Archive for October, 2010


Day 29, operations and customer service!

Today was more of what we started learning about on Monday, which is the day to day operation of a business.  Managing staff and how to interview and hire people, and how to fire them (and how difficult and traumatic that can and SHOULD be).  Training employees, reviewing and promoting them (don’t give “empty” promotions where you promote someone just because you don’t have anyone else to fill the position and then you don’t even give them extra pay…the company I used to work at did this all the time, haha).  Basically don’t treat your employees like shit.  Part of why I want to keep things small and eventually get everyone in-house is that I want to be able to make sure we’re all taken care of and get that whole “family” vibe going on.  I think that’s important in a creative industry and just in general…we’ve all worked shitty jobs and know it sucks, I want people who work with me to enjoy their job.  That’s the whole point of this venture, isn’t it?

I like the idea of having a new employee start on a project probationary period style, and then at the end of the project have everyone else sit down over a beer and discuss how working with the person was.  I’m not a programmer, so I can’t tell at first glance that someone’s code might be difficult to work with…that’s information I’d want to know so I could either get that person some training or let them know what’s up, or find someone else to hire full-time.  Or if someone has a really abrasive/confrontational personality, maybe that’s not the kind of energy we all want around the office…it’s hard to judge that on day 1, but by the end of a month-long project it should be pretty clear.  At the same time, giving them a full project allows them a chance if they’re a quiet, introverted kind of person, to hang out for a couple game nights or go for wings with everyone a couple times so everyone can see that they just happen to be naturally shy and they’re not trying to be rude and ignore everyone.

The vibe of the office is one of the most imporant things to me.  The projects I’ve worked on in the past where everyone dug working with eachother turned out great and we worked extra hard and enjoyed it.  Whereas the projects where we’ve had a difficult person or two on them have just caused tons of frustration all around.  In a creative industry one person isn’t interchangable with another person like a machine, the right chemistry can make things go so much smoother and the end product turn out so much better.

- Yarr

Day 28, ahh relaxing finally!

I woke up and was all set to work on my assignment due Friday when I realized it wasn’t due until Monday!  Awesome!  So I used the day to catch up on naps and mess with miscellaneous stuff.  There was a point where I gave myself an hour to whip out a quick test interview editing questions together in iMovie just to see if I’ll be able to do it down the road and it took about an hour like I figured.  Those’ll probably just answer stuff like game features at the start, but down the road when there are a few people working together and people playing our games have questions we can throw together one of these to quickly answer a bunch of them at once.  I messed with an automatic lip-syncing script in After Effects which is pretty cool.  It means it wouldn’t be too difficult to have cartoony avatars syncing to the voices like the guys at spill.com do in their movie reviews (go watch ‘em by the way, they are HILARIOUS).  Just something that could be fun.  Ideally I’d like to have everyone in the company have avatars for updating the blogs and such with…just something people can relate “oh that’s an update by that guy, I remember that character” easily in their minds at first glance.

Also made my Wolverine claws for Halloween haha  This is gonna’ be a rough weekend in terms of getting my Monday assignment done!  Got a pub crawl to go to…it’s gonna’ be epic!

- Yarr

Day 27, law stuffs

A lawyer came in today to talk to us about legal issues for small businesses…and there are PLENTY!  I took as many notes as I could, and tried to figure out which bits would be relevant to me but man does this stuff go over my head.  There are a few areas I definately need to fully understand, so I’ll focus on learning about them.  Stuff like contracting people to do work, paying them properly, keeping track of all that and how it affects taxes and GST (since this is Canada) and everything.  It’s not too bad, but it’s just stuff that when you’re sitting there drawing your ninja in a helicopter fighting a dinosaur wearing a top-hat you’re not really thinking “I’d better make sure I get a GST number so the government doesn’t come along and kick my ass 2 years from now when they notice I forgot that!”

 There’s also a difference between contractors and employees.  I’ll be contracting work for the first while, but down the road I’d like to switch to an in-house situation which may require making everyone employees.  I actually like the idea of everyone working on a contract basis, keep things nice and simple and uniform, and it allows people to reject a project and do other things if they want to take a break and pursue other projects.  I figure if the working environment is awesome enough, people will choose to stick around.  People are motivated by job satisfaction more than they’re motivated by money…at least in creative industries.

