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Hello, I am right now building up a promotion website for independend developers. Actually the core is a download site, but I want to add more. From the discussions in the past I thought that such a site would be welcome, but I got not very much feedback from the developers I emailed. Is there no interest from your part in such a site? What should such a site offer? You can find the URL to my site in the announcement forum at GameDev. Take care, Jester101

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We'll, my biggest complaint is that it's pretty difficult for a game developer to impartially run a game download site. In fact, it appears you've already proven that. It appears as if you have an agenda behind the site, and that would be to promote your own games (and your friends' games). Is it any coincidence that the "top favorite" game is Smugglers 2? Or that Smugglers 2, Coffee-break: Star Trader, and TV Manager were all favorites with top listing in the Strategy & War games category? Or that Dexterity Software has Dweep as a "sponsored listing" (which, according to your site, is supposed to be for sites that drive a lot of traffic to your site) despite the fact that (as far as I can tell) they dont have any links back to your site? I can only assume that Midnight Synergy is also a friend of yours in some way (since they have the other sponsored listing).

I'm not trying to pass judgement on what you are doing, just calling it how I see it. As someone who knows you, what your games are, and (to some small degree) who your friends are, it kinda leaves a bitter taste to see you/your games/your friends get preferential treatment on the site. It would make me question some things about listing on your site. If I dont drive enough traffic to you or work out a special promotion with you, will you rate my games lower than those who do? Sometimes no promotion is better than bad promotion, and if I felt that my games were going to be rated down in favor of games from preferred developers, I might not want to take part.

Of course, this might all just be because the site is just starting up, and you are forcing certain games/companies into preferred positions just to demonstrate the different features of the site. But like I said, it just kinda leaves a bitter taste.

That said, when I finish up my game next month, I would consider listing with you (so please dont take this as a bashing, I wouldn't to have the only game with a 1 star rating ). Another suggestion: looking at the ad banners you make available, they seem to look quite busy.

Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

[edited by - LordKronos on June 28, 2002 7:56:36 AM]

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I think there might be some interest among independent game developers that are just getting started and need some help promoting their shiny new games. You could have some basic tips for marketing and such, and improving sales. The problem (and lack of interest here) is that there aren''t alot of people at gamedev.net that have finished game products to sell! There are still alot of beginners that are trying to learn DirectX, and don''t have any realistic goals for making/selling a finished game. Maybe you could get more attention posting at the www.regnow.com Discussion Area

I found your www.downloadpal.com site yesterday, by coindicence, and the reason I didn''t submit my game was that I didn''t want to stick a banner on my page. Maybe if I just stuck it on a links page that would work, but otherwise I''d rather not. I have to second LordKronos about your own games getting the ''favorites'' treatment on the site. I''m sure you are allready getting plenty of sales on your own games if you are trying to make a site like this

- Chris
www.toastsoft.com

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Good points....

Well the main thing that threw me off was the site design...While its good, its abit confusing (not intuitive, especially with the alternating colors of the genre links)
I still plan on submitting a title there, but these are all good points that should be addressed.

Alex
weaponstudios.com

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Hello,

thank you for all your replies. It proves that I was right to openly put this to discussion. Let me address these points.

Sorry this is gonna be huge, but there are a lot of complaints also.

1. MAINLY PROMOTING MY OWN GAMES?
---------------------------------
I start with the really biggest complaint: Lord Kronos says that I mainly promote my own games.
Please notice that I have a big banner for downloadpal at each of my companies websites (at the bottom): www.nbsd.de
Additionally I pay for the webspace and the traffic. I designed the site and I am updating the site. And this really costs a lot of time.
Now take a look at Intensity XS: Recharge in the Action category. He sticked to me (and linked back) all the time since I had the (failed) site smugglersfiles.com. So I gave him a favorite listing.
The reason why I gave Dweep a favorite listing was, because I believed that Steve would help me and I did the first step. Now as he hasn't yet linked back or replied, you can be sure that it won't be a favorite listing for long. On the other hand I really believe in the quality of Dweep, so it doesn't hurt me (and the customers) to let the favorite listing stay for a couple of days. But I am disappointed.
Take a look at Aldo Vargas utilities. He said he is gonna add more than one link to my site and if he does you will see that he gets a favorite listing and maybe from time to time the TOP favorite listing.
All other favorite listings are there, because the developer either linked back (I hope he hasn't removed the link now??) or helped me a lot. For example one site submission developer (big company, at least looks like) gave me a free $200 worth copy for testing. Although this is selfish as I am the only one having this copy now, it is going to help to make downloadpal.com registered in 680 000 search engines!!
So all in all I believe that I am not doing anything unfair in the promoting process. Right now everyone who links back to my site gets a favorite listing - in general! I can only have three favorite listings for each category. This means later I might need to drop one favorite listing for another, if this other developer is just driving more traffic or has more links to my site. I need to change the text on the partner site, it is misleading.
Did I convince you?

