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.

Trick or Treat, Scammers!

It’s that time of year again – the leaves are changing, the air is getting colder, and everyone is getting their costumes ready for Halloween!

But mischief is also in the air…

We’ve been enjoying watching Where Shadows Slumber take off on the App Store since we launched last month. However, not everyone is happy for our success. Some people have tried to scam us out of our hard-earned game by trying to get free promo codes even though they aren’t journalists, YouTubers, streamers, or influencers.

Apple doesn’t want us giving these codes out to regular customers! That’s why you only get 100 at a time. They even give you a massive contract that lays out what the codes are for, specifically so you don’t fall for people’s stories. And while I understand we’ll never be able to do anything about software piracy, there’s no reason I need to fall for cheap tricks…

So in the spirit of Halloween, here’s two ridiculous stories of would-be scammers attempting to pull one over on yours truly. Share this funny article with your friends, even if they’ve never heard of Where Shadows Slumber! I think anyone who works in customer service will find this hilarious.

operation_open_heart_281071147227529

Scammer #1 – The $8.00 Heart Operation

Our first scam attempt comes from Salama Youssef, who emailed us at contact@GameRevenant.com with this touching copy/pasted tale:

Oct 8, 2018, 6:15 PM

Hello,

I always have an appreciation for Where Shadows Slumber application….

You can offer me a promo code for (Where Shadows Slumber for iphone) application because currently i have lost all my money on the Health of my family (my father suffered a heart operation that cost more than 8.0639 US Dollar (USD) so I am forced to tell your team that my situation finaciere can not allow me and my family pay the rent)

Sorry for the trouble I have caused for you, but, sincerely, I will be very happy if you discharge me from this sum.

God Bless You

Even if we believe this sob story about an $8.00 heart operation, can someone explain to me why this man needs a free copy of Where Shadows Slumber? As far as I’m aware, we don’t offer any of Apple’s new live-saving wearable functionality. It’s a puzzle game! Come on, dude. Also, the Google Translated English is a nice touch.

I didn’t even reply to this email, and he never followed up. It’s probably just an auto-generated email. Good for a chuckle, but time to move on.

32615903782_78bba148f3_b

Scammer #2 – My Daughter Ate My Homework

Our next scam took much longer, because this person kept pestering me. Say what you will about Mr. Youssef, but he knew when to find a new mark. But “Zahid Aslan / The Sunflower” just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I had some fun with him. Here’s the initial scam email:

Sat, Oct 6, 4:16 PM

Hi! I’ve purchased Where Shadows Slumber in iOS and was adoring it, but it seems like my daughter accidentally deleted it and when I was planning to reinstall, the appstore didn’t allow me to redownload the game for free for some reason. (No idea why, nothing I did to fix it worked, I even contacted Apple but they weren’t much help) so I was wondering if it’s okay if you can send a redeem code so I can reinstall the game? Thanks! Great game and worth $5!

Sent from my iPad

Not bad. I’ll be honest, this seemed real at first. A+ on this first email. He complimented the game, blamed two other people (his daughter, and Apple) and made it seem like contacting me was a last resort. He even put in the “sent from my iPad” bit at the end. Is this a pro Genji?

I had to dig a little deeper though, because I know how the App Store works. The error he’s talking about is impossible – you can’t “delete” something from your library of purchased iOS apps. So I replied immediately, and nicely asked him for some proof.

Wow I’m sorry to hear that! That’s very strange – it should be tied to your App Store account forever once you purchase it. We used all of our promo codes already, but I can try to see what the problem is.

Do you have the receipt in your email from when you bought it? Send me a screenshot of it and I’ll see how I can direct you. Unless you requested a refund, they should have it in your library permanently from now on.

Apple is pretty strict about refunds, so they’re keeping your money unfortunately [ x_x] but I’ll see what I can do!

-Frank

We hadn’t actually used all of our promo codes… that was just a little lie to get him talking. Then, he blew his cover with one of the worst things you can ever do: fake graphics. Read on…

Yeah it’s strange, I think this is the first time I’ve experienced it, Apple actually told me this

SunflowerScam

But Apple does provide more codes after each update I think, so I guess I will wait for that, since the refunding system for me is a mess and I don’t want to risk it.

