Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Kudos 2 In PC Gamer UK

I got my subscriber copy of PC Gamer UK today. There is a copy of Kudos on the coverdisk and also a review of the game, where it scored 72%. It DOES bug me that they give half a page to K2 with 72%, and then spend 2 whole pages giving a lower score to Quantum of Solace. I mean… who the fuck was looking forward to the new bond movie tie-in game so much that they need a whole 2 pages to tell them it’s not as good as a hip cool new Indie game? Bah!

You can read the review online here:
Also… I added an RSS thingy to the left of the blog for subscribing. If anyone understands that stuff well and notices it doesn’t work, let me know! I don’t personally use an RSS reader, I never got around to finding and installing one.

Promoting a genre-less game

There’s a big problem in doing PR and marketing for Kudos 2. It has no genre. The nearest it gets to a genre is ‘like the sims’. But even then, the Sims has no genre. Most hardcore gaming sites have genres such as Strategy,Arcade, RTS, FPS, Adventure. Kudos is none of these. Some might consider it a strategy game, but many sites assume a strategy game is an RTS, or at least some sort of combat or war game. Most strategy sites are bulging with screenshots of Elves and Tanks, hardly the same genre as Kudos 2.

Then there are the casual sites, where the taregt market for Kudos 2 also overlaps. The people who play games like ‘Diner Dash’ often quite like Kudos 2, IF they get to try it. The thing is, these sites also pigeonhole their games into ‘Time management’ ‘Puzzle’ and ‘Arcade’.

That makes me laugh, because what they really mean is ‘Diner Dash clone’ ‘bejewlled Clone’ and ‘Zuma Clone’. There is sod-all innovation in most of these games. But anyway, despite that rant, you will see again that Kudos 2 does not fit nicely anywhere. Sometimes it’s puzzle, sometimes arcade, sometimes its RPG or Adventure or strategy.

Nobody actually looks for Kudos 2, because they don’t know what sort of game it is. The best I can hope for is people expect it to be like an existing gewnre, but give it a go anyway. When people try it, they tend to like it.

Maybe next time I should make a game that more clearly fits in an existing genre. Right now I’m doing the very first bits of work on the next game, and it’s another strategy game. I have a nice idea for the game, and can imagine it being really cool. I just need to get the visual side of things arranged nicely…


I’ve spent part of today tweaking the upsell for Kudos 2 today. The ‘Upsell’ is the efforts the demo makes to get you to buy the full copy. The original demo was pretty lacklustre in that there was a nag screen that had a default background with some screenshots from the game, and it basically said “please buy it”.

I figured I could do better than that, and in a flash of inspiration I replaced the default avatar on the upsell screen with the players actual avatar they used in the demo. Then, instead of the text saying ‘would your character have done well?” it uses their name, so it’s ‘would bill have done well?’ etc.

I also added a quote from a review of the game that was massively positive, to remind people how great the game is :D and I enclosed the upsell text in a nicer formatted white window so it looks much more polished.

Then I ditched the default, fixed screenshots and replaced them with 3 dynamic ones, where they constantly cycle through a total of 9 upsell screenshots, cross fading between them and thus adding some minor movement and animation (in some ways) to an otherwise boring upsell screen.

It won’t double conversion rates, but it can’t do any harm.

Also, I replied to an email about a potentially important deal for the game today. You have to make some pretty big guesses in my job. When people say “how much for the rights to X” you have to really stroke your chin and think about the right figure. At the end of the day, it’s a bit of a guess…

The longer demo didn’t help…

When I asked why people pirated games I got a lot of people saying something along these lines:

“Demos suck! They are such a small part of the game. I HAVE to pirate the game to see if the full version is any good, rather than just the bit they showed me in the ‘demo'”

But after a month of trying a very long (60 turns) demo for Kudos 2 I have concluded that this just isn’t true because:

1) The pirates still pirate the game anyway, and

2) The long demo seems to be contributing to a lower conversion rate, ie: people are trying the demo and not buying the game as much s they have with my other games.

Now I know that it is very tricky to work out whether this is because the demo gives too much game away, or whether its a problem with the quality of the game, but given some very good reviews, and some very positive forum and email responses from buyers, I think generally the game quality is pretty good (certainly it’s way higher than the first game). I am guessing that the demo basically gives away several hours of entertainment for free, and it’s just too darned long. So I halved the length of it and re-uploaded a new demo today to see if that improves things.

A GOOD demo (from a business POV) is one where as it kicks in, the player thinks “What? OMG I was getting so into this game”. In a sense, the demo is the first course of a meal, the opening scene of a movie. Give away too much, and you lose sales. Most people will take a free starter rather than pay for a whole meal, and I’m sure a lot of people like me get bored towards the end of todays’ long and tedious movies anyway :D

So hopefully it will work and I might get some more sales…

In unrelated news, check this out. Seems some people are really getting into modding Kudos 2 :D