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#112803 - 03/25/02 10:01 PM It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
I apologize in advance for the strident tone of the upcoming message, but we have to make a decision and soon:

If our business were measured in bandwidth used, we'd be able to
employ 10 people. Our sites are now, as a matter of routine, serving
1700 episode downloads a month (yes, that's over 50 a day), and up to
(and often exceeding) 15GB of data a month. We opened an entire new
server to handle the capacity, and it's (now meager seeming) bandwidth
was gone in a matter of days.

They click on the wallpaper, and they click on the video and they click
on the character pages, and the graphics, and the glossies, and...

then they come to the registration page, and leave. frown

I don't think we've done a poor job of promotion. Our traffic is up
12,000% (that's a comma) in the past year. But the development costs are
not being covered by the sales of our product, and I frankly am out of ideas
after these:

I don't think we're releasing episodes fast enough, although we're at or
over capacity.

I think at some point we got the words "KIDS GAME" stamped on our foreheads,
and have since been ignored by most of the adventure game fans.

Despite the mammoth amount of data that leaves our web sites every day, when
it comes to sales and responses/reactions from adventure fans (and most other
people who we presumed would be interested in our game), the line is as
flat as a calm lake, and I can't understand it.

Sorry to say it folks, but this is NOT a market that can be subdivided. If a
company goes out and makes an adventure game, they need every single adventure
game fan, and then some, to buy it, or there will be no sequel. Period. We
cannot justify developing a game for the "kids adventure market" even if there
were such a thing, which there isn't. We have no publisher pockets to fall
back on if we don't get the unit sales we need, and if adventure game fans
are going to adopt a "wait and see" attitude about new development
companies, then there will be no more adventure games.
It really is that simple.

Either fans of these games open their wallets, or the future will consist of
about three publishers making $40 million sequels and clones of FPS games that
stopped doing anything original almost 10 years ago. If you look around,
you can see it happening already. There are right now about seven viable
publishers left, and they're all in a headlong race to see who can lose the
most money the fastest in an attempt to become Hollywood.

People complain and whine and moan that corporate products are dull and boring
and repetitive, but when the time comes to ring the cash register bell, the
sign on the building always says "Big Company Inc." and the little guy is out
of luck. It's very simple: If you want original, non-corporate products,
you have to BUY them. Not ask for them, not complain.

I cannot convince a game publisher to make more original games unless I can walk
in with 10,000 unit sales. Unit sales shut down the skeptics. Unit sales
shut down the bean counters. Unit sales shut down the uncooperative executives.
"Yeah, but everyone wants a new adventure game" might get your parking validated,
but that's about it.

I've been studying and working in the game industry for about five years now.
There are two ways to get a game made: either pitch to a publisher with "it's
just like _______ but with a twist" or fund it yourself. That's why the entire
market is the same eight games with different titles. The little guy cannot
go up against Electronic Arts and their eight-figure per-project payrolls, so
it's sequel city, and nobody is going to listen to the complaints.

Now we spent three years working on LadyStar. We spent 14 months doing market
research, about eight months on the engine and over a year on the story and
characters. Sounds like a long time, but Electronic Arts we ain't. We can't
afford to throw 18 people at a project, and most of us have day jobs, so it's
nights (long, late nights) and weekends. The amount of work required to build
and release a finished product is absolutely staggering, and I have to hand it
to the rest of our team. You had to be there to believe it.

But for all of that, we just can't get that buy button clicked no matter what we
do, and if we don't start generating sustainable, bankable sales soon, and I mean
soon as in days or maybe a couple of weeks, we're going to have to drop the
adventure portion of LadyStar and make it into a linear story, more like a visual
novel or something similar. A handful of registrations a month will not
feed the bulldog.

The work required to build and populate 70-location puzzles with corresponding
inventory and graphics, and the days and days of playtesting required is just
too time-consuming, and it really doesn't seem to matter to anyone.
In the time it took us to develop the third episode, we could have finished the
first volume if it were in a linear format, and I think it wouldn't have mattered
a whit to the visitors on our site.

Our best (and only) reactions come from the graphics, story and characters, and if
that's what people want, then our decision is made. I say that because the only
reactions we get are the occasional "wow, this is cool" in our guestbook. That's
great, and we appreciate the compliments, but when our sales to downloads ratio is
dropping like a rock, and the 1700 people a month
who download episodes are just sitting on their side of the table with their arms
folded, there's nothing we can do. Even if someone were to say "this game is
awful and here's why" and 20 other people agreed, that would be useful, because
that's fixable. We're willing to work hard to make fun games for people, but
now that we've taken the risk, we can't find the reward.

Our (bug fix) announcement on this forum, with the exception of the
administrator's announcements, for example, is the only one on the
main page with 0 responses.

Women say they want games with more female protagonists. We got SEVEN of them.

Women (and girls) say they want more games for girls, but the only company they
buy from is Mattel.

Adventure game fans say they want more new adventures. We're building 52 episodes
of more new adventures.

Game players in general clamor for more original games, then when some company
goes WAY out on a limb to provide what they are demanding, they wander off.

Now it could be that we're just new and we need more time to develop a market, but
at this point I have no reason to believe that 10 more episodes or 20 more
episodes is going to convince anyone to buy LadyStar. I'd be more likely to
believe that "we're too new" if we weren't serving up 1000 page views a day and
50 episodes to go with them.

Besides, we're talking about a price equivalent here of two lunches for some
four dozen hours (we estimate) of entertainment, and you'd think we were
selling Cadillacs for the amount of effort we have to expend to get one sale.

Things will either change or we will go out of business. It's that
simple. If you aren't seeing what you want in our products, we're
listening: often and intently; but we don't hear anything.

Now I don't want sympathy registrations. If the game has problems, then
we'll fix them as long as they don't require a total re-think of the entire
concept. Small companies like ours are absolutely dependent on unit sales.
We can't just cancel the project, write off the cost and lay everyone off.

But if we don't start generating regular, sustained sales, then we'll have
to go in another direction. Again, I apologize for the strident tone, but I
want to see adventure games succeed too. Comments are appreciated.
Thanks for your time.
_________________________
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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#112804 - 03/25/02 10:22 PM Re: It has to be said
burpee Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 4516
Loc: North aurora IL
As you were so honest, then shall I be too. I just recently heard of you through a post to this forum. I assumed that your product was a download, so I did not visit your site. My modem is slow because of the phone lines in my area, I'm on the tail end of the line. I never hook up faster than 26,600. It takes forever to download anything so I stay away from downloads unless I have to, like patches. I NEVER download demos. I like hard copies of my games.

Your explaination to us, as adventure gamers, moved me write this. I will visit your site to see if I have made an error of assumption. I would never want adventure producers and gaming artist to die out because of me. I would like to make every effort to support the genre.
Nancy

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#112805 - 03/26/02 12:44 AM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
POOR WEBSITE DESIGN=LACK OF SALES!
I just looked at the site and I must admit that it is VERY confusing. It is hard to find how exactly what you would be getting and doing with this product. I think the website needs to be redesigned for easier reading and identification of your product. Your website might take many hits, but sometimes the poor design of a website can be detrimental for sales of a product. From what I have seen, sites that have better designs in promoting their products have fared better in the amount of sales they get. I for one was confused in finding the things I needed. I think the home page is very cluttered with many icons to click on and go to. I think there could be a simpler way of showing what you are selling. It would be nice to see some comments to the right of the screen from people who have bought this. Or you could have clips of the product in action. To the left of the screen you can have a scrolling bar area that shows topics like, What is this?, How to purchase, New Episodes, About us, What is Lady Star? In a website redesign I also think you could merge many things into one category instead of the way they are on the current website. For example, there is the characters page and the digital art book which can both be placed under the category of "About the Game". There are about 13 icons on the page which can prove daunting in finding the information you need. Many of the topics can be put under one general category. The more organized the information you provide, the happier the gamer will be when browsing through the site.

