Monday, 12 December 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight -- Wrapup and Post Mortem

So, I think it’s about time for a post-mortem on “Hidden in Plain Sight”. I don’t actually know how to do a proper post-mortem, so I’m just going to make it up as I go along.

First, how about some press roundup:

Interviews:


This Joystiq piece was done quite a while before the game actually game out. It was published in early December, and I could definitely see the effect it had not only on trial downloads, but also on purchases. That is to say, this was a widely-read article, and it clearly said that the game was multiplayer-only. Therefore, people who tried it went into it knowing that, and were more likely to buy it. My conversion rate in December is over 40%.

Also, this article made my YouTube video hits jump from around 200 to over 3000 in about 48 hours. Pretty cool.


A fun interview, but didn’t generate any visible feedback.

Another interview, kind of late in the game.

Reviews:
“So if you have someone to play with, get this. Hidden in Plain Sight makes for a very fun party game.”

“…if you should actually have three spare controllers and three acquaintances, Hidden in Plain Sight is probably the most fun you could have with that setup.”

“The Best local mp XBLIG game that I wish I was playing months earlier.”

Silver Award… would have “ran away with the gold” except for a game that came out on 11/30. Also, notably, was co-recipient of the silver with Escape Goat and DLC Quest. “It’s just a ton of fun and like nothing I’ve experienced.”

GameMarx also did a video run-through here:

I was also on their podcast here:

Finally, and my favorite, are some comments I’ve gotten as followup to reviews, and on the YouTube comments, etc.

So, let’s see what worked and what didn’t.

The Good:

Code:
Having a good, solid code base. I have good, reusable code for making animated characters walk around the screen. With HIPS, that’s 90% of the game right there. The rest was just UI, menus, sounds, and so forth. This was by far my easiest game to make, coding/wise.

Sounds/Music:
I really like the sound effects in the game, and the music is fantastic. I really lucked out with having Jim McKeever let me use some of his music, and I think it adds a huge amount to the game.

Design:
At its core, I think the game is a really good idea. It’s actually, genuinely fun. I was able to have it in playtest for a long time (almost as soon as it was playable), and was able to get some good comments based off that. One of the major changes I made was adding statues to Ninja Party. This gave players some other objective to accomplish, and I think added a whole new layer to it. Also, it gives some cover for players to hide behind.

I like the various modes differently. But everyone seems to have their favorites, and there isn’t much consensus about which work and which don’t. So hopefully there is something in there for everyone.

Art:
Eryn came through again with some awesome cover art. I don’t know if it helped sales, but at least the box art looks distinctive.

The Bad:

Graphics: I’m getting about as much leverage off Renier Prokeins free sprites as I can get, but at some point, I’m really going to have to figure out how or where to get character art.

Fatal Bug: There is a bug in Death Race that went out to prod undetected. If two players are aiming at the same character, one shoots, then the target character dies and is removed from the “active players” list. When the second player moves his aiming crosshair off the dead player, it will throw an exception. Dumb.

The Ugly:

Diana’s parents were over on the first full day of release, and wanted to see the game. We played a few rounds of Knights vs. Ninjas, and they noticed that their characters were starting in the same location every round. One of my late changes was to limit where the Knights can start, so I had some debug code in there to test this out, and forgot to remove it. Specifically, I’d commented out the code that shuffled up the players, so the players always start in the same location. Erg. So frustrating.

Sales and performance: 

I’m not sure if this is good, bad, or ugly, but it looks like HIPS is going to end its initial run for glory with about 500 sales. During the same time period, that’s about 50% of sales for my previous two games. Give that this is multiplayer only, actually, I don’t think that’s half bad. It has a 3.75 star rating, which matches up exactly with Bad Golf and Venga Islands. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it, given the good press and feedback.

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