Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.57

Hi everybody!

We just released another big update of Dealer’s Life, bringing this new patch (B:0.57) on both lite version and premium version!

First of all we decided to address the issue with the connectivity to the ads server: we apologize for this issue, in these days we were constantly in touch with the ads provider and we found an issue on their side that was affecting the game flow. In this update we released a first fix that solves it and makes the game flow less dependent from the ad server. As a token of gratitude, Dealer’s Life premium version players will also be able to get some rewards even when there are no ads available.

Then, thanks to player feedback, we decided to do some balance changes on victory conditions, meaning that now some winning thresholds are higher and hence more difficult to reach. You’d like to know what and how much we changed, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately that’s up to you to discover! 🙂
We’ll surely make other rounds of balance changes in the following patches, so if you have anything to suggest us, head to our roadmap and make yourself heard!

And when you win a game? Well, now there is the brand new “infinite mode“!

I am sure that you will recognize it without any doubt because of the special “continue” button:

Which is of course a tribute to one of the pillars of my entire gaming life!
(Hi Sid! 😀 please be aware that I admire you with all my heart!)

We also fixed some bugs, first among all a bug regarding volume on some sound effects which was not affected by the level set in the option menu.

That’s all for this patch, we hope that you like these changes and we look forward to your comments and feedback on our roadmap !

The importance of the app store description

Hi everybody!

This is the first article for the new “Indie Dev Insights” blog section we decided to start to give some insights to indie developers out there, to help you solve issues we already faced or to have a “in production” point of view on some topics.

In this first post we just want to give you some insights you might find useful if you decide to approach the mobile market, in particular we’ll talk about ASO (App Store Optimization, more on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/App_store_optimization ).
Our thoughts could sound trivial to somebody with more marketing experience than us, but you surely know that for a developer this is quite a new territory and some knowledge in this field can really make the difference.

When we first released Dealer’s Life one month ago, we put a lot of effort to write an exhaustive description of the game that explained as clearly as possible all major features and mechanics, having in mind just the reader (which is of course a potential player) and focusing on concepts rather than on words.

That’s a big mistake.
We later found out that choosing the right words makes the real difference between being visible or not. You should not consider the description of your game just as an explanatory text (which is, of course, what “description” means, isn’t it?), but instead as a group of keywords that the Play Store utilizes to place you in the right spot, especially if we talk about textual researches made by users (the so called “organic searches“).

For your game to be discovered by people looking for that kind of content, you’ll have to use specific keywords in your description (and in your title, if you manage to do so).
Run a brainstorming session, try to imagine what words a potential player would use, find valid synonyms and separate them in terms of their difficulty score by answering simple questions like “How common is this word?” or “How many Apps is this search returning right now?”. Remember that synonyms are very important as it’s almost always better to be higher on an easier search (the so called “long tail“).
After you have your ideas then look at your competitors, analyze their game descriptions, find other inspirations and broaden your point of view.

Now that you have a list of keywords, look for the specific app store guidelines.
We currently are only on Google Play Store so we looked for every information about it; let’s recap what we found out:

  • The “short description” (which is less than 80 characters) is of course very important.
  • The first 160 characters from the description are the most important.
  • A specific keyword should not be repeated more than 5 times otherwise it is not taken into account.

With all this information you can now begin to rewrite your app description!
Of course be honest and don’t overuse keywords (remember that players, not just search engine algorithms, are reading this too) and you’ll see that every “search” you’ve refined this way will return an higher ranking.

There are also some tools out there that could help you decide which specific keyword fits best for your game and monitor your game’s ranking in keywords searches.
Most of those tools are quite expensive but there are some free alternatives that can help you out. We used the basic free tier of App Annie: we are not, in any way, affiliated with them, but it was very useful during this process and we’d like to suggest it.

And if you do this job right and if your game stands out from similar apps, you’ll surely see some results!
Here you can see a graph that displays daily downloads for Dealer’s Life Lite, with the blue arrow pointing to the day when we introduced some ASO concepts in the game’s description.

And that’s all for our first “Indie Dev Insights” article!
If you have any question or feedback, be sure to tell us in the comment section and if you like it, feel free to share it!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.53

Hi everybody!

