The Difference Between a Successful Person and a Non-successful Person

Almost a month ago, I asked what’s the biggest problem you are facing in game development right now? There were plenty of answers and one answer was ‘time’. Since ‘time’ is such an universal problem, I decided to ponder this bit more.

The more I thought about it, the better I understood that ‘time’ was not actually a problem. I personally thought that one of my biggest problems is ‘time’, but I realized that it’s not actually the problem.

I was reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2 (fine book by the way) and noticed a sentence that was related to this challenge. Even when you have little time to use, this one tip applies. I think that the difference between a successful person and a non-successful person is this: “it’s what they do in their spare time”.

Think about it a bit. We all have our hobbies and interest, but in the end it’s not ‘time’ that is problem for us. It’s how you use that time. It’s easy to take a beer and sit on a sofa watching TV. It’s easy to find time and go out with friends. It’s easy to find time for fun hobbies. It’s easy to surf in the net rather than working on your project. And yet we keep saying that ‘time is my problem’. I’m not saying you should abandon everything else in your life and just concentrate building your business or working on your game – that would be quite stupid actually. I’m simply saying that you can find time, if you really want.

It all boils down to the ability to delay gratification. It’s the ability to concentrate on what’s important and where you want to go. That’s the solution.

If You Work As a Game Producer In a Big Studio, Contact Me

I’m going to reveal something I’ve planned for the future: I’m going to gather a group of professional game producers who have a day time job as a game producer. I hope to see something like 4-8 game producers who would be interested in spending few minutes per month to answer some specific question or questions regarding game production from site readers. The whole idea is to get to see different views in game production issues. In exchange these producers (and studios) would get publicity, help other developers and chance to bring their opinions public through a popular game producer blog.

The process would be quite simple:
1. Readers send questions to me
2. I compile a list of questions and send them to these 4-8 selected producers
3. Producers answer and email back to me
4. I publish the questions and answers at GameProducer.net

If you are a game producer in a big studio (and by big studio I mean that you have several hundreds of thousands development budget), then please consider contacting me. If you happen to be in some other position (like programmer, designer, artist, etc.) in such studio, consider mentioning this post to the game producer in your studio and ask if he would be interested in this.

This “Producers of the Round Table” (so to speak) wouldn’t mean more deadlines or pressure, but a relaxed chance to spare few minutes about reflect game production.

Producers of the Round Table – Current list

Thanks guys for your support.

Challenge #11: Definition of ‘Casual Game’

The 11th GP challenge might be the most difficult to solve: define casual games. There’s lots of talk and arguments regarding this, and while I think it might be almost impossible to come up with a definition that would please everybody, so I’m going to approach this problem from a bit different point-of-view. Instead of asking you to tell what casual game is, I’d like you to comment and start listing elements that casual games have. These elements or typical features do not have to match with all casual games, and you can also use negative patterns to describe what casual games are not. For example, you could say “casual games typically cost about $20 (non discounted)”, or you could say “casual games are not done using million dollar budget”.

Here’s some ideas to help start thinking:

  • price
  • development budget
  • playing time
  • replay value
  • typical gameplay elements
  • distribution channel
  • download size
  • development team

I will update the above list as I get comments from you.

Some resources where people have discussed this:

I personally enjoy the definition I saw at Wonderland:

“If my mom can play it, it’s a casual game”

Well said.

Playing Race Video Games Make Car Drivers Go Recklessly

I saw a recently a study that reported “those who play a lot of race video games – games where you drive fast – will also drive fast in real life”. The study explained that a great amount of those reckless drivers were also heavy consumers of video games.

That’s sounds pretty logical, but there’s a tiny problem…

You can draw a different conclusion from the study. Like… instead of saying “race video games make people drive fast” you could say “those who drive fast will start playing lots of racing video games”. In this new conclusion it’s the habit of fast driving that leads these people to play games (or the fact that these people simply like driving fast, and also like to play games where you drive fast).

This is good example where researches draw conclusions too fast. I must point out that my conclusion is not necessarily right. I’m simply saying that based on the data they showed, I could draw a different conclusion.

Believing some research only by seeing it in the news is not necessarily such a good idea.

Are You Solving Problems or Complaining About Them?

