Archive for January, 2008

Tips for Finishing a Game

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Someone on recently asked what tips people could offer for how to finish a game. I compiled a list of relevent articles from my blog, some of which proved pretty popular when I wrote them. Hope you find them useful!

Where do you learn patience

Screens, screens and more screens

What makes people successfull?

How do you know when something is finished?

Rocky knows the score

Best tip for game production

Do you set milestones?

I’ve finished my game – now what?

An approximate guide to selling Indie games (this one was very popular)

Reflexive Games Affiliate Scheme

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Grey Alien Games is a member of the Reflexive games affiliate scheme (it’s probably not called exactly that). What this means is that I can post links on my website to games on their site and whenever someone buys a game from them (via my link) I get a 40% commission. All I have to do is make sure that the link has my affiliate code in it. As most games sell for $19.95 I get almost $8 per sale which isn’t bad. Also, I think you get 50% commission for actual Reflexive games such as the Richochet games.

I’ve been using it for about 11 months now and have made around $500 from it, but I haven’t made a BIG effort to push this figure up due to being busy programming my last game.

I use the links in two places:

1) on my website (recently revamped) – I’ve got lots of games on the front page and every one links to Reflexive.

2) on in the news articles and reviews that I write.


You can actually make different “channels” to track where your sales come from, so I can see how many I get from this site and how many from Binary Joy news and reviews – this is pretty handy as it tells me where I need to focus more.

The reporting system is neat, I can see how many people downloaded from each channel and how many sales there were, so I can work out the conversion rate. I love this kind of stuff!


However, to make it work you definitely need traffic. When I launched Easter Bonus in Feb 2007, my site got lots of hits and lots of downloads and affiliate sales were good. Also I was writing lots for Binary Joy. During the summer there was a big dip in sales because I wasn’t writing much for Binary Joy and nothing new happened on my site. However it’s picked up again this Christmas and with the new site design I hope to keep the games fresh and send out newsletters more often. We’ll see what happens in 2008 (depends how busy I get with new games).

Try It Out

It wasn’t very difficult to set up so I recommend you go for it, but you do need to have an existing website and it certainly helps to have some traffic. One good tip is find out how to link to the actual game page instead of directly to the download or buy page. This way the potential customer can look at the game in more detail and even if they don’t download it and download something else, you still get the commission! When I made this change I got LOTS more downloads and sales showed up in my reports.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate seems to vary a lot but my yearly average is 0.46%. So you need about 200 downloads for a single sale. Use this figure when working out how much traffic you need to make it viable. I have actually got a chart that I made of my downloads, sales, revenue and conversion rate for the whole year but I’m not sure if I signed (or agreed to) something that said I’m not allowed to release this data – so to be safe I won’t. (I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned that conversion rate, shhh).

Passive Income

At the moment it’s certainly not a big earner but it pays for my web hosting and makes a nice little profit. It’s more like a hobby, but I like the idea of having multiple passive income streams and my Reflexive affiliate game sales is one of them (eggs in many baskets and all that!) Some people really push it big and probably make TONS of money from it. There’s certainly lots more I could do if I wanted but I have a full-time job making games so can only devote a certain amount of time to it.

One thing to consider is how much time (and/or money) you spend setting up and managing a site to do this and then promoting games because if your hours are high and your sales are low, clearly it’s not worth it. However, I viewed it as a learning exercise and was hopeful that the income would grow over time. Also, once it’s done, it kinda just looks after itself and makes you money!

Big Fish Games

Soon I’ll talk about the other big affiliate scheme that other people are using which is run by Big Fish Games. It’s called My Big Fish Games and has proven very successful for me in a short space of time, but launching Fairway Solitaire definitely has something to do with that…

2007 Summary and 2008 Goals

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Well 2007 is gone and 2008 has already started and it’s about this time that I like to take stock of what I achieved in the last year and what mistakes I made and then set some goals for the new year. I highly recommend this process for everyone. Read on…

Here’s what I said at the start of 2007 and how well I actually did:

1) Continued improvement in my self-realisation studies. I probably didn’t do as much in this area as I’d have liked just because I was so busy making Fairway Solitaire, but that’s just an excuse really. However, I did make great strides with myself, my relationship and my finances.

