Google Adwords – what a joke it is!

20 04 2011

I am shocked. Really. Seriously. Few weeks ago I created an ad in AdWords for our newest game – Avalon Legends Solitaire. Of course it had to be approved, which already ruined whole thing. It takes weeks to approve adds and makes the whole thing of tweaking your ad impossible, unless you wish to spend ages on it.

Today I received email from Google that my ads are disapproved. The reason:

Gabling Certificate Required

What? What the hell? Do I look like casino? Here’s my ad:

Avalon Legends Solitaire
Restore the Deck of Nature and save
Avalon. 200 hands. Free trial.

I guess that’s the last time I use Adwords, unless until they seriously improve their service. Too bad, as working with adwords was a good way of improving your ad copy before going “world wide”.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Bejeweled 3, FarmScapes and Cradle of Rome 2

8 12 2010

When we finished working on Dress-Up Pups I didn’t expect to get in competition with such strong match-3 franchises. Within one week you could try 4 high quality match-3 games: our Dress-Up Pups, Cradle of Rome 2, Bejeweled 3 and FarmScapes. Though we have to compete with strong franchises it doesn’t mean we don’t stand a chance*.

Cradle of Rome 2 is a big disappointment for me. Maybe I would enjoy it more if I haven’t played Cradle of Rome 1, but I have, and CoR 2 was nothing new to me. Also, matching mechanic seemed aged.

Bejeweled 3 looks pretty nice and has few new twists. I enjoyed it much more than CoR 2. I also noticed all the hard work PopCap put into promoting B3, giving out netbooks for best photo of your jewels is one example of that. Because of that it was funny to see that PopCap was late to deliver B3 download on their own site. GameHouse and iWin (maybe other sites too) offered the game on Dec 7th, but PopCap was late for some reason and delivered download links a day later.

Playrix launched their newest match-3, Farmscapes, exclusively on their own site. Initially I was disappointed that I had to go through another “I want to be a HOG but I am match-3″ scene, but luckily it was short and part after that was a bit more of point and click adventure than HOG. Still, it was surprise that I had to wait so long to play regular match-3 mechanic, but overall I liked the game, probably the most out of 3 mentioned titles.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

This is why portals sell more than you do!

11 10 2010

2008 wasn’t a good year. This was the year of recession. The year of price drop to $6.99 on portals. The year when portals started war for and against exclusives.

GabCab GabCab ski lift GabCab awards

A lot of things happened I couldn’t keep up. In the middle of 2008 I started development of GabCab with Reflexive and Russell Carroll. This game took a lot of my time and I said to myself that I will focus on it and don’t blog or improve my website until it’s done. I’ve learned a lot during development of GabCab and I don’t regret it, but meanwhile, while world moved forward, my site moved backward. Now, once GabCab is done, I have a time to think about what happened and you can read few of my thoughts below.

There are few things that make portals preferred source for games instead of developers site. Let’s call them Unique Selling Points (USP) and let’s take a look at Big Fish Games (biggest portal at the moment).

* A New Game Every Day –  365+ a year. Yes, BFG releases more than a game a day, sometimes even 3 games a day. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Soccer Cup Solitaire post mortem

29 09 2010

Creating games is not easy and it’s always great to read some afterthoughts. I thought that I’ll share our experience with development of Soccer Cup Solitaire.

Soccer Cup SolitaireLet me say few words about the game. Soccer Cup Solitaire is a card game with soccer theme. Some say it’s not solitaire, because you just match similar cards like two Jacks or two 8’s. The mechanics are similar to Heartwild Solitaire and some bonus features are inspired by Fairway Solitaire (thanks to Orchid Games and Big Fish Games for creating those two great games).

We knew Soccer Cup Solitaire won’t be a top seller game, but we wanted to develop it anyway, to take a break from GabCab development. GabCab has been in development for second year and we had iddle moments from time to time that we wanted to spend creatively.

What went right:

  • short development time – the game from start to finish took 4 months – it could be shorter, but we haven’t been pleased with the art assets from the first art team.
  • smooth integration of soccer theme into solitaire game.
  • great music – it was a tough decision – we knew that the theme will probably kill interest of female audience, so we at least wanted to please male audience as much as possible. Rock songs from Saint of Silence did awesome job when it comes to adding tension to the game.
  • not wasting time on prototyping and place holder art – we had natural deadline (World Cup 2010) so we decided that there’s no time to prototype things. We also had top priority project in development (GabCab), so we decided that we will work on SCS only when we get final art. It shortened development time very much.
  • constant passion for the project – working with final art during short period of time kept motivation and efficiency of development on very high levels.
  • we signed deals with new portals – Alawar and GameHouse. RealArcade was very picky about games they launch and I thought that after the merge with GameHouse it will be the same at GameHouse, so I was pleased that the game was accepted for distribution.
  • development of SCS prevented possible burnout for GabCab.
  • SCS has great CR (but that’s probably because of low download ratio)

What went wrong:

  • not enough time to play test the game – Sport events and Holidays are strict deadlines, if you release the game after them you lose a lot of possible interest in your game.
  • we missed the deadline by few days, but at least World Cup lasts 30 days, not one day like xmas or Halloween.
  • we had to cut some nice features to be able to release “on time”.
  • not enough downloads, which leads to…
  • though it wasn’t expected to be a top seller, it sells below expectations.

Overall I was happy with the project. It proved to us (again) that short development times are necessary to keep high motivation and passion for the project and that switching between projects increases development efficiency while “delaying” release of each project just a bit.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...