Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Sink Battleship

Eric Sink has written a game called "Winnable Solitaire".  I'm having a slow day (mentally, that is) and was wondering what Eric Sink would name his rendition of the Battleship game if he were to write his own version of Battleship.  Would he call it "Sink Sunk"?

Sorry about the stupid post; I had to get it out of my system.  :-)

Forecastle
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Coffee.  I recommend coffee.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Eric, has anyone purchased your game?

Maybe next time, but not this time
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"anyone"?  Yes.

I've had some sales, but not as many as I had hoped.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

>"I've had some sales, but not as many as I had hoped."

Getting that sinking feeling?

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  I guess I'll have to sink some dollars into getting professinal help.

Forecastle
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Mmmm, what could be the test you're conducting? As it's not written in .Net, it's not to check if the .Net framework is an issue.

There are screenshots, a trial version, and a forum to ask questions. Could it be to study how people evaluate a product before paying for it?

The price was lowered. Could it be to check how people react to this news (wait until it gets lower? ask for some form of refund for those who paid the full price?)

September, he? :-)

Fred
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

>> Getting that sinking feeling?

According to Eric, the hip thing is to NOT make jokes on his name. :)

Alex
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I think it's a pretty hefty exe.  At 2.7MB it took me a while to download on a 28.8 connection.  Almost lost my patience.

Why such a big exe?


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The question is not why such a big download at 2.7Mb but why are you still using a 28.8k modem snail boy!

Fothy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

----------------
I think it's a pretty hefty exe.  At 2.7MB it took me a while to download on a 28.8 connection.  Almost lost my patience.

Why such a big exe?
---------------------------------

Hey, the 1990's called, and they need their modem back...

The 1990's
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It's probably that size because...

1. The card face bitmaps and card background bitmaps are probably 24 or 32 bit color instead of 16 or 256 colors.

2. There is static storage for 16,000 winnable deals, an HTML page, dialog boxes, icons, bitmaps etc.... (unless the deals are generated on the fly).

3. Solitaire isn't that trivial of a game to code, especially the interface part, so I would imagine there is a lot of initialization code and code for dragging the bitmaps around etc...

4. I believe he used wxWindows (or not?)... don't know if this would make a difference...

2.7MB compressed isn't that bad, could be better, but still not that bad.  I live in a rural area too and have 38.4 connection.

Actually Eric's efforts inspired me to start to code my own Solitaire game (nothing that I'm going to sell).  I've got my deck drawn (that was fun!) and have figured out how to drag cards around.  Now I just have to come up with an algorithm for the game.  I'll probably make a "Stack" or "Pile" class for the cards...

Dave B.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Geez, over-engineer much? Stack, Pile? Why not just use an Array. I'm sure in whatever OO language you choose, that your array class has a push, pop, shift and unshift message.

Simpleton
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Dave B,

Make a clone of Eric's game and give it away for free.

It'll help his experiment. Really.

Miles Archer
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The EXE includes step-by-step solutions for every one of the 16,000 numbered deals.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

>"According to Eric, the hip thing is to NOT make jokes on his name."

Oops!  Sorry!  :-)

Forecastle
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Are they the optimal solutions, or just a random solution?

(if i was going to make a joke on Eric's name, I'd do some pun with 5 (french cinq)

Miles Archer
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Miles, you're smart and sneaky.; that's quite a feet...uh...I mean feat.

Forecastle
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Is 'always winable' the only feature of this new solitare?

With Microsoft Freecell only *one* deal isn't winable, number 11982. Solutions for a number of the hard deals are available online.

So if you want to play something you can always win just skip #11982.

Dutch Boyd
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

---"The question is not why such a big download at 2.7Mb but why are you still using a 28.8k modem snail boy! "----

He probably is using a 56Kbs modem but the telephone line is so bad he's lucky to get 28.8kbs. I was getting as low as 16.8kbs this summer.

Even in the States there still are places that are so far from the telephone exchange that you only get 24kbs. Admitedly you can probably get satellite connections there now.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Eric, the icons at the top and the lack of menu give a feeling of usability.  But the lack of 'normal' face card graphics will give people who do not know you pause.

Scot
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"But the lack of 'normal' face card graphics will give people who do not know you pause. "

What does knowing Eric have to do with usability?

YouEye
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Well I don't know Eric and after seeing his photo on the site I thought he was a drunk.

muppet
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

> But the lack of 'normal' face card graphics

Yeah, I'm starting to get this impression.

