Thursday, December 31, 2009

Solar, Propane & Water

Christmas Eve dinner was a little different this year. Marianne and I went to Mexico to spend a few days by the beach in a house that runs on solar and propane. We were prepared, but not quite prepared for the condition of the house. We couldn't figure out most of the details. We had no water, electricity, toilet or gas. We had planned a feast, instead we ate soup and a bagel heated up over a Coleman lantern.

After driving over 400 miles we were not in the best of moods. We began to argue. "Beat the Boss" came up in our discussion. At this point I am over 7 months in development. I am 95% done and just about to submit, but the beginning of the game bothered me. It took too long to load and a still frame was necessary. I went to sleep angry and thinking. Sometimes I come up with good ideas when I'm ticked. I wasn't mad at Marianne, I was mad I haven't finished. While laying on a plank listening to waves it came to me. The directions take a few seconds to read. Why not start with the directions and learn how to play while you wait.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Patience - waiting for the New Year

I had no idea when I first started that "Beat the Boss" would take 8 months to develop. But when you think about creation some projects take weeks, some take years. This one will be somewhere in the middle. What has been interesting is that during the last 8 months the mobile world has changed at an amazing rate. I am OK with that. More people have iPhones than ever before and the little guy making a game like me is going to become more rare. I have been watching the App Store looking at what is popular. "Beat the Boss" will be pretty unique. I think the artwork and style of play will set my game apart.

While studying martial arts we would have to always say "Osu!"(Pronounced ohs) meaning "have patience". The game is really close and I don't want to rush it out. Patience is the key. Osu!

Apple is closing down iTunes Connect for re-tooling so we will test it after the New Year and see if an approval happens faster.

We will celebrate the New Year watching a guy named Travis Pastrana jump a Subaru onto a barge in the Long Beach harbor. I will consider 2010 my "Nascar New Year"!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crystal Ball to the American mobile future

It's almost the end of 2009. Mobile has come a long way since the turn of the century. The progression of mobile feels similar to the era when desktop computers first hit the internet. Speed and bandwidth were the issue, just like mobile. Let's take a quick look at mobile phone history from my perspective.

Picture the set of "The 70's Show". Little league parents were an excellent barometer for new trends back when I was a kid. They were pushing or dragging 30, had 2.5 kids and had a decent job. In the beginning doctors had pagers, followed by policeman and drug dealers.

One Saturday morning as a game was about to start an over-tanned yuppie dad showed up in the stands with a large metal briefcase. Slowly he freed himself of the restraints of his Hawaiian shirt and oiled himself around his gold medallion liberally. He spread out reflective material and kicked back wearing expensive sunglasses. He reached to his right, popped open the case and took out a telephone. The cheering that followed had nothing to do with the game. The children were fooled into believing they had just gained parental approval when in reality it was the birthing of their electronic leash. Bernie was mobbed by little league mom's, never to be seen again. What happened that evening is 70's legend.

The next versions of the cellphone were the size of walkie-talkies and weighed 20 lbs. Power was an issue and your car has a battery. The logical move was to have a "Car Phone". Having a phone in your car was a big thing. People faked like they had one just to look cool. Thieves would totally mess up a sweet ride to get a hold of a nice car phone.

In America, really cheap phones were offered with expensive long term contracts. SMS would become the huge moneymaker for the telcos, they had no problem giving away devices. Cameras would become more commonplace and people were itching to go online. PDA's became doorstops as telephones improved.

Someone asked Einstein his phone number. His answer was, "I don't know", I don't worry about things I can easily look up." How right he was, everyone with an iPhone and Wikipedia is a genius these days. In the 70's, when you left the house you made sure you had your wallet and your keys. Now add the cellphone to the pile, the cellphone has reached worldwide acceptance.

Things move extremely fast these days, but one thing holds true… Europe and Asia are two years ahead of what we do. We have progressed to the point of smartphone adoption in the US but the services available in other parts of the world surpass our expectations.

If we look to Europe and Asia they will give us a crystal ball to 2012. I would expect to see mobile TV in the the US in the very near future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pimp'in ain't easy!

Being that "Beat the Boss" is back in the shop for some tweaks I am involved in the marketing aspects like keywords and description. The biggest news of the moment is Tiger Woods infidelity. He has bowed out of golf for the moment to collect his thoughts and arrange his life. What sucks for him is that he is so famous that almost every conversation in the world starts with a Tiger joke. I am contributing as I always have. Sorry Tiger.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The second time I went to Japan we watched the first bombs drop in Iraq on a little bitty TV with rabbit ears at the top of a temple in Japan. The temple had dial-up but they barely used it, we would have to wait till we get back for more information. Many of us wanted to go home because things were about to change. Our karate teacher who is Japanese didn't understand our angst, he insisted we stay. I remember going through the motions, testing for my belt and getting home to find out the state of the nation and the world.

Today, rabbit ears (TV antennas) in America no longer work. If you don't have a digital convertor you get no picture. That trip to Japan in 2002 I had a film camera and didn't think of bringing my cellphone. That was about 8 years ago. If you have ever watched the TV show "Kung Fu" the opening has David Carradine snatching a pebble from his master's hand. That scene is similar to my training as well as how fast mobile technology is changing.

I eventually got home and found a slightly different attitude than I expected. People were aware of the war situation, but not really effected. Life just kind of went on. In the background you knew something was up but the news delivery at the time did not feature the war every day. Wartime for me always looked like John Wayne movies. One for all, all for one, people rally together to defeat the enemy. The average citizen would conserve and contribute. When a soldier was carted away after an injury, someone sticks a cigarette between his lips and shakes his hand for his service.

Our guys were getting blown up in Iraq and they made sure we didn't see pictures. Mr. Bush urged us to shop and pretend everything was fine. The mission was accomplished and he had a handle on things.

