Monday, August 25, 2008

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Hi kids and faux-kids. Lots going on as usual. We've been busier than ever bringing your toadally awesome suggestions to life. We also get lots of comments about how we should be focusing on our games more than our integrated happy fun-time social networking and super-sweet prizes. Ask and ye shall receive! Great games will always be what we are about, and the input you've given us over the past six years will come shining through over the coming months. We've been engineering some hot new tournament and skill games, and are performing enhancements to our classic games that are leaps and bounds (but mostly "leaps") above anything you've ever played online.

Following our last blog entry, someone suggested we allow players to leave messages on games pages. Awesome idea! Done and done. Leave your mark and your comments. Cool. We also get lots of comments about a "pause" feature. OK. You've got that, too. Of course, not all games will allow you to make time stand still. That wouldn't make sense in the games were time is the essence of the game, right? Still, it will be nice to be able to answer the phone in the middle of an intense game of Snake Fish.

And what about this whole social thing? This won't be just another stale, hard to navigate online "forum", you know. Nope. No matter what you find yourself doing at ToadGames, your best buddies are always just a click away, Express yourself and be seen and heard! You don't have to listen to anyone you don't want to, either. It's all about what you want at the new and improved

Keep the comments coming and hang on for the coolest pond on the planet.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

Hola, amigos. It's been awhile but we've been busy little beavers at TG Central. Just a couple of things I want to run by you and then it's back to the code mines.

One of the ways that we really think we really stand out from the crowd of other amphibian-themed game sites is with our community. And that's just as much your doing as it is ours. And with TG 3.0, we want to make sure that we can give you the tools to take our community to the next level. Here are the big concepts of what we're planning:

Gated Community - All the rage among the jet-set these days and we're taking that concept online. By charging for membership, we're going to keep the riff-raff out. No bots, spammers, scammers, jammers and any other -mmers will be allowed in. For those nefarious types bold enough to plunk down real green for admission, they'll get the boot as soon as the first time they step out of line. We're going to set up methods for you to help us keep watch, too. A neighborhood watch with virtual flashlights and matching jackets. Mebbe a golf cart, too.

A Home Away From Home - Each member will be able to set up his or her own home page, with colors, graphics, pithy sayings and images of those o' so adorable grandchildren. Who never call. Ingrates. You'll have control over the color and style and you'll be able to pick and choose from a number of cool widgets like slide shows, sounds, weather, clocks and your personal high scores.

Event Registration - For online (Bingo!) and offline (Toga Party) events, you'll be able to invite your chums and even cast about for some new ones. Set up that standing online poker table for Friday nights, invite your old bubs from the neighborhood and kick back for some fun, without having to inhale Chuck's rancid stogey. Or even wear pants.

Email - We're planning on integrating email into the new site in some fashion, how that's gonna work we're not quite sure yet. One thing for sure is that each member will receive his or her very own email address. You will be the envy of the condo board when your missives about trash collection and people not parking between the lines at the pool come from your exclusive email address.

Forum - As we've mentioned before, the forum will be pervasive throughout the site. You'll have running commentaries in each game and section on the site. Scrolling messages will announce new top scores and who's butt you'll have to kick in SnakeFish to regain the top spot.

This is just to get started. And like any project, the "oh, we could do that and we could do that" factor has gotten us a bit off schedule. Not to mention that we're all still full-time clock-punchers. But we'll get there and with your help, we'll make TG 3.0 the place to be. Pants optional. Keep those comments coming and until next time....


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The many faces of Toad

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

Ok, a couple of quick things and then it's back to coding. I want to make sure everyone hears about two programs we're starting, Referrals and Power Levels.

First, the referrals. It's pretty simple, for every ten people that you refer who sign up for an annual subscription, you get a one-year extension to your subscription. Easy, peasey, no fuss, no muss. We're going to make it simple to refer people by having an "Email to a friend" function. It'll send a coded link to the user that will keep track of the fact that you referred them. Rack up 10 and you're golden for 12 more fun-filled months. Send 100 like-minded individuals with the requisite cabbage our way and your entertainment needs are met until nearly 2020. Send a 1000 people and I personally guarantee that Dan and Chris will come to your house, stand on your front lawn and sing "Endless Love" while holding hands. Pure magic.

We're also going to open up the referral process to non-subscription members. So if you want a subscription and can't quite swing one, here's your chance to turn a bit of sweat equity into a bona-fide membership.

To qualify, the person you referred must sign up for a one-year membership. And this only applies to new members, no renewals. And in the event of a conflict over the referral with another member, you'll duke it out, Thunderdome-style. Chainsaws and chains, two go in, one comes out.

