Looking Ahead to 2014
Many players have requested that I share our plans for QONQR in 2014. Those of you who are also software developers are probably familiar with the anxiety of doing this. Promising features is often a bad idea in software, as priorities change more frequently than the Minnesota weather, and you never know when some unexpected issue is going to side track you for weeks or months.
So rather than saying what is going to be done in 2014, let me share what we have started, and might actually finish.
Android. Yes, we might actually finish it. We have implemented a few cheater detection algorithms on the server to watch for people who cheat their location, and have more tests planned to deal with the litany of issues with the hacker friendly phones. We know many of you are concerned with Android and we are doing our best to keep the game fair. A recent survey of some of our Android beta testers indicated they believe we are 90% of the way to being ready for a general release. Let’s hope the last 10% comes soon.
We’ve had a long-time dream of having custom maps for QONQR, something that would extend our brand. We started down this path with an awesome GIS consulting firm in September and after some exploration, decided we wanted maps that shaded the world the colors of the factions that controlled the zones. We later discovered that we have so many millions of map requests every month, outsourcing the custom maps would raise our hosting costs by nearly 400%. We did more work and set up our own mapping server using an open source product called CartoDB. Hosting maps ourselves would be a huge monthly cost savings, but much more effort to implement. That is where we are today. As with most tech projects, the costs for this feature are now double our early estimates, and we are about half way to our desired product. We are working to show what we have so far through the web portal, and this will probably be available in the next month. Work on maps will continue, but probably at a slower and more affordable pace. Eventually, we hope to allow for players to be able to see personalized maps of what areas impact them, or even be able to do time-lapse animations of major battles. These last two are much longer term goals, but if we can get the mapping server setup correctly, it should be possible.
Free cubes? Many months ago, iPhone had the ability to earn free cubes by installing other software, or watching video advertising. QONQR made advertising revenue from this offerwall. We were incentivized to work with a partner firm on the iPhone early, and put it into the iPhone while we searched for a Windows Phone equivalent. We only found one partner for WP, and reviews of that product were not positive. The reality of the revenue and the quality of the iPhone offerwall wasn’t good, and as a result we pulled it from iPhone. The Windows Phone users hated that iPhone users could get free cubes, and iPhone users hated that we took it away. We believe we may have found a solution to provide those who cannot spend money on cubes a way to earn them by fulfilling offers through the web portal. We have some preliminary code written for this. If the quality and implementation seems good, this could be a feature we release in 2014.
If you follow the Swarm comics, you may have seen a hint of changes to the game that allow short range weapons to be deployed over a great distance. That is all I will say about this. Perhaps the comic is foretelling a new feature to be released, or maybe the story will evolve into nothing more than propaganda by Nagumo Industries.
A new and improved help website is on the way. Getting into QONQR can be a big challenge for new players. We are working on better help to make it easier for new recruits to find their way through the many features in the game.
We had made a partnership with a good friend and developer in November. The plan was for him to join QONQR fulltime and his first order of business was to build us an in-game chat engine that would scale to thousands of users in any chat room at once. Ten hours before his first day, he called us to say his old company made him an offer to stay that he couldn’t refuse (we agreed it was very good), and so the task was shelved. Chat is still a top priority for us and we hope to see this happen in 2014. Along with this, we hope to implement new communication systems that will make it easier for new players to get connected with the veterans. We want the veterans to be able to bring the new people under their wing sooner (even getting them to switch factions while in training).
Our intern, Cole, began work on Facebook integration, to make it easier for you to share your achievements and leaderboard rankings on your wall, including the images to go with the awards, and leaderboard charts. The technical requirements of Facebook development required us to postpone this until Cole was off the college campus and had more control of his internet connection and network configuration. We hope to complete that work this year.
Push notification for Apple and Android, with more reliable push notifications for Microsoft. We now have a direct line of communications to Microsoft on a new cloud services offering that allows us to have a single place to push notifications to all platforms. Implementing Apple push notifications is a mystery it seems few have unraveled. We are hoping that this new service offering will allow us to finally get this working.
