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harris 12-11-2010 05:18 PM

Jim, where do we go from here! (Redux)
Originally, this was asked at the completion of 3.1 but no reply was given. Possibly overlooked, but maybe it was ignored on purpose. :sad:

I'll try one more time, never to be asked by me again. :)


After you take a well deserved vacation and finish relishing in your accomplishment of MA3.1, have you thought about what direction you will go in next?

Are you feeling frisky enough to tackle the collision avoidance issue again, or will you let the artist in you add a few more beautiful objects in the tank first?

Jim Sachs 12-11-2010 05:35 PM

It's hard to justify spending time on new features or additions unless sales pick up again. The recession has hit us hard, and sales are only about 10% of what they were before.

If I could somehow convince Samsung that including a 3D Blu-Ray disk of MA3 with their 3D-ready TVs would be good for both of us, that could fund more development. Their commercials already look just like the Aquarium.

Barring that, I'm looking into other ways of earning a living.

patscarr 12-11-2010 08:16 PM

Convincing Samsung is not your job, Jim. That's Prolific's job. Kick somebody in the butt over there and get them moving on this.

Jav400 12-11-2010 09:33 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but I always kind of thought you generated sales by creating something the people wanted, not by hoping they changed their minds themselves.

harris 12-11-2010 10:37 PM

Maybe I'm missing something here, but...

Since Marine Aquarium 3 already has a user base of thousands (tens/hundreds of thousands?) who are eagerly anticipating the "creature packs", you should have a steady stream of income generated with nothing more than an email alert!

Jim Sachs 12-11-2010 11:23 PM

The installed base of MA3 users is still extremely small.

harris 12-12-2010 03:44 PM


I was pondering the fate of Marine Aquarium development. This is my opinion and I'm sure there are others who will disagree, but hopefully many more who do agree. ;)

You have certainly keep your end the agreement to early adopters for improvements without charging an upgrade fee, and a very modest upgrade fee for more recent upgraders to versions 3.0/3.1.

So, if you were to continue development with the collision avoidance, individual fish behavior, more objects, plants, creature packs, etc, it would truly justify a major version upgrade to 4.0. You would then be able to charge a more profitable upgrade fee, and a slightly higher inital purchase price for new customers. Thus, making development profitable again (allowing you to shelve the peanut butter sandwiches). :)

Speaking for myself, if the above improvements were made I would gladly pay the full purchase price again to see continued progress.

Just my thoughts...

Jim Sachs 12-12-2010 04:19 PM

Your willingness to pay for an upgrade is very generous, but no longer the norm. In this economy, there doesn't seem to be much willingness to buy ANYTHING which is not essential for survival.

Even if people were willing to spend, the problem is attracting their attention. It used to be that our presence in stores acted as advertising, but with the demise of computer stores we just don't appear on screens any more. I'd like to do some actual advertising, but with the prices on Amazon or Google, I'd only have one shot. If it didnt work, it would mean the end of me.

BUZZIN_NICE 12-15-2010 05:43 PM

just been reading through this thread and i find it seriously sad, i've been looking forward to collision avoidance progress and hi-def fish.

i know this sounds extreme but is there no way that the software could put in a sale, where maybe not even making profit but with the addition of a donate button. I would expect a massive take-up on this cut price and you'd be opening up to a much larger audience and hopefully a lot of donations from the large audience wanting hi-def fish and collision avoidance.

I told you it was extreme but, maybe it could work with small donations but in much greater quantities, than making bigger profit in much less quantities from a smaller pool of users.

Failing that, what about selling seperate fish packs as addons etc...

Jim Sachs 12-15-2010 08:37 PM

Regarding the "Donate" button, if you know anyone who has had success with that business model, I'd be eager to talk to them.

Setting a price point has always been tricky. When I re-invented the idea of charging for a "screensaver", I just picked $19.95 out of thin air. It worked so well that I was afraid to tinker with it much. If I cut the price in half, sales would need to more than double to cover the extra volume of customer support. Once you try a radical experiment like that, it's difficult to go back for a "do-over".

As for the fish packs, that had always been the plan.

feldon34 12-16-2010 10:27 AM


Originally Posted by BUZZIN_NICE (Post 128953)
the software could put in a sale, where maybe not even making profit but with the addition of a donate button. I would expect a massive take-up on this cut price and you'd be opening up to a much larger audience and hopefully a lot of donations from the large audience wanting hi-def fish and collision avoidance.

An interesting idea, but not grounded in reality.

Marine Aquarium has been available at alarming discounts for several years now (sometimes as little as $5 a copy) and not seen significant sales increases.

Collision Avoidance doesn't put butts in the seats. Something new (an eel, etc.) does.

nicksteel 12-16-2010 10:57 AM

i agree. The crab in DA being an example. There's nothing out there in a quality program with more interesting sea life forms.

