Category: Elusive Ninja: The Shadowy Thief

I’m hoping to have cutscenes in my games…possibly not the first one, because I don’t want to get too complicated when I’m just learning the ins and outs of the system, but definately beyond that.  The first game I’m doing involves ninjas, and I want to have some bad-guy soldiers in there…they may only just show up in cutscenes, I’ve started the Game Design Document for it but the plot section is just really rough right now so when I flesh that out I’ll have a better idea of what art I need.

I’m messing around with using 3d to render out lineart for stuff that’s complicated or needs to keep it’s shape in perspective.  So if I had a truck flipping around I would probably just model the rough shape of a truck and render it out and either use that lineart as final if it works for the object, or just use it as a guide to make sure everything is looking solid.  I’m not a fast 3d modeller at ALL, but if I’m going to have a character/object shown from a bunch of weird angles, it might be faster to do it this way:

I’m not doing everything in 3d (had to add the body), and it requires some clean-up (like the neck/jaw), but man does it save time to start from perfectly in-perspective line-art.  For one picture it’s kind of a waste…it’d probably take me less time to map out the perspective by hand and get it all looking right.  But the awesomeness of doing it this way, if I’m going to have a bunch of cutscenes/animations is:

Bam!  SO much time saved.  These are the actual renders, totally usable (there are little glitches like on the top-left one where his lower armor connects to the helmet, but those are a quick fix and probably not even noticable if he’s moving).

My first game is gonna’ take place in a Japanese village of sorts, and I need a shot of a cityscape…I could attempt to do it all by hand, background by background, or I could render a couple different building model designs, cut and paste them around and create a rough city, then go in and render it from various angles and have a bunch of different levels taking place around the village in no time!  DC Comics uses the crap out of Google SketchUp for this.  They’ve modelled their major buildings (Daily Planet building, Justice League headquarters, etc.) so their artists can throw them in quickly and easily.  Sure traditional art purists might say “Well you should do it the traditional way because that’s creating art, this is just cheating!” but for my first few games the art will pretty much be a one-man operation.  Any time I can save doing art means I can focus on other parts of the game or cram more art in so I say “Whatever works!” haha

- Quickdraw

Almost done the Game Design Document for the first game.  I’m going with a nice simple game that I’ve actually done a simple version of in Flash before, so some of the art is already done.  I’ll be adding more to the game, of course…gotta’ make it worth $0.99 haha  You’re the ninja below and you dodge shurikens, explosives, fire-arrows, etc. that come flying at you faster and faster:

A lot of stuff came up while I was writing the GDD.  I’m planning to try outsourcing the programming to India or something because I don’t have an in-house programmer yet, so I want to make sure my GDD is detailed enough to explain all the details and make it fool-proof, but also short enough that someone won’t look at it and go “A 40 page GDD??  I haven’t even read it but this is gonna’ cost ya $10,000 for me to make!” haha  A few people have advised against outsourcing to these big “thousand programmers in India” places, and I’m a bit nervous about it because who knows what you’re gonna’ get.  I figure the safest bet is to use a site like Elance or oDesk and go by the reviews of the programmers (seeing if the jobs they’ve done before are actual iPhone games and not like, a calculator App).

My thinking is as long as the project is small, I can’t lose very much money on it.  If stuff isn’t done right or on time, I’ll just pull the plug before I lose much money.  I think the best way to approach this will be an ultra-super-structured approach, where the game is broken down into chunks with time estimates for each.  Programmers in India can work while I’m sleeping because they’re on the other side of the world, which means I can wake up, check the newest build and a list of art that they need, spend the day doing that and send them a checklist of bugs or tweaks I want them to fix and the art they need, and then go to sleep and wake up to a new build with those changes.  That seems pretty efficient to me.  I think if I approached them with a vague “Make me a puzzle game involving dinosaurs” concept, who knows what I’d get.  But the GDD I’m writing is pretty much the whole game pseudo-coded haha  I just need them to turn it into iPhone usable stuff.

Above was the first version of the main flowchart.  It made sense in my head, from Gameplay if you hit Pause you can choose Options/Give Up?/Resume.  But I realized there’s no real indication that on the Pause menu are those 3 options.  Or that SFX/Music Volume are not sub-pages of Options, they’re actually on the Options screen.  So I did some revamping and got:

This one’s much better.  Any screen with blue options, those are actual selectable options on the screen, and the arrows show where each one leads to.  And in the top-right corner, some of them have red Back arrows or a red Pause button and those screens will have those things.  This flowchart could actually probably be cut & pasted for a few games since everything on it is pretty universal haha  So I think writing my second GDD will go a lot faster/smoother.

