Win a Game By Participating in a Short Survey

I have created a survey regarding digital distribution of video games – basically if you’ve ever downloaded a game from the Internet you’ll have the knowledge to answer. If you wish to participate, you’ll have a chance to win a game of your choice from Big Fish Games portal. The survey takes only a few minutes of your time.

Update: I’ve received 100 responses, and the survey is now closed. Thanks everybody for your interest!

Gaming Carnivals

Just a reminder for everybody that the next edition of Carnival of Game Production will be published in the nearly future, so if you want to get your (blog) article published… bring it on.

Second reminder for those who are interested about the Carnival of Gamers, there’s a new edition available at Gaming Nexus. Check it out, there’s some pretty good articles to read – topics ranging from women in games to MMO gaming and more.

Have a peaceful Easter people.

Are You a Game Developer or Game Engine Developer

Some days ago I exchanged a few emails with one of the GP readers. He mentioned that he has been creating a game engine and is going to develop some games. I pointed out that it might be beneficial for him to concentrate on creating the game, rather than the engine. He said that creating the engine was part of the fun, so that was a good argument where I would have no further comments – for his case.

Even though I didn’t comment case more than that, I really think that most programmers are making a mistake in this. Many programmers call themselves “game developers” when in reality most of their efforts concentrate on creating the game engine. There’s a major difference between game developers and engine developers: game developers make games. I’m not saying that creating a game engine is bad move. I’m simply saying that game developers make games and game engine developers build engines. It’s up to you which one you want to be.

It might sound like semantics, but if you think about this bit further you might notice that there’s a big difference. About 7 years ago I didn’t knew how to create 3D games and the first advice I received that “I needed to create a game engine”.

Nobody told me that there are free and inexpensive game development tools available for 3D development as well.

Today whenever I can, I concentrate on making the game rather than the engine. Naturally you might need to program game engine for some parts, but my guideline is buying external parts whenever it seems right. I’m way past the thinking that I would need to do everything by myself – I can buy libraries and parts when needed.

For a beginner developer understanding this difference can greatly speed up your game development. You can google or look for game development articles for more help.

The bottom line is: If you want to be a game developer then I really recommend focusing on creating the game, not the engine.

Easter Holiday and Stuff to Remember

I’m taking a few days off and simply going to be 100% lazy this Easter. Concentrating on eating, sleeping and that sort of stuff. As a quick reminder before the upcoming article (coming in the next couple of hours – subject is “Are you a game developer or game engine developer”):

  • First of all, there’s a site introduction available that’s filled with posts you could take a look at. Take a look at it. I’ve gathered many good articles on that page.
  • Secondly, yes – there’s newsletter available. I’m sending useful information there. Recently I mentioned about a free video game ebook, and in the past I’ve sent information about sales statistics etc. – so be sure to sign up.
  • Thirdly: RSS feed. I have set that up, and you should set up one to your site as well. Subscribe in this blog feed and you’ll have an easy way to check out what’s going on in this blog.
  • Fourthly: Some time ago I’ve put online a section for free stuff. At this point there’s not much to see, but I’m bringing free more resources there in the future. At this point I’ve mentioned newsletter and some free game stuff in that page. Check them out.

That’s it for now, next article coming in just a few hours.

Take it easy people.

What Idols Show Can Teach You About Marketing

Idols television show format is extraordinary popular all over the world. Some people hate the show, some people love it. Whichever party you belong to, there are valuable marketing lessons in Idols.

They are playing good cop & bad cop
Controversy. People are eager to say their comments on controversial topics and are eager to not only attack, but also defend those who are treated badly. That’s one reason why Idols is successful: at least one of the judges plays ‘bad cop’ – is giving negative comments, and that causes people to go against him. This means people are talking at work and everywhere “how that mean judge is such an idiot”. If one goes shouting how ‘Linux is for losers, Windows is the best operating system’ you can rest assured there’s lots of people taking the bait. Many people simply are like that. And that’s something one can use in marketing. I personally don’t think being controversial is way for me to contribute in a positive manner, so I don’t (consciously) write controversial topics or do this kind of marketing. Nevertheless, it seems to work for those who want to get attention.

Real people, real lives and, ‘user generated content’
I think this is another reason for the success of the Idols show: they have real people, real lives and they let their contestants to ‘generate content’ so to speak. These real people have real lives, and dream of becoming a popular star – and they are singing and performing in the show. It’s not a show where some comedian tries to come up with funny jokes, it’s a show where contestants make sure they bring fresh content in it. No wonder that the Web 2.0 ideas such as user generated content is coming in area of gaming business as well.

