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Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Posted 2009-10-02 16:06:24 »

I have been working on a browser game in Java since... well lets just say a loooong time.  After countless nights and weekends I am getting close to having a "complete" game.  Its basically an empire-building game for about 250 players/server that will run for about three months, come to a conclusion, then start over.

I was wondering if anyone who has ever run one of these games has any advice.  I have never even run a website before (application developer for a living) so its a whole new world for me.  I have a host picked out already and test server up and running.

I would like to offer accounts on two tiers.  One free (Knight) account type that has limited gameplay akin to a demo mode.  The pay (Lord) account type would allow access to the whole game, owning more towns, and running guilds.  I would like to have a subscription model of say $5 per month for Lord access.

Am I crazy?  Is this an out-dated model and micro-transactions (i hate them) are the only way to go?  Is there any chance in hell I could ever make money at this?

Thanks for any advice, criticism, stone-throwing in advance,
  --Sanojo
Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Reply #1 - Posted 2009-10-02 16:14:54 »

Here is a recent screenshot in case anyone is interested...

COI Screenshot
Offline TheGDeveloper

Junior Member


Projects: 1



« Reply #2 - Posted 2009-10-02 18:54:32 »

i disagree with your profit  policy
everyone must have access to full peatures
if i were in your shoe i would like to let people pay money to earn game coins, improved user interface, faster development etc

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Noobtastic

Senior Newbie





« Reply #3 - Posted 2009-10-02 18:57:34 »

You will turn off many potential players with the profit-model you described.

Go with ad revenue instead, and ask for donations as well.

Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Reply #4 - Posted 2009-10-02 20:32:44 »

Thanks for the responses.

I guess I never understood the reasoning that free players should have access to everything that paying players do.  If you download a demo of the latest FPS, you aren't going to get the same game that a paying customer does.

My idea was that maybe 10% of the players might pay (if I am lucky).  That means ~25 players (Lords) will be playing to win and the remaining free players (Knights) will pick a Lord to support.

With this in mind, would you still be turned off as a free player?

Thanks again,
  --Sanojo
Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #5 - Posted 2009-10-03 09:16:19 »

Hi,

Yes I think that could work, there's plenty of games that have that subscription model. However since you're starting from scratch it might be hard to get an audience up and running in the first place. But I've never done such a game before.

I think you're screenshot looks good, kind of like civilisation 2!   Smiley

Offline pjt33
« Reply #6 - Posted 2009-10-03 10:08:17 »

That model works for RuneScape - but it's worth noting that RS started out free, introduced ads early, and introduced the two-tier system later when it was proving popular.

On a side note, I hope you realise what you're letting yourself into from a customer-support point of view. If you don't at a minimum have the ability for players to killfile other players' chat then add it quick. You'll probably very soon want the ability to mute or ban the noobs who just go around insulting people; automated systems for handling complaints are also very valuable.
Offline Swattkidd7

Junior Member





« Reply #7 - Posted 2009-10-03 21:40:59 »

I am not too sure about the business model, but I think everyone's covered it pretty well so far, but you DEFINITELY need to spend some more time and money into getting nicer graphics, GUI, etc.. How can you expect people to invest money to play a game where the developer didn't invest any money to make? Or at least make them yourself if you have the ability. Because looking at the game right now (no disrespect) I wouldn't even be sure if I would ever open it, free or not.

The concept seems really cool and interesting, just need to work on the presentation. Polish it up.

Also for the business model it might be better for you to have donations and ad revenue because if you think about it, if someone days pay monthly they may only pay for one game (which ends after 3 months) and realize that its not worth it and either leave or become a knight. For Runescape, the game never ends so it keeps people sucked in. However for your game since it ends every 3 months, you could just earn ad revenue since people will continuously be coming back within those 3 months and since its free, they might even play another round. Also with games like this, you really get an audience of dedicated people who really enjoy the game and want to see improvement, so they donate. However if they are paying 5 dollars a month and don't see the improvement they want, they will be pissed and just leave.

(I am not a professional, and have not tried anything like this, just based on things I have seen etc)
Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Reply #8 - Posted 2009-10-04 01:18:20 »

Thanks a bunch for the comments and advice.

