Freeing Krashlander

There is now a free version of Krashlander in the Windows Phone marketplace.  Not a lite version to upsell my paid version, but a FULL version with all levels.  The only difference is the free version has ads, the paid version does not.

So, why do this?  Why release a full version of the game for free?  Read on…

 

Ads (Pub Center) Work

Pub Center is basically Microsoft’s version of Google’s AdSense.  Now, with Windows Phone, Pub Center is available for use in Windows Phone games and apps.

Krashlander has been available as a paid game since the Windows Phone launch.  If I had to throw out a sales-per-day number, I’d say it averages around 25-35 sales a day.  I get about 70 cents per sale.  Not bad. Makes for some nice extra cash.

However, a recent blog post by Elbert Perez of Occasional Gamer shows that it’s possible to make substantially more than that using Pub Center Ads. The graphic below is from his blog post (Note, Elbert has 7 or 8 games in the marketplace which partly accounts for his great numbers)

OccasionalGamerAds

Image comes from blog post by Elbert Perez

Now, I’m not delusional and I don’t think by flipping my game to free I’m going to be rolling in the dough, but my “bet” is that I can make more per-day with Ads then by selling my paid version of Krashlander.  Also, Elbert’s not the only one claiming to make good money with Ads.  Others have also hinted they have had better luck with Ads then with paid games.

Since Elbert published his blog post, it appears the eCpm and therefore revenue from Ads has gone down a bit.  Even so, I think they are still, currently, a better bet than paid games/apps

 

Trials Do Not Move Games

The hope, both Microsoft’s, mine, and I think most others was that by baking a trial api into the Windows Phone and making it easy for everyone to offer a free sample of their game or app, developers would not need to go the iPhone route of making both a “Lite” version of their game and a full, paid version of their game.  The trial version was suppose to make the free/lite version un-necessary. 

Good plan, but it’s not working.  Best I can tell, free games and apps get anywhere from 10 to 100 times more downloads than games and apps with free trials.  People actively search out free Apps.  They don’t (and in fact CAN”T), search for apps or games that support trials.

I don’t know what the solution to this is, or if there even is one, but right now if you want to build a user base for your games on Windows Phone, free is where it’s at.

 

XBox Live Ceiling

As I mentioned above, Krashlander has been available as a paid (99 cent) game since launch.  And, for pretty much this whole time, it has sat right at the bottom of the XBox Live titles in the Marketplace.  In fact it is actually above a number of them.

GameLevel4

Krashlander living under the XBox Live Ceiling

Now, in some ways this is great and I am happy Krashlander is doing as well as it is. However, given how XBox Live games are promoted and positioned in the Marketplace, I don’t see Krashlander, or any other indie game for that matter, ever being positioned anywhere but below a long (and getting longer) list of XBox Live games.

I’m not here to complain about this.  It is what it is and I’ve voiced my concerns to those that matter.  I just want to express my opinion that as things currently exist, routing around the XBox Live games by going free seems to be a better bet.

 

Let EVERYONE Play

There are a lot of countries that have the Windows Phone but are not able to purchase games.  They can play all the game/app trials and the free games, but they can’t purchase them.

Releasing a free version of Krashlander will let these folks play my game and hopefully help build a “following” for my games. 

I’m getting blog-fatigue, so I’ll wrap it up.

Conclusion

It’s still early days with the Windows Phone ecosystem.  I expect things to change often as Microsoft figures things out.  Someday it may make more sense to focus more on paid games again instead of free Ad based games. If that is the case then I’ll adjust.   Staying fluid, I think, is the key

With the Nokia deal there will hopefully be a momentum push for Windows Phone and it will reach critical mass.  If it does it’ll be a whole new game for us developers.

-Jeff Weber
www.farseergames.com
@jeffweber

Look for Krashlander and Krashlander Free in the Windows Phone marketplace.