We also learned that if you’re going to fire someone, do it on a Monday because if you do it on a Friday they’ll go home and be alone and depressed all weekend and kill themselves haha  Also one of Taco Bell’s strategies when they started up was to open a Taco Bell across from any McDonald’s locations.  They figured the McDonald’s guys put millions of dollars into researching demographics and everything to choose their locations so why not just build where they build.  Smart!

- Yarr

Day 26, the epic marketing plan!

So today was basically getting my marketing plan together.  I have a ton of ideas for what I want to do, but they weren’t really solidified in terms of how to do them, how long they’d take, when to do them, how much they’d cost to do, etc.  This assignment forced us to look all that information up, and I’m glad it did.  Got lots of ideas and facts out of it.  I think the biggest failing on the part of indie devs is that they don’t put much effort into marketing beyond posting on a few message boards they frequent, throwing up a website once the game is out, and just kind of crossing their fingers hoping their game is the next miracle success story.  Why leave that to chance?  Here’s my basic ideal marketing plan for each game released:

 

 

I figure a 3-sectioned approach is the best.  Pre-release is all the fun stuff, putting up concept art, ideas, videos, etc.  This builds the hype for the game so at least people will have heard of it, maybe a Behind The Scenes video will catch onto a few websites, people may dig the character art you’re putting up, etc.  None of this really costs money except the press release.  A person can put out a press release by themselves, but they’re probably only going to mail a couple dozen websites.  There are professional services around the net for getting your press releases out to like a thousand targeted places.  I’m going to be giving some of these services a go and I should be able to track their usefulness via tracking stats of where hits come from and surveys and stuff.  We talked about how if something doesn’t work, quit doing it.  So if I find this isn’t worth the investment, I’ll ditch it.

Editing in iMovie is so ridiculously fast and easy that I don’t see any problems throwing together some “Behind-the-scenes” stuff in a quick period of time.  I could do the final trailer editing myself but if I’m keeping my deadlines super tight that I’m going to assume I don’t have the time for it.  It can also be done for a lot cheaper than $300, but I’m shooting for worst-case-scenario here.  I’ll be grabbing some video editing type off freelance job sites and provide them with gameplay footage and music/etc. to use.  Can’t see anything going wrong there.

Release Day the obvious things are done.  I find this is really the only section most people seem to do…and it’s an important one, but imagine if you have a thousand people who noticed your game’s development videos or concept art, etc.  Now you’ve got those thousand people who will likely check out your game when it’s out and if they’ve been digging it they may spread word-of-mouth for you.

Post-Release I’m shooting for way down the road haha  First few games won’t have this stuff, since I won’t have much money at the start and I’m not going to have any CD soundtracks or anything going on, I’m not dumb haha  But a year in?  Who knows?  If things get to that situation then this is the Post-Release plan I’d start to follow.

 

Key things to take away from this:

- Marketing is NOT that expensive.  Say you edit the trailer yourself because you’re not on really tight deadlines.  $250 to mail your Press Release out to like 1,000 sites.  If even 10 of those sites dig your game or it’s a slow news day or what-have-you, and they post it up and say 100 viewers from each of those sites checks out your game’s site.  Say only half of them actually buy the game on release day.  Thats 50 x 10, that’s $500 sales right there, and if you’re selling your game at 99 cents, you’ve just made basically double what you invested in the marketing.  Seriously, isn’t that worth it?

 

- iMovie rules.  Learn it.  Use it.  Abuse it.  This is the age of video, we’re not on dial-up anymore…get your videos around the net.  Show your game off.  You’re proud of it, aren’t you?  Show people why.

 

- Cafepress and other merchandise sites are free.  Why would you not have this for your game?  You have art in the game already.  You just take that art and say “want this on a coffee mug?  click this button.”  Done.  Granted I want to do actual cool custom art for that stuff, but like from a logical perspective this is something you should have.  Maybe only one person gives a crap and wants your mug because the character you put on it reminds them of their co-worker Bob and their office will get a laugh when they see the mug left on Bob’s desk on Monday.  That’s still a sale, and it cost you nothing to make that happen.

 

- Games can be re-marketed down the road.  Hit a convention and give out little figurines and posters and stuff of your games.  You can find services that will make them for relatively cheap and everyone loves free stuff.  Offer these things up as part of contests for the gamers playing your games.  Why not?  Who doesn’t want to win some free stuff in a fun contest?