Thanks anyway!
Sent from my iPad

Oh, Zahid. You flew too close to the sun, my friend. This is clearly a conversation he had with himself or a friend over Twitter DMs, with their names cropped out. Two dead giveaways here:

  • How could there be a “new bug” with iOS 11 a few weeks after iOS 12 launched?
  • Apple never tells customers to ask developers for promo codes.

Besides, he followed Game Revenant’s Twitter account with his own “Sunflower” Twitter account a few days earlier. When I noticed the similarities between the avatars, I did some snooping and found this:

Scam-Tweet

He must be some kind of weird man that emails developers for keys, and then hands them out on Twitter to boost his popularity. Not today, kid.

Here’s where I stopped responding. His game was up. I knew he was lying to me, and I didn’t have to call him on it. I planned to just ignore him.

But he wouldn’t stop.

If At First You Don’t Zahid…

As it turns out, we actually did update the game around October 7th for unrelated reasons. He apparently caught wind of this. Two days after the first email, he’s back in my Inbox:

Mon, Oct 8, 6:25 PM

Hi, I’ve seen you updated the game a day ago. Do you have a code now? Apple usually refreshes them after each update.

Sent from my iPad

I couldn’t believe he was still trying this! But I didn’t reply. Surely he’d go away, right?

Wrong!

Oct 9, 2018, 12:10 PM

Hello?

Not cool, man. You don’t get to flood my Inbox with annoying messages when you’re trying to scam me. And where’s the “Sent from my iPad” signature? Sloppy. That’s when I decided it was time for an early Halloween trick.

Apple promo codes are 12 digits long, and highly specific. All I had to do was create some random ones and make sure I didn’t accidentally give him real codes.

Sorry Zahid, I took off for Columbus Day! Here’s two codes, one for you and one for your daughter:
U1R7MR99G4Y0
G3TR3KT7N3RD
Have fun!!
-Frank

Apparently he didn’t notice that the second code is “GET REKT NERD” with numbers instead of vowels. These are totally fake! He tried them, and of course they didn’t work.

Oct 9, 2018, 5:12 PM

These are both invalid? Can you double check?

Sent from my iPad

Happy Halloween!

Oct 10, 2018, 5:37 PM

Hello? The codes you sent are not valid.

Sent from my iPad

LOL

Oct 11, 2018, 10:42 AM

Hi?

Man, he never gives up! He probably thought he had me, and got so close but lost out in the end due to chance. It was time for a Twitter conversation over DMs, apparently.

Once More, With Trolling

The Sunflower gives up on email, and decides to try Twitter. Mind you, this is the same Twitter account that has a picture from August where he’s handing out codes! It’s easier to just post the images of our conversation:

Sunflower-DM-0

Sunflower-DM-1.JPG

The last code I sent him? Read it again – it spells “NICE TRY BUDDY.”

Sunflower-DM-2.JPG

He says he’ll check, but we both know the truth – there is no receipt. There never was a receipt. There never was a daughter. There never was an iPad, either.

I haven’t heard from him since, but I hope he reads this blog post!

 

Why Did You Do This, Frank?

Listen, if you think I just did this because I’m a petty artist with too much time on my hands, you’re absolutely correct. Although in my defense, I normally don’t go out of my way to troll people – “The Sunflower” just kept pestering me and I wanted to get him to go away!

The reason I wrote this blog post is to warn indie developers, not just troll people. It’s very easy to fall for these scams when your game first launches – you’re excited that it’s on the store, but there are unexpected bugs all over the place, too. People are reaching out to you for help with issues, puzzles, or writing articles. There’s no time to really tell what’s what, and it’s easy to fall for a sob story about heart surgery or a dastardly daughter.

Customer service will be a new experience for you when you first put your game on the store, but the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes, there never was a customer.

Happy Halloween, scammers!

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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.

2018 Tour Dates

This blog post contains all of the conventions, seminars, lectures, and events we’ll be attending during 2018. Keep checking back for more as we update this post, and feel free to recommend en event to us in the comments if you don’t see it here!

