Galactic Fire FREE – Advertising networks on Windows Phone 7

[cross-posted from my blog!]

While researching ad networks on Windows Phone 7 for Galactic Fire FREE, it became clear that ad network support for Windows Phone 7 is a bit fragmented depending on which tech stack an application is written in. Silverlight-based applications have several options for ad networks, and XNA-based applications have… well, fewer options.

The first (and last!) ad network I implemented was PubCenter advertisements. During evaluation of PubCenter, I was unhappy with the format of the ads being served (480×80 banners for a full-screen ad?), the relevance of ads (trucker jobs in England? srs?), and the fact that the portal doesn’t support WebKit-based browsers.

I also evaluated AdMob, which seemed to be an incredibly clear winner. Unfortunately, AdMob didn’t have support XNA titles, so I was out of luck there.

An interesting ad exchange network that did have support for XNA was AdDuplex, in which developers exchange advertisements in their game for advertisements in your game. The monetization model is different in that there is no indirect ad revenue. A developer in the program show 10 ads for someone else in their game, and the developer’s game is shown 8 times in someone else’s game. I’ve seen this recommended a number of times, and may yet experiment with this model, but direct sales of a non-established brand appear to be pretty abysmal, and this model drives only direct sales.

PubCenter, being a Microsoft ad network, had client binaries for WP7 XNA titles and had a monetization strategy that was more in-line with my goals. In the end, the advertisements seen in-game come from PubCenter.

See you at the crossroads…

I suppose it’s a small tragedy in the grand scheme of things, but my friends over at Business Chicken just had a visit from the chicken aspect of the Grim Reaper when Shy Chicken passed away suddenly. It’s definitely unhealthy to dwell on the passing of a pet too much, but I also think it’s a bit callous to breeze over the loss of a pet (and to Jason and Betsy the chicken’s definitely fell in the pet category). Maybe I’m too sentimental, but I think we need to pour a little liquor out at these small losses because they prepare us in a way for the larger losses that come to us.

Not that your losing your mom is on the same scale as losing a pet, but the loss is very similar in feel, just different in size. It seems these days that people grieve the loss of people or things that they had no part of, like the loss of the Twin Towers, or the the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Perhaps fully realizing the loss of the smaller things would give these events and actual losses in our lives some perspective.

Anyway, since this post is about Shy chicken – she was a good chicken. I didn’t know her very well, but she always stood out when I was chicken-sitting. She was relentless trying to escape and she is perhaps the first chicken to ever peck me. Didn’t hurt at all, but hilarious all the same. Some people say chckens are stupid, but there is a pleasing gentleness to them and their rhythms that makes their more annoying mannerisms tolerable. In fact, if chickens were cleaner, they’d be a whole lot more fun since they are pleasant to tease and taunt. They have blatant desires that make them easy to please as they seek to satisfy their hunger, curiosity, or liberty, whichever happens to consume them at the moment.

We’ll pour some liquor out for you. Hopefully you’re up in that great chicken coop in the sky eating all the popcorn you desire.

goodbye shy.

Galactic Fire – Leaderboards, analytics and more for Windows Phone 7 games

[crossposted from my blog]

Hi all! Hijacking a bit of your time to discuss leader boards and analytics in the indie game space.

Throughout casual play testing, one of the recurring feature requests for Galactic Fire (now available on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace!) was leaderboards. Initially, one could only compete with themselves for a high score on the local device and, while appealing, it doesn’t necessarily capture the same competitive edge as seeing how one ranked world-wide. Leaderboards sounded like fun, and folks wanted to see how they compared to other players in the office.

Being overzealously protective of my spare time, I dismissed the idea of leaderboards. The game was more or less feature complete, was already for sale in the WP7 Marketplace, and I didn’t want to build or maintain a leaderboard service. Even once it was built, I’d have to cover hosting costs, troubleshoot uptime and availability issues, and it sounded like a bunch of problems I ultimately didn’t have time for.