My concept was to use photography for the graphics on face cards.  The current version has only one set of photos, all of which are pictures of wood grain.  I have probably landed in my own blind spot here.  Not everybody thinks natural wood looks as cool as I do.

I planned to offer more choices of photos later, but I agree that some users would simply prefer renditions of the traditional  face card graphics.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

>"Not everybody thinks natural wood looks as cool as I do."

I think you look cool.  :-)

YouEye
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Eric,

I thought a little about the lack of sales.  Here is a hypothesis:

Your normal blog readers are familiar with your business background, interest in marketing, etc.  They may also know that you are going to be writing an article related somehow to this product soon.  As a result, some regular readers who like solitaire enough to pay for the game may feel that they are buying an 'experiment'.

Those that do not read the blog but who do like solitaire may like the idea alot, but may not know about it.  I would recommend google ads if you have not already tried them (if this will not go against your experiment).  In my opinion, Winnable Solitaire is an awesome name for the game, as you are repositioning the competition very effectively.  However, I am not a solitaire player & so do not know if this concept is called something else in the solitaire world.  I noticed that google easily puts you first when it comes to searching for the term, but if I as a user do not know to search for the term, I would need to see an ad when searching for plain 'solitaire' in order to find you.

Hope this helps.

Scot
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Maybe could you replace the wood grain with Selma Hayek?

YouEye
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I think wood grain looks cool, you just have to take a router to yours :-)

More seriously, I think the wood grain would look good on the backs of the cards.

Also most decks of cards are reversible, that is, you can look at the card facing toward you or away from you and you can still read the card (i.e. The upside down suite symbols and values).  There are other subtle differences such as the placement of the suite symbol on face cards is alternated and differs between suites.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Oh I definitely agree on the Google ad thing.  I've been trying to run one, but Google keeps killing it because the click-through-rate is too low.  I've had this problem before with new ads.  It seems to take a lot of tweaking and babysitting to get an adwords ad to get established so it can stay safely running.

But rest assured:  Promoting my app to the JoelOnSoftware readership is definitely not my strategy, at least not until Joel gets his daily readership up around 100 million people.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Eric,

I'd like to be your marketing rep for Winnable Solitaire.  I think I can work some miracles for you.

Father Guido Sarducci
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Good to hear :-)  Look forward to the article, as usual.

Scot
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hold another contest to see who can make the best cards for the deck.  The winner gets... uhh something...

Snoopy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I think winniable solitaire is a flop... Not sure what Eric is "testing", but whatever the reason... It already exists in Windows free of charge. Eric's version looks exactly the same.. So what is the added value? The fact that I can win every single game is a turn-off for me.  Part of the fun is to see if I can finish the game. Maybe some people have enough mental capacity and time to worry whether the game was actually finishable or not... Then again, maybe they need some professional help.

I like FreeCell better than solitaire anyway...

Not a solitaire guy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I'm sure Joel's readership is up to 100,000,000, but it's only about 50 people hitting the site 2 million times a day.

Did you solve each of the 16,000 games by hand? (just kidding).

Have you thought of giving away a free version of the game with a more limited feature set? Works for popcap games.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Natural wood went out of style with the advent of Viagra.

Dutch Boyd
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

>According to Eric, the hip thing is to NOT make jokes on his name. :)

I agree, but you have to admit that "Sink Sunk" one was a good one.

>But rest assured:  Promoting my app to the JoelOnSoftware readership is definitely not my strategy, at least not until Joel gets his daily readership up around 100 million people.

I would be curious as to what your strategy is. Aside from Google Ads (which you are still trying to get working), and JoS (where as I have mentioned before, we are all too clever for you ;-)), where else have you succesfully advertised.
Your blog doesn't count either, because I believe the reads of your blog fall into the same category of JoS readers. ie We all know you are up to something, and content to sit and watch for the result rather then invest real $$.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bear in mind, folks, that this "strategy" is not really all that grandiose.  I'm not really supposed to spoil the MSDN article before it hits, but please understand this:  It will not reveal any earth-shattering conclusions.  It is the beginning of what I hope is a long and ongoing experiment, not the results of one.

The experiment is really rather simple:  I wanted to gain some experience with this kind of software company.  I've never done it.  I have always worked with teams.  Some of the so-called "shareware" guys are really quite successful.  I just want to get a taste of what things are like in their world, and I'm willing to fail in order to learn.