That’s it for today!  I’m off to home for the holidays but I’m bringing my laptop so I can get some more work done.  It’s hard to really call it work when it’s fun.  :)  Merry Christmas, all!  Hope Santa doesn’t bring ya coal haha

- Quickdraw

Well, Christmas holidays are over and a new year is upon us! By the end of 2011 I’ll either have been a rare massive success story swimming in a vault full of coins like Scrooge McDuck, a standard middle of the road average success story where I manage to pay my bills each month and fund the next game, or a complete and total failure living in a cardboard box begging for change on the streets.  Hmm, I wonder if that’d make a good game.  Like Diner Dash but your a bum on the streets and you work your way up from a soggy cardboard box to a shiny new dumpster.  Brilliant!

Anyway, here’s what I’m up to on Day 1:

I was originally planning to get a programmer going today but as I went thru the GDD I realized it’d be handy to list the animation files the game uses. Animation files are .xml files that will contain keyframe co-ordinates for anything from the ninja sliding around to menu elements sliding in or activating. So when titleScreen.xml which has all the main menu options on it is playing, you can choose New Game and that will run titleScreen_to_gameplay.xml which would show those menu options folding up off the screen revealing the gameplay window.

As I made this list, I decided I’d better do up some test .xml files to make sure it’ll all work. So I took the old Flash version of the game and started going thru the art and animations that are already done and converting them to the different screen sizes (iPhone 3, iPhone 4, and iPad). As I was doing this I realized that because I’m starting with a game that’s already got some of the art done, I can probably do a TON of this before needing a programmer so that I have almost all the art (final or temporary even) ready to go and a programmer can pretty much just stitch the XML files together.

So I’m going to spend most of this week doing this prep-work and hopefully next week I can start the actual programming. I’ve found a couple places I can try outsourcing to so I’ll have to get in touch with them this week and see what they charge exactly. Again because I’m outsourcing this I want to make it as painless and foolproof as possible. I look at it like I’m assembling the walls of a building individually and I’ll just need someone to stand them up and attach them together. I’d like to work more in-depth with a programmer and design as we go but I figure that will be a luxury for down the road.

- Quickdraw

Our business course is down to just one class a week now, as we work on our actual business-stuff the rest of the week.  It’s going to be mighty hard to wake up at 7am, half the fun of working on your own is being able to sleep in till noon haha  Realistically though, down the road I’ll probably try to get myself into a regular work schedule just for the sake of developing a consistent work ethic.  Guess I gotta’ learn to be “responsible” and all that jazz!

…MAN I can’t wait to get cutscene stuff in my games.  No idea if I’ll be able to do it for this first game, I don’t want to bite off too much more than I can chew…but here’s hoping!

Today I took a break from scaling/saving the art out to work on my marketing.  I believe that the majority of indie games do terrible because their creators don’t market their games.  In a post I wrote about my marketing plan, I stress how important I feel marketing is, so I want to make sure I’ve got a handle on it.  Unfortunately it’s kind of time consuming.  I blew the majority of the day setting up a Press Kit structure that looks like so:

I figure I’ll tweak this depending on the game, because I probably won’t need 300dpi screenshots for the iPad and stuff.  But this is the jist.  The \Company_Bio\ will contain what the company is, what it does, short paragraph bios of whoever’s working here, and have all the contact/website info necessary…it’ll be in .DOC, .TXT, .HTML, and .PDF (just because each one is a quick “Save As…” so why not).  \Logos_Banners_&_Artwork\ will be anything company-related (like the above Bulletproof Outlaws banner at various sizes, with light/dark versions that’ll show up clearly on light/dark backgrounds, etc.).  It’ll also have game-related art, like the logo for the game, images of the characters as PNGs with transparent backgrounds, etc. for “sprucing up” the press release and/or reviews down the road.  \Press_Release\ will be the press release, in easy-to-cut-and-paste .DOC, .TXT, .HTML, and .PDF announcing the game or whatever.