Krashlander Gameplay for Level 13 and Level 16

Just uploaded a couple gameplay videos for krashlander.  These videos show the game on an actual device (Samsung Focus).  My primary reason for showing these is to help anyone having some trouble playing the game.  A few have told me they are having trouble with level 16 and others have told me getting a perfect score on level 13 is impossible.

Hopefully watching these vids will help.

Apologize for the poor quality. I currently do not have a good camera for recording live gameplay.  These were done with my iPod touch.

Here are the vids:

Krashlander Level 13 Triple Kill on Samsung Focus

 

Krashlander Level 16 on Samsung Focus

Building New Krashlander Levels (Sneak Peak)

I’ve been working on some long overdue new levels for Krashlander lately.  My plan right now is to create 9 new levels for total of 24, then release them in an update. (More levels will come in future updates)

I just finished my first new level.  Since the new levels are a bit more difficult then the original levels they take a bit longer to build and test.  This first level took me about 8 hrs total to create and test. This, of course, is spread over several days as I only get about 1.5 hrs. a day to work on my games.

One more thing you may notice is that I’ve relaxed the need for “realism” in the landscape.  Many of the slopes and such are just “floating” in the sky.  This was done for 2 main reasons.  I get more performance because I don’t have to render quite as much, and it allows for more interesting and intricate levels.

Here is a sneak peak of the first new level.  The first image is what the level looks like as I build it out in a sort of wire-frame mode.  The 2nd image is what it looks like after I add all the graphics.

GameLevel1

Wireframe view of level

 

GameLevel2

Finished level (no background)

Request For Cool Krashlander Level Design Ideas

Have you been playing Krashlander on the Windows Phone?  Do you have some great level ideas?  As I begin to finally add some more levels to the game, I thought I’d reach out and see if anyone has any cool ideas they’d like to share.

For right now I’m just looking for level design ideas rather than new game features.  If you have do have some ideas, please sketch them out in your favorite drawing tool and send me a screen capture.

You can send your ideas to farseergames@gmail.com

No promises on whether I use your idea or not but I do promise I’ll look at and consider all ideas.

-Jeff Weber
@jeffweber

Krashlander Sales Numbers Post

Microsoft has just released downloads and sales data for Windows Phone 7 Apps.

Thought I’d share.

For some perspective, Krashlander currently sits in position 32 of all paid apps. 

Overall the numbers are about what I expected.  I think WP7 and app sales should climb over time as the general public figures out just how great the phone is.

I think a lot of the blogs will claim these sales are low, but given that the phone is just getting started, I wouldn’t agree.

Here are the numbers.  This is a raw dump as I don’t have time to pretty them up.

GameLevel34

GameLevel35

GameLevel36

 

-Jeff Weber

Windows Phone 7: XBox Live Games vs. Non-XBox Live Games

First a disclaimer: I’m not writing this as a complaint about the Windows Phone 7 market place. I understand it’s still early days and things can and probably will change as the market place grows.  I just want to point out a trend I’m seeing in the hopes that Microsoft will consider re-looking at how the market place is setup in regards to XBox Live games vs. Non-XBox Live games.

If the trend I’m seeing continues, then I think there is a pretty good chance a year from now it will not be worth my time to develop Non-XBox Live games for the Windows Phone 7 and that would really stink because I LOVE the platform, tools, and ecosystem.

So what it the problem you ask?

Since I’ve released my Non-XBox Live game, Krashlander, to the Windows Phone 7 market place, I’ve been really focused on how the market place operates and on watching the trends that are beginning to surface.

As I write this, there are about 21 or so XBox Live games in the market place.  As you would expect, Microsoft features these games heavily over the Non-XBox Live games.  This is fine, I get it, and I have no problem with this.  It is Microsoft's platform after all.

The trend I’m seeing is that all the XBox Live games tend to bubble up to the top of the “Top Selling” list pushing any and all Non-XBox Live games downward.  But, what is the big deal with that?  Maybe they are just better games and deserve to be at the top.  Maybe so, but I have a feeling even the really good Non-XBox Live games, will not have a chance against the most mediocre XBox Live games.

