Monday, September 26, 2011

The Topography of Success and Failure

I've never been addicted to any substance, except for coffee. However, I would imagine that my compulsion to check the statistics of my game on a daily basis is comparable to heroin addiction. Without all the sickness and death involved.
There are a lot of ways to check statistics of web sites, and I'm usually using Google analytics. I sometimes use the Facebook stats as well, but it's a much more mellow substance.
The statistics look like an insane topography map of mountains and valleys. The mountains usually occur when me or one of my partners go on a marketing spree, and new users flock to our site. The valleys... well.

My reaction to these statistics can be a basis for an extensive psychological research. At the beginning I was elated whenever I saw a peak in the graph. It would make my day perfect. The decreases would depress me, making me think I should take a different profession, such as gardening or sheep herding. After a while, the peaks started to frustrate me as well. "Why now?" I would think "What was better Yesterday than the day before? Why can't users enter my site without my help? It's easy enough, you just have to enter the common search string 'Loadingames Misfortune' and it's the first result!"
Last week, apathy sunk in. A peak causes me to think "huh. check this out.", a valley gets me to say "oh well", and the long plains of mediocrity invoke "well, that makes sense."
So why do I keep entering day after day?
My name is Michael, and I'm addicted to my site's statistics.

This image was take in the tiger leaping gorge trek in China. There were days when the mountains and valleys I saw were much more breathtaking.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Press Release Me Please

I've been working on a press release for the past week. I was told that it should be about 400 words. I wrote some nice sentences. word count: 110. I added some descriptive words and got to 130. my contact info got it to 135.
I started begging random people for sentences to add. My art director added another tidbit or two about the art style. My dad told me that he is very proud of me, which was nice to hear, but completely unhelpful.
Finally, my wife sat with me and got to work. She has the amazing ability to make a text smaller or bigger without changing its meaning. I don't know how she does that. Anyway, we got to 250 words.
150 to go. I started contemplating copying random marketing texts from journals.
I showed the text once more to my partners, my wife, my dogs. One of my partners switched some words in one of the sentences. It sounded a lot better, but no words added. How does that even help?
I sent it to a good friend, who knows about these things. He sent me some corrections, and a pdf of seven pages about press releases. An outrage. You ask a friend for help, he gives you a manuscript to read.
I drank a nice cup of coffee and read the thing. Victory! the manuscript clearly states that the press release shouldn't be more than a page long. My press release is long enough!
It also mentioned that some developers forget to add a link to their site. "Har har." I thought "Stupid developers. Who can someone forget something like that? Silly, silly people, that's who."
I took a look at my press release. There was no mention of a link to the site anywhere. I added a link.
So, now it's out. It's nice, releasing a press release. It makes me feel important and business like.
I am also having real fun with this blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rat catching and a bit of Caiphirinha

Most of the work I do on Misfortune these days is adding new content. In fact, Misfortune is a bit like an insatiable monster, which feeds on words and sentences.
The initial idea of Misfortune was an RPG dungeon crawler game, in which special events are sprinkled in the dungeons like small candy on a cake. These special events will further the plot, tell stories of the different characters, and expand the atmosphere. It's a sound idea, of which I am very proud.
So I write events. The events tend to be like small "choose your own adventure" books, with 6 - 50 chapters in which the protagonist experiences various occurrences. Today I've published two of them - Rat catching and the street bar
The rat catching event is a simple linear experience, in which the player can join the dubious experience of chasing a rat. The winner gets the prize.
The street bar is a little more complex and atmospheric. I am struggling daily with  expanding the world of Rodnia and exposing it to the players. The street bar is an event in which the player can buy a small mug of Caiphirinha and be exposed to some tidbits of rumors from other customers. Some of them are lies, some are half truths, some are confusing...
The street stall is in fact taken from an actual experience that I had in Brazil. wandering about in one of its coastal towns, I stumbled across such a stall, in which I bought the largest, tastiest cup of Caiphirinha I have ever drank. After half an hour, me and my girlfriend could only zig zag back to our hotel, praising the drink, the town, it's inhabitants and the world in which such a place can exist. We tried finding the stall on the following day, but the streets look different when you are sober.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The fortune of Misfortune

So... here I begin.
I've been a bit manic depressive lately, very cheerful one day, depressed the next. I got really tired of myself. Publishing my first game did that to me. I talk about it... a lot. With everyone. My wife, my 3 year old kid (who is never sure what game I am talking about), my friends... But everyone has a certain amount of tolerance. So, the obvious venting option - the wonderful internet, where you can spew whatever drivel comes to mind and no one cares!
Here it is - I am Michael, and I founded a small indie company called Loadingames, with two very good friends of mine. We've been working for two years creating a game called Misfortune. It is, to quote myself: a steampunk RPG browser game. In the game you follow the protagonist, as he finds himself marooned on an unfamiliar island, in a strange and violent town called Rodnia. 
It has been one of the most emotional times of my life. I've always thought of myself as a calm person, lacking ambition, breezing through life... What bullshit. The truth is this. When it comes to things that matter to me I am hysterical, obsessive and faintly annoying. However there is one thing certain. This is a dream come true.
So we launched the game a few weeks ago, reviews are coming some are good, some are not, players are slowly joining in, some of them giving very good feedbacks, some report horrid bugs. I eat Misfortune, I dream Misfortune and as of today I blog Misfortune.