Throwing Averages Out of The Window

“Have you got enough sleep?” is the question I hear quite a lot these days.

I assume that people think that (1) babies wake up all the time and (2) parents won’t get much sleep. That’s the myth and what perhaps some “study about parents’ average sleep hours” suggest. I don’t know, but that’s what people keep asking me.

I answer something along lines “Well, pretty good. Last night our baby slept about 7 hours in a row, ate a bit and continued to sleep for couple of more hours.” Our baby has a very nice sleep pattern and she sleeps well in the night time. I’m getting plenty of sleep. (Plus it also helps that I can fell into a sleep anywhere, anytime – as long as the vacuum cleaner is somewhere far away).

But still there is this myth about “babies will ruin your sleep”, and when I don’t happen to fall into that category… it’s not “normal”. It’s not “what happens in average”.

Averages are… averages. A kid can have a school grade average 3 (in scale 1 to 5), and that doesn’t tell nothing about the fact that he is great at sports (5) and sucks at math (1). Since according to “average” rating of 3 he falls somewhere in the middle of one big crowd.

Averages need something else. Averages are… beliefs. Myths even.

Out of the window they go.

On average.

I’ve Never Seen This Sort of Persistence

I’m talking about this lil chap who arrived in our house bit over a month ago.

Babies are very determined and persistent. If they need to get their diaper changed, that happens. If they are hungry, they get food. If they need to sleep – well, they first wake up everybody else and make sure somebody comes to help. If they need attention, they make sure they get it. That’s pretty amazing for a creature that can pretty much only cuddle, smile, cry and wave their limbs (in a totally awesome and cool way of course).

There’s just one 2 tools they use:

  • Crying
  • Crying louder

(And of course super-extra-mega-unresistable cuteness.)

They are very determined to get their one thing, and then they put 110% focus to get it – and eventually they do.

I’m not sure what happened in my life, but somewhere after the baby age I stopped doing this. If I want something, I usually use the zen-attitude to get it (which works pretty nicely)… but I wonder if I should learn more from my baby. She is so determined to get what she wants.

Weeks #2 – #3 Game Dev Daddy Insight

I was about to write my experiences with the newcomer, and I thought it was time to write week #2 post. Then I realized that geesh, this newcomer has been here for 3 weeks already.

This gets me to my first point.

Fact #1 – Time flies
With such a cute lil creature around, time just flies.

Fact #2 – Ownership is cool and this applies to game dev
Think of a following job, where you need to:

  • change poo/wee diapers 6-8 times a day (and night)
  • vacuum the mansion and wipe the dusts every other day
  • prepare food for the clan
  • sleep infrequently
  • take out the garbage every day
  • not getting paid (in fact, you pretty much pay to do all this)
  • among tons of other stuff there just is

And so on. Over and over, day after day, night after night.

Any sensible person wouldn’t do this. I wouldn’t.

But, now add “ownership” (sort of*) and things change. Now it’s about me and my stuff. And everything is fun. Modding, good RPGs know how to give “ownership” to people. By letting players to create something, a much stronger experience can be created.

It can be as simple as letting player name the character.

Which games have done this well. Can you name a game where you really took “ownership” over things and it made the game better to play? Fallout series comes to my mind first.

*I don’t consider “owning” my baby but perhaps my point is understood.

Week #1 Game Dev Daddy Insight

It’s been about a week now after the birth of our first baby girl and I’m dotting down some insight on what kind of impact this has caused to my game development. I’m currently working on brainstorming the idea, so no coding has been going on. This might be interesting for game devs who have their own babies… but also in a general level for people who think that after having a baby one has no time left for anything else.

Myth #1 broken – there is time!
After getting our baby girl home I’ve been doing more vacooming, dishwashing and diapery stuff I’ve never done before. There’s tons of stuff that needs to be taken care in order for the world’s most lovable poo factory to function.

This might suggest that I have no time for anything else.

That’s sort of true… but sort of also very untrue.

The fact is that when much of my “own time” has vanished in a thin air, I notice that I do very little useless stuff anymore. No more brainlessly surfing the web. No more brainless TV staring sessions. No more “I’ll check email once – 24th time now – more for today”. In a way, many of the stuff mentioned in the blog post 100 ways to be more productive comes true naturally, since there’s simply no more time to do fool around.

Myth #2 – sleep pattern can be changed after all!
I’ve always been a good sleeper and can take naps anywhere, anytime. My lil cute creature of joy and happiness sleeps well but she also needs to be fed night time (and of course change clean diapers and stuff). This means my sleep pattern is totally changed.

That’s something I’ve simply need to live with. Instead of sleeping one long sleep, I’ll have two medium sleep session and then perhaps nap sometime during the day. This has worked so far pretty well.

Myth #3 – one can get past all the ugly tasks
I don’t need to reinvent the wheel (and the horse and the carriots). There’s already tons of stuff that helps baby & mom & dad. There’s all sorts of feeding cushions, carry-the-baby-while-you-walk-thingies among other goodies. There’s tons of new things to learn while growing our baby but luckily many other people have gone through the same issues earlier. We can get past all the seemingly ugly tasks (aka “how the heck I change the diapers?”)

You see any similarities with this and game development?

So do I.

Not so much of a myth #4 but I say this anyway – re-think solo dev
I’ve always been a lone wolf developer – wanting to do my things my way. When taking care of the baby, it’s a huge aid to have two people on board. 1+1 equals at least 83 in baby stuff.

As a “game dev daddy” now, I really will give a second thought on finding an artist to work with. I can handle programming side, and the other member of our team could handle the artistic side. There’s a “few” of more things to handle ranging from game design all the way up to the marketing, but my gut feeling is that for production it might make sense in my situation to think of finding an artist to work with.


