GuideDog Games

Guide Dog Games Developer Information

GuideDog Games is an online game distribution service. Users to the service access games through their GuideDog Games account, which allows for the purchases of various game-related items. Purchases may include game access, downloadable content, game expansions, or other items.

Keep in mind that the information below is not set in stone. If you have questions, if you see an obvious problem, if you see something missing - let us know. We'll update the page accordingly. You can reach the maintainer, Dennis Towne, via email at: soda@xirr.com

There is also a FAQ section which directly addresses some of the more common questions available at:

https://guidedoggames.com:7081/faq/6

The Basics

We're pretty new at this and don't have a solid understanding of what needs to be exported to developers in general. That said, here's an overview of what we expect the process to be:

  • We take a look at your game idea, and decide that we want to host it. Ideally, you'd already have something halfway coded up and tested that we could take a look at. We don't want to sign on a new project and put in the work to get it set up if it isn't going to go anywhere. We also expect to have minimum quality guidelines. Rough game pricing needs to be worked out as part of this process.

  • We sign up your company and create an entry for you. Each game has to be assigned a number in our system before it can be listed. Hopefully, you'll want to list more than one game with us.

  • We provide a custom library and interface files for inclusion in your game. The library code communicates with the local GuideDog client to get account permissions, account information, and other data from the GuideDog account server. The library itself is a DLL with standard C style interfaces. Our BGT implementation includes interface files for talking to the DLL, and we plan to provide 'ease of integration' files in C as well.

  • Each game is assigned crypto keys for interacting with the GuideDog client and with our servers. These keys are needed to verify that your game is talking to a valid GuideDog server, and that the information coming from the server is valid and hasn't been spoofed.

  • You integrate your game to the DLL or library we provide. This will allow you to determine if a user has purchased the game or various game features/expansions, and also allows you to store some game-related data on the GuideDog servers. This data storage mechanism allows you to save game progress in one location, so the player can switch computers and continue elsewhere without losing anything.

  • As your game gets closer to beta test, we set up an update/download Git repository for you on our machines. The stable version of this repository will hold the files installed by your game installer, and your game installer should be built using this repository. The beta version of this repository will hold beta test updates, and will allow you to get beta updates to your testers quickly and easily.

  • Once the update repository is set up, we provide custom launchers which make sure GuideDog is running and start your game. These launchers also grab updates from the Git repository, if there are updates available. This lets you quickly patch bugs in the game after release, without requiring players to reinstall the game.

  • Once your game is working and ready for beta test, we add beta testers to the game. Beta testing is handled using beta test permission keys, and testers will be able to 'purchase' the various beta test options for free as part of the testing process.

  • When your game is ready, we take it out of beta test mode and make it available for purchase. You'll be able to see purchases from the game's developer page.

GuideDog Library/DLL Features

The GuideDog library/DLL to be integrated with your game currently comes in BGT and C DLL versions for MS Windows. We can provide C export libraries for both Linux and MacOSX, but so far there hasn't been a lot of call for it. There is no support for mobile devices at this time.

Library features:
  • First and foremost, purchase authentication. Games may be locked to a specific account, and various game features can be enabled or disabled based on account purchases. You may also decide to release your game with a demo mode that simply 'goes away' when the game is purchased.

  • Copy protection. If you require players to be online and logged in to their GuideDog account, you can distribute your installers anywhere and everywhere without worrying about keys or cracking. The more players install it, the more players are likely to buy it.

  • No registration keys. Our account authentication system should handle all of that so you don't have to.

  • A good protection system. While no protection system is perfect, we expect it to do pretty well. All of the modules in the system - the DLLs, DLL interfaces, GuideDog client, and our servers - were designed to communicate with security in mind.

  • Save and load game data and config settings from anywhere. If you save game data to the account system, your players will be able to retrieve it from every place they log in at.

What we expect from Developers

Keep in mind that GuideDog Games is a company, and we're not running this for free. We also have obligations to our customers, the players. For those reasons, here are some things that we expect to require of all developers:

  • All games must have at least some interaction with the server, including free and demo test games. This helps us get test and development mileage on the GuideDog system, as well as introducing people to it.

  • All games must be sold on a per-account basis, not a per machine basis. A player who has purchased the game should be able to download it onto any supported machine to install and play it. We're not going to allow games that require the player to enter an install key.

  • We must be allowed to host a copy of your game installers. This way, if your servers go down, we'll still be able to support our users.

  • We must be allowed to host updates. Again, if your servers go down, we need to be able to help our users.

  • We offer refunds within the first two weeks if the game is horribly broken or doesn't work. We will be checking these cases thoroughly - if someone has reasonable playing time and looks like they're just trying to cheat, we'll reject it. But if we do have to refund someone, your sale will be reversed.

  • Developers are not allowed to release updates which obsolete or remove previously purchased features unless the updates are approved by us in advance.

  • We must be able to host copies of your installer and updates if you decide to stop selling the game. If you take the game down, we will only distribute the installers to players who have rightfully purchased the game and won't distribute it to anyone else.

  • We reserve the right to deny pricing changes to any product or game. This is to prevent abusive developers from price gouging customers.

  • We reserve the right to take down and stop selling any product or game, at any time, for any reason.

What Developers can expect from us

We could hardly ask the above if we weren't willing to give on something as well:

  • You can take down and stop selling any game or feature that you'd like, as long as your previous customers can keep playing and installing the game on new machines.

  • You can close up shop and stop listing with us, as long as your previous customers can keep playing.

  • You have the right to know your sales numbers, account balances, and request access to your money. As far as we're concerned, proceeds from your game sales (minus our cut and possible refunds) is yours, and you should have access to it.

  • You can expect our servers to be up, and expect us to take care of issues in the GuideDog software in a timely fashion.

  • Quality control. You can check in whatever updates you like to the beta repository, but we'll only do a stable release when you're sure you're ready. We can also roll back a release or help you with intermediate patches if it looks like there's a major problem.

  • You can expect a multi-year commitment from us. We've been doing this for a long time and won't be going anywhere.

Game Updates / AutoUpdate

While it's possible to do updates by requiring players to completely reinstall the game, this sucks and should be avoided if at all possible. Fortunately, our game launchers can let you do both stable and beta test updates automatically when the game is started.

As mentioned above, we'll be hosting copies of both the installer and the game update directories on our servers. In order to release a beta test update to your beta testers, all you need to do is check in your changes to the Git repository. To release a stable update, you need to check in all your fixes to the beta, then contact us and we'll create a new stable checkpoint for you.

When a beta test player wants to play the stable version of the game, they can just run the normal launcher. When they want to run the beta test version of the game, they simply run the beta test launcher, which will download the necessary updates for beta testing.

You can also set up beta test permission keys for the game which only beta testers can purchase. This allows you to open developer and debug options to beta testers even when playing the stable release.

Fee Schedule

Our current expected fee schedule is 35% of gross receipts. We will handle credit card transaction fees from our cut, so you don't have to. However, since transaction fees are pretty big for small amounts, we are setting a minimum price of around five dollars.

At this time, payments will either be delivered by check or Paypal, with the payment schedule to be worked out based on what the developer needs. Keep in mind that there are transfer fees on things like paypal, and that it's best to group up transactions monthly or by some dollar limit.



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