Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’m working on a nice front end for mods for Gratuitous Tank Battles. GSB had a ton of people modding it, which was awesome, but not a very intuitive mod install or management/discovery system. I hope to really improve on that for GTB.
Work in progress: (click to enlarge)

 

If you are a lone-wolf indie game dev, you probably don’t spend ANY time thinking about grand strategy when it comes to advertising. Don’t worry, I think about it enough for both of us :D

Which strategy works best for you, really does depend on your game and your overall business model (paid-app, DLC, micro-trans, subscriptions…). However, there might be some benefit to brainstorming different approaches…

#1 SCATTERGUN

You advertise EVERYWHERE, on different ad networks, with different ad types (text / image / video…) you try print ads and newsletter-mentions, sponsored blog posts, etc etc. Then, you look at the data and pick the one which converts the best. Problem is, with 20 different advertising approaches, you need to spend at least $20,000 to get anything vaguely usable in terms of stats.

#2 CHERRY PICKING

You set up your ad campaign to exclude almost everyone. Nobody above a certain age, nobody from countries that aren’t buyers, nobody on a platform that isn’t your target, nobody at the end of the month (broke) or when they are at work (9-5), nobody that isn’t on one of the hand picked websites that you think best represent the people who will buy your game. You then bid some silly amount like $1 a click, to make sure you get those high-converting visitors.

#3 PRODUCT PROFILE

You don’t care about clicks. You engineer things to get the lowest CPM (impression cost) you can. You definitely let google show the same ad to the same visitor ajn infinite number of times. Your ads don’t even really say much, they just have your logo as big and as bold as possible. Nobody will click them, and you don’t care. You just want name recognition for when your game is in a list on steam, or mentioned on kotaku, that makes people pay attention.

#4 THE SUBSTITUTE_REVIEW

You realise that nobody has a clue what sort fo game your’s is, or what you do, or how much it is, or that it’s on sale, so you concentrate on fitting all this information into BIG ads and plaster them all over the place. It doesn’t matter if sites won’t cover your game, because you can force your name onto their front page using your ad dollars. For added effect, you set up streaming ads to play video of your game.

#5 BARREL SCRAPAGE

You bid hilariously low on a huge number of ads, knowing that now and them, you are the only bidder. Your ads run for some laughable price like $0.01, and the traffic isn’t targeted at all, but given the amount of visits they generate. you figure that you are playing the law of big numbers and all will work out. When you are selling a cheap game, this may work for you, because you can’t pay $1 for a visit when your game is $2.99.

#6 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

You don’t advertise your game, but your site, with all 10 games you have made. For added impact, you affiliate some other indie devs games and suddenly your website looks like steam. An ad may well bring a disinterested clicker, but now he has ten opportunities to be interested, and you might suddenly be able to afford a higher cost per click. (This is the basic principle behind when I’ve run ad campaigns for www.showmethegames.com).

amusing ad break…

I don’t know which of these strategies is overall the best, but they are all worth considering, if not necessarily gambling $20k on :D

Ok, I’m off to London for the day, but in the meantime, here are three fresh screenshots from me playtesting Gratuitous Tank Battles (click to enlarge):

A Snow battle:

A night-vision screenshot

A forest battle:

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I’m experimenting with using the humble store for my direct sles, on two products: Gratuitous Space Battles, and the GSB collectors edition. The buy page, for those interested, is here:

http://positech.co.uk/gratuitousspacebattles/register.html

I’m still using BMTMicro there for my credit card payments. I’ve been with BMT a long time, so it would take a lot to move me, but I know that the humble bundles are very popular and I’m guessing there are a lot of people out there who ‘trust’ the humble store as a brand, whereas they may not have encountered BMTMicro before.

In any case, it’s an experiment to see if it affects sales up or down :D

Also… Patch 1.009 for Gratuitous Tank Battles has been released. Here is the changelist:

1) Fixed crash when attempting to save out a unit that had a * in the name.
2) Setting windowed mode, whilst also matching your desktop resolution will result in borderless window mode now.
3) Game now explains to player that they won't see any challenges until they are logged in.
4) Online challenge browser now shows complete two-line descriptions rather than cropping them at one line.
5) Fixed bug where the game would hang sometimes on playing custom or online maps as defender with 'scenario units' where a small number of units was included.
6) Fix for occasional crash bug on saving units (in some circumstances)
7) Fixed bug in non-steam version where the default sample units could not be deleted from within the game.
8) Balance:Laser carbine cost up from 3 to 5.
9) Balance:Heavy Pulse laser damage up from 6 to 8
10) Balance:Rapid Pulse blaster damage up from 4 to 5
11) Balance:Light pulse laser damage down from 9 to 6
12) Balance:Salvo interval for incendiary rockets up from 300 to 2000
13) Balance: Heavy Missile Rack damage down from 68 to 52
14) Balance: HEAP Missile thrower fire interval up from 1400 to 1700
15) Balance: Light Missile launcher damage down from 38 to 31
16) Added new map : campaign map 12.
17) Fixed bug where sorting by class on the unit design load dialog sometimes did not work entirely.
18) Balance: Changed the difficulty of a number of scenarios.

More fixes and improvements to come…

Patch coming soon

May 22, 2012 | Filed under: gratuitous tank battles

There will be a GTB patch very soon to address a few issues. There are some people (tiny percentage, but it must be annoying) who are experiencing performance issues ONLY when running the game through steam. So far, that has us foxed, but we are still working on it… (you can run the game direct from GTB.exe and all is then fine).

There are some crash bugs on design saving and so on, all being fixed, plus weapon and level balancing and a new map…

version 1.009 (in development)
=============
1) Fixed crash when attempting to save out a unit that had a * in the name.
2) Setting windowed mode, whilst also matching your desktop resolution will result in borderless window mode now.
3) Game now explains to player that they won't see any challenges until they are logged in.
4) Online challenge browser now shows complete two-line descriptions rather than cropping them at one line.
5) Fixed bug where the game would hang sometimes on playing custom or online maps as defender with 'scenario units' where a small number of units was included.
6) Fix for occasional crash bug on saving units (in some circumstances)
7) Fixed bug in non-steam version where the default sample units could not be deleted from within the game.
8) Balance:Laser carbine cost up from 3 to 5.
9) Balance:Heavy Pulse laser damage up from 6 to 8
10) Balance:Rapid Pulse blaster damage up from 4 to 5
11) Balance:Light pulse laser damage down from 9 to 6
12) Balance:Salvo interval for incendiary rockets up from 300 to 2000
13) Balance: Heavy Missile Rack damage down from 68 to 52
14) Balance: HEAP Missile thrower fire interval up from 1400 to 1700
15) Balance: Light Missile launcher damage down from 38 to 31
16) Added new map: Mission 12!

New map screenshot:

Also the difficulty of 3 or 4 missions is going to be updated and improved to balance them more…