Author Topic: Why did Tidalis "fail"?  (Read 5969 times)

Offline Mánagarmr

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Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« on: August 17, 2012, 09:39:31 AM »
I've been trying to wrap my head around this, but I just can't really get it. Tidalis is a great puzzle game, heck even I who absolutely hate puzzlers, sunk over 6 hours on it, and that's saying something for me. It has massive content, multiplayer and is ridiculously cheap. By all that is holy, it should've sold a lot more than it did.

Was there too much content? Was it not unique enough? (I have trouble believing that) Did it come at the wrong time? Should it have been a mobile game?

*boggle*
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Offline x4000

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 09:59:50 AM »
Well, certainly this has been a puzzler for us as well.  This remains probably our best-reviewed game, even above AI War.  Everybody who plays it pretty much loves it, and the same went for press.  The metascore on this one is about the same as AI War (low 80s, which is quite good), but when you factor in non-metacritic reviews it's way better-reviewed than AI War.

A few things I'd like to point out that seem related to the failure, at least:

1. Almost nobody has heard of this game.  This was as much a marketing failure as anything else (this far predates Erik being with the company).  In general I handled the release of information about this game really poorly, and that didn't help.  Also, the timing of its release was particularly bad (late July 2010) as that was a major sales slump period in general.  Which contributed to lots of people not noticing it.

2. In terms of the actual reason that we haven't been able to break even with this, we spent too much money making the game.  Too many man hours over too long a period of time for a game of this sort.  To some extent if we'd released with 1/5th the content the game might have still sold the same amount and we would have broken even.  It might even have made the game more accessible, because some people definitely do feel overwhelmed on starting it up.

3. I adore the art and music style in this game, but it seems to have been a really poor fit for the Steam audience.  Hardcore gamers just immediately give this sort of game a pass, in the main, when they glance past screenshots.  That's entirely my fault, as I set that sort of art and music direction.  However, I do think that this sort of style will do brilliantly on mobile, and with that in mind we're looking at bringing the game to iPad 2+ late this year or early next.  I think that we have a much better chance of success there.

4. As a general note, this is not the sort of game that excites people to tell their friends about it.  So it wasn't something that spread virally in quite the same way that AI War did.  Or even AVWW did more than a little of that.

5. Both the trailer that I did, and the trailer that Phil did, were found to be hugely underwhelming to players.  Phil was unimpressed with mine and so did his version, and his version was indeed better.  However, this is a very hard game to make a trailer for, and ultimately I think that players were not responding to these the way we hoped.

6. When people look at the game in very brief passing, it seems to just be "another match 3 game."  When people are giving it a cursory glance, I think this causes them to keep looking rather than pausing to digest at all.  That's not overly helpful.

7. As a general note, our problem seems to be obscurity for the game rather than rejection.  AVWW has a strong contingent of people who reject it, but it's so widely publicized that we get lots of people who love it just as ardently.  With Tidalis, it simply never had that traction at all.  The contingent of people rejecting Tidalis is almost non-existent, but nothing we have done even since Erik has been on board has helped the game reach a larger audience.  Tidalis Lite was a waste of time, for example.  But it was a short time investment and an interesting little side project, so it's no big thing.  When it comes to the iPad port, hopefully that will bear more fruit and finally find the appropriate audience for this game.
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 10:03:00 AM »
I can't answer for everyone else, but the reason I don't play it much is because it is too complex to play for a puzzle game.  When I want to play a puzzle game, I want to get into a zone and forget about the interface, controls, and everything else.  I just want to be focused on solving the puzzle.  But Tidalis requires a lot more interface and control than a regular puzzle game because you have so many more options.  A single move can require multiple steps to set up.  It is just really jarring to me.  About the only way I can play Tidalis for more than a few minutes is untimed.  I really want to like the active mode, but it just doesn't work for me.  And for basically the same reasons, it doesn't work for my wife either, and she loves puzzle games.

I guess it seems to me that its a puzzle game that doesn't appear to the general puzzle game audience (their loss) but appeals more to a strategic mindset.  So it targets two very different audiences which means you only appeal to the intersection of both.

But Chris's explanation is probably more likely the general reason :) .

Offline RCIX

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2012, 10:08:32 AM »
I think I found my niche in playing it, yay!

But have you considered spending a bit more on an iPad release? Fix controls, make sure its performance is fine, etc. And then advertise the heck out of it. I am fairly confident I'd play Tidalis more on my iPad, and would very likely buy a copy just because :P

I know you mentioned faintly the possibility of releasing the iPad, but I do feel like it could really get Tidalis going. Hinging a bit on finding the right control scheme, but other than that it would fit great.

Edit: just saw you mentioned the iPad port. *excitement*
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 11:28:56 AM »
A couple of very general notes from someone who has never played:

The puzzle genre is a packed one. There are simply so many. Very many of which of free, and some further still intergrated to social media. From a certain perspective, the market is overcrowded. Because of this crowding, some people (including me) are simply "burnt out". There is no desire to play puzzles. The core of it does not appeal to me.

The last really appealing puzzle game was Tetris Attack for Super Nintendo. The "hook" was the multiplyer. It was intergral to the game to the point of the title being aggressive. There were other more traditional modes, but I never played them. What I liked was a game that encouraged fast pace, and the satsification was less about overcome the puzzle and more about hearing my opponent squirm as I waste them.