 

October

We didn’t get to do too much during our launch month of September, since we planned to stay close to our computers unless all hell broke loose. Now that October is upon us, we have some great educational and promotional events lined up!

October 15th – Lecture @ The Academy of Innovative Technology, Brooklyn NY

A teacher at this really awesome public high school approached us during Play NYC 2018 to see if we’d be willing to come teach her students for a class or two. We were happy to accept! I’ll be speaking to the students in a closed setting about the reality of launching a mobile game on the App Store, our ongoing Android testing process, and life as an indie developer. This event is not open to the public, but I still thought it would be cool to mention it here!

October 20th – Panel @ College of Arts and Letters Alumni Panel, Hoboken NJ

This is another educational event that isn’t open to the public unfortunately, but it is exciting! Last year I was invited to return to my alma mater to field questions from incoming high school students about the art program at the Stevens Institute of Technology. I’m returning again this year, and since Where Shadows Slumber is out on iOS you can bet your tail I’ll be mentioning it every other sentence.

October 23rd – Postmortem @ Stevens Game Development Club, Hoboken NJ

Jack and I have been invited back to our old stomping grounds at Stevens in order to stomp on the ground. (We’re fantastic at it – it’s all about ankle strength, really.) The Stevens Game Development Club was a fantastic resource for us during our college years. I don’t know if I would even be making games if not for the connections I made during my time with the club. We’re returning to do a full postmortem about Where Shadows Slumber and field questions from an audience of aspiring young indie developers. Come join us if you’re in the area, it’s free!

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October 27th – Playcrafting’s Halloween Game Expo

We’re so glad Playcrafting is doing their Halloween Game Expo again this year. After a brief hiatus from the Microsoft Technology Center in Manhattan, Playcrafting is back at their usual spot for a fun-filled Halloween weekend event. We still have pictures from last year, where Jack went as Buster from Arrested Development and I went as “Frank forgot you had to bring a costume.” It was a blast, and we can’t wait to return with our finished game! The Playcrafting general audience has been waiting for Where Shadows Slumber for a long time.

 

November

November is an exciting month! I’ll be travelling to Australia to hit up two conventions “down under.” I originally wanted to hit up PAX Australia while I was going to be in the country, but we didn’t make it into their indie section. (It will be easier to apply to this stuff now that the game is finished – submitting dev builds is always shaky) Here’s our November schedule:

November 2nd – 4th – Supanova Adelaide

I’ll be visiting sunny Adelaide’s showgrounds to check out the first of two Supanova shows, Supanova Adelaide. I can’t wait to show off the game to an entirely new audience that’s probably never even heard of us before. If we meet any fans down there, I’d be pretty shocked. Surprise me, Adelaide!

November 9th – 11th – Supanova Brisbane

After Supanova Adelaide, I’ll fly to Brisbane for the convention the following weekend. It’s fortunate that they ended up right on top of each other, because Supanova has shows year-round. Lucky! For Supanova Brisbane, I’ll be in their chic Bytes and Backlots section, where are the cool people are.

 

What Did I Miss?

We don’t have anything solid in December yet. Are we passing up your favorite video game convention? Don’t let us make a terrible mistake! Leave a comment or harass me through some other digital medium, and I’ll update this post!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber, 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.

 

BUGS!

What up team?!

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re definitely among the people who know about the iOS release of Where Shadows Slumber last week. If you somehow managed to miss that news, then guess what – we released Where Shadows Slumber for iOS last week! If you have an iOS device and you haven’t gotten a chance to download it yet, you should – and if you have downloaded it, make sure you give it a 5-star review!

The whole team has been working really hard on this game for a long time, so it’s a great feeling to finally release it into the wild. On one hand, it’s very freeing – theoretically, the game is done, so I don’t have to spend all of my time working on it. On the other hand, we’re all very anxious to see if the rest of the world likes the game as much as we do. However, there’s one thing that’s on our mind right now above all else.

Bugs.