I have been avoiding adding social engineering features to my chat interface.  I probably should move it higher in my priority list.  I know how badly one troll can ruin the experience for everyone.

I realize my graphics need help.  I thought maybe they could pass for acceptable.  Its not something I pay a lot of attention to in games I play but I am probably in the minority.  I have been checking out several pixel artist forums and thinking of paying to replace some of my sadder graphics.  Has anyone had any good experiences with pixel artists/sites?

Thanks again,
  --Sanojo
Offline Swattkidd7

Junior Member





« Reply #9 - Posted 2009-10-04 01:32:16 »


I realize my graphics need help.  I thought maybe they could pass for acceptable.  Its not something I pay a lot of attention to in games I play but I am probably in the minority.  I have been checking out several pixel artist forums and thinking of paying to replace some of my sadder graphics.  Has anyone had any good experiences with pixel artists/sites?

Thanks again,
  --Sanojo


I haven't really used an Pixel Artist, but the thread at TIGSource http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=167.6405 is a place where people show case their recent pixel art and what not, maybe you can find someone on there if you like their style.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 15
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #10 - Posted 2009-10-04 08:48:10 »

Yes, I definitely think a system like that would work great. And it'd probably bring in a lot more money than ads and donations would.

One thing I've learned is that you shouldn't be afraid to charge for your work. People claiming ads and donations are the way to go unfortunately don't quite live in the real world, imo.

$5/month is a fair price, but could I suggest having an option for a life-time account for, say, $50, where you just buy the game once and never have to pay again. I know I'd personally prefer something like that, even if I don't think I'd play the game for more than 10 months.

[edit:]
The game looks pretty cool. The graphics are a bit uneven, but it looks like it could be a really interesting game.
I've spent much time with warlords and age of wonders and heroes of might and magic, and this looks a bit similar to those games.

Play Minecraft!
Offline TheGDeveloper

Junior Member


Projects: 1



« Reply #11 - Posted 2009-10-04 17:52:22 »

As you said this is your FIRST game , so you need for people to apply to you game
i do not thing that there will by a 10% percent that will pay for a browser game when there are others like seafight and ogame with thaousand of people that are free of charge
just thing why these games has so many audience and profits

Offline DzzD
« Reply #12 - Posted 2009-10-05 08:22:10 »

Yes, I definitely think a system like that would work great. And it'd probably bring in a lot more money than ads and donations would.

One thing I've learned is that you shouldn't be afraid to charge for your work. People claiming ads and donations are the way to go unfortunately don't quite live in the real world, imo.

+1

Offline JL235

JGO Coder


Medals: 10



« Reply #13 - Posted 2009-10-05 10:24:18 »

If it resets every 3 months then I'd recommend running the first round as a free beta.

1) you will have issues when it goes live, so running it as a beta justifies to the players why they should put up with those issues.
2) it gets people interested since it's completely free.
3) It justifies adding a subscription model in the future when it comes out of beta (i.e. it was free for testing).

Lots and lots of online games use that model such as Ragnarok Online.

I'd also say your graphics need an overhaul, but not enough to stop it going live if it's as big as you claim. I'd say they are borderline acceptable, but some stuff in that screenshot just looks dreadful (like the blury tavern image and the themed buttons). Some minor touch ups would make a large improvement. But again you could improve this during the beta and promise 'new and improved graphics!' when it is officially released.

Offline Nate

JGO Kernel


Medals: 147
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


Esoteric Software


« Reply #14 - Posted 2009-10-05 13:20:49 »

I also agree with Markus_Persson and DzzD.

Right now the game looks like a 90s VB app. If your gameplay is great, bad graphics can be ignored for a while, but you should probably work on getting better graphics as soon as you get the game available. I think it is better to make it available as soon as possible. This will give you feedback and start to grow your community, and people like to be a part of something as it grows.

I had the same thought initially as JL235, but since your game is free to play already, I'm not sure it would help to make the first 3 months free. If the gameplay is there, it should be fun even on the free account. Besides, I'm guessing making everyone a Lord would ruin your gameplay.

Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Reply #15 - Posted 2009-10-05 14:23:15 »

This is some great feedback, thanks so much.

I was planning to have at least one free beta period.  Probably more depending on how many bugs/issues are brought to the surface.  Letting everyone be a Lord won't break the game model, but I may not get any feedback on whats its like to play a Knight.  That will have to wait until its live.

