Snaky Jake Progress

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by charliedog, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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    Snaky Jake has been our for a few months now and I thought this would be a good time to review progress. First the positives...

    The game is getting a very positive reception in the press. Game Tunnel reviewed it in their most recent issue and gave it a positive 73%. I took on board some early comments and made a few changes before submitting to Retro Gamer. They have reviewed the game in the new issue and given it a spectacular 95%. Which is very good :) I've got some more reviews lined up over the coming weeks. (incidentally if anyone reading this runs a site and would like to review the game please get in touch)

    The game appears to be very stable. I've had very few reports of crashes or other problems. This is good news because I'm hoping to use the same development environment (Popcap framework with the game code written in Python) for a number of games.

    The people who have bought it like it :) Which is a good thing I think!

    Traffic through my site is up. It's about 300% of what it was this time last month and continues to climb. Downloads are also going up

    I'm getting some really useful data from this experience which I hope to use to make my next project better.

    My site comes up on top in google when I search for the game by name(or it did this morning).

    Now the bad...

    Downloads from my site are down on what I expected. I am not sure why this is and wonder if any one can advise me?

    Only about 10% of the people who visit my site complete a download of the demo and about 5% of those convert to a sale. Does this seem like a reasonable percentage? The conversion rate seems low but reasonable to me but I'm surprised how few people bother to download the demo after going to the trouble of visiting my site. I guess some of them could be people who have bought the game elsewhere and are looking for more information but it seems unlikely that the bulk of visitors fall into that category.

    Maybe I just need to get more people to visit my site but I'd like to make sure that there isn't something obvious I should be doing in my site which might make it more likely that people will download the game.

    Any advise will be gratefully received. At the end of the day maybe people just don't like the game enough to buy it. I can understand that as it is quite unusual and not the standard PC fare, but I want to do everything I can to make sure it gets a fair chance.

    regards,

    Tony Oakden
    http://charliedoggames.com
     
  2. MiceHead

    Original Member

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    If you have some video you'd like us to share on an upcoming ep of Indie Superstar (www.indiesuperstar.com), feel free to send over a link (indie[at]dejobaan.com).

    This is good news because I'm hoping to use the same development environment (Popcap framework with the game code written in Python) for a number of games.

    That's interesting to me as a developer -- does the Popcap framework have Python bindings, or is that something you added? And if the game were about gems instead of snakes, would you have written it in Ruby?

    (Scratch that last one.)
     
  3. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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    Funny!

    Actually it's the other way round, Python came first then Jake. If I'd started in Ruby I doubt I would have finished the game :)

    Anyway in answer to your question, No. The Popcap framework doesn't come with Python bindings. A friend of mine, Jarrad Woods, added the support. I think Python and Popcap work very well as a development environment. It frees me from the constraints of hardware and memory management and allows me to focus on game play. My creative juices are able to flow virtually uninterrupted :)

    I'll definitely be in touch about the video. There is one up on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=snaky+jake&search=Search

    Can you grab it from there or do you need a file?

    regards,

    Tony Oakden

    http://charliedoggames.com
     
  4. woo

    woo
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    Do you have enough stat tracking to tell you, for example, how many people only ever hit your main page? I'm guessing not having a Download Now! button on the front page of your website is a bit confusing to some people. Edit: In fact, I'd drop the charlie dog rotating image thing and replace it with a download now/more info or something. If you want to make it animated to attract attention, that's okay too, just don't make it too annoying :)

    I also don't like your download free demo and buy now buttons. They are just a bit off putting. Really making a big deal of the 14.99 price might help as well (not just making the font bold). You could try saying something like "20% off Introductory Rate" or something as well to explain the price and motivate the users. I haven't downloaded but what kind of in-game nagging are you doing? There have been several discussions on these forums about how to improve conversion rates by improving the "advertisement" of the full version in-game.

    It may not be a big deal, but it may bump up those percentages a bit. Note: 5% conversion ain't bad.

    Out of curiosity - are you doing any other forms of advertisement besides getting reviews?
    -Andrew Douglas
    http://theoreticalgames.com
     
  5. woo

    woo
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    And while I'm ripping apart your site :) ...
    the whole first section of what is essentially "About Charlie Dog Games" should just be under About Us link (and the spelling corrected) if this is going to be the site where you do most of your selling - the first page should sell it.

    The link (and the typo's) for click here for more info under the Snaky Jake section isn't really going to get many clicks either. It has to draw attention and be immediately recognizable as something they can click on to download, to purchase or get more info. People shouldn't have to move their mouse all over the page looking for things that are clickable :)

    There was also a good discussion recently from GDC talking about having in-game references to free levels available online so that people who got the game from a portal would be motivated to look for your site to get more content (and therefore drive future direct sales).
    -Andrew
     
  6. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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    That's really great Woo thanks for the feedback. I'll edit the site tonight when I get in. I think you are right the front page needs to sell the game. I'll also add some news items linking to the reviews and displaying the scores whilst I am doing it. Conversion rate is going down a bit now as downloads go up and sales stay the same. I think there is quite a bit more I can do to improve matters.

    regards,

    Tony Oakden
    http://charliedoggames.com
     
  7. MrQ

    MrQ New Member

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    definatley put buy and download links on the front page there. The quicktime stuff annoys me a bit, I got a big 'update quicktime now' popup over the top of your site.
    I agree about the download and buy buttons, make them a bit nicer and maybe have an instructions page launch when you click download. Something for them to read and to reassure them that the game is legit. Might help some people from cancelling downloads.
     