2. HOW I RATE
-------------
Concerning the rating of the programs. I am simply not able to test all.
That's why I asked for moderators.
However I believe I have enough experience to see what potential a game has from the look and feel. If I am in doubt I check the other download sites, what rating they gave the specified product. Right now I never rated below 3 stars. I doubt that I would add a product that has 1 or 2 stars anyway. That's a very subjective view. And of course I believe that my games are the best. (no I only gave TV Manager and CBST a 4 star rating, because they do not sell that good as Smugglers 2). In the end the unbiased view is how good they sell - but I only know that in the most rare cases.

3. ART
------
Concerning the art and the banners. You are right. Its not really good. I am talking with a professional artist about creating some whiz-bang art...

4. LINK PAGE IS OK
------------------
Its absolutely ok to just put a link on your link page. However I cannot guarantee that you will keep your favorite listing forever then. This is not why I am angry or something, but if everyone else should put big big banners on the frontpage, they would be preferred.
But hey, right now there is no risk that anyone is going to put big big banners on their frontpage, so a link on your link page is enough to get a favorite listing right now.
Oh and a text link is enough too. Check out the partner site. Yesterday I added advice ot how such text links should look like (contain keywords).
I will need to change the partner site though. Again the text is misleading.

The reason I need links is not mainly to get traffic from you. I am targeting 10 000 visitors a day! You cannot reach this goal with this kind of traffic. What you need is a top position in the search engines. And one reason for a good ranking is to have a lot of links from other sites to your sites.

5. ARTICLES
-----------
Ok. I am right now working on a book about shareware marketing. I might add some example chapters to the site. Unfortunately though I want to sell the book, so I cannot already give all chapters away for free.
Any volunteers for writing articles?

6. NOT INTUITIVE SITE DESIGN?
-----------------------------
Last topic for now.
Hmmm. I was sticking to the Yahoo kind of site design. I used the alternate colors to make it more interesting. In my opinion its quite clearly arranged. Maybe I am too easy, because its my own creation. Hmmm.

I did it! I answered everything! Now I am gonna make a break and play GTA 3.
Did I convince you? Maybe some of my "friends" - as Lord Kronos stated it - want to join the discussion now too?



[edited by - Jester101 on June 28, 2002 3:21:07 PM]

[edited by - Jester101 on June 28, 2002 3:22:44 PM]

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I''ll address your post a little more thoughly later, for now just 2 quick things.
1)Like I said, I wasnt judging what you were doing, just saying what might go through the mind of someone evalulating your site and which might affect their decision
2) I like the alternating colors, except that the white blocks do just flow into the page. Even if you could just do an off-white/light grey (and make sure it looks good on 8 and 16 bit displays) that would help a great deal. Or find some way to outline it. That column on the right looks good like that (however, just outlining the tables too might not make them stand out from the right column)

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I believe LordKronos was emphasizing preferential treatment in his original post, as opposed to favouring your own games, which nevertheless poses similar problems by itself. If I misunderstood his post, then let me iterate the problem. I'm not in the habit of pointless flaming and this is certainly NOT my intention. I just want to inform you, hopefully for your benefit, why I decided not to submit our game at this time.

I won't question your strategy as it has its merits, although I believe them to be on a slightly immoral side (unfortunately difficult to find a business that isn't, these days). But I want to explain my perspective on this.

Initially, your method seems to favour the developer instead of the potential buyer. This in itself is a huge turn-off for the casual shareware shopper and it shouldn't take long for them to realize it. I remember being extremelly anal about spending $12 on shareware 15 years ago, so I know how difficult it can be to convince a buyer, especially now. I would never spend money online without extensive research on the store in question, from the accuracy of their ratings to the registered owner of the domain name. A general rule of thumb is: if I think this way, some others do as well.

Now, if one further analyzes your proposition to the developer, one realizes that it only favours developers who are already well established on the web, traffic-wise. So not only are you turning away prospective buyers through potentially false product ratings, but you're eliminating me, a developer dedicated to releasing original top-quality shareware as opposed to more clones. Yamisoft averages 25 visitors a day. It's a ridiculously low count due to our limited resources being spent on product development as opposed to marketing. Therefore, based on your terms, I have very little value to you, when in fact, I have a top-quality product that could keep your visitors returning for more.

