Producers Are Like Cry Babies

As I have my own baby project going on, and as I’ve witnessed some producers actions (and happen to be an indie one) I came to conclusion that producers are almost like babies.

situation baby producer
needs diapers yes yes (based on how much bullshit you can pick from his talk)
says incomprehensible stuff yes yes (obvious)
is the boss yes yes
is agile yes yes (at least think his team is doing “agile development”)
craves for attention yes oh, yes (some even put out public blogs to make them feel important)
cries for attention yes yes
eats most of the time yes yes (lunches, lunches, lunches)
cries yes yes (see below)
Thinks that you promised something when you said that “This is only a gut feeling estimation based on total guesswork. In no way this should be used as a promise to anyone. This task might take 3 days, or not. Most likely it won’t. In fact, most likely it will be something totally different I think. I cannot promise that I can get you that toy/feature in time and you should not even think that this can be completed in 3 days.” Yet after 3 days (s)he comes to you crying “but you promised!!!” yes yes (i’ve witnessed this happening)
is cute yes hardly

Besides the cute-factor, I think the evidence is pretty solid.

What To Do If You Are Hired To Do Work, Knowing That The Plan Is Not Going To Work

I remembered one incident from 15 years ago. I don’t know why this came to my mind (maybe due the fact that I’ve been working on non-games stuff to pile some additional funds for this project). I was hired to do a visual presentation about a fire that spread quite far in my childhood town.

My uncle hired me and told me what to do.

When I saw the plan (me: age 15ish, uncle age: 3 times my age) I suggested that “yeh, the animated fire over the map looks pretty nice, but wouldn’t it make sense to put a *fast forward* button there so that in the presentation you don’t have to wait for the 3 minute animation to finish”.

My uncle immediately said: “No need for that, this is very good”

To which I replied: “…”

Okay, I was like “the lil boy working with stuff that I was hired to do” and my uncle was the “boss who said how things should be done”. And… he was my uncle. And authority. You don’t tell “but this will be shitty” to authority, right? At least in that situation I just let it be.

Then it was the presentation day. My uncle was saying things. Then some fireman started explaining how the fire spread (and told me to start the animation). The animation begun and everybody was looking the screen really amazed. For 16 seconds. Until then, the fireman needed to pause. And then my uncle said out loud to me (so that everybody could hear it): “hey, please fast forward it a bit”. To which I said pretty silent “It can’t be done, you said…” and then my uncle interrupted me and continued with even louder voice (so that everybody in the room could hear) “looks like boys have not done a fast forward for this, so let’s all wait for a moment for the animation to play”.

I think he did not do that on purpose. I think he genuenily thought that he had done nothing wrong and that it’s a “small problem in the boy’s animation, but I’ll protect him” type of thing. At least that’s my impression.

And it’s not like that I have grudges and plan some evil plot against my uncle (with the exception of publicly attempt to prove him totally wrong him via this blog post – he hardly speaks English I presume – and showing that I was right!). Okay, jokes aside. I didn’t feel bad or anything about that situation. The presentation was fine and everybody liked it, but for some reason this incident was buried into my memory.

I knew I was right. I explained the potential problem in the very beginning, before the presentation. I suggested the solution (which wouldn’t been a big deal to be honest). But the end result was “no, let’s not do that” and afterwards “why didn’t you do that?” (in a very small scale).

I wonder how common this is in people’s lives? Do you encounter situations where you know how things should be done, but your boss is stopping you from doing it – and then blaming you afterward for not doing the thing (which the boss had told you not to do)? How often?

I wonder if I have been like this in my past. I don’t recall any incident where I’d behave like this, but maybe I have. I don’t know. My own brain is telling me how good I’m at anything, so I cannot trust that part of me. It’ll just fool me.

Do you behave a boss like this? Have you done this in your past?

Any advice on how to handle situations like this?

“WoW Is Not Really a Violent Game”

Finnish editor of Pelit game magazine wrote in her column that “WoW is not really a violent game”.

Which sort of made me wonder what is she talking about? (The article was fine, but this point about thoughts that suggest most games aren’t violent – like WoW – makes me wonder how our brains are wired)

Let’s take an example. In World of Warcraft you can use big swords. And get experience for killing anything that moves. To me… the missing link sort of calls for “violence” (or am I missing something?).

Are we gamers so accustomed to violence that “cartoony violence” or “hitting others with blunt objects to help us improve ourselves and get more money and stuff and whatnot” is “not really violence”?

Maybe in comparison to Hitman it’s not so violent but compared to Tetris WoW is pretty violent.

I rest my heavy case.

What’s The Most Important Thing Game Development Has Brought You?

Creating games has many beneficial things in life (whether or not you plan to sell any games): team work, social skills, organizing work, creativity, writing, networking skills… and tons of more.

I started to ponder the most important lesson/experience/thing I’ve got from gaming.

I don’t know what the answer for me is… but somehow I feel that the possibility to share things (and rant about them) together with people and friends must rank pretty high in my list.

Or just rants.

Can’t decide.

Maybe it boils down to experience sharing.

What you’ve got from this thing we call “game dev”?