 

- Be logical.  Don’t make toys for your first game the day it’s released.  Wait and see what the fan-base is like before you decide to do something like that.  Plan ahead, if you’re making a game with a lot of cool original songs, keep in mind the idea of throwing together a soundtrack for people to buy.  Get your game some attention before it’s out instead of after it’s been out and sunk off the charts and it’s hard for people to find.  This is all very simple obvious logic when you break it down.

 

That’s about it!  I’m really digging the marketing stuff in this course.  It’s fun because it kind of reminds me of what I used to naturally do (making QBasic games, writing pixel art tutorials, starting messageboard communities like Pixelation) in terms of promoting things, except now I’m going to be doing it consciously and with some kind of budget.  It’s cool to think that in a way I’ve come full-circle haha

- Yarr

Day 25, a lot of iPhone games are awful haha

I spent a lot of time on the weekend playing iPhone/iPad games.  Got more familiar with the App Store and what other games are doing.  Here are 15 observations to mull over:

  

1) It’s extremely obvious why games die in sales once they’re off the Top 25.  When you go through a list of games it only shows a handful at a time, and you have to hit “Show more games” to list the next handful, and those take a few seconds to load all the icons for.  But that’s not the worst part…say you’re down around game 80 and you see one you dig so you click it to check it out and decide to download and install it.  Well now when you go back to the App Store are you at game 80?  Nope, you’re back up at game 1 and have to “Show more games” your way all the way back down to 80.  There are like 300,000 Apps in the App Store and guaranteed no one ever sees past 200 on one of those lists.  So while it’s already well known that it’s vital to get into the Top 25 chart, I’d say this is the main reason for it.  I actually WANTED to find more obscure games to see if I could find some hidden gems that I dig, but it was extremely difficult to attempt.

  

So is this a bad thing or a good thing?  Well the bad part of it is if you fall off the charts, you’re pretty fucked.  That’s obvious.  The good part is there’ve got to be ways to get back up on the charts.  If you’re game number 100,000 right now, NO ONE knows you exist.  You could probably re-market your game right now as if you had just released it brand new and all the people who’ve bought iPhones in the last couple months would think “hey, a new game, cool!” and you might be able to re-popularize your game.  If you have an app on there that isn’t doing anything, consider giving re-marketing a go.  The only difference between Angry Birds and a game like Tomacow is that Angry Birds is easy to find and Tomacow is way off the bottom of the charts right now.  If tomorrow Tomacow shot up to #1 and Angry Birds fell a few dozen spots down their sales stats would probably reverse.

  

2) The other main ways of finding games are via the Categories and doing word searches.  The Categories seem kind of random…”Adventure” doesn’t seem to be much different than “Action” or “Arcade”.  And you pretty much end up with the Top 25 games again, so again it’s hard to stumble across the obscure ones.  Word searches will give you obscure games but it looks like the word you type has to be in either the game’s title or in the name of the game’s developer.  If you make a ninja game but call it “Death Strike”, anyone typing in “ninja” won’t find your game.  Does this mean “Dinosaurs In Helicopters Wearing Top Hats”? would actually be an optimal game name?  Oddly enough, it seems like it would be haha  So I won’t be naming my games “Fubar” or “Zoiks” or “Swoo” because what are the odds someone is going to type those in?

  

3) Free Apps with iAds (in-game advertisements) are getting more popular and seem to be used as a re-marketing tool now.  Say your game falls off the charts and isn’t selling…what can you do with it?  Well, how about throw in some iAds and release it for Free?  The Free notice is going to boost it’s popularity and you’re still making a tiny bit of income off it VS the nothing you were making before.  Backflip Studios has a great idea, they run advertisements for their own games as well as other people’s advertisements…and during certain times of the year (like near Christmas) they’ll switch from 80% other ads and 20% their own, to 80% their own and 20% other ads.  That’s some smart shit right there.

 

4) The iPad doesn’t seem to have a lot of Free/Lite versions of it’s Apps.  I’m not sure why this is…is it because gaming on iPad isn’t as popular?  Is it because the iPad market just has more money to spend so they’re willing to drop $8 to try an App out, while iPhone users are like “$8??  fuck THAT!!”  Not sure, but there’s got to be some logic behind it that everyone is consciously/sub-consciously following.

 

5) Everything on the iPad is expensive.  Consistently, across the board, an iPhone game that’s got a Free/Lite version and $0.99 cent version on iPhone will have a $4.99+ version on iPad.  So porting to iPad should be high priority, and art for games should be drawn large enough that it looks good on the bigger/retina screens and then shrunk down for iPhone.

