State of the Bazaar #10: Restructuring For 2015 + Zazzle Sucks

We aren’t necessarily killing off BoJo’s Bazaar, but we are putting it in a state of limbo and returning to our original plan where our game studio was a completely separate entity from BoJo’s Bazaar. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but a recent Zazzle issue has pushed me to finally make the decision.

What is the issue with Zazzle? Well, apparently Warner Brothers claimed our Paper Gorilla products infringed upon their ownership of King Kong… because we had “king kong” in a search tag. Not the title, not the description, not the product itself, and not even one of their power tags (first ten or so matter the most, IIRC). Borderline tag-spam, maybe, but copyright infringement?

Never mind the absurdity of a tag being copyright infringement, if Zazzle had bothered to actually review the claim, they would know our actual product didn’t infringe on any copyrights and they could have given us a chance to remove the search tag… which would’ve taken no more than a few minutes at most. Instead, they have their lazy and anti-shopkeeper position of handing down an automatic guilty verdict, sending you an email with no actual details on the infringement (I had to email them), and then deleting the associated products and images.

Additionally, their blanket removal of associated images (the backs, in this case) also caused all of our Paper Animal pillows to be deleted. And what was their email response? A copy/paste/automated statement describing something 100% irrelevant to my email. The least they could have done is apologize for their error and the trouble it would cause us should we even bother to recreate the products.

And just to add more salt to the wound, out the fewer than a dozen or so DVD’s/BD’s I own, King Kong is one them…

Anyway, on to an explanation of our restructuring.

Untitled Game Studio/Website: This will become our main website with game development as our focus. It’ll be a new website that will scale to a wide range of devices and resolutions… unlike our current website. My plan is to find a good balance that works well on desktops and phones/tablets (I find many websites to be too tablet oriented nowadays). We’ll likely have free wallpapers for our games and at some point we’ll have merchandise (See “Untitled Merchandise Shop” further below). The website will be developed immediately after our first game is finished.

BoJo’s Bazaar: This will be left in limbo for the foreseeable future, but modified a bit to reflect our separation of the game studio and how BoJo’s Bazaar is in a state of limbo. It will probably only be revived if and when we have the resources to dedicate ourselves and an actual team to turn the fictional world of BoJo’s Bazaar into the franchise we had originally planned. Games, Comics, Character Bio’s, World Info, Merchandise (at some point, see “Untitled Merchandise Shop” below), etc.

Untitled Merchandise Shop: If we start this shop it’ll mean the complete removal of our Zazzle store and products from their marketplace. It’ll also mean our Untitled Game Studio has become successful enough that we can effectively start this secondary business, which will handle all non-game, game, and possible BoJo’s Bazaar merchandise. This will be achieved either by hiring someone to manage it all or finding a higher quality print-on-demand-alternative business where we are considered an actual client, not some secondary citizen shopkeeper they couldn’t care less about. Merchandise will be far more limited than Zazzle, and probably consist of shirts, prints/posters, and possibly a few other things like stickers, mouse-pads, bookmarks, or figurines. This will only be done if we believe it’ll have a positive impact, promotional or financial, on our game studio.

-Kronus GT

State of the Bazaar #9: New Home, New Beginning?

Time for another State of the Bazaar, or as I like to call it, my blogging practice that no one reads (according to our analytics) and is done mostly to sharpen my writing, refocus our plans, and reboot myself after a long period of not being able to work on making a game or improving the website…

The Big News:

The big news, and reason for this State of the Bazaar address, is that we’ve moved. Why is this big? It’s a large step forward for us for two main reasons:

1. The rent is MUCH lower (we’re renting from our older brother), which means we can dedicate more time to working on our game instead of working to pay the bills.

2. We’ll be happier, and happiness equals improved productivity. Although smaller than our apartment was, it is much nicer and has a backyard and a single car garage (no basement, though 🙁 ). I could make a huge list of complaints about the apartment, but I’ll spare the details.

Video Game Status:

The move is a big improvement which should help us out tremendously in the long run. As far the short term is concerned… due to work and a very difficult and drawn out move we haven’t been able to work on the game since June. Our original schedule, from before we knew we were going to move, is now trashed.

No programming is done, but we do have a game design, the main character sprite and animations are pretty much done, and some of the other sprites have been worked on. We still have some stuff that we have to get squared away, but I expect things to gradually improve until we are running on all cylinders.

