Meraki

Meraki - Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing. It forms the core of my game design philosophy.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Glyph Quest



A female main character
I think it's about time I started letting people know a bit more about The Plan's progress. The past couple of months have been properly hectic and it's fair to say we've had an awful lot on our plate. The recent storms have trashed our roof, necessitating some rapid water-collection / channelling device construction. That's okay though as we've had an offer accepted on a new place over in Worthing, so hopefully we'll be out of here in a few months.

Then there's all the baby things. We're done with the antenatal stuff and are just waiting for the drop, so to speak. Are we ready? Not even slightly, although Sproglet now has a thing to bathe in, a collection of knitwear and a Transit Solution en route. We don't have anything else though. No name for the baby. No definitive Aliens quote* to drop in during delivery. Nothing.

After the debacle that was the Start To Finish episode, it was right back to Glyph Quest where, it has to be said, much progress was made. Several nagging issues have been fixed - the multiple aspect ratios for different iOS devices for example - and, other than the IAP system, we're pretty much feature complete. In fact, you'll soon be able to see how much progress has been made once I borrow that video capture thing from Boss Alien**

So with all that in mind, it's time to start The Marketing Push.

The Aim

Or this guy. We're not sexist
The aim of the marketing push is to get the word out there about our game. I mean, it's a good game and everything and I'm confident that, if you play it, you will like it. But the issue is getting enough people to play it in the first place and, for that, we need some Marketing.

The most obvious place to start would be the game sites. Things like Touch Arcade or IGN or Rock Paper Shotgun - that sort of thing. I'm very much in favour of Show rather than Tell though, so that's not something we can do without a version for them to play. Sadly, that's not really something they're going to be able to do until we release the thing. Rest assured that when the game is available, I shall be hitting these sites up and more.

So the next option is simple - it's You Guys. Those of you who read this blog. Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Those of you who may have accidentally stumbled here by following a link posted by someone who is friends with me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter. See how that works?

Word of mouth is a fantastically powerful thing***. It's a personal recommendation from someone you trust. It's not blanket advertising or cold calling with some farmed details. This person is only telling you about this thing because they genuinely believe you could be interested in it.

Hence this post. You - my friends and followers - are probably only friends with me thanks to some kind of gaming connection. I am therefore happy to assume that you have an interest in games (or if you don't, I'm happy to try and convert you) and will therefore enjoy playing this one. I hope that you'd trust my judgement enough to respect my opinion on whether or not this is a Good Game To Play (it is BTW) and, once you'd tried it, you were kind enough to recommend it to anyone else you think might enjoy it.

The Pitch

Kill it with Fire!
Of course, in the absence of a version on your iOS device, it would obviously be very useful if you knew a bit about the game. So here goes. (Note, this isn't the pitch I would write were I trying to present the game to Management or Marketing - you have to use completely different words**** for that)

Glyph Quest is a puzzle RPG. You play the role of an aspiring young wizard (or witch) as they embark on adventures in the dangerous wilderness. Along the way you'll encounter a wide variety of mythical beasts and monsters that you'll have to defeat using your spell book and Big Bag o' Glyphs. Combine Glyphs together to form elemental spells with which to smite your foes. Find loot and spend it back at the village on neat items or upgrades to help with your next quest.



The game is played like a cross between Dungeon Raid, Pokemon and 10000000*****. The Dungeon Raid bit comes from their wonderfully tactile approach to the puzzle board. Elements are combined in a chain by dragging your finger over the things you want to link together. The more elements you can combine, the more powerful the spell although care must be taken to avoid combining elemental opposites - no Fire and Water in the same spell, for example.

The Pokemon bit is in the battles themselves. You face off against a string of opponents and take it in turns to launch attacks at each other. Some attacks work better against some foes than others so it's up to the player to work out the best strategy for defeating each enemy as well as ensuring that they've been levelling up in a balanced fashion. There's also plenty of depth to be found in the chain combo and reversal system whereby you can maximise your damage output through careful spell selection and glyph manipulation.

The 10000000 bit is the loop of returning back to the village to upgrade yourself before heading back out to face even tougher dangers. Actually, you might want to throw Puzzle & Dragons in there as well as our questing system is very similar to that. 

