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Space Empires: 4X» Forums » General

Subject: iPad, iPod, iPhone App for Space Empires 4 rss

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Tony Pitman
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I have written myself an app for the iPad / iPod Touch / iPhone. This app replaces the paper that you use to record the econ, tech and ships stuff on. I also have many other features I want to add.

I have emailed GMT Games to ask their permission to sell it, but have not heard back. I am hoping maybe someone from GMT will see this post and reply to me. Maybe they are still thinking about it.

At any rate I also wanted to ask here who would be interested in the app. It doesn't replace the game itself in any way. You play the game with the board and pieces like normal. You just don't have to record everything using pencil and paper. It does all the math for you and has many of the limits in it from the rules.

I also plan on adding more of the limits from the rules as well as a battle board, but that will come later.

Since there are not very many people who own the game and much less who will probably buy the app I am wondering who would be willing to pay $9.95 for it. I know free would be best and most apps are about $1, but with such a small market I need to charge a little more in order to be able to keep working on and enhancing it like I want to.

Thoughts?
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Philippe Kahr
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Pretty cool idea.

I like to do those apps too, being an apple dev myself.

I would really like one like this when I play the game. Depending on the look and feel, I would pay at the most 5$ for my iPad. I do think 10$ might be slightly on the pricy side imho.

Keep it up, you've got me as client as soon as it's available!
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Chester
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I'm a little confused what the app does beyond replacing the piece of paper. I doubt I'd be willing to pay more than .99 for something, but the description is vague. Seems like it would be easier to just whip up something myself than to pay $10.
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Tony Pitman
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Thank you for your support. I threw out $10 because I would like to get that much based on possible number of purchases, but I agree $5 or less is probably more likely.

I would rather sell 10 at $5 than 20 at $1, so I am really looking for a good middle ground price.
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Tony Pitman
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@Chester: You probably could code up something pretty quick. It has taken me a few weeks to do what I have.

I guess I will try to give a little more information about what it is. This might demonstrate the value a little better.

There are 4 tabs:

Game List (to save and load games)

Econ Phase (replaces the spreadsheet like page where you track economy phases)

Technology (replaces the tech spreadsheet and allows you to buy new tech)

Ships (replaces the ship spreadsheet and allows you to see current ships and their tech levels as well as upgrade tech and buy / destroy ships)

All of the screens work together.

When you buy new ships it will base the tech of the ship on the current tech levels and other rules like hull size limits on attack tech etc.

When you go through the econ phase it totals things up as you go, carries over remaining from the previous phase and accounts for maintenance based on currently active ships on the ship page.

When buying tech or ships it "knows" how much CP is available from the current econ phase on the econ phase page. As you buy tech or ships it grays out thinks you can't afford.

It knows things like how much it costs to upgrade tech individually or all tech (hull X 1 or hull X 2 etc).

I have played through a few games with it and it makes the econ phase go much faster without loosing any of the feel of playing a board game.

I know there are many people who love the whole tracking it on paper part of board games. This app is not for them. It is for those of us who love to play board games for the strategy and having fun with others, but get bogged down in tracking all the details.
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Bob
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I know I would be interested for sure.

Can you "pass and play"? I.E. have one iPad for a 4 player game and just pass it around? Just curious.

$9.99 is a hefty price for the Apple Store. Many games, including full board games are less than that (Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer or Starbase Orion for example). I understand your need to justify your hard work. I know I would probably pay that much for an app like this but that's probably more because I'm a big geek for this game. :-)
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Tony Pitman
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Pass and play is a great idea. I certainly could do that, but currently it doesn't. This is the kind of thing I am trying to get a feel for interest in it. If there is interest and I can get a little money out of it (I don't expect to get very much anyway), then I have lots of plans for it.

The only down side to a pass and play would be having to wait when usually the econ phase happens for everyone at once. Still a very cool idea.
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James Perry
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I would not pay $10. I do not care how cool it is, at that price I would want a full implementation of the game.

There is already a free web based replacement although it could use improvements. To justify purchasing an app it must have more than basic functionality, which it sounds like you have. To justify more than $.99 it must be a great app (sorry, but the app market has set the price point low even for quality apps).

Consider that for $4.99 I bought Small Worldand Carcassonne for the IPad, I would prabably not spend more tha $2 for a game aid.
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Michael Edwards
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I certainly understand your pricing desire. I'm certain you are correct, in that the potential market will be small.

However, flip it around to look at it from a users point of view. I don't know about others, but I still have yet to get Space Empires 4X to the table. I don't expect to play it more than, oh, say five times if I'm lucky.

As a user, I'm not sure I can justify an app that costs 20% of the game cost. Looking at it another way, I'm guessing that it would be 2$/play for me. It would seem pricey to me.

Unfortunately, I think I'm on the lenient end of accepting higher prices of iOS apps - I've been in the software biz, and have a friend who develops iOS apps. Many users are now conditioned to the 99¢ price. Also, look at other apps - even for the iPad, which tolerates pricier apps - that are at that price point. Apple's Pages, etc - broadly useful, professionally polished apps. Full on board games with the original art often go for $4.99. I own several Dominion apps, which were mostly free or 99¢.