Based on the details of your proposition, consider my submission of a hypothetical top-quality game. Due to the low traffic I generate to your site, I would remain at the bottom of your list, add very little value to your site despite the product, receive little traffic from YOUR site, and quite probably receive an inaccurate rating due to your inability to dedicate time to a full evaluation and comparison of my product with the fodder saturating the shareware market.

Furthermore, any buyer seeing a bad rating (any shareware rated lower than top score isn't worth buying in my opinion - there's too much competition) on my product could very likely turn him/her away from my title and possibly future ones as they wouldn't bother visiting our site to see what else we might sell. In the worst case, the whole deal would have been detrimental to the success of my products. In the best case scenario, we would both have gotten a few more clicks.

Anyways, this may be pointless babbling to you if your priority is traffic, not to mention I did exagerate the issue to prove a point, but I hope you at least understand why I, and possibly others who think the same way, may pass on your offer, as appealing as it may seem.

Honestly though, if you were to revise your terms a little, I would certainly consider submitting my games to your site and maybe even helping out a bit. But I would definately want accurate ratings both on my products AND the others, based on quality and fun factor (how can my game get fair treatment if other weekend fodder games are unfairly rated just as high?). Secondly, based on the previous requirement, games should be listed from best to worst, regardless of traffic generated by the developer. I strongly believe that applying these 2 changes would favour BOTH the potential buyer and the developers who are committed to producing solid software.

Just my friendly $0.02, plus taxes, plus interest, minus deductions, plus small-print fees.

Yamisoft Entertainment Inc.


[edited by - Yamisoft on June 28, 2002 7:30:23 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Yamisoft
I believe LordKronos was emphasizing preferential treatment...
Furthermore, any buyer seeing a bad rating (any shareware rated lower than top score isn''t worth buying in my opinion - there''s too much competition) on my product could very likely turn him/her away from my title and possibly future ones as they wouldn''t bother visiting our site to see what else we might sell. In the worst case, the whole deal would have been detrimental to the success of my products.


You said it so much better, but thats basically what I was getting at when I said "Sometimes no promotion is better than bad promotion". And it could be so much worse than "wouldn''t bother visiting our site". Because of the reciprocal nature of the linking, suppose that a customer comes to my site, starts looking at my game, but before downloading it they find my links page. They go to downloadpal, see my lower rating and think "hmmm, maybe that game isnt so good...I''ll try this one instead".

Granted, its really difficult to find a panacea for this problem. Put them alphabetically, and you get a bunch of loser games name aaaawesome-something-or-other getting top listings. Go by number of downloads and you get a "the rich get richer" type of situation, where it becomes more difficult (but not impossible) for an excellent late-coming contender to break in. If you go by user feedback, you get people spamming the counter. If you require logging in to vote, nobody bothers logging in (except the counter spammers).



Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

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>1. MAINLY PROMOTING MY OWN GAMES?
Yamisoft's and my previous post sum up my position. It's admirable that you are remembering the person who helped you out so long, and that you are making the effort to do something like this. It's just the conflict of interest that would add another variable to my decision.

>On the other hand I really believe in the quality of Dweep,
Now that is the type of philosophy I like. A good game goes to the top regardless. Now if only it could be done consistantly in such an unbiased manner.

>registered in 680 000 search engines!!
Is there really that many???? Funny, because even if you count download sites as search engines, I rarely use more than 5 or 6.

>2. HOW I RATE
Not sure what you plan is regarding the moderators, but if at all possible, try to have several moderators rate each game (so you dont get that guy that hates puzzle games giving dweep 1 star)

>You cannot reach this goal with this kind of traffic. What
>you need is a top position in the search engines. And one
>reason for a good ranking is to have a lot of links from
>other sites to your sites.
Yes, thats understandable. So, as you say, a simple text link on the links page should suffice.

>Maybe some of my "friends" want to join the discussion now too?
I already joined the discussion. What, you dont consider me your friend?

Jester: As an aside from all of this, where are you located? Your profile always said Germany so I thought that's where you were. Your email and the whois for your domains go along with that. However, I see now that downloadpal mentions Ontario, Canada.

Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

[edited by - LordKronos on June 28, 2002 10:20:17 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Jester101
Did I convince you? Maybe some of my "friends" - as Lord Kronos stated it - want to join the discussion now too?



Given that IXS ReCharge is mentioned, I feel obliged to say something - but I really don''t know what.

I actually did a number of linkbacks with developers, including Jester. I''m not sure though how much traffic is actually generated by them (my webstats aren''t very useful, I''m afraid).

