Category: Business

whew, 3 classes today!  I was stuck at the school from 8am till 8pm.  First class was about our financial projections, second class was about psychology and reality, third was about budgeting.  This whole week is about financial stuff but I think my last post with all those spreadsheets is a good start with just making sure this whole thing is even feasable.  Second class was full of zen-like questions about what gives money, products, services, etc. value, and how your perspective shapes your view of those things.  I’m big into general psychology/philosophy so I’ve already mulled over those questions in years past.

It was cool that they covered it though…this course is really covering all the bases.  There’s even a class about making a smooth transition to a home entrepreneur and separating your work and home life where they talk about how to get your kids to help with the chores because you’re busy working in your space of the house you’ve designated a work area, etc. etc.  It’s not particularly relevant to me right now, but it’s impressive that it’s even brought up…I’m not sure a University business course would cover that.  I think I’m pretty set internally to handle this whole adventure.  I’m confident that I have good instincts, the creativity to make some cool shit, and enough industry experience/knowledge to make smart decisions and adapt to changing technology/markets…on top of that I have massive support from all my friends and family.  I’m not feeling stressed at all beyond the sheer amount of work, it’s not complicated stuff it’s just a lot of it in a short time-frame…but then, that’s what I signed up for, haha

- Yarr

Day 12, sub-zero finances

Today was more financial stuff.  Cash in/out sheets and income statements.  This is where we’re going to be figuring out actual numbers and learn if we’re going to need to cut costs somewhere or find more start-up money, etc.

We’re allowed to lose money, you can have negative income for a bunch of months, especially at the start where you’re putting money in without having much sales-wise…as long as your actual “for the business” money doesn’t drop below 0 because then, well, you have no money haha  I should be alright, I’ve been saving since I was younger for this so I have a chunk of money stored away in the bank.  Its not much but it’ll be enough that I don’t have to go to investors to fund this…not that using other people’s money is a bad thing, but I want to have full control over everything so I figure the best route is to use as much of my own money as possible.

That means I’ll be paying a programmer out of my own savings for the first while…better not fuck it up haha

- Yarr

Day 13, finally a relaxing night!!

No assignment due right away so I decided to take tonight to just relax and doodle and catch up on some sleep!  It looks like we’re going to be focusing on finances pretty hardcore for a week or so.  No surprise there, since that’s probably the most epic section of importance.  We talked about the Break Even point in business, where you balance the books and finally the money coming in from your business is paying it’s own bills and everyone’s salaries and it’s basically sustaining itself…it’s broken even.  A milestone worth celebrating!

Of course breaking even isn’t good enough, got to set your sights higher and rock a profit!

I’m still designing projects that I can do super quickly.  I’d love to do a Christmas game of some kind just in time for the holiday season and all, but I don’t think I’m going to be running that smoothly by then.  We’re “launching” our businesses Dec 1st, but that might not actually involve working on any games yet, more launching websites and such for them.

I’m thinking designing and writing GDDs will take a chunk of time and I should be factoring that in to my dev time.  3 weeks might be more reasonable than 2 weeks…a week for writing up the design and planning it out with the programmer and a couple days of buffer time, then 2 weeks for the main game development.  We’ll see how it goes though, the first projects will be pretty simple till I get the process down and see where I’m at for money.  Ideally by the end of the year I’ll be developing month-long projects.

Okay sleep time!  Also the pic at the top is related to a game idea haha

- Yarr

ooooo, finally we started on the fun stuff!  I had a pretty good idea of what my demographic was (since I AM my demographic), so the research to find the feasability and market shares and everything was useful info but more work than fun.  Today we got to discuss marketing, and we’ll be focusing on that a lot.

Indie games that bomb bomb because no one knows about them.  Marketing is an after-thought for most people.  You can’t even imagine how many post-mortems I’ve read over the years that follow the same pattern: Developer has a great game idea, he spends 2 years making it, finally releases it and then sits back waiting for the millions to roll in.  Of course no one knows the game even exists except his 5 friends that have been leaving supporting feedback on his website, and then when the guy can’t pay his rent he posts a bunch of pissy articles about how there’s no money in indie games and the success stories are all luck and magic elves delivering gold to the lucky few.

That’s bullshit.  Your game didn’t sell because you didn’t tell people about it.  The excuses range from “I believe in my product, if my game is good people will find it!” to “I’m too humble, it feels like bragging to advertise!” to “sure, marketing’s great if you’re a big corporation but I don’t have any money!” to simply “I don’t know HOW to market!”

