Contest: The Whine Free Week Challenge

Monday is gone, but it’s not too late for the Whine Free Week Challenge.

Contest prize:
I’m giving a pretty darn good prize here: a lifetime Insiders membership (worth tons of money & time). The contest is available for current Insiders as well.

(Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Insiders service, I’ll tell that basically it’s a “club” whose members get beneficial goodies such as access to indie PR service for games, ebooks and material about game development & production, access to top secret whine-free special private forums, network with other cool guys and things like that. Tons of goodies that members enjoy. There’s now close to 100 members.)

Contest rules:
Basically – the idea is that in this week the participants will reduce/stop whining. Participants includes me. This means that whining needs to be stopped at work, home, hobbies, forums, anywhere for this week (challenge ends on September 1st).

Whenever you see yourself whining or thinking negatively, you need to stop doing that and remind you about the Whine Free Week challenge.

If you see somebody whining on forums, link to this post and tell them to stop whining. Gently.

If you hear people whining around you, tell them about this challenge.

If you are a guru who never whines, you are labeled as a liar.
(Just kidding here.)

The Winner
The winner isn’t the one who is not whining this week (surprise, surprise), but rather the person who gives us the best report about his whine free week. You can report your whine free week via Twitter (see also #whinefreeweek) or simply via your Blog in case you own one.

I want you to write about situations where you (1) stopped whining or (2) were about to start whining but remember this contest. If you (3) see somebody whining, show us what you did (including all the flamewars that were started). Tell also (4) if others reacted differently (like your kids, friends, family).

If you don’t have Twitter nor Blog, then simply track your progress by writing comments to this blog post. Whatever gets the message public is just cool.

Fun, good report & sharing information about this challenge should rank pretty high in the contest…

Help make the world bit less whining…
Please share this info with others. If you have a blog, please consider mentioning this post in your site. If you have a Twitter, remember to retweet and participate.

And the contest begins
In summary:
1) Stop whining
2) Write what happened
3) (Win Insiders membership – somebody gets it)

Let’s get going. Ask me if something is unclear.

Challenge #13: Your Best Tip for Better Game Production

While I’m still browsing some answers in the couple of previous challenges, preparing the game production discussion I would like to throw the ball to you and ask:

What would be your number one game production tip or piece of advice to others?
If you’d had only one piece of advice to give to others – what would it be?

It’s really darn hard to think about just ONE tip for game production. There’s so much to know, learn and experience that it’s really tough to say the BEST tip. After thinking about some alternatives, I believe my “ultimate” piece of advice would be: Focus on results.

I really think that focusing on the results will go a long way. Whether it’s hiring a new team member, picking the right engine, choosing game play elements, negotiating with others – always focus on results. And by results I don’t mean just money – there’s lots of more besides money. There’s long term team membership, there’s long term success in health, relationships, anything. There’s lots of different results. Don’t hire a team member who is just a nice guy, hire a guy who can produce good results and fits to the team. Don’t tell people how to do their job, just make sure they act legally and produce the results you want.

Focus on results. That’s my number one tip (today).

What’s your best piece of advice to others?

Challenge #12: Your Top 3 Video Game Characters?

Alright people, let’s bring some famous game characters here. What have been your favorite characters in games, and why? It’s actually quite hard to think about top three, since there’s lots of fine characters that you could choose. I simply took the three first that came to my mind, so here’s my top 3 list:

#3 – Pacman
Hungry chap. I never get bored seeing how Pacman keeps eating those thingies. He might be simple, but he got on my top 3 list..

#2 – Hulk
It’s green, and can smash things. I suppose breaking things in video games can give you some weird pleasure, but it sure is nice to break everything, and who could do it better than Hulk?

#1 – Guybrush Threepwood
The greatest pirate ever, what more can you wish?

Now, tell me your top 3 video game characters – and explain how they got in your list.

Update: Seems like several other people have already started mentioning their top 3 characters on their blogs. Check out: The Red Bull Diary, Man Bytes Blog, Kartones

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.

Challenge #10: What Opportunities Piracy Offers?

BBC reported that rampant piracy is threatening the future of the PC games industry. Todd Hollenshead, head of Doom 3 creator Id software was quoted for that statement. The comments and reasons for piracy were quite typical (that were have seen also before). It’s fun to see the “games would need to be cheaper” arguments (and then imaging how these people download those 2 gigabyte games over and over using their 100 megabit cables and drinking wine ;).

Enough joking.

I admit piracy can be a problem, but I doubt it will threaten PC games in the nearly future. One example is the Windows Vista & Xbox Live. They are basically merging Xbox and PC gamers to play together. Does that look like Microsoft is forgetting PC? I don’t think so.

Almost anywhere I look I see “piracy is a problem”. The business mantra I’ve heard over and over says exactly the opposite: there are no problems, only opportunities. What would happen if we’d say “piracy is an opportunity”?