At the time, I had a handyman that worked on my house that I had nicknamed "Platehead". He was a former Navy Seal that had a metal plate in his head. He always wanted me to touch it… no fricken way. He was super patriotic, very loud and drove a truck that had a custom rear paint job with these words, "Support our troops or kiss my ass". Platehead rides a Harley and watches Nascar, you could describe him as Joe Lunchbucket, a typical American. His sentiment was how American's were pushed. Support the effort or you are unpatriotic. While all this was happening I was wondering how we are paying for this war monetarily and psychologically. Platehead was busy ruining the patio.

Commercials on TV told you that renting an apartment was stupid. Buy a house with no money down. Idiots were stock experts, companies like Enron turned off energy to increase the price then their executives stole the cash and ran. Everyone was a homeowner, SUV's ruled the road, big stores became clubs that sold toilet paper by the truck load. Excess was good yet the war was going on.

From a mobile perspective we were in transition. One do-it-all device did not exist. I carried a telephone, a camera and a PDA separately at the time.

2002 makes me think of karate, cellphones, metal enhanced craniums, and the beginning of the war.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wait, Wait, Break Wood

Finishing is an interesting topic. I have decided to work with Apalon out of Belarus to market Beat the Boss. Right off the bat there will be a list of 5-10 suggestions to improve the game. This is tough just from a human perspective. Anytime you have something reviewed and get edits it adds a little heartbreak to your creation. My next move will be to decide how much heartbreak I want to fix and how much it will cost me. The next adjustments have to be the final moves from a budget perspective. It is time to go to market.

Game quality is key. Most of the top ten games are established titles like Madden Football, Monopoly, Tetris and Scrabble. If my game is weak, the gamers will rip it. I need to reassess the playability. My guess, the changes won't be drastic and we will move forward.

My Christmas release may not happen but I am willing to wait. There will be plenty of new devices at the beginning of the year. Beat the Boss will kick butt on it's own time.

In my karate training we waited for one punch rather than going Jackie Chan. The release strategy will follow the same plan. Wait, wait, wait…break wood.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been involved with sports my whole life. I played a lot of ballgames in my day which shapes how you approach projects. In football, you play four quarters. Drives lead to touchdowns. You don't celebrate till you cross the line. Beat the Boss is finished both FREE and PAID and is ready for submission. I can finally raise my hands in the end zone signifying a score. The game isn't over but I have reached a plateau. Physically finishing the app itself is quite an accomplishment. Next up is submission and marketing. In football terms that would be kicking the extra point and continuing the game. The original of this picture was done in airbrush many years ago about 18"X24". It is not a photograph.

Friday, November 20, 2009


An interesting phenomenon shows up just every now and then. This annoying occurrence makes me think my friend Mahesh has lost his mind. At the same time, he thinks I have lost mine.

Part of the difficulty about working long distance is understanding. I have contact with India, The Netherlands, Belarus and the US. I am getting used to working with people all around the world. There are some typical challenges including time coordination and the delay that I call "international art lag".

Today's discussion has relevance to my story about having a bad guitar wire. For three years I couldn't hear my guitar through my computer because of a bad cable. This is kind of happening again.

I just tested the final versions sent to me by Mahesh, both FREE and PAID versions. They were supposed to contain minor adjustments. The PAID reflected the changes, the FREE didn't. Interesting.

In normal procedure, I go to iTunes / iPhone / Applications and delete the present version of Beat the Boss, then I sync. After sync I add what Mahesh sends me and sync again. Then I test.

I loaded a FREE and a PAID version. The PAID looks great and reflects the changes I suggested for that current version. The FREE showed no changes at all. I sent a note saying great, but not quite there. I assume this is when Mahesh starts taking aspirin.

In the past we have run into times where I have to "Restore" my iPhone when it doesn't recognize the changes sent to me. That is what I did yesterday.

It ends up I have a bad cord again in a digital kind of way. It happens intermittently so you forget about the possibility.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Continuity between PAID and FREE versions

Part of the hassle of finishing is knowing when you are done. The reaction I have been getting when people first turn on the app is that they think it's stuck. They tap the screen almost instinctively. I don't want the first impression of the game to be negative.

To the programmer's demise I have changed the opening screen to include the text, "loading". I have also added "V1" and "Free" to the main screens. Now there is continuity between the two versions.

The free version is my main sales tool. At the end of the free play I have the Boss pitching to buy the paid version. If not play again. I believe the free game will be played 2-3 times then upgraded or deleted. The game is fun to play, I believe the upgrade percentage should be around 30 - 40%.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Political Caricatures OK'd by Apple

My first app caused me a ton of heartbreak because of Apple's stance on caricature drawings of political figures. I was literally thrown into the doghouse for drawing President Obama throwing a frisbee on the White House lawn. Other apps were turned down as well, but it was a tough lesson. I just got a Google alert that Apple has changed their mind. now you CAN cartoon political figures… "Son of a bitch!" I repeat, "son of a bitch!" It's like playing basketball while they change the height of the rim. No, it's more like moving furniture. Honey, I think it looks better here, no here…no here. It's really a pain in the butt to learn a lesson, adjust your life then have that lesson changed. Had I mentioned "son of a bitch!".

I just edited the app description for the last time and sent instructions to finish the free app. In theory , my part (artistically) is done. I would expect that I would submit this week, but I said the same thing a few weeks ago. It's almost time to change into my marketing hat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I used to be a salesman. One thing they would throw at you at sales meetings was "KISS". Keep it simple, stupid. My free version is my sales tool. I had originally planned a lot of bells and whistles.

I was going to have the user opt to have the Boss send e-mails taunting you to fight as well as remind you to buy the full version when you have WiFi. Maybe in a future episode but for now I'm simplifying to reduce difficulties.

When I really looked at what I was creating it didn't necessarily lead to a sale. I want people to try the game then buy the full version for $2 bucks. My buttons to start the free version are "Play Game" and "Buy Full Version". I will entertain but initiate the sale from the start.

Today's assignment is to make sure the free app layout makes sense and leads to a sale. Application descriptions were re-written to make the game more buyable. I will sit on what I wrote and send it tomorrow.