There so many employees that have the thinking pattern of “it’s not my problem”. Almost whenever they need to do something that’s “not their responsibility”, they will refer to contract or they job description and say that it’s not their duty to solve that problem. Programmers might stop helping their customers because “it’s not their job”.

There’s one main reason why changing this attitude is so important. Solving problems is crucial to success. Successful businesses solve problems. Successful people solve problems. That’s why people keep saying “there’s no problems, only opportunities”. Problems give you chance to solve, learn and improve.

Whether you are a programmer, a designer, or a producer – do you think your boss will appreciate you more if you solve their problems, or if you keep saying “not my responsibility”?

I’m not saying that you would need to solve all the problems, or say “yes” to everybody. That’s not the point. The point is that you cannot keep saying “not your responsibility”. If you keep doing something that’s waste of time and “not your responsibility” then it’s your responsibility to improve the process. If you get 20 worthless emails that take 10 minutes of your time every day, then the problem won’t go away by whining to other workers how things are bad. Your job is to bring this issue in light, and either improve the process or get others to improve it so that you won’t be wasting your time in the future. At least make sure that the decision-makers know that there’s a problem in the process, so that they can make decisions whether to improve the process or not.

You make the decision whether you are a problem solver or not. Bottom line is – and I guarantee you this – that there’s much more room for problem solvers than complainers in any business in the world.

Ask Stupid Questions

There are two kind of people when it comes to asking questions: First of all there are the people who don’t want to ask ‘stupid’ questions. These people are afraid that others would laugh at them, or that others would consider them stupid. The more people are involved in the conversation, the harder it is for these guys to ask for help – even when they know they should. These guys end up paying high conference fees, smiling, nodding and telling how everything was wonderful – although they don’t have a clue what was talked about.

I personally believe there is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’. It’s not matter of stupidity – it’s matter of knowing something or not knowing something. If in the middle of a conversation, a company stakeholder asks “What’s Java?” – the programmers might smile or think “How crazy is this? Guy owns a tech company making applications primarily in Java, and he don’t even know what the term means”. Well, if the programmer then need to ask “What’s ROI?” – the stakeholder might smile. Both are extremely basic information, but you just have to know what they mean if you want to talk about them. It’s not matter of stupidity, it’s matter of knowing terms.

Then there are those people who ask questions. If they don’t know a meaning of something, they might simply others to give more information. They might ask “could you clarify, what you mean by ‘company strategy’ in this context?”. Or they might say “You mentioned bump mapping, I’m not quite sure what it means or how it would enhance the user experience. Could you give me bit more information about how it works?”. The higher levels the talk goes, the more important it is to know exactly what people are talking.

Being afraid does not help anything, and if others smile at you… well, then that’s basically their problem – not yours. You cannot change the way other people think about you, and it’s up to you to whether you understand or not what others are talking about.

3 Issues to Remember When Increasing Team Headcount

We are currently processing getting 3 new team members to our currently 5 member team. I personally don’t think in the idea of “everybody should get into team”, since from my experience that results to lots of wasted time. Sure, it might be fun, and it might you help find the right persons – but I personally try to screen good team players right in the beginning.

Why you need other team members?

This is the most important thing: why do you need team members? Be absolutely sure to answer to that questions before you proceed getting anybody in your team. Our team has had some additional need for animation, programming and concept art. We either need to outsource some of these areas (like concept arts and perhaps animation) or get new people to do these. We are still processing the “hiring” at the moment.

Focus on getting whose who do things, rather those who can do things

When I’m getting new people in the team I’m more concerned about getting people who have time and motivation to do things. I’ve seen many industry professionals, who can do amazing stuff – if only they would have time. I personally try to get talented guys who can actually finish something. I’m always more interested in “how people can contribute to the project” rather than “what piece of work somebody has done in the past”. Naturally, I will check what projects or work team members have finished in the past, but even then I’m more concerned to make sure that these people can get things done.

Increasing headcount means increased management

This one is really important: with 5 members (me included) in the team, there’s quite a lot of management to do. Coordinating, writing, communicating with the other people is always there. Since we are about to increase the headcount to 8, we need to be extra careful what kind of people we get in the team – and what it means in terms of responsibilities. Dealing with 7 other people means quite a lot of time spent on putting everything together.