Wait a sec... What? We can't have people fight to the death? Really? Ok, Chris just said that we can't legally have members fight. So in the event of a dispute, the judges (us) will make some capricious and arbitrary decision. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that.

And while you're feverishly combing your old high school year books for people your can refer, a curious thing is happening to your account. It's called Power Levels and it's the greatest thing since square plastic mayonnaise jars. Each confirmed referral also gives you a bump in your token multiplier. Everyone starts out at 1x. Play a game, earn 100 tokens and 100 tokens get dropped into your account. For every referral, that number will go up by .05. Play another game, earn 100 tokens and 105 tokens get dropped into your account. See the beauty? It's all about the math, we worked it out with NASA. They're going to use it on the space station, I think. Of course, it can't go on forever, that would be chaos. The Power Levels top out at 2x but by then you're racking up double what the hoi polloi is pulling down.

So there you have it, two more facets of that jewel we call Toad Games. Be there or be square. Until next time....


Thursday, June 5, 2008

The New Face of TG

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

Behold the new mascot for Toad Games! Handsome devil, ain't he? He was brought to life by an old friend of ours, Ronnie Sampson. Ronnie and his wife run a design studio out in San Francisco, doing creative animation for children's learning software. Really nice stuff and they've got a whole shelf of awards to prove it.

I'm not sure why he's not wearing pants. I'm just going to imagine that he's got some short shorts on, covered by his sweater.

He needs a name, too. But before you start firing off can't-miss witticisms, give us a chance to get organized and set up a proper survey.

Once again I want to mention how grateful we are for the positive feedback regarding the direction that we're taking TG. Seven years is a long time to carry this site and there's just so much more we want to do with it. And to those few who insist that you're taking your "business" elsewhere when we start charging, so be it. We absolutely understand and hope that you find another online community that meets your needs for less than 15 cents a day. We'll still be here, growing and expanding, and ready to welcome you back whenever you're ready. To paraphrase Tom Bodett, we'll keep the servers on for ya. Until next time....


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Feel Purdy

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

First, let me address the most pressing question in all of your minds, based on the responses we've received:

I am, in fact, a man. My middle name is Franklin, hence the nickname Lin. I am immensely flattered by the all the attention, however, and the new-found confidence you've given me should carry me right through the Speedo season.

Now on to more pressing issues. We've heard a few of you raise your voices in concern regarding the cost. And, not surprisingly, we heard even more of you raise your voices in asking how you can help those who may be less able to afford TG. Wow, even the most hardened, cynical, world-weary web-surfer would get a little misty over the responses.

So here's what we're thinking about doing. We don't have all of the details worked out but we want to create a sponsorship program. Those of you who want to help can sign up to be a sponsor. Those of you who need help can sign up to be sponsored. Sponsor + sponsee should equal a robust supply of good karma for all. Obviously there are a lot of issues to be worked out, privacy being one of the major concerns. Both sponsor and sponsee (is that even a word?) may or may not want to have their particular status known and we want to respect that. We may just have a Sponsor Hall of Fame and various perks for the sponsor's membership (tokens, new membership levels, NPR-style tote bags, who knows?) Stay tuned for more info.

One more thing about cost. I know we put a number out there last week. And it was a number that wasn't arrived at lightly. That being said, we're still willing to consider various tiers of memberships with various levels of features. We've also got to consider the 800-pound gorilla in the room whose name starts with "P" and ends with "O" and whose middle letters are "OG" and, well, you get the picture.

Next item: Family Memberships. Great idea and we're willing to put forth some effort to figure this out. We're pro-family in whatever incarnation you and yours have decided to configure yourselves in and we want to support that. It's also a grand opportunity for nafarious behavior and we don't want to get taken to the cleaners if the Dalton Gang takes a fancy to the online life. Once again, we're for it but we'll have to work out the details.

Next item: Token Transfers. Yes, it will happen. However, it may be a Warren Buffet-style stock swap where you may not get the same number of tokens in the new site as you had in the old. You may get less but they're worth more. Or you may get more but they're worth less. I advise you to continue playing TG with vigor and ignore the stock market. Too depressing these days anyway.

Regarding free trials and the like, please remember you'll still be able to play a lot of the games on TG for free even if you don't pony up the fifteen cents a day. However, you may have to sit through a sales pitch before playing each game, not unlike that "seminar" in the Poconos where they tried to get you to purchase a week in some moldy condo by the turnpike with a "mountain vista view", which, incidentally, was blocked by the dumpster. You also won't be able to accumulate tokens, chat on the forum, play the multi-player games or any of the other cool stuff we've got planned, like ToadKins (get it?), badges and awards, photo albums and personalized home pages, VIP access to new games, widgets, head to head challenges.....oh yes, my fellow toad-gamers, the things we have in store for you.....