I do understand what you are going through and hope the situation gets better, but I definitely think that the website needs to be redesigned for smoother browsing as well as inclining someone to purchase your product. A website needs to be easy to access and find all the information you need easily. An excellent and well designed website tells the gamer that the game will probably be just as good. A poorly designed website gives the gamer a different opinion of the product and while garnering many hits, it may not garner the sales you desire. As the website is now, I have to dig very hard to find the things I want to know and the things that will make me decide whether I want the game or not. As the website is now, I would not buy the product. I hope this helps and that you find the means to get more sales for your product.

I did eventually find an episode and had a chance to try, "The New Girl" episode as well. I got to the school and it seemed as if it was just clicking from one screen to the next. Do you get to interact with objects on the screen or are you just told about things. I know in the school I was able to decide what direction to take. Is there any sound effects or music in the game because I do applaud the detail in the graphics seen in this episode? It just seemed too quiet as I was going from scene to scene. Is this a sample of the episodes or is it a reduced trial version for sampling? It did seem like an interesting and promising episode. I got to the school as well but did not encounter any puzzles, maybe this happens later. Have a great week!

Here is a sample of a website that is also a small company that has dealt with episodic adventures as well. I think this website does an easier job in promoting the product and letting you find the information easily and making buying decisions simpler. I would recommend this website as an example of how to incorporate a better website to sell your product. This is also a game that I myself have purchased, enjoyed and completed because of the excellent way in which it was promoted through a superb website design.

http://www.siege-of-avalon.com

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#112806 - 03/26/02 01:00 AM Re: It has to be said
lspace Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 10/14/01
Posts: 600
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta
I agree 100% with Lundar. I was at the web site and found it very confusing indeed. A re-design of the page would be a start. While there I took the opportunity to play 'The New Girl' online. To be honest, I thought I was reading a book rather than playing a game. I got as far as the school before I stopped. Did I miss any puzzles or does the game just have a long intro. Also are you able to save/load in the game? I have downloaded the same episode and plan to delve further into it.

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#112807 - 03/26/02 02:27 AM Re: It has to be said
Sassy Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 01/20/00
Posts: 573
Loc: Colorado
Hi Scott,
I too just went and looked at your site, and if you are trying to appeal to adults to play and buy your game I think you need to rethink your site so it has a more adult flavor to it, along with what Lundar suggest.

I have checked out your site a few months ago too, and what struck me then was that this game looked kinda cartoony and very young.........so yes I thought it was more for children myself and haven't really gone much further with it.

That was just my impression from glancing at it. But when folks are surfing the web, that is what happens, you take a quick looksee and if anything catches your attention or draws you in you'll stop and check it out more intensely...and if not, it's on to the next site in a rush.

Also, like burpee I have a slow modem, so to get me interested to buy the game it would have to be some other way than downloads or tying up my phone line playing online. I like to see nice links to things like screenshots, story, the making of, characters, gameplay, release date, how to purchase, and things like that. Things that you can look at or read and get you interested.

I also don't get from your site that you are selling Lady Star.........I see lots of *don't forget to register Lady Star*, but I don't really see *purchase* Lady Star.

I do hope that it is feedback like this that you are looking for to help improve your sales. You really deserve some monetary credit for all your effort...kudos can only go so far. smile
Thanks so very much for showing such an interest in the adventure gaming community.

FYI: I'm a nifty fifty female. If that will help you with your demographics.

Sassy

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#112808 - 03/26/02 03:04 AM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
Hello Scott:

MORE COMMENTS ON THE WEBSITE:
Sassy makes a valid point as well about giving the website an adult flavor. Look at the website I recommended and look at yours. It is on a plain white background with many different and confusing icons scattered about it. Many adults do not have the luxury to become frustrated with a website and will move on to another one that is easier to navigate and better organized. You should give the game a prominent feature on this main page and have the other information along a bar to the left as I mentioned. The way it is now will most assuredly confuse people and turn them away as you have witnessed. I would believe that this website would appeal to kids more than adults with all the fancy icons and plain look for the webpage. It also seems from the website that a game is not really being sold, but more like video tapes of an anime series. The first time I was there it looked like it was a series on television and I was looking to buy the tapes to watch. Again, the website leads one to a confused state at exactly what type of product that is being offered. A first glance at the website also does not appear like your looking at a game website. You mention that you are not targeting this adventure game for kids but in one section it mentions that these episodes will improve your reading comprehension. One look at that and many adults will think this is just an educational product, which is not wrong, but one aimed for kids and not adults. The way you explain your product to your target group is very important. Adults expect more from adventure game sites, and are more demanding with the way a website functions, looks and is organized.

THE ORDER PAGE
Here is the area I mentioned above:
http://www.ladystar.net/completegame.html

On your order page it gives a description of the game and some of the details are acceptable such as the mention of puzzles, but the following two items below lead one to believe this is a kids educational product and not a serious adult adventure game. The way you describe an adventure game for adults, and especially on your order page is very important. Instead of mentioning these things this way you can turn them around to details that will promote the game better.

POOR PROMOTION OF PRODUCT

-Improve your Observational and Logical Skills!

Instead of the above, something like:
(Unique graphic designs will take you to the many different worlds, from detailed jungle areas, schools, and so much more.)

-Enhance your Reading Comprehension!

Instead of the above, this could be:
(Expertly written dialogue and story immerses you within these worlds and in your adventure.)

You need to highlight the things that are sellers in your product such as that above or other details on gameplay over the poor details I mentioned above. The line, "The Ajan warriors need you!" is also not helpful as we do not know who they are, as I did not find any information on the website. This again is needed in a better website that will promote the game and the world in a way that will sell the product. If there was a link telling us about the Ajan warriors on the site, then this would be appropriate." I guess one can assume that these girls in the game are the Ajan warriors but with no where to find this out, it stands out as a poor detail to sell the game. As it is there, with no information about who they are, it seems like something you would find in the description for a kids game.

EXCELLENT PROMOTION OF PRODUCT!

-Feel the Accomplishment of Solving More and More Difficult Puzzles!

-Use your knowledge to guide Jessica and her friends to discover all the enchanted treasures and hidden secrets of the LadyStar World!

IMMERSE US WITH MORE INFORMATION ON THE WORLD
MAKE US CARE ABOUT IT!

It does not seem as if you tell us very much about the world we are going to play in. I see a very detailed characters page and only wish more of the site was like this. In a page discussing the gameworld, you should connect all facets pertaining to this game world, such as gamplay, characters, types of puzzles, details on the actual world itself. With the lack of valuable information on the world, it makes the game appear flat and weak. You have such an interesting world that you spent a long time creating, tell us about it, don't leave us in the dark. I find out so much on the characters but nothing on the actual world we will be playing in, or things on what the Ajan warriors are or types of evil we will face and so on and so on. Your character page is so detailed, I only wonder why there were not more pages done in this fashion and quality, and in explaing further aspects of the Lady Star World, so that we can care about this world and decide to purchase it. You mention an area in the character bios called Tree Shores. This is an example of an area that you could tell us further information on and add to our knowledge of the game world. Once we can form a better image of the game world and characters we will feel more attached to it, instead of having little information to go on. One gets the numb feeling about the game world when starting the first episode and while the character pages help, it is definitely not enough. Since we do not know all we want about the world, we are not connected with it on a level that will make a purchasing decision possible. Adventure gamers care about all sorts of details, and information on the characters is only the start of what should be mentioned on your website. I know time is limited for doing the things I propose, but time can never be limited in promoting your product.

