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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #167 (Orlando Overdrive 2018)

     Showcasing the game to new folks, meeting other developers, learning from their experiences, making friends, and dancing my legs off. That's the TL;DR of my Orlando Overdrive experience this past weekend. 

     Battle Gem Ponies had a booth right in the middle of the indie game hallway leading to the bar & dance floor of The Geek Easy. Turns out the whole brony thing wasn't a passing fad, and lots of people still smile when they see marshmallow horses with super powers. 

     Check out this week's devlog to see how the indie showcase went. 👾

The promo poster for the indie event we had to submit title logos for and I make a mistake right out the gate.
I tried so hard to be prepared but I still missed a couple spots. I never made a version of the logo over a colored,
blank background. Always assuming the app store promo banner sizes plus the transparent logo by itself
would be enough for anything. I really should have just asked then drafted something up real quick.

So I corrected the mistake, too late to change the poster now, but in the future. I'll need this version of the logo and
a colorful background that pops compared to the images around it, and doesn't obscure the letters too much.

Had a lovely booth setup with my friend Lawrence who volunteered to watch over my stuff
as I ran around to mingle and go back and fourth to nearby stores for extra supplies and food.

  • Made a Account  (reposted my forum and blog content)
  • Found a Volunteer & Prepped My 1st Ever Demo Booth (TV, table, shelf, and couch provided by the venue)
  • Presented Battle Gem Ponies at Orlando Overdrive
  • Befriended Indie Devs from around Central Florida
  • Noted Feedback, Adjusted Tutorial in Design Document
  • Learned From Other Devs that I'm Doing Pretty Good and Should Keep it Up
  • Spruced Up My LinkedIn a Bit (made the tone a bit more casual and fun)
Made it a lot more like my Twitter and a lot less like a resume because
I'm an indie developer and don't need to pretend I'm all stiff and formal.
I'm here to connect with my peers, not beg to be a cog in some company.
And here's the new BGP page on

     Lessons Learned:
  • When someone asks for a logo, ask back "what size?", "surrounding images allowed?", and "what do the others look like?" so you can submit the perfect first impression.
  • Even without the new version ready, I can smooth talk past the bugs. Turn that into a relatable opportunity and explain the gamedev process in layman's terms.
  • At expos, I'm not just showcasing my game, I'm showcasing my personality. Having people walk away liking me as a person might be even more valuable than them liking the game.
  • Which would you be more likely to buy, a cool looking game, or an okay looking game a friend made and is really depending on? I'd think you'd put the former on a wishlist you may never get around to and the latter as a priority at launch.
  • I've become incredibly frustrated with Facebook's business page management hurdles and wish I never converted the Yotes Games page when I experimented with Instragram. It's been nothing but a headache to do the simplest things since. I can't even simply add photos to an album without minutes of permissions, reuploads, re-typing/tagging, and general hoopla.
  • And the most important thing to take away from this weekend is... 
       I'm onto something. And should really keep at it. Battle Gem Ponies could be huge, if I just market this correctly. If Saturday's event was practice for expos to come, I seriously think I could make a splash too big to ignore.

Business Stuff!
This shows how my 3 remaining iOS apps are doing lately. Basically $5 a month.
Steady growth as usual, big bump of attention on with BGP being there and me sharing the link with everyone lately.
Amazon also changed their developer reports so now I'm only able to track active users and not total downloads.
They also want sales and royalties kept confidential now. So I won't be able to keep accurate tabs on that column anymore.

     Predictable numbers at this point. Slow and steady as time goes on, and the thousands of new apps released weekly drown Unicorn Training out of the search results. Didn't see a spike after the Overdrive event because I was more focused on getting people to like Battle Gem Ponies than trying to sell them on Unicorn Training. However, quite a few people did ask to see my website and other games, so at the very least I made a bunch more followers.

     You know, until a friend recently brought up how hard it is to gain traction on a written blog, I completely forgot about my AdSense account that was supposed to be funding my development (or at least covering web hosting costs). 

     Would you believe that I started this website, update it's content on a regular basis, spread its presence to other blog sharing sites as well as connected it to an App Store linked YouTube account, and 5 years later I STILL only just passed the halfway mark towards fulfilling the first payment threshold. 5 years, and $50 I can't even touch because Google thinks it's too small to be worth the trouble of sending to me.

