Hi, first and foremost I'm glad that you like what we have done already
I have a habit of replying in detail and being analytical when I do so, so if the following is too much, please forgive me: I do not want to be like SGN.
1) Forum link on 'My Pets'. I am thinking of a more comprehensive feature for new users which introduces them to all parts of the app as well as the forum. This will take time. Think of the 'quests' in fluff: inadequate prizes and therefore no real reason to do them. I would rather provide real prizes (say size 7 pets, simple backgrounds, etc.) which would enable the new user to get started in the game with a larger inventory, and preferably asking the user to do things with a little bit of a challenge in them to make getting the rewards fun. One of these would be to register with the forum.
I think if we do things that way, we will train up new users in how to use the game and retain more of them than fluff did (only 10% of adopters went on to play fluff regularly). So as usual I'm looking at wider objectives and taking longer. In the meanwhile there are now two references to the Forum in the 'welcome' page and I'll find more ways to refer to it elsewhere, now that we finally have a forum which we can maintain.
2) The editor was designed with a search feature in mind, hence the two 'trays'. Making it possible to find things in a variety of ways is definitely on our agenda, as this was in the original design document for the editor, dated April 2011. Yes, we were so sure that fluff was dying that we prepared for a better alternative before it had even died. Only now that we have gone 'inventory only' does this begin to matter.
3) Rather than link up the comments as they stand, we intend to replace the Facebook comment feature with one of our own. If at that time we think there is a good reason for connecting comments in the gallery and on the user's page, we can address it then, but there are privacy considerations which make that difficult to do without making users opt in to doing so each time they post - and that's another button to click.
What I would like to do, but which is going to take time, is to create an in-app notifications system, which would get round the privacy issues completely. As for anything prior to that, making Facebook's comment feature do anything 'helpful' is a serious problem. If you just want one page with one set of comments on it, that's simple. As soon as you want multiple pages which might have the same image on them, or one page with multiple images, it becomes a nightmare getting round the limitations of the Facebook software - plus Facebook comments cannot be relied on to load quickly anyway.
When we first put in the comment system, allowing comments on pages as well as for individual slides, it ended up taking TWO WEEKS to find a way round the cross-domain issues involved. The fact that it all now works well disguises just how much work was required to make it do so. I would very much rather not mess with that all over again --- so I am much more minded to wait until we have our own comment and notification system.
It would be possible to link images in the user's slide show to the equivalent post in the gallery, but unless a comment has been made, how is that helpful? So again, an in-app notifications system would be more useful for this and so many other reasons. If you get a notification you don't even have to find your own slide to see if any comments have been made about it in the gallery version.
More generally, to all readers who make game play suggestions:
Game play suggestions are always welcome, as long as users keep in mind that I not only do 90% of the programming but also a whole load of admin work. When we are earning enough for Lisa to take the admin off of me, we will get a lot more done, and when we can pay a programmer a programmer's wage, the site will grow much more quickly. But note that game programmers typically earn $70,000 a year.
I have worked on this app for four years full time so far and only began taking payments in October 2014. So far the app has been funded by Lisa working very long hours just to enable me to keep on working, and there is no way that major changes can be made to the game quickly until we have at least one full time administrator and one full time paid programmer.
I am a Systems Analyst; I design things and tell computer programmers what to write. I am not as good at getting things done quickly as a career programmer and my skill set has holes in it. That's why it has taken four years to get this far, and why the pace will not improve until we have enough users to turn this into a viable business. I suffer with the pace of development more than anyone else, because I have ideas for game play which are well beyond anything that has been suggested by our users and I have very little patience myself.
My current priorities are:
- to make the existing features as simple to use as they can be made.
- to provide videos for every aspect of the game which the users find difficult.
- to enable the forum to become a means of logging in to the stand alone version of the site, enabling users to play a game which is not dependent on Facebook in any way.
Those objectives must be completed before we can move on, or we will get new users only to lose them, and fail to convince ex fluffers that we can give them a game that will last in place of one that did not.
This year we have opened all of the shops, made the wish list feature work and added other forms of gifting, introduced the forum, made the editor work 'inventory only' with a system of sizing which I am most relieved everyone has taken to without issues, priced and introduced over 1000 items in the shops for sale. So we do get a heck of a lot done, but there is also a mountain of things which we still need to get done, and very limited resources with which to do it. I can't say how much I wish it could all be done quicker, but the only way to do things quickly is to build them fragile, and it was exactly that fragility which killed fluff.
I hope that explains why I do things the way that I do.