We’ve put a lot of work into making sure that Where Shadows Slumber is as stable and bug-free as possible, but with such a small team, some things are bound to fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, experiencing a bug, especially a bad one, leaves a terrible first impression. People are justifiably upset when something they’ve paid for doesn’t work – and that’s a perfect recipe for bad reviews and poor sales numbers. We’re spending this week working on addressing many of the bugs that have come to our attention, and, in the interest of transparency, I want to share some of them with all of you!

 

pexels-photo-276160

Unexpected Crashes

The bug: The biggest issue people have been running into so far is that the game will crash unexpectedly. This usually occurs just as a level is starting, or shortly thereafter. For most users, it will happen consistently, although some users might see sporadic crashes.

Cause: We somehow missed some poorly-compressed textures before releasing. This caused the game to consume way more memory than it should have. For older devices, or for people with something else running on the device, the operating system will kill the process to retrieve the memory, thus closing the game.

Fix: Obviously, the fix to this is to update the compression settings on the offending textures! We’re currently going through all of our assets to make sure they have the correct compression settings (along with making a few other tweaks to our memory usage).

Workaround: Until the next patch is published, the best way to play the game is on a device with enough RAM to handle the memory problems. This means either making sure that nothing else is running on your phone, or using a relatively recent device, which has enough RAM that it’s not an issue.

 

freezing.png

You can tell just by glancing that this level is freezing.

Unexpected Freezing

The bug: During some levels (particularly in the Hills and Summit Worlds), the game will simply freeze. The OS won’t kill the process, so it’ll still be on the screen, but nothing will be moving. Sound will still play, but the only option you have is to kill the game.

Cause: At some point, we thought it might be due to the snow particles (since it only seems to happen on snowy levels), but it seems that’s not the case. Rather, it’s due to Obe’s footprints.

Whenever Obe (or any character) takes a step, he leaves behind a little footprint. These stay around for a bit (usually up to 15 seconds), and then they disappear. This gives us the juiciness of footsteps appearing, without peppering them all over the level.
This bug is caused by some of the footprint objects (specifically the snow-related ones) having bad settings. Rather than disappearing after 15 seconds, they disappear after 150. So, when you walk around the level a lot, wayyyy too many of the footsteps are being created. The overhead of managing so many game objects is causing Unity to freeze up.

Fix: This one’s an easy one – we just updated the number from 150 back to 15. After some testing, we’re unable to reproduce this bug, so it seems like this one is in pretty good shape.

Workaround: You’ll have to beat these Levels in as few steps as possible, to reduce the number of footprints. If you can beat the Level in under two minutes, you may be able to escape the deep freeze.

 

summitTitlecard

Go ahead, try to click it. See? It doesn’t work!

Level “Titlecards” Not Working

The bug: A few people have mentioned this bug – apparently, the level titlecards (which let you know which level you’re about to play) will appear, but they won’t disappear when you click on them! This prevents the user from continuing into the level.

Cause: Unfortunately, our team hasn’t yet been able to reproduce this bug. We’re going to continue to try to do so on our somewhat limited range of hardware until we can figure out what’s causing it. Since the titlecards themselves are pretty simple, the cause of the bug is most likely something fairly innocuous.

Fix: Once we’re able to reproduce the bug and know the cause, it should be fairly simple to fix, as the titlecards aren’t incredibly complex.

Workaround: Until we push out a fix to this issue, the only way around it is to close the game and restart it, since you can’t access the menu from the titlecard.

 

ralkingblock7-5

Those who’ve watched the story know that a lot of people ask Obe this question…

Disappearing Blocks

The bug: If you’re savvy enough to fight your way past the other bugs mentioned here, you might get a chance to experience this one. As the final level of the game, World 7’s fifth level is a tricky one which introduces a mechanic not seen anywhere else in the game. It involves “teleporting” blocks from one section of the level to another. Unfortunately (and apparently randomly), the blocks will disappear from one section, but never appear in the other! Obviously, this is pretty bad, since you need all of the blocks in order to complete the level, and some of them just get ejected into the æther!