Second Life Is Really Like a Second Life

Now a huge real estate firm is entering the 3D virtual world. The system goes so that players can get land in Second Life, that’s quite familiar element from other games. What’s new is that now Coldwell Banker – a company in a real life – will open a virtual sales office and start selling virtual land. I think that’s pretty amazing, and can’t but wonder when they start listing virtual companies in the Second Life?

Second Life is said to be not only a game. I might agree that Second Life is one step further in the age of information technology. Since people start getting jobs in virtual worlds, and establishing companies to operate in virtual worlds, I think we definitely can say that the world is changing.

And change is good.

Why Gears Of War Costs $60

Forbes has a very interesting article regarding the costs of Gears of War explaining the reasons behind the sixty dollar price tag. Art and Design was reported to cost 25%. They commented: “The rippling oceans, expressive faces and explosive action sequences gamers want to see don’t come cheap.” Programming and Engineering was 20%, which includes the gaming engine, artificial intelligence, and so on.

Retail costs were 20% and “console owner fee” 11.5%. It’s quite interesting that gamers first need to purchase consoles for several hundreds of dollars, and then pay for a big piece of game development. Besides these numbers, there were marketing (7%), market development fund (5%), manufacturing & packaging costs (5%), licensing (5%), publisher profit (1.5% – amazingly low!), distributor (1.5%), corporate costs like management (0.3%), hardware development (0.05%). Watch the detailed slideshow with pictures to see in detail where the money goes.

Taken into account that Gears of Wars has sold over 3 millions units and the fact that they are preparing a Gears of Wars movie the publisher should be quite happy with the results.

EDIT: And I’ve received a message saying “The forbes article is actually a load of bollocks.”, with additional comments: “Several of us in the industry discussed the forbes article when it first appeared, and I know 2 of the people who work at Epic, who confirm that those figures are fictional.”. Anyone remember what I’ve previously said about questioning authority?

Solid Method For Keeping Promises

I recently started thinking how could I make sure that I keep the promises I give. I noticed that I’ve had 2 major factors that have influenced this. The first one is simply promising something that I can keep. I remember I promised to give interview with the makers of Lord of The Rings Online. I made that promise after I received an email from them to send them the questions. After I sent the questions I remember mentioning that “I will be interviewing them in GP blog”. Well, I never got the responses to my questions – and I could not publish the interview. And I’m not blaming LOTRO people for this. They didn’t give my promise to blog readers, I did.

While it might sound like keeping some small promises is not that important for you, they might be very important to others. If you promise to tell a good word about somebody – but you don’t – then that somebody simply might not want to waste time with you in the future, since you didn’t keep your promise. That’s why it’s important to keep all the promises, even the smallest ones. I personally have made small promises in the past, and while it has taken some time, I will keep those promises the way I can.

I’ve learned that I have to be careful when promising interviews or anything. If I’m not sure, then I might as not give the promise – or tell that what I’ve done. Like in the LOTRO’s case, I could have told that “They’ve accepted my request and I’ve sent the questions. Now we have to wait and see if and when they find time to respond”.

In summary, the first lesson is: think carefully before you promise something.

The second thing I learned was that I cannot rely only on my memory. I simply cannot remember all the tiny promises and words I’ve said. I believe I’ve promised at least few things here on my blog, but might have forgotten them afterwards (notice: if you want to remind me about some promises, now it’s a good time for that). I believe there aren’t many promises like this, but I suppose there might be something that’s simply lost somewhere. I’ve also noticed this when talking to some people. Some people simply promise to do this and that… yet, they fail to keep those promises. They might be like really small things, but small things might have a big impact.

I came up with a simple solution: use of a text file. I have made a text file for my promises. It’s really simple and fast to use. I will put headline, possible date and description for each promise I’ve given. That’s it: write down your promises.

Since I just started using this system, there’s only one promise at the moment:

GAMEPRODUCER.NET – ABOUT EDOIKI GAME
In the future I will tell more about our team, and our team members – so that those who do things actually get the credits.

From that text I can see that I’ve made a promise to GP readers about Edoiki game.

I believe this is an extremely simple and efficient way to keep track on what you promise, when you promised and to whom you’ve promised. Certainly beats just relying on my memory.

Bottom line: Think carefully before you promise something. Write down your promises: what, to whom, when, with a brief description.