 

6) The above point is important because from what I’ve seen a ton of “HD iPad Apps” are not “HD” at all.  They’re just the entire game small with a 2x magnifying/zoom option, or they’ve got a bunch of art assets that have just been scaled up in Photoshop and are blurry looking, or they’re some sort of freakish hybrid of the two (Broken Sword HD, you cost me almost 10 bucks and that’s the quality I get??  come on now…).

 

7) While Super KO Boxing 2 on iPad just scales it’s art up (boooo!!), I have to say it’s an awesome game.  The iPhone version is just perfection.  Gorgeous huge hand-drawn/animated characters, tight controls, thumbs don’t cover the action area, lots of menu polish and painful punch sound-effects…awesome stuff Glu.  This is the type of stuff I want to make.

 

8) Unfortunately Glu made a bit of a faux pas with it’s attempt at adding micro-transactions to KO Boxing.  Whenever you lose a fight it pops up a “Want to get roid rage? Yes/No” screen.  Roid rage is you paying 99 cents for what I’m assuming will skip the opponent you’re stuck on.  After you say No, the “Try again?” screen comes up.  The placement of this is unfortunate because what’s the first thing that goes through everyone’s mind as soon as they lose a couple matches?  “This is bullshit, the developers made it impossible after the first few characters so we’d have to buy the roid rage!!  They’re just trying to suck our money out of us grrrr!”  The reviews for KO Boxing on the App Store pretty much all say that.  So now some new user comes along interested in the game and sees those reviews and goes “woah, maybe I don’t wanna check this out after all!”

The lesson to be learned from this?  Micro-transactions need to not only not be mandatory to progressing in the game, but need to also not even remotely SEEM as if they COULD be mandatory to progressing in the game, because gamers will assume the worst, and justifiably since there ARE developers that do attempt this sneaky trick.  A 99 cent fee for a new costume?  Should be fine.  A 99 cent fee for a a sword you can’t get anywhere else in the game that’s the only weapon that can defeat the boss?  That’s going to get you some flak.  Micro-transactions have a ton of potential, but they have to be really well thought-out to avoid bad PR.

 

9) Mirror’s Edge on iPad is awesome.  So is Action Hero on iPhone.  The catch is they’re the same game, but Mirror’s Edge cost like a jillion dollars more to make than Action Hero.  I wonder which one made more money when all the sales figures and development costs were factored out?

 

10) Tons of games lock the screen however they want.  I was originally worried about having to design UIs and game areas that would work with rotating the screen, but since everyone else has said “Tough!  Play this the way we want you to!”, I’ll do the same.  I also notice that certain angles for certain control schemes can make your hands cover the speaker, or get in the way of the microphone jack when you’ve got your headphones in.  If I was making a music/rhythm game I’d make sure the game was locked to have the microphone jack on the top-right instead of the bottom-left where it bumps into your palm, because anyone playing in public will probably have their headphones in…whereas a game where sound isn’t important people will probably play it with the speaker Muted so it doesn’t matter.

 

11) It’s looking like OpenFeint is the way to go with Leaderboards…It’s the one I’ve run into the most, at least.  It looks like it’s basically Mochi for iPhone, which I’m guessing means it’s easy to implement and if it’s in a lot of popular games then people must have accounts for it already.  Anyone know of a more popular one?  Maybe I’m just happening to run into this one a lot by fluke.

 

12) However on that note, games that REQUIRE you to create an account to play them are a terrible idea.  I’ve grabbed a few where all I get to see is the title screen because I’m on the bus trying to check out the game and it wants me to fill in a name and password and link it to my E-Mail address with other misc info as the bus jostles around and it’s like “Dude, I just want to see your game!  If it’s awesome then sure, I’ll create an account…but what if it sucks?  Like I don’t have enough random “created an account somewhere obscure just to download a file or be able to upload an image or see a trailer” accounts around the net…I don’t want to make more when I don’t even know what your game is like.  If you’re going to have a create an account thing, at least have a quick-play option of some kind where I can see what I’m in for.  Am I just cranky or does this annoy other people too?  haha

 

13) I don’t think I’ve seen a single in-game feedback form.  I’m not sure why this is.  Customer feedback is super vital…even if you can’t fix the current game, you can avoid making the same mistakes in future games.  The closest thing I’ve seen is in the text blurb on the App Store there’s a “Send us your feedback we’d love to hear it!” sentence and an E-Mail address that you have to cut & paste into your E-Mail prog and blah blah blah too much work.

