We at Flow strongly believe in the need of a fair approach, open communication and a mutual respect. What has happened to us regarding the contract work for Leap Motion was a strong impulse to share our experience with you as well as other developers. I personally hope this will save you time and effort. For us, recently big evangelists of the Leap Motion controller, this is even a more unpleasant experience.
Dear Michael and David,
I feel an urgent need to react to your decision to cancel the selection process regarding “Request for proposal: V2 Apps.” It’s for the third time in the last 10 months that my company, Flow Studio, was asked by your representatives to offer a proposal including a concept, a production plan and a budget (in a very short time, but we don’t mind). However, for the third time, the selection process was canceled or the brief has dramatically changed after several iterations.
I’ve won and lost hundreds of tenders during my career. The defeat by other teams is always unpleasant but usually fair because of stronger ideas, better execution or simply lower prices from other competitors. What I consider unprofessional is asking multiple companies to solve the client’s brief and then to change the strategy completely without any remuneration for the time invested from the teams involved. This clearly shows two things:
1) Lack of a strategy. If the company urgently requests concepts to be done in few days, then waits for the feedback for weeks and finally completely changes the brief, it’s a signal that the strategy is missing. Jumping from one idea to another one shows there is no long-term plan and a clear vision of the purpose of the device.
2) Disrespect to the time of developers. Asking for other’s work without being 100% about the intention is wasting time, effort and money of people, who give life to the Leap Motion Controller.
Not only that, but Airspace is dead in terms of downloads for the last half a year and we developers don’t see any support and effort to change this. Also, this self-centered approach to “work-per-hire” is the reason why we’ve lost our belief your company can change the world as we thought the first time we saw the Leap Motion Controller. First and foremost, you have to set the right priorities.
I hope you understand why we don’t want to be contacted anymore about other cooperation proposals in the future.
Co-Founder at Flow Studio
Update: 10 days after we sent this open letter to Leap Motion we still haven’t received any response. Another strange thing, don’t you think?
There’s always someone who knows better than you whether it is the code, the UI, the monetization, the analytics, etc. Let’s assume you’ve made the research to validate that your idea isn’t total bullshit and you understand what it takes to develop the product. There’s still one more step before jumping into full production: getting feedback first. Yes, getting feedback already about the concept which can be a short PDF, a mockup, an executive summary of the product or all three together.
The easiest way to start is to approach fellow developers. Ask both people you know and people from a distant network. Friends usually won’t give you relevant feedback on your idea but can mention some important aspect such as possible technical issues, legal aspects or even connect you with other people who might fit your team, etc. We usually set a specific topic for each person based on his or her experience to get to the point quickly, usually 15-20 minutes are enough to cover the key area.
People who are passionate about something often write a blog. Maybe you’re already a regular reader and can start the conversation easily by picking some interesting facts from the previous blog post. Or be honest and approach the writer directly with a question if he or she can give you an expert opinion.
Almost every conference or meet-up has video coverage. GDC Vault or Casual Connect have dozens of fantastic talks where every speaker presents the best ways on how to get approached. Check Linkedin, ask existing connections for an introduction and don’t be afraid to ask a particular question via email or during a skype conversation.
“Use webinars to talk with people who otherwise won’t pick up their phone.”
Several companies have online webinars followed by 1 on 1 sessions. Or maybe your local business accelerator invited an amazing host for a Google Hangout. Go ahead, register, learn something new and prepare for the personal session because this might be a great opportunity to establish a new important relationship with a person which otherwise won’t respond to you and your cold email.
A service called Clarity.fm offers paid calls via Skype with experts all around the globe. The service lists amazing people, founders of major tech-companies, investors and designers. You can search by industry or keywords, view experts ratings and select the best consultant for your particular field of interest.
Change the seat of a spectator for a place at the podium and pitch your product in front of investors. With a concept only on paper, it’s too early to raise funds but the feedback might be extremely valuable as investors are usually pretty honest and have a good sense of what makes business sense. If they aren‘t able to give you good feedback, ask for an introduction to someone in their (often huge) network. Don’t forget to help them if they will need any insight about your local market in the future!
“Who said you can’t use publishers as your testers?”