COMMENTS ON THE FIRST EPISODE, THE NEW GIRL
I did try more of the first episode that I mentioned above and I do like the way the graphics were done as well as some impressive writing skills for the story in the game. I should know about impressive writing skills as I am a teacher as well as a serious adventure gamer. I do wonder whether the game offers the ability to interact with objects within rooms and offer some types of sound effects or music. Yet, I would prefer hearing sound effects more than music. It did seem so quiet as I was going from scene to scene. I saw an alarm clock in one scene and it would have been nice to have heard an actual sound effect for this, to give the game some dimension and sense of ambiance. You do not need loads of sound effects or music within the game as I know you are trying to keep the downloads small, but a few prominent ones scattered through the game would give the game some life instead of feeling so quiet and lonely. A gamer needs immersion and ambiance through many things, such as story, graphics and sound effects and music do help as well. A large portion of the beginning of the New Girl episode seemed like just story with no action involved and that short scene itself might be enough to give people the wrong idea of the game and be turned off from it. You need to catch people from the very start and if you are doing nothing for more than a few minutes on your first episode, people may just quit the game and forget about the series. The intro was nice, but it would have been so much better with a small music track as well. Things such as sound effects and music scattered in important and varied areas can help a game immensely. I do hope that the things I mentioned do change later within the game, such as interacting with objects or some sound effects. I felt as If all I was doing was reading the text without being able to explore the environment or interact with objects at the beginning.

FINAL COMMENTS
I hope this helps and that you understand that I am only being this truthful with my comments because I do believe with some much needed changes that this could be an adventure game that we would want to purchase.

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#112809 - 03/26/02 04:09 AM Re: It has to be said
pernilla Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 347
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Scott,

I have to agree with the opinions of Lundar and Sassy regarding your website. They have already described its problems well enough so I'll tell you about the feelings I get about the game.

The website doesn't make me want to buy the game, actually it doesn't appeal to me in any way at all. I get the impression that it's a game for kids (the first thought I had was "Pokemon" and I don't even know what they look like) that impression deepens when I click my way through the site. The main characters are a bunch of kids and that reminds me more about books I read as a child than about adventure games.

I've read some of your posts before, but not with very much interest. Why is that? You'll hate me for saying this, but the name of the game... "Ladystar" does sound like a game for kids. That's all it takes for turning my interest down to zero.

Making your game available for download without requiring payment may not be the best way to make money. Making a great first episode that sets the scene (and includes some good puzzles!) and releasing it for free download as a teaser, that's good. But for people to be able to play the rest of the episodes, you should require payment. And to be completely honest - I think it would be easier for you to sell the game on CD than as downloads. Many people consider a download to be free.

Pernilla

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#112810 - 03/26/02 04:42 AM Re: It has to be said
Kickaha Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 2407
Loc: Cambridge, England
Some aspects of this concern how good the LadyStar site is, and how widely appealing the game is. Other aspects concern the Adventure game market in general and it's those I'm going to comment on.

The Internet and online games are a challenge to make money on. There is the expectation that everything is free. Plus for some years to come you're restricting yourself to people with good Internet connections.

Even games sold as CD roms are a challenge to make money on. Burning copies to give to friends is clearly illegal but even lending or trading or floating have bad effects. They all mean far fewer copies of the game are bought.

The key question is how many of those who sign petitions for a new Tex Murphy or Gabriel Knight game would be willing to buy a copy and not trade or float or lend afterwards.

Regards, Peter.
_________________________
Previously had display name of "Peter Smith"


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#112811 - 03/26/02 05:59 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Since the messages are not threaded, I'll have to reply all at once, but I'll
quote as much as I can.

things that will make me decide whether I want the game or not.

What precisely would those be? Something like "What is LadyStar?" and
"What kind of game is it?" Wouldn't those questions be adequately answered
by just playing it?

Perhaps pulling everything off the site except:

Download Episodes
How to Purchase
FAQ
Game Screens
Characters

would be sufficient. Again, we have a tradeoff: some people will likely
begin to complain that the site is boring.

chance to try, "The New Girl" episode as well

Personally, I think this episode by itself is 50% of our problem. People are
getting about 1/4 of the way through it and losing interest. Perhaps dropping
the first two for a while and leaving episode 3 available (with its puzzle)
would get more people interested. Of course, the converse is that people will
get stuck on the puzzle and lose interest because none of the story can be
accessed until after the puzzle.

This is kind of a peeve of mine, but I really am at a total loss as to what
we can do in the first five minutes of a 52 episode epic adventure to get someone
so enthralled that we'll have their undivided attention from that point forward.
Such an attention span cannot be impressed by mere words and images and that's all
we have.

Is there any sound effects or music in the game because I do applaud the
detail in the graphics seen in this episode?


We may do some small FMV cut-scenes later, but we can't have ambient sounds or a
music track because of platform issues. What works on a Mac probably wont work
on Linux. Not to mention the fact that the episodes are pushing 10MB each now
and they are only graphics and text. So like most things it's a tradeoff.

if you are trying to appeal to adults to play and buy your game

We're trying to appeal to adventure game fans, anime fans, girls and casual game
players, in any order. Granted, LadyStar may not appeal to adults per se, but
it is no more a kids game than Monkey Island, for example.

The main difference between Monkey Island and LadyStar is the $2 million budget
and the access to ILM, sound stages, professional film editors, an entire
animation staff and $millions worth of equipment.

so yes I thought it was more for children myself and haven't really gone much
further with it ... That was just my impression from glancing at it.


I'm afraid there's little we can do in the time interval of a glance. LadyStar's
characters are anime, and to many people, anything animated means "kids"

...unless it's Escape from Monkey Island...

Like I mentioned before, I think people see our characters and stamp
"FOR KIDS ONLY" on the screen, and that's it. For those players, the only way
to appeal to them may be to have an adult main character, but then it wouldn't be
the story it is.

It honestly never occurred to me that the age of the main characters would be
an issue in an adventure game, given the fact that, well, its a GAME. We're not
trying to portray the Iliad here. We're just trying to make a fun game with a
fun story, and to have interesting and entertaining characters at the same time.

I do appreciate everyone's responses, and we will try to improve the web site
and game as much as we can. I think the first two episodes are a liability based
on what we've heard so far, but we started out thinking we'd have at least
a few minutes to do exposition. As it turns out, what we really needed to do was
start with a car chase.

Thing is, we're guessing again, and we can't hold our breath for months trying to
engineer the perfect balance. Perhaps we were mistaken to think that making
an adventure game that had its own personality and character would be
of interest to adventure game fans. That's possible. We do seem to be
generating little interest if any among adventure game fans due to the initial
impression that LadyStar is for kids because the characters are illustrated.

Then again, I also thought that adventure games were about exploring and puzzles
and story, all of which are present in our first three episodes. The problem is
I'm not sure how much exploring and puzzles and story we can cram into
five minutes if that's all the time we have to impress players.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure how impressive exploring and puzzles and story
can be in the first place. We'll keep doing what we're doing, though.
_________________________
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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#112812 - 03/26/02 06:08 AM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
YOU GIVE TO MUCH AND RECIEVE LESS FOR YOUR WORK
Pernilla also makes another valid point that I would like to talk about as well. You are offering all the episodes for Volume 1, episodes 1, 2, 3 currently for free. Not many are going to register if everything you offer in Volume 1 is free. You should make a separate episode for demo purposes and then people can pay to get the episodes already available for Volume 1, Episodes 1, 2, 3 as well as future volumes and episodes. You should make money for the episodes you already have available. You are giving more than others have given when releasing something for free. You are getting many people coming to the website because all you offer now is free. You provide no real incentive now for paying for additional episodes with so many free ones available. You are being very generous with what you are giving. People love free stuff and with the amount you are giving away for free, you are leaving the impression that the product is not worth much. People will get used to getting the episodes free and will not think about buying them. How many do you think will register right now, when the episodes can easily be downloaded for free?

You need to make:

-An episode for demo purposes, that highlights major features of the series. It includes a detailed ad in the game on what you will get when you purchase.

-It must be made clear what will be for free and what must be purchased.

