Upcoming Patch: Review Requests

In a patch that will go live later this week, we’re adding a small pop-up window to the game that asks the player if they would take a moment to review the game. I would have put this update through last week (Jack finished this feature a while ago), but my laptop was on the fritz and I just got it back this morning.

I realize it’s a bit odd to talk about a patch before it goes out, but I wanted to explain our thought process behind this addition. This patch will be a bit different than the others. We’ve just been fixing bugs for the past few weeks, but this is an addition that might rub people the wrong way. Read on if you’re an indie developer, because this totally affects your business…

 

No one likes “barriers to fun.”

Why We Didn’t Launch With This

Jack and I spent a long time working on Where Shadows Slumber. During that time, the user interface went through quite a few iterations. The “user experience” was even more important to us than the interface itself. We always asked ourselves what we wanted the player to feel when they first opened the app, or when they opened the app after closing it, or when they returned to the app after not playing Where Shadows Slumber for a few days.

One of our core principles was “don’t annoy the user,” and we took that very seriously. For you old-timers out there, did you ever notice how our free Demo jumps right into the first Level straight from the Splash Screen? Or did you notice how the final version of the game goes right into the Level 0-1 title card after the Splash Screen? We tried to take out as many “barriers to fun” as we could to make the experience as painless as possible. I think we did a great job! So far I’ve only seen one complaint that the game “has no Main Menu,” and that was on a 5-star review. So it wasn’t that big of an issue after all!

Anyway, when the topic of review requests came up, we weren’t enthusiastic about the idea. Sure, every mobile game does it – but we were worried it would annoy people so much, they would give the game a bad review, and say something like “too many pop-ups!!” People are weird. You never know what might set them off.

But it’s a classic Catch-22, because if we don’t ask for reviews, we might not get one at all. Less reviews & ratings mean that our game won’t become popular, which leads to less downloads, and the app goes into a death spiral. Furthermore, right now people who don’t enjoy Where Shadows Slumber have a lot of motivation to leave a bad review. But people who did enjoy the game have no motivation to leave a positive review. Think of it this way – when is the last time you left a great review for a restaurant you love? Have you ever done that? But I bet if you had a terrible experience at a restaurant, you couldn’t wait to go outside and write all about it on Yelp. It’s human nature to ignore the positives in life and let negative experiences motivate our actions.

Our old Demo got a ton of ratings (6,000+) compared to our final production release on Google Play. I realize that version was free, and it’s been out for two years, but I think a review request also had something to do with it. The problem is that the Demo’s review request was at the very end of the experience after the last Level. I don’t really want people to have to beat the entirety of Where Shadows Slumber before they get a message asking them to leave a review. Instead, we’re putting the request towards the middle of the game.

Overall, I’m pretty optimistic. If we get this feature in before the next time Where Shadows Slumber goes on sale, and then drive a lot of downloads / installs with that sale, we might get a nice review bomb to bring us higher up the charts.

In conclusion, we’re hoping this addition:

  • Won’t annoy people too much
  • Will lead to more ratings overall
  • Will increase the rate of positive reviews to negative reviews

Wish us luck! Better yet, wish us 5-stars…

 

Eat an entire megaphone, as shown above. (No chewing!)

Make Your Voice Heard!

Once this launches, you probably won’t even notice it. Jack set a timer that’s pretty lengthy, so it’s rare that you’ll be asked twice or three times to review the app. Besides, if you haven’t done that already, what are you waiting for?

But seriously, if you have any comments or concerns, leave a comment on this post or on Facebook! We want to know what you think. Especially if you have any marketing ideas for us, because we want to do everything we can to get Where Shadows Slumber out to the whole world.

See you next week! A financial update article is in the works, so you won’t want to miss out. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog…

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store.

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Patch Notes: Build 1.0.5

Patch 1.0.5 is out on the App Store right now! Here’s a quick look at what that means, plus an update on our upcoming Android release.

 

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What’s In This Patch

These changes are available right now to anyone who has Where Shadows Slumber on iOS. Go to the App Store and re-download the game if it doesn’t automatically update.

Draggables

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the past month about our draggable touch control scheme. For the uninitiated, draggables are those glowing square pieces in the game that you can move by dragging them with your finger. (Hence, the shorthand “draggable”) It wasn’t clear why some people didn’t like the way we had it set up, but it seemed like everyone had a different understanding of how these objects should move under their control.