\Screenshots\ will have a handful of screenshots to choose from, like the title screen and a few action shots.  I’ll probably end up just stripping this down to one directory of shots instead of having \iPad\ and \300dpi_Print_Resolution\ so it’s not a huge .ZIP file and a shot from the iPhone4 won’t look much different than the iPhone3 (it’s literally just scaled up 200%, I don’t plan to re-arrange the layout or anything between the systems).  \Videos\ will be Shortcut links to URLs for YouTube videos related to the game (behind-the-scenes stuff, trailers, etc.).

All of this cost me $0 to put together, but sending or linking this Press Kit along with Press Releases should help.  Imagine being a busy editor, scrambling to put up the day’s newest stories, going through a dozen of them in your Inbox.  There’s the guy who sent “Hey man, can you write about my game?”  There’s the guy who sent a mess of badly-re-sized screenshots named IMG004_04.BMP.  Then there’s a gorgeous Press Kit with everything nicely organized and labelled, and text you can just read over then cut & paste and you have a new story up.  Which of those stories is most likely to make it into your update?

So my first marketing test will be to throw together a Press Release and try sending it out to get some traffic to this site.  This devBlog is going to be a good resource for anyone who’s thinking of starting iPhone development or likes behind-the-scenes game dev stuff, but it won’t do anyone any good if they don’t know it exists.  I know there are a handful of different Press Release services so I’m going to look at pricing, targeting, reviews, etc. and choose one to try out and see if I get some readers and then post up the numbers when I get some results!

- Quickdraw

If you’ve followed my “starting up a game studio” blog, you’ll know that to start Bulletproof Outlaws I took a very compact but in-depth business course to get a handle on the business side of things.  We’re near the end of the course and currently have one class a week and a business coaching session.  I dig these because I always come out pumped to get to work, haha

Today’s class covered setting goals and how most of us are terrible at it.  We’re never really taught how to set a proper goal.  We make really vague goals that we can’t measure…like take New Years.  “I’m going to lose weight this year.”  Well how much is that?  If you lose 1lbs, is that succeeding?  How are you going to lose that weight?  Are you going to lose it in a month, or can you just do it in December and still count it?  “I’m going to make a game company.”  What kind of game company?  How many games are you going to put out?  What kind of games?  When will you put out the first game?

Our business coach keeps stressing: A vague un-specific goal isn’t a goal, it’s a wish.

There are probably a ton of sites that cover this in more detail around the net, but the jist is to set specific measurable goals, with a time-frame, and review those goals as you go.  If your goal is to be able to run 10km 3 months from now, and you only run 8km, you didn’t achieve your goal.  If you ran 10+km, you did.  If you didn’t make it, you re-evaluate your goal and your plan to achieve it and tweak it so that next month you can do it.

This can be pretty daunting until you break it down into smaller milestone goals.  The trick is to work backwards from your ultimate goal, instead of the working aimlessly forward.  So take running again…”If I want to be able to run 10km 3 months from now, what do I have to do 2 months from now?  I have to be running 8km.  What do I have to do 1 month from now?  I have to be running like 4km.  What do I have to do a week from now?  I have to have run consistently daily.  What do I have to do daily to achieve that?  I have to get off the couch.  What do I have to do to get off the couch daily?  I have to set my Tivo to record the shows I want to watch for later.”  Now you have a set of tiny milestones you can follow that will clearly lead to your goal.

Every week in my coaching session I write a list of goals for the next week and my coach holds me accountable asking if I’ve completed them or why I didn’t complete them.  I’m finding this is a great tool for productivity.  This week’s goals, in order of priority, are:

- Distribute a Press Release about BPO (that’s what I talked about yesterday, I want to write a quick Press Release just announcing this blog so people can follow along with my progress from the beginning)

- Summarize Game1′s Game Design Doc and come up with a name for the game (I hate naming things haha)

- Contact programmers for cost estimates

- Prepare game resources for programmer (export the art I have to different screen sizes and arrange the animations so they’re ready to go)

So let’s take one of those goals.  Distributing a Press Release.  What do I have to do to get from here to there?  Well, I need to get it out to people.  How am I gonna’ do that?  I don’t have the time/resources to do it myself, so I’m going to hire someone.  How am I gonna’ hire them?  Well I have to Google for some Press Release services and find the right price and a place that sounds like it’ll target the right market.  Once I have that?  I need a Press Release for that service to distribute.  How do I get a Press Release?  I can hire someone to write one or just write one myself.  I like writing, so I’ll write it myself.  How am I gonna’ do that?  Well I have to Google HOW to write a Press Release and look at other people’s similar-themed Press Releases.  What am I gonna’ do with that information?  I need to run OpenOffice and jot down notes from other people’s Press Releases so I can go back thru and fill in the blanks.  BAM!  DONE!

