Today marks the end of the second month during which Mind Ninja was available for live online play at the ig Game Center, so it's time for another monthly progress report. The last month saw Mind Ninja played 64 times online, which was just a little more than half the play it got during the first month. This dramatic decline appears to be the consequence of a general decrease in usage of that site. Mind Ninja is doing just as well relative to other games as it did during its first month. It seems the holidays killed off a bunch of traffic for all the games, and the site hasn't quite recovered, though its owner tells me that the numbers are going back up again. In any case, it is now confirmed (not that I needed confirmation), that getting people turned on to my game will be a long protracted struggle. I am ready for the fight though, and if it takes many years, so be it. That struggle will be especially complicated for the next couple of months by the fact that I have fixed the date of my thesis defense in May, which means I'm pretty much completely screwed for time between now and then. Oh well.
On to some positive developments. First, having the game online has allowed me to gather feedback about its presentation. I've learned that, though the rules are simple, they confuse many because the game has some weird mechanisms that they have never played before. For example, a player who doesn't know the game will often use his "infinite free moves" to complete the pattern before his opponent has chosen to be the builder or blocker, thereby giving that opponent the instant win. I had originally assumed that because the game only has like 5 rules that the novelty of the game would not be a problem, but it turns out that it is.
Therefore, we have rewritten the rules to combat the confusion (by we I mean the owner of the ig Game Center, Arty Sandler, and I. Frankly, he deserves way more credit for the new rules than I do). I still plan to make some additional improvements but I think that, even as they are, they are more clear than the originals, though I leave it to the interested observers among you to decide.
Also, this month's player of the month is rather interesting: I don't know his real name, but he goes by nie_wiesz on the ig Game Center. I'm told that he is one of the strongest Hex players in the world, and I don't doubt it given how well he plays Mind Ninja. He has quickly risen through the ranks, and is now the highest-rated player on the site. He is considerably stronger than I, despite the hundreds of games worth of experience advantage I have over him. This is one of those games where prodigal talent can often trump experience, and that is just the way I like it.
Top 5 in online ratings as of January 20th, 2008
(online names are given, not real names, thank goodness)
2. El Poopo