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wrldwzrd89
Feb 25, 2009, 03:31 PM
I have an idea for a program I'd like to write. Regardless of whether or not I make it open-source or paid, or what kind of program it is... (if need be I will share details about the program, in case knowing this would help determine the market better), do Mac-only programs ever get popular? I know very little about the Macintosh user base, and the user base of Windows and Linux. I need to make a decision now about how cross-platform to be (because this influences the programming language I end up using).



plumbingandtech
Feb 25, 2009, 03:52 PM
You prob. need to do MUCH marketing research before you even begin to type one line of code IMO.

Coding without an idea of your market makes no sense unless you are building something for yourself and only then if it is free.

xyzeugene
Feb 26, 2009, 08:31 AM
Prepare to be broke if you don't market this properly. That being said here is what I am doing to market my little progies (I have sold legal software on the open market):

1(Probably one of the most important things you can do). Socialize with your target audience - they can provide a test base with real data and tips to market to more of your target audience. For example I know that >98% of Fortune 500 companies use windows as a platform for business software. Probably one of the most important things you can do.

2. Follow money. Goes to point 1. Marketing to nerds(category which I fit) who adamantly believe in Open Source can present problems. Thus thats why it better to target large companies with big pocket books which can be very effective.

3. Know your market conditions Goes to point 2. - if there alot of competitors who budgets approaching 6 figures and quick development cycle times - I don't think you can compete. Macs represent less than 10% of the consumer market with little presence in business.

4. If you go for volume - price it correctly - there are a gazillion share/freeware products out there which nobody cares about.

5. Find unique markets with no competitors - I guess thats why you are in Mac world. But if you refer to point 1 and say you have a user base - it can only help

6. Realize marketing is mix of variables between all of the above.

7. Know risk - risk seems bad but can be opportunity. For example software for lawyers can be very risky(they can sue), but those guys have crazy money.

8. Have a pessimistic attitude about marketing-let me explain if you plan for the worse and get the worse, it was expected. But on the upside if you plan for the worse and get something better, it beats expectations and puts happy faces on you.

----

To the original question with comments on technicality:

1. Budget time and money. Time is an asset don't waste it or you will not finish your software - have a definite time line with a clear beginning and end. Buy stuff to help you it it is cost effective.
2. Most of the stuff you can reuse depending on the language ie cocoa is somewhat is similar to .net (except for gui frameworks of course)

Of course these lists isn't comprehensive and please feel free to add to it.


You prob. need to do MUCH marketing research before you even begin to type one line of code IMO.

Coding without an idea of your market makes no sense unless you are building something for yourself and only then if it is free.

wrldwzrd89
Feb 26, 2009, 11:32 AM
Thank you! This helps a LOT.

GorillaPaws
Feb 26, 2009, 11:52 AM
One thing to add to this is that well-written apps built from the ground-up to take advantage of OSX technologies tend to get noticed and promoted in the Apple community which may have the potential to offset the smaller user base. Look at the exposure Squirrel (http://www.squirrelapp.com/) got when it won an Apple design award. If that app had been written for Windows, I venture to guess it wouldn't have done nearly as well.

Mac users are typically willing to spend a little more money for quality, as opposed to simply getting the cheapest thing available, so keep that in mind as well. That's not to say that you can charge 10% more for a port of a windows app. IMO, Mac users are more likely to pay more for an app that's well written and "feels" like it's been designed for them then for something that "feels" like a windows port.

If you design your app around the lowest common denominator in terms of being highly portable to multiple operating systems, you may loose out on the benefits of an enthusiastic OSX community. Returning to the Squirrel example, had that been designed for OSX, Linux, and XP/Vista many of the features that make it so appealing to Mac users would likely be gone (such as smart folders and spotlight-like searching). Instead you'd simply have a blah personal finance app that doesn't really compete well with giants like Quicken and Quickbooks.

Obviously this is a fairly specific example, and there are a lot of variables to think about when making these types of decisions; xyzeugene did a great job pointing many of them out. I just wanted to point out that it certainly seems possible that designing an app around a polished "Mac-centric" experience can make good business sense in some situations.

The more details you're willing to share with us, the more helpful the advice will likely be. You might want to give us an example of an app in the same ballpark as what you want to do that's already in existence, and you may get some helpful feedback based on that.

cis4life
Feb 26, 2009, 12:56 PM
We are in the same catagory you are in. We are building a mobile solution that we hope catches on, but we didn't want to only target the mac and iphone communities. This is why we are building "RIA's" for the web application portion of the service, and will convert this to an adobe air application so that windows and mac OS's can utilize ONE program we write. For the mobile portion of the app, we are developing an iphone app as well as a PPC mobile app. and if you don't use one of those platforms, but have an internet enabled device, we are building a web 2.0 mobile app site. This will target about most of the smart phone / internet mobile devices out there in some fashion.