QONQR lite? With every Apple iOS update, some people’s QONQR app broke. It happened with iOS6, iPhone5, and now iOS7. We’ve also begun to see some issues with Windows Phones in our last update, with 1% of WP players. With Android, broken applications are to be expected, given the fragmentation of the operating systems. We don’t want anyone who has invested time and money to be out in the cold if a new update breaks them. We are exploring the idea of creating a backup scope for all platforms. A second application in the app store you could install alongside the normal QONQR app. This would be a very slimmed down version of the game — only the bare essentials needed to launch, harvest, and create bases. Basically it would do the things that cannot be done through the web portal, and almost nothing else. The idea would be that if normal QONQR broke, hopefully the lightweight version would still run. It would take extremely low memory and not rely on many phone features. We hope a QONQR lite version might save some people who find themselves in a position where the regular app won’t start. We may release a prototype version of this to the general public on one platform to test it. If it is well received, the other platforms will follow.
Finally the biggest coding challenge for us in the first half of 2014 is going to be a rewrite of the battle engine. We plan to keep all the existing formations the way they are. The purpose of the rewrite is to avoid the equivalent of the “Twitter Fail Whale” in QONQR. The outages we had in August were a result of our systems being unable to handle our traffic, just like Twitter experienced in their early days. Specifically, our database hit its limits, which cannot be solved by adding more servers. We fixed those August issues, but the solutions were only temporary. We are starting work now on a new system that moves us past “startup company mode” and into a more robust and scalable system. We now have the experience necessary to see how millions of battles a week impact our systems, and where the weak parts of our solution are.
The battle engine changes will simplify the code for launching nanobots and remove the bottlenecks that cause some launches to fail during peak times. It will also open the door to creating new formations and options for attack. Previously, we were hesitant to add new features to the already complex battle engine, knowing a rewrite was needed. This will remove those handcuffs. However, this will be a major rewrite, and will take some time before fully implemented. The good news is, it shouldn’t change the way you play. The bad news, if done correctly, you won’t notice anything, meaning you might think we spend all our time playing QONQR, instead of working on new features.
We have been saying throughout all of 2013, that QONQR 2.0 will be a massive game expansion that centers around bases as a core component in the game. This is still the plan. We hope to start the 2.0 features in the second half of 2014, but it is unlikely many features will see a release during 2014, unless our development staff is able to increase by a few more developers.
We have several other things we hope to do in 2013, but I will leave those as a surprise. As I said, I will only talk about what we’ve started and might finish. We have a very long list of new features on the white board. Some of those should happen in 2014.
I can’t promise what you might see in 2014 from QONQR, but I pledge that we will continue to work hard to make QONQR better. Thank you for supporting QONQR in 2013 and we hope you stay with us on our startup journey.
-Scott (aka Silver)
A Reflection on 2013
2013 was an amazing year. Let’s start with what didn’t go so well. We had 3 major outages. I can’t remember the details of the few hours of downtime in the Spring, and there was an overnight outage in December when our database couldn’t keep up with zone updates. However it will be hard to forget August 8, 2013. This was my birthday. On the 7th my kids asked me what I wanted. I said, “For stuff not to break.” Sadly, I didn’t knock on wood.
August 8-10 were 18-20 hour days of manually killing database deadlocks and furiously rewriting critical code features while completely removing less critical ones. It was the first realization that our systems were still running in “startup mode.” It was our Twitter Fail Whale. Over the next few months, we rewrote features, and added mechanisms to take the load off our database. For the most part, it forced us to completely put new features on hold while we worked to improve our scalability. The outages put a fairly big dent in our revenue for the next few months, and impacted our plans for growth. It was also the same week we lost our 5 star rating in the Windows Phone store, after maintaining 5 stars for more than 6 months.
For those of you who might not have been following QONQR for very long, you might be surprised to find out that QONQR is a tiny company. For 9 months of 2013, I was the only person working on QONQR full time. Well, not exactly full time. My timecard says I worked 3,215 hours in 2013, which is about 9 hours a day 7 days a week. I’m guessing that is probably below my actual time in chair by at least 20%. To say that 2013 was exhausting is an understatement.
We encountered delay after delay in Android due to the difficulty of the platform, especially in the areas of reducing the risk of cheating. The iOS 7 SDK caused us to rework much of the iPhone application to fix memory issues and comply with Apple’s new best practices. Windows Phone anomalies with advertising and purchasing created a distraction from more productive tasks.
Now that the biggest of the bad stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about what went right. We made two really smart decisions in 2013. We hired Christie (aka Gadgerson) in October. Christie was a friend of a friend and as I found out, a die-hard gamer with online media experience. I hired Christie for a few hours a week in early 2013 to manage our Facebook and Twitter accounts. By October, Justin and I had decided it was a bad idea for me to be spending 10-20 hours a week managing our support email. We hired Christie as our Community Engagement Manager to manage our online presence, support, and QA efforts. Christie has made a hugely positive impact on QONQR and helps make sure the developers stay busy writing code.