It does provide a nice opportunity to make game development contacts though, and meet some (usually) friendly folks. Given that there are so many unknowns (and unknowables) in this business, it''s good to hear other people''s approaches. I''ve thought about doing secondary sites as well, so I''m curious to see how things like downloadpal will turn out. Yes, there is always a conflict of interest with such sites, but I believe that same conflict exists with the larger sites such as download.com as well.

Jester: once suggestiong about the design - why does every category open in its own window?



------------------------------
http://www.midnightsynergy.com

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Again thank you for your replies. I would like to go in detail now and ask for direct suggestions how to do it different. I am really interested in making it better:

Well, sites like download.com, filetransit.com (was it .net?), etc. all have so called "featured listings". You can get those listings by paying $$$. Because I honestly cannot use anymore money right now (sounds stupid eh?) and nobody would pay for a site just starting up, I decdided to give those places to someone who helps me.

I guess so far that's ok?

Now how should the policy look like?

----

I understand that it is not good if a program of someone who drives less traffic to me, simply drops down the list. But isn't this like in all shareware sites? Is there a way to not do that? From my opinion as developer I was hating alphabetical sites! My new freshly submitted program would rank somewhere in the middle (S = Smugglers) and some old old program would rank above, just because it started with A.
Do you have any better ideas here?

----

The rating is a different thing altogether. In your opinion everything below 5 stars sucks. In this case though I would need to raise a lot of programs ranking to 5 stars. I am not listing software that's not worth downloading or buying. The ranking is a ranking of the elite.
But I understand your point. The only solution I see is to remove the ranking altogether. But doesn't the player want to see what's what? And I want to point out that all other shareware sites offer such a ranking.
So should I not rate or how should I rate?

---

Design: The idea was that the front page always stays there and if you open a category from the front page a new window pops up. This guarantees that the user always finds back to the front page and that he quits the page accidently. If he changes from category to category no new window pops up.

[edited by - jester101 on June 29, 2002 5:50:00 AM]

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Jester,
yes, as my other post mentioned, I realize there are similar problems with other download sites. The idea way to rank games is by user feedback, but like I said thats impossible because of the counter spammers.

In light of that, I dont know what the best way to handle it is. Maybe have some random distribution. Have 2 of the top 5 spots be a random selection of other games from the category. Every day, pick 2 new random games and throw them into these spots. If the game does well (I guess you would judge that by number of downloads) then you increase its ranking. This way, good games would work their way to the top more easily (they get a little bit of random help now and then).

I dont know, maybe this isnt practical, but its the best I can come up with. It has the qualities of "the rich get richer" but it has the advantage that everybody get the chance to be "CEO for a day" so they can show off their stuff and get more recognition. If they get their show and blow it, then they stay where they are (or fall down farther if a better game rises from below it)

The biggest problem I see with this idea is how to do this when you get more than 40 or so games in a category.

Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

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What about this:
Generally the listings are NOT rated. If I believe that a software is not of good use, I don''t add it, but there is no ranking.

However some might get a special reward. Like "Editors pick". Most popular awards could be given to those the users like the most.

The first two listings of a category are featured listings (not favorite) and are for sale (or right now for special promotion). The next three listings are spotlight listings. The first two are chosen randomly between the awarded software and the last one randomly between the not-awarded.

The top featured (not top favorite anymore) listing is again for sale or for special help (read = as long as I don''t have a really helping hand, that''ll be me). Or randomly chosen between the awarded software.

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Hi there,

I've not got the time to read throught the entire thread here as I'm just too busy today, but just like to say that you've got our vote OK !.

All publicity is good publicity in my books either way and especially if it's for free or via mutual benefit !

Your site is now linked to ours and details have been direct mailed to you today.

Best regards,

Adrian Cummings (Proprietor)
Mutation Software
www.mutationsoftware.com
www.dweebs.info

[edited by - Mutation on June 29, 2002 12:04:28 PM]

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Yes thank you Adrian. I am looking forward to get your programs listed the next hours.

I thought about a new system more and I think I found a really good compromise. Although it can happen that a compromise makes all unhappy, in this case I believe it makes all happy.

Editors pick: Personal decision of the editor.
Sponsor award: Everyone who helps us gets this.

The listings in the categories are listed as follows:

First all editors picks.
Second all sponsor awards.
Third all other listings.

Some categories might have spotlight positions. They are sold or for extraordinaty efforts. Temporary.

What this has changed:
The visitors know that "sponsored listings" not necessarily mean that they are the best. On the other hand the developer gets better exposure.
The editors pick gives me the opportunity to test & promote the best products = good for the visitor.
On the other hand the developer that only had a 3 star program in the old system, can still link back and get a sponsor award.
And last but not least: I can still give few programs very special exposure for extraordinary reasons.