Cedric

wrldwzrd89
Feb 26, 2009, 01:58 PM
One thing to add to this is that well-written apps built from the ground-up to take advantage of OSX technologies tend to get noticed and promoted in the Apple community which may have the potential to offset the smaller user base. Look at the exposure Squirrel (http://www.squirrelapp.com/) got when it won an Apple design award. If that app had been written for Windows, I venture to guess it wouldn't have done nearly as well.

Mac users are typically willing to spend a little more money for quality, as opposed to simply getting the cheapest thing available, so keep that in mind as well. That's not to say that you can charge 10% more for a port of a windows app. IMO, Mac users are more likely to pay more for an app that's well written and "feels" like it's been designed for them then for something that "feels" like a windows port.

If you design your app around the lowest common denominator in terms of being highly portable to multiple operating systems, you may loose out on the benefits of an enthusiastic OSX community. Returning to the Squirrel example, had that been designed for OSX, Linux, and XP/Vista many of the features that make it so appealing to Mac users would likely be gone (such as smart folders and spotlight-like searching). Instead you'd simply have a blah personal finance app that doesn't really compete well with giants like Quicken and Quickbooks.

Obviously this is a fairly specific example, and there are a lot of variables to think about when making these types of decisions; xyzeugene did a great job pointing many of them out. I just wanted to point out that it certainly seems possible that designing an app around a polished "Mac-centric" experience can make good business sense in some situations.

The more details you're willing to share with us, the more helpful the advice will likely be. You might want to give us an example of an app in the same ballpark as what you want to do that's already in existence, and you may get some helpful feedback based on that.
Okay. My idea is to make an RPG, in the same vein as Realmz (http://www.fantasoft.com/realmzdivinity.html) (an old app that, sadly, never made it to Mac OS X land, let alone PPC-native land), the Exile series (http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/productsOld.html), and other "old-school" 2D top-down RPGs like those. It would let you create your own worlds, much like how Divinity and Blades of Exile Scenario Editor did. I might also create an iPhone/iPod touch version, but that's in the distant future - I don't really have the resources yet to try making one now.

As far as native-ness is concerned, it's not terribly important that the main game looks native, as it would run full-screen and use its own custom GUI. The editor, on the other hand, does need to integrate well with whatever OS it is running on.

A small list of planned features:

5-way character creation system (race, job, personality, faith, and gender)
Item system involving materials and blessings/curses to determine overall power
Arena-based battles, involving both your party and the enemies on a giant "battle grid"
Team-based battles - more than 2 sides possible

HiRez
Feb 26, 2009, 06:25 PM
Coding without an idea of your market makes no sense unless you are building something for yourself and only then if it is free.Can I ask when you would code something for yourself that is NOT free? ;)

plumbingandtech
Feb 26, 2009, 06:56 PM
Let's say I needed something to keep track of my garden.

I would code it for myself, but if I thought I was eventually going to charge money to other people to use it, then I would keep the market in mind much more then if I had no intention of selling it at all...
;)

OP: Your game sounds interesting, it does sound like a lot of work. I would seriously spend some time in indie game forums, and get as much info as you can to get an idea of the issues and problems other devs had bringing their product to market.

GorillaPaws
Feb 26, 2009, 07:02 PM
Okay. My idea is to make an RPG, in the same vein as Realmz (http://www.fantasoft.com/realmzdivinity.html) (an old app that, sadly, never made it to Mac OS X land, let alone PPC-native land), the Exile series (http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/productsOld.html), and other "old-school" 2D top-down RPGs like those. It would let you create your own worlds, much like how Divinity and Blades of Exile Scenario Editor did. I might also create an iPhone/iPod touch version, but that's in the distant future - I don't really have the resources yet to try making one now.

As far as native-ness is concerned, it's not terribly important that the main game looks native, as it would run full-screen and use its own custom GUI. The editor, on the other hand, does need to integrate well with whatever OS it is running on.

