You Know What to Except When Email Contains the Words: “Sorry if I disturbed you”

There’s not only one but several things that I really like how NOT to approach anyone when you want something from them. Here’s a sample email I just got, and I think this works as a great introduction to the topic “how not to do business”:

From: Jane ******************
To: press@polycountproductions.com
Subject: Link exchange request with gamerelease.net

Greetings,

My name is Jane ********, SEO Consultant. I’ve greatly enjoyed looking through your site gamerelease.net and I was wondering if you’d be interested in providing a link to the tarot’s website I represent. In exchange, I could offer you a link at:

http://www.**********.com/ with page rank 3

If you are interested, please send me the URL and TITLE in order to list your website. I’ll add your link as soon as possible, within the next 24 hours. When your link is ready, I’ll send you a confirmation email along with the information (TITLE and URL) of my website.

I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time.

Regards,

Jane **********
Web Marketing Consultant
jane.*******@*******.***

Disclaimer:

PD: I really wouldn’t like this email to be considered as spam, since I’ll try not to contact you again with the same request, but in case you feel annoyed by this kind of requests and want to make sure neither me or anyone from my team contacts you again with a similar petition, you can just register at http://********* That way we’ll add you to our email filters. Thanks for the attention (and sorry if I disturbed you).

I’ll bite:

  1. The first thing annoys me is that this is very much a mass sent email to their spam list. If I want to have success in contacting some companies, I really need to craft them a personalized email to get a response.
  2. The second thing that annoys me is that they are using press@ in their email, not my personal email. They’ve found it from some website, and put it in their people-to-spam list.
  3. Third thing that I think is pretty useless way to approach others is that this is useless. They suggest me link exchange with some Tarot site. I have an indie game press release site. They have a tarot site. Let me repeat: indie press. Tarot site. Like… that’s not going to cut it. (And I don’t do link exchanges there so they are missing the point big time). Bonus point for trying though.
  4. Fourth thing is that they put some crap about “URL” – hey you suggested the url already. You are wasting my most precious asset I’ll ever have in my life: my time. But what do you care.
  5. Almost last point: “I really wouldn’t like this email to be considered as spam.” I mean for heaven’s sake. It’s not about how you feel. If you plan to suggest something to me then think what I feel. Thinking other people when doing stuff is like a pretty good business practise.
  6. Not yet last point: “register at” to “get filtered away”? Like (censored) (censored) you (censored) piece of (censored)!! I don’t “register” any of your spam lists to get away. I shouldn’t be there in the first place. And I don’t want “filter”, I want my freaking email as far as possible from your spam list you spammy spammers. You should kindly ask me if I ever want to be in touch with you. I’m in charge. Not you, you puny spammerers
  7. Very last point: “(and sorry if I disturbed you)”. Now, whadda (censored) you mean by “IF”?! If I wasn’t a nice guy, I’d say something that would get censored right now. You know you are spamming me, don’t try to play nice. (It’s much more okay if you really mean it, but if you think you might be disturbing somebody – don’t contact them in the first place, okay?)

Something good turned out from this spam email though. Pretty good business lessons.

Every spam has a silver lining.

Well. Not every spam.

But at least some.

Sometimes.

Using The Tools That Work

Yesterday’s blog post got a pretty interesting comment that I just had to reply:

It’s forbidden in universities to use flowcharts for software documentation.

I don’t care what they say at the university. If my gameplay can be described using (1) bunch of notes and (2) a flow chart so that I benefit from it, then I use my flowchart. I’m familiar with it and it solves the problem.

Not saying that NSD couldn’t be used in this, but to me it just looks bit different syntax in more compact view. Might be wrong, but since basic flow charts work for me, I use them. I don’t use them to document stuff. I use them to help me for example coding stuff.

Flowing Charts

I was working on my gameplay and writing my game’s design “doc”, and was planning to code some parts of the gameplay. I had some tasks listed in front of me, but I somehow couldn’t keep all the balls in the air simultaneously. So to speak.

I thought it was slightly difficult to proceed further with just these notes of mine.

So I did what I often do: drew a flow chart describing the main gameplay. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but I use flow charts (with my own customish syntax) to describe some aspects of the game. I feel that these charts are good in capturing the idea of certain issues.

So, I took my precious pen and draw a chart. It describes how the gameplay works: what happens first, how location is selected, how game progresses, and how game is won. It doesn’t explain everything, for example “resolving challenges” is not explained here – it’s a job for another flow chart or textual description, but this pic gives a pretty good overall view on how things work.

Using both my notes and this chart, I can continue coding.

Flow charts for very beginners
Basically, flow charts explain states. You may draw boxes/diamonds and write things like “Is leader?” and then have two arrows (one with word “no” and another with word “yes”) pointing to two different boxes which describe what happens in certain conditions.