Once you progress with your product to the stage of a playable build or app demo go to publishers. This doesn’t mean you need to go ahead and sign a contract. Just ask them if they are interested in your title. Sometimes you can get an amazing evaluation of your product by big players such as Chillingo. Start to contact them early on, you’ll probably need more time to work on the feedback than you’ve expected.
“Create fake ads and test what makes customers really excited.”
Fake ads/landing pages
Create a fake product video and place it on Youtube. Invest a few bucks to promote it and get at least 100 views. Open the “Analytics” section and study the data: where people dropped and what happened at that time. Test different videos or different lengths to discover which message is the best one. This is not only a trick for better marketing but also for better product positioning! It’s the same with landing pages which you can test with e.g. Optimize and discover what resonantes with people the most.
Do you have good or bad experience with getting feedback? At which stage do you usually get the most critical comments? Share your experience with others to make sure we all grow together.
It continues to surprise me to how many different business approaches every dev team has. It doesn’t matter if they have the same team size and stage, everyone is doing new apps and games in a different way. We at Flow are not 100% intuitive or 100% data driven and are somewhere in the middle which means we do lots of stuff by heart but still value the information, feedback and data.
Below are a few tips and tricks we use to evaluate our ideas before we fully jump into production. The first part is about the research and the second will be about gathering feedback to help you finetune the concept. I hope this will be as helpful for you as it was for me when I discovered these techniques.
1. Appannie for marketing potential
Usually your idea isn’t 100% revolutionary and unique. Search in Appannie or other business intelligence tools for related apps. Don‘t just watch how they’re presented but check the rankings over time to see if the app attracts an audience for a longer period of time. Higher rankings can show you the potential for your app in terms of visibility and gross rankings or how much you can possibly earn.
2. Sensor Tower for user’s feedback
Very carefully read available reviews which will help you to understand what people love and hate about the app. Watch the frequency of reviews, how ratings changed with new versions and how it corellates with new features. What people appreciated in the update, what caused the bad ratings in the recent version…
Compare gross rankings from the previous step with Think Gaming top grossing charts to see the exact figures apps are earning per day. Few apps also have ARPU estimates with a detailed view, which is another very important piece of the puzzle for your business.
“Is your competitor struggling to raise the Series A funding? Maybe they have some troubles, discover why!”
4. Crunchbase for investment history and competition
Look at Crunchbase and focus on the investment history. If the company got investment from a well known funding source then it’s a clear signal of the future potential (or maybe just hype). If the investment was years ago it might be a signal that the company struggles to attract new funding. Also, look to see who are the founders, check them via LinkedIn to see their previous job history and try to understand how they got to the place where they are now as well as what are their strengths and weaknesses. Crunchbase also offers contextual links to similar companies which is great for discovering your possible competitiors.
Now that you know your competitors and founders, it’s time to dig deeper. Read all the founder interviews available as they will reveal tons of interesting insights about their customers, technology, troubles and victories. Also, you’ll often get references as to their business partners as service providers or marketing partners who might be another source of information in the next step.
6. Industry related companies for insights
Once you’re in the business for longer period of time, you’ll have a network of partnerships. Now is the time to leverage some of your contacts. Approach your closest partners and ask them for their opinions, available data and recent studies on your topic. For example, you can get information where your competitors are targeting their user aquistion campaigns, at what costs, etc.
“Be a hustler, ask your competitors directly at Quora!”
7. Quora for clarification
Hey, why not ask your competitors directly? There’s Quora for that. First, search if your question wasn’t already answered before. If not, create a new one and send it directly to your competitor, his employees or industry experts. Be bold and reveal your identity or create a fake profile to be in stealth, it’s up to you. As my mother said, those who ask become smart.
Do you have any tricks which you’re using? Is your research process different and if so, how? Please share your thoughts with others by commenting below or use Twitter @Flow_Studio.
The next week: Part II - feedback
Report from the first Gesture Control Hackathon
We at Flow love to share. Share ideas, feedback, even sales figures and this time share hardware. Why not organize a hackathon, where everybody can touch amazing gesture controllers and create amazing stuff? Building the reputation at Leap Motion apps and games, we were approved to the Myo Developers Program and were also selected among a few Kinect 2 developers. We don’t know about the other team in the country who owns these gadgets. Therefore, we feel kind of committed to share them with you, talented developers. So, what could be built in 24 hours? A lot!