2) Turn my self-realisation co-venture into a huge success. This was a flop (although I learnt plenty of things). It started very well but I found I was doing all the work and my partners weren’t contributing as much as I’d have liked. So we agreed that they’d manage it for a while whilst I took a back seat. Unfortunately, they didn’t do very much at all (mainly due to their own activities taking off, which is great for them) and it has since fallen dormant. Very soon I’ll have a meeting with them and either a) quit or b) take it over completely

3) Spend more time relaxing, doing my hobbies (reading/music/games) and with my family. hmm, I always seem to feel I haven’t quite succeeded with this one. Towards the end of the year I played a few games (which was great), haven’t done much music at all, been reading a bit all year. Have had some great family times but I know I could do more. I guess I’m a bit of a workaholic because I enjoy my job so much and there’s always more to do…

4) Make some top 10 portal games that make lots of money so that I can continue in the same career. Well I only made one game, Fairway Solitaire, but what a game! It reached #3 in the BFG top 10 and I’m sure it’ll do well on the other portals when it is released on them.

5) Make some games that I *really* want to make (platformers/shooters etc), even if it’s just for fun. Didn’t do this but it’s a goal for 2008.

6) Become Rich (I’m already happy so I don’t need to worry about that one). Of course this depends on your definition of rich! Helen and I have both done well this year financially and I’ve cleared off some personal debts and we are stable, which is great – but there’s still plenty of room for improvement 🙂

Here’s some other ways in which 2007 was great:

– Re-released Easter Bonus and got tons more sales in.
– Improved my game framework considerably ready for the next game.
– Bought a Macbook Pro and converted Holiday Bonus to Mac (more games will be converted soon).
– Went on two special Aikido training courses in Austria and the Ukraine to supplement my normal training/teaching.

Here’s some 2007 mistakes (I made many more than are listed here!):

– Spent too long making Fairway Solitaire which limited what else I could do, but it was all good experience and necessary – so not really a mistake.
– Entered into a business venture with two friends who, as it turned out, left me to do most of the (boring) work. When I stopped working on it and left them to it, it went nowhere fast. I may buy them out and run it myself (with my partner). Check back next year to see if it was also a mistake 😉
– Let my site slip in terms of affiliate game sales, advertising etc.
– Didn’t do as much blogging or game news/reviews as I wanted to.
– Didn’t spend enough time with my family or playing games/music etc. This seems to happen every year and I keep saying I’ll sort it out … hmm…

OK, now the goals for 2008 – First the Game Development ones:

1) Develop 2-3 hit games for Big Fish Games. (Depends on the size of projects we end up choosing)
2) My games will reach No. 1 in the BFG Top 10 and on other sites too.
3) One or more of my games will gross $1,000,000. (based on past performance, this is a realistic and achievable target – just need around 100,000 sales)
4) Start the next big “genre”! (gotta think big ;-))
5) Meet lots of you at Casuality.
6) Work on an “action” game as a hobby.
7) Continue improving my skills and my game framework.
8 ) Continue having great fun doing a job that I love!
9) Ramp up affiliate sales from my sites and blogs, via more newsletter subscriptions, more blog posts, more marketing etc.

Personal Goals for 2008 include (my full list is huge so I’ve just put a few here):

1) More family time + go on some great holidays!
2) Play games, make music and persue other hobbies. (Basically need to get the work/life balance sorted)
3) Get 2nd Dan in Aikido (my Sensei has asked me to go for it after 5+ years of being a black belt, so I need to train hard in 2008)
4) Go to bed on time and get up on time! (This is a big one for me as I love to stay up all night programming or playing games but I have to get up in the morning for the school run and then my day suffers)
5) Diet: reduce alcohol to an absolute minimum, reduce treats/junk food, eat more fruit and healthy food, drink more water. I’m already vegetarian and my weight is fine but I know I can do more.
6) Exercise: breathing exercises every day, more exercises (pull ups, press ups, sit ups, dancing, running, swimming, walking, clycling etc)
7) Keep my positive attitude strong and keep working on self-improvement.

I’m pretty sure that diet, exercise and good sleep are VITAL to pretty much EVERYTHING else. You get the balance right and your brain will work better, you’ll have more energy, be more positive etc.

Anyway, I’m keen to hear about your goals for 2008 (post links to your own blog entires if you like) and I wish you luck for 2008.

Remember that a goal means NOTHING unless you work hard to achieve it and don’t give in!