It should be

Demo Episode-Free

You must pay for each of the Lady Star volumes below. Each volume will have episodes released for it with 5 volumes scheduled. I think that you could easily sell each volume for $5-$7 as you would pay the price of a full game when you buy all the volumes. You can offer people the choice to buy the volumes they want and not the ones they don't or a special offer of $20 for all the volumes now instead of $35 if you charged $7 dollars for each volume. You need to give gamers options in an episodic structure like this and organize it so you are making money for your efforts. This would also give gamers a choice of which to get. I do not think the way it is now, you are going to make much money, offering all the volumes for $18 or many free episodes in Volume 1.

The schedule could look like this.
$7-Each volume
$20 for all volumes now.

VOLUME 1-$7
Episode 1-Now Available
Episode 2-Now Available
Episode 3-Now Available
Episode 4-Coming Soon

VOLUME 2$7-COMING SOON
VOLUME 3$7-COMING SOON
VOLUME 4$7-COMING SOON
VOLUME 5$7-COMING SOON

Or order all of them now, for $20, a savings of $15.

People like to see that they are saving and this would encourage them to buy all of them at once.

Again, a better website with easier navigation and information on the world, better pricing structure, only 1 free episode and better promotion of the product should go very far in helping you.

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#112813 - 03/26/02 06:45 AM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
Quote:
Originally posted by heavycat:

things that will make me decide whether I want the game or not.

What precisely would those be? Something like "What is LadyStar?" and
"What kind of game is it?" Wouldn't those questions be adequately answered
by just playing it?

RESPONSE
--No, these are things that determine whether we should buy it or not. These should be on the website and it should not be expected for a gamer to find these things specifically in the game. Yes, those topics you mention would be a start to helping explain the game in a better light--

Perhaps pulling everything off the site except:

Download Episodes
How to Purchase
FAQ
Game Screens
Characters

RESPONSE
--Yes, again organizing the website like the one I gave you would be nice. These are important topics you mention above that need to be dealt with and do not need all of the ones that clutter the website. Or if they are needed you could merge them into one category.--

would be sufficient. Again, we have a tradeoff: some people will likely
begin to complain that the site is boring.

RESPONSE
--I am sorry to say, but the site is already boring, hard to navigate and not recieving the sales you want. This situation will not happen later as it is already happening now. A better organized website that looks more detailed and organized can still have most of the things you mentioned, but they will be organized and listed in a better way. A better website will not be boring but productive if done right as mentioned. The key is in how you redesign the new site and not repeat the mistakes of this current one. Please see the sample website I gave you for an idea.--

chance to try, "The New Girl" episode as well
Personally, I think this episode by itself is 50% of our problem. People are
getting about 1/4 of the way through it and losing interest. Perhaps dropping
the first two for a while and leaving episode 3 available (with its puzzle)
would get more people interested. Of course, the converse is that people will
get stuck on the puzzle and lose interest because none of the story can be
accessed until after the puzzle.

RESPONSE
--You need to provide a demo episode that sets up the story of the series with one puzzle as a sample of gameplay. This would be short and enough to entice potential buyers. You need to ensure that the other episodes have puzzles implemented in them, even performing some type of basic action would suffice instead of just reading text for very long periods. There does not always need to be a puzzle but when you are reading text for very long periods and doing nothing, the gamer will become bored and exit the game. I do not think you should cut any episodes but incorporate some additional ideas into the existing ones.---

This is kind of a peeve of mine, but I really am at a total loss as to what
we can do in the first five minutes of a 52 episode epic adventure to get someone
so enthralled that we'll have their undivided attention from that point forward.
Such an attention span cannot be impressed by mere words and images and that's all
we have.

RESPONSE
--Could you possibly have some character or person appear that would tell you the story in this part. Something on screen beyond just seeing the words. I know that the girl is in some dream in the game, can she pick up items in the dream or find individuals that will reveal to us the things that we need to know. Again, doing something, even minor is necessary to tell the story that you need to tell here.---

Is there any sound effects or music in the game because I do applaud the
detail in the graphics seen in this episode?


We may do some small FMV cut-scenes later, but we can't have ambient sounds or a
music track because of platform issues. What works on a Mac probably wont work
on Linux. Not to mention the fact that the episodes are pushing 10MB each now
and they are only graphics and text. So like most things it's a tradeoff.

RESPONSE
-Well, here again by trying to tailor to many different markets, you are cutting away from the game. You either make a better product for one system or a lesser product to meet the demands for everyone. This strategy is obviously not working and I would suggest adding a few minor sounds to the game. PC's are the dominant platforms for games no matter what anyone would say. Statistics will back this statement up easily.---

if you are trying to appeal to adults to play and buy your game

We're trying to appeal to adventure game fans, anime fans, girls and casual game
players, in any order. Granted, LadyStar may not appeal to adults per se, but
it is no more a kids game than Monkey Island, for example.

RESPONSE
-Yes, features that mention enhanced reading compression and observational skills on the order page gives the impression that you are making this game for kids and not other categories of gamers.--

The main difference between Monkey Island and LadyStar is the $2 million budget
and the access to ILM, sound stages, professional film editors, an entire
animation staff and $millions worth of equipment.

RESPONSE
--Again, you are basing a games quality on budget. Here at gameboomers we have had many quality games that have had far lower budgets than yours I am sure, that have done well. Again, a poor website and other features I mentioned need to be changed. I understand that you do not have the budget to produce so many things within the game, but I am sure you can find ways to use our comments and improve the game.--

so yes I thought it was more for children myself and haven't really gone much
further with it ... That was just my impression from glancing at it.


I'm afraid there's little we can do in the time interval of a glance. LadyStar's
characters are anime, and to many people, anything animated means "kids"

...unless it's Escape from Monkey Island...

Like I mentioned before, I think people see our characters and stamp
"FOR KIDS ONLY" on the screen, and that's it. For those players, the only way
to appeal to them may be to have an adult main character, but then it wouldn't be
the story it is.

It honestly never occurred to me that the age of the main characters would be
an issue in an adventure game, given the fact that, well, its a GAME. We're not
trying to portray the Iliad here. We're just trying to make a fun game with a
fun story, and to have interesting and entertaining characters at the same time.

I do appreciate everyone's responses, and we will try to improve the web site
and game as much as we can. I think the first two episodes are a liability based
on what we've heard so far, but we started out thinking we'd have at least
a few minutes to do exposition. As it turns out, what we really needed to do was
start with a car chase.

Thing is, we're guessing again, and we can't hold our breath for months trying to
engineer the perfect balance. Perhaps we were mistaken to think that making
an adventure game that had its own personality and character would be
of interest to adventure game fans. That's possible. We do seem to be
generating little interest if any among adventure game fans due to the initial
impression that LadyStar is for kids because the characters are illustrated.

Then again, I also thought that adventure games were about exploring and puzzles
and story, all of which are present in our first three episodes. The problem is
I'm not sure how much exploring and puzzles and story we can cram into
five minutes if that's all the time we have to impress players.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure how impressive exploring and puzzles and story
can be in the first place. We'll keep doing what we're doing, though.

RESPONSE
---I know you have many gripes against the industry and the things they do wrong. Yet, even small companies can attempt to succeed if they try to take their mistakes and produce better results from them. Complaining about the industry will produce little results. You need to take our comments and try to produce a better game if possible. Anime is not for kids and people who know what this is do appreciate it for the beauty that it offers. I wish I could say more to help you, but right now it is not soley the industry that has caused so many things to go wrong, but decisions such as the website design, so many free titles available, lack of puzzles in the first episode. Remember, that adventure gamers do appreciate the type of game you are making, you just need to look at what did not work and try your best to move on from that, instead of blaming the gaming industry for all your problems. I do not mean to be so blunt, but I do see so much promise in your series and I do want it to succeed. I have always loved anime as I love the art style used in your game. I wish you luck in your endeavors.---

[/QB]

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#112814 - 03/26/02 10:52 AM Re: It has to be said
Betty Lou Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 07/29/00
Posts: 11334
Loc: Sacramento, CA USA
As an adventure gamer who usually only comes here to Gameboomers for help and discussion with the other GBers I don't remember having been to your site (maybe once). I am not in a position to criticize it. There is little I can say to help you here except:
All the above talk is putting me to sleep, too much of it for me to read.
I DO NOT PLAY ONLINE GAMES! period! And am not going to.
Is Ladystar an adventure game on CD rom's in a jewel case or a box with a manual that I can purchase, have sent to me, so I can play it at home by myself at my leisure?
Just what IS the game and what is it about?
Is it 'point and click'?
I have several times tried to download and play a game from sites similar to yours and am never very successful at it, therefore I uninstall or dump them and do not try again. I'm not very thrilled at the prospect of doing so with a demo either.
I'm sorry, but I do not know what you could change/do to entice me to 'buy your game so you don't go out of business'. I hate to see you have to close your 'doors' but so far I see nothing to 'get me on board'.
Good luck, Love, Betty Lou
_________________________
I am 'the HAT lady"! and "who loves ya BABY?!"