But that is a tangent. The game at hand is one of many. Unfortunately, its nunces simply cannot be conveyed easily, and due to game's crowding it more then other games gets only a quick glance about whether to buy or not. It is the problem of a crowded market filled with tons of free games. As a result, no matter the quality, the game will be overlooked.
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Offline KingIsaacLinksr

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 02:14:36 PM »
I think Chemical is right, especially when you have power houses like PopCap in the field that absolutely suck up all the puzzle gamers. It is a crowded genre with plenty of people doing puzzle games. I personally dunno why Tidalis didn't sell that well though, but I've also come to admit that I'm a puzzle player these days. (denied it for the longest time for whatever reason). To me, the game stands out from the crowd of puzzle games with its unique art, characters and music. It's a bit puzzling why more people didn't gravitate towards it more so my only guess is that maybe people didn't like the mechanic or the idea of it.

If you do indeed publish to iPad, I'm going to be all over that. I've been playing it from time to time but I'm more than positive I would play it on my iPad a ton more often. I have Bejeweled ATM but its bored me, so, just saying :).
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Offline tigersfan

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 02:20:17 PM »
If you do indeed publish to iPad, I'm going to be all over that. I've been playing it from time to time but I'm more than positive I would play it on my iPad a ton more often. I have Bejeweled ATM but its bored me, so, just saying :).

I think at this point it's more a question of when than an if.

Offline RCIX

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2012, 03:14:48 PM »
nunces
Is that like dunces?

(sorry, had to)
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2012, 09:34:11 AM »
If you do indeed publish to iPad, I'm going to be all over that. I've been playing it from time to time but I'm more than positive I would play it on my iPad a ton more often. I have Bejeweled ATM but its bored me, so, just saying :).

I think at this point it's more a question of when than an if.

Is there going to be an Android version?  Please, please, oh please say "Yes"!  :D

Offline tigersfan

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2012, 09:38:15 AM »
I'm not aware of any solid plans to bring this game to Android... sorry. :(

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Offline x4000

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2012, 09:38:32 AM »
No plans to ever work on Android, unfortunately.  My reasons:

- I know a lot of devs who sell on Android, almost all of whom are unhappy with it.
- Partly because none of them make much money at it.
- Partly because the plethora of devices and aspect ratios and processors make it almost impossible to support for a small company.
- Partly because piracy is sky-high.
- And also, we'll only be supporting iPad 2 and up in general, because even the original iPad doesn't have enough RAM and so on for us to get the sort of experience that we want out of it.

In a few years if things have matured on the Android side into a sane/supportable state with an actual market where more people are interested in buying apps, then I'd certainly go for it.  I think that the concepts behind Android are great, and that the current state of how its ecosystem is is really lamentable.  There are also some undeniably cool phones/tablets that run Android.  It's jut not in a state where I'd be at all comfortable touching it from a developer standpoint at the moment, though, unfortunately. :(
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2012, 10:10:12 AM »
 :'(

I understand some of your concerns, but I'm too sad (look at the tears!) to try to counter any of them.

I have and Android phone and tablet.  Also, an iPad 1.  So, I'm probably not going to be able to play it any time soon.  I'll still buy it anyway, just to support y'all.

Yeah, I'm that awesome!  8)

Offline x4000

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2012, 10:13:21 AM »
Yeah, it's a stinky situation, I know -- sorry!

But hopefully you won't be able to buy it without an iPad 2 or higher.  The last thing I want is for people to be able to buy it on hardware where it's just going to crash.  That's really the big thing with Android -- there are so many different bits of hardware and there's no way I want to buy dozens of phone and tablets to try and test them all just so that I can make back less money than it cost to buy all those phones and tablets in the first place.   :(
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Offline mrhanman

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 10:23:13 AM »
If you want to test it on multiple platforms without having to invest in hardware, there's a company called uTest that connects software developers with qualified testers.  You just specify your testing needs, and they provide a pool of people with the requisite hardware.

I'm not sure what it costs, but it might be an option for testing even an iOS build (or Android, if you change your mind someday).

As for not being able to buy it on my iPad 1, if necessary, I'll buy it on my brother's iPad 2.  I'm sure he'd like it.  There's also a chance I can get my boss to buy me an iPad 2.  For practical, responsible reasons only, of course.

Offline x4000

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Re: Why did Tidalis "fail"?
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2012, 10:29:17 AM »
Cheers, thanks. :)

What it really also comes down to is that I'm just not that interested in spending a lot of time on the mobile ports of stuff -- or ports in general.  I want to spend time making games.  Even if I didn't have to buy the hardware, I just had to pay uTest, I'd still have to figure out how to support an incredible array of screen resolutions and hardware.  I'd imagine that would take weeks and weeks, and that's simply time that I don't want to invest on an activity like that.  It's boring, not profitable, not creating anything new, etc, etc.

I know it must sound like I keep changing my reasons around, but there are really a whole host of reasons I don't want to get involved with all that.  The iOS stuff is attractive because with Unity I think I can make a port in a couple of weeks and then largely be done with it.  I look forward to playing these games on my iPad also, so I certainly do look forward to the final product with it also; but if it was going to take more than a couple of weeks, and/or a long ongoing commitment then I wouldn't even touch iOS.  It's also one of the big reasons that ports to consoles are not terribly attractive to me.
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