I’m not entirely sure what Jack did to rewrite it, but they feel great right now. Give it a shot! I’d say that’s worth buying the game over, if you haven’t already 😉 In particular, those draggable pieces that rotate have been made much smoother. If you gave us a review that mentioned this issue, we ask that you try the game again and reconsider your review.

Language Availability

This “fix” didn’t really address a bug, but rather addressed something I screwed up when I first uploaded Where Shadows Slumber to iTunes Connect before our iOS launch. I assumed that Apple would recognize the language options in our game (we have 11 languages besides English you can play the game in) but that’s not how this works. In Xcode, you need to manually set which language options are in your game. Otherwise, your game will only show customers that “English” is an option.

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I had a feeling this was hurting our sales. Also, it really bugged me. So I changed that too! Now it properly shows the language options on the App Store when you go to see the game’s page. Let’s hope the Germans in Germany and the Japanese in Japan don’t feel left out anymore…

This patch also fixed some small visual errors in a few Levels – the kind of thing we would notice, but players probably never saw. The big thing in this patch was the draggables. No other patches are planned at the moment, but we’ll see if anything else breaks I guess!

 

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Prepare Yourselves For Android!

At this point, Jack has tested the game on dozens of Android devices using a simulator service we got from Amazon Web Services. Along with the positive feedback we got from our free beta, we’re happy to report that the game is ready for prime-time and has received the “green light” – Where Shadows Slumber is launching on Android November 20th! Of course, you can still sign up for the beta right here, as we’ll be updating it on launch day to direct everyone toward the full release. That’s a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on the day 1 insanity!

So far, 3,833 of you have graced our beta with your presence! We hit our cap a few times and had to keep raising it, so it’s at 5,500 now. I doubt we’ll get that many people, but we’ll see…

 

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Supanova Brisbane, Here I Come!

I’m writing this blog post from the rainforests of Mt. Ommaney, Brisbane, Australia. The screeches of exotic birds outside my window was soothing, until a local told me that was actually the sound of two possums fighting each other on the roof. Easy come, easy go I suppose.

The Australians I’ve met on my trip so far keep asking me: why did I choose Adelaide and Brisbane to visit instead of Melbourne and Syndey? The answer is Supanova, of course! Supanova is a comic & gaming convention series native to Australia, and they allow game developers to show off their work in the Artist’s Alley. I just came from Supanova Adelaide this past weekend, and I’m heading to Supanova Brisbane on Friday. Here’s the address:

Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC)
Merivale St, South Brisbane
Queensland 4101

If you’re reading this and you’re coming to the show, the first thing I want to say is “what are the odds of that? Wow!” The next thing I want to say is “come say hi to me!” I’ll be in the Artist’s Alley. You’ll recognize my table because it will have a bunch of mobile devices running Where Shadows Slumber. If you’re in line to get Dean Cain’s autograph, you’ve gone too far.

See you there?

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available on the App Store! bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

 

Calling All Androids

Greetings, Android fans of Where Shadows Slumber!

I realize many of you were dismayed that our original Sept. 20th launch was only on the App Store, but we have good news. We’re knee-deep in Android testing as we speak, which means you have the opportunity to play Where Shadows Slumber on your Android device before the game launches on Google Play later this year!

Read on for details…

 

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What To Expect

Where Shadows Slumber is now available on Google Play through their BETA program. This free download allows you to play the first seven Levels of our game. We haven’t updated this thing since March, so if you played it back then you’ll definitely want to give the BETA another shot!

Remember that the purpose of this test is to help us with our upcoming Android launch. If you were hoping for more than seven Levels, we’re sorry! The team is more focused on solving hardware problems than providing a fun experience. (You’ll have to buy the full game for that…) There are 2,500 Android devices in current use, across six different functioning operating system versions. A ton of people still use Android 5.0, but Google is already up to version 9.0! There are so many combinations to test, we can’t possibly handle this on our own.

The BETA will allow you to see if the game runs on your old phone, see how well it performs, get a sense of the game’s controls and puzzles, and experience a tiny snippet of the game’s story. That’s all you need right now!

When you complete the BETA (which should only take 10 minutes) be sure to fill out the survey in the app description. For your convenience, here’s the link:

Google Survey

Happy testing, everyone!