 

14) When you play a game for a while it’ll pop up a message saying “Seems like you’re enjoying this App, why not leave a review on the App Store?” with a quick-link.  I don’t know if this is developers doing this on their own or if Apple does this automatically but as a developer I think this is GREAT.  It’s not super intrusive and if you’re in the middle of having fun, great, share that with the world.  Plus if you hate the game you’re probably not going to play it long enough to get that pop-up so it’s smart to have that in there in terms of getting positive reviews haha

 

15) The App Store blurbs are hardcore basic text.  Not even bolding/italic stuff, from what I’ve seen.  It’s basically ASCII.  ASCII advertising blurbs, games you can download trial versions of and pay for the full version…where have I seen this before?  oh right, Shareware in the late 80s and early 90s haha  Apple should let people put ANSI blocks in there so we could have badass ANSI art make a comeback!

 

Best BBS Door game ever made.

 

That’s about it.  I’m looking at everything from a developer’s perspective now because stuff like HD pricing and App Store chart ease-of-use are going to be relevant.  Fortunately I like taking things apart and analyzing them so writing posts like this is actually fun for me haha  I’m sure there’ll be more revelations as I play more games.

Today’s class was about business operations…company policies, how to deal with people who don’t pay up, the difference between employees and sub-contractors, how to deal with complaints efficiently, how to write contracts and find template ones, etc.  Important stuff but pretty overwhelming right now.  I figure in a few years I’ll have a handful of employees but for the first 6 months at least, it’s just going to be a programmer and myself with music/sound/etc. out-sourced.  Taking notes for the future though!

- Yarr

Day 24, okay no more bars on weeknights haha

I cruised through my homework last night so I figured I earned a bar night out with my friends.  Let’s just say class today was rough haha  Fortunately it was mostly about business communication.  How to write E-Mails and letters and the importance of customer service, answering phones professionally, shaking hands with a good grip and good eye contact, that kind of stuff.  I’m already well-versed in that kind of thing, so being groggy wasn’t too crippling haha

I pretty much crashed after class, so not too eventful a day!  When I woke up I did a bit of homework to get a head start on it because two friends have birthdays this weekend and I figure there’s no way I’m going to get much work done!

- Yarr

Day 23, mission and vision

Today there was no class and I spent most of it doing homework.  Due tomorrow is our Mission & Vision assignment where we explain the basic philosophy behind our company.  Apparently big companies put a lot of work into this.  “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”  Sound familiar?  That’s Google.  “To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”  That’s Microsoft.  “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”  You should know that one, haha

My Mission Statement is: Havin’ a blast makin’ fun, flashy games with a stylin’ flair that drags gamers in, slaps ‘em around with awesomeness, and keeps ‘em comin’ back for more.

It’s a little silly, but it fits and defines the atmosphere I want.  I want anyone working on our games to be having fun with it, and even if the first bunch of games are pretty simple, I want them to have a little visual flash to them that makes you go “haha that was pretty cool”.  It’s going to be a while before I can go full out just due to needing to keep projects small and short at the start, but I figure by the end of the first year we should be able to make games with 2 – 4 month dev times where the real awesomeness and polish will be but I still want to try to slip as much in as possible, even in the small games.

The second one we had to do was a Vision Statement, which is what you want your company to be in the future.  Essentially “What would be the ideal state of your business 5 years from now?”  What kind of reputation do you want, etc.?  The assignment sheets even admit this is “airy-fairy stuff” haha  but it’s good to clarify your goals, whether they’re over-ambitious or not.

My Vision Statement: To form a group of skilled team members, hand-picked and sharing the vision of upholding The Company’s reputation for consistently releasing quality games that captivate gamers by pushing the envelope, and set trends in the game industry that inspire other developers to challenge themselves to unleash their true creativity upon gamers.

Sounds a little goofy, especially since this is all still so preliminary, but hey, 5 years from now, who knows where we’ll be right?  I’m hoping that this blog will encourage other people in the game industry to give starting their own stuff up a go.  A lot of people in the industry are stuck in jobs they’re not happy with…working crazy unpaid hours on games they aren’t interested in.  I’m a guy with a crapload of optimism despite having no business experience giving this a go, so if I can pull it off then anyone else can haha

Still a long way from that though!  None of this is relevant at all until I have some stuff in the App Store selling, don’t worry, I know that haha  In fact I could probably just start making stuff tonight and officially have a game out in a couple weeks, but I like this course and want to stick it through and learn business stuff all proper.  We’ve all worked with higher-ups who seemingly have no business training and it’s brutal.  I want to actually know what I’m doing, haha

- Yarr

Day 22, backpack is safe and sound!

