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What's wrong with Hanto?

08-20-2009, 10:14 AM
#1
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 46
What's wrong with Hanto?

Hi guys, I am the developer of Hanto.



I have been wondering for a long time what is wrong with it, why is it that so few know about it and download it, and I guess this is the right place to ask these questions since most of you are active hardcore gamers.

I'll try to attack the problem from different parts.

First: the audience.

Audience for abstract strategy games is not the iPhone mainstream, I get that, so I know Hanto will never reach #1 App like Sims 3, The Moron Test, Stick Wars, Peggle, iFart or StoneLoops of Jurassica (I mixed apps I like and dislike on purpose here, I am not saying the average buyer is a moron, just not a strategy gamer).

Anyway, there are lots of chess implementations, there is public for Catan or Carcassonne kind of games, there is certainly public for Risk, checkers, etc. So, what is the problem here? Is it that Hanto is too hard to learn? Too abstract? Or just too unknown?

Second: the quality.

I dare anyone challenge Hanto on this ground. I am not an artist, just a programmer and a hobbyist, but I believe I am quite a quality maniac and have put into this game the best of my efforts. Graphics are polished, controls are intuitive and the music is superb! (the last part is of course only Kevin MacLeod's merit).

About the AI: it has been severely optimized during time, so I believe it is reasonably fast (and challenging). Know that the game IS difficult from the gaming theory's perspective: lots of movement possibilities for the opponent in reaction to each of my moves (much more than Chess, not as much as Go). And, on top of everything, you are running the game on a cell phone. Fancy, nice, polished, but it is a phone.

Third: the replay value

I've seen the expression "three-day app" in this forum referring to apps you buy, use a couple of times and toss away. Well, Hanto has 4 levels of AI, 8 different pre-configured Rule Sets (meaning you can play 8 different variants of the game) and the ability to configure (let me do the math here) 1.64E24 permutations of configurations, but since many of them are the same (indulge me of calculating the combinations), there are less variants (all playable). Let's say that only 1E10 make sense, nay, even less. Let's say that 1E6 make sense. That is a million rule sets.

You could play every time you use Hanto a different game, with different rules, and you would NEVER run out variants. That is some interesting replay value.

Fourth: price and entry level

Hanto has been at 0.99 for a long time. There is even a free version to try the game.

That is as low as it gets.

Fifth: lack of features

Well, apps can always be improved. This thread is partly because of that. Because there are things I know I can improve and there are things I don't know and I'd like you to tell me about them. I am just wondering if it is worth the effort working further on Hanto and if any of these features will really make any difference.

I believe Hanto is not lacking features. It has a lot of them, actually. More than the average app has.

But on the top of my head, I know playing multiplayer games online instead of the current face-to-face mode would be nice. A tutorial would also be nice. I have been suggested some new movements and rules that would also be nice. More out-of-the-box rule sets would also be nice.

The question is this: is Hanto failing to be known and downloaded because of any of those reasons?

Sixth: marketing

I am a hobbyist (yeah, big revelation here: Warima is just a fantasy name, I am all alone and have another full time job). I don't have resources to promote the app, further than a few insignificant bucks in AdWords trying to target a few gaming sites. I didn't get any attention from the big review sites even when I tried to contact them all. Tough luck.

Is that what this is all about? I understand that EA games are on the top not only for their quality (well, some, I think the Monopoly implementation is a piece of s**t) but also for their huge marketing pockets. Can't compete with that. But how about other small games that seem to go better? Other small indie apps that stiff their necks out of the water. Was it just luck? Getting noticed by Apple? What was it?

Seventh (and most delicate): Hive, Hanto and the legal/ethical discussion

I am not unaware of this topic (and this is the first time I will address it publicly). Hanto appeared as a clone of the mechanics of Hive. The reasons why I thought it was a good idea are not relevant now.

The fact that I removed and changed Hanto on a purely ethical basis (and not legal basis as some presume) should be important. When John Yianni expressed his complaints I explained that legally no copyright law was violated, and offered him to give him a cut and making Hanto the official iPhone version of Hive. He was personally offended (not from my offer but from me using his mechanics without telling him, I do understand it, of course) and decided not to accept. Not being my intention to hurt him (as a matter of fact, I admire him), I pulled the application from the store and changed it. I didn't want to throw my work to the trash. So I invented new movement rules and changed Hanto to shape it like it is today: a different board game.

I know some people at the gaming community resented me in the first place. Perhaps some are angry still now. I wasn't thinking clearly when I released Hanto for the first time (I was just thinking legally, and though that John was aware of those legal facts and he wouldn't mind). I was wrong (morally). I made a mistake. I admitted it and rectified my mistake (ain't that the reason why we make mistakes?)