Now, I could well be wrong - perhaps there are power players of SE4X who will chime in and say they'd pony up for what sounds like a very useful tool. But, if they don't, I'd personally suggest just developing it to a level that works for you. Whatever features you need, plus perhaps whatever polish is needed for it to clear the app approval process. Perhaps you might consider it as a showcase app, to demo your app programming skills. In any case, then you can put it up on the app store for a cheaper price, with no expectations - any sales will be a bonus.

But, that's just the opinion of someone who doesn't have to do any programming work (which the consuming public vastly underestimates the work and difficulty involved, I know).

Best of luck!
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Tony Pitman
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@ Michael

Excellent feedback. My main focus is to make it for me, of course. We will see how it goes. Thank you.
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Chester
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Personally, I think for what you've described the smartest move would be to price it at 0.99. That's a non-decision purchase for most players with an iPad. You'll get more advertising by people showing their gaming friends than any other way you might let people know about the game...and I'd wager your bottom line would be more dollars than any other price point.

I'd buy a .99 App, but higher than that I'd feel like I'm just being lazy and should do it myself (even if its still on paper). The book-keeping is just not that complicated.

If its mainly for yourself, then do whatever you want with it. But I'd be pretty surprised if more than a handful of people want to pay even $5 for what you've described. (Just honest feedback.)

I hope you DO get to release it. It would be cool to think you were rewarded for your contribution.
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Edward Rustin
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Speaking as someone who is a developer (including some iOS work, but just to scratch my own itches), I'd not pay $9.99 for an app which I could create much of the functionality of in the space of a couple of hours.

While I really don't want to sound like I'm snubbing your app, which I'm sure took plenty of time and effort to create, there's just frankly not enough there to justify anything beyond entirely minimal pricing, if it were even priced at all.

The same app could likely be created either as a spreadsheet that will run in Numbers on an iPhone/iPad/iTouch, or an HTML5 'app' (you can create web based apps which will still run without an internet connection using HTML5), either of which would not be much work to create.

I admire your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in creating the app to begin with, but I feel that you've picked a complicated way to create a simple app, and you're trying to price it on your perceived effort in creating it, rather than the value it brings to players - especially given the existence of alternatives that can already be used from iOS devices (namely the webpage mentioned a few comments ago).
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Tony Pitman
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This is all great feedback. Thank you.

If I can get permission from GMT or whoever holds the copyright I will probably release the game for $0.99.

I will keep everyone posted.
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Ægir Æxx
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I would definitely get it for a buck or two but not ten dollars.

That pass and play feature would sell it to me because I'm the only one in my group that has an iPad.
 
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Herodian Smith
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Sorry, mate. I would consider paying $10 for a Space Empires app if Jim and GMT were making an ipad version of the entire game, but definitely not just for the econ sheet.

Edit: I see you are considering a buck. I would do a buck for the convenience of not having a paper econ sheet, for sure. I hope GMT likes your idea.
 
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Tony Pitman
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I have not heard anything from GMT. I have email just about everyone I can think of involved with the game.

I did hear back from one of the people involved in the game, but they do not have the rights to give me permission to release this tool.

I was wondering what everyone thinks of me releasing it without their permission? If I did and they told me to stop selling it I would right away do that.

Would anyone NOT buy it because I don't have permission?

I don't want to do anything wrong here, but without them saying anything I am not sure what to do.
 
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Pete Hooper
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Have you tried contacting them via telephone?

I would be hesitant about selling something if you're at all unsure about it.
 
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Bob
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I would get permission if you can.
 
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Ægir Æxx
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I've used their online customer chat thing in top right corner of the page -(linkylink)-


Maybe you could contact Jim Krohn directly via GeekMail.
Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Yes, he did that already. I don't have a problem with it, but it is above my pay grade - I don't have the authority to say yea or nay.
 
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Oliver Paul
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Yeah $10 is way too much. I think something like $2.99 would be most people's breaking point.
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Tony Pitman
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Thanks for chiming in, Jim....

I finally got a hold of them via phone (thanks for the suggestion Pete). I then got an email from Gene Billingsley, who is one of the major owners of GMT games.

He told me that they are currently in an agreement for a company to make a full version of Space Empires for the iPad. This is exciting news.

The down side is that he said because of that agreement they cannot give me permission to release this helper.

I did a little searching, it wasn't hard, and found that it is probably Strategy First and Nvinium that Gene was talking about.

I sent them an email to see if they could give some input. I would suspect that if all parties allowed it I could do it.

I sure hope so because I love using this helper and think many others would as well.

It doesn't compete with the full game that they are doing in any way.

Here's to hoping.....
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I don't think there is a problem releasing it without permission, if you don't charge for it and don't use any proprietary artwork, etc.

If you charge, I think you really need permission, and probably to pay some kind of licensing or royalties.
 
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Bob
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tpitman wrote:

I did a little searching, it wasn't hard, and found that it is probably Strategy First and Nvinium that Gene was talking about.


Actually, I think Nvinium took Strategy First's Space Empires license and made a Facebook game with it (http://playspaceempires.com/). It doesn't seem to use any of the old graphics. It is a freemium model social game (kinda lame IMO). I played it for a week or so then it wanted $$ for a colony ship.

Anyway, I don't know that this company is making the iOS/Android version of the game since they seem to make browser games. Also I'm not on the inside so who knows.
 
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