I also created a new pitch. After you beat the Boss he dares you to buy the full version. I listed the new weapons but did not show them. From what I understand you can't show features not included in that version. It would imply there is something missing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Howard Stern

I have established that I will go proactive in gaining recognition for Beat the Boss. Steve Ochs from HERO Entertainment contacted me about using my video "1982 Circus of the Farts" in an upcoming DVD. It meant no money to me, but the project will get some merit. Steve may get an audience with Howard Stern who will see another video series I made 4 years ago called "The CFC". One episode pits Howard against Anna Nicole Smith in the Celebrity Farting Challenge. While rendering the movie I included an ad for Beat the Boss. I want the name of the game as well as the icon to be memorable. Getting a plug from Howard Stern would be great, he's a major player.

Availability date and update rule changes

What is interesting, is that one of the main reasons I got involved in iPhone Apps was because most of the rules were in place. Throw in a financial split of 30/70 and you know exactly what the game is. After taking my lumps big time releasing my first app, I studied marketing methods for iPhone apps and came to some conclusions. Many current successful apps stayed in the public eye by updating their apps and basically re-release them. You get new eyeballs for a few days and you stay in the public eye.

My game plan was built on these truths not realizing the rules would change. Behind the scenes I never thought about how Apple would deal with updates in the future. Well, the future is now. The original availability date is your app's permanent birth date in the App Store, you can't lie about your age and throw a new party anymore.

Overall, it really brings home a reality… apps are like records. Nobody buys a song unless they hear it. For the moment, the only radio station for an app is The App Store. The fight is over a spot in the Top 25. If you are lucky you get featured in a commercial or an ad. Other than that, you are left waving your arms on an island to a plane in the distance hoping someone takes notice.

There are many mind sets to marketing an app. I want to obviously start with a bang, then adjust after the two days that Apple gives you. It's like graduation, here's your diploma, wave, now get out of here.

You have to take the initiative to make people enter their code and pay $2 bucks. I believe this takes a number of methods to get the word out. I was planning on using the update method to stay in people's minds, I still want to. Apple won't give me the same love for doing so but I believe the public will appreciate additions to the game. Twitter and FaceBook will be the vehicles to announce improvements to Beat the Boss.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Avoid the ejection seat

Things are moving on along. If everything lines up a Christmas launch should work out. Part of the submission process is writing your product description. Paid and Free need their own. Over time I have studied other app descriptions in the Top 25. I have written the Beat the Boss description based on my research, Apple rules and my humor of the moment. Here is a great article about when you get the ejection seat. I am honored because I found I am mentioned regarding past rejections for TheFirstDog.

Here is the Beat the Boss basic description:

Use your thumbs to throw punches at a bald headed, punch dodging, obnoxious loud mouth. On the left side of the screen is a red bar representing the amount of hits. On the right side is a green bar that represents time. Use both thumbs to hit the Boss before time runs out. Overall time is recorded through all 12 levels.

The game play is simple yet addicting using 10 weapons. What makes the game different is the size of the characters as well as the audio and artistic quality. Two speeds are included to make winning more of a challenge. There is a save function so you can pick up a game where you left off.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two headed cats

Having two cats has effected Beat the Boss during it's creation. Just when you have a great thought one of my little buddies kills something or wants a thorough petting. Today is no different. I got up in the middle of the night and stepped in a huge hair ball making a gross squishy noise. A few days ago it appeared that Yuuki had been in an altercation. His head had been in something's mouth but it didn't appear serious. This morning he jumped on the bed and it looked like he had Bell's palsy. The right side of his face was swollen to where his eye was almost shut. It looks like he has two heads. He's at the vet now, I think he'll live.

I mention this because the development of an app or any other creation is effected by outside influences. Just when you have a good thought, the phone rings or your kid needs a sandwich. It's part of life, I have learned to roll with the punches and use unplanned occurrences as a springboards. In the game, you throw cats at the Boss. I wonder where that idea came from?

This is a picture of Yuuki as a kitten before he messed up his head. He also has a crooked tail.

The vet just called, $400 for surgery... I need to sell some apps.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chairman Meow

Most of my workday I am alone except for the phone, Skype, e-mail and occasional text messages. I do have two four legged characters that give me the sense of community without the drama. Unfortunately for the local wildlife, they do like to hunt. They bring in birds, mice, moths and lizards mainly. I am expecting them to drag the UPS guy through the cat door some day. I am glad they like me because they would just assume kill me if they had the chance. I always see them planning using a calculator and a tape measure. I found this logo online. I am ordering Chairman Meow T-Shirts for them to wear.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Office

I drove to go meet the people at Drizen-Dohs Corporate Communications. They have an office/printing facility in the San Fernando valley. They have been printing my cartoons for the past few years for Paragon Steel. They were familiar with my animations on the internet. This put me at a disadvantage, they knew before meeting me that I have a loose screw.

It was really nice to finally meet people I have e-mailed and spoken to for quite a while. Christina, Lauren & Julia are a good looking bunch with smarts and real world knowledge. They could be in the cast of "The Office". We also shared the thought of having a special Beat the Boss "The Office" version where you beat up Michael Scott. I think people would like it.

Drizen-Dohs has been in business for a number of years but are small enough to deal with me as an individual. They use print, press releases and digital media to spread corporate messages. We seem to see eye to eye on what needs to be done and who to impress. They asked a good question, how do I want to be promoted as an individual? Hmmmm. It reminded me of many years ago in a motivational seminar when I was in a session with a partner yelling at me "What do you want?" Back then I yelled back, "I want to be a cartoonist!" Today my answer was "I want to create and market off the wall interactive entertainment for mobile devices."

They are putting together a few different ways to manage the promotion of Beat the Boss. Some will require more work by me. Why stop now?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This is it

My good friend Jim Stavis recommended that we go see Michael Jackson's "This is it" at the movies. Jim is in his early fifties, not representative of the expected demographic. But now that I think about it, Jim did listen to Michael's music his whole life. Marianne and I caught the film in-between errands over the weekend. I must say, that was a great movie. I envisioned he was a shadow of his former self prior to his death. I was very wrong. His dancing and singing were vintage Michael.