Is that a reason to keep hating me and the great game Hanto is? Is that why the gaming community has turned its back on Hanto and will not give it a chance? Perhaps, I don't know. I believe it should be judged from what it is today, not what it was.

Anyway, I refuse to think this is the only reason behind this. John Yianni has sold like 70k copies of Hive worldwide. There are like 20 million iPhone users (that is mainly one of the reasons, silly me, I thought John would be happy to get a new way of making his game known to the world). So most of the iPhone users are unaware of all this legal / ethical / hurt prides discussion.


So, I ask again: guys, what is wrong with Hanto?

Maybe you have the answer.
08-20-2009, 10:23 AM
#2
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,918
I don't have the answers for you, but I purchased the game some time back, before the modifications. The game was well made, IMO. I liked it. However, it didn't really "grab me" per se, and after playing a few games it fell by the way side. Honestly, the mechanics are a bit fussy for my personal tastes (i.e. all the different movement types don't appeal to me).

08-20-2009, 10:23 AM
#3
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Flour Bluff
Posts: 1,738
Well, I havent ever heard of it, and from the pictues, I can tell you that I dont know how to play it.

So, I will say the problem is marketing. I dont know why the review sites didnt response to you, but they should have.

If you promote your game here, then people from other review sites should take notice and add it to their site. (hopefully)

It must be that it just hasnt been noticed yet, but I could be wrong.
08-20-2009, 10:24 AM
#4
Joined: May 2009
Location: at my computer?
Posts: 505
I honestly think it's because nobody knows what it is? I have no clue what it is? and I also don't know what Hive is either. I have heard a lot of good stuff about it, but I never "jumped off the fence" because I don't know anything about it.

I have no money right now but I might try it once I get some. I don't really know what you could do to increase sales either... It's kind of hard with a game like this. You have to get people to read more about it, because it does sound like a fun game. It's just the problem of with the current name, you have no clue what kind of game it is. That makes most people pass over it instantly.

Games I'm Playing: Doom Classic, Red Conquest!, Battle for Wesnoth, Land Air Sea Warfare (my favorite rts, buy it today!)
08-20-2009, 10:24 AM
#5
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 1,612
Personally, I absolutely love Hanto -it's one of the few games that I forsee havig a permanent place on my phone.

Situations like yours happen much to often in the app store (mainly due to the way the store is set up) - With tons of games being released daily, a lot of times games slip through the cracks of the viewers eyesight and go unnoticed. A rare few will work their way up the charts and be noticed that way - Most of the other "chart-topers" either come from big-name companies or are titles that have a lot of hype surrounding them.

I wish I could give you a concrete answer as to why you're game has not taken off, as I stated before, I love the game - If more people would try out the lite version, I think the game would would do well- Unfortunately, I can't come up with a good solution as to how to get the word out more (paid advertisements, perhaps?)

Anyways, good luck with the game and I hope things change for you soon

Playing: FIFA 12 Monster Island Quarrel Deluxe FIFA Superstars Fix-It-Up
Waiting For: Trenches 2, Ultra Kid, Car Jack Streets 2, Star Command
Plus+, Game Center, Open Feint, Crystal, Gameloft Live: jecebn
08-20-2009, 10:33 AM
#6
Sorry to see that you had to change the game just because someone thinks they own every variation that will ever be released. It seems like it did end up going in your favor though, because your changes make the game sound more interesting. I don't think customers really care about copyright infringement though. Look at the game "I Dig It". It is an exact clone of "Motherload" (XGen games' flash game), just with a different background.

Anyway, I think your problem is marketing. I have never heard of the game, and it looks really interesting to me. In fact, before I even read the text of your post, I saw the pics, and immediately went to download the lite version. So long as you can get a bit more publicity, you might get a lot more sales.

I recommend posting a thread about it here, on AppVee's forums, and in SlidetoPlay's forums.

You are absolutely right about the graphics. It looks very polished and professional. That was the main thing that got me to download it. My internet connection is really slow though, so it may take a bit for me to actually be able to play it.

Galaxy Note 5, iPad Air 1

Last edited by Yagami_Light; 08-20-2009 at 10:35 AM.
08-20-2009, 10:34 AM
#7
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
For me the problem is the colours. Glaring reds and blues don't go with the theme or the background. That blue from the dragonflies(?) wing would fit, and possibly a colour other than red.

  /l、
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08-20-2009, 10:42 AM
#8
Hi there,

I too am a developer and it's a little sad to hear you have not had some success with your app. I'm going to give you a detailed summary of our experiences with the app store and maybe you can use some of this info with your app. We have had decent success with Sphaira but no where near the level of other apps on the marketplace (its just me and another guy working on Sphaira). Our app has infinite replayability with a computer level generator making near infinite number of levels to play with but hardly anyone really talks about that as a major selling point. We got listed on Apples Staff Favorities in the itunes store and that helped some get the word out about our app. A really great site that helped us promote our app was slidetoplay.com; Tim there was one of the first to contact me and tell me how great the app was and did a review of it on their site.