As I start thinking about it, I come to see several opportunities. One opportunity is for copyright protection software developers: the one who makes such protection that keeps pirates away is going to get rich. Secondly there might be room for people to set up a “pirate hunting” group and start taking down pirate sites – money sponsored from developers. One opportunity for developers could be to use the piracy to help promoting their game: instead of fighting against pirates, they could distribute free software and use in-game ads, pay-per-item or other models to fund the development. I would also believe that if big players leave, it basically gives more room for indie and casual games. All of these opportunities might not be viable, but when one starts to look for opportunities – he starts to seem them.

The 10th GameProducer.net challenge: What opportunities you see in piracy? Feel free to post your comment on this.

Challenge #8: What Is The Most Addictive Game You’ve Ever Played?

In this challenge I hope to get some great games mentioned, and analysis for the reasons that make these games so great. The question is: What is the most addictive game you’ve ever played? You might remember some old game that you just had to play – over and over.

Saying just one game is really tough, and there were some really great games that I just had to keep playing:

  • Stratego: old board game where the other player didn’t know your troops. That feature was also the key strength of the game: you could bluff.
  • Civilization: The first version was simply great. The possibility to conquer the world in different ways (I liked to build the space ship rather than nuke other countries) and the great number of variables really hit me.
  • Bridge (card game): Elder British ladies aren’t the only ones who play this card game. The rules, bids and strategies make this game really interesting.
  • Sims: Some people hate this game, but I loved it. It was really fun to earn cash, get new stuff, and then repeat. Over and over. Collecting stuff and building your own house that was my key reason for playing.
  • Risk based games like Lux. I’ve played many of them, and there something really great in the concept. Playing it on computer makes the rounds fast (compared to board game version) and the rules and game mechanism is really simple: move pieces to attack. I believe the simplicity, short rounds and possibility to play with friends made this really addictive to play.
  • Texas Hold’em: I actually haven’t played – only watched this poker game being played – but again there’s something fun in bluffing and simple game mechanism.
  • Evil Genius: again world domination, but this time you get to play on the dark side. That was fun. Dungeon Keeper was also fun for the same reason.

I believe I could keep listing more games and the reasons I played them, but I think I stop now and let you speak.

What games have been really addictive or fun to you? What was the reason that kept you playing?

Challenge #7: Why Collisions Do Not Work?

It’s been some time since the last challenge, so here’s a new challenge. This actually came friend of mine. He asked me:

“Have you ever written a really nice collision routine and spent ages trying to work out why it does not work?”

Can you guess what was the reason why the nice collision routine did not work? The only hint I can give that this same problem occurred to me when I tried getting particles on screen, and I saw nothing on screen.

Challenge #6: Eat That Frog

I read a book by Brian Tracy: Eat That Frog. Besides being a nice book, it carries an important message: focus on doing the tasks that have the greatest impact in your work.

Perhaps it’s a 10 minute phone call you’ve been postponing to “do it later” for weeks. Perhaps you need to code an important module to get the development going. Whatever it is you are procrastinating, I want you to finish the task now, and continue reading after you’ve finished or spend at least one full day 100% dedicated to doing it. After you’ve finished, come back and comment in this blog. Let the others know what task it was, how much it took time to finish, and tell how you feel after you’ve finished the work. I know there’s hundreds of people reading this blog entry today – so that means this entry will be flooded with comments.

And don’t even think about “just reading few more articles”, “just checking your website statistics” or “just answering to couple of emails”.

Stop procrastinating!

Finish the task!

DO IT NOW.

…and come back here to tell us how you feel.

Challenge #5: Game Ideas

The fifth gameproducer.net challenge is about game ideas. I tell my game idea as an example and you are free to participate. Some time ago I wrote about violence in games and mentioned that although I’m not much of a fun of mindless violence, I understand it can be efficiently used (such as in games like Hitman or Gibbage). Now I present one of my game ideas, which is is totally different – much like the opposite of Punisher, that was mentioned in the previous post.

Idea for a game: Gandhi
Those of you who don’t know Gandhi, I give you little introduction: he was a man from India and lead the country – hundreds of millions of people – to India’s independence without use of violence. There’s much more to say about this man, and those of you who are interested about him, I suggest checking the following material: Brief introduction to his life, Famous quotes by Gandhi. Book: Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth. Also the movie about Gandhi’s life, named simply Gandhi is worth watching, although the movie is not as good as his writings.

I haven’t processed this game idea any further than to a level of thinking about the game scenes and philosophy behind the game. The core idea of the game would be to describe the life and events of Gandhi. The game would try to teach us that guns & killing wouldn’t be the only way to ‘solve’ problems – pretty much focused around his famous saying: �An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.� The game could use be presented as some sort of strategic, rpg and/or adventure theme: you could take the role of Gandhi and ‘lead’ the so called ‘troops’ to independence. The game could also present different paths and take situations that really occured.

Even though I enjoy seeing action & massive battles (like the ones that take place in Battle for Middle Earth) I believe this kind of very different approach could find its audience.

If you want to comment the idea, or tell us about your game idea, feel free to contribute to the challenge.