Monthly Archives: September 2007

Rulebook For Poor Organizations

I have been dealing with one of the biggest banks in Finland and doing very ordinary stuff with them. Opening a checking account, getting credit cards and all that normal stuff everybody does. There’s one specific reason why I opened an account with them – they can cash foreign checks – but so far it’s been pain in the (nasty word) to get things rolling.

My theory is that they have rulebooks filled with guidelines I’m about to present here.

I was charged $1 for fees when reality the clerk said there would be no fees. The $1 won’t kill my budget, but in addition to rest of the rules it “annoys” me enough to write about it. Sometimes it’s the principle that matters. I’m pretty sure their rulebook would say something like this:

Rule #1 – Verbal agreements that don’t matter anything
Say that there’s no fees, and then charge fees anyway. When customer asks about this: make sure that they realize the real conditions – not the stuff that was verbally agreed.

I suspect they also have a rule like this:

Rule #2 – Make controversial guidelines
When customer asks what happens, tell something that’s not going to happen.

They said me to visit their office to get the ATM cards, but then for some reason those cards came via mail. It wasn’t a big deal, but enough to make me wonder if I need to activate the cards or something.

I tried to withdraw money with the card (drove 5 miles in vain by the way) and it failed. Machine told me that I cannot use the card. I decided to contact the bank, and encountered some more of their rules.

I’m hundred percent sure the bank have a sign somewhere that says:

Rule #3 – Support calls
When customers call to the support, forward them to somebody else.

I tried asking what’s wrong with our bank cards since we couldn’t withdraw, and they kept forwarding my call to somebody else… until I faced rule #4.

Rule #4 – Don’t answer to the phone
If some customer stays on the line even after being forwarded dozen times, then it’s good not to answer the phone.

Very efficient – eventually when I reached the right number, nobody answered. I decided to email them, but then I encountered rule number five.

Rule #5 – Emails
If customer asks to email somebody, make sure you tell them that the person is available – and then ensure that she in fact stays on holiday.

After I emailed the person, I got a auto-reply that she was on holiday and wouldn’t be back until next week. (The person in the phone told me she would be available).

I guess they really want me to stop withdrawing any money from the ATM.

Pre-Launch of The Game Producer Forums

I’m currently (with the help of our moderator team) setting up the new game producer forums and while everything isn’t in place yet we are going forward at great pace. Feel free to register and join the discussions already.

As the forums are opening, I will be closing the blog comments. But do not be afraid – you can comment the posts on the forums and continue discussion there.

Currently I’ve picked 3 moderators who will be introducing themselves shortly in the forums. We are also shaping the different areas. Currently there are 4 main themes for public:

  • Blog comments (automatically fetched from the blog)
  • Game production (business, production, beginner, productivity, showcase)
  • Lounge (introductions and general chat)
  • Marketplace (advertise, jobs, buy/sell/trade stuff)

There’s also a private area for Insiders and also a private VIP area for Producers of the Round Table (where Insiders have special access).

We are at pre-launch now, and will be making the official announcement soon*

So, will you be the first to comment this post at the forums?

*Soon being some day between now and before the day when the Hell freezes

The Difficult Definition of Indie Game Developer

The definition of “indie game developer” or “indie game producer” varies greatly depending who is talking about it. Some people think only “one-man” studios can be called indies. Some think it’s the size of the budget. Some think it’s those who don’t do indie style games.

I don’t even try to give a 100% accurate definition for “indie game developer”, here are some points I’ve noticed people using.

Before going deeper, I want to remind kindly that it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice – that’s as far as I will go defining whether I’m an indie or not. It’s not the title that matters, but there are some typical elements that indie game developers have.

One-man studio
As mentioned earlier, doing games solo is a typical way to define an indie game developer. Naturally one could gather 4-5 indies together and call it an indie team. I see no problem with that. To me indie developer can be one-man studio or a small team.