One of the key differentiating features between Galactic Fire and its free/trial counterparts ended up being work that I didn’t have to do at all, and that’s largely thanks to a service called Mogade. Mogade advertises “free solutions for casual game developers“, and one of the free solutions happens to be leaderboard support with corresponding Windows Phone 7 client source and binaries.

As far as I can tell, Mogade is a small handful of folks learning and building services for an area that they are passionate about, and monetization is currently on the back burner. From the Mogade FAQ:

Why build mogade? Why make it for free? Why open source it? Ultimately, we believe in gaming, and we believing in the casual gaming revolution brought about by new devices. We grew up on video games and we want to do our little part to make sure others get the same benefit. It currently costs roughly $100/month to run mogade on redundant hardware. It’s a manageable expense.

I ended up using the free Mogade-hosted leaderboard service, but if the idea of someone else hosting your app’s functionality makes you uncomfortable, then you have the option of forking the Mogade source on Github and hosting it on your own servers.

In addition to leaderboard support, I took advantage of some other Mogade-provided features to add some basic instrumentation to track game launches and unique users. This has the net effect of tracking downloads, unique users and game launches in a way that is far more immediate than the App Hub tools. In fact, I could see the build with instrumentation going through certification as the number of unique users spiked in advance of the game’s marketplace launch.

Mogade offers great functionality at a cost that I can’t argue with. For indie developers and small studios, it’s hard not to recommend taking a look.

New Theme Twenty Eleven!

I’ve pulled the trigger and upgraded to the Twenty Eleven theme to keep things looking fresh and tasty. I’m still hoping to move on over to self-hosting and using so we can have Javascript (Then I can host Tableau Visualizations! W00t!) and so much more, but until then, I hope you guys like the new digs.

Galactic Fire v1.5 now available on the Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace!

Hi all! Diverting a bit of your attention for the shameless self-promotion of my first game, which is available now on the WP7 App Marketplace!

[crossposted from my blog!]

Galactic Fire v1.5 is now live on the Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace, and includes the following updates!

  • Leaderboards! Owners of the game will now be able to participate in global leader boards for overall score.
  • Fancy art! The app icon and splash screen have received a major overhaul.
  • Game duration has been increased, from 90 seconds to 180 seconds.
  • Game difficulty has been tweaked, and death should no longer reset difficulty.
  • Fancy score and multiplier modifiers now show on enemy death and gem pickup, respectively.
  • Minor UI tweaks.
Additionally, Galactic Fire now has an ad-supported trial, and Galactic Fire FREE has been submitted to the WP7 app marketplace! The trial and free versions are ad supported and lack leaderboard support, but are otherwise identical to the full version of the game!
Tell your friends and rate the game! It’s actually quite fun!


So close – so far away

My good friend Tina moved to Italy to study fashion for a year, and we had dinner before she left. It was really nice as expected, and also as expected, before we parted she mentioned that she’d stay in touch.

To which I replied, “Aw hell, you know your just saying that. I plan on hearing from you, at MOST, twice. And it’s going to be like, ‘Hey, how you doing? Italy is awesome, I miss you guys.’ and I’ll reply with some nonsense. And the other one would be when I commented on one of her photos or something.” Well, she’s dangerously close to proving me wrong (although one of her messages is a brand survey so I don’t know if that counts…. 🙂 ), so I thought I’d stalk checkout her and look at her Tumblr:

Everything is Simple

It’s surprisingly poignant, with some wonderful images of the lesser seen sides of Italy.

Makes me want to visit.

Tales from the Poultry Side – all business chicken, all the time.

Since I get to post material by talking about my fashion adventures with my friend Jason, it’s only fair that I pimp his blog here:
Business Chicken

This has got to be one of the best damn blogs about chickens ever. Seriously, it’s hilarious. And if you’re lucky, I might even blog about it when I get to babysit the chickens.