The Money


There are a lot of half-this, half-that beasts
For all my talk of Freemium and the inherent suitability of this title to that model... it's not something we're doing. We just don't have the resources or time to properly do it justice. It's unlikely that this game will have any social features - a Game Center leaderboard might make it in if we can get it going in time. We'll have IAPs but that's only so that we can release the game for free so that all the dumbasses that think 69p is too much to spend on a game might actually give it a second glance.

Instead, we're kinda going for revisiting the old shareware model. You can have the beginning part of the game for free but to progress beyond a certain point, you'll have to buy an item (in this case, a Mage License). This probably represents the fairest method of trying to get paid. The 'demo' portion of the game will give you enough of a taste so that you know whether or not you like the way the game works. If you do, you pay for the rest of the game safe in the knowledge that we're not going to bug you or try and trick you in to spending even more money.  We might throw in a Coin Doubler for the content tourist that doesn't have the time to experience the game properly, but the whole thing will be balanced for those that don't purchase it. No, once you've bought the Mage License, you're done. You've paid your dues. Now go and enjoy the rest of the game.

It's like the way they used to do it on the App Store first. There'd be a Lite version of the game that you'd try and a Full version that you'd pay for. The only problem with that method is that it was a bit of a hassle to have to go back to the App Store to download the full version of the game if you'd decided you wanted to buy it. IAPs let us do that all from within the game itself so there's absolutely no hassle for the player once the decision to purchase has been made.

I'm envisioning a £1.99 price point. For that you should be able to get a decent weekend's worth of entertainment out of it. Seems like a bargain to me, although I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who perceive that as nothing short of an extravagant rip off. It's not even enough to get a decent coffee FFS! (Mobile gamers' perception of value these days is so out of whack it's not even funny. Clearly the subject for another post at a later date)

Then again, we're not trying to change the world or make millions out of this game. We want you to play it because it is Fun To Play and we'd really like it if you'd show your appreciation for this by giving us a fair amount of money. All it has to do is shift enough units to enable us to make ends meet over the next couple of months whilst we get the next project set up - something that is very exciting indeed.

Standing Out

As with any marketing thing, it really helps if you stand out. If you have some kind of hook that gets people interested in your product in the first place. Why would they be interested? After all, there's a lot of other things out there that they could try instead.

It's a shame that it's not enough to simply be a Good Game that will be Fun To Play. Or, in marketing speak - have Unique and Addictive Gameplay - just like every other title out there. So how do we position Glyph Quest? Why might people remember it? We could try the monetisation angle - we're not trying to trick you in to spending money - and hope that it catches some kind of swell of public opnion against the 'traditional' Free To Play model. We could push the Industry Veteran goes his own way angle and hope that people aren't tired of that story yet.

As I write this, we're officially entering the Go Zone. Leanne is at 36 weeks which means that, despite the fact that Sproglet's due date is January 28th, the truth is that it could turn up any time from now. I'm willing to bet that it is going to be impossible to do any further work on Glyph Quest once that happens. As such, we have a hard deadline. One that we really Cannot Slip.

And that could well be our hook - Leanne's story. "How I made a game whilst heavily pregnant". Or "Race To The Finish: Placenta or Product". How about "I couldn't get a games job because I was pregnant, so I did it myself instead"? It's the sort of thing that could well gain some decent publicity from the Women In Games angle. It's empowering, as well as being a bit of an indictment on those that discriminate against pregnant women looking for work. Plus it's bloody impressive stuff.

So if you know someone who would be interested in hearing such a story, do tell them about us.

All she needs to do is write it up.

Before the baby arrives.

He has a... bone to pick with you******
* "Not bad for a human" is the current fave. "Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen" is close. I've also got "Okay sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill - assholes and elbows" lined up in case of a breach birth.
** Or Apple make it easier to capture video from an iOS device without having to jailbreak the damn thing first
*** That is, when there are enough mouths talking about it.
**** Short ones. With plenty of exclamation marks!!!1!!one
***** One of the best iOS games that you have never heard of. All because of a terrible name.
******I'm practicing my Dad jokes. I can only apologise in advance.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck mate, sounds like a great idea, I'll definitely spread the word. And good luck with the baby, if you need an understanding shoulder to cry on when you're suffering with extreme sleep deprivation then bring the family over my way :) Adrian

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