Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.67

Goooood morning Dealers!
Today we come out with the great new 0.67 version of Dealer’s Life! We took some time since in the background we’re working hard on recurring characters and on our steps into localization, but some great new content and features are here!

Let’s begin with the nicest: new items!! That’s right, we introduced a bunch of new shiny pieces for you to discover and to play with! The list includes cowboy hats, vinyl records, videogames and glasses. Keep an eye on them and watch for other news, we’re already preparing new ones!

 

That’s sure not all for what concerns this update: we also introduced a new feature in the inventory, giving you the ability to lock items you own during each morning. Locked items will not be on your shop’s shelves when you open the shop, in this way customers won’t ask to buy them. That’s quite useful when you want to perform tasks on items before selling them but your employee is already working on another item. No more customers uselessly coming just to be sent away!

We could have made a queue system to manage multiple tasks at a time (as some of you Dealers suggested in these last days) but we think this lock mode could be a good solution as it leaves the freedom to decide each time what item to work on next: some tasks could take long and during that time things could change, a queue you planned days before could not be the optimal choice anymore. Plus, this mechanic will become even more useful in the near future, when there could be more than one reason to hold a specific item in your shop, even without performing tasks on it… but that’s another story and I won’t tell you more about it, for now. ;D

Another big improvement we made is putting more articles on the Daily Journal. What for, you say? Well, more articles means more job offers! Since we introduced some more employee types in the game we think you should have more alternatives in choosing your favourite ones! And do not forget even more employees are coming, we will need more space for them!

Speaking about balance, we listened to your feedback and made a little change on random events that could occur during the game: you will now have no more permanent events! They all have been changed to long lasting events since it could be quite bad, while playing infinite mode, to have more and more permanent events that accumulate without the possibility to make them go away. Also, we limited the number of events you can have at the same time, now they can be 3 at most.
Of course both changes are not retroactive so if in your current game you already experienced some (or more than three) permanent events… well, we can’t change that but you won’t receive any more of them!

Can you believe? I nearly forgot to tell you about the biggest (at least in terms of development) improvement of this release: number formatting! All numbers in the game are now formatted and that’s quite pretty since they’re a lot more readable than before! Yay!

Right now numbers are formatted according to American standards but we already linked them to localization, so you will see proper formatting for your language when we release it.

And with this we’ve reached the end of version 0.67 update, I hope you’ll enjoy all these great improvements!

Stay tuned for more and keep up the good deals!

The way of success in Dealer’s Life

Hi to all Dealers!

Today I will talk about strategy. That’s it: you need strategy to win this game.
Dealer’s Life may seem a straight simple game at first but I can tell you it’s not. You can’t just buy and sell stuff hoping to make money from it, you have to fight for every cent you make and be wise enough to not waste money by taking bad decisions about new shops, tasks or employees.
The talk could be quite huge here, so let’s go fast and begin!

Golden Rule #1 – Haggling is not an option

First things first: haggling. Since the beginning of time, humankind has based it own prosperity on exchanging goods between each other… Ok maybe I’ve started from too far, let’s cut some boring introduction and say this: if you want to be a real Hardcore Dealer you will never let your customer go away without having spilled every single blood drop you can from him: if he wants to sell you something you estimate, say, $150 and he asks you $100, you will still offer him less. No fair business? Who cares, but you want to get rich, right?
If he accepts your offer it means you got what you wanted at a good price, and that’s good, but you know what? You still failed to make a really good haggle, sir. If a customer accepts your first counteroffer it means you could have been gone lower and probably he would have followed you. With a few more relaunches you could have reached an even better price.
On the other hand if you go too low with the counter offer your customer won’t follow you: he will get angry and stick to his offer, obliging you to come closer to him and making you lose a chance to lower the price.

Awww, c’mon!