 

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What’s The Plan?

Currently, we have 3,275 people enrolled in the Google BETA, which is awesome! There’s just one problem: Google doesn’t let you let people download your BETA for free if your game costs money. Our game will be $4.99 on Google Play, just like it is on the App Store. So the way we handled this issue was by splitting our game across two store pages. It’s not ideal, but it means that when the full game launches on Android, the BETA will still be hanging out and it will still be free. I guess it will serve as a kind of extra demo until we take it down? This is in addition to our current Demo, which has been on the store since 2016. How confusing!

Our hope is that having three different entries on the Google Play store directing people toward the full game will be better than having just one. It’s a shame we can’t bring all the BETA people directly over to the final game later, but we assume that those who care will follow our prompt when the game launches. We’re thinking of updating the BETA one last time with something that says “ok, the game is out, go buy it!” Whether it will still be playable at that point is still up in the air.

Stay tuned for more news about our upcoming Google Play release. I can’t promise a concrete date just yet, but we are certainly striving to get the game on Android before 2018 ends. That’s all I can say right now!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available on the App Store! bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

The Long Climb Ahead

Now that our game Where Shadows Slumber has been on the App Store for nearly two weeks, I’m getting a better sense of how things work on the platform. The team was very excited to see our game near the “big boys and girls” of the App Store during our launch weekend. However, since then, our ranking in the Puzzle section has dropped. Where we were once #3, we are now only #196 as of this writing. It changes every day!

Apple’s algorithm for displaying these games is likely based on sales figures and the app’s rating – a combination of quality and popularity. Our rating is 4.2 out of 5 as of this writing, and it also changes every day as more reviews trickle in. This blog post is about our struggles this past week to keep our rating in the golden zone.

 

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Mark Cuban always says “treat your customers like they own you – because they do.”

I’m Now A Customer Service Agent!

I did not expect this unlikely transition, but I’ve gone from head artist on Where Shadows Slumber to Game Revenant’s sole customer service rep. Between responding to reviews on our app page through App Store Connect, fielding questions over email, chatting with people through the Game Revenant Facebook Page, and even responding to bug-report tweets (!) most of my time is spent communicating with customers.

That’s a lot better than not communicating with customers of course, but I still wish I had more time to dedicate to promotion. For example, I’ve been dragging my feet releasing a full 1 minute long trailer. It still hasn’t gone live! I also planned to sign up for physical events where I can go to hawk our product in front of real customers, but I haven’t prepared as much of that as I would have liked.

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Even so, responding to customers is my number 1 priority. We want our rating (4.2) to be as close to 5.0 as possible. You’ll never get a perfect 5.0, so the question becomes “how do we get our average rating as high as possible?” Most of our friends and family probably already reviewed our game at this point, so we can only get new 5 star reviews from new fans. But my strategy is to be super nice to everyone who left a 1-star review, in the hopes that they change their mind. This has already happened once, so the plan is working! (See above – this user experienced crashes and left a 1-star review. After some compassionate understanding and furious debugging, they changed their mind!)

 

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Furious Debugging and Patching

Speaking of furious debugging, if you read Jack’s post last week, you’re aware that some players have encountered serious bugs with our game. Those problems are gone now, but it’s a shame so much of our launch week was spent focusing on these issues. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about Static Objects and the Memory readout in Xcode – one I shall not soon forget! I had a feeling our first few weeks would be focused on debugging, but I was hoping the errors would not be so widespread.

This caused a delay in responding to customers as well, because I didn’t want to reply to them before the issue was fixed. I’m happy to say that we’re mostly good now, at least on Apple devices from the last three years. If you’ve encountered any serious errors your first time playing our game, please download the most recent version of Where Shadows Slumber from the App Store and you’ll find it good as new!

 

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Help Us Out!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Where Shadows Slumber on iOS and leave a 5-star rating. I’m going to ask for that every single time I make a blog post from this point on! It’s super useful and it helps us climb back up to the top of the chart where this game belongs. The higher we are on the chart, the more people will see our game. That means a higher potential for sales, which is money in the pockets of everyone who worked so hard on the game.

And if you’re waiting for Android… just wait longer! We’re ramping up Android testing as we speak. I hope to have more details for you next week.

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is available on the App Store ==> bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.