Again, I don’t have a problem with this.  I’m all for Microsoft and the XBox Live game developers, some of who are just indies like me, making money. 

The problem I DO have, is that there is currently no way in the market place to view JUST the Non-XBox Live games.  This is not to big a problem today because there are only 21 or so XBox Live games.

Here is a view of the market place today, looking at all “Paid” games.

GameLevel14

Not to bad, the top Non-XBox Live games, including Krashlander, are just a short scroll down the list.

Now fast forward 1 year.  How many XBox Live games might there be?  50? 100, 150.  What about 2 years out? 300? 

As the number of XBox Live games increases, the fate of even the best Non-XBox Live games will be to sit at 150th, 200th or even further down the list of “Top” games.

If Microsoft is concerned only with maximizing the XBox Live games, then I guess this is how things will play out and all the Non-XBox Live game developers will just have to live with it or, more likely, move on to another platform.

My hope is that Microsoft would like to keep all WP7 game developers around in the hopes that some of the better Non-XBox Live games could be promoted to XBox Live titles.

All I’d really like to see is a re-working of the top level filters to allow players to see:

  • Just XBox Live titles (this is already there)
  • Just Non-XBox Live games
  • All games.

Again I’d like to point out I do not have a problem with XBox Live games having more prominence in the market place. That makes sense to me.  I just want Non-XBox Live to have a chance to be seen some place other than as the 200th item in a list. 

-Jeff Weber.
www.farseergames.com
@jeffweber.

Krashlander: Triple Kill

I was recording some Krashlander game play clips to use in the official Krashlander trailer when I pulled of a triple kill on a level I didn’t think it was even possible.

Video speaks for itself I think.  (Last part is in slow motion in an attempt to show the action a little better.)

Krashlander: Triple Kill

Krashlander is now available for Windows Phone 7. Look for it in the Zune Marketplace.

-Jeff Weber.

Krashlander UI

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on the Krashlander UI.  My goal, as always, is to keep things simple.  I really liked the way the new Windows Phone 7 pivot control looked and felt, so I decided to use it as my primary UI.

Krashlander UI Demo

I’m very much down to brass-tacks on Krashlander.  The only outstanding items I have are:

  • Create the remaining 8 levels and tune them for performance and feel.
  • Add trial logic to entice players to purchase the game.
  • Create all the ancillary media for the marketplace and Windows Phone 7 menus.
  • Finish any other odds and ends that crop up while doing the 3 tasks above.

I won’t be able to tune the levels for feel until I get my hands on  another device.  Hopefully I can get hold of one prior to launch.  If somebody has one that they could part with for a week PLEASE let me know.

I’m really looking forward to getting Krashlander into some hands other than mine.  I think it’s a unique game and I’m anxious to find out what others think.

@jeffweber
www.farseergames.com

A Robot Loses His Head

I just posted a recent clip of actual gameplay from Krashlander.  Things are progressing well, I still have a bunch of levels to build and a UI to create (waiting for final build of WP7 controls), but all things considered, I’m happy with where things are.

Here is the video:
(Warning: If you are fond of robots I recommend you do not watch the end of this video.)

A Robot Loses His Head

 

To show how things have progressed, here is an old Krashlander video I made.

Very early Krashlander video

 

Jeff Weber
@jeffweber
jeffweber@live.com

Touching Krashlander

I’ve been spending every spare moment I have getting Krashlander ready for the Window Phone 7 launch.  I decided today to take a few minutes away from development and put together a short video.

The following video shows how the touch controls for Krashlander operate.  Essentially, moving your thumb over the touch surface on the right controls the posture of Krashlander on the left.  There is a bit of math involved to get this working smoothly, but I think it’s pretty intuitive after a few minutes playing with it.

The overlay icons on the right are just there to help guide the user as they learn the controls.  Once comfortable, they can be shut off making for a better view of the game screen.