Cause: When the blocks are teleported, their parent gameObjects change in Unity. I’m expecting there’s some error in the code which is causing the gameObject to inherit the wrong parent, so it doesn’t appear where it’s supposed to be. This bug has also given us some trouble in terms of reproducing. Since it’s likely an error in the code, it’s only useful to reproduce on a device where we can do some amount of development, but we have never successfully reproduced it in the Unity editor. We’re going to keep trying to do so, but do so on a variety of devices until we find the root cause.

Fix: This one is pretty straightforward, if not easy in the traditional sense. Once we determine why the blocks are disappearing, we simply have to determine how to update the logic of the mechanic to ensure that it no longer happens. Obviously, it’s more complex than that, but I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of it here (especially since I don’t know what the exact fix would be).

Workaround: Aside from the bug that literally prevents you from playing the game, this is the workaround that I’m least happy with – the only way to fix this issue is to reset the entire level through the menu. Since it’s such a long level, that means losing a good bit of work. We’re working on all of these bugs, but this one in particular I want to fix. Since it’s the last level of the game, and you lose so much progress when you restart it, the user ends up with a bitter taste in their mouth, which is exactly how we don’t want players to finish Where Shadows Slumber.

 

Burnout

Other Issues?

Of course, these aren’t all of the bugs. That’s one of the first things you realize when you let someone else use a piece of software you’ve created – there’s always a fresh horror just around the corner. This list is just the biggest offenders we’ve discovered so far. I can personally guarantee that there are others, and I’m tasking each and every one of you with finding them!

If you do happen to stumble across a bug that I haven’t discussed here, there are a few things you can do for us:

  • Tell us about it! We’re active on Facebook and Twitter, and you can always shoot us an email at contact@GameRevenant.com or join our Discord Channel. If you do, make sure you include details about your device. We want to make Where Shadows Slumber as awesome as possible, but we can’t fix bugs we don’t know about!
  • See if it happens repeatedly, and if there’s some pattern to when and how it’s happening. This helps us immensely when we’re trying to reproduce the bugs. After all, it’s a lot harder for us to fix a bug that we can’t reproduce. Screenshots are great too!
  • Don’t leave a disparaging review. All too often, we see people giving us a poor rating and review because of a bug. In a lot of these cases, it definitely makes sense – you paid for a product, and it’s broken. One out of five! The problem with this is that reviews and ratings are our best way to get other people to start playing the game. If our ratings start to tank, nobody is going to download the game! It’s definitely better to tell us about a bug and help us fix it than to simply hurt us by leaving a bad review (and then not updating it when we fix the bug, thus leaving us with a permanent scar on our rating).
  • Share app analytics with the developers. I think that this is a setting somewhere in iOS that will share data and statistics about app crashes. A detailed email from you is usually better (because not all bugs count as “crashes”), but checking this allows Apple to send the crash logs straight to us.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read about some of the bugs we’ve experienced. Putting something that we’ve worked so hard on out into the wild is always a big question mark. We’re happy with the amount of publicity we’ve managed to stir up, but we’re also a little annoyed by these bugs, as I’m sure many of our players are. We want to make sure that you all know that we know about these issues, and we’re doing everything we can to fix them as fast as possible.

If you are experiencing these bugs, never fear! We’re fixing the major ones, so you can keep your eyes peeled for a new version of Where Shadows Slumber later this week! Once it comes out and you update the app on your phone, some of these bugs (and maybe some others) should be taken care of.

Next week we’ll share more details about how our iOS launch is going!

 

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You can always find out more about our game (and tell us about bugs) at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, find us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, join the Game Revenant Discord, and feel free to email us directly with any questions or feedback at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Jack Kelly is the head developer and designer for Where Shadows Slumber.

Where Shadows Slumber, out on iOS!

The long wait is over… Where Shadows Slumber is finally out on iOS worldwide! Grab your iPhone or iPad and download the game from our store page by clicking the link below:

STORE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/where-shadows-slumber/id1221749074

If you’d like an easier link to share with your friends, try this one:

SHORT LINK: bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Thank you to everyone who followed the development of this game via our blog for the past few years. Your support means the world to us. The entire team (Jack, Alba, Noah, Caroline, and myself) want to express our gratitude for your comments, Likes, Shares, and Retweets over the past few months as we prepared for this day.