Also, MA could use the same DA run techinques, where you have to connect to a server for updates, etc. This could screen pirate copies.

pogona 12-18-2010 01:40 PM

maybe the problem is that you should make it more than a screensaver, people doesn't use screensavers, they are not interested in buying one.

how about live desktops? mobile devices already started with there live wallpapers, android phones and others, putting them in the apple and android market (android is growing very much, and also have a lot of users and forum in the internet, this aplication in the market would be one of the best live wallpapers, so sure people will talk about it) I don't know if they are already there but, it's one of the best ways to connect with new users), and how about live computer desktops, not only an image but also not screensaver, with the proper motivation computer companys would put them in new models (I know today they don't really exist, or aren't use or known, but if computer companys start giving free live desktops in there new computers, theres more possibilitys for someone to buy marine aquarium.

if as you said, most of people doesn't know marine aquarium exists, and screensavers are going to die soon, you should try adapting marine aquarium for new aplications.

now, I think putting marine aquarium in the mobile devices and there markets, making some social pages for marine aquiarium like in facebook, etc. and making marine aquarium more than a screensaver are the best you can do.

hope this helps in anyway, but remember, you must do something, don't wait luck to come, and good luck.

streetwolf 12-19-2010 08:40 AM

Why not include an autographed Jim Sachs nautical cap with each copy of MA? That's sure to be the deal maker.


Ralph 12-19-2010 11:42 AM

Perhaps he could include shares, kind of like a time share thing.. to his new castle. One share would entitle the owner to take a picture from the main road.. two shares a walk up to the moat.. 5~6 lunch :D

Jim Sachs 12-19-2010 12:36 PM

Actually, a lottery for a free stay in our B&B room (when it's done), might be a pretty good idea.

The big problem remains how to get the word out, since nearly all of our exposure has dried up. Sure, we're still featured in a lot of movies and TV shows, but that never does us any good because no one has any idea that they are looking at something they could buy (or where to buy it). The one time that a TV show flashed our website address on the screen, we sold over 700 copies in a couple of hours.

For years, almost all our sales were driven by people seeing the Aquarium on hundreds of screens in Costco, CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Now, half those chains are gone, and the other half have learned that they can charge big bucks to display products on those screens.

Racer57 12-19-2010 07:47 PM

Well, it wouldn't hurt to look into the "Shopping Channels." Perhaps as part of a hardware sale package, or in the electronics component time blocks as stand alone products (all of your creations for the PC). As you are well aware they have huge viewing audiences. Jeez, when Dell is featured on QVC or they like they sell 50K units in a couple of hours.

Racer57 12-19-2010 08:21 PM

Ok then, more rambling thoughts. Marketing, marketing. Are you listening Prolific? What is the new, not necessarily best thing, happening in TV presently? Is it not 3D??? Game consoles, BlueRay players, PC's all tying into the main TV in the house and projecting 3D programing to it. What better way to show it off your creation with the limited programing now available. I would much rather watch your acquarium program than 3D football occassionally, that is between my viewings of Avatar in 3D. Give the masses something that they can enjoy NOW!

Yes, u r right, your program should not be marketed as a screen saver. That phraseology is outdated. Market it as a program. A program for people who enjoy acquariums by either can't afford a salt water acquarium or care for it properly. Feeding the fish would be a great interactive tool right from the get go.

Jim you talk about Costco, among others, not displaying your programs anymore. Well now they have several 3D displays in each store. Contact Vizio, Costcos favourite supplier of TV's. They started as a one horse upstart company and look at what they are doing. Maybe they would bundle your programs with their 3D DVD players and 3D TV's.

Keep plugging away at Apple and others. How bout the Droid fones? They whole future seems to depend on Smart fones and "do everything" TV's.

Strike while the iron is hot. Think tank this thing out! You are a great artist and certainly a talented programmer but, no offense, it is going to take more than a one-horse operation to make it succeed. Maybe you are burned out in this area, I hope not!

And lastly, for at least the time being , there is discretionary income out there being spent. Electonics and even RV's are doing quite well this year.

Good luck,


Ps. Facebook it, Twitter it, get the word out. Marketing is everything. Even shitty products sell with the proper marketing and you have a great product.

Jav400 12-19-2010 08:53 PM

I have no idea how it would work to translate it, but there aren't any aquarium apps on android that even come close, I know I looked. Everyone has a cell phone any more, even me. :erm: :confused:

I know you might not get to charge as much as for the pc, but with 60 gazallion people with phones even $5.99 or $ 9.99 or something should add up pretty quick once the porting is done.

