Jumping Winners

We run a highly competitive game. But even the most competitive game can be mastered which means that there is the possibility that if you learn a few good tricks, you can become a Champion.

We define a champion a winner that managed to win at least 5 challenges. Right now, across all our teams, we have many champions, and before we introduced the tier filtering system, we even had people winning as much as 15 times.

One thing that we have noticed is that many champions are jumping from a club to another and, obviously, they are winning there too. In this case, we think we might have a problem, because there is a very fine line between what is ethically fair in this particular case and what is allowed by the game itself.We have on one side the profit part and on the other side the service value and quality. While we need money to continue existing as a service, we also need ethics in order to maintain the actual “value” of our products. We define value not as how much it costs but in what the app means to you, the players.

A champion jumping to play from one club to another is allowed by all means. Winning different prizes is also allowed by the game mechanics. But that doesn’t mean is ethically fair. The fairness break down even further when a champion is limited to participating only in high tier challenges and he creates secondary accounts in order to win the low tier prizes too. And when a champion does all the above and also wins the same prize twice, in consecutive challenges, then we have a big ethical problem. We haven’t even talked about going after prizes that the winner cannot take advantage of.

What happens is that all the other players will rightfully feel cheated. You would think  – “But what do you care? A champion maybe spends a lot of money to win, so it is good business.”. Well, we do care. Good business also means fair business. Long term survival is based on how the “business”, which translates into actual people, us, is treating their customer base. We do not define our product as a money maker. Profit is important because it allows us to exist. But we like to think that what we have is a product that can bring the joy of a real collectible to the real fans, people who really care about their teams and who deserve those prizes by all means.  Allowing the service to be taken advantage of is bad business.

We know that Powershot can be frustrating sometimes because there can be only one winner per challenge. That is why we want to give everyone equal chances of winning. An “untrained” team has no chance against a champion team. It is “unfair” to match them against each other from the start.

Thus, since we manage each winner/champion personally and we don’t leave soulless systems to take care of it, we are aware of any issues or not-so-fair play situations. And yes, for those not playing fair, this is a friendly warning that can be followed by a swift resolve.

Not everything is perfect…

From time to time we have frustration periods coming. Sometimes are determined by external factors, sometimes are internal. In most of the cases both factors are contributing to an issue.

In developing our next game, for which we have name but we won’t tell yet, we had a pretty smooth period. Everything went as planned, even better actually, we have managed to squeeze in a longer polishing period and we also managed to add many new cool features. This means that somehow we are even a bit ahead of schedule, if we take in account the MVP of minimum viable product.

An MVP is usually thought with absolute minimum type of features that you need in order for the product to be good to be put on market. It does actually represent a completed product, it will work, but it is not containing any cherries on top. Think about a car without the actual improvements – the paint job is cheap, no acclimatization, plastic seats no heating, no acoustic isolation. But it does work and it will do the job.

One of the cool features in top of MVP we are implementing, for example, is Applifier. This is a great advertisement service that allows you as a user to gain in-game currency, while you, the developer, will receive money for advertisements watched by the user. It is a nice, non-invasive and fair service. Thus we want to use it across our apps to answer a question that we heard often from users – “Is there another way to gain Tokens?”.
All went smooth on Android until we tried to create an iOS version and we have hit an error which we have tried to solve for 2 weeks. Of course, 2 weeks in real time, because we cannot afford to spend too much time per day on fixing something that doesn’t work. We tried to contact Applifier guys, but we got no answer yet. This became a big frustration source because we really want this feature in our game, but we cannot have it for now due to strange issues.

In this cases there is usually one solution – feature cut and wait for better days. We might actually be forced to do this next week which we think it honestly sucks… But we need to move on.

The “Bugs” Time

I am sure most of you are familiar with what a bug is in software. If not, we can tell you they are the most nasty type of “bugs”, because they tend to be expensive and hard to “exterminate”. When and why do we deal with bugs, you may ask?

Well, we deal with bugs at the end of a production cycle. Whenever a product reaches one of the final stages, fixing things that don’t work or correcting things that are not done right is know as bug-fixing period and in some cases “Hell”. That is because some projects which are not managed correctly, can end up in a situation when they need major extended fixes and the bug-fixing will take more than the actual developing process. And that is usually very, very expensive. That is what makes the products to be postponed most of the time. In the rest of the industries, this is called the Quality Assurance period and it is a very important period…

Strange enough, in games industry the QA period is usually not considered so important. For some reason, most of the industry looks at it like this – “Well, there shouldn’t be any major bugs”. This approach may kill a product.  For a mobile game that has a very short life-spawn on a device, a major bug means a hit under the belt. Knock-out. That person who discovers that an app does not work , he/she will uninstall it immediately.

As a result, we have budgeted some serious QA time. This means more than 30% of the budgeted time for the actual development. Because it is not enough to have a fun product. You need it to function as intended as well.

Angry producer

As you can see, our producer is getting really stressed about it…

Summer is coming

Summer in Sweden is something really special. It is not only the fact that the nature is reacting explosive to long days and warmer weather, it also the fact that the Summer it is a very special treat for a cold northern country. You can already feel the vibes. People are more relaxed, smiling more often, walking slower, daydreaming… It is a nice feeling, yet discomforting at the end of a project :). Continue reading Summer is coming