A drawing makes things so much easier, so here’s an example flow chart describing the process of how reading this blog works.

Pretty slick, eh?

Sort of Crazy Idea: One Brand to Rule Them (=Indies) All?

I got quite interesting idea presented to me about franchise indie world. I don’t know exactly how this chap was planning to go forward, but I started pondering the following:

What if hundred or thousand (or hundred thousand) indies would combine their forces in creating a world that would act as the base for games?
There would be background stories, art, sounds, music, but not gameplay. The theme, art and dozens of characters and so on would be built.

And then… indies could leverage this brand by adding their own gameplay. For example, let’s suppose we’d all agree (after a bunch of fistfights) that we’ll have this steam punk world. Year is 1888, although there’s some technological innovations ranging from limited time manipulation (with non-organic objects) and heavy politics and brink of war between nations. And 1000 other things.

Art would be there, background setting for story would be there. Characters would be there as well.

Now we’d get to the sweet spot. Now indies could jump in and use whatever assets there is and create their own games. The game concept could possibly need some high-level acceptance to ensure that the game is still (at least somewhat) loyal to the world and the stuff would work logically. (For example, there couldn’t suddenly be green zombie monsters from outerspace)

If (when) more art or assets would be needed, the studios could create them by themselves (based on guidelines from existing work) and add to the repository, making it even bigger.

One indie could go and create match-3 game for iPhone – where time manipulation would be done. Another indie would do RTS about the war. Somebody would try hidden object game, and one would create an RPG about politics.

The games could be published and expand the brand, making each game familiar and more popular than what they perhaps could be if done solo.

Could work, don’t you agree?

If Game Is “Too Short”, You Know It’s Great

Several other fellow indies are blogging about quality over quantity. Cliff Harris writes about “size doesn’t matter” and 2D Boy posted a blog post about Too Short.

This reminded me about one thing: when after finishing a game I think “this game was too short”, I’ve always have been thrilled about the game. Full Throttle was said to be too short adventure game. I think it was awesome game, something that I wanted to keep playing more. Same happened with Max Payne.

And same happens more and more.

If the game is “too short”, it just (probably) means you’ve enjoyed playing it “too much”. So to speak.

Short is good.

Too short even better.

I don’t need 40+ hour gaming experience. I want solid 15 minute snack that I can enjoy over and over when I want, if I want. And maybe end playing after few hours.

In fact, nowadays I feel that my time is so precious that I deliberately avoid playing games that are long. If somebody wants to sell me their game, they should make darn sure that I can finish it in 2 hours. I have no time for 40+ hour epic adventures.

25 Things That I Like In Game Development

On top of my head:

  1. I like create something
  2. I like to draw things
  3. I like to show my creations
  4. I like it when people like my game
  5. I like coding
  6. I like planning
  7. I like designing gameplay
  8. I like writing about developing
  9. I like using English
  10. I like physics in games
  11. I like online multiplayer
  12. I like to blog about my game development
  13. I like to network with other developers
  14. I like to make videos about my games
  15. I like to post screenshots about my games
  16. I like to see my games in gaming magazines
  17. I like the feeling of earning donuts from my games
  18. I like the unique challenges that game production presents
  19. I like upgrading my computer in order to boost my development
  20. I like to discuss about my game development
  21. I like to learn from my mistakes in game development
  22. I like it how game development poses ethical questions ranging from “this demon’s logo looks like Turkey flag” to “what kind of humor should I have” to many, many other
  23. I like buying new games and learning from them
  24. I like participating in game development contests
  25. I like having direct discussion with the people who like my games

What kind of list you have?

Why Seeing 03:27 In a Timer Bugs Me?

We have this fridge magnet that has timer in it. You can set up minutes and seconds and start/stop (and reset) the timer. Today at some point I had stopped the timer at 03:27. Later I saw the number again and it slightly bothered me but I didn’t press the reset button. Yet.

But the next time I just had to reset the timer to 00:00 and was like “phew”. Now things are in shape again and I can enjoy my orange juice in peace.

I’m no control freak but like to keep things organized.

Still, it’s a bit of a mystery to me why humans (or at least one of them) are designed this way? Rationally thinking, there’s no need to reset timer from 03:27. Reseting takes like half a second of my time so it’s okay to leave it there. It doesn’t hurt anybody.

But annoyed me enough that I had to do the reset after passing by it couple of times.

Pretty crazy. Kind of.

Wrapping Browser Based Game To Make It “Downloadable Game”?

There’s applications like Steam that are basically browsers (at least the store part) that don’t look like browsers, but they load stuff from web.

I started wondering if anyone has tried releasing their browser game, wrapped inside an application that simply loads the game from the interwebz. This would essentially turn your browser game into a downloadable game.

You tried this? Considered doing this? Know anyone who has done this?

Is this a bad idea?