So this is the difficult part: every customer has his own “window of acceptance”. If you go below that window you won’t get anything useful, if you go too high in that window you won’t get the best price possible. How to know the boundaries of this window, then? This brings us to the next golden rule…

Golden Rule #2 – Know your customers

Every customer is different and there is no fixed path of actions that makes you always get the best deal from every customer. You have to adapt the bargaining process to your customer. A good way to do this is stare at him and get some clues about his personality. Your Insight skill does help in this but keep in mind that your customer’s appearance isn’t just there so you can look at it for pleasure. If you’re smart enough you could eventually understand that certain details in appearance reflect in specific psychological traits, so one day you could end up recognizing them by merely looking at your customer! That will be a pleasure!

Ok, now you know your customer’s personality… but what for? How can it help you in haggling with him? Well, this is also a tricky part as you’ll have to figure it out. You will never get told that your customer’s lowest limit of acceptance for your offers is a certain amount, but you can get an average idea by knowing that:

  • greedy customers won’t move too far from their starting offer, and usually tend to be… well, greedier than other customers.
  • competent customers will look for the real price of the item they came to buy or sell, while not competent customers will easily shot a random price. This second case could lead to impossible haggling fights as well as epic deals. If you encounter a really not competent customer that is also not greedy at all, you could probably make one of the best deals you ever made if you push it well!
  • impatient customers have no time to waste and should you start from a too low offer they will easily quit the haggle and go away. You should be quite careful with them and do not exaggerate.
  • collectors are what you dream to have as buyers and what you’d happily avoid as sellers. They do not seem to have a sober idea of value for the items they own or desire, as they always overestimate every single thing.
You don’t look competent…

This four points lead us to some clear conclusions: if you encounter a really greedy seller which is not competent at all and also an impatient collector you should check your real life luck, man, because you got the worst case ever. On the other hand, if you get a buyer which is a calm, not greedy and not competent collector you can prepare to shot ridiculous offers!

Golden Rule #3 – Employees are not shoes…

… That means you should not keep changing them all the time. There are tons of useful employees out there that could really help you out getting the most from your deals, but every one of them has a price that you pay every week and every time you hire a new one. That could lead to some serious problems especially in early game, when you don’t have much money to trash in bad decisions and second thoughts. Good experienced employees are expensive and not always available though, so it’s up to you to decide if and when to hire someone. Do not haste the decision, take your time to think about two or three employees that could help you most and look for them in the Daily Journal.

Here are a couple of tips you could find useful:

  • employees that passively provide some kind of bonuses may not seem as attractive as other employees like the restorer or the expert but the true thing is that, no matter what, they’ll always be “on duty” and provide their bonuses. The restorer could become idle if he doesn’t have items to repair, and the expert… well, the expert is actually useful even if he’s idle, so go for experts! 😄
  • if you’re in early game think about hiring employees with a few experience: they may not excel in their job but hey, they’re damn cheap and are better than nothing, right?

Golden Rule #4 – The right shop at the right time

Shops are great: they provide you a big inventory, a bunch of working locations, they can even influence the amount of customers you can receive every day! The problem is their cost. They’re really expensive. If you move to a new shop too early you will sure have a new shiny look for your interiors and some more space to fill, but you could end up with no more money to invest in new items. Without them and without a good amount of items to sell in your inventory… let’s be honest: you’re ready to bankrupt.

Golden Rule #5 – Go with the flow

Last but not least, my favourite rule! 😄
In Dealer’s Life you often cannot have what you want when you want it. To tell the truth, you more often get what you do not want right in the most irritating time. The Daily Journal is a damn paper thing that pops out mostly useless to bad news (this is a simulation game, we couldn’t make it any different, sorry for that…) and a far lot of sellers out there are eager to bring you their embarrassingly ugly and crappy trash with no value at all, just to make you waste your time. And what about those hatred accidents that happen too often and make you lose your only and most valuable item you just repaired in a week of hard work? That’s really bad… but that’s how life could be and how Dealer’s Life is: though! If you dream of your best game ever with that great shop and those fantastic, top experienced employees and all those legendary items to repair for ridiculous deals… well, you’ll probably be disappointed. My suggestion here, as many good dudes before me already said in far and near pasts, is to abide. Accept what comes and adapt. Take every little chance you get and try to make the best gain possible from it. If you look only for the best item you could ever encounter and ignore the “trash tide” of less valuable items you are actually losing money, because even from the littlest item could come a gain, if you perform well. That could sound like a lesson of life… and maybe it is, my friends, maybe it is…

