Today we went through the basics of a SWOT Analysis.  The jist is you look at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  The SO and the WT tend to mirror eachother (ie – I know a bit of programming as well as art (S), thus programmers find it easier to work with me (O)…I don’t have an animation tool yet (W), thus my games may not look as cool as I want them to (T)).  I’m finding there’s a lot of focus on keeping tabs on your own “inner stuff” in this course which is a little woo-woo to me, but if you’re going to run a business it’s probably a good thing to be re-assessing yourself once in a while so I dig it.

We’re going to be crunching numbers on Friday, filling in spreadsheets of start-up cash and expenses and stuff, so that should be eye-opening haha  We’re supposed to fill out 3 years worth of projections on 3 year-long spreadsheets, but I’m thinking I’ll probably throw together a month-long one as well because of how fast the iPhone market fluctuates…I’m going to need to be keeping on top of things on a daily basis.  Your game can sell 10 copies a day for the first week, then 10,000 for two days, then back to 10 a day, it’s so random.  Because of this “jackpot lottery” sort of system, I figure if I estimate all my costs for the absolute worst case scenario (aka 0 sales haha), and despite 0 sales I can still budget in a way that I’ll be able to afford to make 6 – 10 projects, then I’m in a good place.  If any of those projects hits decent, then I’m succeeding.  I’ve got a bit of money saved up and I’m willing to blow it all on this because, well, I have to.  I’ve wanted to make games since I was making the screen change colors in BASIC on a TRS-80 when I was like 4 years old haha  If I blow this, I can go back into the normal game industry as an employee with some cool portfolio fodder.  If I succeed, then I’ve achieved a childhood dream.  It’s win-win all around in my view.

Next on the list of to-do’s is contract a programmer to make me the animation tool I want, buy an iPod Touch, figure out if I need an iMac or not (my programmer will probably come with one if I’m hiring someone over the net, and I can do my art on a PC), pay Apple the $100 to be allowed to dev on their system, and get more of this damn homework done haha

Our instructors told us this is the scariest part of starting up a business, because we’re spending money without actually making any, so it FEELS like you’re just throwing away all those savings you had sitting in your bank account.  I’ve actually been hesitating buying an iPod Touch for that exact reason…it’s scary!!  Big numbers will start moving out of my bank account, ahhhh!!  But if I’m doing this, I’m doing it full-tilt, so why hesitate?  I could be checking out a bunch of the top games on it right now and learning what they all have in common and such.  Also it sounds like I should be able to write stuff like that off as research for my business which is good ’cause I need to get used to touch-devices and the nuances (inaccurate mashing of the screen VS a pixel-perfect mouse, fingers covering up part of the screen, etc.) and see how other people have gotten around those issues.

Also I want to spread this website around a bit so other people can follow my adventure and maybe other people thinking about starting up a company can learn from it along with me.  I always find “behind the scenes” stuff fascinating, haha  I’m the guy that’ll watch every commentary on a DVD.  I’m finding I’m starting to have to regulate my “networking” time (checking Twitter, responding to messages on Facebook, answering E-Mails, etc.) so instead of doing it in bits and pieces through the day I just say “okay this is my blabbing hour” and I do it all at once…otherwise I end up getting distracted and ending up following links and stuff totally sidetracked and next thing I know I’m watching that documentary on how they make candles on youtube haha

Hoping to get some new art up soon but this homework is killer!  Got the date wrong on the IGDA meeting, it’s actually Thursday.  I want to pop in and check it out, but it’s rough to try to balance this stuff while we’re in the “massive homework” stage of our class.  Apparently after our Business Plan is finalized the homework gets less and less, to where we only have class once a week and the rest of the week we’re working on our business.  I figure that’s the period I’m going to get the most exciting stuff done…setting up a website, putting up design sketches, etc.  That’ll be way more fun to check out than all this blabbing I’m doing I swear, haha

Oh and I handed in my first assignment and I think it turned out pretty good!  We’ll find out on Friday how much needs revision.  I know one part that will, in my opening statement I put “[Company Name] is a videogame company that–” haha  I haven’t picked a name yet.  I think we actually have a class on that coming up.  I learned that “yarrninja” is kind of a shitty name choice when I tried to tell classmates what my website URL is:

“yarrninja.com  …yarr has two Rs.  …you know, like a pirate…yarrrrrrr matey.  and then ninja.  because, you know, ninjas and pirates…so…ya.  y, a, r, r, ninja.”

So lesson learned!  My game company’s name will be something people can just hear and go to.  I used to joke growing up that I thought lots of game company names were dumb and boring and that if I ever ran a company I’d name it something like Super Awesome Ninja Death Shadow Studios.  A girl in my class is starting a bookkeeping business and she’s sad that she has to give it a really professional sounding name or people won’t take her business seriously (would you have someone working at Robot Explosion Bookkeeping do your books?  …well okay, I would, haha that would be awesome, but still).  I’m lucky that I can name this thing whatever I want and half the time you actually get MORE points for naming it something silly.  So who knows, maybe it’ll end up being Super Awesome Ninja Death Shadow haha, that spells out SANDS, that’s a word!  It’d be awesome to have a word like NINJA or something and have all the letters mean something, so the full name stands out but you can also shorten it for typing out or URLs or logos or whatever.

Anyway, sleep time for me!  I have no idea how I’m going to get Assignment 2 done by Friday!  It’s researching the competition, but my competiton is, technically, 100,000+ other iPhone developers, and like 65,000+ apps!  What the fuck am I thinking!!  haha

- Yarr