Let’s cut to the chase :
- No product is perfect.
- Sometimes people are ignorant or jerks or ignorant jerks.
- Our games are awesome. You should buy them.
- We are still always working on making them better (yes, you get free updates for life).
To give you an example of how we are always, always, always working on making our games better, as I typed the first sentence in this post I thought to myself,
“Cut to the chase is an idiom. I should include that in one of the matching activities in Aztech (Our suite of bilingual games under development). It’s probably not obvious to a non-native speaker.”
Examples of Awesomeness
Awesomeness for Mac and Windows
|Spirit Lake: Multiplication , division and Dakota history and culture
Hunt buffalo, save your tribe from an epidemic
|Fish Lake: Fractions, fishing and Ojibwe history and culture|
Awesomeness for Google Play and iPad
|Making Camp: Learn multiplication, division and Ojibwe history and culture|
Awesomeness for Chromebook, Mac and Windows
As to the ignorant and jerks – at least once a week someone tells us that no kids will play our games because (insert random selection of imperfection here couched in the most insulting terms possible – or choose from the list below)
- We often purchase music instead of creating our own ,
- The games need more music and sound effects
- Every game doesn’t runs on every platform
- We need to update the graphics in Spirit Lake (new update available in February)
- We don’t provide automated reporting (actually, we DO provide reports to schools)
- No one wants to spend 5 or 10 minutes to download and install a game. People want instant gratification
Many of the comments we receive are valid. We do consider all of them, even the snarkiest ones and 90% of our day is spent on making these improvements. (We need some marketing people to balance that out and we hired one this week and another starts in February.)
What I’d dispute, though , is that no one will use a product until it’s perfect. In fact, they do and you probably should (I say probably, because I don’t really know you).
I use a lot of Apple products (I use Windows also, but today let’s talk about Apple which has sold approximately a bajillion iPads). The copy function on my iPad doesn’t work all that well. I often end up scrolling instead of increasing the selection size.
I bought a new MacBook Pro and I don’t even want to go into the huge hassle it has been trying to get it set up – and, mind you, Dennis and I have six degrees and 60 years of programming experience between the two of us.
It took an hour to install from time machine back up – which didn’t work, we reinstalled the operating system twice – anyway, you get my point. Anyone who has ever sworn at Siri gets my point.
Obviously, none of these facts are deal-breakers to the users, and I suspect Apple is working on all of them.
What we have chosen to do is produce games that are fun to play, teach math, social studies and language, but are fun to play (yes, I said it again because it’s true) so even kids (and adults) play them when not in school. That’s a good enough reason to make them and buy them. If you have no money, or just want to keep your money to buy whiskey, you can even get Making Camp for free.
A lot of people – including teachers, kids and well-educated adults – the three groups that comprise the large majority of our user base – LIKE to be involved in a product as it develops.
Even if you don’t plan on being part of a product in development, you really are. After years of being the first kid on my block to buy every new device, I finally started waiting a few months, at least, until the worst of the bugs had been worked out. Too many times, I plunked down my money for a shiny new device only to have to return it the next day because of a hardware or insurmountable software problem.
Yet, I keep buying those devices because they do things I want.
That’s why you should buy our imperfect games – they will get your kid to study fractions without fighting , they will help you remember useful math facts without boring your brain into mush.
While you’re at it, we will continue improving the games every day and taking your comments to heart – the game design comments that is. You can quit telling us we’re ugly.
Time Machine has some amazing capabilities and I wouldn’t be without it. I would use another backup solution if I thought it would be better but nothing can replace the functionality I get with Time Machine.
However, I am coming to the realization over years of use that there are two things that don’t work well with Time Machine. I have tried to do them time after time because it seems like these things should work well with Time machine.
The two things are:
1) Trying to migrate to a new computer from a Time Machine backup
2) Trying to restore an entire volume from a Time Machine backup
I’ve done both of these several times. I keep thinking you can do #1 because Migration Assistant always offers it as an option, and why does Apple keep offering this option if it doesn’t work well? (and in the case cited in the article it had disastrous consequences).
I keep thinking you can do #2 because it seems like the primary function of a backup utility is to restore the entire volume.
I think in the future I will avoid #1. As for #2, you can’t always avoid it, you just have to deal with the inevitable problems.