Jim Sachs 12-19-2010 09:02 PM

As I said a couple of months ago, the 3D market is what I'm trying to break into. I've been attempting to research how to make a 3D Blu-Ray DVD from a 3D application. If anyone has info on this, please speak up.

The only systems I've found are $70,000 hardware/software combinations, but I think maybe they are trying to do more than I really need. They seem to be able to author a 3D title from film or video inputs. Since the Aquarium already looks fantastic on a 120hz monitor with the nVidia 3D Vision system, it would seem like a simple job to encode that output onto a Blu-Ray DVD. After all, the nVidia system has already generated the left-eye/right-eye views, and they are just sitting there in the frame buffers. Unless I'm missing something, a software-only solution could grab those bytes and encode them into the 3D Blu-Ray format.

Samsung, not Vizio, would be the manufacturer I'd try to connect with, once I have a demo DVD in hand. Their commercials already use a simulated aquarium, which many people think is mine. If I could get a DVD made in time, I could try to get someone to play it in the Samsung booth at CES next month.

Regarding phones, the iPhone/iPad version has not generated much income, in spite of the fact that it's usually among the top 5% of best-selling apps. Sales average around 140 per day, but the price is so low and it's split so many ways, that all I get from it is enough to buy my dinner each day. BTW, we just came out with an update last night which adds German localization to the previous English and Japanese versions. The update also tunes up the graphics for the 4G.

patscarr 12-20-2010 07:41 AM

Well, now, getting this DVD together is definitely something that Prolific could do.

jleslie 12-20-2010 10:59 AM

I'd suggest e-mailing Nvidia and asking them, they used to be great for software support (unlike hardware design, alas) - unfortunately my contacts there are only for buying chips.

Racer57 12-20-2010 12:00 PM

Jim, I think that be only adding an eel for the cave that would poke his head in an out, make the starfish change positions and the ability to feed the fish would really enhance your product and thus you could demand a higher price. I would certainly pay for those enhancements.


pogona 12-20-2010 03:24 PM

well, apple isn't the same as android, android is much more accesable, not so exclusive, even some aplications, like the game angry birds, sold for free for android has become more profitable than the pay version for the iphone. (so not everything is written, android is giving a lot of surprises)

I think it worths the try to put it in the android market, at least, sure people will talk more about it. and a donation version may not be very rentable, but something is something.

nowadays investing in android is an intelligent idea.

Jim Sachs 12-20-2010 04:00 PM

Not going to happen. The iPhone version was easy for Jim O'Connor's team because it was nearly identical to their Mac version. An Android version would be a complete re-write.

patscarr 12-20-2010 05:04 PM


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 128791)
It's hard to justify spending time on new features or additions unless sales pick up again.

Ouch! No creature packs! Sigh! That's one of the top 3 reasons I stuck around so long.

Jim Sachs 12-20-2010 07:38 PM

You never know. If a TV manufacturer were to pick up the 3D Blu-Ray version, it could spark renewed interest and fund a new round of features.

Nicki 12-21-2010 10:05 AM

There's a factor in all of this, that MA is Jim's bread and butter. The more people he splits sales income with, the longer it's going to take him finish the house, get the movie together and so on. So he needs a path of least resistance to increase sales. I've wondered about getting it shown on the Ellen Degeneres show. She had that fireplace DVD up for weeks and it's nowhere near as interesting.

Yellow Tang 12-21-2010 11:53 AM

some ideas you could find here:

Jim Sachs 12-21-2010 12:49 PM

Nicki Gets It.

YT - thanks - I had visited most of those sites before, but I still don't have a clear path for cutting a 3D Blu-Ray DVD. Those Q&A sessions always start out so promising, but usually end in a very un-satisfying, "Just run the output through a bifurcated cam toggle, and Bob's your uncle!"

The closest thing to an actual solution seems to be from a guy named Tim Dashwood, but his stuff appears to need Final Cut, which is a very expensive Mac-only product.

pogona 12-21-2010 02:48 PM

and how about windows phones?, they are also starting to take off, the addaptation should be easier.

Jim Sachs 12-21-2010 03:43 PM

I don't know if they use DirectX or not.

feldon34 12-22-2010 03:18 AM


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 129094)
The closest thing to an actual solution seems to be from a guy named Tim Dashwood, but his stuff appears to need Final Cut, which is a very expensive Mac-only product.

Looks like you can do it with Final Cut Pro or Adobe After Effects. Both cost over $1,000. Link

By the way, I would think that the installed base of people with:
  • 3D-capable Blu-Ray player
  • 3D-capable 120Hz display
  • 3D glasses and willing to wear them every time they view the Aquarium
could be measured in the hundreds.


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 129105)
I don't know if they use DirectX or not.

Windows Phone 7 supports DirectX 9 with Shader Model 3.