Keep the comments coming! Until next time,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Firmer Lilypad On Which To Land

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

I need to find the right collective name to use for you all, Toad-Gamites, Toad-Gamerators, Toad-Gamerians. Just plain Toads may have been a bit too casual, let's stick with the Toad-Gamers for now.

And thank you all for the kind words of welcome, I'm excited to be here and I'm excited to hear your ideas and encouragements. Just one point of order, we haven't edited the comments at all. You're seeing it, warts and all (sorry). We've gotten a lot of direct emails messages in addition to the forum and the blog. That's fine, too. If you want to make a point offline without incurring the wrath of your fellow gamers, that's fine.

Please keep the comments coming and I'll keep the communications flowing your way as well.

That being said, let's get back to the matter at hand. So if we're not going to have advertising, it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to make the leap to what we are going to do. Yes, Virginia, we're moving TG to a pay site.

Now before you break out the torches and pitchforks, hear me out. We're looking at what we consider to be a very modest fee to be a full-fledged member of TG. We snapped some beads on the ol' abacus and the total, per day, is around 15 cents. Yes, that's right race fans, spare change you might not bend over to pick up if you were in a hurry. One thin dime and one slightly fatter nickel (big bones), probably living by the thousands in the plaid couch in the basement rec room. Skip one Mocha Skim De-Caf Sumatran Double-Shot No Foam Latte with Sustainable Farming Cinnamon and you've probably fixed your TG wagon for that month and then some.

Now, of course, we're not going to pass the collection plate daily. We're gonna need a little up front action from you guys. And so we don't waste anyone's time or give the VISA folks too much in fees, the memberships will be renewed annually. Just think, NPR has pledge drives twice a year and we're only throwing ours once. Half the hassle with infinitely more fun.

So that's about it for this installment of the TG blog. To keep Madison Avenue off of our collective backs, we're switching to a pay site. The best price will be for an annual renewal of about $48, which is $4/month, $.15 per day, 6-tenths of a cent per hour... Well, you get the picture. Until next time,


Friday, May 23, 2008

Ripples Across The Pond

Hello Fellow Toads,

Big things are afoot at and this blog is the place to find out what they are, what they mean and when they're gonna happen.

My name is Lin and I'm the newest member of the Toad Games team. Dan, Chris and I go way back, and for the past few months we've been working together and wrestling with Toad Games, what it is and what we think it should become. We've reached a crossroads of sorts with the site and we've put together this blog to bring you into our thinking, our goals and our vision for this online community we've created, and you've built.

Toad Games has been free since the beginning. We've gotten by from your generous donations and our wallets. And that's gotten us pretty far. We're proud of what we've become and what we've accomplished.

However, it's been sticking in the back our minds that we were capable of building something bigger. Capable and hungry to build an online community that goes beyond games and create a real social network that lets people connect on whatever level they want. To make friends, have fun and to interact in a meaningful way.

Of course, therein lies the rub. To do this will require much more than our part-time efforts and your generous but not always consistent donations. Sorry to phrase it like that, some of you give and give and we do appreciate it. Some of you, well.....

So we started out on a path to make Toad Games at least self-supporting and hopefully, us-supporting. Most of the larger social networks are free, relying on advertising, banners and sponsors and, by golly, that's what we wanted to do. We interviewed various sponsors, advertising networks, marketing concerns, snake-oil salesman, carpet-baggers and all manner of slick advertising folk who were going to guarantee us a big chunk of free money each and every month.

In exchange for our souls.

The thing that we discovered (even though our dads told us many times) is there's no free lunch. It all started out innocently enough, hey, just put up a banner here and we'd like to get a sponsor link here and, oh yeah, you'll need to send us your updated member list each and every month. And yes, we'll need home addresses and phone numbers and maybe if you let us know what they're doing on the site so we can start to really focus in on each and every member and start ramming messages down their throats for stuff they don't need and probably don't want but by then we'll know them better than they know themselves.


Basically, concoct any sort of future-society-gone-bad movie plot that you can and there you have it. Every meeting we came out of, we were more and more depressed and knew, in our heart of hearts, that this would destroy the essence of Toad Games.

So what to do?

We went back to the drawing board, put on our green visors (like the old bankers wore) and started crunching the numbers. And when we were done, we had a plan. It was going to take a whole lot longer to get that Ferrari (or even a gently used Honda) but we knew it was sustainable, preserved the fabric of Toad Games and would allow us to build this site up to what we know it can be. And what we know you want it to be.

And, oddly enough, it should cost less than a gallon of gas per month.

Next time, we'll start to get into the nitty-gritty of the plan and what it means. And by all means, tell us what you think. Comments are open, go nuts (like I need to tell you).