My first concert that I ever went to was The Jackson 5 when I was 12. Michael and I were born days apart. I have measured fame for someone of my age by the Michael Jackson barometer, bigger than Elvis in my opinion.

After seeing the film I felt bad for all the dancers and musicians. This was an elite team gathered from talent around the globe that was about to perform 50 amazing shows. They had to be devastated about the death as well as the lost opportunity. Too bad, he was a great entertainer.

I have been trying to figure what I am going to follow up with after Beat the Boss. I have many ideas that I have been weighing. "This is it" represents a few things for me. Beat the Boss is a compilation of MY life's work. While Michael was dancing I was drawing. I wish I had a speck of his talent.

The dancing reminded me of one of my app ideas to animate interactive characters dancing to your chosen music from iTunes. At this moment, this would have me changing venues from business to music. When Adobe CS5 comes out and I can output to iPhone from Flash, this might make a whole bunch of sense.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

ESPN influence

Watching ESPN gave me an idea. While the announcers do their thing a bar often appears at the bottom of the screen with additional information. Scores, injuries, lawsuits, steroid accusations etc. I am going to do the same thing on the website.

I have created a futuristic city that serves as part of the loader in the game. Many flying objects have been added to the scene as well as buttons to YouTube commercials. After :30 seconds or so, a bar pops up with the game's first hint. This one tells you that there are different ways to approach the Boss. I will use this method to issue official Beat the Boss corporate communications. Next is trying to figure out how to program an iPhone to do an optical scan as an additional security measure.

I am spending a lot more time on the website than originally planned, but that's OK. The whole project reflects my artistic vision of corporate society. Having balloon boy fly by seemed like a good idea at the time. THEY loved the story airing it on all levels of communication.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The next hurdle

The next hurdle is to make sure the free version works correctly. It is the vehicle to success in my opinion. My goal is to get people to try the game. Smacking him in the face with boxing gloves is fun, but part of the charm of the game is winning each level so you can find out which weapon comes next. At the end of the first level the Boss pitches the user to upgrade to full version.

The guy's voice is great, he is an excellent pitchman. A button needs to appear that goes straight to the App store to collect $1.99. I am even planning on an email button to remind you to buy the full version when you are in WiFi. This brings up another point, my free version has to be under 10 megs in size. This way it can be downloaded anywhere independent of a WiFi connection.

After submitting the app there will be about 2-4 weeks to get things rolling. Tweets e-mails and press releases will direct people to YouTube and to the website. T-Shirts will be sent to people with excellent weapon suggestions on the blog. The app will be updated after about three weeks and continuously for the next two months.

The timing looks like a Christmas time release. I picture people under the tree, beaming with their new iPhone gift. They will immediately log onto the App Store to check out the "New & Noteworthy" section, the Beat the Boss boxing glove icon will be there with a nice big "Free". Go ahead, beat the boss on me. If you had fun, pay $2 bucks and get the full version.

Steve Jobs and tweet size headlines

I was sent an article discussing why Steve Jobs is a great speaker. He has been suggested as being "CEO of the decade". His secret has to do with simplicity and surprise. People were on their knees waving their arms in the air when he pulled a laptop out of a manila folder. Another thing he does is break down his message to visuals and simple quotes. He creates tweet size descriptions and people get it. Here is the list of tweets I plan to send out once the game is available.

A free iPhone app that really kicks butt -
Beat the Boss on your iPhone for free -
Kick Ass / Take Names! - for the iPhone for free
Smack your boss in the chops with your iPhone! -
Hit your boss without getting fired! - for the iPhone
Suggest a weapon, win a free T-Shirt! -
Take out your work frustrations on your iPhone! -
Hate Your job? Have an iPhone? -
Corporate anxiety therapy using your iPhone -
Pink slip in your future? Have an iPhone? -
Believe in executive punishment? -
Ticked off at your boss?...hit it him with your iPhone! -

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monetizing Mania

Digital media is a twin edged sword. It allows for unlimited creation, but it also allows the same freedom to other creators similar to yourself, there is a lot of competition out there. These days if you have an idea for a show you can make it and publish it all over the net, it's easy. This is a big win for people that have a project they want to get noticed. The problem is how do you make money? A chosen few are actually paid by YouTube for content, but the majority of folks are not in it for the money, they just want to share.

As a professional cartoonist I looked at 2010 back in 2005 and figured out something important. Everything in mobile is monetized. From the beginning mobile operators made sure that you pay for everything. Even if it's free you still pay for the service. I decided to follow the mobile path because people are willing to pay for communication. That is how I will monetize my mania.

My deal with mobile aggregators and phone companies left me a very small piece of the pie. I had two wallpapers surpass the 100,000 mark on T-Mobile. I would have made $70,000 each if that was an iPhone app. I made a fraction of that after agent fees and phone company splits. Apple takes 30% but offers a platform with over 50 million possible customers.

Though the app store is crowded, I still think it is a good place to be if you have a product worth buying. Being in the App store does not guarantee success, you have to promote. I am going to take advantage of all the methods available to shout these days. If the typical numbers happen 2-3% will buy. If I want to sell 100,000 apps I need to tell at least a few million folks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chistmas Booty

Discussing release dates with my best friend Scott got me thinking. People will be receiving iPod Touch and iPhones as gifts on Christmas day. The first thing you want to do when you get an iPhone is to try out some apps. You are hesitant at first to spend money so you look for freebies. Beat the Boss will be there for the taking. I believe after playing one level, $1.99 upgrades will happen naturally. Good conversion rates have been 40% or better for other games.

