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Game was a complete commercial failure (Operation Overhaul)

03-06-2012, 08:08 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 192
Game was a complete commercial failure (Operation Overhaul)

Several months back I released a game called Alpha Swarm that received excellent reviews, but was a commercial failure in just about every sense. However, I'm not ready to give up on it, so I've recently started a blog to chronicle its rebuilding; and hopefully get some user input on how to improve it.

Without getting too in depth, it will chronicle changes to just about every aspect of the game, from a chunky HUD to flawed gameplay mechanics.

Just thought it might be an interesting read, and I'd love some input!

The blog post.

Get Alpha Swarm in the app store!
03-06-2012, 11:29 PM
#2
One thing I would suggest before you do any improvements is to create an update in which you can instrument what happens when people play your game and reports back to you (you will need a server and some back end web scripting skills - AWS provides a server node free for a year to new accounts).

You will learn more from this than anything else and it is the cheapest way to understand usage of your app. Have a model of of how ideally users should play your game to enjoy the app to the maximum and then instrument to verify that is what happens.

For example, are they taking too long in some parts? Are they giving up too soon? Are they not getting enough positive feedback? Engaging game playing is about creating a constant stream of tension (anxiety to win points, game, level, etc) with relaxation from gratification when they succeed. The better you can balance this, more the addictive aspect of the game that keeps the user engaged. Instrumentation will tell you what happens and whether your assumptions of the experience is correct.

Based on that you can redo your app with features, rewards, challenges, etc.

You should also focus equally on the marketing of the app because it can still be a commercial failure even with the best design. The price, timing of the release, timing of reviews on online sites, press release, etc., can all be done cheaply and sometimes can give you better returns on your effort than coding more features (unfortunately, the latter is what most code geeks focus on).

Good luck.

03-06-2012, 11:34 PM
#3
Freebies section

You should have posted ALPHA SWARM was free in the freebies section :P, i did it anyways for u LOL yw
03-07-2012, 12:27 AM
#4
Ok, so I played your game... Its pretty fun, your screenshots and graphics pretty much made me think of a tactical shooter or something like rocket riot.. Even though it ended up to be a puzzle game with some quirks its pretty fun

FIRST, gameplay: pretty fun and stuff.... but really repetitive, maybe add more modes? survival or a campeign kind of story? I saw the beginnings of a story bout the alien invasion and stuff... maybe you could make a story about it, that actually has something to do with what you're doing in game.

SECOND: i like the graphics but thats just my opinion, also like the quotes and cool things it says when you die or win. Also the achievemnts to unlock characters are kind of ... HIGH?

THIRD: TUTORIAL? First time i played i was utterly confused on how to play.. no tutorial? i thought it was a move and stuff so kept moving to the right but i kept losing... FINALLY FIGURED OUT D:, TUTORIAL PLEASE

FOURTH: unlockables for your character? example: perks, or cool weapons, or "game breakers" (IAP weapons) <<----- but that would be just unfair would it? Yah but stuff like that , and maybe costumes that you can customize? Like combos of hats and jackets/bodes and weapons(these arent used in the real gameplay)..... Then you can show off costumes? Like post pics?

FIFTH: GREAT GAME I LOVE IT... except for some stuff... all in all its pretty great gameplay ..... for a puzzle. well the genre of puzzle and shooter is what I think youre going for, if you are its pretty fun looks and feels like worms with an only one character control..

All of these things are my OPINION, so don't take them to face please also some of them are just suggestions.... If you do all of them, in my opinion that would be great :P you should put up a THREAD for SUGGESTIONS on your game



SIXTH: ADVERTISING, you can send your app to reviewing sites like toucharcade or pocketgamer. these guys will really advertise your app by just reviewing it. Since most games reviewed are like super BEAST apps like superbrother or battleheart BUTTTT you have to show them that your game is good and reasons as to why they should review your game.. For example, A NEW GENRE OF PUZZLE AND SHOOTER COMBINED :O...

well this is all my opinion, have fun and good luck revisioning and polishing up your game.
03-07-2012, 12:29 AM
#5
Interesting read. Just wondering: What kept you from fixing the flaws you pointed out as ones you knew about before release? What kept you from fixing them after the release?