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#112815 - 03/26/02 11:56 AM Re: It has to be said
Holycow Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 10/09/01
Posts: 290
Loc: Graham NC USA
I certainly am one to purchase as many adventure games as I can, but I don't find Ladystar to be (from looking at the website) a 'traditional' adventure game in many respects. First, as was said previously, it seems geared directly to kids and teens with little to no grown-up (I won't say adult) content.
Even the Nancy Drew series appeals to grown-ups because of a. Nostalia and b. Grown-up puzzle solving.
The anime aspect of the game, although hip (to kids and teenagers), doesn't appeal to the many grown-ups who have BAAGS resourses and prefer more adult interactions and puzzle solving.
I don't get the impression that Ladystar has any of these qualities.
Also traditionally we adventure gamers prefer our games on disc (CD-Rom or, now DVD). We want it for our collections or 'librarys', if you will. Downloading episodes is again not traditional for us.

I also don't know if I want to invest in a 52 episode game. Knowing that, it seems to be more quanity than quality. I don't know who wrote the story so I have no frame of reference as to their writing ability as opposed to, say, Jane Jensen, who I would find credible enough to try an episodic game for the first time.

Good luck. Follow the advise regarding the web site.

I'm sorry but your game just doesn't suit my taste.
_________________________
Everything in moderation, even abstinence.

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#112816 - 03/26/02 12:04 PM Re: It has to be said
Fongo Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/10/01
Posts: 838
Loc: Bradford, ON
heheheh, I don't know what's been said already, and I'm way too lazy to read those TSS-length posts above. Let me make a few comments, and do what you will - hope they're useful.

As others have stated, the concept/characters seem to suggest "for kiddies" at first glance - an extremely valid point, as most on-line users rarely give pages more than one glace before they choose to investigate further, or go somewhere else.

My lack of interest to investigate further is directly related to this perception. When you say "teenage animie", I think "Sailor Moon", a cartoon that at least used to be on, which I watched and had no interest in watching again.

I went on last night, and played the on-line version of the first episode - once I had played for about 10 minutes, I lost interest because of the linear, non-interactive story (as others have).

I must admit, I was very surprised that I was able to start playing without going through some sort of "free registration" process - a way for you to at least collect e-mail addresses of people who are express interest in the game (maybe you do this with the download). Same with the download. I disagree that people would necessarily be turned off by such a registration process - everywhere you go on the net now, you are asked for contact info. Its a fact of web life - get something for free in exchange for information.

This way, you can assemble a database of users who can be e-mailed with newsletters, updates etc - a very valuable resource. The day of "marketing by way of waiting for people to come to you" is over on the net.

The other point I wanted to make was in reference to another on-line game "Mistery" that a lot of people here were rampaging through a couple of weeks ago. No disrespect to the developer, but this game was filled with cheesy souhd effects, spelling and granmmer mistakes, and so-bad-its-good graphics (perhaps all on purpose). The point is, it hooked you in immediately with its compelling puzzles, easy little victories, and adult flavour. You may want to take a look at it - whatever your thoughts, keep in mind it was pretty compelling.

Dan

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#112817 - 03/26/02 12:15 PM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
Please forgive my posts for being very long. I always try to be as detailed as I can with my posts. I will try to be more simpler with my posts in the future but know that all my posts are done with care and attention to detail.

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#112818 - 03/26/02 12:34 PM Re: It has to be said
Josie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2949
Loc: Arkansas
I think it kinda looks like Final Fantasy and I dont care for that game so thats why I didnt get Josie:)

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#112819 - 03/26/02 01:30 PM Re: It has to be said
aberfoyle Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 327
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
Hi, long and thoughtful posts are just fine. People who don't want to read them don't have to. laugh laugh

I went to the LadyStar website a while ago and left it having not been moved to purchase anything. Heavycat has posted a few times in the last couple of weeks and it got me to go again and this time I purchased the game. (It wasn't easy to find out how, though).

So far, I am a bit disappointed in the play, but based on what I had heard I am expecting it to "pick up".

As for selling the game, the website is confusing and needs a major overhaul. Even if it just copies the sites mentioned above, it will help hugely.

The comments on the ratio of people looking versus people buying reminds me of the shareware industry (at least as it was several years ago when I was more aware of it). When the first programs were offered for sale, they were often fully featured and merely asked for a 'registration' or even a 'contribution'.

I believe that many great programs never supported their authors. "List" comes to mind.

Now, I think 'shareware' authors are much smarter. I have many that I have used for quite a while and they are sold by making the product available for a limited period of time (say 30 days usually) and then they no longer work.

If the product is good and worth using, then it is worth paying for. This model works well for me. There are many programs I have used a couple of times and then forgotten, but the ones I use or will use in the future, I pay for.

How this relates to an adventure game is harder to see. I like the idea of a demo or maybe have the first few episodes for free and then expect payment.

However, the first episode is not going to sell the game. Take 'The Longest Journey' as an example of a fast start to get interest and then into the story we go. I suggest Ladystar take the most exciting and entertaining part of the game made so far and find a way to get it into the beginning of the first episode!

As for distribution, many people cannot or don't want to download large files. Maybe a subscription where Ladystar sends out a CD every two or three months with the latest episodes.

Personally, I find the web lacking as a distribution medium. The programs I have bought over the internet always present a problem in that disks crash, registration codes get lost and it just never seems permanent to me. A CD in a box sitting on a shelf seems much more like I really own the program (or have a license to use it if its Microsoft).

Anyway to make a long post longer I hope Ladystar is successful. It will be uphill I'm afraid, though, because the changes that have been suggested (and which are really needed) will take a fair amount of work I'm afraid and it sounds like time is too short. frown

Regards, Aberfoyle happydance

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#112820 - 03/26/02 02:07 PM Re: It has to be said
Lundar Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 890
Loc: Texas,USA
Thanks aberfoyle for those great comments. You ring true with your first comment and I do appreciate them and I am sure heavycat does as well.

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#112821 - 03/26/02 08:57 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
We do appreciate all of the comments. The feedback received here will be very valuable, and we're already working on improving the web site first, and then the game.

There will be an announcement soon with an update on what we've accomplished. One of our goals as a company is to be responsive to customers and potential customers and to listen.

We realize that the vast majority of what we have done so far has been 80-20 mistakes to brilliance, but the one thing we do know is that we're doing something right. With thousands of episodes downloaded and numerous registrations (which began, interestingly enough, days after we released our demo, which was about 1/4 of the first episode), LadyStar, at the very least, has a lot of people's attention.

Now our job is to improve it even more. Thanks again, everybody. 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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#112822 - 03/26/02 11:31 PM Re: It has to be said
MWW Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 04/05/00
Posts: 470
Heavycat, I am very interested in your game. I love animated adventure games very very much, but I also am unwilling to download with my glacially slow and sometimes unreliable internet connection. If you ever release the game where I can buy the completed game on a disc I would buy it and probably pay more for the game. I understand that this is difficult and may not be possible for your company presently. I do regret that I may miss what looks like a very enjoyable game.