One of the big differences between owning a Sony PSP and an iPhone is the price of the games. When you spend $25-$40 per game you are much more discerning about your choices. You can get a decent iPhone app for under $5 dollars. Many people have dozens of paid apps at a time. Each person's app line-up changes, just like their songs. What is different about Beat the Boss is that it will be consistently updated with user's suggestions. This should result in a longer shelf life. That would be great for songs now that I think about it. If musicians updated their songs you would remember it more on your list. My goal is to get submitted and approved by Christmas.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

THEY a div. of US a subsidiary of THEM

Movies always start with multiple logos. My game is partially a show, I want people to get my gag. DeMann is the company that the Boss works for. Many years ago I had a T-Shirt line called "They" a div. of US a subsidiary of THEM. That logo will be the very start of the game. In the long run, Beat the Boss will be brought to you by THEM.

DeMann is merely a puppet company for a conglomerate with much loftier domination. THEY are in the process of creating a contact lens that is a mini satellite dish with a direct connection to the brain. Shows will be beamed directly to the cranium, making cable TV obsolete. iPods will also not be needed, THEYContact will use your brain as hard drive space.

Though the Boss character in the game acts like he owns the place, he doesn't. His job status could change at any moment. That stress is what drives him to be such an unreasonable taskmaster.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Barking Signals

In a football sense, I am at the 1- yard line barking signals and the clock is ticking. It has been a long game. Once I cross the goal line, the game really just gets started. From everything I have read the only way to be successful is to create a game that is truly fun to play and gets good word of mouth promotion. First you have to get through the submission process, during that time you have to plant digital seeds.

My rolodex is ready, I have a lot of major players to contact. YouTube promotion and the website will be Tweeted. The missing element is a press release and overall timing of the announcement of Beat the Boss to the correct news outlets. I am exploring different avenues. I reached out to some business folks I know and have gotten some great referrals, I am also checking online. Working with some PR geniuses might be a good move, I can only do so much. I'll meet with Christina Jorgensen at Drizen-Dohs Corporate Communications. They have been publishing my cartoons for a few years but are business communication specialists. This should be interesting.

Completing a free and paid version that works is quite an accomplishment. This is good for promotion as well. Turnover rates are often over 50% from free to paid, so the free version will be my main sales tool. Taking suggestions from users and implementing it in the game will be great for keeping interest. My plan is to update at least every two weeks for the first three months.

My goal is to get a lot people trying the free version. If people like playing the game the upgrades will take care of themselves.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Balloon Boy

One thing I have been trying to do is not spend a lot of time on current events. Overall, I have stuck to that plan with Beat the Boss. The general concept of anger aimed at your boss is timeless, my app is not dated. What's left is advertising. I plan on using a little current humor on the website.

There is more to submitting an app than the app itself. You have to write a full description for Apple, design an effective icon and make sure you don't break any rules in your descriptions. You have to have a website and an e-mail for customer service. If you miss something you are rejected. This means getting back in line, adding weeks to your release date.

During the end of the development of Beat the Boss, a weird event appeared in the news. Some strange guy named Henne staged having his son flying away in a fake flying saucer to get publicity. He was named "Balloon Boy" by the press. People stood outside their house holding Jiffy Pop Popcorn on the lawn. My goodness. By the time people read this, the whole story will have been forgotten but I couldn't resist. I have added Balloon Boy to the website.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pocket god

I read Dean Takahashi's article on Venture Beat's site about the "pocket god" iPhone app and the reasons for it's success. One reason they are successful is because they constantly update their app, with every update they alter the icon.

This isn't a new concept, but what got me is that two guys put together pocket god. One is an artist another a programmer. Sounds familiar, but my programmer is in India. I can emulate their method.

It has been such a long haul, the thought of making the game bigger at this point would have programmers at Indianic planning my early demise, but I want Beat the Boss to stay popular. Sales spikes occur when you do an update. I am going to take suggestions for weapons online and add them regularly if possible. The chosen weapon winners will get a free T-Shirt.

Being that the game is level oriented, the framework is there. The Boss icon is set up well to accommodate version changes.

I look outside and see pitchforks and burning torches. It must be programmers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fuzz boxes and plugs

Overcoming computer difficulties is part of life these days. I have always had a problem that I could never figure out…how to connect a guitar to a Mac and jam. A number of years ago I bought a Monster cable that goes from guitar to computer but could never make it work. I borrowed guitars and pulled my hair out with no sound coming out of the speakers.

Recently I got iLife. It contains an upgraded GarageBand and has built-in guitar lessons. The electric guitar has all kinds of variations with fuzz boxes and amps. The next move I made was to go to YouTube and search for videos on the subject. A number of them showed you everything, a few said go to Radio Shack.

I got a Stereo Male (3.5mm) to 1/4" female adapter. $5. I looked online and went to 3 guitar stores. At Best Buy I bought a Squire (by Fender) $119 guitar and a wall hook. It looks like a Strat. The next thing I need are headphones or my neighbors are going to kill me.

What does this have to do with making iPhone apps?…curiosity and tenacity. What was between me and computer music was a bad cord. A five dollar adapter and a cheap guitar fixed the problem. Once I put my mind to it I was able to overcome a very large frustration. When you are building apps logic is a major factor. Does what you are making make sense to the public? Can a new user click the icon and figure out how to use your creation in a few short seconds? "Beat the Boss'" is pretty straight forward, I hope people like it.

Now I can grow hair again!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Checkered Flag

The final builds are being completed. I played the final version and got through 12 levels in a little over 5 minutes. That is the sort of game I wanted to create from the very beginning, challenging without having to think too hard. Kind of like whack-a-mole or throwing darts mixed with a little office angst. My hope is that angry office workers will grab their iPhones and smack the crap out of the Boss and feel better about themselves… without getting fired.

Next will be completing the free version which is a derivative of the paid one. One of the problems with long term projects is that you have too much time to think. What looked like a good idea in January can look pretty stale in June. That can mean advertising pieces that don't reflect new elements, making decisions to alter the game or creating a website that supports the whole venture. How things turn out has a lot to do with timing.