They seem to know what they are doing in Idols. They sure are using successful promotional tactics.

Game Producer Insiders – a Community For Game Producers

It’s time for the official announcement regarding the GP Insiders. In this post I’ll give a brief sales pitch regarding the service, and explain how you might benefit from it. Insiders is not for everybody, but if you are one of those who want to know more about being a part of game producer community, get practical how to get traffic, more sales, distribute press releases, and enjoy noise-free discussion then you might be interested in the following.

Here’s in a nutshell what Insiders get:

  • Access to noise-free discussion forums – for those who like to participate in bulletin boards that are not who complainers. The low Insiders fee will keep away those people who are not serious about doing business.
  • Access to GameRelease PR distribution tool – you are free to distribute several press releases per month with no additional charge. And why this is important? Here’s one reason why sending press releases is important – a scanned pic from PCZone magazine (we used VGsmart company at that time – and now we are distributing press releases using our own tool). PR tool alone can be worth many times the Insiders fee.
  • Free sales guide – I’m updating a sales manual, basically putting lessons that we learned when we launched Hightailed and GEOM, and what lessons I’ve picked in the past years. Guide is very practical and there are some Insider comments here (just scroll down a bit and you can read what other people have thought about the guide). The Guide is not yet finished, but already contains lots of practical tips for getting more sales.
  • Free traffic guide – I’ve recently started writing about what I’ve learned in building GameProducer.net traffic from 37 unique visits per month to 25,104 unique visits per month. I’m sharing everything I know in a down-to-earth manner, that will help you to grow your website traffic. Everything is kept really simple and to the point.
  • Discounts and more: there are already 30 members on the boards and these guys and girls are enthusiastic about making games and are part of the game industry. We are having nice discussion on the boards and some of the members have also started their own threads. Nvidia programmer arex (who has also programmed his own Dawnbringer3D rendering engine) is sharing programming tips & tricks. Tim Fisher (Indiepath Ltd.) is sharing his insight on Reflexive versus BFG affiliate programs, and telling more about them. More articles and resources are coming as you read this.

And what does it cost?
At the moment Insiders membership cost only $9.97 per month (or $99.70 per year – which gets you 2 free months, and a free announcement about your company/website/product through GameProducer.net). The PR tool alone can help you get back that money if you have a decent product – and lots of more. The Sales guide can help you earn that money back – and more (after all, the price of being Insider is only one sold unit per 1-2 months). Any person who reads the information and acts on it can recoup that money (and more) fast with little additional work.

Or you can simply skip 3 beers per month :) and get in a fine place with other like-minded people.

Bottom line
Game Producer Insiders is an exclusive, community of like-minded individuals committed to succeed in the gaming industry. The noise-free community forums, free press release distribution service, the Sales Guide, traffic guide… and more are available for Insiders. It’s not for everybody, but it might be for you since you’ve read this far.

If you want to read about the details, click here to see more information about the benefits of being a GameProducer.net Insider. The ordering information is available on that page as well.

Naturally you can always contact me and ask if you are not sure whether the Insiders membership is for you or not.

What a DVD Store Could Learn About Marketing

If a customer cannot get your product working, it’s your problem to solve

Hour ago I went to a local store that sells DVDs, televisions, computers and other products like that. I went there to return a movie that was not working: our DVD player could not play the sounds correctly. As a dedicated Terence Hill & Bud Spencer fan I had tried replacing the movie to a new disc (same movie though) about a week ago.

I went to the store and explained that I had bought the DVD couple of weeks ago, and that my DVD player could not play the sounds. I also told them that they had tested the DVD with me in the store last week and it worked fine here. The problem seemed to be that for some reason my DVD player could not play this specific movie properly (and for the record: I had purchased several other Terence Hill & Bud Spencer movies from this store in the past, and all those worked fine). I asked if I could change this DVD to some other movie.

The answer was ‘No’.

The saleswoman started explaining something about company policies and whatever and I interrupted her. I said “Let me get this straight… I have bought a wide screen television and the DVD player from you, and also about 50 DVDs in the past – all have worked fine. And now, last week I came here and we tested the DVD and it worked fine here, but it still was not working properly in my set. And now I cannot get my money back or a new DVD. For heavens sake… the DVD costs only $5 bucks.”