I wish you and your company the best of luck and hope that you succeed.
_________________________
Sanity is still just an excuse for not having fun.

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#112823 - 03/27/02 12:29 AM Re: It has to be said
Advpuzlov Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 06/05/99
Posts: 2027
Loc: USA
HOLYCOW said it for me.
Quote:
Also traditionally we adventure gamers prefer our games on disc (CD-Rom or, now DVD). We want it for our collections or 'librarys', if you will. Downloading episodes is again not traditional for us.
I have downloaded puzzle games such as SNOOD, but to download an Adventure game in little segments seems to me to be absurd. If it is enough of a game to be interesting, it is too much for me to download. There may come a time when it might work, but then I would feel compelled to burn a CD of it so I wouldn't have to leave it occupying space on my hard drive, but still be able to play it at a later time. My investment in Adventure games is up in the kilo$ range and I don't mind paying for a CD or DVD which I can then reinstall, but being only on my hard drive is much too precarious for me to accept.
_________________________
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -- Aristotle

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#112824 - 03/27/02 12:44 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Well, we try to keep the episodes at or around 5MB. Even on a dial-up connection, this would take about a half hour to download. Some of the larger episodes (like episode 3) are about twice as large.

We'll need all of the episodes rearranged in order to provide a complete install image for CD-ROM, and it will probably be quite a bit more expensive. The time/resource structure needed to support CD-ROM distribution is far larger, slower and more expensive compared to electronic distribution.

Electronic distribution will only become more popular, because it allows companies like ours to compete on price far better than if we were required to spend $8 to get a CD-ROM to one customer.

As far as backups are concerned, you're more than welcome to put your downloaded episodes on a CD-R for backup purposes. Not a problem. 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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#112825 - 03/27/02 07:44 AM Re: It has to be said
Mary Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 11/02/99
Posts: 3640
Loc: New York
I'll just add my two cents here. I'm one of those who have only a dial-up connection. I don't download demos, ever, since they take so long, and I wouldn't download your game since I wouldn't want to take up precious hard drive space. It seems that no matter how large a hard drive I get, I'm always running short.
I'm also one of those "collecters": ask my husband. I've got the games all over the place. If you ever develop a game on a CD, I'm in!
Good luck to you in any case.
_________________________
The answer is....chocolate! Who cares what the question is.....

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#112826 - 03/27/02 08:58 AM Re: It has to be said
Anonymous
Unregistered


As an adventure game player I would like to add my comments. After reading this thread I went to your site and looked around.I agree with most about the site being confusing. I clicked on Play New Girl. It looked like a slide show to me with lots of reading, no movement with the character and no sound. It kept saying error in script.After a few minutes I just lost patience with it and clicked out.
I have some Cartoonist games like Monkey Island, Broken Sword, an Jack Orlando games and I love them, there is plenty of adventure in them. Lots of different characters to talk to and plenty of movement.
If this game was on cd-rom I probably would buy it cause I buy every adventure game that comes out.BAAG's you know!
As for downloading it, I wouldnt because even if I could play it and I liked it, I wouldnt have the patience to wait for the next episode to come out. And also with my computer saying there is errors on the script,
wouldnt that be also downloaded and make the game unplayable?
Anyway that is my opinon of this game,maybe a little mystery in the game, would have caught my eye.

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#112827 - 03/27/02 10:26 AM Re: It has to be said
Betty Lou Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 07/29/00
Posts: 11334
Loc: Sacramento, CA USA
And then there is the teenage boy who, while not attempting to sell thousands of copies to get 'rich' wrote and made his game Passages, The Betrayal and sold it to many of us here at GB and he did a terrific job. His game was on a CD and he even created a manual he included with the game. He did it all by himself! Downloading games or playing online is not for me, ever.
Love, Betty Lou
_________________________
I am 'the HAT lady"! and "who loves ya BABY?!"

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#112828 - 03/27/02 03:30 PM Re: It has to be said
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 34860
Loc: southeast USA
Quote:
Originally posted by catsmom2:
As an adventure game player I would like to add my comments. After reading this thread I went to your site and looked around.I agree with most about the site being confusing. I clicked on Play New Girl. It looked like a slide show to me with lots of reading, no movement with the character and no sound. It kept saying error in script.After a few minutes I just lost patience with it and clicked out.
I just checked out the online version of LadyStar. I didn't get any javascript errors, but then my browser is set to not display any script error messages.

But the game was dead silent. No wind howling, baby crying, clock ticking, or any other sound referred to in the game's text description. Is the online version supposed to have sounds or music? Is this silence normal? Does the downloaded version have sounds? Even old DOS games had midi music. If I'm not getting sounds that I should be getting, I'd like to know.

Last year many Gameboomers played an online game called Faradise. It had a lot of interactivity and was suitable for slow modem connections. There were also sound effects which added a lot to the ambiance. So it seems like it should be possible to have an online version of LadyStar which includes sound.

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#112829 - 03/27/02 03:46 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Thanks for the comments about the on-line version of LadyStar.

LadyStar has no soundtrack.

There are several things we, as a game company, do well: Character design, story, setting, background images, browser-based game engines, etc.

There are several things we don't do well (yet): Soundtracks, FMV in-game cutscenes, background music, animation, voice-overs, etc.

We're going to concentrate on our strengths and not over-reach, and for good reasons (we think).

Adding sound and music will do several things: make the game more expensive, make it even more difficult to download (by increasing file size), limit (or eliminate) cross-platform capability while increasing technical support headaches (for customers first, then us), increase development time, and so on.

While a thrilling orchestral soundtrack and slick Hollywood-esque sound effects would add to the gee-whiz factor to the game, the expense of producing them far outweighs the potential benefits, not to mention the fact that browsers are VERY unreliable when it comes to sound, especially when you consider that over half of our downloads are for platforms other than Windows.

LadyStar seeks only to be what it is: a simple, humble adventure game which relies on a good, complex epic story and well-written characters to provide an enjoyable game.

We made a decision a long time ago not to over-reach and try to make it into a Hollywood-competitive blockbuster-ambitious multimedia extravaganza. This likely disqualifies a lot of potential customers who will assume that LadyStar is unworthy simply because it does not seek to replace substance with glitz, but I doubt we could have impressed those customers anyway, soundtrack or no.

I do appreciate the comments though, and recommend the third episode if you are looking for more traditional adventure. The first two episodes are more story intros than anything else. Thanks again.
_________________________
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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#112830 - 03/28/02 06:59 AM Re: It has to be said
Josho Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 12/27/99
Posts: 88
Loc: Colonie, New York, USA
Heavycat,

It sounds to me, with all acknowledgement to the power of hindsight, that the biggest problem with the plan was in those 18 months you spent doing market research.

After all, this discussion board right here -- this is your market. And yet it doesn't seem as if the reactions of the people here are at all what you wanted/expected to hear.

The problem may've been with the research itself. Even when market research is performed correctly, which is overwhelmingly RARE -- it is minimally useful, otherwise the company with the best market research would dependably have the best sales, and that's not the case.

OTOH, the problem may've been with the way the research was handled afterwards: what was ignored, what was taken into account, what was followed slavishly.

The name Ladystar itself, so soft in its imagery, is not going to appeal to males. The roster of characters makes it clear that the game's main cast consists largely of females. (And if market research has proven anything in this area, it's that males don't generally like playing female characters, unless you go the "Lara Croft" shooting-and-big-bosoms route). While I think the attitude of male players is pretty Neanderthal, failing to acknowledge it -- or deliberately snubbing it -- is NOT the way to turn a profit in an industry where males are such a large part of the core audience.

On a slightly more philosophical note, you've expressed a desire to appeal to EVERY ADVENTURE GAME FAN ("and then some") simultaneously. That's a very good way not to appeal to anyone.

I support your ideas and your work, and I'll look into LADYSTAR to see what it offers.

