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Subject: My iPhone/iPad board game isn't doing so well. rss

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Dan Huffman
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Hello,

I have a problem. My iPhone/iPad board game isn't doing so well on the iTunes App Store. But I think my game is really good. Of course I may be biased but I really really think my game is destined to be a timeless classic like Chess, Checkers, Othello, Go, etc. Well, if my game is really so good then why is it not doing so well on the App Store? Well I think it is because finding any game, good or bad, on the App Store is like finding a needle in a haystack. And unless an indie game gets featured on the App Store, the chance of it becoming successful is about equal to the game's developer winning one of those multi-million dollar state lotteries.

I also heard that no amount of promotion (at least what an indie can handle) works these days and the only thing that really helps is being featured on the App Store. Since that may not happen I'm going to try something different here. And since my game is a board game I can think of no better place than BoardGameGeek to try this…

I have a bunch of iTunes App Store promo codes that I can give out. These promo codes will allow you to download my game for free (It's 2.99 USD right now). There is a free version on the App Store too but it is very limited. My game is 'The Octagon Theory' (TOT for short) and it is universal which means that TOT looks good on both the small iPhone and on the larger iPad.

Now I hope you are interested in getting a promo code and trying out my game. But I don't want to waste these codes. I want to give them to those of you who are really interested in playing TOT. So to prove you are really interested you have to join me in a chat session where I will personally give the first 10 of you a promo code. Here's how to go about that.

1. Go to http://TheOctagonTheory.com and register by clicking the link in the upper-right corner. You'll get an email to confirm your registration. Then…

2. Log in on TheOctagonTheory.com (in a PC browser that supports Flash) then click the 'Play TOT Online' button on the left under the big banner. (Yes. you can also play TOT online).

2. Click the 'How to Play' button on the upper-right, under the Twitter icon, and read the instructions before continuing. Don't worry, the instructions are very short and simple. TOT almost plays itself.

3. Click the 'Go online' button to the left of the 'How to Play' button.

You will be (or should be) matched against 'Dan' (That's me). To get the promo code you have to complete one full game against me. During the game I'll be able to see that you actually registered because you will have a user name instead of 'guestnnnn' for non-registered players.

We can chat during the game and you can give me your email address where I will send your iTunes App Store TOT promo code.

3. That's all (almost).

Now the thing is not many people know about TOT or TOT Online yet so you may not find anyone to play against, and since I can't be everywhere at once you'll have to join a TOT Online game at one of the scheduled times… when I'll be waiting for you.

There may be (a snowball's chance in hell) others waiting for a game at the same time so you may be matched against someone who isn't me. Please play them. Then at the end of the game refuse the rematch (or you can play them again if you want) and then you'll get the chance to be matched against me so I can give you your TOT promo code.

Here's when I'll be online in JST. JST is Japan Standard Time (GMT + 9:00):

12/31: ---, 8-10PM
1/1: -----, 8-10PM
1/2: -----, 8-10PM
1/3: -----, 8-10PM
1/4: 6-8AM, 8-10PM
1/5: 6-8AM, 8-10PM
1/6: 6-8AM, 8-10PM


I'll continue until 1/6 or 10 promo codes are used up, which ever comes 1st. I will keep updataing in this forum how many codes are left. And who knows. If this campaign is successful I may give away another 10 promo codes.

And even if you don't have an iOS device or don't want the iOS game, please, PLEASE continue to play TOT Online. I'm trying to build a community there and make TOT a timeless classic.

P.S. If you want to 'reserve' a session, leave a reply here, or contact me on Twitter http://twitter.com/OctagonTheory or email me dan [at] TheOctagonTheory [dot] com.

Happy Holidays,
Dan
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Justin Moore
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It's ironic that to get a code to play an iOS game I have to go to a website with a browser that supports flash... Guess my iPad and I won't be doing that...

Edit: looked it up in the AppStore, the graphics are a bit of a turnoff for me personally. Would have prevented me from downloading it had I stumbled across it. Just not a fan of the retro look I guess.
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Dan Huffman
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Haha. I guess it is ironic. But the Flash site wasn't designed for giving away the promo codes. It was done to allow as many people as possible to play TOT.

As for the design. It's the 3rd one. The original was more of a mechanical look. Maybe i should have stayed with that. The 2nd design was a Cyber Punk design. Oh well.

I just glad that you saw this post and gave me some useful feedback. I hope others will do the same.

But you can still try TOT Online though. It's free and you may like the gameplay.

Thanks for the feedback,
Dan
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TTorres
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Happy Holidays Dan,

A suggestion for next time: you should definitely talk in an excited way about the game, rather than working really hard to prove the fact it's "not doing well."

Share your passion, enthusiasm and energy, not your disappointment.