I guess I have a decision to make.  To go Beta with substandard graphics/UI or overhaul it to give the testers a better impression of the game.  Argh, now I know why my project managers are always so stressed near the end of a project.

Offline TheGDeveloper

Junior Member


Projects: 1



« Reply #16 - Posted 2009-10-06 12:54:33 »

the free round is very good idea

Offline Mike

JGO Wizard


Medals: 84
Projects: 1
Exp: 6 years


Java guru wanabee


« Reply #17 - Posted 2009-10-06 13:01:20 »

I guess I have a decision to make.  To go Beta with substandard graphics/UI or overhaul it to give the testers a better impression of the game.  Argh, now I know why my project managers are always so stressed near the end of a project.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression Smiley

My current game, Minecraft meets Farmville and goes online Smiley
State of Fortune | Discussion thread @ JGO
Offline Swattkidd7

Junior Member





« Reply #18 - Posted 2009-10-07 08:38:56 »

Yes, I definitely think a system like that would work great. And it'd probably bring in a lot more money than ads and donations would.

One thing I've learned is that you shouldn't be afraid to charge for your work. People claiming ads and donations are the way to go unfortunately don't quite live in the real world, imo.


That was slightly rude. But, is it realistic that people would pay 5$ a month for a game like this, especially when there are many other free games? I am sure you may get 1 or 2, but if you have it free and put ads you will be getting the ad impressions of all the people playing "everyday for 3 months" and it would be much more people playing...and with small games like this if you can build a nice little community that enjoys it few are happy to donate to make the game better. Where I live this is perfect, but of course in the real world it wont work out as prefect.

As an "inbetween" you could have ads and stuff to get money from the "free" players, have the optional 5 dollar accounts (maybe with no-ads also) and then also have a donate button...best of all the worlds, including the real world....

btw, I love minecraft! Probably going to buy it when its released in my world. Smiley
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 15
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #19 - Posted 2009-10-07 09:25:20 »

I got about 25 euro in donations in total for Minecraft before staring the pre-purchases.
The first weekend of pre-purchases, I made over 2000 euro, and ever since then I'm averaging at over 100 euro per day.

There really are people out there willing to spend money on good games, you just have to make it worth their time. If someone can afford to donate, they can afford to buy, but the incentive to donate is much lower since you don't get anything tangible for it.

Play Minecraft!
Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #20 - Posted 2009-10-07 12:29:41 »

I got about 25 euro in donations in total for Minecraft before staring the pre-purchases.
The first weekend of pre-purchases, I made over 2000 euro, and ever since then I'm averaging at over 100 euro per day.

There really are people out there willing to spend money on good games, you just have to make it worth their time. If someone can afford to donate, they can afford to buy, but the incentive to donate is much lower since you don't get anything tangible for it.

Wow that's pretty awesome!

Offline ozak

Junior Member




Java demon has no respect for bad code!!!


« Reply #21 - Posted 2009-11-30 13:31:00 »

Just to add my two cents Smiley
I've been working on a flash mmo lately (commercial that is) and the big players (club penguin etc) have a conversion rate of 2-4% from free users to paying users. Since they have a few million that's an ok deal.
But as you can see a lot of free players simply does not convert but just take up bandwidth an server space.
Micro transactions are all the craze these days, but I haven't seen a lot of money in them during the course of two professional mmo's Smiley

Using a subscription based model will also result in a more stable playerbase as long as the game delivers a experience that could potentially go on for a long time. Hope it makes sense Smiley

/Ozak

Want to do multiplayer? Why not try my free Socky socket server?
It's scriptable through JavaScript!
Check it out at http://www.furi.dk/socky
Offline sanojo

Junior Member


Projects: 1


I love YaBB 1G - SP1!


« Reply #22 - Posted 2009-12-02 16:22:34 »

Quote
have a conversion rate of 2-4% from free users

I wonder, does that conversion rate count all players or just regulars?

In my estimate of 10% I was not counting players who try it once or twice and then leave.  The game will clean those players up so they don't take a slot from regular players.

If it is as low as 2% of regular players, I am in trouble as I would basically just be covering server costs at that rate.
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