Finally, let me give you a last tip: infinite mode is fun, but if you ask me, making a new game from scratch is surely better. Procedural generation is a wild thing: sometimes the game is way too easy and forgiving, some other times it brings you more than a trouble. If you found your game quite easy and fast to win (or too difficult and apparently impossible to win) I encourage you to give another try. I cannot assure you it will be that easy (or that hard) next time but surely it will be different! ;D

Thank you for reading all this, I hope you found some useful hints to better enjoy Dealer’s Life! And don’t forget to comment with your favourite strategy and your tips!

See you on our next update for the upcoming release and keep up the good deals!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.65

Hello Dealers!
We just released a new update on Dealer’s Life, bringing our new version (B:0.65) to all our players!

The first addition is about a new job that some strange, dressed in black, guys have just brought in town… they call them “Brainwasher“!

Hey, that’s a brain washing machine!
Hey, that’s a brain washing machine!

They have this strange device that lets them reset your memory… and what better way to use it than dazing your soon to leave customers?

This renders the “brainwash” option a core mechanic of our game, linked to the employee and his level rather than a single extra possibility given to the player sometimes. And it’s for this reason that we made two big changes: the ad you will see can now be skipped and of course it has been removed from our Premium version!

Speaking about ads, we always listen to our players and, even if I’d like to remember that our Lite version is free thanks to those very ads, we decided to remove the ad shown when hiring a new employee!
That means that there are going to be a lot less ads in this version! But if you dislike ads and if you’d like to support us (and probably have some bonus and exclusive content in the near future, we are discussing about that right in these days!), consider buying our Premium version!

Regarding balance, in this update we also decided to increase the help you get when you run out of cash, so that it will be more difficult to lose a game, and to slightly increase the number of employee slots in higher level shops, given that there are more types of employee available.

Also, we had some reports of device heating, we investigated and linked them to some performance issues caused by our recent addition of in-game shadows and outlines to a lot of graphic elements. With this update we moved those graphical improvements to the sprites and the images included in the game, so your device will have a “lighter” effort running our game, improving performance and reducing heating. Please tell us if you notice any further issue on this topic.

And last, but not least, we have a wonderful new set of screenshots!

So, Dealers, what’s next now?
Well, as we said in our last post we are currently in the design phase of our next huge task which is bringing to (Dealer’s) life one of our core gameplay mechanic: quests and storylines. We have planned this since the beginning as Dealer’s Life was born with this great idea in mind of mixing stories and consequences into the everyday life of a pawn shop owner. Which is also a tribute to one of our biggest inspiration: “Papers, Please, created by Lucas Pope. And if you are reading Lucas, those are all for you: 👍👍👍🤘🤘🤘 !
This is really huge and it will take us a lot of days before it will be completed (the design is huge, let alone the whole development process), in the meanwhile we are working on a lot of things (as usual), you can check them all on our roadmap, here is a summary: a gameplay video for YouTube (which is currently in its early development/editing phase), a new items pack (a sneak peek will be released on the roadmap very soon!), the design of the new “advertising agent” employee and the development of the “lock” button in inventory.

That’s all for now, don’t forget to comment and let us know what you think!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.63

Hello Dealers!

We were eager to release a new version since we found out that some bugs on the game flow still persisted, so here we are! Version B:0.63 right on the way for all players!