Best of luck with your creation!
Tonman
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Dan Huffman
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Thanks Tonman. I do have passion and I am enthusiastic about my game. (That's why I'm trying to promote it.) But that doesn't change the fact that it's not doing well. And I'm sure the reason it's not doing well is the same reason a lot of other really good games also aren't doing well: there're just so many games in the App Store that it's very very hard for your game to be found.

Have you tried it? If not, please give the free version a try, then I'll be glad to read more of your advice. The free version's name is 'Simple Board Game'.
 
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David McCartney
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TheOctagonTheory wrote:
Thanks Tonman. I do have passion and I am enthusiastic about my game. (That's why I'm trying to promote it.) But that doesn't change the fact that it's not doing well. And I'm sure the reason it's not doing well is the same reason a lot of other really good games also aren't doing well: there're just so many games in the App Store that it's very very hard for your game to be found.

Have you tried it? If not, please give the free version a try, then I'll be glad to read more of your advice. The free version's name is 'Simple Board Game'.


So you'll read more of his advice if he plays the game? But not otherwise? Seems odd, but maybe something was lost in the translation.

Have you considered renaming the Free version of the game TOT Lite for branding? There's no name association between TOT and 'Simple Board Game' and, to be completely honest (without playing the game), there's nothing that says "Check Me Out" about the title of "Simple Board Game".
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Austin Boyle
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tribalsoul wrote:
TheOctagonTheory wrote:
Thanks Tonman. I do have passion and I am enthusiastic about my game. (That's why I'm trying to promote it.) But that doesn't change the fact that it's not doing well. And I'm sure the reason it's not doing well is the same reason a lot of other really good games also aren't doing well: there're just so many games in the App Store that it's very very hard for your game to be found.

Have you tried it? If not, please give the free version a try, then I'll be glad to read more of your advice. The free version's name is 'Simple Board Game'.


So you'll read more of his advice if he plays the game? But not otherwise? Seems odd, but maybe something was lost in the translation.

Have you considered renaming the Free version of the game TOT Lite for branding? There's no name association between TOT and 'Simple Board Game' and, to be completely honest (without playing the game), there's nothing that says "Check Me Out" about the title of "Simple Board Game".


I agree, "Simple Board Game" doesnt really catch my attention. TOT Lite would be better but I dont know that I would even cut it that short. Just the Title + Lite would probably have a better chance of getting my attention.

On that note, I really wish they would do something about sorting the "Board Games" section of iTunes to make searching for these games abit easier. Sorting them by release and checking them somewhat daily is fine but I dont want to see Checkers, some match game about candy, and match games, all throughout the more "finely tuned" games such as Carcassonne. I just want to see board games. (no offense to anyone who enjoys candy) Sorry for the mini rant.

Going to download "Simple Board Game" now!
Edit: PS Thank you for having an iPad version!
 
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Dan Huffman
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Hello tribalsoul,

By "then I'll be glad to read more of your advice" I meant that I'd like to read Tonman's advice concerning the free version of TOT.

The funny thing is "Simple Board Game" was named 'TOT Lite' at first but due to my inexperience in dealing with the iTunes App Store, I messed up and lost the right to 'TOT Lite' in iTunes Connect. And right after I lost it I listened to a podcast that advised using a generic name. The person in the podcast said that there were two versions of a well known game (e.g pong) on the App Store. One version was terrible, the other version by another developer was fantastic. The terrible version had a generic name, something like 'super pong' whereas the superior version had some never heard of and hard to remember name. And because the inferior version had that generic searchable name, it far outsold the superior version. That's the reason I used 'Simple Board Game'. I thought now that will surely show up in a search for 'board games'. Problem is, about a thousand other things show up too.

So that that podcast guy's advice isn't really working for me.

Dan
 
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Dan Huffman
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Hello aussieb1987,

I agree with you on all counts. And thanks a million for downloading "Simple Board Game". I really hope you enjoy it. And I'd sure like to hear your feedback about the game.

And I'd also like to meet you in a game of TOT Online. If you are in Australia we are pretty much in the same time zone. I'm in Tokyo. So it'd be easy to setup a time to meet online.

Regards,
Dan
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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Just some thoughts on your game.

First, it's an abstract. Abstracts aren't the hottest games around in the first place...for print or as apps. Gamers are fond of saying that theme is meaningless to them, but a theme helps sell a game in the first place. Themes often provide just enough "hook" to interest prospective customers. Consider for example the success of the print game Hey, That's My Fish!. As a suggestion and considering it's original inspiration, you might consider Sumo as a theme for your game.