And to be fair to Apple, that isn’t all their fault. The problem is, us old people remember when the backup was just basically a snapshot of every bit on the disk at the machine level, so as long as the disk was OK when backed up the disk was functionally equivalent.
Time Machine on the other hand, due to the way it works (which is also the root of its most powerful features) takes snapshots of individual files. When you do a restore it restores each file individually, which means your content is all restored but some low level details of how the Mac keeps track of a file’s identity will be different, which means third party software that takes advantage of these low level details may think you have replaced every file on your disk with a new file, which isn’t the effect you are going for when you restore a volume.
I had three “which” clauses in that last sentence. That’s because I couldn’t figure out how to fit a fourth one in.
Granted I haven’t played since my Kickstarter package, because my RAID died. But where the hell is this taking 5 minutes to download and install?
What system AREN’T you guys on? Man people just bitch to bitch.
Thanks a million for backing us on Kickstarter. Email us at email@example.com and we would be delighted to send you the latest update. As for where it would take 5 minutes to download and install – many of our users are in very remote communities where download speed is 2 MB per second
Hi – First of all I’m a huge fan of Ronda and yours, so anything I say is coming from a place of trying to be helpful and supportive of what you are doing. I’m also a wannabe indie game developer and I’ve been a gamer for all my life practically – so I’ve been thinking about these concepts for a long time.
First of all – most gamers, even children are raised on Nintendo or Blizzard games and/Minecraft. These are very innovative and/or polished games. There is some tolerance for imperfection within these games, BUT NOT MUCH!! Have you seen the venomous forums that Blizzard has had over the years as well as the flaming hot reddit posts? Hating on imperfection in games is just one of those things that’s going to happen online. And if your games are garnering hate, then at LEAST they are getting people’s attention – and that’s a start.
Next, I would say that from what I’ve seen of your games the problem is that it feels like a game you would play in school. Now I remember playing Oregon Trail and it was the coolest game ever. And this game feels sort of like Oregon Trail in the sense that you are traveling on the map and then you have a bunch of mini-games along the way.
The problem is that game design has evolved a lot since the original Oregon Trail, therefore any game that models itself on OT too closely is going to come off as feeling too rudimentary in scope, unpolished, and/or unfinished.
The second thing I’ve noticed is a lack of set pieces in the level design. People will notice the lack of notable and unique objects/landmarks right away (even without realizing) and think of your game as looking unfinished art-wise.
Overall Dr. AnnMaria, I think you made one crucial error at the planning stage – you probably shouldn’t have made this a 3d game. You probably should have made it have a 2d art style – that way the cost of paying artists to make it look very polished would have been lower. And it would have been infinitely easier to breath an air of charm into its visuals.
If you haven’t invested too much already into the 3d art, then perhaps it isn’t too late to change course. But since you will most likely continue forward with the 3d art direction, I suggest you find some legal form of cheap/free labor out there in the world – that is able to add completeness and increased charm to the visuals. There are plenty of talented students out there who know how to make 3d art. And many of those talented students are fans of Ronda Rousey. Not that I’m suggesting any name dropping but I’m just saying
Hope it helps. The game design itself is solid, but decades old. I sent you a tweet about a game called Persona 4. Most people don’t think of it as educational, but I do. I think it has the most modern design for an educational game that has ever existed so far other than Kerbal Space Program.
A lot of words I know, but I just wanted to try and be helpful!
Thanks for the comments and it IS helpful. As far as the hate showing attention, and how people hate on every game, of course, you’re right. In fact our games ARE played in school half the time, that is, about 50% of our users are playing the games in their classroom or an after school program. To be used in school, we have to make some accommodations in bandwidth, resource requirements and content. Most school computer labs don’t have anywhere near the hardware a hard core gamer does and every school administrator we’ve met has a ban on person-to-person violence so, we can have deer hunts but no battles.
You are exactly right about the artwork, also. We had a fabulous artist, Stephen Gladue, rework most of Fish Lake and it is a huge improvement. We’re doing the same with Spirit Lake now with Justin Flores, who has been with us since the beginning.
We are doing more 2D games. Our latest games – Making Camp, on iTunes and Google Play, Forgotten Trail, which is available in beta, Aztech which is in alpha and Crossroads, for which the prototype will be done (I hope!) next week are all 2D.
Your thoughts are appreciated. Thank you! As a small company, it sometimes takes us a while to get to good recommendations, but we DO get to them eventually.