We worked really hard on this: we tried to iron out the game as much as possible in order to make it stable and flawless. First we worked on code disabling multitouch capability during gameplay and making a better management system for customers queue dynamics, then we changed the animation of buttons that appear behind the customer’s balloon making it quicker and more polished. We are confident that these changes will increase game stability a lot and will avoid a good quantity of problems related to customers stuck at the shop’s table or “later” / ”not interested” buttons not working. This means there will be no more awkward situations with your customers, where you try to dismiss them but they want to stay in your pawn shop. This sounds familiar, isn’t it? 😀

Speaking about graphics, due to new devices with wider resolutions coming on mobile market we made some changes on resolution management allowing an optimal visualization of the game also for them! In addition, we added a nice pop-up animation for all windows in the game, we hope you’ll like it!

Finally we added one more tutorial tip to better explain the “selling a fake” case dynamic, because if you know how it works… you know how to exploit it! ;D
In addition, we changed the way tutorial tips are managed to have better visibility in case we add some more in the future. With this version you’ll see again all tutorial tips and you’ll be able to disable individually each one from the pop-up itself or just shut them up with a single tap in the options menu.

That’s all for today’s update but be sure something bigger is coming: we are already working on the new release, which will soon be available to our Beta testers, with new employees and better performances to allow a good playing experience also on devices with low resources.
But most of all… do you see that bad guy that peers from the bottom of the “In Progress” list in our Roadmap? We finally embraced the mission and started working on it… Recurrent characters, plots and quests are coming!

Stay tuned and keep up the good deals!

Join our open Beta!

Welcome back Dealers!

Today we announce that Dealer’s Life Beta is now open to everyone, meaning that you can join and try our updates before everyone else!

Wohoo!

On top of this, we just released a new Beta update (B:0.63) with our most recent changes that’s available right now to every Beta tester.

If you want to join, the process is very simple: head to Google Play Dealer’s Life Beta page and agree to become a tester! From that moment on you will be registered as a Beta tester and you will always receive our Beta releases!

We decided to change from closed Beta to open Beta because the number of players is growing fast and we would like to implement a more robust release flow, having as much feedback as possible. Furthermore, a lot of players have asked us to be able to try as soon as possible our new changes and the open Beta will be a very pleasant surprise for them. 🎁

The standard release flow will be on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on complexity and volume of changes, and it will be:

  1. A closed Alpha only for us developers where we test our changes thoroughly (same as always).
  2. The new version is promoted to the open Beta channel and release notes are available:
    • In the “What’s new” section of Dealer’s Life Google Play Store page.
    • In the dedicated list on our Public Roadmap (where you can always check our progress, even before releases).

      The 🚀 means “In development” and the 👍 means “In Beta”!
  3. You, the Beta testers, can try every new change for a range of days that depends on the complexity and the urgency of the release (let’s say from one day to three or four days) and you will be able to write us your feedback and your advices.
    You will be able to do that on three possible channels:

    • The “Beta Feedback” form (accessible in Dealer’s Life Google Play Store page only from your device) will be your quick and easy way to contact us with a feedback or a suggestion. Remember that this form replaces the “Review” form so you will be able to send a private message to us but you won’t be able to rate and review our game unless you leave the Beta program.
    • Our Public Roadmap if you think that the issue should be publicly discussed or if the topic is too complex for a short message.
    • Our social pages (Twitter, Facebook or Google+ Community) if you prefer to contact us on one of these channels.
  4. [optional] In cases such as bug fixing or quick updates, the flow could go back to point #1, with an updated release which will be available only to Beta tester.
  5. When we see that the new version is ok and stable on multiple devices, we will promote it to Production and it will be available every player.

That’s all for now, we hope that you like this new opportunity, don’t forget to comment and let us know what you think!

Dealer’s Life updated: version B:0.62

Welcome back Dealers!

We just released an update for Dealer’s Life, bringing this new version (B:0.62) to all our players!
Now, let’s talk about the changes, shall we?

