Using comments from various users I knew some of the things that worked and didn’t work.
Things that worked:
- Make sure it’s easy to start but gets more difficult.
- Keep it simple silly! (KISS)
- Make game play obvious… We don’t need no stinkin’ manual!
- XAML for menus and information, XNA for game play.
- Missing competition through on-line leaderboards.
- Don’t make the trial too complete or nobody will “buy” your game; why should they?
- Make sure it’s easy to play another round. (Play again button strategically placed)
Oops, I had more stuff to learn!Well, I got the game done and released. I was pleasantly surprised that it got quite a few downloads. However, most of those downloads were “trial” only downloads. Microsoft suggests that a good trial will produce about 10% buy-through. It wasn’t getting anywhere near that number. In this business you are constantly learning and moving forward or you are running backwards. I looked at the game and decided a couple of things:
- The game play was pretty good, fun and addicting and didn’t really need to change
- I had swung too far the other way with the trial and it was missing one of the greatest features (on-line play)
- Above stated on-line play was inadequate to fuel the fires of competitiveness, it needed serious tweaking.
So we did some research and we created a whole new design. Learning from other games in the marketplace (there is that learning thing again) we changed the App to “register” the player the first time they opened the app. This would send the anonymous user id (every WP7 user has one tied to their Live Id) to us along with a user entered screen name. Thereafter, the player wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. Every time they finished a round, the score gets submitted by default (we let them turn it off if they really want, but Don’t Please!!!).
Next, to fuel competition, we gave the player a summary at the end of their game indicating how they did in our leaderboard (We cleverly called it the Orbital Guardians Honor Roll, or OGHR, pronounced ogre, Leaderboard, neat eh?). We show them how they did overall. We show them how they have done against players in the last 24 hours and we show them how they did against their own previous scores. I gotta say, this made the game way more fun.
Competition was taken care of!
Tip: Do anything you can to fuel competition. It’s what keeps people coming back for more!
Bonus Tip: Check out what others have done, there are some great ideas out there!
Mango, Metro and Rockin’ and Rollin’Lastly, at the same time we were contemplating changes to Space Junk! I attended a Windows 8 Development Camp. The mantra was “Metro styling” and cool Live Tiles. Wait a minute, “Space Junk!” didn’t have a live tile…
When I got back to the office I gave the UI a facelift and changed game play buttons to tiles. The Houbenator wrote a bunch of web services for our leaderboard AND we modified the game to register a push URI (the unique address that let’s Microsoft’s Push servers do their thing) during registration and now we push your current standing in the OGHR Board to your live tile. So if you have “Space Junk!” make sure you pin that baby to the home screen!
So to review what we did:
- We added a Live Tile.
- We added 3 new leaderboards (Global Infinite, Global Daily, My Infinite, and My Daily) to show the player exactly where they stood.
- We Mango’d the interface… (hmmm, sounds close to mangled, but we didn’t, really)
- We gave the player an instant summary of their results.
- We let the trial folks submit scores
Tip: Live Tiles are Hot!