A small list of planned features:

5-way character creation system (race, job, personality, faith, and gender)
Item system involving materials and blessings/curses to determine overall power
Arena-based battles, involving both your party and the enemies on a giant "battle grid"
Team-based battles - more than 2 sides possible


I'm certainly no expert, so please take my comments with a grain of salt. My initial gut reaction to this idea is that there's very limited demand for what you're describing (especially finding people willing to pay for it). I think you almost certainly have to design your app around portability in order to maximize your exposure and even then you're probably going to have many marketing challenges (such as competing with all of existing games out there).

I personally loved those top-down rpg's but really don't have the time to invest in playing one these days (let alone spending money on it). I think if you managed to figure out some really innovative and exciting new twists to the genre you might stand a better chance. The biggest problem you're going to face is that most of the people who like that style of rgp are at least in their mid-twenties, since the younger generations grew up with and expect a 3D environment from their games--the nostalgia isn't really there and thus much of the appeal.

I'm not sure where the upper bounds are on your target audience but my gut instinct is probably somewhere in the 40's. So if you take the pool of almost exclusively men between say 25 and 45 who are still in to rpg, have the time and cash (especially in this economy) to invest in something that's probably going to look somewhat dated, you've got a pretty small bull's eye you're trying to hit. I hope my instincts are wrong on this, because those games are so cool. Best of luck!

ChrisA
Feb 26, 2009, 08:09 PM
I have an idea for a program I'd like to write. Regardless of whether or not I make it open-source or paid, or what kind of program it is... (if need be I will share details about the program, in case knowing this would help determine the market better), do Mac-only programs ever get popular? I know very little about the Macintosh user base, and the user base of Windows and Linux. I need to make a decision now about how cross-platform to be (because this influences the programming language I end up using).

The thing about Window's huge user base is the similarly huge developer base. Your competition there is much more then on the Mac or Linux.

Do Mac only programs get popular? Yes for example look at everthing that Apple sells: Logic, Aperture, FCP,.... All of that is very popular

EDIT:
Just read the you want to make a game. Those are hit or miss but 90% miss on any platform. So, you have so little hope of ever making money that you may as well write for the platfor you likethe most AND makein Open Source. If you are doing this for fun (don't kid yourself, you can't expect to make money) then you should let others contribute and see where this idea goes. Open Source allows that.

Next which platform. Write for Linux. All Windows and most Mac users will never contribute to opensource or ven know what "source" is. A game on Linux is such a novelty that you may get noticed. But not until you have a workig program that people can use. Don't expect code contributions until you have a user base.

GorillaPaws
Feb 26, 2009, 09:04 PM
Regardless of whether or not I make it open-source or paid...

I somehow missed this (I was thinking you wanted to make money the whole time from the title). Open source is for sure the way to do what you have in mind.

One possibility is to branch off an existing open source project and take it in the creative direction you want to go. Are you familiar with The Battle for Wesnoth (http://www.wesnoth.org/)? I'm thinking there may be a fair bit you can salvage from that code for doing the things you want to do.

wrldwzrd89
Feb 27, 2009, 05:45 PM
Alright then - I really like the idea of making it open-source. That is what I shall do!

103734
Feb 27, 2009, 06:49 PM
do you have any coding experience or are you trying to learn more while also writing the program? or are you planning on having someone else do the coding?

wrldwzrd89
Feb 27, 2009, 06:53 PM
do you have any coding experience or are you trying to learn more while also writing the program? or are you planning on having someone else do the coding?
I have decided on the Python language, which I would like to learn anyway. I'm going to be the primary developer and coder.

Cromulent
Feb 28, 2009, 09:31 AM
If you are making a game you could use something like http://unity3d.com/ which allows you to package it for Windows, Mac OS X and web based play all from the one Mac OS X development environment. I think a 30 day trial is available.

plumbingandtech
Feb 28, 2009, 12:11 PM
I have decided on the Python language, which I would like to learn anyway. I'm going to be the primary developer and coder.

Whoa. Python? for a graphically rich cross platform game?

If you are doing it to learn that's fine, you won't be able to sell it though.

Cromulent
Feb 28, 2009, 01:19 PM
Whoa. Python? for a graphically rich cross platform game?

If you are doing it to learn that's fine, you won't be able to sell it though.

Python is pretty fast, certainly fast enough for a 2D RPG as was described in this thread.

plumbingandtech
Feb 28, 2009, 01:33 PM
Python is pretty fast, certainly fast enough for a 2D RPG as was described in this thread.

It's the deployment and "bundling it all into one double click" app, that worries me, and the python stuff won't be as fast as native code, but if his animations are more "jump" from one square to another that might not be bad.

also, the UI will look like bleh. Unless their toolkits for OSX have been improved greatly.

