Sequel Update 1/26/16

Michael 7 years ago updated by mikO 7 years ago 8

Here's another update on what's happening at Sequel (still live in the Outback.) We're deep in the test phase and maneuvering things to leverage our early learnings. Here's a quick look at what we're discovering:

The XX Files
Our core audience is turning out to be primarily females between 16 and 26 years of age. Makes sense, as we're certainly not a traditional game, nor a straight-up book medium, but Stories-through-Messaging. The content, methodology and demographic all seem to align.

Murder She Read
It stands to follow that the most interesting stories are those with subject matter relating to that core demographic. e.g.: romance and dating; however, there are a few Channels that are clear favorites in spite of "edgier" content.

The Sauntering Dead
Readers need to get involved early and feel like they have a measure of "control" over the story flow. A few of our stories roll their text out in long stretches with narely a User Choice in sight. The data strongly suggests that this isn't a great story technique. In fact, having a User Choice (single or double) around every 4-8 text lines seems to work the best. Readers can take their own measure of the story flow at their pace and not feel overwhelmed by a tsunami of verbiage.

15 Minutes
Don't know if you've noticed, but we've been testing out a range of time delays in various stories. Going in, we had a theory that "realistic" time delays would help with the reader's immersion and attachment to the story. After all, it is a messaging format, and that's the way people, well... message each other. Turns out that our consumers don't really like to wait around very long for their stories. <insert forehead slap here> Literary speed bumps are not great.

Having long delays (even > 20 seconds) early in the channel is not a great idea as readers haven't gotten hooked into the story or the characters. We're rolling them way back in the first few episodes, and then will experiment with ramping them back up over future episodes once folks are "hooked."

Shorter delays are indeed better, but reader patience is also linked to...

How I Met Your Main Character
Blame it on our evolving attention spans being dwarfed by those of goldfish, but our readers want immediate gratification. The ol' tropes of "grab them early" and "surprise them often" still stand. Readers (in this medium) just aren't hanging around for the "beauty and richness" to unfold somewhere down the line. We have to hook them in the opening act... moreover, in the opening scene.

Let's Make a Choice

Readers are paying attention. (Gosh bless them!) They want to feel like their User Decisions matter. At key decision points, we need to provide users with quality feedback about the implications of choosing one path, while hinting at the "path not taken." Not every User Choice needs to be "monumental," but having them be meaningful throughout the story will help to really capture and hold the reader's attention.

Family Ties
And here's a look at how we're thinking of arranging our new "store"

Just For Laughs Love & Other Stuff...Criminally Acclaimed Scream! Real Talk

So, we're continuing to focus on building up and improving our content collection, and using the audience for feedback to help us improve and polish (rather than just shoving Sequel out the door too quickly.) Thanks again for your awesome contributions!

Please post your questions and comments!

Wow, great to hear!

When will we be able to see reader data for our stories?

I don't know about you guys, but Statistics are rather equally fascinating and impenetrable. Attributed to Mark Twain is the line: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." :-)

Anyhow, we're still in the middle of collecting and parsing the data. Amazing thing, data, how you can slice and dice it all ways from sundown. The number of users is still relatively small (and still mainly Aussies) so there are large grains of salt to be had there (e.g.: some story content is more "US-centric" in nature.)

My sense is we're a couple of weeks away from having "solid" returns on individual channels. Our plan is to provide data charting via the Author's Tool per each Channel.

So should we all go and re-edit our stories with this feedback in mind??

Nope. No re-editing required. If we're making Time Delay adjustments, we're not touching the dialogue. (Though we might tweak a line that denotes a specific time, e.g.: "See you in 30 minutes" to "See you in a bit.") Our tenant is Primum non nocere.

It's interesting that horror is on its own, rather than in a category with speculative fiction (more normal for spec-fic readers I think, as a spec-fic obsessive). I also think some stories should be in two categories eg mine is paranormal romance, so people who search purely for fantasy (as I do) would enjoy it, but not see it if it was only listed under "romance".

You are correct. Most stories will appear under multiple headings. Still, it was a bear trying to configure our stories under these few catagories.

Must say, great feedback...

not having long pauses actually makes sense when you think about it....but cool...