Over and out. I’ll see if there’s more game dev lessons from the baby after 2nd week.

What Happens If You Fall In Love With Your Project?

In the tough school of marketing there’s often mentioned how “target market/audience” and the “potential customer” needs to be thought when creating a (game) product. One “mentor” – sort of speak – I had in the past mentioned how he chose his project by first creating some concepts and then picking the one (Shorthike space simulation game) that had the most market potential. It wasn’t the concept he liked most but he thought it would be most profitable (and of course fun to do as well).

I have been thinking the same way for quite many years now, up until yesterday or so.

Yesterday I was changing diapers for my sweet girl and there was plenty of poo. Earlier (let’s say… close to decades now) I thought that babies are smelly poo factories that eat and sleep a lot. That statement holds true by the way, but something has changed.

I’ve got ownership. It’s my baby. Now I just think the poo is cool thing to wipe off. It doesn’t even smell bad (which is strange since up until this day I’m positive that baby poo smells bad).

By the way, I’m not trying to suggest that my baby is a project, and now way comparing her to a game dev project. I’m comparing the experience I had.

The experience suggests me that if you fell in love with your game project, a strange thing most likely happens: those hideous ugly tasks (whatever they might be in your project) might not seem so ugly any more. In fact, you might even find out that when you are working on the project you truly have ownership and treat it “like your baby” (as I’ve heard some devs mentioning about their products) you’ll go extra mile to get stuff done.

If on the other hand the product is “not yours” and it’s “done for the money” you might translate part of that lack of passion to the product. It might be done well, but something personal might be missing. Something that tells that you love your product.

What’s your experience on this? Have you fell in love with your current or past projects?

Game Dev Daddys

Do you (1) develop games and (2) have a kid (or kids)?

[poll id=23]

I’m curious to know how big percentage of readers I’m going to lose this year after babbling about baby stuff… (I’ll try my best to keep the “game dev” part in all posts though, but somehow my mind is constantly switching thinking into this release)

Those who voted “yes” will probably find this baby story hilarious. Or have already found. I did.

Baby Stores Are True Schools of Marketing For Game Developers

I’ve visited a baby gear shoppe a few times (first time that I can recall) and these stores sure know how to sell. We purchased baby bath (among other stuff) and it’s pretty amazing what these stores do saleswise. They are selling everything and anything. It was quite eye-opening and I immediately started pondering what opportunities game distributors must be missing.

Let me break down the “baby bath” (10 dunno how many euros it cost) sales.

  • The actual baby bath: there was several options ranging from 10 eur to at least 20 eur (and my guess is that there’s higher priced options as well). Some models had different plugs and their shape was different. This was bit like up-selling in games: “buy the basic version for 10 eur, but if you get the collectors edition for 20 eur you can have this nice thing with you”. Why there’s no collectors edition for indie games – like with some sort of extra perks or something to praise with others? Maybe even limited collectors edition or something. Could work?
  • Baby bath “thing that makes it stay higher so your back won’t hurt”. Cost (can’t remember) but let’s put 20 eur here again. So, after you purchase the actual product you can also purchase a thing that makes the baby bathing better for your back. This reminded me bit of a cross-selling in games (“buy this game, but also buy this other game because you want it”), but I wonder if there’s any other ways to do cross-selling in games. Selling mouse pads or game t-shirts is pretty tricky since the margins are probably so low that it doesn’t make much sense. Some sort of membership or additional things outside the game could be considered here. (Any ideas?)
  • All the other stuff… all sort of soap, rubber ducks and stuff – they’ve got it. People who go to the store to buy a baby bath come out with a truckload of stuff in their hands. I think some game distributors have managed to do something similar. In Valve’s Steam, at least for me, it’s easy to end up picking some games and just buy them. The process is painless, simple and… convenient. If I want to get some fun lil game, I probably can get it from Steam pretty easily. This is something that indies probably have hard time doing (if they don’t have a huge catalog of games), but definitely something that portals can manage. If they have things to sell… somebody will buy it.
  • They were not selling for the baby… they definitely were selling for parents. Babies probably know anything about some sort of squicky toy lying somewhere in the bath (room). Maybe at some point they understand this, but I kind of feel that 80% of the “nice stuff because baby needs it” parents buy are pretty much useless. And after people get their second baby, they end up selling tons of baby gear they thought they’d need. Not basing this on personal experience – just a hunch telling me after seeing all the baby bath stuff in the shop. -Game devs can benefit strong brands. I’ll give an example. I think I’m not a “true Tolkien fan(atic)” (really), but I do have the books (one of them tice), all the extended edition movies, Middle Earth pen & paper RPG (somewhere), Battle for Middle Earth video game (best multiplayer RTS ever made btw), Lotr Conquest video game (or something like that, can’t remember the game – tested it just once), Lord of the Rings board game (and one expansion to this), Lotr Confrontation board game, Middle Earth Quest board game (just bought)… and probably some other stuff related to Middle Earth brand. Stuff worth hundreds of euros. And seriously – I’m not a Tolkien fan fan. I don’t run naked around hills screaming “precious” or anything like that. I don’t know where Fangorn is located but I do like Tolkien stuff. So – if you can “brand” something… those fans will come buy your stuff. No matter what you sell. (Note to self: stop buying Tolkien stuff)
  • Loyalty discount: Store gives you credits that you can use later to get a discount. Pretty simple idea. “You get credits for your purchase, and can use those credits next time you come here”. I actually found it slightly irritating (I could have just got the immediate discount to be honest) but I guess that’s one thing to consider.

Bottom line: I’m so in trouble when it comes to baby purchases.