Solitaire plays out well for Dogmelon

THE opportunity to create a game for a DVD content provider has turned into a long-term business opportunity for local programmers Anthony Wiese and Dan Fletcher, and has led to them supplying programs for the popular palm pilot device.

Their company, Dogmelon, which is run out of Mr Wiese’s garage, sells an organising program called Wiki and a version of Solitaire to palm pilot users.

Mr Wiese described Wiki as a form of electronic post-it-note for the PDA that the user can always lay his or her hands on.

“It’s a quick easy way of opening hyper links to new pages on a palm pilot,” he said.

“We had to effectively write

the program twice, once for the PC and once for palm pilots.

“With this program you can go to a meeting and set up some new pages on your palm pilot related to that meeting. When you get back to your office you can send it back to your PC.”

Mr Fletcher said the Wiki system also had its own encryption devices so people could safely keep sensitive information on their palm pilots.

Both admit that the two programs are not about to turn them into millionaires just yet.

They sell the programs by posting them on websites and receive royalty cheques from the sales. Their main retail website is Handango.

Wiki sells for $US25 and Dogmelon gets 70 per cent of that. About 100 people download the company’s software each day and between 5 per cent to 10 per cent of them will decide to purchase it.

Mr Wiese said the best way for the company to increase its sales was to increase its downloads.

“We have to improve the registration rate [purchases] and the downloads,” he said.

Mr Wiese said there were 81 versions of Solitaire available for the palm pilot.

“We’re running at sixth on the list. It’s so much about being in front of the users,” he said.

Mr Wiese said it was harder to promote the Wiki program be-cause it was so difficult to describe.

“The kind of sales we’re recording are pretty small bikkies,” he said.

“I don’t think you could run a big company with 10-plus developers on palm software unless you have a AAA program that everyone uses.”

Indeed, they still have to take on contract work to earn a living, although the need for this was decreasing.

The move into their own business could have turned out very badly, however.

The day after the men resigned their positions with WA game developer Bungarra to pursue the DVD game opportunity, content provider Nuon announced its intention to file for bankruptcy.

Undeterred, the pair continued, offering their take on the game of solitaire to E-Bookman users. Orders soon started rolling in.

An E-Bookman is similar to a palm pilot but is really designed for downloading and reading books.

After the E-Bookman move proved moderately successful, they turned to selling programs for the more popular palm pilots.

Industry experts believe the idea to adapt the game of Solitaire was a smart one for a fledgling company because it was in the public domain and a game that most people could play.

Mr Wiese said he believed they had chosen the E-Bookman because it required them to fill out fewer forms to provide their software to it.

“E-Bookman sales have been slow but they’ve picked up lately,” he said.

Mr Fletcher said the company hoped to have its Solitaire version taken up by Microsoft’s game console X-Box.

“We’re selling it on the basis that it’s a game for parents,” he said.

Dogmelon is also working on its own strategy game called Balants.

Mr Wiese said it was a game he and Mr Fletcher played when they were trying to work out who would be the one to go and make tea.

The game is still in the development stage and artists are yet to be brought in to render animation but Mr Wiese and Mr Fletcher have high hopes for it.


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