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A bad start to the new year.

January 03, 2018 game dev
One last look at Finding Fifi (and computer crashes).

System Service Exception on Windows 10

Grrr !!!
I had almost finished typing this post ... and then my computer crashed : "System Service Exception on Windows 10". Three times in a row. Somehow, all my text is gone.

My Windows 10 pc (was brand new when Windows 10 was pushed out) is not nearly as stable as my cheaper pc that's still running Windows 7. I wonder how difficult it is to develop games on a Linux machine ...

Anyway. Here I go again.

In this post, I wanted to have a last look at 'Finding Fifi', it being a holiday-themed game and all.


So, let's start with Newgrounds (browser games).

In the 3 weeks since the game was posted, it has received 5115 views, an average of 2.91/5 stars, 4 positive reviews, and 3 very negative reviews.

Not great. And yes, I feel a bit disappointed : a lot of hard work, and not very much of a return ...

The people that didn't like it basically had 2 'problems' :

  • The hotspots are too small.
  • The game is too difficult.
I do agree that, as a game developer, you have to be careful not to turn a point&click game into a pixel-hunt exercise.
I think I did ok ... The rooms are not too cluttered, and it seems kind of obvious what objects could potentially be interacted with (one exception : the library). I also made the mouse cursor change into a 'hand' pointer when you move it over an object that you can interact with ...
But yes, maybe it wasn't obvious 'enough' ...

The second complaint could be expected, I guess. I did not want to make a short, casual point&click game (which most players seem to prefer).


I also created a downloadable version of the game (for pc only), and posted it on itch.io.

These are the results : 152 views, 39 downloads.
Waaw. Awful ! :-)

So this little experiment has taught me that discoverability on itch.io is baaaaaaaaddddd.


And finally, I also searched the web for references to 'Finding Fifi' (you never know :-)).

To my surprise, the game popped up on all kinds of different game aggregate sites (even Portuguese and Russian sites) ! Not a whole lot of people played the game on these sites, but the scores were between 3.5/5 and 5/5.

Some of the sites even posted a story as intro to the game. That was so amazing to read !
These are two of the best ones (even though Fifi is actually a tiny dog hiding from the cats :-)) ...

  • "You started with two cats that you found on the streets one winter afternoon. At first you were just looking at them. Then you couldn't keep your eyes off of them. So you went over to pet them. They were so friendly to you that you couldn't bear to leave them in the cold. You went to the vet to check their health conditions. They were healthy and they have no owners. Knowing this, you just couldn't let go of them. Then it seemed like month after month, you were welcoming additions to your family of cats. Each of them had their own names and their own unique personality. It was a bit hard keeping up with their differences. But after you made your house fit for cats, you had less problem. Everyday you checked the presence of your cats. Then one day, you missed one. Fifi, one of the first cats to enter your home was nowhere to be found. You called her name so many times. However, you found it hard to hear her response because of the meows of other cats. And the sure thing you could do was to look for her yourself."
  • "Private detectives have to not only chase criminals, but also to search for missing things, or as in our Finding Fifi story, to look for a pet. In your agency asked a client with an unusual request - to find her favorite kitty Fifi. Unusual request was that the cat did not leave the house and find it necessary, carefully examined all the rooms. Start with the hallway, it turns out the proprietress of housing is very fond of the cat family. She's full of souvenirs with animal figures, interior trinkets. It will not be easy for the detective to find the missing, but you will help him and quickly solve the puzzle."

One thing that was really hilarious, was that some of the aggregator sites had scripts that detect ad-blockers. So, often I was not allowed to look at my own game that they had illegally posted on their website ! :-)

Anyway. What I learned from my web search, is that html5 games are basically 'throw away' things. Yes, you can obfuscate the JS, and add some code that checks the url the game is served from, but ... I think it is a very hard thing to do correctly. :-(