Here we are with a great new update for Dealer’s Life! This time we gave some more love to graphics and made some great steps forward in the direction of how we really want DL to look like.

Let’s begin with the tiniest of today’s improvements: a little change on UI. We listened to some of our most passionate players which were complaining that while fast-playing (which is the way they like to play: frantically tapping everywhere to get to the next deal ASAP 😄 ) they sometimes lost some important information that came out on popups. Since for many popups you could just tap everywhere to close it, we decided to go for a different solution about it. First we tried with a small X in the upper right corner of every popup window, but that wasn’t the right solution for a mobile game that you can play mostly with thumbs: the X was too high in the screen, difficult to reach with the thumb. So now we’re proposing a different solution: a “Close” button right inside every popup, in the lower right corner (or in the center if there are no other buttons). We are confident that this compromise will please everyone!

hirepopup

Enough for UI, let’s now talk about new graphics for employees.

newexpert

Every employee has now his own graphics that appears in the dedicated section on the notebook. We already planned to improve this visualization, adding specific graphics according to the level of experience of the employee but hey, this is already a good change, isn’t it?

Then we decided to enhance the visual difference between buyer and seller, since some of our players got sometimes confused between buy and sell and made the wrong offer. Now sellers will put on the table the item they want to sell (like before) while buyers will put just their money. So if you see money on your table, that’s what you’re going to get from your actual customer 😀

maingame_money

The nice thing is: the amount of money you see on the table will change in accordance to how much your customer would like to spend, and that will somehow help you understand from the beginning if you’re going to make a huge deal or just get some small cash. Plus, we assure it’s quite a good sensation to have a customer putting a HUGE amount of money on your table, you should check it 😀

But now let’s talk about the improvement I like the most: visual quality of items! I finally managed to find a way to visually reproduce quality of items in their images. Which is not making a dedicated sprite for every quality level of every item (it would have been just CRAZY), but instead integrating the quality rendering in the procedural generation process! Here is an example of the results I got from this:

itemconditionlayer

See? Same item sprite, 4 different versions based on quality: from the top we have very good conditions, then good, bad, and finally terrible conditions, really ugly! This automatically applies to ALL items, you’ll see while playing the nice effect it makes! 😀

That’s it about graphics but still it’s not all about this patch’s improvements (yep, we worked quite hard…). We also made some changes on late game balance, improving the impact of your Charisma and Luck skills on customers behaviours. Some of our players were telling us the late game is quite easy… well now it will be different! 😄

We hope you’ll like all these changes, that’s it for now!
Stay tuned for the next update and have fun!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.51

Hi there!
We just released another update for Dealer’s Life following player feedback and some new ideas.

First of all, Dealer’s Life has now a public roadmap!

roadmap
Hey, that’s a bug!

We decided to create this board in order to keep Dealer’s Life players updated on our tasks and to provide a single entry point for bug reports and feature requests. There is a list for feature request with a specific form to sumbit, a list for bug report with another form, a list for short, mid and long term tasks to keep track of what we are going to do next and last, but not least, there are lists for every release with the current status update.
The board is public and everyone can join, comment and even vote on their favourite or most important task, so… what are you waiting for? Join and let us hear your voice!

You can find the link for the public roadmap also in another addition to our game: our new welcome screen!

welcomescreen
Hey, that’s a disclaimer!

We thought that it’s important to let Dealer’s Life players know that the game is still in development and that we have a lot of ideas and new content that will be implemented, along with links to be able to find what’s is in our plans (the roadmap but also our social pages). In our opinion this new welcome screen is the right place to tell them those things!

Speaking of right places, in this update we also added new tutorial tips in order to provide hints during important steps of the game.

tutorialtip
Hey, that’s a tip!

They are shown only one time in each game session and in each specific zone and they can be disabled in the options menu. We really felt this was necessary to help players at their first experience with the game and we think that now the experience is much smoother.

And, again, right places! We now have a brand new “X to close” button on all windows and popups in our game.

Speaking about balance changes, we did a minor change to help avoid very unlucky situations where the most valuable item, assigned to an employee, was lost due to an event. With this release the items assigned to an employee can not be targeted by events!