The second smart decision we made was to hire an intern over the summer. We took a big chance here. Interns can be a blessing or an albatross. The biggest risk is that they would take more time in guidance than they would provide in output. Our intern, Cole, quickly proved to be a huge asset. He developed nearly all the new web portal features. In fact, the web portal would not have been created without him. We now have an alternate place to do many of the game features -and some portal exclusives- should we encounter a problem that causes features to break in the mobile applications. Now that he has graduated, Cole has accepted an offer to work for QONQR full time, and will start his career with QONQR in a few days.
QONQR players have provided great success for QONQR in 2013. By the end of 2013, our players had launched nanobots (and plasma) over 60 million times. Nanobots have been deployed in nearly ¾ of a million zones in over 200 countries and territories around the world. QONQR now covers approximately 20% of the populated earth. There are now over 30,000 posts in the QONQR player forums.
In 2013, we released the initial version of our public API. This super small API allows developers to poll for zone data on a limited schedule. We wanted to allow our developer players to get just enough data to coordinate major attacks and periodically pull statistics for tracking. We have seen some amazing applications come out of this little API and we hope to add more features in 2014.
2013 may be remembered as the year of GroupMe. There is a common adage in game development: if you don’t build something, the community will find a replacement. Our players did that when it came to private group messaging. GroupMe changed the dynamic of the game significantly this year. Massive attacks of many players from multiple states have occurred throughout the year. Unfortunately, this resulted in hundreds of emails to support, “These 5 accounts have to be multi-scopers!!!” Some had not discovered GroupMe yet, and could not fathom how so many players could attack the same zone at once, then move to a new zone in unison. By now, it is hard to find players that don’t know about GroupMe and we feel confident it is likely to be a QONQR player tool that is here to stay.
The QONQR comic books came to life this year. We were very lucky to find a talented artist that could bring our vision for a QONQR comic book to life. Thanks to your contributions in the “Save the Nanobots Campaign”, Joey Vazquez has been very busy trying to keep up with the pages that have been funded. The profile pics of Scott, Christie and Justin are just a sample of his talent. Be sure checkout the comics.
QONQR extended our part time contractor family by a few members in 2013. It is quite a juggling act to track a half dozen people who are contributing to QONQR 5-10 hours a week on various iOS, Android, HTML, marketing, comic books and other miscellaneous tasks, but it has worked out very well to have the help we need, when we need it. We don’t have the revenue yet to hire dedicated people to fill each role, but working with such flexible and talented people has made the chaos of remote part time development much easier. Many thanks to those who contribute their extra time and talents to QONQR on a part time basis. We appreciate your flexibility and willingness to help move QONQR forward.
Finally, I would like to send a sincere thank you to the many players that have spent money in the game. I received my first paycheck in March of 2013, after 15 months of living on savings and debt. Your contributions have allowed me to consistently draw a moderate salary every month since. You made it possible to hire Christie and Cole, and we believe the revenue will allow Justin to return full time in the first half of 2014. I know many of you feel that the cubers hurt the balance and enjoyment of the game, but those that spend money make it possible for us to continue working on QONQR.
I close with a thank you to my business partner, Justin. QONQR was his idea, without which I would not have something to consume my every waking moment and many of my dreams while asleep. But seriously, although he is not at QHQ every day, he has always done an amazing job of balancing the needs of QONQR with his day job. I’m optimistic our revenue will continue to grow and we can finally bring Justin back to QONQR full time.
-Scott (aka Silver>
The End of the Recruiting Bonus
Over the past few months we have been seeing an increase in recruiting cheaters. This caused us to completely overhaul our medals system last month, only awarding the recruiting achievements for recruits that had completed training (level 100), and only awarding recruiter cube bonuses once per device.
Today, I’m saddened to report that we have suspended all future referral bonus cubes for players that recruited their friends. Ultimately it is the cheaters who caused this problem to bring us to where we are today, but it was Apple that made this necessary.
Without going into technical details, we have found that Apple’s imposed limitations on applications in iOS7 makes it impossible for us to reliably stop cube farming programmatically, and we lack the human manpower necessary to continue to combat this problem on an ongoing basis. So far, the problem has only manifested itself in a handful of players, but recent developments with an abusive player and his friends have forced us to take action today.