So I started with a vague “Distribute a Press Release” goal that seems like a huge goal and I wouldn’t know where to even begin…I’d end up running OpenOffice and just winging it frustratingly not knowing what I’m really doing.  Instead, now I have a list of milestones:

- Google how to write a Press Release and look at samples

- Jot down notes in OpenOffice to go back and fill in the blanks

- Google Press Release services and compare their prices/distribution promises

- Submit Press Release to the chosen service

Now it looks nice and simple!  I can say within 1 day I’ll have achieved the first 2 milestone.  Within 2 days I’ll have achieved the 3rd milestone.  And on the 4th day I’ll achieve the 4th milestone.  That fits within my week-long timeframe, and it’s a measurable goal.  If on the 4th day I’m still on milestone 2, then I didn’t manage my time/tasks right and need to re-evaluate my process for the future so that next time I’ll succeed!

That’s it for today!  I dug today’s class.  I have a ton of creativity, but my organizational and planning skills are pretty weaksauce so things like this help me develop a little self-discipline.

In closing, think about this: Most people’s goal in life is just to survive until they die.  Depressing, hey?  haha

- Quickdraw

I have a little programming skill.  I’ve wanted to make videogames since I was a kid, but back then there was no Internet to collaborate with a programmer…so if I wanted to make games, I had to teach myself to program.  My dad had a TRS-80 Color Computer I was playing games on when I was 4.  I learned you could type right into the OS and start making a game and was fascinated. When we got our first PC, I found QBasic on it and made a few cool little demos.

In High School I was nerdy enough that I knew everything we were learning in our computer class so I asked the teacher if I could just make a game instead of doing the units.  He was awesome enough to let me, and so I started figuring out C++ using DJGPP/Allegro (which I LOVED, it was so easy to make stuff).  The last few years I started messing with Flash and Actionscript.  I’m not a programmer, but I understand how it works…so today I sat down to figure out CSS/html so I could make a website formatted for the iPhone.

This is going to be my “Get More Games” link, where when you’re in a game you can choose the option and be taken to this mobile site where you can see the other games available.  In the Shareware days of PC gaming you’d see advertisements for games as splash screens after you quit the game.  This was a good idea in theory, show off your other games to your audience and try to entice them.  The problem back then was that once the ads were in there, they couldn’t be updated.

I worked on some cell phone games back before Smartphones existed, and they’d have a “Get More Games” option that went to a website listing our games.  Why is this a better route?  Say you put out a game today…if your “Get More Games” links to a website, 3 years from now you could put out a new game, update that website, and anyone who downloads that first game will see your new games instead of just whatever you had out at the time it was developed.

This is important. If your game doesn’t make it as easy as possible for users to discover your other games, you’re crippling your possible sales.

With that in mind, snag GetMoreGames.html from this link to download the code for mine to use as a basis if you like.  It’s not pretty, but it works, haha

In other news I’ve got a Press Release written up. I’m going to send it to my business coach to look over before I send it out. My next post will be about putting out Press Releases and the different services and prices available around the Internet.

- Quickdraw

I’m pretty sure there’s only like 5 people checking this site right now, because I haven’t started my big marketing push yet. But how am I supposed to know if my marketing does anything if I’m not keeping track of page hits? So I signed up for Google Analytics like all the cool kids do. Back in the Goals post I wrote that goals should be “specific measurable goals, with a time-frame, and [you should] review those goals as you go.” If I invest a bunch of money in a method of marketing but my site traffic doesn’t go up by a specific amount that I think it should, then I can look at the numbers and say “Logically, I know I should stop spending money in that method” and stop it, tweak it, or try a different method(s).

Our business coach told us one of the fastest ways new companies tank is by blowing their budget on ineffective marketing. I’m told that a lot of advertising services will do some pretty sneaky stuff. Like if you don’t get any business out of the ads you place with them the first month, they go “You have to give it a couple months to really kick in, trust me, Kid, who’s the advertising executive here?” and take a puff of their evil cigar and twirl their evil moustache and an inexperienced businessman goes “oh, okay, I guess that makes sense…” and pays for another month of ineffective advertising.