Player / Scroller / Sorcerer Game (Myo)
A strong team, Ge4Sound from the Faculty of Information Technologies in Brno, created three apps in less than 24 hours! The team focused on the Myo Armband and explored it’s gesture capabilities. Myo player is an app which allows the user to control the music, so you can feel like the guy starting the Myo presentation video. Myo scroller is obviously controlling your web browser or any other content by hand position. The last integration was a game between two Myo “sorcerers” - the first, an attacker, performs a set of three gestures, the second, a defender, has to repeat the gestures. Then the players order changes and the fight continues until one player misses the defending phase.
Jedi sword (Kinect2 + Myo)
Two guys from the commercial TV channel came in with huge experience with Kinect 1. The team is working in a Real-Time-Graphics department and their major achievement is the interactive weather forecast controlled by a presenter’s gestures. It was clear they would focus on Kinect 2 capabilities. Vladislav and Petr couldn’t have chosen a better theme than Star Wars to impress the crowd. The yellow stick became a jedi sword and Myo tracked hand movements to generate the iconic buzzing sound while moving the sword. I felt sooooo powerful and the dark side was really tempting!
Myo with balls (Myo + Sphero + Android phone) - OVERALL WINNER
Three graduates from the Czech Technical University in Prague originally planned to connect Myo with Google Glass. Once they saw the Sphero ball their plans changed immediately: “To control the movement, that’s the best reward,” described David on the reason why they changed their minds. The biggest challenge was to merge several Android SDKs into a single app which was achieved on Saturday at 4am. The team took a short nap and continued the next day. First, they started to control the ball as in the Myo ad and later the team came with a gaming layer on top of that. Up to four players stay in the circle around Myo with their hands steady. Shaking your hand works as a magnet for the Sphero ball, which starts rolling to the player. Once the ball comes too close, the player looses the match. The “rock&roll” version of the game is the opposite, you must shake your hand like hell to attract the ball.
WiiFlie (Drone + Wiimote) - WINNER OF THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
On the spot, an international team consisting of a university lecturer names Seba and a university student named Jan, worked with their own hardware: a tiny drone and a Nintendo Wii remote. Some might say it is a controller from the stone age but from our point of view it was an interesting challenge to hack proprietary hardware and stay alive controlling the small and crazy drone. Seba from Argentina says he is a researcher that loves to learn about machines, botnets and arduinos, which was a good assumption as he won the “Technical challenge” with his young teammate Jan Jedlicka, who deserves my respect to be able to speak in fluent technical English even after 24 hours without sleep.
Two other teams dropped from the competition after realizing the technical limitations of their selected devices. But that’s an integral part of the process and the risk of coming with something new. It’s an experience which can’t be bought and for me those guys are as great as those who stayed in front of the crowd and prayed that their demo will work.
The next Gesture Control Hackathon will probably be in September and will have the theme: interactive visuals. We will gather art directors, animators, VJs and all those crazy motion artists at one place to connect them with technical minds, coders and hackers. We truly believe this will be an amazing experience and the output from such an event will be stunning. See you then!
Photos from the event
THANKS TO OUR PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERS:
Techsquare for the space and breakfast
Red Bull for the energy
Damejidlo.cz for the lunch
Keen Software House for Oculus Rift (we had a lot of fun during the weekend :)
Inmite for Google Glass (everybody wanted to try it!)
I spent some time reading some interesting articles and studying last Sunday as I do every weekend. AppAnnie Index - 2013 Retrospective is a document which I was looking forward to reading for several weeks because it always promises to be packed with dozens of stats and charts. After a few minutes of reading, you can clearly see the trends in mobile business.
One of the many interesting facts was a table of the Top Games of 2013 in the United States which was sorted by revenue. Victory of Candy Crush Saga by King followed by two Supercell titles called Clash of Clans and Hay Day wasn’t surprising at all. However, in 6th place was Slotomania by Ceasers Entertainment followed by Big Fish Casino. Another title, DoubleDown Casino by International Game Technology confirmed a clear fact: gambling has already hit the mobile gaming industry and is generating loads of cash!
Gambling principles aren’t something new in casual games: you can get more lives using the “wheel of fortune” in Eyenigma or you can play like hell to unlock the “Magic Box” in Subway Surfers without even knowing what is inside. The uncertainty, tension and chance for a big victory is something which makes p
eople really excited without even knowing what those principles are which form the foundation of Las Vegas Casinos.
