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.