There’s nothing wrong with spending money, especially on advertising. I read a quote somewhere where a guy said “If I was making a game, I would make the game for free and spend the entire budget on marketing.” The traditional indie way is to make a cool game and just cross your fingers hoping people will spread news about it by word of mouth because of the quality of it. Unfortunately there are countless stories and statistics showing that without putting in an actual pro-active marketing effort, it often doesn’t matter if your game is amazing…no one knows it’s out there.

It’s important to know your target demographic. For general business, are you targeting men? Women? What age range? Does that age range have money? Who in the household makes financial decisions about your product? Toy manufacturers appeal to kids because even though parents are the ones holding the money, kids are the ones who make the financial decisions on which toys to buy when they go “Moooommmm!!! Can I get this? Pleeeease???” in the toy store.

Tires are advertised in the Sports section of newspapers. Why? Because generally men are the ones making tire-purchasing decisions, and the Sports section covers a large part of that demographic. That’s smart!

When Taco Bell started up, how did they decide where to put store locations? They just looked for McDonald’s restaraunts and went “Okay, let’s build a Taco Bell across the street” because logically McDonald’s had already invested a ton of money on researching that location’s potential, so Taco Bell just piggy-backed on their research. Brilliant!

Blackberry is coming out with an iPad-esque device. If you’ve decided to develop software for it, you have to look at the demographic that’s going to use it. Blackberry tends to be for corporations (here in Calgary especially…anyone with a BB is probably a consultant, investment banker, etc.). So logically those people are probably 25+, walking around in suits and going to business meetings, and they have a lot of money. Do they want to buy a fart soundboard App on their BB? Probably not. But would they buy business applications like accounting software or contact list management software? Probably. On top of that, because as a demographic they probably make decent money, they can afford to pay more money for that software. That’s why BB Apps are like $30 to buy. I read a news report that says the BB pad is already being embraced by the corporate culture. So if you want to make some quick cash, make some good business software for the BB pad, instead of a fart soundboard.

Our business class was designed around traditional local businesses (cleaning companies, bookkeeping services, etc.) so a lot of the marketing routes that work for those guys don’t really work for me. Am I gonna’ take out an ad in the local newspaper? No, that’s silly. What is that, like half the population of Calgary. Then rule out anyone in that population who doesn’t have an iPhone, doesn’t play games, etc. etc. It’s not an efficient marketing investment. Taking out an ad in a videogame magazine however? That’s closer. Taking out an ad in a mobile phone related magazine? Even closer. Taking out an ad in some kind of iPhone specific magazine? Perfect! THAT’S where to spend the marketing money.

I won’t be advertising in magazines because I think it’s too expensive and most gamers get their news online these days. So I’m going to be looking for Press Release services that target news websites about the indie game industry, mobile game news, iPhone game news…maybe even entrepreneur sites since I’m running a start-up here. If you tell me you’ll charge me $100 to send out my Press Release to 10,000 random sites, or $200 to send my Press Release out to 500 highly targeted sites, I’m going to take the $200 option because that’s going to be my target demographic and more likely to result in actual sales.

Fortunately I found some free Press Release services. Once I get my Press Release back from my coaches and finalize it, I’ll post it up along with links to the Press Release services I’ll be using! I’m probably going to use a mix of free ones and pay ones to see what the difference is. Maybe I can re-word my press release slightly for each service so that I can track which service was worth the money…hey, that’s smart, haha Go me!

- Quickdraw

Today has been focused on marketing.  I finished the Press Release and had some people look it over and I’m pretty happy with how it came out.  I haven’t seen one with as long a quote in the middle before, but I figure I don’t have a lot of facts to be quoting at this point and I want Bulletproof Outlaws to be pretty personable instead of just being a corporation of some sort…so I felt it was important to describe a bit of my philosophy behind all this.  Attached to the bottom of this post is the Press Release I sent out.

As I’ve stressed before, I think it’s important to market your company and your games, and that most indie devs don’t do it.  One of the biggest excuses is that it costs money and they’re working for free.  That’s understandable, we all have limited money. But if you invest that money into the right marketing, and that marketing gains you a bunch of sales, you’re going to make up that money you invested.

But you don’t have to spend ANY money to do a little marketing.

