Registration the way others do it...?

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BasiliskWrangler
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Registration the way others do it...?

Postby BasiliskWrangler » May 15th, 2009, 12:23 am

So with Book II we are looking to distribute the game a bit differently than we did with Book I. As you know, Book I has a separate demo and full version of the game. So you play the demo and if you like it, you buy the full version which comes via a download link from Plimus or BMT Micro. This has worked well, but it has some downsides.

With Book II we are thinking about handling distribution they way others (such as the fine folks @ Spiderweb Software, for example) do it by having one version of the game that has a limited play area, and you would use a key code to unlock the "full version".

The benefits to this alternate method of distribution are:
- No need to maintain separate demo and full versions. This is a huge time saver!
- No need to issue patches (a big pain for Linux, Macs, and 3rd party versions). When we release a new version of the game, it would be the entire game. You can remove the old version, download and install the new- your existing key will unlock this latest install as long as your .cfg file is still present. If not, just use the key in the original email to unlock it again.
- No need for us to manually reissue download links like we do now when people want to reinstall Book I. People can download the latest full version on their own. This would save us a ton of time as well!
- We can still use Plimus and BMT Micro to issue keys. That means you don't have to wait 24-48 hours for a key from us. Order the game and almost instantly receive your key.

Since this will be different for people already comfortable with the way we distributed Book I, are there any comments or questions?
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby Siemova » May 15th, 2009, 12:33 am

Easier and more straightforward for all concerned. Sounds good to me!

Tangentially related: do you think we'll need separate keys for Windown/Mac/Linux versions, or could one key work for them all?
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby Alain » May 15th, 2009, 3:20 am

Hi there,

I am also selling software on the internet, so here are my quick thoughts:

- Some customers like to download the full version when they have bought something, this way they have the feeling they really receive something new and more complete. You may loose some customers with registration keys.

- Piracy: For the average gamer, this is way easier to google for "Eschalon serial" and copy-paste a string, than start downloading possibly virus infected files from an obscure Russian peer-to-peer link.

So in my humble opinion, you will save time on your side (but not that much, because you can script the build of each version), but you may loose a % of your conversion rate.

Another unrelated point, I am actually playing book 1 trial (which is very good: congratulation guys!), I have now played for more than 4hours (in game) in this demo and it seems I have not yet finished the trial. I take my time, it is ok for me, but if I was you, for book 2 I would release a shorter demo because many players will toy around with your trial but after 4 hours will give up. In my opinion, with a shorter trial you would enhance your conversion rate.

Again, that's only my humble opinion.. I am sure you sell much more than me, so you may know better how to market your games than me.
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby Randomizer » May 15th, 2009, 5:00 am

Most of the program size is the game engine and graphics files with the outside the demo being additional maps and scripts so the new way will work fine and save hours for those of us on dial up downloading.

The key is the real problem since piracy will latch on to that if you switch methods. Spiderweb Software's method of issuing unique keycodes for each user still can be broken.
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby BasiliskWrangler » May 15th, 2009, 8:29 am

Using a key is not about copy protection or preventing piracy. Remember, Book I is not protected at all- we will not use an invasive DRM on our games. The registration system simply gives customers a "receipt" that grants them permission to download and access the full game. You can still be a wanker and share your serial number with other people, just like you can take the files for Book I and upload them to a file sharing site. Nothing will stop you from pirating our games except our death from lack of sales.

This whole "registration key idea" is about giving customers easier access to what they purchase from us. Right now, if you want version 1.05, you have to ask us to send you a new download link. Also patches are very dangerous (if not impossible, on Linux) to release because it can break existing games. So, using a key to unlock the full version (which you can always download the latest from us) seems to be the best solution, so far.

We're still open to other ideas, though! :)
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby IJBall » May 15th, 2009, 1:11 pm

FWIW, I think your new plans for distributing Book II make a lot more sense - I think the separate downloadable demo model only really works for "the Big Boys", who plan to sell you the full game on CD/DVD anyway.

