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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: 574
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
GB Special Events Reporter
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 2431
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.
_________________________
Used to answer to "Peter Smith", now answers to "Peter Rootham-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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