Monday, February 25, 2013

Felicia Day

If elections were held for King and Queen of gaming and geek culture, I imagine Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day would be on the short list of nominees.  In fact, it was seeing a headline that Felicia Day was going to be hosting IndieCade that got me wondering if perhaps I should enter my game.  When I was actually at IndieCade and saw Felicia at the awards party, I was really hoping that she’d walk around during the Press/VIP time and play some of the games.  It would have been a thrill for me to show her my game.  But alas, I never saw her.  No big deal, but it’s kind of become a secret unfulfilled goal that’s stuck in my head.  Well, not really a goal, because there’s not much I can do about it, but an unfulfilled “cool thing that would be really neat if it happened”.

Every so often, I search for “Hidden in Plain Sight” on Google and Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it.  The other day, I saw a post from someone named “Josie Kavadoy”, responding to someone else asking her what she was playing these days.  She said “Hidden in Plain Sight”.  Now I have no idea who Josie Kavadoy is, but I tweeted back asking what her favorite modes were, and if she had any feedback for me.  She noted a technical issue with MS (nothing to do with the game), and then said that they mentioned the game in some video, and provided a link.

I figure maybe it was a little podcast or something, so I click the link.  It’s the “The Guild Season Finale G+ Hangout”. 

Holy shit.  For those who don’t know, The Guild is Felicia Day’s web show thing (created and written and starring her) that has a pretty decent cult following.  It’s an ensemble cast, and they do G+ Hangouts (live multiway video chats) where they shoot the shit about stuff.  Anyways, they talk about what they’re playing, and one of the stars of the show, Sandeep Parikh, calls out over his shoulder “Josie, what are we playing these days?” and the woman behind him calls out “Hidden in Plain Sight and Dominion”.  (Dominion is a tabletop card game, which is also a lot of fun).

So this random Josie turned out to be girlfriend(?) of a guy on the Guild.

In the Hangout, Sandeep then takes a minute or two to describe the game to the rest of the cast (including, of course, Felicia Day).  I wondered if she’d recognize the title from IndieCade, but she didn’t.  It’s a hard, awkward game to try to describe to other people, but they agreed it sounded neat, and the conversation moved on.

This morning, in response to Josie’s tweets, he said:

Pretty damn cool.  But it’s also really made me think.

Why do I care if Ms. Day plays my game?  In the end, I guess I don’t really know.  She’s a big name, and I’m somewhat star-struck.  If Twitter followers are any indication, I have about 250.  Josie as 1000.  Sandeep has 35K.  She has 2 million.

The other dirty elephant in the room is that with that many followers, she has clout.  A mere mention of the game on Twitter would lead to exposure and sales.  And while that’s what every indie developer dreams of, it kind of sullies the waters for me.  I don’t care that much about exposure and sales.  I mean, I do, but I don’t.  I care more about people liking the game and thinking it’s fun than anything else.  And to that end, it doesn’t matter if it’s a big name like Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton, or a random guy from Scotland named Joe Dillon.  Each opinion is worth the same to me.

So I guess in the end, I’ll do what I’ve done from the beginning.  If the game is fun, it will market and sell itself.  And if it’s not fun, and people don’t like it, then trying to spread the word won’t work anyways. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Hidden in Plain Sight has been purchased 10,000 times.

This is such a staggering figure to me, I don’t really even know how to process it.  It’s stunning, really.  When I first made Bad Golf, the idea of 10,000 sales was my huge “wouldn’t that be awesome if…” dream scenario.  I never expected it to actually happen, but you can’t put something up for sale and not harbor some secret dreams of it getting huge.  And with Bad Golf, it didn’t.

So, I don’t really know what to say.  I really wish I could take credit for cracking into some untapped resource of game design and done something really revolutionary (like Guitar Hero or Portal or Journey).  But maybe that’s not the way it has to work to be successful.  Maybe you just have to make a game that is fun, and that motivates people to tell their friends about it.

If anything, I think that’s what I’ve learned.  There are plenty of games that are fun, but aren’t particularly interesting to tell other people about.  But Hidden in Plain Sight, being a social game, somehow lends itself to sharing it with friends.  It’s not only fun, but it’s fun to share.  As in “Oh, you HAVE to play this.”  That’s not a component of a game you typically study in Game Design 101.  And I didn’t either, but somehow stumbled upon it.

By far, the biggest influence on sales were the SourceFed videos that came out in October, and those were a direct result of the game being shown at IndieCade.  Those led to hundreds of sales immediately, but also created an initial shockwave big enough to spread out over time and generate thousands of sales since then.   If one person out of every twenty tells a friend and leads to another sale, then you can see how some initial influx of players will lead to a long-tail of sales.  I think that’s what happened.

For those interested, 10,000 sales means $10,000.  But Microsoft takes 30%, and then withholds some tax (I just got a 1099 from Microsoft Corp, which is kind of neat), so I think I’ve net around $6000 over the past year.