Tight budget
Indies are cheap as Scrooge McDuck: they’d rather spend 100 hours working before handing 100 dollars to anyone. Okay, I might be exaggerating a “bit”, but basically many indies have a tight budget and they do anything to save their cash (wish naturally sometimes is a good idea). This is not always the case though.

Innovative game ideas
Indies have the greatest (and craziest) game ideas ever seen on the planet. I’ve seen video games about themes such as “indies trying to contact a publisher” and “player preventing people doing a suicide (by shooting them)”. I’ve seen retro cames brought to life by indies. How many AAA studios would do anything like that?

Not many.

They can be spotted at Indiegamer boards
Indiegamer has been somewhat conquered by casual gamers as well, but there’s still lots of members who proudly announce being indies.

Indie isn’t necessarily same as (financially) independent
There are many independent game studios that do games with million dollar budgets and have dozens of developers in the team. These studios are financially independent, but not (necessarily) indie studios. Naturally some indie studios can be (financially) independent.

Indies and publishers & portals
Indies originally (perhaps that could be said) self-published their games, but nowadays these developers also approach publishers and portals. It’s bit tricky to say if they can be considered indies if they work closely with a publisher, but I guess that “depends on the studio”. What’s your take on this? Are “real indies” those who self-publish only?

I think indies go in their way but also adopt to the current trends. With the era of increasing digital distributors (portals & publishers), I believe it’s a fine opportunity for indies to make their games more popular.

Indie style
I think it boils down to this: indies have certain style. Indies know they are indies – and are proud of it. They make their own rules, and their own games without handing control to others. They feel that they are indies and contribute to the indie game scene. They simply refer to themselves as indies, and feel it to be true.

That might suggest that indies are stubborn. And perhaps that’s true… but at least stubborn comes with indie style.

How Important Is Game Production to You?

How important is game production for you? What do you want to accomplish in game production – or in life? Sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s important and what’s something that you just habitually finish. But how do you measure how important game production is to you? How do you know if you are working on what you should?

It’s quite easy to think taking small steps every day, but I believe it’s good to clarify where you are actually heading.

Here’s an efficient way to find out how important something is. Simply ask yourself: What if you had only 2 years to live? What would you do? Would you finish your game? Would you start a new MMO game? Would you create a totally new concept? Would you do game programming at all? Would you get rid of some parts in game production, and concentrate the really juicy elements?

The answer to this simple question will tell you a lot what you really want – and will determine how important game production is to you.

Is Bachelor’s Degree Necessary In Game Development

I got this question from one of you readers.

Question:

I would like info on making my first game. A hidden object game. I have the story board but no clue as to where to go from here. I have Bryce5.5 (thanks for the heads up on that) but I am wondering if there is a better product available for beginners that would be more specific for my project.

I have been considering going back to college for game design and development. Is a 4 yr course and a bachelors degree necessary for what I what to accomplish?

I have given the game a twist that I have yet to see out on the market and would really like to get it in motion before someone else comes up with the same idea. If you can direct me to affordable software or courses specific to my needs I would greatly appreciate it.

Answer:
Before going deeper to answering about the necessity of having a degree, I’d like to remind about the breaking in the industry interview that was conducted with several producers. There’s plenty of insight about what one needs in game production.

Secondly, I recommend checking out articles how to create your first game and recommended resources for game creation. Both of these article can help you out on creating your first game.

Now, in my opinion, getting a bachelor’s degree isn’t perhaps the most optimal solution for getting your game done. While schools can teach about game production, I think many courses aren’t very practical – or take very long to finish. There are most likely some good courses, but I think there are better alternatives.

What I would recommend is to think about your own skills. If you know how to use Bryce and are willing to start programming, then I see no reason why you couldn’t pick some low cost game engine and make a prototype of your game. If that prototype looks good, then proceed.

If on the other hand you don’t feel qualified to do programming (which can be a major problem if you want to do games by yourself) then you either need to find somebody to work with – or hire a coder.

Bottom line is: degrees are good, but I believe there are faster ways to get started – and the fastest way is to simply take some action.