.

See, game developers are left in a nearly impossible situation. The game-buying public will accept nothing less than a Waterworld-esque screaming typhoon-level expenditure of money to produce a game which will almost certainly not break even. 390 of the 400 games released every year at retail lose money.

Meanwhile, independent developers, unable to expend such resources and able only to aspire to a moderate success because their game not only doesn't compare to the big-money clones, but can't, are similarly unable to break even.

So the game-buying public is left with either no games, or $60.00 sequels and clones.

I'm glad you have consideration for your existing customers. Your customer care service is better than with most game companies.

I appreciate that. smile We do our best. To us, the fact that so many have purchased LadyStar over other games is a great inspiration for us to continue our work and to improve on it.

One thing I don't really understand is why you apparently never considered midi files for sounds. Midi files are tiny compared to mp3 or wav files and you wouldn't have to increase download size by much at all. And many webpages on the Net contain embedded midis which don't seem to cause problems with browsers. It may be too late to do anything about it now, but I'm curious as to why you chose not to use midis.

Midis would solve two of the noted problems, but not the third. All of our stock music is in the form of .wav format files, so in order to have MIDIs to include in the game, we would need to compose the music and transcribe it. While we have the equipment to do that, we don't have the man-hours to devote to it, as all of our time is taken with writing and graphics. "Oh, She's Just a Pest" for example, contains over 400 original files, over half of which (IIRC) are graphics.

Again, if we can find a way to include music in future episodes, and midis would be a good choice for the reasons you noted, we will do so. Thanks very much for the comments.

(Note: The third episode should be available to play on-line as early as tomorrow)
_________________________
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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#112865 - 03/31/02 03:15 PM Re: It has to be said
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 34868
Loc: southeast USA
Quote:
Originally posted by heavycat:

It is flatly unfair to compare LadyStar on a one-to-one basis with many other adventure games by companies like LucasArts, Sierra, or even Her Interactive.
No. But we can compare it to "Passage: Path of Betrayal," which was created almost entirely by one very talented person on a minimal budget. "Passage" was played and enjoyed by many Gameboomers.

Have you played "Passage?" It shows what can be accomplished with a low budget game.


Quandary review at
http://www.quandaryland.com/jsp/dispArticle.jsp?index=402

I think "Passage" is more what Gameboomers are expecting in terms of gameplay with a low budget adventure game. We aren't comparing LadyStar to Escape from Monkey Island or Grim Fandango.

Even if you don't play "Passage" I hope you'll take a look at the Quandary review which will give you an idea of what the game is like. You've been insisting that we're comparing LadyStar to high budget games, and that simply isn't the case.

Quote:


So by changing the description of the game from "adventure game" to "interactive storybook" somehow the game will suddenly match expectations and become better than it is now? Somehow I think the words "interactive storybook" would irrevocably consign LadyStar to the "FOR KIDS ONLY" category of games and further limit what little appeal it may have had to adventure game fans.

I don't expect you to label LadyStar as an "interactive storybook." I just used that description because I though it was obvious what I meant by it. That description might match expectations better but it wouldn't necessarily mean more purchases. But if you called LadyStar a "virtual novel" to begin with, you might have fewer downloads and your ratio of downloads to registrations would be different. That was something you asked about, wasn't it? Why so many downloads compared to so few registrations?

IMHO For LadyStar to be an adventure game, every episode would have to have puzzles of some sort, not just one episode out of three. Right now LadyStar seems to be leaning a lot more heavily toward being a "virtual novel" than an adventure game, no matter what you call it. You might cut out all puzzles and make it even less interactive, but even in its present state it's less of an adventure game than most adventure gamers are expecting and I think that's part of the problem.

I hope I haven't offended or depressed you with any of my comments. I certainly wish you luck with LadyStar and will be following its progress.


Edited by looney4labs (06/26/07 05:20 PM)
Edit Reason: remove broken link

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#112866 - 03/31/02 04:02 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Now I want to start this response by saying I am not going to criticize another developer's work. I'm sure Passage is a fine game, and deserves all the praise it has obviously received.

"Passage" was played and enjoyed by many Gameboomers.

LadyStar, on the other hand, was not played by many Gameboomers, apparently. Those who have tried it, by and large, gave up somewhere between Jessica's house and the school according to their own comments: before even a second character could be introduced. They then went on to give up on the game completely, citing various reasons, including downloads, lack of music, anime characters, etc.

I think "Passage" is more what Gameboomers are expecting in terms of gameplay with a low budget adventure game.

Well, LadyStar isn't Passage. Now, should that, in and of itself, reflect negatively on LadyStar? I don't believe it should. LadyStar, in many respects, is entirely dissimilar to previous adventure games. It never occurred to us that this would be seen as a negative, given game-players' constant clamor for "something new."

I think the primary reason behind the initial interest in Passage has to do with its oft-mentioned similarity to the King's Quest series.

Additionally, were LadyStar to be more similar to Passage or King's Quest, it would likely be instantly labeled as a Passage or King's Quest ripoff, which would substitute for downloads/anime characters/lack of music/etc. as the reason not to play or purchase it.

IMHO For LadyStar to be an adventure game, every episode would have to have puzzles of some sort, not just one episode out of three.