We’ll have more news in the coming days as journalists post their reviews, but for now we have some exciting news to share…

 

History-GamesTab

Apple Placed Us On Top Of The Games Tab!

This is incredible – the whole team is freaking out right now on our team chat. I went to the Games tab today because I’ve been checking it frantically, and the very first image you see is Where Shadows Slumber!

This spot of the store is reserved for brand new titles, but you are never guaranteed to end up here. Nothing on this list is random. In fact, Apple put us all the way to the left, which means you don’t even need to swipe through the other titles of the day (Jurassic World Alive, Rise of Civilizations, Maze: Shadow of Light) to see our game.

NB: This is the U.S. App Store – I checked a few other countries and we are placed in different sections depending on the region. For example, in Australia we’re still in the “Coming Soon” tab. Every region manages their own curated list.

This should lead to a massive surge of impressions, sales, and reviews. But we still need your help, loyal Where Shadows Slumber fan! Read on to find out how you can help…

 

History-NoReviews

You Should Review Our Game on the App Store

When you launch a game on the App Store, it doesn’t matter if it’s something you spent 3 years working on, or a weekend project that you’re uploading on a whim. The App Store treats both the same way: your game is sort of hidden, you can only find it by searching for the title, and it says “This app hasn’t received enough ratings or reviews to display a summary” under Ratings & Reviews.

We don’t actually know how many ratings we need in order to get an App Store ranking, but we’re going to assume it’s “a lot” and try to get as many as possible. So if you have an iOS device, you should go review Where Shadows Slumber, whether you’re reading this on launch day or months from now. A good review always helps!

Let’s go over the difference between a rating and a review:

Rating: You choose a star value from 1 to 5 to “rate” our game. The higher the number, the better. If you were being objective, you’d assess if the game was outstanding (5), awful (1), or somewhere in-between. Don’t be objective. Give us a 5! After all, Where Shadows Slumber is outstanding.

Review: Along with a star value, you write down the reasons why you’ve chosen this value. Perhaps you’ve given a game a 3 because it’s good, but the game doesn’t let you tweak with the sound settings the way you like. In our case, we hope you’ll give us 5 stars and also write a short message about why you love the game. Don’t mention that you’ve “followed the game for years and loved the demo” because that will make it sound like you haven’t played the current version. When in doubt, just say you love the puzzles, the aesthetic, the music, the story, and the game’s originality.

As you can imagine, a Review is better than a Rating, and a Rating is better than nothing. Go find our app by searching Where Shadows Slumber on the App Store, and support us by reviewing or rating our game positively! Don’t feel the need to be “objective and fair” by giving us 4 stars. Anything less than 5 stars will harm our rating in the long run. Remember, we’re a tiny indie game going up against goliaths like Fortnite for mobile, which has a 4.6 out of 5 score and over 2.5 million ratings. We need your 5 star rating to fend off the occasional spoil-sport who gives us a 1. Go go go!

NB: You’ll need to purchase the game first before you can review it.

 

Blog-Launch

Spread The Word!

When we launched as a pre-order last week, it was a little difficult to “sell” people on the game. “Hey man, there’s this great game on the App Store! All you have to do is pre-purchase it and… wait longer!”

Well, now the game is out and ready for download today! No more waiting. So please, spread the word about the game, and feel free to use any of the information found in our press kit to do so: WhereShadowsSlumber.com/press

That secret page is really for journalists, which is probably why you’ve never seen it before. However, in the age of Facebook recommendations and retweets, sometimes word-of-mouth goes further when it comes from real fans instead of professional writers. So use those materials and share, share, share!

 

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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.

Something is Coming…

 

 

 

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That’s all for now. If you’re new to this blog, you can 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.

State of the Art – August 2018

Welcome to the State Of The Art, August 2018 edition! This monthly progress report is written by Frank DiCola and is focused entirely on how the game’s visuals have improved in the past month.

Missed last month’s State of the Art? The July edition is right here.