Enough jabber, here’s the vid:

One last note.  I actually scaled up the size of Krashlander for the video.  In actual gameplay, he/she will be a bit smaller.

-Jeff Weber
@jeffweber

Farseer Physics Engine 3.0 RELEASED

Ian Qvist and his team of developers recently released the latest version of the Farseer Physics Engine.

FarseerPhysicsNoBorder430X260

This version throws out most of the old code and instead extends the current latest version of Box2D.

It also leverages the Box2D.XNA port of Box2D. 

For all the details about the latest version of the Farseer Physics Engine, go here.

Do go direct to the download go here

Personally, I’d like to say thanks to everyone that worked to get this release out.  Great job!

And now I’m off to port my game, Krashlander, to the FPE 3.0…

 

-Jeff Weber

Look peeps, a krashlander level!

This is one of my first full size levels I put together for krashlander. This is what it looks like in Microsoft Blend, which I’m basically using as my level editor.

The green dot in the upper left is the starting point for krashlander (the main character of the game) and if you look close you can see the enemy robot on the other end.

The goal, at least as things stand now, is to destroy all robots!  Pretty simple, actually, if you can get to them. (evil smile…)

GameLevel30

A krashlander level as seen from the editor (Blend)

My Official Request for a Windows Phone 7 Developer Device

Note: This post is directed toward the Windows Phone 7 developer team.  It’s a shameless plug for my games and myself so that I might be chosen to receive one of the highly sought after Window Phone 7 developer devices.

Hello Window Phone 7 team, my name is Jeff Weber.  I’m a team-of-one Silverlight game developer and I’d like to officially request early access to one of the Windows Phone 7 developer kits. 

Immediately below is a short intro to the game I’m currently working on and beyond that are some of the things I’ve worked on in the past that show my commitment to Silverlight, Silverlight Games, and now Silverlight Games on Windows Phone 7.

My Windows Phone 7 Game

I’m currently deep into development of a Silverlight game for Windows Phone 7 called, Krashlander.  It is a physics based game that will be controlled entirely by touch-gestures. 

Videos speaks louder than words, so here is video of an early prototype:

      

Since this game relies heavily on well-tuned touch-based gestures, I will need an actual physical phone device in order to complete the game development for the Windows Phone 7 launch.

I think Krashlander has potential to be a viral hit and I think it’ll show off Windows Phone 7 well.

My dedication to Silverilght Game Development

Below is a list of the things that show my dedication and passion for all things Silverlight/Microsoft.

Silverlight Games: Diver and Diver 2

Diver and Diver 2 are by far my two most successful Silverlight games.  A version of Diver for Windows Phone 7 is definitely in the plans.

  • Here is the video trailer for Diver 2. (It uses the same gesture based control that I’ll be using for Krashlander:
  • Diver and Diver 2, combined, have been played over 600,000 times (based on page views). That translates to quite a few Silverlight plug-in installs by the online games community.

image 

GameLevel2

 

Silverlight Game: Tire Storm

Tire Storm is a more casual game that will also be ported to Windows Phone 7.  It’s biggest claim to fame, in my mind, is that it’s the only (I think) Silverlight game currently on the very popular online games portal, Kongregate

image


Farseer Physics Engine

I was the original developer of the Farseer Physics Engine.  The engine was originally developed for the XNA platform by myself and later ported to Silverlight by Bill Reiss.

The Farseer Physics Engine has been used in many projects across the web and the XNA Indie Games community.

While I have since handed off the ongoing development to a very capable group of developers from the community, I remain a heavy user of the engine and I think it has done a great deal of good for the XNA and Silverlight community.

Final Pitch

I am and have been a loyal Silverlight game developer with unique game ideas.  I plan to target Window Phone 7 for all my games going forward. 

As a lone-developer with big ideas, please consider me for a Windows Phone 7 developer device. 

If you have any questions, comments or advice for me, please contact me via one of the following.

Email: jeffweber@live.com
Twitter: @jeffweber

Thanks for your time,

Jeff Weber
www.farseergames.com