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. http://appreview.tumblr.com/

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

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.