First of all, we introduced a graphical preview in some newspaper articles which shows you who you are going to hire and what you are going to rent. This now looks a lot more real and it’s also more pleasant to the eyes.
Here are two examples, directly from our public roadmap where we posted a preview some days ago:

Hi Ronnie, now I can see your resume picture!
That’s a nice emporium! I’ll rent it!

We also fixed a rare bug which, in specific cases, froze the “Not interested” button, preventing the player to be able to dismiss that customer. This means there will be no more awkward situations with your customers, where you try to dismiss them but they want to stay in your pawn shop. 😉
With this fix we also worked on avoiding double taps on a lot of buttons, in order to prevent double purchases or duplicate actions: we are still working on this but the most part of it is completed and included in this release.

Last, but not least, we improved the game flow after an ad has been shown, meaning that you now see the following windows and actions only after you have seen the ad and not partially before, when loading the ad.

And that’s all for now! But definitively that’s not all for these days because we are about to announce another big change… anyone said “Open Beta“?
We’ll talk about it in the following hours with a dedicated article and instruction on how to participate!

Thank you Dealers and see you soon!

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 !

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!

Hello World #2

As Fiz said, now that we are live on Kickstarter it’s time to introduce us and greet all new visitors coming here.

So… Hi there! 🙂

I am Giulio Marra, or Tanek for everyone who knows me online, and I am the lead developer, project manager and algorithm mastermind of Dealer’s Life. I will be the harbinger of… release notes, technical insights and advices for all of you who are curious or want to learn more about game developing.

Let’s talk about me! I have 10 years of experience in working in Java on the “backend” side of a lot of important IT projects, ranging from massive data analysis structures, API design and implementation, an e-commerce platform and payment gateway integration.

And I am bringing all of this in Dealer’s Life!

tanek_prof-01

Yes, you heard it right, everything I learned since my first day on the job as a software engineer can (and should) be used during the development of a videogame.

Let’s start with the most obvious aspect: from the code perspective developing a game is not so different from developing anything else. You have to design it and evaluate design patterns, you have to think about the data structures and accessing the database, you have to think about modularity and reusability. And in the end, you have to write it in a clean and readable code.

Another important aspect is project management: even if our team is composed of only three people, the project cannot be left growing on its own, it has to be supervised and managed. Some examples of what has to be done are: identify, plan and assign priority to tasks, set milestones and estimate effort needed to reach them, use tools to share project planning, design documents and knowledge, and so on, not to mention try to stop (or at least delay) Fiz from implementing his latest crazy idea for some animations. Those guidelines help us drive, or steer, the project towards the best route, trying to avoid bumps and obstacles.

After 4 months of working on Dealer’s Life I can say that we chose correctly a good number of things to prioritize. Now we have a stable version with a Google Play integration for our testers, everything is running smoothly under the curtains, all the services providing algorithm implementation are working and generating content. Of course, as DL has procedurally generated contents, algorithms are very important but I will talk about them in another dedicated article.

Oh look, a line of code!

And what’s in for the future? Well, we have a lot of things to do and to manage: the closed beta is currently ongoing with more than a dozen of testers (or should I say friends? 🙂 ), we worked during last weekend to release a major update and we have just planned our next days, we will to continue the work in progress on the graphics while also implementing end game (with win and lose condition). In the meanwhile we have to manage all the work needed for the Kickstarter campaign and all our social media.

Pretty much a 24/7 job, isn’t it?

But there is no problem, this is our job now and I feel realized and happy while working on these things. And as a matter of fact this developer diary makes me feel even happier, so there will surely be other articles with updates or insights on technical details of our game. 🙂

Thank you for reading and… stay tuned! 🙂

Dealer’s Life is now live on Kickstarter!

Our game is now available on Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abyteentertainment/dealers-life?ref=6jd2ww

Check it out and spread the word!

A big thank you to all our friends and testers who helped us (and are still helping) since our Alpha version launch, another update is on the way for you in a few hours. 🙂

We are unbelievably happy for having reached this goal and now, with your help, we will continue bringing life to this great game!