Does that sound good? I already have prepared that and bring it online the next hours.

I am also adding the light grey background and a new logo.

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Hi there,

I have no problems with any of that really but I'm sure you will get some negative feedback whatever you choose to do heh

Criticism is fine of course but I never let it stop me that's for sure in the past.

Go for it !.

Best regards,

Adrian Cummings (Proprietor)
Mutation Software
www.mutationsoftware.com
www.dweebs.info

[edited by - Mutation on June 29, 2002 12:54:14 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Jester101
First all editors picks.
Second all sponsor awards.
Third all other listings.



That sounds better, as long as a few things hold:
1) Editors picks will be done fairly (you wont pick someone because they helped you, only because you believe the game is good).
2)You will be sure to give some random games a chance to show up in the Editors picks and not have the editors picks category dominated by the same group of games for 6 months at a time.
3)Sponsored listings are clearly marked as such, so the user knows exactly what they are looking at

The only other concern would be how many sponsored listings there will be. If 40 people in a given category link back to you and you have 40 sponsored listings, thats going to push the third group down quite a bit. Unless you somehow put the sponsored listing and the other listings side by side (like google does).

Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

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Done and uploaded. I believe it looks better now.

The strategy section is still heavily dominated by my own products, but with hopefully some new games being submitted in the future, this should change.

Talking about fair...I guess a staff of editors or at least judges would be best. Any volunteers?

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Just a suggestion, but you should probably set your background color to white for your pages. I use a non-white default background, and it looks kind of funny (and probably not what you intended).



Mark Fassett
Laughing Dragon Entertainment
http://www.laughing-dragon.com

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Looks better. The grey is very subtle, but it does help distinguish the table. It is visible on my monitor with different bit-depth/brighness/contrast too, so thats good.

Ron Frazier
Kronos Software
www.kronos-software.com
Miko & Molly - Coming July 2002

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Hmmm. I set the background color to white. Does this "bug" only happen on a single page or on all pages?

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quote:
Original post by Jester101
What this has changed:
The visitors know that "sponsored listings" not necessarily mean that they are the best. On the other hand the developer gets better exposure.
The editors pick gives me the opportunity to test & promote the best products = good for the visitor.
On the other hand the developer that only had a 3 star program in the old system, can still link back and get a sponsor award.
And last but not least: I can still give few programs very special exposure for extraordinary reasons.

It''s nice to finally see someone willing to accept suggestions and constructive criticism without having a defensive fit. I admire your commitment to change (for the better) and your openness to suggestions.

Your new system sounds great and you''re right, it favours both the visitor and the developer, so you certainly get my thumbs up. The only little caveat is: "the developer that only had a 3 star program in the old system, can still link back and get a sponsor award". If you mean software with a 3 star rating, then my suggestion would be to remove it completely. Since you have no use for ratings because you hand-pick the best, there shouldn''t be anything less than 5 stars. And seriously, if I were to start shareware shopping again, I would choose your site over countless others simply because I would know that you''re doing the hard work of finding the best (assuming you''ve earned my trust as a visitor).

As a final note, I suggest you keep thinking by yourself as opposed to trying to copy what other download sites do. Dare to be different and give visitors and sponsors an extra reason to come to YOUR site and help them see why it''s not just another one of those misleading download sites. I did the same with Yamisoft BBS back in the day and became one of the VERY few profitable home-based BBS''s. Look at what others do and do it better.

I''ll stop babbling now before I''m accused of flooding the thread. Your efforts and revised proposition have convinced me to place your site on the top of my submission list. Keep up the good work!

Yamisoft Entertainment Inc.

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The worst design aspect of the site I''ve seen is opening a new browser window when clicking a link. I would have looked around more but that design choice is really unappealing and klunky. A user should be able easily go back and forth through the site within a single window.

Ben


IcarusIndie.com [ The Rabbit Hole | The Labyrinth | DevZone | Gang Wars | The Wall | Hosting ]

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Thank you Yamisoft, that's what I believe is the only chance to get a feet on the ground with that many download sites around.

Yes I begin to believe that you are right Kalvin. Those opening windows don't seem to be such a good idea in the end. I'll try to change the sitemap a bit. Possibly I add a small directory on the top of every page and expand the one that is on top of each download category a bit.

Thanks for feedback.

----
Update:

I've deleted all new page popups (hopefully) and added an increased index at the top of all pages. I guess its much better now. Check it out Kalvin, better now?

Any other suggestions (I am really interested in any criticism).

[edited by - jester101 on June 30, 2002 5:39:07 AM]

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