Yours truly,
Josh Mandel

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#112831 - 03/28/02 07:12 AM Re: It has to be said
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
Ahem........I have enjoyed games where the main characters are female and I'm no neanderthal. One game that comes to mind that I enjoyed so much is King's Quest 7. Good story, great graphics and the music was wonderful.

However, for an online game. Let the software developers do what they want and just enjoy the game when it comes out. Of course there are some games out there that are not as highly enjoyable as others. Another game with a female lead that I enjoyed was the action game No One Lives Forever.

I just wanted to let Josho know here that there are guys out there who do enjoy games with female leads. I happen to be one of them. As long as they have a great story and graphics, I don't mind the sound at all. Sometimes I completely forget that there is any sound at all in the game. Of course, with games like Thief, you have to completely depend on sound in order for a successful run of the game. Well, there's my two cents about men enjoying games with female leads. Any other guys out there care to add in their ideas to mine?
_________________________
Lvl 55 Hunter in WOW

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#112832 - 03/28/02 07:42 AM Re: It has to be said
Holycow Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 10/09/01
Posts: 290
Loc: Graham NC USA
I'm with you, Mac. I've played and enjoyed KQ7, TLJ, WoT, AM's Alice, NOLF, some TR, GK2 w/Grace, Drakan, etc. and have little to no problem playing female characters. It was the gameplay and stories that made these games along with the (and I don't mean to harp on this) grown-up sensiblities of these characters that interested me in these games. And I didn't have to download them piecemeal.

If, for some reason, the boomers who play into the game come back to report that it's a wowser and the storyline is worth the download trouble, etc. I might think about playing, but as far as I could see now with all the games out there I'm trying to play, Ladystar has not appealed to my sensiblities as a grown-up guy. But that's only my singular opinion. Good Luck, heavycat & co.! laugh
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#112833 - 03/28/02 08:26 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
After all, this discussion board right here -- this is your market.

Along with others: casual game players, girls, anime fans, etc.

The name Ladystar itself, so soft in its imagery, is not going to appeal to males.

Maybe not. The title, like just about everything in the game, is significant beyond just sounding cool.

The roster of characters makes it clear that the game's main cast consists largely of females.... turn a profit in an industry where males are such a large part of the core audience

Well, LadyStar is an all-girl team. Its story is similar to a genre of anime known as "bishoujo sentai" which literally means "pretty girl fighting team."

Properly written, LadyStar may appeal to both females and males: females because, well, LadyStar has more female heroes than the rest of the game industry combined, and males because of the swords and magic and monsters.

I support your ideas and your work, and I'll look into LADYSTAR to see what it offers.

We appreciate your interest, and thanks for the comments.
_________________________
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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#112834 - 03/28/02 09:01 AM Re: It has to be said
Josho Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 12/27/99
Posts: 88
Loc: Colonie, New York, USA
Nobody need "ahem" at my comments re: male players playing female protagonists. I'm well aware that there are plenty of exceptions; I'm one, myself (just got done spending I-dunno-how-many-hundred-hours playing Diablo and Diablo II as a female character).

However, in largest part, males -- particularly children and teen males -- are not NEARLY as open to playing female characters as females are open to playing male characters. This was true back in the early 1990s when we asked the question in every single survey we sent out at Sierra On-Line -- the male respondents were DOWN, DOWN, DOWN on playing female characters, and the female players were nonjudgmental about whether they played a male or female. This was just as true two weeks ago when I attended focus groups on the latest adventure game I've been working on for the past 18 months. The game allows you to play as EITHER a male protagonist or a female protagonist. The focus group kids -- consisting of children anywhere from 7 to 16 -- were sent the game 2 weeks prior to attending the focus groups.

When they arrived at the focus groups, one of the first questions we asked was how many girls played as the girl protagonist, how many girls played as the boy protagonist, how many boys played as the boy protagonist, and how many boys played as the girl protagonist. In each group, with very little variation, the girls tried playing the game both ways. In most of the groups, NONE of the boys tried playing as a girl.

(Mind you, I'm not a believer in focus groups, as what's reported is so heavily influenced by what others are saying and doing at the moment...but it can't be ignored that thousands and thousands of anonymous, privately-filled-out surveys sent in over the course of half a decade by Sierra On-Line game players reported almost exactly the same results.)

Adult males are a good deal less likely to be so negative about playing as a female character.

BTW, for what it's worth, I agree with those who say they have no interest in playing online games. I don't like my gameplaying to depend on the vagaries of server status, ISP problems, the talent and availability of other live players, the tendency of other online players to make life miserable for "newbies," or any of those problems. Maybe if I were into "fragging," I'd feel differently, but right now, I like to choose when to play, whom to play, and how to play, and online play takes much of that choice away from me.

--Josh

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#112835 - 03/28/02 10:49 AM Re: It has to be said
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 34860
Loc: southeast USA
Quote:
Originally posted by mac_attack:
As long as they have a great story and graphics, I don't mind the sound at all. Sometimes I completely forget that there is any sound at all in the game.
I may not notice the sound so much while I'm playing a game either. But I certainly notice the lack of it. Without some sort of sound, I don't feel like it's a complete game. In fact, I played midis while I was testing the online version of LadyStar because the silence of the game bothered me.

About guys playing female characters:

I remember reading a complaint about "Wheel of Time" in one of the newsgroups a couple of years ago: The gamer said the problem he had with the game wasn't so much that you had to play a girl as that she was a "girly girl." I think it's even worse with LadyStar. You play as a giggly adolescent female rather than as an adult. I think this would likely turn off not only guys but adult gamers in general.

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#112836 - 03/28/02 10:57 AM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
You play as a giggly adolescent female rather than as an adult. I think this would likely turn off not only guys but adult gamers in general.

Alas, all must start from somewhere, and a long path stretches to the horizon before these characters.

Suffice to say that there are many things that are unknown by players about the LadyStar characters at this point, and Jessica, although a main character, is but one of seven distinct and unique personalities among the girls, all of whom contribute to the game and story, and all of whom will be playable during the course of the game.
_________________________
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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#112837 - 03/28/02 11:07 AM Re: It has to be said
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
Jen,

From what you have played right now. You haven't had given a chance to meet some of the characters in the other episodes. I agree that Jessica is just a little bit on the giggly side. But, characters other than that seem more mature than they really are. There definitely does seem to be more of a puzzle-solving in Episode Three. If you don't want to do that, maybe you could help me out by playing Episode Three and solving the puzzle a long with me. This girl in Episode Three doesn't seem to be as giggly as Jessica is, though. Let me know if you would like to take a shot at Episode Three with me! wave wave
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#112838 - 03/28/02 05:14 PM Re: It has to be said
pernilla Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 347
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
A phrase that comes to my mind when reading this thread is "kill your darlings". It seems to me that the developers of Ladystar aren't prepared to do this. Instead of reevaluating their design decisions, they try to convince us by words that the game in its current state will appeal to lots of people with different interests if we just give it a chance. Maybe the parts that you, the designers, like most are the parts that the players don't care much about?

Sound for example, someone said that the lack of sound is disturbing, you should take this point seriously! Not just turn the argument down by saying that sound would make the files too big. You made the design decision to exclude sound, well that may be the wrong choice. Even the early graphic adventures had midi music and adventure players aren't used to walking around in a silent world. Yet you think this is unimportant.

I don't think it's possible to please everyone with one game, instead you run quite a big risk to displease everyone. Maybe this thread comes too late in the game development, maybe you should have asked the would-be players much earlier. Just pleading for people to like the game and pay for it doesn't make it more attractive.

Sorry if this post sounds harsh. But if you come here to ask our opinions (most of us are adventure game lovers!) on a game that obviously doesn't attract the number of people you'd hoped for, don't expect us to tell you that all seems well, keep up the good work and we'll buy your game to be nice. Many people have given their honest opinions as to why the game doesn't appeal to them and what should be changed, and if you want to make the game interesting for us, listen to our opinions and don't be afraid to kill your darlings!

