Burning Content

Sun Stones is (hopefully) about to go live across several App portals including Apple's App Store, the Amazon Appstore, Android Marketplace, etc.  There will probably still be a few technical hiccups to smooth out, but the game is essentially finished.

Of course, being a future-looking company, we're already planning aggressive updates, new content & new features.  This is essential because Sun Stones in its launch state is what we call "a content burner" - it's not a game you'll play through once you've mastered the existing content.  So once you "burn" through a particular puzzle with a 3-star rating you are unlikely to ever play that puzzle again.

This means that it is essential to have new content ready to go - so that people can keep buying content after burning their initial free content.  But "burners" have a substantial flaw, in that each new content pack takes 2-3 weeks to create, but can probably be finished in just a few days.  (Right now our packs contain about 25 new puzzles, each of which take 10-25 minutes for an expert player to master.  That's 4 - 10 hours of content for 99 cents!)  Even if we worked on nothing but new Sun Stones content, we'd never be able to keep up with demand!  And once players run out of content, we've lost them.

So the real trick with a burner is to find ways to expand content exponentially, rather than linearly.  We have a few ideas in the works to do this with Sun Stones - here are a few top contenders:

1 - The Level Editor

This is actually the same in-game editor we used to create our 100 initial puzzles - we just need to polish up the presentation a bit for general release.  With this in place, players can build their own levels - allowing for dozens or even hundreds of hours of additional play time (at least for those folks who enjoy creating stuff.)  But the Level Editor also helps our content bottleneck in some fresh ways.  Players can submit their best custom levels, and we'll release a free "best of our fan levels" pack each month or so.  This shifts the content-creation burden, and helps to build community!

2 - New Game Modes

Most people will play each puzzle only until they get that 3-star rating, because there is nothing else to accomplish for each individual puzzle.  If we add new game modes, which provide new challenges for each puzzle (but which don't fundamentally change the puzzle's data) we can instantly provide players with 100 puzzles for each new game mode.  If we can add 2 new game modes, that is 300 puzzles!  New game modes are clearly a winning way to get more content out efficiently.

3 - New Achievements

We're quite proud of our native Trophy system - there are more than 30 Trophies for players to earn.  We took pains to make sure that only a few are things you would naturally do during play - so the others need to be catered to a bit.  For example, there is a trophy which directs players to "build a broken man" - to earn it, they need to complete one of our human puzzles using only broken stone fragments - no intact stones.  As we add other types of content, we will absolutely be thinking of new challenges to introduce as trophies.  Trophies are some of the best content, because they really get players thinking about the game, as opposed to just grinding through content.

No comments:

Post a Comment