This is the age of the Internet.  You can market for free.  Facebook, twitter, game news sites, YouTube videos, these things don’t cost anything more than a little time and effort on your part.  If you have the money then save yourself some time and hire someone to market your game for you.  Sure, it costs a bit of money up front, which sucks when you’re not actually earning any income from your game yet, but if you drop $500 on marketing and make $501 in sales, then that’s a profit.  If you make $2000 extra in sales, then that $500 was a good investment.  If you’re one of the iPhone success stories that ends up making millions, then that $500 was the best $500 you’ve ever spent.

Our instructors have stressed repeatedly that it’s not bad to go into debt, it’s bad to go into stupid debt.  Going into debt for a new 52″ TV is stupid debt.  Going into debt to market a product you’re trying to sell, and doing the research to pick the right channels to market in…that’s smart debt.  Even if you don’t want to go into debt, Twitter, Facebook, E-Mail, message board discussions, etc. are all free forms of advertising.

I’m going to dig this marketing unit a lot.  I’ve got a lot of ideas I want to try, and I’m eager to give new technology and marketing techniques a go!

Far as projects goes I’m still coming up with them and it’s a blast…I love designing stuff and mocking it up and ironing out the kinks.  I had some time to doodle at lunch so the above drawing is related to the last drawing, haha

Also a fellow artist has discovered my secret office-space!  He’s two couches away from me here at the mall and the poor sucker is trying to balance a Wacom tablet AND laptop on his lap at the same time.  I should go over and point him to the Lenovo website haha

- Yarr

Day 15, digging into the savings, eek!

Today was more financial stuff.  Cash in/out sheets and income statements.  This is where we’re going to be figuring out actual numbers and learn if we’re going to need to cut costs somewhere or find more start-up money, etc.

We’re allowed to lose money, you can have negative income for a bunch of months, especially at the start where you’re putting money in without having much sales-wise…as long as your actual “for the business” money doesn’t drop below 0 because then, well, you have no money haha  I should be alright, I’ve been saving since I was younger for this so I have a chunk of money stored away in the bank.  Its not much but it’ll be enough that I don’t have to go to investors to fund this…not that using other people’s money is a bad thing, but I want to have full control over everything so I figure the best route is to use as much of my own money as possible.  It would be demoralizing to have initial profits going toward paying off a debt haha

- Yarr

Day 16, the biggest Apple fanboy ever haha

On the weekend I hit the Apple store and bought a bunch of stuff for dev’ing/testing.  iPhone 3GS, iPad, and a Macbook (figure with a Macbook I can make art changes and such without having to bug the programmer as much).  Unfortunately the 3GS doesn’t work without a sim card.  Like, I can’t even get to the Home screen, all I can do is read the error message about needing to insert a sim card and make emergency phone calls haha  Thanks for not mentioning that, Guy Who Works At The Apple Store, jeeze.  I don’t really want to use it as a phone, just the Wi-fi so I can play games from the App Store and test my own games when I sign up with the dev program.  But if I can’t even get to the Home screen then it’s pretty useless as-is.  I’ll probably just take it back and then go to Rogers and grab one with the cheapest plan they have (I’m assuming the $250 + a 3 year plan is cheaper than going in with this $600 one and seeing if they’ll attach a plan to it) or try a Pay as you Go Sim or something.  When I get an iPhone 4 I’ll get an actual phone plan with it and ditch my “currently on its last legs” Blackberry Pearl haha

The guy put all the stuff into a giant Apple bag and I walked out with it slung over my shoulder like Santa Claus looking like the biggest Apple fanboy in the universe haha  I haven’t actually used Mac’s since college.  When we were growing up, a buddy of mine had a Macintosh with a 5″ black and white screen…that thing was AWESOME.  King’s Quest III, Dark Castle, Scarab of Ra, Shadowgate…so many good memories.  The weirdest part to me at the time was that the graphics were brutal (my PC at the time had big pixely but colorful EGA art), but the sound was PERFECT.  Like fully clear voices and stuff…I always wondered what was up with that.

Today a bookkeeper came in to explain bookkeeping to us.  I learned that I’m going to just hire a bookkeeper, because holy FUCK.

- Yarr

Day 17, business licenses

Really short day today.  Went over business license stuff and by-laws, and our guest speaker was done like 2 hours early, so we got out before noon haha  I spent the day catching up on sleep.  Huge assignment I have to do tomorrow!