Shop Status:

We ended up not finishing our work on the shop. We had older designs that we wanted to expand onto the newer products, but it’s unlikely we’ll get to that anytime soon, if ever. Unfortunately, while we like our designs and they were good practice, they’re financially a massive waste of time. Thousands of hours of work, and ~$100 a year, isn’t why we created our shop. We were hoping for $200+ per month to support us while we develop games.

Our stuff doesn’t sell and there is little we can do about it. My marketing has failed and we aren’t willing to lower our standards to inflate our marketplace presence. If they ever do sell, it’ll simply be luck or a byproduct of our games doing well. I’ve been telling myself this for years, but this time I’m following through with it. No more Zazzle/Shop work, except for merchandise from games we release, unless sales magically go through the roof and it becomes worthwhile.

And last, here’s a bit of old news that I forgot to post back in April…

Website Tweaks:

  • Added a new product type: Oval Acrylic Ornaments.
  • Added “Shop for products featuring this design.” link to bottom of wallpaper pages that feature a related shop design.
  • Cleaned up website to reflect changes made to our video game plans.
  • Added product type descriptions for every recent product type and product type category addition.
  • Fixed a double encode bug with the description metadata in our shop.
  • Fixed a encoding bug with the title metadata in our shop.
  • Removed modified product image background color because only a few products still worked with it.
  • Removed useless “zbar=1” parameter on urls because Zazzle stopped using it.

Well, that’s it for now. The next bit of news will probably be after we’ve made significant progress on our game and are ready to release details and pictures.

-Kronus GT

Expanded Design Group: Kawaii Kitty (15x)

We’ve added fifteen new designs to our Kawaii Kitties section within our shop.

Kawaii Kitty (Dracula) Kawaii Kitty (Frankenstein's Monster) Kawaii Kitty (Witch)
Kawaii Kitty (Dracula) Kawaii Kitty (Frankenstein’s Monster) Kawaii Kitty (Witch)
Kawaii Kitty (Mummy) Kawaii Kitty (Tiger) Kawaii Kitty (Medusa)
Kawaii Kitty (Mummy) Kawaii Kitty (Tiger) Kawaii Kitty (Medusa)
Kawaii Kitty (Werewolf) Kawaii Kitty (Phantom of the Opera) Kawaii Kitty (Shinobi)
Kawaii Kitty (Werewolf) Kawaii Kitty (Phantom of the Opera) Kawaii Kitty (Shinobi)
Kawaii Kitty (Kunoichi) Kawaii Kitty (Pirate) Kawaii Kitty (Imp)
Kawaii Kitty (Kunoichi) Kawaii Kitty (Pirate) Kawaii Kitty (Imp)
Kawaii Kitty (Zombie) Kawaii Kitty (Angel Princess) Kawaii Kitty (Fairy Princess)
Kawaii Kitty (Zombie) Kawaii Kitty (Angel Princess) Kawaii Kitty (Fairy Princess)

If you’re searching for incredibly adorable cat designs, then look no further than our “Kawaii Kitty” products. Inspired by the over-the-top cuteness of many Japanese anime/manga pets and animals, this kitten design is sure to garner attention. Choose from more than a dozen Kawaii Kitty variations. As always, proceeds are used to support our game development efforts and fully realize our vision of BoJo’s Bazaar: Independent Video Game & Art Studio.

Hope you like them 🙂 .

-Kronus GT

State of the Bazaar #8: A Change of Plans

Well, the big job with my dad is over… but I now have one, possibly two, small jobs left with him. These weren’t planned, but he’s trying to get me a bit more work because the job didn’t turn out as intended. I ended up with ~2/3rds of the hours that I had expected due to us finishing ahead of schedule. Because of this, and a few of my bills getting raised, I came up short and failed to get enough money to last long enough to complete Nightmare on Chicken Street.

To make things worse, the small Bitcoin investment I made in the hopes of funding the music and sound effects is currently in the red. I’m still optimistic that Bitcoin will pull through, but I’m not confident it’ll have grown enough by the time we actually would’ve needed it to fund the quality and quantity of music we wanted for Nightmare on Chicken Street. Also, our Shop is still failing miserably to help support our development.

After some serious thought, I’ve decided that it would be in our best interest to postpone further development of Nightmare on Chicken Street for a year or more. Simply put, the game requires far more work (and money) than the two of us can currently put into it and we can’t continue with the demoralizing chaos, burnout, and stress from developing it under these conditions. It was designed with the assumption that our Kickstarter campaign would succeed, and it’s become clear to me that trying to push through it after failing wasn’t an achievable option.