Pernilla

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#112839 - 03/28/02 05:24 PM Re: It has to be said
Bruce Fielder Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 11/27/01
Posts: 638
Loc: Amarillo, TX USA
Well said Pernilla.
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Live by the Golden Rule at all times.

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#112840 - 03/28/02 06:25 PM Re: It has to be said
aberfoyle Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 327
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
Hi,

Pernilla, your post said it beautifully.

The other day there was a problem with LadyStar because Internet Explorer version 6 (IE6) was not behaving as did earlier versions of IE.

Somewhere in postings from LadyStar, I read that there might come a time when players would be required to use the Mozilla browser because it has never had a problem.

This didn't seem to me to be a solution that made any sense. As a developer myself, I have to make the program do what is necessary to serve the customer. I am not in a position to make them change their ways to handle a problem I might have because of Microsoft.

I believe with the best of intentions and eight months of market research and lots of time (beautiful pictures) and effort, the product itself isn't there yet.

I got lost in a forest in chapter three and haven't gone back yet. I really don't like mazes very much at all.

Regards, Aberfoyle happydance

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#112841 - 03/28/02 07:00 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Instead of reevaluating their design decisions, they try to convince us by words that the game in its current state will appeal to lots of people with different interests if we just give it a chance.

The game in its current state *does* appeal to lots of people with different interests. That's the whole point. What we don't understand is why the pageviews/downloads number is so far out of proportion with the registration numbers, especially considering that LadyStar is about $5 more expensive than a steak dinner.

It's funny that you mention "give it a chance." So far, we have published three episodes, one of which most people haven't even played through yet. We still have 10+ characters to introduce, and we're perhaps 1% of the way into an 800 page story. If you're looking for "Instant Gee-Whiz," LadyStar will be a disappointment.

It is no different than investing in mutual funds. There can't be a really great payoff if there is no investment. Great things might be happening on page 700, but people who read the first four paragraphs and go "eh, boring" will miss out. The greatness of page 700 absolutely depends on the foundation built by page one.

Sound for example, someone said that the lack of sound is disturbing, you should take this point seriously! Not just turn the argument down by saying that sound would make the files too big. You made the design decision to exclude sound, well that may be the wrong choice.

It may be, and I think we should be allowed to be less than perfect. We didn't just reject the argument by saying the files would be too big, although that is a major consideration, given the dozens of people who have slow dial-up connections. We also have to consider that the sound might work on one platform, but not on another. (This is very likely, given the fact that what works on Windows is usually broken everywhere else).

But the larger point is that we do not want to overreach. We could spend weeks producing a mediocre soundtrack, (or worse, a bad soundtrack) and please those people who want sound, but displease numerous others who expect a soundtrack to be of a certain quality. Better that it be excluded than be sub-standard quality.

I suppose we could offer a super-glitz multimedia extravaganza with 50MB episode downloads and a $59.95 price tag, but that's not going to make anyone happy, and I'm not all that sure it will make the game better. It will take our attention away from our strengths: characters, story, setting, graphics.

Like all design decisions, there is a tradeoff. We made our choice, and that means that people who support the other viewpoint will be disappointed. That doesn't mean they have to give up on the game completely, though.

If sound is ever included, it will be in the form of an FMV, which solves the technical problems and also limits the risk of producing a poor product.

I don't think it's possible to please everyone with one game, instead you run quite a big risk to displease everyone.

So you can't please everyone, but you *can* displease everyone?

Just pleading for people to like the game and pay for it doesn't make it more attractive.

I don't think we're "pleading" for people to like the game. Given our download numbers, and our guestbook comments, and e-mail, etc., I'd say we have answered the question of whether or not people like the game.

if you want to make the game interesting for us, listen to our opinions

Hey, we're here, and myself and the rest of the team are listening, and we're discussing what we hear all the time. I think we're doing at least an above average job compared to other developers.

But it is unfair to ask a game company, after having invested years of work, to go back and re-develop their game, re-write their characters, re-engineer their platform, and so forth, because players might prefer if this feature or that feature were included. Maybe we can improve those things in a sequel, or an add-on, but we can't go back and rip out the foundation of the entire project at this point.

Many of the comments are about the fact that Jessica and the other characters are just kids, and not adults. I suppose we could dye Jessica's hair black, give her a lot of black eyeshadow, age her 15 years and have her walk around being angsty and sour and depressed all the time, but pop culture has produced far too many of those characters already.

Jessica is who she is for a reason. I think there's room in the world for a cheerful, slightly silly adolescent female, and I don't think she is any less a potential hero than any of the other characters in adventure games. Plus, Jessica gives LadyStar its personality.

We do appreciate all of the comments we receive, and please don't assume that because I personally may not agree with them, that they are any less valuable to us. We know that adventure game fans want good products, and we're working as hard as we can to provide them. We may not be 100% perfect, but we'll at least always be improving.

Thanks again. 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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#112842 - 03/28/02 07:08 PM Re: It has to be said
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
You guys may be slow in developing your story, but, I hope that you guys have come up with something good for the later volumes. <img border="0" alt="[winky]" title="" src="graemlins/winky.gif" />
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#112843 - 03/28/02 07:12 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
a problem with LadyStar because Internet Explorer version 6 (IE6) was not behaving as did earlier versions of IE.

Which has since been fixed

(Thanks, M$. We appreciated that.)

Somewhere in postings from LadyStar, I read that there might come a time when players would be required to use the Mozilla browser because it has never had a problem.

If we have another unplanned "breakage" in IE, this is very likely. The total refit to over 300 files that was required after IE6 broke compatibility with Gecko represents the upper limit on time that we can devote out of our production schedule to broken products.

This didn't seem to me to be a solution that made any sense. As a developer myself, I have to make the program do what is necessary to serve the customer.

There is no disservice to the customer to ask them to use a particular program to view a particular kind of information.

I am not in a position to make them change their ways to handle a problem I might have because of Microsoft.

This is why Microsoft is able to break their browser with each release. It becomes the reponsbility of every other software development company to invest time and money fixing Microsoft bugs, because their customers do not demand that Microsoft reliably support published, industry-wide standards.

We can improve the quality of LadyStar by 50% overnight if we chose to only support Mozilla. We made the decision, however, to also support IE, and we are continuing to do so, to a point.

I got lost in a forest in chapter three and haven't gone back yet. I really don't like mazes very much at all.

We'll be putting the Hint-O-Matic on-line in a few days (and announcing it here) if you want to bypass the forest puzzle.

Thanks for the 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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#112844 - 03/28/02 07:18 PM Re: It has to be said
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
One tiny little question, Scott? Who is M$? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Confused]" src="confused.gif" />
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#112845 - 03/28/02 07:23 PM Re: It has to be said
heavycat Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 184
Who is M$?

That would be Micro$oft.

laugh
_________________________
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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#112846 - 03/28/02 07:26 PM Re: It has to be said
Skinter Offline
Shy Boomer

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 4161
Loc: Herndon, VA
Scott,

Do you think you could check out my question over on the Hints page labelled as Ladystar? Thanks!
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#112847 - 03/28/02 09:58 PM Re: It has to be said
Anonymous
Unregistered


I reread your first post and it seems you are saying if we (adventure game player)dont buy every adventure game out there, you and others with stop making them. Does that mean if I dont download and pay for your game you will stop making it? No I dont think so.If I want to buy a game I read the box and see what it is about. If I like what I read I buy it. If I am not quite sure if I want it I go online and find a review for it. But it is my choice.If I buy a real stinker of a game I would hesitate about buying another one from that company. But still its my choice.
I respect everyones opinion on this board and every one is quite unique with their opinions. They should be heard.
And anyway I still dont know if this game is just a slide show or is there movement in the game? And if there is no sound how do the characters talk? Or do you have to read it?(Wish I still had my old commador64)

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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: 7399
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: 34860
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: 7399
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: 1215
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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#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: 34860
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: 34860
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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