Archive for February 28, 2011

Business Planning and Other Affairs

This past Saturday, we attended the second half of a small business workshop focused on developing a good business plan. While this is all bureaucratic in nature, we felt it is a necessary step in getting our games going. We found a few things, we felt were really important:

  1. It requires us to figure out what our goals are as a company. What we want to focus on in the short term and long term.
  2. It forced us to really analyse the market for the games we are developing.
  3. It made us really look at what our competitors are doing and what they do well and what they are doing poorly.
  4. It made us look closer at the financial side of things.

So let’s look at some of these in stride.

Our goals as a company are to make games that we would want to play. Not only that, we want them to be games that we would want to play with our families or let our kids play on their own. Willis and I both have kids, My oldest is nearing 7 and I would love for him to be able to play these games with me. Some of our games may be a bit over younger kids’ heads, but we feel they should not have to leave the room when their parents or older siblings play.

We also want to dedicate time and resources in developing and releasing games that are not full of game breaking bugs. Our first games will be browser based games playable from Facebook and other game portals. It has become common practice in Facebook game development to slap the word “beta” on the title of the game and release it full of bugs and glitches that often break the game or are exploitable. We want to avoid this. We want to be confident that what we are releasing is something we feel comfortable labeling “Gold Master.”

We also got to look hard at some of our competitors in the web based gaming scene. We feel our closest competitors to our first two games are Zynga’s Warstorm and Feerik’s Eredan. Both of these games are online collectible card games. They are drastically different in both gameplay and art direction but are both fairly fun to play. We have been analysing these games over the last few months (yes that means we got to play games) and have been looking at what they do well, both from gameplay and monetisation using free to play methods) and what they do not do well. Neither game seems to have regular updates or promotions that I have seen. Warstorm seems to be focused on retain their dwindling user base and Eredan seems to be content sitting where it is. We look forward to competing with them and hopefully spur them to innovate and expand to reach new audiences. After all, nothing is less fun in competing against someone who does not want to compete.

Finally, in regards to financials, we are looking to start up with relative low over head. Nothing wrong with that. We are both working full time elsewhere and are wanting to move into working for ourselves full time in the near future. So we really need to understand what it would take to build up our company to reach that point.

All in all, this business plan is important to us to keep us focused, but it is also important for other reasons, which I am not going to go into just yet. Suffice it to say, we are working on something that requires us to have a business plan as well as a game design and prototype. We will keep you informed as we learn more.

Indie Developer’s Response to the PCGA (Updated)

Matt Ployhar, President of the PCGA

Recently, the PC Gaming Alliance’s (PCGA) new president, Matt Ployhar, held an interview with Gamasutra. While over all the interview was pretty good, it was riddled with fluff and non answers. Granted, Gamasutra interviewer, Kris Graft, didn’t ask some of the tough questions I would have asked, he did ask some that I felt deserved more concrete answers.

So in response, I would like to run down the full list of questions and his answers and respond accordingly.

Can you start with a little bit of your background? Where does your interest in PC gaming come from?

Matt Ployhar: So I’m currently at Intel, and have been for almost three years. I’m kind of a hybrid strategic graphics planner, if you will. One of the main reasons I came over was to kind of get exposure to hardware, and at that point in time we were actually working on the Larabee project.

I just felt like I’m much more aligned with Windows gaming than I am console gaming, at any level. And the Windows guys for years were trying to get me to move over into the DirectX group. So then I moved over, out of Microsoft Games, to get into Windows Div/DX. And then halfway through the [Microsoft Game Studios] re-org, I went on to my last Microsoft stint, which was a couple years on the Windows 7 planning team.

So far so good. Someone who is aware of PC gaming both from the hardware and software side of things. So what will this background provide as incite in the area? Read more

New Look for a New Year, Plus Some Updates

We are currently in the process of reskinning our site. It is starting to come together, but is slow going.

For a bit of an update, my computer’s power supply died and I am waiting for my tax return to come in so that I can replace it. So in the mean time I am working really slowly from some slower computers. I hope to be back to full power in about 2-3 weeks.

So with that said, game development has slowed to a crawl. I am focusing a bit more on the business side of things by developing a new business plan. I lost my good one and am currently in the process of rewriting it. I am also working more on the pure design of both of our games.