We continue to work hard to keep QONQR fair for all players. We receive numerous reports of bad players every day. It is a frustrating and demoralizing part of our day to say the very least and unfortunately takes us away from adding new features to the game. We thank those who play QONQR with honor and integrity. We hope you understand our decision today. Had there been a reliable technical solution, we of course would have endeavored to keep the bonus in place. Your recruits will still receive 2 cubes for using you as a recruiter, at the time of their enlistment.
Thank you for your continued support of QONQR. You make this game great, we are working hard to keep it that way.
-Scott (aka Silver)
The Passing of MrBizzy
Last week, I received a shocking and surreal support email from one of our players in Michigan. A fellow QONQR player, MrBizzy, had died unexpectedly. The person contacting me had asked if we could offer any clues for his friends and family, because MrBizzy was an avid QONQR player and was probably playing much of the day.
It was a bit shocking to see deployments many times an hour, for 6 hours straight, and then nothing. I didn’t expect the feeling of emptiness I felt looking at that last log entry. I’ve read his obituary and wish I had known Vuthy Pen. He was my age, was a co-founder of an IT firm, and leaves behind 4 children. I didn’t know Vuthy, but just the same, I’m saddened by his passing. The entire QONQR family extends our deepest sympathies to Vuthy’s family and friends.
A fellow QONQR player sent this, and asked us to post it.
On Monday, November 11th, Michigan Swarm lost an exceptional player named MrBizzy.
He was all one could ask for in a teammate: kind, humorous, helpful, and never hesitant to rain down missiles or stack a zone to a million bots. He welcomed new players, frustrated the competition, and kept us all laughing. We lost a true friend and a great leader.
However, Swarm does not mourn him alone. An outpouring of support was shown by Legion and Faceless in a temporary cease-fire that began almost as soon as the news of his death was publically announced.
Many players, from all factions and multiple states, changed their in-game avatars to one honoring Bizzy.
The Qonqr forum had a thread this morning discussing a nation- or world-wide way to pay him tribute.
Our team members have received many messages of condolence and support… and all of this means the world to us.
Michigan Swarm feels like a family, yet we recognize that Bizzy’s actual family has lost a father, son, husband, sibling, cousin, and uncle. His game-play was a true reflection of a life filled with caring for others, leading by example, and being a joy to those around him.
Bizzy, you will truly be missed and we are all better players and people for having known you.
The QONQR players on the forums have suggested we make Thanksgiving Day in the United States (November 28th) a day of remembrance and thanks in Honor of MrBizzy. The players have suggested that we “Stack to the Heavens” for MrBizzy, deploying only defensive bots and avoid battling for the day. We agree this is a great way for the community to give tribute to a fellow QONQR player, and show how thankful we are for the new friends we have all gained through QONQR. I will be displaying the MrBizzy tribute image as my profile picture through Thanksgiving, and I hope you will too.
-Scott (aka Silver)
Faction Leader Character Design
We received an email recently from a player expressing disappointment about Kimyo’s look in the new comics. This player had chosen to enlist with Swarm partly because Kimyo was a normal looking girl “who was super smart and didn’t dress like an idiot”, and she felt that the updates to Kimyo were intended to sexualize her for marketing reasons.
I responded right away because this is a something I take very seriously as the Chief Creative Officer, and now I want to share some of the resulting discussion here on the blog to give a behind-the-scenes look at some of the discussions that go into character design.
Scott (our CEO) and I both have young daughters who are very into tech. They build their own computers, write code, are active gamers, and dress as Star Trek characters for Halloween. Our only full time employee is a passionate gamer with two young daughters of her own. When our kids get together, they trade Star Wars trivia and discuss Minecraft. QONQR also sponsors our local Girls in Tech organization. In short: this matters to us.
When I was designing the faction leaders, I intentionally made two of them female. And my instructions to our illustrators from the beginning has been to not sexualize either of them. We want these to be strong female characters who we can create stories around. My daughter is an avid comic reader, and I wanted her to be inspired by Kimyo and Sunday.
Our new illustrator is amazingly talented, but comes from a traditional comic background. I have had him modify concept sketches of Kimyo when I felt she looked too alluring. Here is an early concept sketch of Kimyo. I felt she was too voluptuous and asked him to make adjustments.
Here is the revised version which retains our illustrator’s slightly cartoonish style that I love, but makes Kimyo’s proportions more realistic and her top less revealing.
