Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My First Guest Post!

My first guest post goes live today!

Tales of the Rampant Coyote is a game development blog which covers indie games, RPGs, and other topics dear to me. So when it's author, Jay Barnson, mentioned he could use a guest post or two written while he was on vacation, I was more than happy to offer.

So in lieu of reading today's post here, head on over to Tales of the Rampant Coyote, and have a read!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Mantra

I recently watched Charlie Cleveland's "1 Hour Video Game MBA" presentation from GDC 2011 (thanks GDC Vault!) In it, he discusses his own indie experiences, as well as the tips he's garnered from a dozen of the more influential business books he's read. I encourage you all to watch his presentation if you're interested in the topic of indie business (or even any business). He does a great job of walking through his discoveries and learnings in the field.

One area which I wanted to expound on today was his point about "making mantra." He mentioned authenticity consistently separated good and bad companies. Authenticity meaning how well they aligned with and embraced their mantra.

When Charlie talks about making mantra, he's referring to a statement that defines the purpose of a company. Likening it to "invoking a god" or "casting a spell," he says it should be short, actionable, and meaningful.

This got me thinking about what my own core values are. What I want my company to be? What is my mantra?

I guess a good place to start is to list ideas and values which are important to me, and base a first draft on those. I won't nail it in the next 15 minutes, so I should plan to get a good sketch of my mantra done, and expect to revise it later. Here's what I came up with:

  1. Core RPGs
    1. Focus my products on the computer rpg player niche, especially those with a pen and paper rpg pedigree.
    2. Focus on players who like exploring game worlds, customizing characters and equipment, creative problem solving, and story.
  2. Respect the user
    1. Avoid DRM, and instead design games to enable patronage through piracy.
    2. Let the user choose when to play. (e.g. no time management mechanics, no pressure to play at certain times)
    3. Favor intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation.
  3. Stay small, fat, and happy
    1. Grow slowly, and only as necessary.
    2. Stay fast and adaptive.
#1 is really why I got into this business. I love video games, and I loved playing AD&D, Rifts, Shadowrun, and a host of other pen and paper games growing up. Making those come alive on the screen and sharing them with others is a passion for me.

#2 is important to me, and I think it will be important to my customers as well. I want my games to be something the user chooses to play when they want to. I don't want the game to punish the user for not playing at certain times, or get in the way of their lives.

#3 This is something Charlie mentioned in his talk, from Paul Hawken's book, Growing a Business. Being big is not the only successful outcome for a business. In my case, this is especially true. If I can achieve the financial stability I need to allow me to pursue #1 comfortably, that's perfect.

So what does this sound like as a short, actionable mantra? "Core RPGs that respect the user" is a roughshod attempt at it. But it leaves out #3. Maybe I need a logo for that?

Ok, that just looks like a happy poop. I'm going to have to think this over, and put some more work into it. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thanks for the awesome send-off, guys!

Thanks all, for the awesome send-off Friday night! It was great hanging out with everyone, clinking beers, and raising shot glasses. And despite your best efforts, I still managed to wake up hangover-free the next morning ;-) I think the secret is salty, greasy food, eaten by the pound.

Did you ever see that Micheal Jackson video for Liberian Girl in the 80s? For some reason, that's where my brain went over and over while I was shaking hands and saying goodbye. Here's a link, in case you've forgotten it:

I dunno. I think being surrounded by friends, especially such talented and creative ones, made me feel a bit like MJ. Except I wasn't spying on you like a voyeur. And I don't have a monkey. Also, Dorian didn't drive a police motorcycle through the Dub at the end.

But all the rest was the same. At least, in my head. So there you go. A glimpse into how my brain works.

Thanks again! You guys rock!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Farewell BioWare, and Thank You

April 8th marks my last day at BioWare, home to some of my closest friends. It's been seven years of dreams in the making, and I will miss you all. Thank you. For everything.