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  • business <!DOCTYPE html> Outsourcing Artwork for Better Game Development × Simeon Pashley

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    Outsourcing Artwork for Better Game Development

    Hi, my name is David Tolley and I’d like to share my many years of experience and extensive knowledge regarding successfully setting up, managing and working with art outsourcing teams for computer and video games to throughout the world. Lot’s of practical experience in delivering a wide range of art assets into game and managing external teams. Anyone new to (or interested in) the subject of outsourcing artwork for video game production should hopefully find what follows interesting.

    Why outsource

    When developing today’s content hungry video games, there are several good reasons why choosing to work with external teams can be beneficial for developers. Cost savings and scalability are well documented, but increasingly the specialisation offered by some companies can be very attractive, and a great way of acquiring quality content quickly.

    Typically though, the primary reason for outsourcing is simply based on the amount of work in-house teams can (or indeed can’t) handle; it makes little sense to grow studio capacity during development only to have artists sat idle through post production. Using additional art resources as-and-when needed is cost effective and can be accurately planned - saving money and overheads.

    Where to outsource

    With videogame outsourcing, globalization is truly here. If planned properly, the actual location of the contributor is almost irrelevant, indeed in many cases it can be used to a distinct advantage. In some instances project deliverables can be worked on ‘overnight’ and uploaded to the client’s FTP ready for inspection the next morning. Any feedback can be prepared during the day and is ready and waiting for the external art team to come back online.

    Generally, if an offshore studio can complete the work then the physical location is not really an issue. However, the importance of face-to-face meetings shouldn’t be underestimated because they can give a personal feel to the work and a better understanding of the client’s needs.

    How you outsource

    Delivering quality artwork into any game pipeline takes planning, management and understanding to be truly effective. There are many attributes involved, even when integrating even the simplest assets into an existing project. Any art manager knows that if the procedures aren’t clear from the outset then trouble lies ahead - and this goes double for outsourcing.

    It’s important to understand that outsourcing your game artwork is not a magic solution, don’t underestimate the management time in dealing with external teams, remember they are an extension to your development and need to fully understand your project and processes if they are to produce their best work. During development, internal teams are fully briefed and well supported, so be prepared to spend the time with your contributors - be open and available.

    Insourcing

    This term basically means owning an offshore team, but managing the studio as if it were in the UK (or wherever the developer is based). Running your own cost-saving offshore studio can give a number of distinct advantages, but really the chief gain is that the team is working solely for the developer as a true extension to the UK studios. Having an experienced team who are familiar with your tools and processes is a major advantage in that you don’t need to retrain or re-educate staff when moving to new projects.

    Is it right for your business

    Assuming that outsourcing has been systematically chosen and is right for the project it can be hugely rewarding and cost effective. It’s a complex two way partnership which needs hard work, practice, support, and above all, careful planning, but the benefits are clear. Papers are available advising how to outsource, which cover strategies, preparation, due diligence and management, but a really successful outsource contribution will be driven by experience, passion and strong support from internal staff.

    A variation of this article was originally submitted to TIGA as part of their Outsourcing and Offshoring article

    Need Help?

    I’ve also written a number of articles detailing processes and pitfalls concerning outsourcing - one of which is posted below.

    Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below, I look forward to receiving them.

    Further Reading

    TIGA - Outsourcing and Offshoring - External PDF TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry - External Link

    UPDATE - 22/June/2010

    Outsourcing: A Little Checklist to Save You a Lot of Hassles - A related Gamasutra article

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<!DOCTYPE html>The Polarising Size of Video Game Developers × Simeon Pashley

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The Polarising Size of Video Game Developers

There used to be a time when developers of all sizes existed from small bedroom teams up to hundreds of people working on projects and everywhere in between. Developers of 40-100 people were not uncommon but all that has changed.

At the moment there appears to be no middle ground, developers are either large in house teams or small external teams. 30-40 people seems to be the top end for an independent developer right now.

Pico developers are the individual making iPhone games in their bedroom and becoming multi-millionaires over night.

Nano developers a handful of people making small games, iterating them and moving onto new platforms.

Micro developers are the core teams of 10+ that expand and contract based on the work available. Freelancers, contractors and outsourcing are the norm here. Much the same as the film industry but without the notion of the SPV to wrap each project in.

Macro developers are the likes of Foundation 9 or Kuju, that have a complex mesh of small teams, each working on their own product but all working together on a common aim. Business units are started and stopped to maintain the equilibrium required for the stock market.

I found running a business of more than 30-40 people tough and impersonal, all sorts of middle management are required to run the business and there’s a constant demand for new work to fill in the work that’s being completed right now. It’s easier to break it down into multiple projects and sub-teams, all of which have their own management structure.

I think the Micro developer model is the right one for today’s market, expand when you need to with the right knowledge and expertise and keep things simple.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Marketing your video game is everyone’s job × Simeon Pashley

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Marketing your video game is everyone’s job

In a world of freelancers, contractors and small, tight development communities. Everyone is on the public face of their business and reputation.

We are all constantly marketing something, be it our company or ourselves in one shape or another. Everything we do matters - your web-site, your comments in forums, the clothes you wear. It's about the message we convey in our appearance, our design, our gameplay, our technology, our ethics and most importantly our interactions with others. The sooner we realise this the better.
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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Opinion - Small businesses STOP USING AUTOMATED REPLIES! × Simeon Pashley

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Opinion - Small businesses STOP USING AUTOMATED REPLIES!