Second, "The Octagon Theory" is not a very good name. Putting "The" in your game title is not a good idea. But more importantly, the use of the word "theory" in your game title is a bad idea. You are selling an app that is is a game. You are not selling a "theory". People are not buying a "theory". I think your use of the word "theory" in your title is offputting, perhaps pretentious, and creates a bit of cognitive dissonance for a user who is browsing info about game apps, not theories. All of the best abstracts have simple, elegant names to match their simple elegant game play. For examples simply click this link:

http://boardgamegeek.com/abstracts/browse/boardgame


Going with the Sumo theme, and since the name "Sumo" is no doubt already taken by someone else, you might consider creating a new word or quirky misspelling out of "sumo", something that is catchy and fun to say. Suggestion: Sumo 8, Octosumo, Su-Mo, Omus, Sumo Time, Summo Time, Summo, Sumo Pow, Sumo Royale, Royale Sumo,...there's really no end of ideas on this theme.

More thoughts. Consider rewriting the description and rules of the game to get it down to an "elevator pitch"-like simplicity. Perhaps focusing first on the object of the game. I might suggest stating it something like this:

"The object TOT is to get the most pieces on the board before turns run out."

Then follow that statement with the the next important info like:

"Each player only get 20 turns. Each turn you place your choice of one of four different playing pieces. Use the special power of each playing piece to knock your opponent's pieces off the board. The player with the most pieces on the board when turns run out wins the game."

Then describe the pieces, perhaps even give them names.

One way - unlimited pieces

Two Way - ten pieces

Four Way - 1 piece

Eight Way - 1 piece

Going with the Sumo theme, and in less abstract design, you could even give these pieces Sumo wrestler personalities.


Anyway, just some thoughts.
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Pierre Rebstock
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blindspot wrote:
Octosumo

This! thumbsup
With the appropriate cephalopodic artwork (screams cutesy/anime style to me) and thematic naming of pieces (one way = squid, etc), this has some great potential.
Can't see the art costing that much either, looking at 4 different pieces and a board. Maybe some additional illustrations for rulebook and box if going physical.
I'd probably buy multiple copies
 
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A L D A R O N
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Don't listen to the idiots who object to the look of the game. We hardly need yet another overworked over-themed iOS game. This is a great, clean, abstract with a great clean design and deserves some recognition. Good luck with it!
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Dan Huffman
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Gabe Alvaro (blindspot)

Wow. I can tell you really looked into TOT and gave it some thought. You sound like a pro in the industry. I just wish I could have consulted you about a year ago.

I'm still new to this and know nothing about marketing a game. I'm going to wait a little while longer to see what happens. If there's no change I may do the things you suggested and re-release the game.

Thanks for the advice, all really good, and the time you took to think and write this comment.

Dan
 
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Dan Huffman
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Thanks PierreNZ. The only thing I don't care for is the cutsy anime style artwork because I'm trying to appeal to a mature audience that appreciate games like Chess, Go, Shogi, all the time-tested classics.

But I am thinking of releasing an arcade version of TOT with a similar theme as you suggest.
 
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Dan Huffman
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Aldaron.

And finally I am really glad to find someone who likes TOT as is.

Thank you very much.

P.S. TOT is starting to catch on. about 500 downloads of the free version yesterday. Yeah!
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Scott Alden
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Here's a link to the app for those of us actually just wanting to look at the it: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-octagon-theory/id47558055...
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Dan Huffman
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Hey everybody. Please don't forget that I'm still giving away codes. I'll be online tonight (Japan time) and you can try a new style of board game.
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Clem Fandango
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Well done. I hate abstracts but good on you, or as the Irish say 'fair play to you'.
I got excited when I misread cyberpunk for steampunk.... anyways

I've flicked you 15 gg
If you're interested in hanging around here more I'll give you another 15 (making 30) which is enough for an avatar.
let me know
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Hi Dan,
Another thing that could help is contacting the various 'free app a day' apps creators and allow them to list your game. One day of free give-away will do a lot to promote your game.

In France, we have "Appgratuites". The creator goes by the name Simon and seems to be a very nice guy. He does a wonderful job at promoting apps (he negotiates with their creators a free givee-away day and he then publishes the name of the game on his app), and I suppose he has a huge following in France since the apps he writes about are always ranked amongst the top three in the 'popularity' tab of the Appstore, regardless of the style/content/interest of said app.

Good luck !
 
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Great idea thumbsup I wish you all the best with TOT! Success!!!
 
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Dan Huffman
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Free App A Day
Tarus. Thanks for the info. How can I contact Simon?
 
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Dan Huffman
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Success
Thanks Toco.
 
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Dan Huffman
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Thank you SamNzed. Yes I'd like another 15gg.
 
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Dan Huffman
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I'd really appreciate some feedback.
Has anybody tried TOT, either the iOS or Online versions? If so I'd sure like to hear your impressions, advice for additions, changes, or improvements?

Also TOT Online is always up. All you need is a friend to go online at the same time as you and then you can try a game of TOT. It only takes two.

http://TheOctagonTheory.com/play/

Regards,
Dan
 
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Nicholas Vitek
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Looks like a neat abstract.

Just as soon as I finish Wars of the Roses, I'll probably pick it up.
 
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