Succeed or fail, I'm going to document my experiences.  I'll be posting my stories and the amount I spend on advertising and my sales figures and everything. 

I'm not doing this because I expect anybody to be impressed.  In fact, it is quite likely that my product will perform very poorly from a business perspective, although I'm hoping I can improve its results over time.

I am merely doing this because I find it interesting, and because I think others might find it interesting as well.

My strategy?  Good question.  I wasn't planning much advertising at all.  Google AdWords was suppposed to be my only ad.  I got several hundred clickthroughs, and then it trailed off and Google killed it.  I've gotta figure out how to get it back.

I'm on Tucows now as well.  I have no idea how well that will work.

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

> but you have to admit that "Sink Sunk"
> one was a good one.

Actually, yeah -- I wish I'd thought of it.

For the record, I don't believe I have ever
expressed any offense over the name jokes,
but that doesn't mean I want to encourage
more of them.  :-)

Eric Sink
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Granted that you don't want to give away the content of your article, is the quality of your game (or lack of) part of the strategy?

I mean to say, my first reaction is 'another game of solitire, woop-di-do', if I wanted solitaire their are plenty better packages. If you were really wanting to play in the shareware market, wouldn't you pick something that doesn't come free with windows?

But I guess I shall have to wait for your article...

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Whenever I try solitaire, I'm completely annoyed because it's not clear to me some hands are winnable. So it's not fun to make a strategy which can be tested quickly.

I considered buying it as a present for a couple people who like the game.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"For the record, I don't believe I have ever
expressed any offense over the name jokes..."

Now you tell me!  I spent the day fretting that you'd pull some strings at MS and have my Empower ISV cancelled.

Forecastle
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

> The experiment is really rather simple:  I wanted to gain
>  some experience with this kind of software company.

You mean the kind of company that clones what MS does for free?  Are you trying to get back at them for creating a product that will compete with SourceGear Vault?  Awwww... That's cute!

Even $7 is too much for something you can get for FREE with Windows even if you can win it every time. I guess your target audience is the kind of people who can't deal with losing?!

By the way, didn't you read your own article about picking the right competition? Your competitor is selling its version of the game for $0. Why didn't you pick something else?

Good luck bud!

A Super Duper Incredible Person
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wow this forum has picked up some real losers recently.

Matthew Lock
Thursday, August 26, 2004

I agree !!  It feels more like slashdot (which is not good for a true academic or scientific transfer and dicussion of ideas).

Diety of pastor of muppets
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Patience comes from sink sourcery.

- inscrutable proverb.

unscrewed
Thursday, August 26, 2004

There's probably some joke i could do about Sink plugging a new product, but I'm too mature for that kind of thing.

I must say I find the experiment far more interesting than the software, to be honest, so I won't be buying it. Sorry. I have my own theory as to what the eperiment is, or what it is trying to prove/disprove, Eric, and I don't think you are telling the entire truth.

By the way, why are we talking about this on JoS? Shouldn't we be able to do so on your own blog?


Thursday, August 26, 2004

"I have my own theory as to what the eperiment is, or what it is trying to prove/disprove, Eric, and I don't think you are telling the entire truth."

Yep, it's the Winnable Solitaire conspiracy.  In fact, I suspect that Eric (who is a billionaire) is colluding with Dr. Evil to take down Dexterity Software and eventually gain world domination.

007
Thursday, August 26, 2004

>I guess your target audience is the kind of people who can't deal with losing?!

Actually, I think his target market is the kind of people who prefer their wins and losses to be based only on the skill they have rather than on some combination of skill and luck. For example, I don't like games where only chance is used to determine victory. I do like games where skill is the only determinant. There are also some games I like where skill is the major determinant, but in which chance plays a role. Now if I actually liked solo games, I'd probably give Winnable Solitaire a shot.

I suspect, however, that the market you identify is substantially larger than the one I identify :)

Ron Porter
Thursday, August 26, 2004

OT: My mother has played every single game of FreeCell, from 1 to whatever, multiple times... She's got a list of all the games she's played, having played each one until she's beat it (apparently there are a couple that can't be beaten, but I've no idea if that's true).

To each there own I guess.

Jack of all
Friday, August 27, 2004


...their own... even

Jack of all
Friday, August 27, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home