Here are 4 free Press Release distribution services:

PR Log (free, and you can include a video if you like)

EzineArticles (first 10 article submissions are free) (free, and soon will support including video) (free, focused on start-up news)

And here are 5 Press Release distribution services that cost money:

DP Directory, Inc. ($129 to submit to 1,000+ places)

PRWeb ($80 – $360, plus “contributions” ($200+) to boost your priority or add images)

PR Newswire ($130 – $3,750 depending on complexity (simple text VS multimedia epicness)) ($150 one-time membership, or $15/month for 12 months then you’re a member…it sounds like you might be able to cancel the service a month or two in if you use the $15/mo option but I’m not quite sure.  Also they have a contact list up that’s about 300-ish long)

Mitorah Games – ($59.95, for 200+ sites)

Now I’ve submitted my Press Release to all 4 of the free services.  All it takes is a little time to write it up and submit it.  Each one has an online submission form, so you just fill in the blanks.  My method was to write the Press Release up in a word processor and then just cut and paste the info into the blanks for each service, because each is a little bit different layout-wise. Some of them let me attach images or business logos, and some allow HTML, etc.

I decided I want to try a pay service as well, so I
went with PRWeb.  I got the $80 package because it was the cheapest. I think the $140 one is better because it includes social media, but I didn’t go with it because I don’t even have a product a person can purchase at this point so I figure I don’t want to go overboard yet…I’m just building a little word of mouth at this point.  When I release an actual game, that Press Release I’ll spend a little more on.  This $80 is more just an experiment to see if paying for a service gets me better results than the free services.

Also it turns out PRWeb allows you to enter a Coupon Code when you pay.  I Googled for one and found that if you sign up for PRWeb THROUGH some of the search results, you can get deals like a 10% discount.  Unfortunately I had already made an account, and 10% of $80 isn’t worth creating a new one haha

After writing the main Press Release, I saved it out one time for each distribution service I’m sending it to and changed a word in each one.  I figure this will make it easy for me to see which service lands the Press Release where, for tracking purposes. Some of the sites actually include some Analytics stuff for your Press Release, but I figured I’d make sure I had a system for it. If it gets posted on a popular site, I can see which service was responsible for that…and if the pay version doesn’t appear anywhere on the net, then I can try a different pay service the next time instead of blindly attempting the same tactic.

There’s a chance my Press Release won’t appear ANYWHERE on the net. If that’s the case, what did this experiment cost me?  $80 and a few hours of my time, no biggie at all.  On the flip side if it appears on 10 sites, and 20 people from each of those sites checks it out in the next month, that’s 1000 new visitors.  If less than half of those
people end up buying one of my games down the road, 40% = 80 sales, the experiment has paid itself off (ignoring Apple’s 30% for the sake of simplicity).  Plus I could have gone with purely the free services and not paid anything at all.

I’ll post up some results in a few weeks when I see how this all pans out.  Most of these services take a few days to approve your Press Release, and then throw it into a queue so there’s a chance it won’t even get out onto the net for a few weeks from some services.  I imagine the more you pay the sooner your release gets out, so if you want to time them for a specific release date you can, but spreading this blog around doesn’t really require a specific deadline so I’m fine with the delay.

That’s it for today!  Now back to actually doing game related stuff, so anyone who DOES find this site can read about game development and not “muwahahaa you fell for my brilliant marketing plan, sucka!” posts haha  If you’re an indie dev, announce your stuff.  You’re being ridiculous if you don’t, since having read this post you now know you can do it for free!

For anyone interested, here’s Bulletproof Outlaws’ first Press Release in fancy looking .PDF form!

- Quickdraw

Today consisted of the last bit of filling out forms (Apple has some marketing agreements so you can use their “this App is in the App Store” icons and junk), which is super boring.  I’m an artist first and foremost, and I want to spend my time actually making the game…all the business stuff on the side is a little daunting.  But it turns out a lot of business stuff is “fill out all these forms once and then don’t worry about this for a year”.  So once I get it all over with, it’s smooth sailing.  The sad part is I think that initial overwhelming workload of forms and paying business licenses and registering trademarks and stuff is the thing that scares people off from starting their own company.  I know it was a deterrant for myself and the primary reason I signed up for a business course.

The Game Design Document for my first game is pretty much done (I just tweak bits here and there as I think of some nuances).  To land myself a programmer, I’m going to have to post the job up on freelance sites, and generally it looks like those involve throwing out a quick summary of the GDD that gives the jist of the project, then people bid, then you choose someone and give them the full GDD.  So I summarized mine up for this first game so that I’ll be good to go.  It summarizes the key features that the programmer will need to know how to do, stuff like:

- I require 2 versions of the App: a version for the iPhone that allows retina support for iPhone 4s, and a version for the iPad. Art sized appropriately for each screen resolution will be provided.