The checkered flag is visible in the distance. It's about to get interesting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patience at the plate

National Boss's Day has come and gone. In a baseball sense I have been patient at the plate. I wish the Dodgers were doing that now. I got into all kinds of trouble putting out "TheFirstDog" trying to time it for when the Obama's got their new dog Bo. I thought about taking advantage of National Boss's Day for about half a second. I have TV on all the time as well as internet access, nobody mentioned it at all. I didn't bite on the curveball (unlike the Dodgers) Timing your release to an event is not recommended in my opinion. Too many factors can alter your plans.

Apple just announced that their stock is rising and people are buying iPhones by the armful. Beat the Boss should be available right around the holidays. Hopefully all the gift recipients jumping on the iPhone/iPod Touch bandwagon will see the joy in beating up their boss with a multitude of weapons."Making contact" is how you score in the game.The Dodgers need to do the same thing today or get eliminated by Philadelphia.

Apple "Magic Mouse"

Just when you think you have learned something like "patience", you least I did. Apple announced this new mouse on the internet that has features similar to a touchscreen on an iPhone called "The Magic Mouse". They also sent me an invitation to go to an iPhone developer conference in San Jose. Between the two, it got me Apple crazy for a minute. I drove straight to Best Buy where they had no idea what I was talking about. I drove to the Apple store where the told me I can order it online and get it in a week. Part of the rush was to actually use the thing now. I forgot that Apple does this all the time, announce but not stock immediately. I can't wait to get this thing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Heat Wave

Southern California has had a recent heat wave. It is October but global warming even makes fan purchases difficult. I went to Walmart first, then Home Depot, Lowes, CVS, Walgreens etc etc. Certain products are seasonal…fans, heaters, umbrellas to name a few. I was forced to buy large feathers and rent eunuchs till the weather gets cooler.

iPhone apps aren't seasonal."Beat the Boss" will be relevant and available independent of outside forces. Inventory is not a problem, but I still want to buy a fan and an umbrella.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Acronyms and Endorsements

In business, acronyms are a big deal. They show that groups of people agree with your concept. I figured I'd join in. At first, I wanted to get ringing endorsements from large companies. The problem is, I am making fun of the people that I want to endorse my game. Being that no self-respecting manager would want to admit the value of Beat the Boss, I have approached other organizations that embrace the idea of executive punishment. Here is a list:

NBA - National Boss Assault
moPow - mo People out of work
BBS - Boss Beater's Society
OJDP - Office jerks that deserve punishment
ASTHMAH - Association of supervisors that maim and hurt
mWAM - Mad women Angry men
ESPS - Employees scared of pink slips

I am waiting on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and UL. I expect that the above mentioned organizations will be jumping on the bandwagon shortly.

Thousand Pound Gorilla

This project has been rather lengthy, over 6 months. It could have been done in much less time, but creating in the USA and assembling in India has it's challenges. Making a game is hard because in some ways you are never done. There are always things you can do to improve the experience. I don't want to make the game a thousand pound gorilla, but I also don't want to leave something out that is glaring. Sooner or later you have to put your foot down and say that you are done.

I want people to play the game and have fun. A time element adds to the game play, giving you a reason to beat the boss other than just primal anger. The game play gets kind of frantic as time gets close. I believe the element of winning has been included with the satisfaction of beating the crap out of your boss.

Next time CS5 will be used and ActionScript 3 will be the method. The more control I have, the less I am dependent on making changes that programmers consider a problem. I am very curious how hard it will be to create a similar experience using the new tools. My goal is to be able to create interactive iPhone entertainment with maximum control but still work with talented programmers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Twin Mill

Mention of Hot Wheels made me think. The car I remember is the "Twin Mill".

Monday, October 12, 2009

T-Shirt Design

My new icon design has been translated into a T-Shirt design. I think it will make a nice give-away. Here is a mock-up using my friend Scott as a winner.

I have known this guy my whole life and he has made many bonehead moves. One of his favorite jokes is to put his finger under his chin after doing something dumb. His question would be, "What's this?"...answer, "sh_t on a stick".

We would play with GI Joe, Lincoln Logs, wood blocks and Hot Wheels when we were kids. Twisting track through our creations testing gravity. That mindset continued through life as digital tools allow for artistic interpretation. Beat the Boss actually started many years ago, playing with little cars.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

iPhone apps in Flash CS5

It is interesting how time moves on. The creation of the Beat the Boss was a cooperative effort between IndiaNic and Mike Browne. I created all the art and assembled it in Flash. Indianic took great efforts to interpret my thought and implement it in the iPhone SDK. They had to literally rip it apart and put it back together. Now that we are almost done, Adobe announces that Flash CS5 will include an output to create for the iPhone directly. It will be out later this year…it is now October.

When The Boss is done it will look like it was created in Flash and everyone will be wondering how we did it so fast. The reality is that it was put together piece by piece. One thing I know for sure is my next app will be created in Flash from the start. My guess the creation time of this same project would be a fraction of the 6 months it took to create The Boss.

As I write this, there are about 75,000 apps and 2 million downloads. A year from now it should be 5 times that amount. The tough part is going to be iTunes. How will people find your apps? It is hard standing out now amongst 75,000, imagine down the road. Another thought is the approval process. It takes minimum 2 weeks now to get approved by Apple now, with rejections this can be months. What will they do when the Flash crowd shows up?

The Boss will come out right on time. Just before the crowd hits after people figure out how to make Flash CS5 work for them. The game is changing, but I have the right skill set to work within the platform. I will adapt with everyone else. But there is more to it than tools. Beat the Boss is an idea that is well thought out and the game play is fun.

My good friend Terumi gave me this Flash action character a number of years ago. She was right, Flash is the answer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More Time

It occurred to me while watching people play the game it gets kind of frantic. This is a good thing. The music loop combined with the game play makes you want to achieve each level before time runs out. My next move is to add a timer that records your overall time.

Recently at a street concert I heard someone say, "People will do anything for a free T-Shirt!" Sounds like a good idea to me. I will sign up with Cafe Press and send out a T-Shirt once a week based on the overall top score.