     Which is extra weird because their app store payment threshold is just a dollar. Guess ads work as a package deal on the advertiser's side or something. 

     It's cool to get a few hundred visitors each week, but I feel like I'm just not on the radar of tons of folks who'd probably love to see this type of stuff. So maybe I need to put effort into being where they are. Bring my stuff to them instead of waving a flag on my tiny island and hoping they come to me.

     This led to me thinking I should take YouTube a lot more seriously next time around. I want to do video devlogs every month along side these written posts where I can share screenshots, breakdown graphs and do the whole Completed checklist thing. I'd like to do something like Yandere Dev or Exiled Game Team and just put on a show and build some hype with Battle Gem Ponies 2.

2 million subs, $4.4K on Patreon, and an army of cosplayers. Clearly this guy is onto something and it's
connecting to fans on a deep level. Only growing more popular over the years and even scored him a publishing deal.
     Who knows. It might even blow up like Yandere Dev's channel and I'll be able to fund web hosting and pay video editors to do the time-consuming video production for me. If I reach more people, I can cultivate a community, make a bigger name for myself, increase sales, and ultimately increase the chances of success for all my future projects because people will know who "Yotes" is and be interested in what he's working on.

Just a thought.


First-ever Battle Gem Ponies indie expo booth! (outside of school)
     My setup involved bringing along my precious work laptop (the Macbook purchased with Unicorn Training money) as well as a pretty cheap tablet I got for Christmas years ago, my Clover plushie, the Yotes flag, and a bunch of MLP & Pokemon figurines I collected over many birthdays. Just about every little thing I had to signal to folks what this game was all about and convince them to stop and stare long enough for me to swoop in and feed their curiosity.

     A friend volunteered to help me set things up in exchange for food and I was happy to have some backup. I ended up not needing my extra monitor, so after that was setup and we realized the mounted TV looked way better, that monitor was put back in my trunk. 

     As for controls & comfort, I went to a nearby Target (the only store nearby selling electronics) and bought a mouse to use with my laptop tray and new gaming mousepad to replace the Xbox 360 controller setup Mac's aren't compatible with anymore and make use of the couch given to us.

Told him to look excessively comfortable and happy to simulate the player experience.
     With the mouse tray being moved around so much and usually so far from the laptop, it needed to be wireless. But foolish me first grabbed the $1 cheaper wired one thinking it'd be fine for just a demo and I wouldn't have to worry about batteries. I ended up running back to the store and exchanging that one for the wireless red mouse from the same brand that cost only $9 and already had a battery inside. 

     For cases where I could tell someone didn't want to sit or someone looked like they'd get frustrated with the laptop controls, I handed them the tablet first, because the touch interface is way more intuitive. My main goal was to eliminate as many barriers as possible and convince everyone who passed by to witness or play a quick match or three. 

The bar section of the Geek Easy. Everybody had to walk past my booth to get here,
and pass again to get out. I had at least two chances to grab people's eyeballs.
     This place gets pretty packed on a night like this. I wasn't keeping an accurate count, but I remember sitting with and witnessing about 25 people playing the game while others I weren't keeping tally on watched nearby. And I consider that a TON since there were way over a hundred people coming in and out. 

     The event went from 4pm to 1am, and the expo setup began at 2:00pm and packed up at 11:30pm. In that short time I feel like I made the most of every second and succeeded in getting just about everyone in the place to at least glance at the game and see what the hubbub's about. BGP was possibly the most eye-catching game of the show (that's what I heard from the host) and it was lucky enough to be placed exactly in the center of a slightly narrower part of the hallway, meaning you can't help but see the screen.

     I'm super honored and grateful for the whole opportunity and I'm really glad I went. 

The future of indie devs in the growing gaming culture of central Florida seems pretty bright.
Looking forward to having increasingly impressive games to show.
One last playtest as the doors were opening...
   Now it's time to crunch on the big update. Needs to come quick so people can play a sleek-stable build from the comfort of any platform they choose! I'm more excited than ever to get the game out and now I feel like it's sure to be a success if I just get it in front of people and put the free version in their hands.

     It's time to make some hardcore BGP fans across the world. I mean, I've got the title theme stuck in my head now and it's not fair I'm the only one who knows it this well! Gotta do everything I can to make Battle Gem Ponies one of the great indie titles in history!

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