I also asked him to redraw several panels of the most recent Swarm page because I felt Kimyo’s position while digging into the Fab Lab tech was too suggestive. Here is the sketched layout for those pages initially. You can see the final page with modifications here.
Kimyo’s slightly different look isn’t because we felt the old illustrations were inadequate, it was because we hired a new illustrator, and every artist has their own style. I love the new illustrations and how they are bringing the QONQR story world to life. I didn’t think the mid-drift tank top objectified Kimyo. She’s a young woman who is a brilliant scientist, runs a multinational corporation, and leads a movement that strives for technological advancement. But she’s also puckish — she dresses unconventionally, dyes a green stripe in her hair, and often ignores those around her when she’s digging into some fascinating bit of technology. She’s a less abrasive version of Tony Stark, but this time as a confident young woman.
These discussions about Kimyo are just an example; we’ve had many similar discussions about Sunday too. Discussions like this have been ongoing since we created the Faction Leaders, and they will continue for the foreseeable future. But rest assured that we are just as protective of these characters as you are.
-Justin (aka GungHo)
I’m excited to share a new reward system that became available today. The developers built a tool I can use to award players one cube for awesome twitter smack talk. We now have the ability to easily reward you for the awesome stuff you already do to promote QONQR.
From the beginning QONQR’s growth has been tied to you, the players. When QONQR launched the beta at SXSW in 2011, there was no marketing and no PR, only the ability to Tweet you had just captured a city.. Yet, within three days of the beta launch, players had captured cities in 20 states, 10 countries and 4 continents. Our players telling other players about QONQR has always been our primary method of growth, in fact, because of you we managed to cross the 100,000 player mark without even purchasing a Facebook Ad. Thank you!
Going forward, I (@Gadgerson) will be watching for awesome #Qsmack tweets and other things that evangelize for QONQR. Keep up the good work and maybe your tweet or YouTube video will be the one I pick when I give out some bonus cubes for the month. Be sure to tag your tweets with #QSmack to make it easier to find.
I’m happy to say I started awarding cubes today and it felt great! I’m excited to see what you Tweet next so I can give out more Cubes.
New Medals and More
Last night we released a new server update. The new Swarm pages are finally here! The third Legion page is also posted.
This update also includes the ability to exchange cubes for credits in bulk through the web portal. Take advantage now while the exchange rate it still 6500 to 1.
There are some new Medals at the top of your list of awards/achievements. “Complete Bootcamp” and “Complete Training”. You earn these medals respectively for achieving levels 10 and 100. These medals were added to incentivize new players to level up quickly, but more importantly they help with the vocabulary in the game. Now you will be “helping your friends through boot camp” so you can get the recruiter bonus and try to convince your enemies to switch factions “before they complete training”.
In our ongoing struggle to stop cheaters, we have revamped recruiting. In the past month, we have seen an influx of reports for people who are “farming recruits”. The old recruiting system created days upon days of lost time to dig through players’ recruit list to evaluate which are legitimate accounts and which were multi-scope accounts to either earn the recruitment badge or bonus cubes. We banned many people in the past month as a result of multi-scoping to farm the system.
This is how the new recruiting system works.
1. You still earn 5 cubes for recruiting a player who makes it to level 10, but if that award is for your son playing on an iPod, he gets bored, and you create an account for your daughter to play on the same iPod, you will not earn another 5 cubes for her. Recruit cube bonuses are now limited to one per device.
2. All the recruit medal/achievement counts have been lowered. Previously you needed to recruit 1, 5, 10, and 25 recruits to earn the four recruiter badges. Now you only need 1, 2, 5, and 10.
3. Your recruits must now complete training (level 100) for them to count as your recruit.
We did much analysis on this change. Our goal was to avoid penalizing people who recruited honestly, but that couldn’t be avoided 100%. We had people who moved both up and down as a result of the change. Unfortunately for those who were negatively impacted, the change was necessary to stop the cheaters.
In addition to the medal changes above, we added a few secret medals. They will not appear on your awards list until you have earned them. I’m sure it won’t take long for this community to find them. A year ago when we first introduced medals, we received feedback that the top levels were “impossible” because “it would take a year of obsessive playing to do that,” and should be lowered. We listened to the community and lowered the requirements for the top requirements. However, some of our “obsessive players” have been playing for over a year, have hit those previous marks, and now want those exclusive levels back. We chose a new top mark that had at least 2 players who had already earned the medal in each category. Good luck.
