Today we learned how to research our competition and the difference between direct competition (another small game developer creating a similar genre of game on the same platform as me) and indirect competiton (anything that fills the “entertainment” need, taking money that could’ve gone to me, like X-Box games or movies etc.).  I think smaller game developers are lucky because our industry is very friendly…it’s a little more cut-throat up at the top between the big companies but it seems like smaller devs are all pretty helpful and encouraging to eachother.  We all got into this industry because we love seeing new games and creative ideas come to life, so if someone else puts out a cooler game than mine, my first thought isn’t “aw crap, they’re gonna’ steal my money!”  My first thought is “woah, that’s awesome…I’m inspired by where they took this idea, how can I make something as cool or even better myself?”

I’m almost done my first research assignment.  It was a little jumbled at first, there’s so much information that it’s difficult to figure out where to even begin nailing things down solid.  Once I got rolling though, it smoothed itself out.  It’s surreal how much information is on the Internet.  I’m at a point where I have to just skim paragraphs for relevant key words catching my eye because if I don’t I’ll end up reading the whole article and I’ve got 10 other related articles all queued up in other browser windows.  I’m kind of an information junkie, I love to read about things I’m interested in and I love reading people’s opinions.  I’m the guy actually reading through the comments on Youtube videos and stuff, haha

I’m slowly looking into more of the hands-on aspects of getting this all running.  Checking out hardware/software prices, engines that can be used, skimming freelance programmer sites, etc.  I found out that you can write off anything you buy that’s business related for up to around 6 months before you actually launch your business.  I’m thinking about picking up an iPhone just to get familiar with the thing and grab a bunch of games to research the latest stuff.  Yes, that’s right, I don’t actually even have an iPhone haha  I’ve got a Blackberry that’s on its last legs, and I dig it.  But I know enough people with iPhones and I keep an eye on big developments so I figure I’m pretty on top of things.

One of the things I’ve found since I started in the game industry is that I don’t sit down and play as many games…or at least not for as long as I used to when I was a young’un.  Lack of time, shorter attention span, such a huge backlog of games I want to try, expensive-ass costs of new consoles these days, etc.  It all adds up.  But I think it’s important if you’re going to design and develop games, to keep abreast of what’s going on in modern game design.  The best solution I’ve found?  Searching for “Let’s Play”s on YouTube.  These things are awesome.  I’ll throw a recent game’s Let’s Play up on my desktop and have it playing while I’m working on my laptop and glancing up now and then when something interesting happens.  It’s like outsourcing the actual game playing to someone else haha  It’s not the same as actually experiencing the game for yourself, there’s no denying that…but in a pinch it’s a decent alternative.  I haven’t played Uncharted 2, but I can tell you about most of the coolest scenes from it and some nuances in the game engine that I haven’t seen done in other games before.  I haven’t played Dragon Age but I could describe some of the cool gameplay ideas they used and the epicness of the cutscenes and plot.  I haven’t played Heavy Rain (but I reaaaaally want to…wish it was on PC arrrgh), but I can describe the whole control scheme and it’s variations and understand how the intertwining character plots affect the gameplay and presentation.

I’m definately looking forward to getting to take a crack at actually designing and making games.  I’ve got a giant “treasure trove” of game ideas (from simple to complex) stored away just itching to be tapped into haha  I’m a little worried that I won’t get to make anything super cool because I’ll be having extremely tight deadlines for the first couple projects, but I think it’s good to approach things a little cautiously with a couple small projects while I learn the ins and outs of the business side of things and working on a new platform.  But of course there’s that creative urge to bust out some epic 6 month project my first go, haha  I think the hardest part is reigning in your ideas.

I’m finding working away from home is pretty fun.  I like the hustle and bustle of people walking around the food courts and shopping districts as I nerd out on my laptop, VS being cooped up in my bedroom at the desktop.  Free Wi-fi, a set of earphones to listen to music and I’m set for a few hours of work!  Definately going to be doing this more…at least until it snows.  Damn you, Canada!

- Yarr