Got my backpack back, with everything still in it!  I asked the guy at the Transit place if a driver turned it in or a passenger and he looked it up and it was some good samaritan who turned it in, awesome!  So thanks whoever you are!  It’s a relief to not have lost everything, I’ll be cuddling up with my backpack on every train ride from here on out to avoid this again haha

Today we covered marketing stuff.  Picking the right method of marketing and the importance of tracking that marketing and setting goals that can be measured.  “I’m going to put out 500 flyers and hopefully get some new customers” is not a goal.  “I’m going to put out 500 flyers in this specific neighborhood that has X demographic that fits my target and I’m going to get at least 5 new customers out of it” is a goal.  If what you’re doing doesn’t work, then don’t do it again.  If you hire someone to advertise for you and you get no calls out of it, then don’t advertise that way again.  A lot of times, since it’s their job to sell you on their service, they’ll say “Well you have to give it time, buy another month and you’ll surely see some results!”  Don’t waste your money, re-think your marketing strategy.  Sloppy un-focused marketing will burn through your money fast.

Picking the right place to market is key as well.  Am I going to pay a local newspaper $250for a full page ad?  No, that’s silly.  My market is world-wide.  What about paying an internet service $250 to send out my Press Releases to a bunch of gaming news websites?  Now you’re talkin’, that’s worth the investment.  Our instructor told us a story about one guy who was all happy he got a great deal on a provincial newspaper ad or something.  50,000 views around the province for like 1/4 of the normal price.  Well that’s super, except that he had a local business,which means his target market was more like 10 blocks in each direction from his store.  There’s no need for someone on the other side of the province to know about his local business…so even though objectively it was a good deal, it was logically a waste of marketing money.

Definately interesting stuff to think about!  I’m digging the whole concept of marketing, I think it’ll be fun to come up with ways to promote games even though I know it could become a large time-sink.  I’ll probably end up automating as much of it as I can…I COULD spend a few days mailing out Press Releases and collecting my own mailing list of news sites and such.  But would it be a better investment if I spent those few days working on an actual game and paid someone else some money to do that mailing for me?  This is where the “you have to spend money to make money” stuff comes from I figure.

- Yarr

Day 21, working from home?

I got my backpack!!  Or at least, it’s been turned in to the transit place.  They contacted me today and I’m going to go pick it up tomorrow.  WHEW!!!  What a relief!!

So this week we’ve entered “Phase 2″ of the course.  That means that we only have classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next few weeks.  Tuesday and Thursday we work on our business on our own.  This is a blessing and a curse.  The curse is that I do well in an environment where someone’s assigning me tasks and giving me a set amount of time to complete them, and I have to shower and put on pants and physically leave my comfy warm bed to go into “work mode”, so I’ll miss the structure of having classes every day.  The blessing side of things is that now I’ll FINALLY have some time to work on the fun stuff…setting up a website, designing a logo, designing games and characters, etc.

I keep a list on my phone of miscellaneous game ideas.  They’re anywhere from a couple words to a paragraph and just quickly describe an idea I’ve got in my mind.  Later on I’ll take these ideas and develop them further and see if I can turn them into something that’d make a cool game.  I’m hoping to keep this habit up all through the future and would actually like to have a company “treasure trove” of ideas where everyone in the company can submit ideas and we try to make the interesting ones into games.  I’m still trying to focus on extremely small projects but I naturally get more and more elaborate with designs so I end up with projects that I won’t realistically be able to make till later in the year if not the next year haha  I only really have 3 basic requirements for my game ideas:

1. It needs one simple core mechanic.

2. It needs lots of polish around the core mechanic.

3. It has to be fun to work on.

I want to put up concept art and screenshots and trailers and crap as I go.  I figure once I have that stuff I’ll attempt to get this blog noticed…right now it’s just me blabbing about financial projections and being tired in the morning haha  Bring people in too early and there’s no content to keep them reading so they’ll lose interest, bring them in too late and there’s 500 pages of posts to read through to catch up and it’s too daunting.  I reckon the optimal time to link the blog around is when I’m officially starting my first project.  I might even make a separate blog for that, if I have a company website up, so that each game has it’s own blog section.

- 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

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