And then there are the usual minor graphic enhancements and bug fixing, although I must remind you that the last release (0.50) was one of our biggest achievements in terms of game optimization: 90% less of used RAM for audio sources and 66% less for textures!

So, that’s all about Dealer’s Life latest update! Don’t forget to try the game and tell us what you think!

Stay tuned!

Dealer’s Life goes live!

Hi everybody!
Here we are, we just finished setting up everything for our very first public release!

Yes, you read it right: we released our game and now everyone can play it, get it now on Google Play Store!

Get it on Google Play

Everything is fine, the game is stable and funny, all pieces are in place. There’s naturally some other big work to do in order to introduce some new mechanics and redesign a couple of things here and there, but we will do such things following this release.
I cannot spoil what will come next, but I sure can explain what is going to come with this update, so take a chair and read carefully since changes here are huge and will improve the playing experience a lot!

First of all let us say that we are going to be live with two different versions of the game:

  • a free version with video ads, that will contain all contents and mechanics of the full game but will only be playable if you have an active internet connection.
  • a (soon availablepaid version without video ads and even playable without an active internet connection!

Neither of these versions will contain in-app purchases or require any special permission to be played, but both will grant you gifts and small advantages through video ad rewards.

Let’s speak about counterfeits now. Great changes have been made here in order to grant fake items their real super funny importance. We have enhanced a lot what you can do with them (and we will add some more in the near future): if you now recognize a fake while you’re buying it you’ll be able to pretend a huge discount from it!
Playing with fake items has become a real fun, since it’s always risky to buy one but it could bring to huge gains if you manage to recognize it in time and sell it to the right customer!

Oh wait...
Oh wait…

Speaking about fun, a new funny and very useful animation has been added in order to let you know when you go too far with your offer. You just cannot guess random numbers to make your counteroffers, you know… your customers are not that dumb, they all have their own idea of how much they’d like to pay or gain, and how much they’re disposed to shift from that initial idea. If you exaggerate they’ll make you know and they’ll get angry, relaunching with a counteroffer that will easily be the same of their last one. Your fault, dear sir, you lost a chance to get a better price!

What?!?
What?!?

Then we added a couple of new features that actually increase a lot your choices and possibilities during the gameplay:

  • you can now trash any item you have in your inventory! How could it be useful, you say? Well it is if you’re going to buy your new best deal ever, but have your inventory full of crappy stuff… Naturally you’ll lose the trashed item forever, but sometimes it could be worth!
  • you can now interrupt any task your employees are on, anytime. Suppose you have a Restorer that is fixing a common item in good condition (so useless…) and you suddenly put your hands on an epic piece in terrible conditions! Instead of waiting the Restorer to finish his job before being able to assign him the epic piece, you can stop his task on the go and give him a new task (or fire him to get a better Restorer, if that’s the case…)!

That’s not all! We also added some visual improvements, especially regarding customers psychological traits and employee profiles. We’re not done yet with neither of them, but these first improvements already change a lot the visual impression and ease the understanding of all the information you need to know.

scanpng_01
An impatient spendthrift customer, keep him negotiating and he will give you a lot of money!

Last but not least, we fixed a huge amount of bugs and mechanics, we introduced a totally new way to manage the savegame in almost every moment of the gameplay and we dramatically changed the way we actually save the game, granting more flexibility for the future. No more trashing your game to restart again after a new patch! Yay!

I think that’s all for now, guys. We really hope all these changes will please you and make your gaming experience even better than before!
If you want to give us feedback or suggestions, you can do it on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ Community !

Stay tuned and have fun with Dealer’s Life!

Get it on Google Play

 

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Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.42

Hi everybody!
Last week we released another update for Dealer’s Life following a lot of player feedback and proposals.

First of all, another negotiation UI revamp!

maingame_05

A better button disposition with price controls near the right border, both reachable by your right thumb, editable price (with Android keyboard) and a new blackboard (different on more luxurious shops) with all trade information.
This could be the final version of Dealer’s Life negotiation UI, we really like it and first feedback messages are very positive! What do you think?

