Thursday, 28 February 2013

JiggleSaw Video

I've been busy working on several JiggleSaw related projects. I just posted a video blog about JiggleSaw Video. Jig Video takes the JiggleSaw idea in a different direction. It will be a simple app, to be released in the not too distant future.

Monday, 3 September 2012

New trailer and version 1.2

Version 1.2 is finished. Now I get to find out how my strategy of a limited iPad only release, followed by an iPhone/iPad release goes.
The general idea if my release plan has remained unchanged but several details have been tweaked.
Originally I hadn't intended to do a lite/free version. I have now done one and it will launch beside version 1.2. My thinking on lite/free has changed so much over the last few months, that I can't fully remember why I didn't want to do it. You have to get your game into as many hands as possible.

Another thing to change is the initial game trailer. YouTube has this nice analytics called "audience retention". It shows a graph showing how much and which parts of your video have been watched. I was able to see that people were only watching the first 20sec of my trailer. I went back and watch just those first 20secs and if I'm honest I could see why people stopped watching.
If you have the chance to fix something you should. I cut a new trailer that tries to be more engaging from the start. Basically it has more content in about the same time.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

This is a shot of the first prototype.

Followed by a shot from version 1.0, it's all evolutionary.

The prototype was portrait because at the start I had a nice design element where the puzzle would remain stationary and as the orientation of the iPad changed the interface would rotate behind the puzzle. I really liked it but I couldn't get the rotation effect to look clean enough. It started to waste a lot of time as I worked on it and I abandoned it for the current support for only the 2 landscape orientations.

I liked the the rotation design because it fitted well with the whole design. It looked simple but moved in an interesting way.

Monday, 21 May 2012

What’s in a name

Obviously I wanted some sort of movement association with my app name. My first go was “ZigSaw”, a jig saw with a little zig and zag. Then I found out that in some countries jig saws are called zig saws. So I moved on to “JiggleSaw”, insert “gle” and make the word jiggle. I did a lot of searching and found a few references to the name but not many. So I went with “JiggleSaw”.

Now two weeks after releasing JiggleSaw I find lots of references when doing a Google search and not all to my game. It looks like to lots of people jiggle saw just means jig saw.

By far the most interesting search result, is several flash jig saw pages offering free jigglesaws. Not sure how these came about but they look to be automatically generated from the search request because it contains “jig” and “saw”.

Another interesting search result for “jigglesaw” are malware spreading sites. They look like they have put up some content about jiggle saw but they exist just to infect your computer. These sites appear to be scrapping content from other sites to try to attract clicks. At least Google stopped me from going to at least one of these sites.

Interestingly this blog has also been attacked with malware. I am given a list of referring web sites. Nearly all of those are touch arcade, the only place I have posted a link. Another site appeared on this list. “Oh another site is linking to my blog, I wonder who” click. Then my virus software was asking nicely if it could reset my computer to finish cleaning some malware it just found. Looks like they will try anything and it worked sadly.

Even with the benefit of hind sight I can’t think of a better name than “JiggleSaw”. If I was creating a new name today, there are a lot more factors I would be trying to take into count.

JiggleSaw has been out for just over 2 weeks I’ll have to do a sales update soon.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Familiarity breeds... a problem

I decided quickly that simply using video or a live video feed from the camera on a jigsaw didn’t actually make for a very interesting game (maybe a mini game). So I striped the idea back until I decided that movement was the most important thing and the simplest way to show movement was to move from video to simple animations.

The first puzzle was a simple bouncing box. I put together a simple menu. Like many, if not all, tablet jigsaw puzzles the game was free form. The player could choose the animation and the puzzle size. Armed with this early version I set out for some play testing. Straight away there was a problem. Given the choice of puzzle, the testers used their experience with jigsaw puzzles, to choose JiggleSaws that they couldn’t complete. The animations looked like very simple pictures and people were choosing puzzle size of medium piece counts. When asked they thought the puzzles were going to be simple. Instead they were being overwhelmed with motion on pieces that they just couldn’t understand.

So on one hand I had a challenging puzzle game but on the other it’s similarity to the classic jigsaw meant people weren’t giving themselves the time they needed  to learn the new puzzle. It would seem that people don’t like being baffled.

So the free form puzzle game became a level based game. The levels would start very simply and get harder at a steady rate. This creates a very controlled learning environment where puzzle elements can be introduced to the player one by one. So I had solved my first problem but sadly introduced another. The puzzles now starts very simply and most people seeing the game at this early stage say that it’s a game for children.

This slow start seems to be showing up already on the app store. JiggleSaw has been on the app store for just over a week. 5 days ago JiggleSaw had 7 ratings on the Austrailian app store, 5 x 5 stars and 2 x 3 stars. Today it has 7 5 star ratings.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Appearances are everything

This is one of the pictures I use to promote JiggleSaw on the app store. Sadly I think still images of JiggleSaw don't do a very good job of showing off the game.

This is my just completed trailer. It's aim was simple for the viewer to have some ideas what JiggleSaw is by the end.

This sort of presentation wasn't something I thought about during JiggleSaws development. I'm not sure if that is a bad thing or a good thing.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Hard decisions

I just released JiggleSaw for the iPad. I’m going to follow in a long tradition of blogging about its creation, so that future indie developers can read it and be inspired to create their games. Which I’m sure they will blog about as well.

I have actually been working on a game for the iPhone or the iPad for over two years. About 9 months ago I got the chance to work full time on my game for a while. The important point is, that game wasn’t JiggleSaw. Several months into full time development I realised that I had no chance of finishing that project with the time I had. I set that project aside and tried to come up with the simplest ideas that I could, so that the whole thing could be wrapped up and on the app store with in the time I had, which was 6 months (yes I have a strange idea of simple). What I came up with was JiggleSaw.

The idea of an animated jigsaw has been kicking around in my head for more than 20 years. It started when I was reading a novel by Piers Anthony. I think it was “Wielding a Red Sword” a character sits at a table covered by a jigsaw. He realises that all the trees in the jigsaw are gently moving in the breeze and that the picture resembles a path he just walked along. While he watches the jigsaw he can see someone else walking up the same path. So the jigsaw was like a magic surveillance camera. I liked the idea and have played with it over the years but never getting much out of it. Could I turn this idea into a game for the iPad/iPhone.

Well to cut a long story short, I did. I’m very glad I aimed for the simplest idea I could come up with because of cause it was a lot more complex than I thought (most of my ideas are). There were lots of design and implementation challenges. Now that JiggleSaw is on the App store for the iPad (the iPhone version is in the future), I have the next challenge of doing promotional work.

I have a few JiggleSaw stories that I want to share, I hope I can get to them in the coming days.

Feel free to ask any questions you want.

Now I have to get back to creating JiggleSaw’s trailer or no one is ever going to buy it. If no one buys it, I don’t get to do this all over again.