So, where does that leave us?

First, we’re going to put a couple weeks into our shop and website. We’ll expand our product range further in the hope of selling more, add a few more designs, maybe do a little promotion, try to get some more wallpapers up, and generally try to clean and polish things up a bit in preparation for our new course of action.

Second, we’re going to take advantage of an option opened up to us when we switched game engines and try our hand at creating small mobile games. While we’d rather make bigger games, we’re just two people with extremely limited resources and it’s where we should have started to begin with. If things go smoothly, our goal is to release small games until we’re successful enough to return to and complete the development of Nightmare on Chicken Street. At best, it’ll be 2-3 games with a development time of 3-5 months per game before returning to Nightmare on Chicken Street.

This isn’t going to be easy. We may run into some complications when it comes to getting them on the multitude of platforms, especially with testing (we have none of the devices), but it shouldn’t be too bad. They could also drown in an overpopulated market like our Zazzle products… or we may get lucky and have a runaway success that puts us on the map. Even if they don’t do well enough to fully support continued development, they should at least give us a good sense of accomplishment/progress and a portfolio to help us get some contract work to earn continued development funds.

-Kronus GT

New Design Group: Kawaii Kitty (7x)

We’ve added a group of seven new designs to the Animals section within our shop.

Fifteen more Kawaii Kitties will posted once they’re all finished being added. The first seven are simply basic cat colors with yarn balls. The next fifteen have a variety of themes and I felt they deserved their own post.

Kawaii Kitty (Calico) Kawaii Kitty (Gray Striped)
Kawaii Kitty (Calico) Kawaii Kitty (Gray Striped)
Kawaii Kitty (Brown Striped) Kawaii Kitty (Orange Striped) Kawaii Kitty (Siamese)
Kawaii Kitty (Brown Striped) Kawaii Kitty (Orange Striped) Kawaii Kitty (Siamese)
Kawaii Kitty (Black) Kawaii Kitty (White)
Kawaii Kitty (Black) Kawaii Kitty (White)

If you’re searching for incredibly adorable cat designs, then look no further than our “Kawaii Kitty” products. Inspired by the over-the-top cuteness of many Japanese anime/manga pets and animals, this kitten design is sure to garner attention. Choose from more than a dozen Kawaii Kitty variations. As always, proceeds are used to support our game development efforts and fully realize our vision of BoJo’s Bazaar: Independent Video Game & Art Studio.

Hope you like them 🙂 .

-Kronus GT

Affiliate Page Added + Minor Website Tweaks

In our ongoing efforts to get our website and products more traffic/views/sales, we’ve added an affiliate page to our website. You can follow the link for instructions and information on how to become an affiliate. An affiliate will earn 15% from all shop sales made by people who originally visited our site from their link. All sales continue to be affiliate sales until the user happens to clear their cookies or clicks on another affiliates link.

Website Tweaks:

  • Various typos have been fixed.
  • Footer copyright date was 2013, is now set to be auto-updated from now on.
  • Affiliate page added to sitemap.
  • Added a “Did You Know?” for our affiliate program.
  • A few products had the wrong default view or product option.
  • A few tweaks to the browsers listed in our Links page.
  • Made a few changes to our About page.

Bobby has officially begun putting up our new group of 22 designs. This should take two weeks at the most.

-Kronus GT

Tweaked Menu and 14 New Product Types

We’ve added 14 new product types to our shop: Desk Organizers, Gel Mousepads, Clipboards, Ceramic Poker Chips, Cork Coasters, Lunch Boxes, Tables Lamps, Cutting Boards, Scarves, Drawstring Backpacks, Compact Mirrors, Flasks, Pewter Snowflake Ornaments, and Tooth Brush Holder/Soap Dispenser Sets.

Our menu has been tweaked to help support and organize these new products without our menu becoming too large. New categories include Accessories, Bags & Backpacks, Mousepads, Office Products, Home Decor, and Toys & Games.

These new product types have been added because we have a brand new set of 22 designs completed and Zazzle had added quite a few new products since our shop refresh last year. These new designs, plus all existing designs being added to the new product types, should be finished sometime in May.

I’ve also spent some time, when not busy working, redoing all of the tags and some of the descriptions for our products. Hopefully it pays off and we can get more people seeing our products on the Zazzle markplace. According to Zazzles records, our views are absurdly poor, so hopefully the revised tags/descriptions helps our products get the exposure they deserve and increases our sales accordingly.

-Kronus GT