She ‘kindly’ said that “We can test the DVD here to see if it works okay”. I told her that I’m aware that it works okay here, but I told that they could come to our house to watch the DVD and see that it’s not working. Then she continued by saying “I can give you a new copy of that movie”. Then I must admit that my philosophy of “speaking ill of no man” was getting challenged. I stayed calm and explained that we had already tried replacing this copy with a new one – that happened last week. I really cannot spend hours for trying to get $5 movie replaced!

Their bottom line was something like “we have no-return policy for DVDs – you cannot return them just if you don’t like them”. So basically they weren’t trusting me. From my point-of-view, the process went like this:

1. I buy a DVD player from them
2. I buy an expensive television from them
3. I buy a DVD from them
4. The DVD I bought from them is not working in the DVD player I bought from them
5. I go to replace the DVD with a new one (same movie though), the new one doesn’t work either
6. I want to get a new movie, because the certain movie seems not to work.
7. They say no.

So… basically I’m betting $5-25 each time I buy a DVD from them. If the movie works, I can watch it. If the movie does not work… well then ‘tough for me’ since I cannot return it.

See the whole elephant, not just the tail

I dropped the DVD to the desk and said “I have bought a wide screen television, DVD player, at least 50 movies from you in the past couple of years. I’ve probably spent over thousand dollars in your place, but you can rest assured that I won’t be putting any money in your products in the future. You can keep the DVD, I have no use for it. Bye.”

I left the store, and left the DVD on their desk.

They seem to have the same problem that this pizza delivery guy had. I cannot but be amazed how some stores don’t “see the whole elephant… only the tail of it”. In this case because of $5 movie they were willing to get rid of customer worth $1000 (or quite likely much more, because I have liked their services in the past). I mean, think about this. It’s not like they are the only DVD store in town. There’s plenty of them to choose from. They have been my favorite store for no reason… I’ve just happened to like buying from them.

Until now.

Their policy was to make sure that ‘dishonest’ nor ‘honest’ customers would rip them off. While that might work short-term ($5), it certainly work for long-term ($1000 or more). I had legally bought everything from them and tried to get their product working. Since the products I bought from them were not working properly they chose to give punish me – their customer – for that.

What kind of logic is that?

Military Leadership

Last weekend I saw two military officials discussing in a television show. They were asked what kind of leader they respect? What kind of qualities a good leader must possess?

Both responded: “They kind of leader who treats you as an individual and really listens to you.”

I bet you can see how efficient this piece of advice can be. It’s priceless for video game producers or leaders when dealing with others. It’s priceless for anyone dealing in customer service or in sales. The military officials continued by saying how motivating it is to work and carry out commands for someone who is listening to them.

Don’t you agree with this? Isn’t it true that those it’s easier to respect those who treat you with respect? Wouldn’t you agree that whenever you have been purchasing something and got somebody to deal with you personally, it has been easier for you to make the buying decision. You can do the same to others: you can motivate others to do what you want, by treating them as they want. Whether it’s leading the team or dealing with a customer, you can consider really listening to others and concentrating on solving their problem.

Could you use this style in your own work?

DX Studio – Build complete DirectX 3D Applications Without a Single Line of Code

DX Studio, is a tool for building interactive 3D applications for Windows. Besides a commercial version, there’s a freeware download version available which you can use to download rest of the files through the net (the final download will be between 10MB and 60MB). Version comparison and features can be found here.

I downloaded and tried the software and it looked very professional and clean to use. I tried checking out some demos and I liked especially the portfolio example that basically displayed an animated character on screen (picture below), but there were also example games and web applications available.

Overall the tool contained demos, coding examples, tutorials and other information as well, so really getting know the product would require bit more time. Anyone interested in creating 3D software (whether it’s games or houses or whatever), you might find DX studio interesting. More information on their website.

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

I’ve kept saying that failures helps you to learn what went badly, and improve. The philosophy is simple: sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

I didn’t use or have this philosophy something like 10 years ago. In the past I thought that failure is bad, and should be avoided no matter what. Much of the school teaching concentrates on spotting errors, and then giving penalties if you make any. In exams they don’t count how much you got right, they focus on counting how much you got wrong. That’s a really bad way to look at things.

In the recent years my attitude has changed dramatically on this: there’s no failure, or if there’s “loss” it means chance to learn something. Failure means exactly the opposite. It gives you the opportunity to ask yourself: “what’s good in this situation?”. It gives you chance to learn and improve. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned was because of “failure” or doing mistakes. Failing is good, doing mistakes is good – when you learn from them.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. That’s how it goes.