Finally I am proud to announce that we now have our first two Sergeant Majors in the game. Again, you will need to find them. I’m not going to risk making them a target by calling them out. These players earned points through the new medals to push them over the rank requirements to earn the highest rank possible in the game. For those that are wondering will there ever be anything higher. Yes. We used the enlisted ranks for version 1.0 of QONQR. We are holding the NCO ranks for the version 2.0 expansion pack, which we hope to start building the second half of 2014.
We continue to march down our list of features to add to the game and continue to fight against cheaters. Thanks for being part of our journey.
Yep. It is.
Why do we cheat? We all cheat at something. We cut in line, look at the answers on the kid’s answer sheet sitting next to us. These little “cheating” things we do as kids, we usually grow out of it at some point…right?
I love this game and some of the things I love about it most, is the passion with which the players play it, the community that those players have formed, and the dedication of the developers to make it the best game that it can be. For those of you that I just described…you are the reason I get up in the morning and go to a job I love every day, so thank you.
However, not everyone who plays the game, follows the rules of the game. Some of you do not seem to know what those rules even are, so I thought I’d break down some terms of service key points for you that most of you skimmed or skipped altogether.
- Deploying for a friend, spouse or child is against the rules and grounds to have your device banned.
- Starting a second account and playing it on a tablet along with your main account is also against the terms of service and punishable by having your device banned.
- Creating a bunch of dummy accounts in order to get free cubes and a recruitment medal is also against those same rules and can have the same consequences.
Number 1 actually surprises some people. We have some players who email us after their account have been banned claiming, “I have never cheated, ever!” Then when we respond, “Our algorithms detected with 90% certainty that you were deploying for [Player2] for over an hour on X/X/XXXX,” the player responds, “Holy crap, you can tell that? I didn’t know that was bad. I promise I won’t do it again.”
Yes we can tell, and while we don’t check every launch everyone does, you never know when we might look. Our algorithms don’t distinguish between you launching for your girlfriend every so often, and you playing on a second account from your iPod, which never leaves your side.
In order for all of the things I love about QONQR to stay intact along with the game’s integrity, we need your help in spreading a very important point around this community that we all love…
”Friends don’t let friends multi-scope.”
The Team Is Growing
Many of the QONQR veterans know a fair bit about QONQR’s beginnings, our struggles and our road to get where we are today. Here is the 30 second recap for the new people. Justin pitches the idea of QONQR at Startup Weekend, which we win with a proof of concept built in 48 hours. Successful HTML5 Beta follows. Three partners quit jobs live on savings for a year, work on QONQR for a year. Failed to find an investor. Two partners run out of money, leave to get “jobs”. Scott (Silver) runs the company for a year mostly solo. Company finally becomes profitable 2.5 years after Startup Weekend.
Today I’d like to share some big milestones that our players have helped to make possible. First let me share a photo of the people who have had a significant contribution to QONQR over the years.
From Left to Right:
- Jessy: Original Startup Weekend team member and Founder. Server Dev. Currently limited engagement beyond board.
- Donn: Founder. Android guru (as well as many other technologies). Part-time Android lead dev.
- Justin: Original Startup Weekend team member and Founder. Full time Chief Creative Officer. Server and iOS developer, Brand/Product manager.
- Joe: Android and iOS developer. Part-time.
- Scott: Original Startup Weekend team member and Founder. Full time CEO. Windows Phone and server dev. In charge of picking up garbage and making coffee.
- Joel: iOS ninja. Part-time work on QONQR.
- Andy: Original Startup Weekend team member and Founder. Returning full time soon. Original game mechanics designer.
- Jeff: Founder. Cloud Architect. Currently limited engagement beyond board.
- Dave: Founder. Graphic design. Currently involved on request. Generates amazing logos, icons, screen designs, etc
- Christie: QONQR’s first employee. Customer Engagement Manager. Head of support, Testing and Social Media.
- Adam: Former Army Intelligence officer (stationed in Baghdad), now checking for QONQR cheaters a handful of hours a week.
Not pictured: Ashley – contracted, original faction leader illustrator. Tori – contracted, music. Cole – intern, server dev. Becky – contracted, HTML developer. Joey – comic artist
Today marks 3 years since I walked into the Secretary of State’s office and filed our papers to legally create QONQR (the company), three weeks after having won Startup Weekend. Some amazing people have worked for QONQR over the past three years. Even when things looked the bleakest, and we were down to one person focusing on QONQR, we continued to have a great group of people who worked when they could to keep QONQR moving forward.