- Yarr

Day 18, death & taxes

Today we got to learn about the taxes and write-offs and bonuses and all that jazz. A lot of it went over my head but it’s the stuff I need to learn so I downed a couple redbulls and did my best not to fall asleep haha

I got my iPhone working and even though I’ve loved my Blackberry Pearl for years it feels so weaksauce after using the iPhone haha it can DO the stuff an iPhone does but it’s just not as pretty.  It’s also actually a weird adjustment to type without physical feedback from the buttons.  I can type ridiculously fast on a Pearl, without looking, but with a touch-screen I can’t imagine not looking at it every time I type.  So now people will know when I’m talking to them and txting my friend “save me from this boring chick” at the bar haha

I’m diggin the crap out of the iPhone.  I grew up a PC guy so adjusting to a Macbook is rough (how the hell do I Maximize a window??) but I’m mostly just going to use it to get a build on the devices without needing to bug the programmer if I want to change some art and such.  Seeing the App Store in action was pretty cool…lots of little things I picked up from playing a few games.  Like virtual d-pads blow, so I’ll try not to design games that require those.  I played a game where the d-pads are on the bottom corners and the main play area is flat on the bottom of the screen…wtf??  Your thumbs cover the action half the time.  That was a silly design decision.  It looks like you only get a short blurb of text describing your game and then people have to hit More to see more, so put all the good stuff in that first couple sentences.  The App Store is designed for twitch impulse buying, it’s pretty smart on Apple’s part.  The Developer page is just a tiny little link in the top corner and it doesn’t look very customizable.  iPad games are priced higher than iPhone games in general, but I don’t know if they sell the same.

It’s definately cool to be able to see how this stuff all interconnects.  Mac is all about the user-friendliness and an iBook on my iPhone appears on my iPad, etc.

The Macbook gained points for having iMovie.  Holy shit is that a cool program.  I could’ve blindfolded myself, clicked randomly for a minute, and BAM, professional looking edited movie.  It’s ridiculously easy, and I dig it.  I’m probably going to use that for Behind the Scenes stuff, interviews, etc. down the road.  Should be a big time-saver.  I’m psyched to get an iPhone 4 where you can record HD video AND edit it in iMovie directly ON the phone.  Awesome stuff.  Unfortuantely it’s a bitch to get an iPhone 4 from Rogers right now.  Everyone else seems to have them, so wtf Rogers??  haha

- Yarr

Day 19, survived week 4!

Focused on marketing stuff today.  It’s a blast, I love the subject.  Today was more focused on how to present your product to your customers…most people will just list off the features.  But the customer doesn’t really care about the features, he cares about “how does this feature benefit me?”  So you can say “This game has 500 levels”, but what’s the direct benefit of that?  “This game has 500 levels, guaranteed to keep you racking your brain for weeks.” sounds a little more appealing because now I know your 500 level game is going to give me a fun experience for X amount of time and I can visualize that.  It sounds dumb, but a lot of people make purchases based on their emotions instead of logic.  If I offer you a game that’s $10, but tell you that if you sign up for an account you can get it for $1, you’ll probably do it to save that $9.  But if I offer you a game that’s $500, and if you sign up for an account you can get it for $491, you’ll probably say fuck signing up it’s too much work.  Logically you’re saving $9 either way, but it’s a matter of relativity.  I find that stuff interesting just in general, haha  Always been a people-watcher, human psychology is fascinating.

We planned out our actual first year Cash Flows and this seems like a no-lose scenario.  No matter what numbers you throw in, the income makes a basic J shape.  If you can survive the initial dip (spending money before you’ve made any) and ride it out, then the projects pile up and so do the passive income streams until even if the games are all selling like shit, you have so many out that your money still goes up, and then it goes up exponentially.  The first year will be the trickiest, but if I can survive that, I’m set.  I factored in profit sharing, raising salaries, treating everyone to beer and steak occasionally, etc.  Got a lot of ideas on how I want to run things, but we’ll see what the instructors think about my Cash Flow before I get too psyched haha

- Yarr

So my Blackberry Pearl has been acting up like crazy lately.  I’ve had it for like 3 years and it’s somehow survived this long, which is impressive, but it’s at the end of its rope.  Today the damn thing’s alarm didn’t even go off, so I woke up an hour late for class.  And then in rushing for class I accidentally left my backpack on the C-Train!  Epic fail!!  I’m usually so careful about making sure I have my stuff on me but I was tired and in a rush and just didn’t realize I wasn’t wearing my backpack.  I got halfway up the escalator at the station when I realized what happened and sprinted back down it only to get outside just in time to watch my train pull away.  Damn!

The good part is I had my laptop in a separate case so that was on me, but my backpack had my laptop’s battery charger and a super awesome mouse.  Plus my huge binder with all of my assignments and notes and schedules and everything for this course.  I grabbed the transit phone number off a schedule poster at the station and left a voicemail with the lost & found as I hoofed it the rest of the way to class.  My laptop had about 2 hours of life left so I backed up my business stuff to my Dropbox and sent an E-Mail to Calgary transit to make sure haha  What a way to start the week!

