Posts Tagged facebook

Announcing Color Tangle for Flash, FB, and iPhone


I’ve been neglecting my blog even more than usual since joining CrowdStar last February (working on Happy Island and It Girl), but honestly I haven’t had a ton to report for personal projects. Until yesterday, when I finally released Color Tangle as a standalone flash game on Kongregate and Newgrounds, aFacebook app, a standalone website with Facebook Connect, and an iphone app.

I’d played single-color knot games before, but never had any interest in building one. I was actually working on a prototype for an explosive based game using APE (the same physics engine in Filler) when I had the idea to use APE’s grouping system to create collision rules–particles that collide with some but not all of the other “stuff” on the screen. I whipped up a quick prototype, and instantly recalled other knot games I’d played. It seemed like a perfect fit! I had the “first” level up and running in less than a day. I’d been looking for a simple project (and this is a very simple game) to try a multi-platform (facebook, web, iphone) launch, and this seemed like a perfect candidate.

The next task was building an editor–which took about a week. WIth editor complete and a dozen puzzles or so in hand, I next built out the website from scratch (Ruby on Rails hosted on Heroku). I got to play with Sass and Compass (which are awesome), got to play with the Facebook API (not so awesome), and experimented with the blueprint CSS framework (also awesome). I built a widget using LocalConnection so players on external sites could connect to the game via FB connect (which I thought was pretty damn slick). I even started on the iPhone app using OpenFrameworks, getting it to the point where I could play my handful of levels.

It was right about that point that a recruiter pitched me on joining CrowdStar, and the project just… died. In my year and a half plus at CS, I’ve learned more about web programming and games than any other time in my life, and I really haven’t had a lot of time to tinker.

I could’ve just released it–the flash app was working, the website was working, and the facebook app all worked. But I learned from Filler how important it was to be first to market on mobile, so I just let the project sit for a few months while I threw myself into my work on Happy Island. I jumped off of Happy Island and started working on It Girl in June. Between that and getting married last October, I had no free time at all for tinkering. My schedule finally started cooling off around February/March of this year, so I picked the iPhone version up and “finished” it. The only problem was puzzles. Creating a couple puzzles on most nights, it took me roughly 2 months to get up to the 50 puzzles I thought I needed for launch. I submitted the app to Apple in June and it was approved the first time around. I set a release date of August 25 (my birthday) to give me a couple of months to polish up the webiste.

Having not touched the website code for over a year, the FB API was horribly out of date. I got distracted by another project along the way (look for another iPhone app soon), but my self-imposed deadline of August 25 finally gave me the pressure I needed to get my ass in gear. After a couple of weekends to get everything migrated over from FBML to pure iframe Canvas, I invited a few friends to start testing it last weekend and launched it fully yesterday.

I don’t think it will do all that well on FB (I know just a little more about designing for FB now that I’ve been doing it for a year and half), but I wanted to carry the original project vision through to completion. In the end, it was a really fun technical project, and I really enjoy playing it.

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7 Movie Ads I Want to See on Facebook

ad for From Paris With Love

I’ve seen a few of these movie promotion ads on Facebook now, and I’m pretty much astounded at how big of a waste of money they are. The problem with an ad like this is the fact that there are only two ways I can interact with it: I can either become a fan of “From Paris with Love” or I can blacklist the ad for any number of reasons. I don’t want to blacklist it, because I actually prefer seeing movie ads about 100x more than seeing ads for “Scholarships for Dads” or “Christian Singles” or GroupOn…

The problem is–they’re not even asking the right question. Am I going to go see it in theaters? Sure. I loved Taken, and while I’m skeptical of Travolta’s ability to play a fast-and-loose action hero, I have tremendous faith in Luc Besson as a writer/producer of fun action movies. Solidly on board, solidly planning to go see the movie they’re promoting, there’s still no way I’m ever going to become a fan of From Paris with Love on Facebook. Or–likely–any other movie on Facebook. For one thing–whether I become a fan or not has nothing to do with whether my friends go see the movie. If they haven’t decided one way or another on it by this point, my becoming a fan is going to amount to a drop in the ocean. Secondly, I have no interest in helping some viral marketing firm (“We get u lots ov fans!!!11!”) get a higher bonus because they hit some fan threshold. The obvious disconnect between the people who actually make the movies and the people who promote them just astounds me. What kind of ads do I want to see? Here are 7 ads I would’ve clicked on:

  1. Ask me if I’m planning on seeing the movie in theaters. If I click “no,” you can tailor future ads towards your stronger “change someone’s mind” content instead of showing me the same thing over and over and over again. If I click “yes,” you can start showing more interesting ads that might eventually get me to become a fan. (To be fair, I’ve seen polls on movies–but they’re usually some asinine unrelated question written by a marketing intern).
  2. Don’t promote the movie itself–promote the people within the movie. Had this ad said something like “Become a fan of Luc Besson,” I probably would’ve clicked it in a heartbeat. I don’t even know if he has a fan page, but (assuming he does) that gets any of his future marketing material right into my stream. Becoming a fan of an actual person says something to my friends, while becoming a fan of some movie that just came out says I’m gullible and pay too much attention to ads.
  3. Build a Flash game for the film (and hire an indie flash developer to do it–there are lots of us) and promote the From Paris with Love game.
  4. Link to an interesting article on the Film (Digg does a great job of this)–a behind the scenes article or an interview with John Travolta. Something more engaging than “please please pay attention to me.”
  5. Instead of a canned one-sentence synopsis, just put in a bite-sized piece of trivia with a “like” button. We call them “nuggets” onĀ ShowtimeFu, though we’re a little behind in entering them. A “like” is much less of an investment than fanning something, and I’m much more likely to use them.
  6. Give me a link to add a similar movie to my queue on Netflix. “Get ready for From Paris with Love by watching Taken”
  7. Now that I’m 5 or 6 steps down the funnel and I’ve had plenty of positive interactions with your campaign… now is the time to ask me to become a fan of the movie. Don’t just give me marketing drivel, though–remind me of how into the movie I am: “You’re going to see it in theaters, you’ve played the game, you’ve read the trivia, and you’re already a fan of the cast. Isn’t it time to become a fan of the film?”

Okay, I still may not click on #7, but my chances of responding are probably up around 50% instead of 0%, which is a bajillion-times increase. Funnels are used for all kinds of things on websites, so I don’t see why people don’t set up ad funnels to guide people towards the desired result.

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