Again, this unpublished checklist of what qualifies a game as an adventure game was unavailable to us during development. And again, so far we've been told that an adventure game must:

1) Not have cel-style illustrated characters
2) Not be a download
3) Have music and a soundtrack
4) Not have a "bunch of kids" as main characters
5) Not have a "giggly adolescent female" as a main character
6) Have puzzles in every episode
7) Be more like ____________ (insert favorite game)
8) Be available on CD-ROM
9) Have a storyline that is instantly and overwhelmingly
appealing in the first few pages.

..and so forth. The only solution to this checklist is to scrap the project.

even in its present state it's less of an adventure game than most adventure gamers are expecting and I think that's part of the problem.

To include so many puzzles, we would have no choice but to bury the story in sliders, mazes and confusion. The one puzzle we have included so far (the solution to which only involves finding two hidden features in background images) has served no other purpose than to a) frustrate players, and b) obstruct people from the story portions of the third episode. Most of the rest of the people have never seen the puzzle, because they gave up on the game two episodes back.

I hope I haven't offended or depressed you with any of my comments.

I'm not offended or depressed. I never expected LadyStar to necessarily appeal to everyone, but by the same token I didn't expect that we would have to start from our own one-yard line either. We seem to be carrying a lot more weight up the hill than should be expected of us, and I think most of that weight is in the form of disappointment in previous web-related episodic projects of one sort or another.

I certainly wish you luck with LadyStar and will be following its progress.

I must say I'm confused that so many people are planning to follow LadyStar's progress when they have already indicated their lack of interest in the game.

I do appreciate it, however, and hope you'll try all the episodes in the first volume. 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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#112868 - 03/31/02 08:22 PM Re: It has to be said
gsd Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 06/21/01
Posts: 85
Loc: Sacramento, Ca. USA
Obviously the frustration level has risen on both sides of the equation...developer and consumer. In defense of the consumer (or gamer) they are not used to having to explain to a developer why they are not interested in a certain game. When it hits the market they read the reviews and ultimately explain with their dollars. They either buy it or they don't which is what I think most have been trying to say. And while gamers on this board have often expressed a longing for quality adventure games if you check back on the posts they weren't requesting "different". They were talking about well developed characters, an entertaining story line, challenging and well integrated puzzles and an immersive enviroment. That's what an adventure gamer looks for and that's what makes them an adventure gamer. When you start removing elements such as puzzles and sound you have now ventured out of their interest zone. Which is not to say you don't have a wonderful product. You just don't have a compelling adventure game product. Compare this with other genres. If you severely restricted the use of weapons and spells in an RPG game would you then try to convince the RPG gamer they should like it anyway since it's not a clone but different? Once you have eliminated expected elements in a genre, you are out of the genre. As you are with Lady Star.
But I understand your frustration also. You are wearing all the hats. Developer, publisher, marketing agent and retail agent and it is almost impossible to do it all well. If you had had the marketing research at your fingertips that the Biggies have you would have realized up front that if you were targeting the adventure player you had big holes in your design.
I think you should re-think about what Jenny has said in a previous post. Obviously, I don't blame you for not wanting to dismantle your game. But she has suggested searching for a different target audience and marketing it to them instead of trying to convince the adventure gamer to like a game that is simply not the type they normally buy.
Some of the posts have mentioned Passage and I can add another that was produced by a single family. "Cracking The Conspiracy". Most adventurers who played it liked it, for it had all the elements of an adventure game. The individuals that produced these two games knew exactly what to include.
And so if we are left with just the major companies who understamd and thus produce what we want to play, so be it. We are the consumer, and the burden lies with the developer to produce the type of game they can sell to whatever market they are targeting. The consumer will always dictate the preferences with his dollar, not the other way around.
But I do wish you the best as I would no matter what type of game you had developed for independent developers are as vital a part of the gaming world as independent publishers in the book publishing industry. These are the places where new and refreshing ideas are tested and allowed to surface. And it may be that at some point something truly innovative ( as you seem to be trying) will capture the fancy of a very large audience. But it takes time for the audience to develop. In the interim, good luck.

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#112869 - 03/31/02 08:27 PM Re: It has to be said
Bruce Fielder Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 11/27/01
Posts: 638
Loc: Amarillo, TX USA
In reading this very lengthy thread for three days now, IMHO, it seems to me that not much has been resolved. The Ladystar website has been re-worked to make it easier to navigate but not much else. Comments have been made by the target market and the game producer has clarified their reasons for making the game as they did. For whatever reasons, the game seems to be not interesting enough for the majority of folks to pay for it and continue playing it.

It is impossible to please everyone in the marketplace, particularly in the world of cyberspace where individual preferences can be registered by everyone in a very short time. It is also very difficult to make the Internet a profitable venture regardless of the product or service being offered on it.

The folks at Ladystar need to make the game the way they want to and deliver it the way they see fit. If it succeeds, great. If not, then they need to design a new strategy or new product to offer or admit it's not working and move on. To continue out of strong personal feeling or sentiment is not productive business. Make no mistake, this is a business after all and Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of capitalism still reigns supreme.
_________________________
Live by the Golden Rule at all times.

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