It’s now been a month since I launched RoboZZle, so it is a good time to reflect on how things went so far. It has been a great experience, and the project took up all of my free time and then some.

For fun, I’ll discuss different aspects of RoboZZle and assign each a letter grade.

Game Addictiveness: A

Let’s start with the positive. RoboZZle has shown to be an addictive game, at least for a certain audience. There is a core group of players that log in regularly, solve puzzles, participate in discussions, design puzzles, propose improvements, and so forth.

A great illustration of my point is a quote from player recursive after finally cracking a long unsolved puzzle designed by evko:

This level is amazing.

I spent about 6 hours solving this one. It took me a while to realize that every movement had to be saved on a stack. Then I developed diagrams, models, and a logical structure around it. And eventually stumbled my way to the solution logically. But it all seems so intuitively obvious now.

This is the best level I’ve solved so far. Bravo.

RoboZZle players have contributed in a variety of ways:

  • aalku contributed articles to a number of sections of the wiki (still in an early stage).
  • evko is a brilliant puzzle designer who created 42 puzzles, many of them amazingly clever and innovative.
  • hr0nix implemented an automated solver for simpler RoboZZle puzzles.
  • life96 made a number of helpful suggestions, and investigated the CPU usage of the game.
  • stingray blogged about RoboZZle. The article Can Games Teach You To Program? got popular on reddit.
  • recursive has an amazingly deep understanding of the game, and discovered shortest known solution for nearly all puzzles.

Finally, I really like this comment left by player spikeless the day that RoboZZle launched:

Brilliant game! It has seriously impacted productivity in our development team leaving nothing to be heard but frustrated curses and elated ‘Yesss’s.

For addictiveness, I give RoboZZle a shameless A.

Features: B

My approach has been to do the minimal set of features I can get away with (but no less), and then grow the game from there. Otherwise, I would still be only 50% done; or more likely, I’d have given up a long time ago.

Since the game launched, I’ve been furiously adding features, in part driven by user feedback, and in part based on what I think will make the game work better.

I added forums, RSS feed for puzzles, wiki, scoreboard for shortest solutions, a stepping debugger for solutions, a new game mode, and lots more.

I give RoboZZle a B here because there are so many more things that I want to do with the game. I can already tell that this will keep me busy for a good while. :-)

Code Quality: B-

This section is about bugs! Similarly to features, I tried to make things “good enough”, and then deploy. Otherwise, I would never get anything done.

Most of the time, this worked fine. Only once a new feature introduced a major bug that impacted the game play for a lot of users. That time, the robot would sometimes seriously misbehave, e.g. continuing its path even though it should have died by falling off a tile.

Except for this one instance, most bugs have been minor issues that most players won’t run into. There are a few minor blemishes still present in the game, but I’m working my way through them.

So, it seems appropriate that RoboZZle gets a B- for quality.

Incoming Traffic: C+

Hmm… incoming traffic. While the loyalty of visitors seems to be great, the incoming traffic numbers aren’t quite as impressive. This table gives a quick summary:

Visits 23,000
Absolute Unique Visitors 12,754
Registered Players 1,379
Registered Players with 10+ puzzles solved 877

23,000 visits is nothing to sneeze at, but I’ve seen similar numbers for  a blog post that took me a weekend to write. (In all fairness, most of those visitors probably spent less than a second “reading” my blog post.)

Here are the main sources of incoming traffic for

Domain Visits 4,013 1,826 1,366 839 779 348

So, it’s, some popular Russian site, google, dotnetkicks, and two blogs (both recommended reading). Other than that, there are many sources that contribute a small number of visitors each.

I should be able to do better. A part of the problem is that most people still don’t have Silverlight installed, and Silverlight gaming is in its infancy. There are signs that this is about to improve, such as, and, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The other part of the problem is that I need to learn how to better market RoboZZle and draw in visitors. This is a new territory for me, but I’m learning new things every day.

And that’s the main reason I’m working on RoboZZle, so it’s OK. :-)


11 Comments to “The first month of my online game”

  1. […] wrote about the first month of RoboZZle on my personal blog: It’s now been a month since I launched […]

  2. Congratulations, it looks like it’s gone well from here. How you market it going forward will be interesting to watch. Funny to see my blog post there, it’I haven’t written one since and it’s generated the most traffic on my blog of any post I’ve done.


  3. […] The first month of my online game – Igor Ostrovsky Igor evaluates his cool RoboZZle online game, that has given me and my 6 y/o already a couple hours of fun […]

  4. Abednego says:

    Don’t worry about marketing. Keep improving your game, making the interface more intuitive and responsive and adding features. Games like this market themselves. The time you have right now is very critical. You have a modest number of users. Listen to their feedback carefully and make improvements as quickly as you can. If all goes well, the link aggregators will find you soon enough, and it will be too late to fix things then.

    Beware of, and . They will sneak up on you with no warning, hit hard with a massive wave and then leave. You goal should be to get as many returning visitors from those waves as you can.

    I wish I could see what the game looks like. I tried installing the Linux version of Silverlight, but it crashed during installation. :(

  5. Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Abednego.

    Initially, I was concerned that with no incoming new traffic, the game will “die off”. But, it seems that at this point, the user base is stable enough to keep people coming back for a good while.

    Until either the Silverlight adoption increases or I add at least a limited non-Silverlight client, I think that I am fairly safe from digg, reddit and fark. On the positive side, a big chunk of the traffic that I do get is from people interested in Silverlight. So, it may just work out pretty well in the end.

    Unfortunately, the game does not work on Linux until the release of Moonlight 2 (final release in September). Until then, it’s only Windows and Mac. :-/

  6. Andrey Prudnikov says: is not just some popular russian site. :) It’s a most popular and powerful IT-community on exUSSR area.

  7. Andrey Prudnikov says:

    BTW, today I’ve noticed some strange thing while looking at scoreboard. Yesterday I had about 105+ solved puzzles, but today I see number 95. Is something wrong with statistics or you have deleted some levels?
    PS: my nickname in game – prudnikoff

  8. Hi Andrey,

    That would explain why I got so many visitors from :-)

    Regarding your question about stats, I added a rule that if a puzzle’s popularity is -5 or less, the puzzle does not show up in the game, and it also does not count towards your scoreboard statistics. It is still accessible via

    However, your user page still shows a count that includes the invisible puzzles. I plan to fix this soon.

    This was discussed (among other things) on this thread:


  9. Tom Theisen says:

    Ah, you flatter me. :)

    Great job igoro! You’ve been very receptive to user feedback, both from casual and more serious players. Your turnaround for new features has been quite impressive.

    I don’t know much about marketing, but I think any free web game as consistently good as robozzle will inevitably gain some attention. Especially one with user generated content. One comparison that comes to mind is Fantastic Contraption, which has exploded beyond all original expectations.

    Keep up the good work.


  10. Dan S. says:

    I love the game, but can only play it through the javascript interface since I’m a linux user. Nonetheless, I’m hooked! Thanks for the brainy diversion, and for providing a fallback from silverlight.

  11. I love to play the game .When I started to play the game at that time I spent a lot of time to play the games.

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