Cromulent
Feb 28, 2009, 02:19 PM
It's the deployment and "bundling it all into one double click" app, that worries me, and the python stuff won't be as fast as native code, but if his animations are more "jump" from one square to another that might not be bad.

also, the UI will look like bleh. Unless their toolkits for OSX have been improved greatly.

Games always have custom UI's anyway so that is not an issue. There are a few tools available for Python that create app bundles.

Python is fast enough to use OpenGL through anyway. Just look at PyGame and some of the games that have been released using it.

lee1210
Feb 28, 2009, 02:23 PM
The only red flag i'd raise is that i don't think (i don't have hard evidence on this) that python is supported in the iPhone, and probably not on many other mobile devices right now. If that doesn't matter, that's fine, just pointing it out.

-Lee

wrldwzrd89
Feb 28, 2009, 02:27 PM
The only red flag i'd raise is that i don't think (i don't have hard evidence on this) that python is supported in the iPhone, and probably not on many other mobile devices right now. If that doesn't matter, that's fine, just pointing it out.

-Lee
Why that's a red flag, I don't know, as the iPhone/iPod touch version won't be written in Python anyway. I was only planning Python (with PyGame) for the desktop version... assuming I even get a chance to make a mobile version.

plumbingandtech
Mar 1, 2009, 09:52 AM
Ok. I will defer to you guys on the Python stuff.

The pygame stuff looks like the type I mentioned. (click -> jump to next square (although i am sure it can do more)) which should be helpful for his type of game. I do have to say that every example I looked at on pygame looks like a commodore 64 game.

I still would not buy or play a python game though. I just dont like the feel of python apps, always feel half baked to me. If all one wants to do is learn to code their first game though, I am sure the concepts learned will be very applicable to their next game they right perhaps in a stronger language.

Why not check Unity or something else out as well...?

lee1210
Mar 1, 2009, 11:06 AM
Why that's a red flag, I don't know, as the iPhone/iPod touch version won't be written in Python anyway. I was only planning Python (with PyGame) for the desktop version... assuming I even get a chance to make a mobile version.

My only response would be:

I might also create an iPhone/iPod touch version, but that's in the distant future - I don't really have the resources yet to try making one now.

If you want to do it eventually, why plan to completely rewrite the whole thing for a mobile version? Especially if you are working with limited resources. If it's something you're definitely never going to do, it's obviously not a concern. My intent was not to say that Python was a bad choice, but that there might be arguments against it.

-Lee

wrldwzrd89
Mar 1, 2009, 11:15 AM
My only response would be:



If you want to do it eventually, why plan to completely rewrite the whole thing for a mobile version? Especially if you are working with limited resources. If it's something you're definitely never going to do, it's obviously not a concern. My intent was not to say that Python was a bad choice, but that there might be arguments against it.

-Lee
Well... therein lies the problem. The only other language I'm even close to knowing well enough to write a game in is Java... and that's even worse than Python, as most of you know.

Les Kern
Mar 1, 2009, 11:45 AM
If you are making a game you could use something like http://unity3d.com/ which allows you to package it for Windows, Mac OS X and web based play all from the one Mac OS X development environment. I think a 30 day trial is available.

Hey, thanks for that link. At my district we use Alice for game design classes... it's free but I don't mind spending dough on something THIS good looking. How popular do you think it would be for the students to make iPod and iPhone apps? Holy cow, I'll be a hero!

lazydog
Mar 1, 2009, 01:34 PM
Hi,

If you're writing a game you might be interested in the scripting language Lua. It's very easy to embed Lua into an app written in C, Objective-C or C++ and is therefore ideal for a standalone cross platform game. Lua is popular with game developers so if you want to make it easy and appealing for people to contribute then Lua might be a good choice.

b e n

BravoBug
Mar 1, 2009, 09:43 PM
(I have sold legal software on the open market):

...? As opposed to what? Illegal software on the black market? ;)

For the OP: I'm sure everyone's chimed in with some fantastic advice, but I saw you mention RPG. If you haven't already, make sure you take a gander at some of the stuff Jeff Vogel has written about his experiences writing RPG shareware adventures for the Mac and PC, he shares some very good insights: http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/otherpg.html#otherstuff

Cromulent
Mar 2, 2009, 08:00 AM
Hey, thanks for that link. At my district we use Alice for game design classes... it's free but I don't mind spending dough on something THIS good looking. How popular do you think it would be for the students to make iPod and iPhone apps? Holy cow, I'll be a hero!

Sounds like the kind of class I would have loved to have been in when I was a kid. Good luck with it.