Then we did another balance pass, as it’s very important with procedural content generation. We modified three main aspects of the game:

  • Charisma, one of the player skills, is now a bit less powerful, this should make late game negotiations more challenging.
  • Greed, one of the customers’ skills, is now more important during negotiation. That means that a greedy customer will try to shift the negotiation to his side in a more pronounced way and, on the other hand, a generous customer will be more open to make less money with your deal. This makes insight and competence, other player skills, a bit more powerful as it’s more important to predict customer behaviour and to estimate prices correctly.
  • We balanced employees cost, both active and passive, and now the low level ones are definitively cheaper.

Regarding active employees, they now have more detailed dialogues at the end of their tasks.

Speaking about dialogues, we dramatically increased customer dialogue repertory and added more combinations, so that they will have a lot of different and funny opening sentences when they meet you.

dialogue_new

So, that’s all about Dealer’s Life latest update!
Don’t forget that these are the last days you can freely enter our Closed Beta and try the game, all you have to do is submit this form using the email of your Android account.

Stay tuned!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.41

Hi everybody!
We just released another big update with the sum of all our work during those holidays (apparently, not for us 😛 ).

First of all, don’t forget that in these days you can freely enter our Closed Beta and try the game, all you have to do is submit this form using the email of your Android account.

Now let’s talk about this new Dealer’s Life version!

Women! Our beloved colorful and fashionable counterpart!

womenrocket
Hi, I am Pearl and I want this decorated rocket launcher!

So from now on you will also welcome female customers and, as you can see, they definitively know what they want!

Speaking about appearances, we also introduced two big changes:

  • Physique randomization! Don’t be surprised if you see a very tall and thin man who wants to buy your new military uniform, it’s one size fits all.
  • Better walking animation with a little touch of inclination.

walkinganimation_2

As you can see we also did another polishing run on the main UI: your game information are now in a smaller box on the upper right side of the screen, the options button (now fully implemented!) is integrated on your table on the left side near the notebook, the negotiation controller has one less button which means that you can control the flow of the negotiation with only the price and the “accept” or “refuse” buttons.

We always keep an eye on balance and this time we addressed feedback we received regarding events: we did some major tweaks on events and negative events generation so that in an average game there will be much less impact from them, especially from the most terrible of them.

We also finally implemented the game credits screen to give the right credit to the wonderful creators of Dealer’s Life music and sound effects and to all our friend that have played the very early versions of the game.

We also created a Google+ Community so that users who prefer this social can join and contact us with feedback and ideas while we keep them updated with our news!

So, that’s all for this update, stay tuned and don’t forget to follow and tell us what you think about the game!

Dealer’s Life Beta access giveaway

dump-negozio-business

Hi everybody!
Great news from Dealer’s Life! Just in these days we reached our Beta version: the game is now even more stable, complete and funny!

To celebrate this great event and follow the Christmas spirit, we decided to give exclusive access to closed Beta to everyone that will submit this form.
Hurry up, this promotion won’t last long!

At the end of this event you will receive an e-mail with a Google Play link which will allow you to download and play Dealer’s Life on your mobile phone or tablet.

Join us and prepare for hours of fun!

See you soon!
The Abyte Team

Dealer’s Life reaches Beta version!

Almost a month has passed and we barely noticed it!
We’re still here, we’re absolutely not dead! We’ve passed the last weeks working like crazy on DL and we’re finally here to confirm our official
Beta release! We’ve finally done it and since last Friday our testers are able to try this new version (B:0.38)!

titlescreen

Changes at the game are huge, guys, you better sit down.

First of all, let us say there’s another incredible work on performance. You probably won’t even notice this but the game is light and fast as it never has been before. The game itself is considerably small in memory size and installs faster. We’ve optimized all graphics and made it better overall.

But let’s go ahead to more noticeable and cool changes: let’s talk about the negotiation controller. We completely redesigned it, after a remarkable night of inspiration. Remember how it was? Full of buttons with a slider?

negotiationcontroller_01

Ladies and gentlemen… We’re proud to show you our brand new controller!!!

negotiationcontroller_02

Ok, ok, it seems quite identical to the original, apart from the slider not showing up anymore. And you know what? You’re quite right, but do not be fooled by mere appearance: using this controller is much more comfortable and intuitive than the one before! You just push and keep pushing + or – buttons and the price of your counter offer price changes progressively faster. Then you press the top button to make your new offer. No more slider, no more limits!