As the business moves from the classic online casinos to mobile devices it brings a sharp rise of a younger audience. Sites like www.riverbellecasino.com and many others confirm that the more animated and engaging the experience, the more attractive it is to those who would never think about playing “in real life”. I also suspect that Zynga, King or Big Fish Games will begin partnerships with state-based gambling companies to provide the software for the next generation of virtual casinos. They’ll start building the infrastructure now and will move quickly as the walls of gambling regulations fall down in the U.S. in the upcoming years.
For me personally, the gambling business is far too distant but there’s certainly lots to learn as to the gambling psychology, the risk & reward principles, the tension of uncertainty, the excitement of winning big jackpots. Why not incorporate some of those principles in our games today? Wouldn’t it be fun to have the opportunity to win “a life back” once the game is over for you? Just spin and pray, there is always a chance!
We’ve created four cute fairy tale characters for the game “Puppets” for Leap Motion during the last summer. We’ve found out soon after finishing the set with an amazing designer Pavel Siska that in Leap Motion’s Airspace are just geeks and techies, The intention to create an app for kids was a business non sense.
It’s like selling your kids, but if anyone wants to adopt this gang, please visit the Unity Asset Store and get them for $20.
Octagon makes us happy. Great reviews from Cult of Mac, AppAdvice and Arcade Sushi. Featured in Fast-Reaction Games selection all over the world next to smash hits like Super Hexagon and Impossible Road. It also has hundreds of user reviews with a score of 4.6 stars in the App Store. Take a look at a few of them below:
- An excellent combination of two of my favorite tablet games, Super Hexagon and Boson X. Raymond McHenry
- Astoundingly addictive and visually stunning! ricksquared
- Intense, frantic, mazey, arcade runner. It’s madness; it’s maddening, I hate it so much, I’m addicted! Gee&J
- This game completely mesmerises you to feel like you are in he screen. I nearly scream when I die. MeowieCat
- It is rare to find a game that actually tries to challenge the player rather than spoon feed them in to cheap highs. Minecraftcraftcraft
Octagon is now available on Leap Motion in the Airspace store http://bit.ly/octagonairspace and we believe we will also be able to bring it later this year to Android and Windows Phone users. If you still don’t have it on your iOS device then download it in the App Store at http://bit.ly/octagonappstore.
Gangnam Style, Nyan Cat, What Does the Fox Say. Or Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, Flappy Bird… The world is crazy and no one really understands what’s behind the success of these viral hits. However, it’s fun to be a part of it, so why not make our own remake of the latest mobile smash hit. Meet Flappy Rocket on Leap Motion. Download it here: http://bit.ly/flappyrocket
Today we’ve launched a unique project, Orc’s Arena. It’s not just a game, it represents a new approach. Imagine a “minimal viable product” typical for services in a form of a game, which waits for feedback and will be further developed based on the response of the players.
Sortee, currently our most expensive title, took us almost a year to develop. Although we’ve done lot of interviews, closed testing, public testing and iteration cycles, it still is a risky approach when we bet on one card. Unfortunately, we haven’t won in the “App Store lottery” which was an expensive lesson learned. With this knowledge, we teamed up with with Lukas Korba to develop a very low cost game called Octagon few months ago. This time we did several rounds of testing with our target group recruited from hard-core members from the TouchArcade forum and the average 4.5 star rating with positive revenue shows us that we have successful results.
We take Orc’s Arena even further. The idea came from our main coder Petr Kolda, who was able to create 90% of the game prologue on his own using assets from the Unity Store and his own skills in 3D software and animations. We kicked-off only a short single player prologue and multiplayer mode with basic skills and weapons upgrades. Now we want to collect everyone‘s feedback first: is the genre attractive, is our humor of good taste, is the design good enough? And most important are the gesture controls natural and is the game fun to play?
Leave your feedback and help us develop the other way!
Orc’s Arena for Leap Motion: http://bit.ly/orcsarena
Orc’s Arena for classic controls: http://bit.ly/orcsarenadesktop
We are soon launching a prologue of our new game called Orc’s Arena. Just couple of days and it will be available in the Airspace store, exclusively for #leapmotion.