- The game will need a timer that counts how long the player has survived and when the player’s game is over, the score is recorded in a leaderboard in Apple Game Center and the player can choose to send their score to Facebook and Twitter.

That way if the programmer has never done Twitter score support, or integrated the Apple Game Center, I won’t get stuck wasting a few days worth of money while they figure it out.  The game is planned out pretty much down to the last detail, so for this first game all I need is a programmer to stitch together the separate pieces into something the iPhone can understand.  Should be short and sweet!

I think in the future this could be outsourced to an extent…I was thinking of using a program like Freemind that lets me quickly makes stuff like:

And then sending that to someone and saying “I’ll pay you X amount of money to arrange this into a pretty document everyone can follow.”  I read Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week and it covers a lot of stuff about outsourcing and automating as much of running a business as possible.  An interesting part of the concept is that a lot of it is about outsourcing little mundane repetitive tasks, VS the really big huge workloads.  Checking and responding to your E-Mail daily if you’re a big corporation?  That’s a pain in the ass…just outsource to someone a list of answers to frequently asked questions and have them handle the E-Mail and only send you the E-Mails that are of a certain level of importance/uniqueness.  So ya, I could type up a GDD myself, and it’ll be great, but it might be worth giving someone a few bucks to do it for me so I can use that time to work on the actual game.

Anyway, so there you go.  At the end of the project I’ll post up the whole GDD probably, as part of a post-mortem (see how close I came to the initial GDD and all).  Fun stuff!

Got a few more hits today from that Press Release.  PRWeb is the one that I paid $80 to and they actually sent me back “release is on editorial hold, please fix XYZ” messages a few times saying they wouldn’t be able to send it out to everyone as-is.  At first I was like “wtf guys, is this some scam where I have to pay for consulting??” but I just tweaked the stuff they said (making sure the quotation was noticably a quotation and not part of the release text, etc.) and boom it went through nice and clean.  Now I figure if I’m paying $80 for the service then it’s GREAT if they’ll tell me how to make my Press Release better, so it’s all good!  Now to see how wide my Press Release gets spread through them, since that’ s the important thing haha

- Quickdraw

Today I did an interview with Brodie Beta (aka @iPhonegirl).  You can read it at The Next Web (I have no idea who the picture in the article is of btw, haha).  She seems like a cool chick, check her stuff out at Brodie Beta!

Our business coaches told us that one of the ironic things that can kill a new company is too MUCH success.  That could be something like your game catching on unexpectedly awesome and bam, you don’t have the server setup to handle all the traffic your site gets and you can’t fill the distribution demand.  Our business coach explained another example…say you build custom furniture, and it’s just you hand-crafting artistic furniture designs.  Awesome, but what happens if some huge restaraunt chain says “Great, we’ll pay you a million dollars to make us 500 of those chairs!”  Do you have a plan for if that happens?

In my case, since I’m doing basically all the work myself, I’m juggling a lot of different tasks on top of just doing the game art (like updating this blog for instance), and I’m holding up alright.  But putting out that Press Release got me some attention, and today I had a couple people asking for interviews and a lot more Twitter activity.  So now on top of the other work, I’ve got to monitor Twitter and fill out interview questions, etc.  And that’s not a bad thing, I like doing that stuff (clearly I like to blab haha)…but in terms of hours in a day, it can get time consuming.

I think the best way to handle it will be to schedule an hour per day purely for social media/marketing stuff…VS letting it pile up and trying to handle it all at once, or handling it randomly throughout the day as it shows up.  A schedule should help keep me sane and allow me to get to that stuff, because it’s very important, especially as a start-up, to be dedicating a good chunk of time to marketing and getting the business name out there.  No point doing a Press release if I can’t follow-up the attention I get from it!

Goal for next week is to finish as much of the art as possible.  It’s going to be top priority to choose a name for the game and get a font/theme going for it.  I’m really bad with names and I hate the whole “Google till you find a name that isn’t already taken” chore.  Plus with stuff like the Edge Lawsuit and Doodlegate, I swear it’s tempting to just name my games “Bulletproof Outlaws’ Game 1″, “Bulletproof Outlaws’ Game 2″, etc. haha

- Quickdraw

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