My phone was acting up all through class so after school I went to the Rogers store and switched over to use my iPhone 3gs instead of my Blackberry.  Nice and painless, you just switch the SIM card and it’s good to go.  The rest of the night I spent setting up my iPhone.  I love a lot of the features but I’m amazed at how some of the most obvious universal ones have been left out.  Custom ringtones, an indicator you’ve missed a message, etc.  Can’t see the logic in it but the other features make up for it.  I’ve got Dropbox, Evernote, RSS readers, Tweetdeck, WordPress, etc. going on it now.  I’m actually super impressed with the auto-correct…Blackberry’s was a fight to text through, having to constantly delete and re-type words it changed on me, but the iPhone tends to know what I’m trying to type even when my fingers are off a letter or two because of the lack of physical buttons to feel.  I bet I’ll be able to type pretty fast with this thing one day, haha

Class covered…uhhh…I don’t really remember, I was pretty pissed off about losing my backpack so I was kind of out of it.  I think we covered break-even analysis stuff in the morning (basically the projected point where your company should be breaking even and everything you make from there is profit, aka it’s a good thing), and the afternoon was psychological stuff.  Like what are your values, and how do you make decisions?  If you’re offered a job that takes you away from your family for half the year but pays you well, if your number 1 value is making money, you’re going to take the job.  If your number 1 value is family, you’re going to turn down the job.  But if your number 1 value is family but your number 2 value is making money, you’re going to have a huge internal struggle because those are your two most important values being pitted against eachother.

The higher up the value, the less likely the person is to be flexible on it.  If your number 10 value is making money, and your number 1 value is family, that far away job isn’t something you even remotely consider for more than a brief second.  When you don’t know your values, these decisions can be harder to make because you just struggle internally.  The guy with family valued high and money valued low doesn’t have to hesitate to make his decision, and doesn’t second-guess himself afterward because he has a solid sense of what his values are.

Here was my list:

1. Being happy day to day (I worked a shitty job before and was miserable on a daily basis.  Stayed up late because I hated knowing once I went to sleep the next thing I’d have to do is wake up and go to work.  I wished I could just keep hitting the Snooze button every morning)

2. New experiences/unpredictability (I like to be kept on my toes, you learn the most about yourself when you’re thrown into unexpected situations and have to handle them.  If you offer me the choice of moving to either a city I’ve lived in or a brand new city I will always choose the brand new city, just for the adventure of being somewhere new)

3. Living honestly (you might not always agree with my opinions or my outlook on life, but I’m not going to lie about the way I think/feel)

4. Do or do not, no wishy-washy decisions (nothing is worse than not making a decision, just look at the evidence and pick something…if you fuck up, you can always recover, it’s okay to make mistakes)

5. Independance (I don’t like being tied down, whether it’s to a house, a job, people, etc.  I can choose to stay in a situation, but I like it to be a choice)

6. People around me are happy (I like happy optimistic people, and I like to cheer people up when they’re feeling like shit.  Life’s too short for negativity, cheer up!)

7. Personal relationships (I’m actually pretty terrible at keeping in touch with people haha  I’m going to have to work on that in general, but it’s not uncommon for someone to not hear from me for months and then get an E-Mail from me out of the blue casually expecting to pick up where we left off)

8. Helping others (I dig it.  From solving computer problems to helping a friend get back on their feet to helping someone by writing a blog about my start-up adventure so they can avoid some of the mistakes I make or follow my lead where I’m successful haha)

9. Be flexible (always be willing to adapt to new situations and change.  If I had to, I could pack my stuff and move out of where I am now in a day.  If I had to, I could live off Mac & Cheese for a few months.  If I had to, I could re-think a game’s design so that it’s more fun.  When you lose the ability to be flexible, you’re forced into making less than optimal choices and have to take a more round-about route to your goals)

10. Be efficient (always look for ways to do things more efficiently, whether it’s finding software that can replace calculating figures by hand, or whether it’s keeping yourself from watching YouTube all day, or whether it’s keeping a To-Do list of tasks to make sure you get everything handled…I admit I still have trouble DOING this one, but it IS an important value to me haha  Of course there are exceptions, like blog posts where I blab on and on)

Oddly enough, stuff like family and financial security aren’t on there.  In fact, there’s no money related values on that list at all.  I suspect these things will both change.  In the future family will become more important to me, and with that I’ll need financial security.  But at this point in my life, I’m 29, single, independant, and am starting up after wasting years at a shitty job that made me unhappy…so right now my values are focused around taking risks to achieve happiness.  Cheesy, but important to me haha

- Yarr

Powered by WordPress | Theme: Motion by 85ideas.
Rss Feed Tweeter button Digg button Youtube button