Monthly Archives: July 2009

Twitter Brings Traffic, So It Seems

Today I spotted that 9.6% of my site traffic comes from Twitter. I presume many people use it to track blog posts (instead of RSS). Not sure how many retweets there are, but I’ve seen some guys doing this.

I’ve been testing Twitter for month or two, and I kind of have mixed feelings about it.

On the other hand I feel like it’s one bloody big swamp – a time sink if you want. Even the guys who have interesting stuff to say, they seem to also have some unrelated stuff I don’t want to hear about (how strange is that). Of course that’s natural, and it’s pretty easy to skip one unrelated comment. But when the same guys make more “useless tweets” versus “useful tweets”, it’s time to think whether to follow that guy or not.

It becomes some sort of signal versus noise challenge.

Anyway, it seems that Twitter indeed brings traffic.

And… sometimes there’s something pretty useful too (in fact – something surprisingly fun stuff, since all happens so fast there).

Still haven’t made up my mind about the service… but meanwhile follow me and send me a message there, and I’ll follow you (as long as you have game/business related stuff in English).

What’s your thoughts about Twitter now?

How Not To Localize

Friend of mine asked if I could translate some texts for his game. I joked and asked “if could do voice acting too?” He replied that “text will do” and then he started to ponder if “it’s okay to have English voices and Finnish subtitles?”.

This made me ponder that perhaps one of the key things in localization is to remember that it’s not only about language, it’s also about the culture. For example, here in Finland many of us probably prefer watching foreign movies with English speech and Finnish subtitles. Some (non-Finnish) experts suggest that we Finns “lose” something for the experience and we should translate the language. As a Finnish guy, I strongly disagree and here’s one example.

I have seen one Finnish spoken episode of Bold & Beautiful. It was the most hilarious comedy I’ve ever experienced in television. I laughed out loud for the whole episode. It was pure comedy. It’s simply because it simply sounded odd. It’s better to have good English actors than replace them with cheap Finnish ones. English speech is okay (since most of us understand some English anyway) with Finnish subtitles. That way we actually experience the feelings of the original actors, but also get translated about the key ideas what was said.

So… I think localization that doesn’t take into account the culture has a greater risk of failing than localization that understands the cultural aspects.

It can be easier and cheaper too (just think of what it costs to create a whole new voice acting compared to adding subtitles only, and we Finns probably like it more that way too. At least most of us who understand English..)

I’m Back (And Just Spend An Hour Digging Through My Emails)

I’m back from the holiday trip (was nice to get away from this chair) and will do another trip next week. Today I started going through my emails and spent almost an hour deleting, replying and archiving emails (and there’s still some of them).

There were important posts and I still need to take some time to go through the rest, but I just started to ponder “is this really how we communicate”?

With the typical pill spam and whatnot, I also received posts promoting some gears and some guy asking me to partner with him for 6.5 million African something something.

Is this how we are forced to operate?

How much time is the whole world combined spending time deleting spam emails?

Now… A Third Thing About Selling (Recommend Me a Video Camera By The Way)

There was couple of posts about ads and brands in the past two days. This is the third blog post about this “series” (and last for now). Here’s the 3rd most important thing – maybe even more important thing than ads and especially brands.

I want to hear recommendations. The recommendations help me decide. When somebody I know (or are somehow connected) recommends me something, I’m more inclined to actually check the thing out and perhaps even buy it. This can help non-established brands (or even non-advertised products) to surface. If I hear a good recommendation, I think about it.

And in the age of “social web”, I think game studios need also to think how to get people to recommend their games to each others. In the Internet, there’s new ways made possible for friends to quickly spread the word. Companies need to think about capitalizing on that.

(By the way, I’m actually hunting and going to purchase a basic video cam for recording some everyday non-professional stuff and I’m looking a basic video cam that costs a few hundred bucks ($300 or something) – in case you have a recommendation, let me know… thanks)

Some Brands Don’t Need to Sell…

Yesterday I mentioned something about how not to sell stuff (where of course I took a bit black & white attitude and wasn’t perhaps really fair to leaflets, since they were perhaps targeted to bit different audience – and it might have been the shop’s responsibility to pick suitable leaflets).

The truth is, I kind of want a Sony video camera.

In my mind it goes like this:

Sony = Good

Maybe Sony’s Playstation 3 is one thing that affects to my mind, but I’ve learned to think that “Sony must be a good”. I don’t know if that’s factually true. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s other brands that are as good as Sony, but that’s what the (obviously talented) marketing folks at Sony have done in the past years. I’ve grown to believe that Sony is good, so my brain says “buy Sony”.

Lesson is: if your ad leaflet gets thrown in the trash can, you can still sell your product when you have a strong brand.

That’s what powerful brands are all about.

How Not to Sell…

I picked up a couple of video cam leaflets from a local store: Sony’s and Canon’s. Sony’s video camera leaflet was praising everything. Full HD. Their cameras. Memsticks. Features. Whatnot. Where ever I looked in the leaflet I felt like they tried to say to me that everything was awesome (at least according to Sony) and that I should buy their stuff. I felt like they want me to buy something fast. Something Sony. The leaflet left me a pretty disappointed feeling after all, since it too techy approach and too pushy way to represent stuff. It looked like they didn’t want to help me find a solution – just trying to sell.