  8. Escapee

    Original Member

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    I think the bigfish logo looks so much better than the front page logo
    http://www.bigfishgames.com/downloads/snakyjake/snakyjake_feature.jpg. I 'm not sure if you are allowed to use it because an attractive looking logo will surely attract more downloads . ( i'm more tempted to dl the game from BFG rather than your site )

    Yes put the download and buy button on the front page your should probably see the DL % increases. Good luck :D
     
    #8 Escapee, Apr 11, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007
  9. DrWilloughby

    Indie Author

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    A 5% conversion rate is stellar. At 10% DL rate is bad. It's always dependent upon the game of course, but I'd shoot for a DL rate from 20%-40%.

    Crits:
    • Way too much text for a game of this sort
    • no DL/Buy buttons on your home page
    • User is presented with text first rather than images, headlines, and call to action
    • Not immediately clear to user what type of game is is
    • No review text stating how great the game is

    Hope this helps
     
  10. zoombapup

    Moderator Original Member

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    Your front page should be a sales page. Stick the game on there. Make it a short text, lots of screenshots. Dont even bother with the video stuff on the main page I dont think.

    Look at a typical games main page on any portal for an example of what you need..

    Dont buck the system, go with it!
     
  11. gosub

    Original Member

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    Definitely put some screen shots on your home page. I'd also link to that video. Nice job.

    -Jeremy
     
  12. DrWilloughby

    Indie Author

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    Actually, I think a video makes a great sales tool. Our conversion rate on Venture Africa went way up after putting a video on the site. But yes, more screenshots would be good.
     
  13. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    Let's go to the point: Your website layout is really BAD. Most people will just surf on your main page and gave up. This is why you have a tiny dowload rate.

    Why do you hide your DOWNLOAD now button? It MUST be in the front page, you have only 1 game then you don't need many pages. Sometimes less is better.

    As a start, make this page your home page:
    http://www.charliedoggames.com/?page_id=3
    This tiny change will make a big difference on your dowload rate.

    Also, I can garanty that only 0.0001% of your visitors read your text. It is far too long. Make it shorter and go to the point.

    I didn't try to be diplomatic (sorry about this ;-) ) but few people already said this and you still haven't change it.

    5% convertion rate is huge. In the real world it is beetwen 0.1% and 1% for the lucky one.

    Jean-Claude
     
  14. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback. Don't worry about being diplomatic Jean-Claude I've been around long enough to take on board constructive criticism whether it's diplomatic or blunt and to the point. I am going to change my site. But being a one man band is difficult because I have too much to do. I was going to do it myself but I think I'll just pay the guy who set my site up to do it tonight. I'll change the front page so the user can download immediately from there. Add some quotes from the reviews, put in a link to the YouTube video and see what happens. Maybe I'll cut down the SJ page too but if people are downloading straight from the front page that won't matter so much.

    Thanks again to everyone for the feedback.
     
  15. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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  16. JoKa

    Indie Author

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    Yes, looks much better, pretty straight forward now :)
     
  17. ChrisP

    Indie Author

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    That's good, much more streamlined! If I was going to be picky I'd say make the left hand side less busy - for some reason my eye skipped over it at first. Maybe because I'm used to seeing a navigation bar there. Maybe you could try putting it on the right of the page instead?

    You made a typo: "thier".
     
  18. charliedog

    charliedog New Member

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    Thanks guys.

    I noticed that there is a typo in my text. I'm terrified to correct it though because every time i thouch my site it becomes corrupt. The guy who made it uses a mac and I am editing it on a PC. Has anyone else had problems like this?



    Heres an interesting thought.

    If I am qouting from a review and the review contains typos, should I correct the typos? I guess I probably should but then technically it's not a qoute any more is it? :)

    regards,

    Tony Oakden
    http://charliedoggames.com
     
  19. DrWilloughby

    Indie Author

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    Feel free to correct the typo (without rewording).

    Still too much text at the top of the page. I wouldn't have more than 1 sentence, and I would put it in a bigger font.

    (sorry to toot our horn here, but take a look at our site: Venture Arctic)

    Looking better though!
     
  20. woo

    woo
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    The problems with editing the source files probably have to do with line ending characters. Generally they don't cause issues in html but they can make it go all wacky for editing.

    1. Use source control for the site and have a backup of it to CD, regularly.
    2. Use an editor such as JEdit that can maintain the line ending the way your html developer needs them. There are also a number of ways of converting line ending characters between unix and windows.

    I would also recommend the feature from Venture Arctic where you have a screenshot/title screen that has the click to play video as the current starting frame of the video from youtube is just a blur.

    -Andrew Douglas
    http://theoreticalgames.com
     

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