Archive for January, 2009

Holiday Bonus just did really well on BFG

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

In December Big Fish Games put Holiday Bonus on their front page and I watched it rise up to position 54 in the top 100. This was a pleasant surprise. But an even greater surprise was the royalty report that I just received – it was my second highest royalty report ever! The highest ever was for the month when Fairway Solitaire launched.

Obviously I can’t reveal exact figures but it sold a good solid four figures of units and converted well above the “average” 1% you hear sometimes. Naturally the revenue was pretty good even with most of the sales being from GameClub members. Furthermore, as the Pound Sterling is so poor right now, when the royalties get sent to my UK bank account they will look rather nice. Very handy as Helen (my fiancée) just got a big tax bill.

Once the January royalty reports come in I’ll public post all my sales totals for Holiday Bonus. I remember at the time (Nov 2006) being a little bit worried about spending over £1000 on graphics and music for the game, but I’ve made that money back many times over. Also some portals like Real Arcade wouldn’t take it because it was “seasonal”, yet every Christmas (there’s been 3 since it’s launch) it seems to do better and better!

I worked extremely hard for one month to release it in time for Christmas 2006 (it was a reskin of my Oz game with new features), but I’m glad I did. I think the game really does have a great Christmas feel and I’m sure that feeling converts well into sales. I even considered making a Holiday Bonus Gold version at one point with more levels and more features, but never got round to it due to working for BFG as a 3rd party programmer.

BFG were supposed to launch the Mac version of Holiday Bonus at Christmas too, but due to their Seattle office getting a lot of snow it never launched until the start of January. This is a shame as I’m sure it would have done well a week or two earlier. Well I’ll see what the royalty reports say next month. I know that it got up to position 5 on the Mac games on Reflexive and of course I can view real-time reports on Reflexive’s Game Centre Solution site which is fantastic. It made some pretty good money there for me too.

Nexon Vancouver Was Closed Today

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

At lunchtime today I heard that Nexon (a Korean company that makes online games) closed its studio in Yaletown, Vancouver (which is the area I work in), and laid off 90 employees. There were just told in a meeting that the company was closing and then had to pack and leave! Pretty crazy and sad for them. Of course there have been many lay offs recently in mainstream gaming companies like EA, but this is the first “casual” company that I have heard of which has run into trouble. Of course Nexon still has a studio in the US and the main one in Korea so they haven’t gone bust or anything, they have just “restructured”. But is this an indicator for the casual industry as a whole? Hopefully not.

Klei Entertainment (makers of N+ and Eets) were making a game called Sugar Rush with Nexon so I’m not sure where this leaves them. Hope they are still OK. I’ll try to find out soon…

Well where is the opportunity in all this? (This is what you must always ask yourself when things seem to go wrong). For Big Fish Games, there’s a good opportunity to hire some talented people who understand casual games, and just when we need them. For the employees they will have to think positively and apply themselves to getting new jobs (or starting their own businesses) – it could be a great experience for some of them! I wish them all good luck.

Capturing Ideas for Blog Posts

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

For me coming up with ideas for blog posts is like coming up with ideas for games… it’s easy! It happens without me even trying. In fact I have so many ideas that I can’t possibly put them all into action. It’s the same for business ideas too.

In this post I’ll explore how to capture blog ideas when they occur. In a subsequent post I’ll be suggesting some ways that you can generate ideas for blog posts.

Capturing Ideas

One thing that’s important is having a mechanism to catch the ideas so that you never loose them if you are too busy to write a post straight away. Here are some suggestions:

- Have a folder called Blog Ideas or something that you keep on your Desktop for easy access. In fact it’s best to make the actual folder in a location that will get backed up and just have the folder as a shortcut on your desktop.

- You could have a single file and store all the ideas and research notes in it but I tried that and found it to be too unwieldy once it got large (although I do have a small file where I keep the titles of current topics that I think I might write about really soon). So I tend to make a text file for each blog idea and give the text file an approximate title.

- Then I can add notes and links to the text files straight away or later when I feel like doing more research. Sometimes I sit down and research and write a blog post all in one go, but other times I only feel like doing the research and pasting it all into a text file, and other times I only feel like typing up my research into a proper blog post. It’s good to have these different options depending on what mood I’m in.

- If your computer is switched off, but you are in the same building, make sure that you have a notepad and pen ready on your desk so you can scribble and idea down at any time. You can then add the idea to the Blog Ideas folder later on (it’s best not to have multiple lists floating around).

- You may also want to consider having a notepad and pen by your bed so that you can write down any ideas that occur as you are dropping off to sleep. But don’t get too carried away or you may get overexcited and stay awake for hours (this has certainly happened to me quite a few times!)

- If you are away from your home/office then carry a small notepad and pen or a mobile device that you can quickly make a note on. Type these up when you next get to your computer.

- If you are at work and you write your blog at home and you get an idea, just email yourself the idea in a one-line email. You can collect it when you get home and add it to your list.

- Another possibility is using your own voicemail if you really don’t have a pen and paper handy.

Now What?

Great so you’ve got all these ideas for posts, but they mean nothing unless you actually write them up into proper posts. I’m pretty motivated to write posts at the moment and I don’t even know why. Sometimes I think I’ll just write a short post but it ends up being quite long because I realise that each point can be explained in more depth, and before I know it I’ve written a long post.

I don’t force myself to write posts, but when I’m in the mood I make sure I write one (and finish it). I’m doing it as a preference to playing games at the moment for some reason – I just feel like I have a lot of information that wants to get out and I also like seeing the finished article (the development time of a blog article is way less than that of a game ;-) )

Unless I’m 100% driven to write a particular post (which does happen quite a lot) I check out my Blog Ideas folder and pick a post that I’m into writing up right now. I have so many ideas that I’ve actually had to split up my Blog Ideas folder into high priority ones and medium and lower priority ones. Possibly some of the lower priority ones will never get written, and some of them even become obsolete over time, but that’s OK because I’m enjoying writing the ones I write.

Sometimes I even write multiple articles in one day but I realise that it’s not so good to post several in one day and then have a gap (from a point of view of returning readers), or to post a less important article after a really great one thus pushing it down the front page – it’s better to spread them out. So I really should start scheduling the posts to automatically publish on certain days…

I hope that this article aids you in some way with your blogging.