Jim Sachs 12-22-2010 11:20 AM

The point of doing a 3D Blu-Ray would not be to sell a bunch of 3D Blu-Ray disks, it would be to get us noticed again. Right now, every Costco, Fry's and Best Buy have at least one prominently-displayed 3D setup with people standing in line to see the tired factory demo, because there's nothing else available. Getting a version of MA on all those screens puts us back to where we were 5 years ago, and people start coming to again.

I saw that Windows Phone article yesterday, and it looked encouraging. Then I saw that it was from last March, and there were subsequent articles that suggested DirectX 10/11 would be necessary. It still might be do-able, if they don't require the Managed version. It's also been suggested that C# might be needed for development, which I don't do. Developer info is surprisingly sparse. Unless it would be just a one or two-day re-compile, I doubt if I'd be willing to do a Windows Phone version. I designed the Aquarium for big displays, and it's really only a throw-away novelty on a tiny phone screen.

dampfnudel 12-22-2010 07:56 PM

On a 3DTV-related note:

Jim Sachs 12-22-2010 08:49 PM

I finally figured out the missing step in burning a 3D Blu-Ray DVD. It's getting the video output into a 3D AVI file format. There are various products out there that can burn the disks (often just using a normal cheap DVD burner), but they need to start with a 3D AVI file, or the equivalent.

One step closer. At least I know what to look for now. (A cursory Google search was a bit disappointing, though. Several programs claim to be able to screen-capture movies from 3D apps, but it appears that the resulting AVI file is not 3D.)

cjmaddy 12-23-2010 04:52 AM

Re: We All Hate 3DTV!

Originally Posted by dampfnudel (Post 129149)

Agreed! - But.....
Why do I have the feeling that the more Jim is reminded that 3D is dead in the water, the more he will be determined to chase a lost cause? ... ;)

Yes, 3D can look wonderful. (For a brief passing moment!) - I experienced that with my 3D shutter glasses, - But like most everyone else since the changeover from analog TV, I recently purchased a superb new HD TV. - There is no way I'm now going to throw all that away for a niche technology that barely has any support.... (Plus, the need for 3D glasses, and the willingness to wear them whenever there is 3D!)


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 129122)
The point of doing a 3D Blu-Ray would not be to sell a bunch of 3D Blu-Ray disks, it would be to get us noticed again. Right now, every Costco, Fry's and Best Buy have at least one prominently-displayed 3D setup with people standing in line to see the tired factory demo, because there's nothing else available. Getting a version of MA on all those screens puts us back to where we were 5 years ago, and people start coming to again...

Jim, I honestly don't think getting a 3D version of MA on a very few 3DTV screens will put you back to where you were 5 years ago. - At that time, the whole general public could get MA running on their existing equipment. This time you would be playing only to those few who fall for this latest 3D gimmick. - I don't really think it would start many new people coming to again.

Jim Sachs 12-23-2010 10:34 AM

Lacking any better suggestions, I don't really see a downside to doing a 3D Blu-Ray. If I just had the knowlege of how to make one, the advantages would be several:

1. No programming is necessary, the program already puts out 3D, all I have to do is capture it and burn a disk.

2. There are thousands of 3D kiosks set up at major store chains, with hundreds of thousands of eyes looking at them every day.

3. There is virtually no other 3D content yet. Just by being one of the first, we'd get press coverage.

4. Samsung's entire international ad campaign ALREADY looks like they are using my Aquarium. They just might see it as a match made in heaven.

5. If even one manufacturer were to simply package my disk with their TV, it would be the only demo available for all the new owners to show their friends. The SereneScreen URL would be displayed once again.

6. All this could happen for just the price of a trip to Las Vegas. CES is only about 3 weeks off, and all the 3DTV companies will be displaying there. I'm hoping that just like in my old C-64 and Amiga days, I can easily slip into various booths and convince the floor workers to play my disk instead of whatever tired demo they are using. Eventually, company officials would wander through their own booth, and say, "Wow...what's THIS?"

Remember, the goal is not to sell 3D Blu-Ray disks (although I'd be surprised if we didn't sell 500 of them). The goal is to get noticed for little or no expenditure. I don't really care if the whole 3DTV industry is dead in a year, as long as a bunch of new customers are made aware of our product. As has always happened, any new influx of customers is self-sustaining for a long time, because they all become evangalists for SereneScreen.

harris 12-23-2010 10:45 AM


It sounds like a very ambitious, well thought-out plan. I wish you success.

Jim Sachs 12-23-2010 11:07 AM

Ha, ha - of all my plans, this is the least ambitious. If I could just figure out how to get the bytes from my nVidia frame buffers to a 3D AVI file, I could have a 3D Blu-Ray disk by the end of the day.

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