 


For Our Eyes Only

A quick note, before we dive in… since this is the final State of the Art, it’s going to be a little bit underwhelming. Sorry about that! The game is so close to being finished that Jack and I don’t really want to release any more images or footage until Where Shadows Slumber is uploaded onto the App Store. In the past, journalists have accidentally used our old images of previous builds (including our 2016 Demo!) in their articles instead of new stuff. For that reason, we’re trying to put some distance between our progress related uploads and the launch of the game.

If you were lucky enough to visit us this past weekend at Play NYC, you got a chance to play the final pre-release build of the game! As you would have seen, all of the art is totally done with the exception of a few cutscenes that need some polish. We brought a build that had every Level and Cutscene in the game, so we got a chance to see people play every part of the finished build. Two brave souls even dedicated a few hours (across both days) to finishing the entire game! So even though there are no new images in this article, rest assured that this is a good sign of progress, and not a bad sign that I’ve been sitting on my hands the past 6 weeks!

Thank you so much for following this blog, and I apologize for the lack of juicy spoiler images. You’ll have to wait until the game launches on iOS and Android later this year to feast your eyes on the beauty that is Where Shadows Slumber. Until then, enjoy these sweet black rectangles!

 

 

Black

Art, Then and Now

The last State of the Art was written on July 3rd. At the time, the only pieces of art left to do were the game’s last four cutscenes – World 5, World 6, World 7, and an animated Credits sequence. Small artistic touch-ups were needed across the game’s many Levels, as well as a few art related bugs.

Those last four cutscenes are all nearly complete. I say nearly because, since time is of the essence, I animated them just far enough so that our wonderful audio team could take over and begin creating sound effects. Today, in an effort to finally finish the game, I’ll put the last little details into these scenes. These details include things like snowy footprints or rustling trees – background information that isn’t necessary, but helps to paint a better picture of the scene. I know Jack is eager to crunch every Level and Cutscene so we can have a fully 100% optimized game, so right now it’s more important to call these scenes done than to obsess over the details. I shall spend not one more day on them!

Other than that, there are some release prep things I still need to do. I try to focus on tasks that involve other people first, which means I put off some solo projects like the game’s app icon, app preview video, press kit, and our release date announcement trailer. We’re not announcing our release date yet, but [spoiler] when we do it will be in the form of a cool trailer! We’ve heard that’s the best way to generate buzz for the game. Hopefully our efforts these past 2 years to “pre-market” the game mean that when the trailer hits YouTube there is a large group of fans eager to share it around social media.

 

Black

Thoughts on The Ending

Soon, I will stop being the artist on Where Shadows Slumber and become Mr. Bug Finder. Then, in the weeks before the game hits the App Store, I’ll be Mr. Marketer. After that, I’ll be Mr. Salesman as I go on the Extremely Real and Actually Real Where Shadows Slumber World Tour! (Buy our game so we can do this)

It’s so strange to think that in just a few days, I won’t be modeling environments or animating these characters ever again. Saying goodbye is a bit of a relief, but it’s also disturbing. It feels a bit like leaving a job at a company without having another one lined up. And I’m not talking about the financial success of the game (we have no idea what to expect… $500? $500,000?) but rather my own personal sense of purpose. I never thought I would feel totally lost right at the moment our three year passion project is about to hit prime-time. Is this normal? How am I supposed to feel?

Anyway, this is the State of the Art blog, not the State of Frank’s Mind blog. Let me save my goopy tell-all for a podcast appearance with Jack sometime. (Speaking of which, even if you have the tiniest, most insignificant YouTube channel or podcast, invite one of us on! We love to talk! Contact info in the signature below) All you need to know right now is that the art is 98% finished and we’re heading into our final Quality Assurance (QA) stretch.

Stay tuned to this blog for mega updates about the game, tales from QA hell, and maybe even a comedic play-by-play of our upcoming Xcode struggle. Thanks to Jack for giving me a good name for this blog, and thanks to everyone who has been keeping tabs on us. I may resurrect this monthly recap if we have new art updates, such as when we port the game to Amazon’s Alexa, but right now I’m looking forward to wearing a different hat for a while.

See you next week!

 

 

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Thanks for reading this entirely text-based art update! If you’re new to this blog, you can 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.