How Much Time You’ve Spent Playing Games? In Your Whole Lifetime

I started pondering that it must be like thousands and thousands of hours that I’ve put into different games. I’ve played tons of games. I’ve enjoyed tons of games. I’ve explored the ruins of Diablo… conquered the worlds of Civilization and shot tons of zombie heads. And possibly couple of other things between.

Was it all worth it?

What about you? How many hours of fun has your gaming hobby brought you (or at least how many hours you’ve spent in your whole life playing games). We are grown ups. Well, I’m am. Sort of.

Adult men playing video, board and other games. Is this bit silly?

You betcha.

I’ll do the same in the next life. You?

I Just Saw A Flying Fish

In game dev (and I suppose in life) it’s probably pretty easy to get stuck on doing things as they’ve always done. If I have certain rituals, or certain ways to do game dev… I probably keep doing them. I consider myself pretty experimental and I think I’m often open for new ideas and even might test them for a week or two to see if they come handy.

Nevertheless, I most likely have some beliefs and thoughts that are so rooted in me that I might not be aware of them. These beliefs are just something I carry myself and “know to be true”.

Today I saw a fish flying. Well… it perhaps was “gliding” on top of water (without actually touching water) so in my books that’s flying. If a fish can go above water without touching the water for 200 meters – that’s enough flying for me.

It was even flapping some “wings” – or wingslike things.

And I haven’t eaten mushrooms or anything like that.

In fact, there’s a youtube video about a flying fish (if you pause that vid at 00:15 you can see it pretty well how it goes). I saw this flying fish first in television where one guy was explaining how it requires much energy to leap above the water, but then the fish can continue “gliding” for quite long.

Anyway. I had always thought that (1) (most) birds can fly, and that (2) fish (usually) don’t.

Instantly, my biology based belief was gone and now I know that also fish can fly.

I started pondering: how many similar beliefs I carry with me regarding game dev? Perhaps I should start taking a look at things in game dev that I know to be true. And then take a closer look at those topics.

Perhaps I’m missing something crucial.

Target Audience: Me (Part 1/2)

Around 2001 – when my gaming hobby had grown to such point that I could actually make game stuff in 3D – I had no courses nor experience in marketing. When I started doing that “battlefield 1942 but in fantasy world with elves & orcs” game I had a very clear target audience: “me”.

I managed to finish some sort of network system (was crap, but hey – it somewhat worked with at least 2-4 players) and some 3d models (very low poly, but hey – those were animated!) and it even had some fighting (not much, but hey – at least the guys died). It even had this cool looking torch and I remember testing the game thing with 1-2 friend of mine and we were simply chatting in the game. 1 troll, 1 goblin and 1 dwarf were standing next to each other – watching torch light to burn. I had my first touches in network programming and also I had a clear vision to whom this game is made.

When learning more about games and marketing, I got introduced to this idea about “making game to others.” And “defining your target” audience. I have studied (and practiced) marketing where “finding your niche” and “selecting user segments” are important. It felt right, and “doing game for others” made sense.

Now… after eight years, I’ve kind of gone the full circle.

I’m not sure if this thing works for big studios and big corporations who go to big mass markets with big money. I have no experience on that.

But, my gut feeling that for indie guys… this is how you determine your target market:

Ignore everybody else, and do what you feel is fun to play – the tarket market is you.

I believe Cliff Harris is somewhat in favor of this tactic. He mentioned in his game’s post mortem that the strategy game idea evolved from the idea about having a game where he wouldn’t need to micromanage things – but that he could have time to prepare the fight – and then watch it happening.

I know that the recent book I read Ignore Everybody (that’s an excellent book for any indie whether you agree or disagree with me about this target market thing) has affected my thinking, and it might be that right now I feel more strong about this market segment thing.

Anyway.

I do this stuff for me
I think it’s okay to do some market research. I think it’s good to see what others have done and do something unique or different… but I kind of feel that the most important factor in game creating should be that creating the game should be fun. I think it should not be about money.

Somewhere it was asked “passion” or “profit”? And I’ve usually answered “both” in the past.

Now I’m leaning into answering “passion”.

I feel that the target audience should definitely be “me”. All the stuff I do needs to be fun (Hmm, by thinking back – I think this probably has been true). Money is okay – but it should be secondary thing.

If there would be an indie tree, then Fun is the root. Money is the fruit.

And if there’s no fruits (money) – at least you have had great fun growing the tree.

1100 Kilometers And Counting…

I’m coming back from my xmas trip… just to leave soon to another xmas trip. The total amount of kilometers is about 1100 within one week. That’s not a big deal but compared to my usual driving miles it’s pretty big.

Especially when it’s winter.

But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do… even if it means going the extra mile.

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 17 (Where to Look When Things Get Rough)

This example really works better with physical stuff. This digital version loses certain edge, but I can try anyway.

So.

Where to look when things get tough. Where to look if you need to improve something. Where to look if you want something.

Look behind Door 17.

Whenever I’ve wanted something to get better – whether it’s about my interaction with other people or whether it’s about doing better game dev – the easiest way to get forward is to do a little checkpoint with yourself. And by the way, you don’t need to wait for things to get tough…