That persistence finally paid off earlier this year when we had reached the point where we had paid all the people to whom we owed money, I could take my first paycheck in 15 months, and the bank account was bigger at the end of the month, compared to the previous month. We were profitable.
It is important that we share our continued success with our players and fans as we grow. You are responsible for the success we have today, and we want to give you credit for recent news. Justin and Andy worked on QONQR for a year, but had to leave a little over a year ago due to the financial strain of living on savings. Now we have the funds to pay our partners a moderate salary. Justin is back full time. He is the father the QONQR idea and is back helping me run the company day to day. We are lobbying for the return of Andy, the mad scientist behind the Plasma Beam and much cursed “maximum overheat,” but the timing of his return is uncertain due to a critical role he plays at the job for which he left QONQR.
Most exciting for us is the announcement of our first full-time official employee. Christie is a long time QONQR player and serious hardcore gamer. I met Christie through a mutual friend, and later discovered that she was causing all sorts of havoc for her QONQR opponents through her aggressive conquest of nearby zones. I knew Christie had some experience with social media and asked if she could help manage our Facebook and twitter. Christie has posted every “Where in the World is QONQR” post on Facebook without missing a day for more than 6 months.
Christie is our new Customer Engagement Manager. Her focus will be support, quality assurance, and social media/marketing. We are very excited to have Christie on board and look forward to her help. Based on her initial blog post, we think she is pretty excited too.
Until now we have been a startup largely scraping by on the generosity of our partners and subcontractors who were willing to work extra hours after doing their day job. 60 days ago we were pretty much a 1 person company, 30 days from now we will be a 3 (possibly 4) person company with the partners and Christie all working full time.
We would like to sincerely thank our players and fans for their support. I am very excited to have Justin back (maybe Andy soon), and Christie’s contribution will make a huge difference in our daily workload. You made this possible. Thank you!
-Scott (aka Silver)
Yesterday we released quite a bit of new code. An update was submitted to Apple containing stability and bug fixes. Since the release of iOS7 SDK, we have been working to rewrite much of our application, which was originally written for the iOS5 SDK. This most recent update is focused primarily on performance and memory management, as well as some bug fixes. It should be available in a few days.
An update to the Android beta was released yesterday. From a functional point of view, we believe Android is very close to having all the features and a reasonable level of stability that would allow for a general availability release. However, we continue to be plagued by the “openness” of the Android environment. Despite exhaustive attempts, we have found that location spoofing is nearly impossible to stop on rooted Android devices. As a result, we now need to write code on the server to identify and penalize people who hop locations. This will take quite a while to create and will cause a further delay.
A fairly large web portal update was released. The first two Legion and third Faceless web comics were published on the portal. FYI, our illustrator is starting on Swarm comics on Monday. New leader boards for zones captured, zone leads, bot kills and credits harvested were released. If you like to send messages in the game, but hate the tiny keyboard on the phone, you can now use the Wire on the portal from your computer. You can change your password from the portal now, so if you have support reset your password, you can now go change it to something you can remember.
Finally, the dreaded “Comm Channels Jammed” error should be seen much less often by players. This is our generic error. This error is nearly always encountered by players when their scope is out of sync with the server and has the wrong bot or energy count. Windows Phone and Android users find themselves in this situation often when they hit launch, then the hardware back button, then launch again in rapid succession, emptying their bot tank in a couple seconds. If the multiple launches that happen at almost the same time are processed out of order by the multiple web servers, the phone will probably get the launch results out of order and the last one it processes will probably have the wrong bot count. Often the last one processed will be a “Comm Channels Jammed” error, which resulted because you launched too fast and your last attempt failed because you didn’t have enough bots left. Veteran players have figured out that harvesting your bases will re-sync the scope, but it was a frustrating workaround. We have now fixed this issue on the server by sending back a more detailed error, stating you are out of bots, energy, missiles, etc. There is also extra data included in this error response that will force your phone to re-sync with the server.
We had a very good planning session yesterday following the releases and have made plans for some much-requested new features. I’m not going to share our roadmap though, because if QONQR has taught me anything it is that priorities shift quickly. However, I will give you one hint, since the feature is nearly complete and it is safe to assume it will appear in the next few weeks. Bulk Purchasing.