Another thought after watching people play is that I need to add a "sound off" button. After messing around with it, I changed my mind. If you play Beat the Boss, you have to listen to his bullshit. My goal is to get someone fired for playing my game.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Donald Trump would be proud

Looking back, my app is a good business lesson. I can't claim to have no experience or be surprised by any element involved with the creation. I started with an unwilling partner and proceeded on my own, so all decisions are on me. My previous app got me in all kinds of hot water with Apple, again I have to be smart or get rejected.

During the creation of the app I watched entrepreneur shows on Tivo like, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, Billy Mays and American Idol. Everybody is selling and I wanted to pick gems if I can find them. There are reasons products sell and reasons they don't. Apps shouldn't be different. I believe the Donald would approve. (Speaking of which, I did this Trump drawing with my left hand a few years ago. I had broken my right arm breaking wood during my black belt test in Japan)

Market is solved, the are millions of potential customers. My target is working people that are holding an iPhone that have disdain for their boss. For the cost of a side order of fries you can wail on your superior with 10 different weapons.

A free version will demonstrate a $1.99 paid version. First thing is to inform the public that my app is available for sale. My true interest is conversion from free to paid, I want a ton of free downloads. If the game is good and fun to play, people will upgrade.

Every developers question is how do you get noticed surrounded by 75,000 apps. An earlier post speaks of Tim Cascio's 50 tips. I am using about 25 of them.

Very few people have contributed to the app's story line. It is kind of like cartoon writing, after you finish you hope that people get the joke.

Tortoise and Hare

Having a free and paid version means your intro's need to be different. The free version will allow for 1st level play and end with a pitch to buy the paid version for $1.99. The full version will include 10 weapons, 12 levels, two speeds and the ability to save a game. You can opt to have the Boss send you e-mails insulting your intelligence while reminding you to buy the full version when you are in a WiFi area. The free version will be under 10 megs by design so people can try it on the fly. I will use the tortoise and hare as an international symbol of slow and fast.

New Icon

Reading up on what to do to make your app more successful, the icon is mentioned often. If your icon is weak, they game is probably weak. My logo for Beat the Boss is a boxing glove. It is the first weapon used to hit the boss in the game. That's great, but the glove in the game isn't exactly the right image for an iPhone icon. It needs to be square and shown up against a black background. You really don't know what it looks like till you see it on the phone. After two adjustments I think it worked out well. I will also use this glove on T-Shirts as well. If your logo looks good on a T-Shirt it will look good on the phone.

Flying Cars

I attempted to learn to use the iPhone SDK like I have used other programs to animate in the past. I have experience using Flash, After Effects, Director, Media 100, I figured I could learn another discipline. Wrong. By the time I could program the game by myself, we will be driving flying cars. I am right brained, C+ is left brain. I bought a book, "iPhone in Action" and learned what was possible, then found help. Searching the Internet I chose Indianic.

This game has been in development for approximately 6 months. It has been a challenge working with developers in India. Not so much English, more distance and time. Actually, now that I think about it, I had men calling me "dear". I created "The First Dog" working with Indianic, so I knew the routine. Part of that routine is patience. If you have a good idea or adjustment, most probably no one will know about it for about 13 1/2 hours. These days we are used to instant answers, this is more like can and string.

In any creation, getting your thought into a programmer and out a device is a challenge. My technique has been the super storyboard. Being that I animate in Flash, the programmers just follow what I show them. I provide them a moving guide, art and a full written explanation. They apply their skill to my art, so it kind of looks like Flash. If the iPhone ever uses the Flash player floodgates will open.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Evolution of an art career

As I type, I am feeling strong emotions. I just spoke to my sister and found out that my stepfather died a few months ago. He was a strange guy. He married my mother many years ago just before she got sick and lived as a loner as he had before they met. He died in the house that my mother dreamt of. I understand the house is in such disrepair it needs to be torn down. My career is like the house, 100 years old and needs to be disassembled. I grew up loving comics and cartoons. Mom bought me all the Peanuts books. My goal was to be a strip cartoonist like Charles Schulz. In 2009, that is like having your eye on the job of being a blacksmith or buggy whip salesman.

Over the years, I have been hip to trends and quick to adapt. The hard part is having to learn so many disciplines. I started using the computer for print, then web, cd, dvd, video, commercials, big screen and mobile. I used to be unique because I had an interesting drawing style, now I am one of a million. The internet made delivery of art so much easier. In the old days, I would airbrush a project and have it shipped, but now the world is also a click away. Cartoon characters like mine are now available for $3 from stock photos. A friend from Tai Chi is getting 1-minute of animation from a company in India for $500. For me, the writing is on the wall, the dream part of my art life is over. I am not going to be syndicated cartoonist and my shows are not going to be on TV. This is a hard pill to swallow, but the world has changed again and I have to follow.

I have chosen iPhone apps as my comedic outlet for now. Who knows what the world will be doing in a few years, but for now people are very focused on the iPhone. It's kind of like creating a show, but an interactive one. This app focuses on my Boss character and people get to beat him up. I am alone on this project, no partners. I have made all the decisions. Doing most of the work yourself leaves you in a strange place. I don't have co-workers to share the burden emotionally or financially. People close to me like the idea but that is as far as it goes. If the idea makes it big most people in my life won't notice, if it flops the same.

The programmers are about a week or so from finishing, after that will be Apple approval time. I have been careful to not include elements that will cause disqualification. There still could be problems, but I believe I have a clean program. At one point, you hit the Boss with a phone. I had them remove the busy signal noise because Apple doesn't like mimicking phone maladies. Now I am planning the website, the app needs to be available and easily found.