Firewall, my rule-changing turn-based strategy game, is out, get it now!
03-07-2012, 04:03 AM
#6
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 141
Fixing up stuff

Okay I'm gonna read your blog this is just general advice...

- If you think you discovered *obvious* flaws then fixing them is the first step imho, even before profiling app usage (profiling app usage is good, not putting that in question)
- A simple feedback button (opens mail app) in your app can ease communication with users. Works for us.
- Beware of spending too much time following user feedback to the letter. Navigation was often criticized on my first game and I took a head on approach to the problem, easily spending 3 months on navigational helps etc... and I think it will pay in the medium term BUT reflectively after looking at other games I kinda think I overdid it (improvements not shipped yet as they are linked to a not-complete-yet major update).

Now, if you don't think your game has serious flaws and you can honestly say you are proud of it, then consider changing / researching a better name, app icon, price point? Aside from appeal consider whether the name / icon will attract users that, after seeing screenies and your app description, will consider purchasing your game.

Creator of Antistar: Rising (3D adventure) and Darwin's nightmare (vertical shooter)
Working on: Game Degree Zero, Project Spectral and The Belated Antistar Sequel.
03-07-2012, 05:41 PM
#7
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by TouchDeveloper View Post
One thing I would suggest before you do any improvements is to create an update in which you can instrument what happens when people play your game and reports back to you (you will need a server and some back end web scripting skills - AWS provides a server node free for a year to new accounts).

You will learn more from this than anything else and it is the cheapest way to understand usage of your app. Have a model of of how ideally users should play your game to enjoy the app to the maximum and then instrument to verify that is what happens.

For example, are they taking too long in some parts? Are they giving up too soon? Are they not getting enough positive feedback? Engaging game playing is about creating a constant stream of tension (anxiety to win points, game, level, etc) with relaxation from gratification when they succeed. The better you can balance this, more the addictive aspect of the game that keeps the user engaged. Instrumentation will tell you what happens and whether your assumptions of the experience is correct.

Based on that you can redo your app with features, rewards, challenges, etc.

You should also focus equally on the marketing of the app because it can still be a commercial failure even with the best design. The price, timing of the release, timing of reviews on online sites, press release, etc., can all be done cheaply and sometimes can give you better returns on your effort than coding more features (unfortunately, the latter is what most code geeks focus on).

Good luck.
You are very right about marketing being equally important as the game itself. I absolutely love the design process and seeing an app come to fruition, but marketing just feels tedious in comparison. I realize it's a necessary evil, so I'm getting better in that regard.

Adding in player diagnostics is a very interesting idea, but unfortunately this game was made with a third party program that wouldn't support such features. Alpha Swarm will be my last game using that software, though, so I'll definitely look to go that route in the near future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by knighthalo123 View Post
You should have posted ALPHA SWARM was free in the freebies section :P, i did it anyways for u LOL yw
Thanks a lot!

Quote:
Originally Posted by knighthalo123 View Post
Ok, so I played your game... Its pretty fun, your screenshots and graphics pretty much made me think of a tactical shooter or something like rocket riot.. Even though it ended up to be a puzzle game with some quirks its pretty fun

FIRST, gameplay: pretty fun and stuff.... but really repetitive, maybe add more modes? survival or a campeign kind of story? I saw the beginnings of a story bout the alien invasion and stuff... maybe you could make a story about it, that actually has something to do with what you're doing in game.

SECOND: i like the graphics but thats just my opinion, also like the quotes and cool things it says when you die or win. Also the achievemnts to unlock characters are kind of ... HIGH?