When I checked Canon’s leaflet, I actually read the whole thing. It was educational: it wasn’t (only) praising their stuff, but was simply saying how different things work – and they were using a language that a average guy from street can understand. They mentioned how different things are suitable for different people and helped me to choose. I was immediately sold to their non-selling approach and got more ideas about what kind of camera could be for me.

Can you guess which leaflet is now in the trash can?

I Saw Ice Age III Movie In 3D – Where’s The 3D Monitors For Gamers?

I saw Ice Age III last week ago or so. I wanted to see the 3D effect, because I had never seen a movie in “3D theater” (heck, what’s the correct word for these things anyway? 3D movie? 3D theater?). The effect in the movie was pretty good: for example, I liked how the lion chase (whoops, a spoiler) was done. The 3D depth effect gives something extra, and I think it can be used in movies effectively. I must admit that the movie could have used the 3D effect more, and actually the best 3D effect was seen before the movie started: there was some spinning logo coming so close that I almost felt I could touch it. Now, that was cool.

I don’t know what that does to your eyes (or brain), but at least I didn’t feel any headache or eyeache (a word I just invented) nor other ache after watching the movie.

Now I just wonder when we’ll start to see 3D monitors so that game developers can start make umm… 4D games?

You who have experienced 3D effect in the movie theaters, how you liked it?

How Much Time You Spend Tracking Time? (Is It a Good Use of Your Time?)

I talked with couple of friends of mine who reported that their companies track everything they do. Ranging from pretty much going to toilet to drinking coffee to sitting in meetings to other stuff one does at work, they track everything.

And… then they (seemingly) don’t do anything with the numbers (or read them wrong, or give such penalties that people start to lie about numbers which effectively leads to the same thing).

I know some guys like to track their time (and it can be a good thing, maybe), but I’ve always liked to track more about the result side of things. Of course both are important if you want to analyze (it’s important to know how much certain project took resources and compare this with the results), but if you’d need to pick one: pick the results – count the achievements accomplished in certain time for example.

Some managers make it a must thing to track everything in micro level. You need to calculate how many hours you put into planning and brainstorming and meetings and coffee drinking and whatnot. Sometimes it starts to puzzle me how much these guys put time into tracking time (maybe some companies actually track time they put in tracking time…).

If they actually use the numbers, then good… but if they first require everybody in the team to give a detailed numbers of how many hours they spent coding different things, I think they are quite in the wrong track.

If they only ask Joe to report his 151 hours of programming (and do nothing), then things are bad.

If they actually use Joe’s numbers to estimate how much something took time, and what Joe should do (and whether he should do more programming) then we are getting somewhere.

Although… people work in teams. Team consists of several people. Tracking Joe’s, Tim’s and Eric’s time separately doesn’t necessarily help much. Knowing that these guys spent 308 hours last month to program doesn’t help much either. If they know that these guys managed to finish X number of features in 308 hours can be helpful. You can use it to estimate future features (and their costs) and help make decisions. If on the other hand you “do this stuff anyway” – what’s the point of tracking time?

How much your team spends in tracking time? Is it really useful? Do you use the numbers for something?

Military Training (And What We Can Learn From It)

I was in the army about 10 years ago. Some managers I’ve seen seem to think army style is “outdated” or “too hierarchical” or too “command oriented”, and partially there might be something like that in the army but there’s some things that are done really well in the army.

Here’s some of the things I was really impressed about:

  • Responsibility: there was always somebody who “called the shots”. Maybe in workplaces we don’t need to have privates and sergeants and badges, but it’s a good thing if somebody in the team actually has the responsibility to “keep the order” (so to speak) and maybe even have final word on things. I think this type of order and structure was helpful in the army: everybody knew who was responsible and no time was wasted arguing over something useless.
  • Order: occasionally, some people came late to a lecture and the captain was standing there (actually, this might be a military secret of the Finnish army and I think I was said that I cannot share anything that happens in the army, but let’s hope nobody finds out about this blog post, okay?). Anyway, the captain was there waiting patiently (with a strict look in his face) for the latecomers to arrive. After that, the lecture was 10 minutes late and he gave a 2 minute speech about how this cannot happen again or we’ll start training this arrival on time (meaning: from now on, people would come like 1 hour before the actual event if things don’t change). After that, he went on with the lecture.

    I thought this was amazing. Previously, I had seen people coming late to their workplaces (or school) and (1) coming up with all sorts of excuses, (2) driving recklessly when they were late, (3) trying to do too many things (like eat breakfast, make the bed, brush teeth, and shave – while driving) in order to “not to be too late”. Then some boss/teacher either (1) did nothing, (2) tried to mumble something or (3) was one of the latecomer. This captain was just standing there and waiting for people to find their seats in order. No fuss, no stupidities. Strict order. Then he said what would happen if things won’t change (and he sure would have ordered that). I liked that approach.

  • Delegating: when you get an assignment in the army, your superior will tell you what you need to do and then you repeat the task to confirm you’ve got it. That’s a pretty simple thing: (1) first somebody gives you a task, and (2) then you confirm that you got the message. Simple.

    I wonder why there’s probably tons of producers (including the guy who is writing this blog post) who don’t handle this properly always when needed. Some producers actually don’t do either step (telling what to do nor asking people if they know what they need to do), yet they keep wondering why project isn’t going well.

I’m not necessarily a big army fan (pretty neutral attitude towards the army maybe), but I think they’ve done some things pretty well. So well that it’s worth learning from.