Next, let’s talk about your skills. Things have changed a lot here, since we tuned all the skills in many ways in order to have them as balanced as possible. We also inserted an exhaustive help window that explains in details every skill and its effects in game.

charcust_03

Finally we made a big refining job to make all these effects more recognizable by the player.

We’ve done this for your character but also for your customers! All psychological traits have been defined better, tuning the AI in order to make all behaviors more remarked. Also, we’ve changed the way your character recognizes those traits, making your recognition much more variable and uncertain, but much more enjoyable in terms of gameplay.

psitraits_01

Talking about balance, we made some adjustments on employees hiring costs and skill increment costs in order to make the game more challenging and last longer.

Did I say “last”? Yes, because now we have different game endings!! We’ve introduced some win and lose conditions that will trigger if some conditions are verified! These conditions are, for example, if you… You know what? Find those out by yourself, I won’t spoil you anything!

And that’s quite all for now! We find the game much more enjoyable to play and we feel really good about this! We’re starting to see what we always wanted DL to become at the end… and we’re finally starting seeing the end of all this at the horizon!

I really would like to reveal you more on what’s coming as we already have new great changes that we have not released yet! A few things I think I can tell, if Tanek doesn’t censor my speech: you haven’t seen the final version of the trading controller, yet… and the first quest line is not too far away…. !!!

Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us here, on Twitter and on Facebook!

Meanwhile inside Abyte headquarters…

Hi there!
Those were some very busy days filled with news and events, I am sorry if we were a bit missing but hey, let’s recap everything that happened!

Of course the first bad news was the unsuccessful end of our Kickstarter campaign.
We kind of saw it coming, I think the main issue here it’s that we are good developers but terrible sellers, it’s just simply not our line of work. We have a solid product with very good feedback from our testers but we lack in marketing skills and consequently our campaign lacked in visibility.

I also deeply overestimated Kickstarter internal campaign exposure: it turns out that the main source of traffic for a campaign is not from Kickstarter browsing but from views from outside links and leads. Marketing is a key factor for this, so we decided to start some talks with a couple of agencies and friends to get some professional help on this topic (and relieve me the pain of thinking about tweets and FB posts instead of being able to develop our game full time 😉 ).

With the failure of the campaign the morale was not so high, not to mention a cold that was spreading among us (I am currently its next target…), so we decided to take a small break to breathe and recover from the last month and our working long hours.

Then during last Friday and Saturday we attended the Codemotion Milan, a great annual conference I know from years with dedicated speeches for game development topics.

We spent two very intense days, the speeches were very interesting and we talked with a lot of guys, things that were fuel for our mind with an explosion of a lot of great ideas.
I strongly encourage all of you to find similar events around you and places to share ideas and experiences, those are really important for our minds and our jobs (in game dev, software dev or whatever dev you are!).

So… what’s next?

We still completely believe in Dealer’s Life, we know it is (and will be) a great game and despite having not reached the funding goal on our Kickstarter campaign we will go on developing and building it! Monetize our work in order to keep developing and keep bringing you an even better game is of course one of our concerns. We are evaluating our possibilities and you will surely have some news if you follow us here!

We have also just recorded a gameplay video so that you can all see a couple of days of Dealer’s Life, its core mechanics and the current state of the art of the Beta version.

It’s nice, isn’t it? 🙂 The next step will be to record a couple of small videos where we explain some key features, but those are really time consuming, we are trying to find a time frame for them.

Speaking about development, we are now currently working on end game and win/lose conditions, we are also doing another balancement pass (this time on player characteristics) and further graphics improvements with more polished sprites.
So, as you can see we are still working hard and we’ll keep working hard till we can bring you our game!

Last but not least, I want to send a huge THANK YOU to all our Kickstarter supporters and our friends, we are working for you and your faith in us will be rewarded!

See you soon and don’t forget to follow us here, on Twitter and on Facebook!