For someone with your 'download only' distribution model, it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have separate downloads for the demo, and then the full game. And I imagine the logistics of having to resend the download links is one drain on your time and resources that you don't need.

As others have said, the only downside is that the new model will facilitate pirating more, but I'm hoping that increased 'word of mouth' for Book II (and hopefully an increased marketing/publicity push when it is actually released) will more than offset any losses you might see to piracy. (And, of course, the loyal customers around here won't pirate no matter what! :mrgreen: )

Anyway, your new model seems like the best course of action. IMHO. :)
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby macdude22 » May 15th, 2009, 8:02 pm

Frankly, the use a key to unlock the full version is how most shareware (indie?) type games and programs are handled anyway. And would be my preferred method.

As for piracy, the pirates will always find a way. The goal should be to reward paying customers instead of trying to punish pirates (which inevitably punishes paying customers and the pirates have no issues with their cracked versions anyway).

I don't think Basilisk could facilitate piracy any more than the current no DRM file. It would be a small task to upload my .DMG to some torrent site (which I'm sure some enterprising young pirate already has).
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby dmaz » May 16th, 2009, 10:57 am

I do not like reinstalling a game or finding the original email with the key I purchased months ago.

I think that once you get the key and unlock the full game you should require online registration to download updates. I also think the updates should be downloaded and installed via an separate update exe or process that could be started from the game menu, not by going to the website.

I think it's much nicer and simpler when all that can be done from the game... aside for the initial download of course. I understand why you wouldn't purchase the key from the main game menu (if would be awesome if you could) but registration and updates are pretty easy to do from there. just make patches file level and not byte level and it should be easy(all thing relative).

IMO the best update process would be:
- the main menu checks for an update.
- if there is one, it checks your registration. if not registered it asks if you want to register.
- when registered it launches external updater and exits game (so game exe can be updated if needed)
- the updater downloads any files that fail the checksum.
- restarts game

basically, just build a process akin to SVN or other source code distribution.
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby micks » May 16th, 2009, 3:22 pm

BW: I think either way is OK; I personally find full game unlockable by a serial number slightly preferable (especially if it means less hassle for you and the key is delivered immediately on purchase) -- that is to say IF I were intending to try before I buy (I believe most of us Book I fans are just going to buy as soon as Book II is out).
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby Unclever title » May 17th, 2009, 12:24 am

micks wrote:BW: I think either way is OK; I personally find full game unlockable by a serial number slightly preferable (especially if it means less hassle for you and the key is delivered immediately on purchase) -- that is to say IF I were intending to try before I buy (I believe most of us Book I fans are just going to buy as soon as Book II is out).


Pretty much what I was going to say. I particularly like the way Ambrosia handles this kind of thing (which essentially is how you described it, BW).
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby dak » May 17th, 2009, 4:26 am

hmm, did I get this right? redownload the game for a patch?? hope I understood it wrong!
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby macdude22 » May 17th, 2009, 7:20 am

dak wrote:hmm, did I get this right? redownload the game for a patch?? hope I understood it wrong!


This is how most Shareware games and apps are handled anyway. They are usually small enough that it's not a big deal. Even the Sparkle (Mac) updated apps are full downloads. Larger apps like Pixelmator are handled the same way. It's not a huge deal to handle updates like this. At least not on the Mac, maybe windows users aren't used to this type of update style.
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby dak » May 17th, 2009, 7:30 am

I don't know how big it would be, I am guessing it might end up around 400 mb, considering it should be much bigger than EB book 1, if there is a small update patch, people ( especially if they are on dial up or slow connections ) might be quite annoyed, for me personally it is not a problem though.
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby Ihsan » May 17th, 2009, 10:11 am

I presume that book2 will still be having a CD version like book1, as a nice keepsake?
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Re: Registration the way others do it...?

Postby dare49devil » May 17th, 2009, 4:47 pm

The one thing I felt robbed of when buying a game via steam or another distributor is not being able to have a physical copy of a box or disk in my hands. =(

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