If my app is successful I would like to get hired by a major player and work with other creatives. I have been working alone long enough.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Beat the Boss is getting closer to being playable. My goal is to make a game that is winnable but not too easy. Some games are technically on the money but not fun. The idea is to beat the living crap out of the Boss. The play is simple, throw enough punches to knock him out before time runs out. It does get a little stressful when you can't hit the guy. I am going level by level testing trying to make my phone blow up. One change I made is changing pencils to push pins, they are better to throw. What is cool is they build up on the screen. Things are moving on, soon will be time to divide between a free version and a paid version. All the little things need to be attended to including the ability to upgrade for $2.00. I also want to automatically ask for a rating after the second play. My YouTube commercials are ready to go, still too soon to start marketing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

App Store Genius

It's a little bit of a mystery when Apple does an update. As consumers we are not sure what is different. This one adds an App Store Genius. Apple's idea is to have iTunes recommend apps just like it recommends songs. What it doesn't do is make determinations based completely on your behavior. What you have deleted isn't counted, it's more about what you keep and what others buy that own that same app. Either way it's kind of a big brother approach. Songs are kind of like apps, there are a ton of them. It's tough to find a new song without a recommendation. I have Sirius radio in my car, I always know who plays what I am listening to, digital technology has made that an easier task. This Genius thing is cool, I just hope that the information stays with Apple. I was looking for an umbrella a while ago. Now every time I surf the web, umbrella ads show up post haste. I know I am trying to sell a product and I will appreciate sales. What is weird is this science of selling. Every move we are making is being analyzed. From that data you are bombarded every chance possible with an enticement to buy that umbrella. Apple is in the information game as well as Google and others. The world wants to sell you something and you are not going to hear the last of it till you do. My question now is if I buy the damn umbrella will they leave me alone. Here is an article on Cnet discussing it further.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Freebie, Upgrade, or "In App" purchase?

Beat the Boss is getting closer to finalizing, but there are so many details it may still be longer than I hoped till I hit the finish line. The timing of the game is good because the economy is bad, people will be pissed for a long time. The subject of hitting your Boss is nothing new, I am providing a 2010 delivery method. AT&T is running at 300 percent because of Smart Phone usage. The size of the app is an issue. I know for a fact that being under 10 megs will be essential for the free version. 10 megs is the limit for "over air" downloads. Previous apps I have made were too large and people gave up if they weren't at a Wi-Fi spot. My free version will have an option to remind yourself to buy the full version with an angrily written e-mail sent by the Boss. I have had thoughts of selling new levels as in "in app" purchase. From what I have read, people see a short sales spike right after you upgrade. Being my game is level dependent, I can keep adding levels indefinitely. Now my thought is, how often?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bluetooth StyleYapper $19.95

In previous posts, I have mentioned my hassles connecting the iPhone with stereo bluetooth connectivity. It gave me a thought that stereo bluetooth headsets that connect to iPhones should be sold on infomercials. According to the experts, the things that work on infomercials are items dealing with cleaning, pain, fat, bad hair and bad teeth that cost $19.95. A bluetooth headset doesn't fit in that category even if you have bad choppers. My idea now is to combine bluetooth with the success of the Instyler so that you can answer the phone while styling your hair. I am hesitant to even write this article. My fear is that my idea will be stolen and knocked off in China. Imaging straightening your hair while yapping on the iPhone. Thinking about it, people in China already have straight hair, the big bluetooth hairbrush rip-off may not happen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rokr Bluetooth Headset Update

My main reason I wanted the Rokr bluetooth stereo headset is to be able to ride my rode bike, listen to music and automatically answer the phone when I get a call. Sometimes I need a ride to organize my thoughts. This set up would be very cool. The guy at Fry's said that it works with the iPhone, he was half right. My first ride I got a call, it beeped in my ear and I hit the answer action. I had to pull over, fumble, slide to the right, during which time it switched modes. Also changing songs forward or back does not work. I tried to make the face of the phone available for song changes but the problem is the face goes to sleep after a few minutes. You have to slide to the side to wake up, total pain in the butt. I almost rode into a tree. My guess is by Christmas time there will be plenty of compatible headsets available. Stereo bluetooth on an iPhone is very new, industry has to catch up. Motorola could score if they made an iPhone compatible Rokr, this one is really close. So, back it goes to Fry's. That place drives me crazy, but that's another story.

Chia Obama

This has very little to do with my new app but it''s worth mentioning. This morning I saw a post on Facebook from my niece's husband Tony. He was floored by the fact that he saw a commercial for "Chia Obama". About 6 months ago I had pitched Chia to do an iPhone app. I had a virtual board meeting discussing the possibilities of taking their brand to the iPhone. The owner is not a young guy, he believes all the youngsters he hires who say "yes" so they can keep their jobs. He showed us Chia Obama. I almost hacked up a hair ball. Joe insisted that the African Americans he asked thought it was a great product. Hoogaduh! hoogaduh! (That is the sound of a cat coughing up that hair ball)

Who would buy this? If I walked into any one of my friend's house and saw that on the mantle I would fall out laughing...then leave. My friend's are smarter than that. I can see it on some racist liberal hating college student's toilet tank, that's about it. It is flat out a bad product. Walmart pulled it from the shelves, but amazingly they said yes to the original order in the first place.

Joe was excited about an upcoming TV interview to be filmed. It ended up a foot in mouth interview where he appeared to be a "Cracker". His minions were on vacation unable to help in damage control.

What we suggested was do a Chia app that demonstrates all their products. Virtual iPhone Chia's. Charge $1, then donate the money to charity to try and save face. They were concerned people would not buy real Chia's if they could get one on an iPhone. My question was, how many of your customer's own iPhones? The idea was to spread the word. Instead his bobble headed "Yes Men" helped him design a Chia Statue of Liberty. It looks absolutely ridiculous, the French are offended and want her back.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

National Boss's Day

I was getting worried that the game will turn out to be glitchy. There is a lot of interaction. I tested the latest version today up to 8 weapons. It works. I think the game play is a success. You kind of almost throw the phone by swiping your thumbs. It gets kind of frantic. It does takes some skill to beat the clock, but the game does have addictive qualities. It is starting to get interesting, I hope the public likes it. Soon it will be time to start the marketing effort. Not quite yet, the app needs to be completed and submitted to the App Store first. Soon, YouTube and a T-Shirt contest. I am hoping to be able to promote the app for "National Boss's Day" October 16th.