I believe the majority or iphone users care more for the uniqueness of the app and it's instant gratification factor more than they care about quality/replayability. Our app I feel has alot of polish (especially recently due to the feedback from the great guys on this forum, Apple still needs to pubish our new updated version); but our app is not making that much money to where this could be a full time job. Asking for user feedback is very important; in fact I wish I had done that during the initial development of the game. What we have now is a much better product than what we initially published - this is because it had a ton of feedback from users on this forum. If you limit your game design to yourself or to the small team working on the game you don't have enough ideas to tell you what works and what doesnt. Also its important to get feedback early; I had to rewrite alot of my code to get it in line with what people were wanting; if I initially prototyped and pitched the idea here on these forums (someone would obviously copy the idea but that will happen anyway) then I think the game would have developed much faster and better from the start. A first impression is always the one you want to put out. Also since this was my first game (or any app I ever wrote in objective-c) I had some limitations on what I knew how to do; theres going to be some limits on what you can/cannot do and you should share that with people giving you feedback - see if the idea they were offering you is a 'deal breaker' or not and try to find ways to implement those changes if they are really something the people want.


In fact what I've learned from this experience is to cut out infinite replayability for our future apps as it saves alot of time in development, and focus more on a unique play mechanic/idea even if that app is only used a handful of times - while many people may come on the forums here and argue that is not the right approach the fact from what I see on the top 10 is those are the APPS THAT SELL - so thats what the market wants - also since every app is 99 cents you have to expect a mobile game not a console level game; it costs us devs alot of time and money to write these apps too and pay for graphics, music. Having a quality polished app is important for sure; I'm not arguing to put out a fast thrown together garbage app - rather put out something you feel is really good without worrying about replayability/longevity. Some ideas for games that are really unique may be games that can become rather popular but have limited enjoyment factor.

Advertising obviously is important, come on these forums and others and offer promo codes. Try to take a little money and advertise on some of these app sites - most of them only take a few hundred dollars to put an image banner in rotation on their websites. You have to take some risk to get some benefit; some things will work some wont but without trying you will never know. It's hard also because the huge corporations now on the app store have much more $ to throw around and make us tiny devs disappear.

I think it may be a good idea to pool together as indie devs and try to come up with a way to promote each other apps. It's too hard as indies to have enough $ to try to advertise our products on our own. Private message me and maybe we can work together on something to help each other out.

I don't think your game being similar to another is going to kill your app completely; some people will resent it others may not, but the majority of users never even knew about any contraversy. Someone released an app very similar to ours recently - in fact it has the exact same game mechanic; and there was a thread where someone said that app was exactly like ours. I'm not going to get upset about it because it's nice to see others have a different take/mechanic and others are going to have the same ideas going on in their head independent of ever looking at someone elses game/idea - those things happen and it really just makes games better in the long run when people add their own changes. Look at the app store the majority of apps are copies of classics or copies of other top 10 apps - it happens and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

iPhone|iPod Touch Game: Sphaira - Marble Puzzle Game

Last edited by sphairagame; 08-20-2009 at 10:56 AM.
08-20-2009, 10:55 AM
#9
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: United States of America
Posts: 2,210
That's the problem right there. There is no way with all those rule sets to remember what a dove does from game to game. Like Yinsh or Dvonn or Quoridor they have some deep strategy but are so simple with the rules that they are quite popular. Simplicity is a huge selling point.

Original hive game has simplistic rules and once you memorize a grasshopper jumpes, beetle moves 1 space and can jump on top, ant moves unlimited spaces it's very simple. With all these variants it's so confusing only a super nerd would appreciate it. I still list the default Hive ruleset on my site and recommend those looking to play Hanto do that. BTW, you can play the java game for free as a guest and play against the Ai http://www.boardspace.net/english/index.shtml

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rula View Post
Well, Hanto has 4 levels of AI, 8 different pre-configured Rule Sets (meaning you can play 8 different variants of the game) and the ability to configure (let me do the math here) 1.64E24 permutations of configurations, but since many of them are the same (indulge me of calculating the combinations), there are less variants (all playable). Let's say that only 1E10 make sense, nay, even less. Let's say that 1E6 make sense. That is a million rule sets.

You could play every time you use Hanto a different game, with different rules, and you would NEVER run out variants. That is some interesting replay value.
08-20-2009, 11:04 AM
#10
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 768
People need to look at a screenshot and then "get" the game.
Well that's a good amount of people.

Made that a while ago for AquaGlobs .