Elemental Focus

February 8, 2012

Diamond Digger: Mini Review Round-up and Post Mortem
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 4:15 pm

To start off, Diamond Digger has not been quite as succesful in the review stakes. I’ve always been of the opinion that its a tighter game than The Cannon, but isn’t quite so flat out fun and doesn’t have quite the same level of work put into it. The majority of my testers also seemed to thoroughly enjoy the game (I had to drag a couple of people off it), although its worth noting that they were all friends of mine, which is the second-to-worst group of testers you can have. I’ve also had good comments from peer reviewers and other people who’ve had the chance to play it. However, some reviewers so far have taken a different tone towards it and I’ve got some thoughts towards this.

What I’m going to do here is post the reviews I’ve got so far and add a couple of notes of my own, acting as something of a post mortem.

IndieGamerChick: “Maybe this game will be the opposite, where I thought it was a sleeping pill but others will think swear it’s a masterpiece that opened their eyes to the genre. I wouldn’t bet on it though.”
I think Kairi went particularly soft on the game given that she didn’t seem to enjoy it, but she does have a point that games like this are more fun to some people than others. Something like this certainly isn’t going to be universally loved.

XboxHornet: [4/10] “I feel there is some good game in here, the unique gameplay should be lauded but the neglect of some of the most integral parts of the genre let it down”
I think its bad form that the writer started with a bug report and tried to call me out for not doing any testing. Diamond Digger received well over 50 hours of testing between 25 people aside from myself. This is significantly more than The Cannon got and probably much more than the majority of XBLIGs. This bug never appeared in the final build of the game, but despite this I can understand how it looks when something like this happens twice to the same guy.
Anyway, aside from that, this is probably the review I can take the most away from. The reviewer mentions difficulty spikes, which is entirely down to the nature of the type of puzzle. The puzzles are all ordered in average completion time from my testers. However, the game is probably too bottom heavy, with far too few easy puzzles to ease people into the game. In addition, the tutorial should really have been incorporated into the first set of puzzles instead of being entirely separate and forced upon you at the start.

OtakuDante: “A Truly Challenging & Entertaining Puzzle Game”

Neogaf – Feb Ed: [Bronze Award]: “Diamond Digger is one of those games that is fun to play and can become very addictive.”

Armless Octopus: “This is a pretty standard puzzle game. You have to arrange the board in order to drop the diamond. The puzzles are well designed, but it gets a little old.”

Recensopoli: [3/5] “Really cute puzzle game”

I’ve got two main final thoughts:
I don’t think Diamond Digger is well suited to the market of XBLIG. The types of people who buy XBLIGs are less interested in this sort of game (even if it does involve a lot of blocks) and its not the kind of game you sit down in front of a tv with a controller in your hand to play. From almost the very start, the intention has been to publish this on smartphones, which I think has a much better audience for this type of game and a much better mindset when playing them. My only problem with that at the moment is that I lack the facilities to do so. XBLIG is really on the down right now, which brings me onto the other thought.

Diamond Digger has sold only 50 copies to date and has basically stopped going up now. This is less than a fifth of where The Cannon got to in a similar period. In fact the most shocking thing about this is that Diamond Digger has got here with a conversion more than double that of The Cannon. So, discounting differences in gametype (although The Cannon hardly set the trial number alight) between the two games, trial numbers are a tenth of what they were less than a year ago, which is very telling to how much XBLIG is on the down.
This is less than twice the revenue I’ve got from the game on IndieCity, a system still in beta with absolutely no other coverage from outside sources at the moment. It’s also less than a quarter of what I would be earning on minimum wage for the time spent just peer reviewing other games to get it through peer review.

I still have some decisions to make on the matter, but there’s a chance that Skies of Fire will be PC only.

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