THIRD: TUTORIAL? First time i played i was utterly confused on how to play.. no tutorial? i thought it was a move and stuff so kept moving to the right but i kept losing... FINALLY FIGURED OUT D:, TUTORIAL PLEASE

FOURTH: unlockables for your character? example: perks, or cool weapons, or "game breakers" (IAP weapons) <<----- but that would be just unfair would it? Yah but stuff like that , and maybe costumes that you can customize? Like combos of hats and jackets/bodes and weapons(these arent used in the real gameplay)..... Then you can show off costumes? Like post pics?

FIFTH: GREAT GAME I LOVE IT... except for some stuff... all in all its pretty great gameplay ..... for a puzzle. well the genre of puzzle and shooter is what I think youre going for, if you are its pretty fun looks and feels like worms with an only one character control..

All of these things are my OPINION, so don't take them to face please also some of them are just suggestions.... If you do all of them, in my opinion that would be great :P you should put up a THREAD for SUGGESTIONS on your game



SIXTH: ADVERTISING, you can send your app to reviewing sites like toucharcade or pocketgamer. these guys will really advertise your app by just reviewing it. Since most games reviewed are like super BEAST apps like superbrother or battleheart BUTTTT you have to show them that your game is good and reasons as to why they should review your game.. For example, A NEW GENRE OF PUZZLE AND SHOOTER COMBINED :O...

well this is all my opinion, have fun and good luck revisioning and polishing up your game.
Thanks a lot for the detailed review! I certainly need to make an interactive tutorial that doesn't feel so... tutorially. People usually skip right over them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviadbd View Post
Interesting read. Just wondering: What kept you from fixing the flaws you pointed out as ones you knew about before release? What kept you from fixing them after the release?
I actually didn't see them as shortcomings prior to release. It took talking to a lot of people and taking a step back from the game for a little bit. Improvements have been made since the release, though they've been rather small.

The main thing holding me back from releasing more updates is school, though. Working on a BS in computer science at the moment, and it (unfortunately) is my main priority.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tea View Post
Okay I'm gonna read your blog this is just general advice...

- If you think you discovered *obvious* flaws then fixing them is the first step imho, even before profiling app usage (profiling app usage is good, not putting that in question)
- A simple feedback button (opens mail app) in your app can ease communication with users. Works for us.
- Beware of spending too much time following user feedback to the letter. Navigation was often criticized on my first game and I took a head on approach to the problem, easily spending 3 months on navigational helps etc... and I think it will pay in the medium term BUT reflectively after looking at other games I kinda think I overdid it (improvements not shipped yet as they are linked to a not-complete-yet major update).

Now, if you don't think your game has serious flaws and you can honestly say you are proud of it, then consider changing / researching a better name, app icon, price point? Aside from appeal consider whether the name / icon will attract users that, after seeing screenies and your app description, will consider purchasing your game.
Thanks, this is some excellent advice. Adding a mail button seems so obvious I don't know why I didn't do it earlier. I've heard that the icon is hurting my app so a lot more work will go into that this time around. Also, it's right above the 20 meg limit which I need to remedy, as well.

Get Alpha Swarm in the app store!
03-08-2012, 08:10 PM
#8
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 192
Second blog post is up! Downloads far exceeded my expectations, so thanks a lot guys.

Get Alpha Swarm in the app store!
03-09-2012, 01:40 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eastbound View Post
Second blog post is up! Downloads far exceeded my expectations, so thanks a lot guys.
Did you post to the freebie sites yourself or they picked it up from here or some other forum?

Firewall, my rule-changing turn-based strategy game, is out, get it now!
03-10-2012, 05:34 PM
#10
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by aviadbd View Post
Did you post to the freebie sites yourself or they picked it up from here or some other forum?
They must have picked it up from either here, my twitter feed, or by picking up on it from the price drop.

I was glad to see them mention it, though, as that greatly boosted downloads.

Get Alpha Swarm in the app store!