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s receiving an automated reply from a small business, in particular one that’s supposed to connect with me as a person. OK, I’ll confess I’m having a rant about recruitment agencies, which is a pretty dangerous thing to do when you’re looking for work.

I have a special hatred for ones that pretend to be from a person. I know you’re not there due to the nature and content of your email so the “personal touch” is just lost. There’s no name, there’s nothing.

Also, PLEASE don’t direct me to a web-site to fill in my details. If you’re too busy to even bother to talk to me in the first place and find out about me then I know for definite you won’t “process” my CV in a meaningful way and you definitely won’t find me something that’s relevant.

There’s one fundamental point, I know you only get paid when I find a job! In the modern world I have many means of finding work but I recognise that the recruitment role is important and can make a real difference.

My point is, there are recruiters out there who maintain the personal touch and they succeed and get my vote every time.

When I get back to recruiting, which I will, I will absolutely focus on the agencies who I had the best experience with from both sides.

Make it personal, make the candidate feel like you have their best interests at heart and you’re not just looking  for your next 10%.

What’s your experience been like? Recommendations? Story to tell? Keep in touch.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Thought – Who will make the 1st carbon neutral game? × Simeon Pashley

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Thought – Who will make the 1st carbon neutral game?

Hmmm…. this could be a tough one to work out. Imagine all of the power used; development hardware like PCs, food eaten, servers, travel for business and commuting, air-conditioning, manufacturing of the discs, manuals the list goes on and on. Don’t forget everything at the publisher too. A killer title like God Of War 3, Modern Warfare 2 or Dead Redemption must have an astronomical footprint!

Has anyone made a carbon neutral game? Wouldn’t that be a great USP for your game? Who will be the 1st?

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Weakest Link - Be A Better Game Developer × Simeon Pashley

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Weakest Link - Be A Better Game Developer

![](/assets/FEATURE_YenYen_GlassCeiling.jpg)

Has your business hit a glass ceiling?

Most businesses are formed by a core set of individuals who come together at the beginning to make their collective dream come true but are they limiting your potential?

Business roles arise and distil over time placing more specialised demands on your skills.  Operations Manager, Creative Director, Technical Director, Art Director, Finance Director, Development Director, Managing Director, Business Development, Human Resources, IT, Marketing etc. all grow in significance as your business grows.

In the early days one person will perform multiple roles at once, the roles are typically allocated based on relative merit, e.g., the more creative person takes on the creative roles such as creative director, the more logical person becomes the business manager. 

What happens later is that the business demands more than one person’s potential enables them to deliver and the business hits a glass ceiling. Your business can only be as strong as that of the weakest link in the chain.

The hard part is recognising that this is happening and doing something about it. Maybe there's a shift in roles to something more appropriate, maybe it's time to step aside and bring in someone who can really push things along, maybe you're happy where you are?
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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Are you and your game unique? × Simeon Pashley

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Are you and your game unique?

In a world of seemingly infinite choice of games and staff, how do you stand out? How can you differentiate your offering so that everyone wants it? How can you make it easier for people to find your needle in a global haystack? Why would someone employ you from a global talent pool of thousands of people?

These are all things to consider if you’re going to be successful at what you do; communication, experience and knowledge can help guide your way through this chaotic landscape and achieve your goals.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Avoiding Redundancy 2 × Simeon Pashley

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Avoiding Redundancy 2

I very recently wrote a post entitled ‘Why Does Redundancy Always Happen In Game Development?’ that kinda hit the spot with a few people and I think it needs more context so I thought it worthwhile giving a separate update.

It’s a tough topic to discuss and it always has negative connotations but it’s a fact of life and ignoring it and not being prepared is a bad thing.

GamesBrief Job Loss Tracker - 3/Sep/2010I can totally see how the provocative title and lack of context could have riled some people so here’s some context. Redundancy is obviously a real and horrible event that happens and it can be mitigated by properly running a business but it’s largely inevitable.

My recent experience is based around running mid to large-scale teams of 30-80 people across multiple projects and the level of commitment that goes with that. My focus is on quality, delivery and profitability of all the work I do. The original post was intended to make people aware of the fact that if they do not consider what happens at the end of a project and blindly go off on a creative whim then don’t be surprised if your business fails. This is obviously fine if you’re motives are purely hobbyist and you never intended to be a business, or stay really small anyway.

Outside of the hobby developers making video games is an “industry” about making money, for which you need to “shift boxes”. As much as we like to think we’re being totally creative, most people in video games only do this so they can pay their bills. After all, we all need to live somewhere and pay for food for which we need money, that we get from making games, that people buy.

It’s actually a “box shifting creative industry”, I completely support that as it’s ultimately creativity that sells games and the 2 are intrinsically linked. There is 1 more important criteria though, which is quality. Quality sells games like hot cakes and there are many factors towards driving quality upwards. Oh, and marketing, good marketing will sell the most un-creative/poor quality things as I’m sure you’ve witnessed. Oh and the aqueducts. :)

During my career I have seen all the problems occur in business time and time again from big businesses through to small businesses, I’ve occasionally been part of the mess and more frequently seen others get caught up in the demise of a company. In pretty much all of these cases it’s been avoidable.

Businesses, regardless of what they’re doing, need to be agile and able to cope with the ebb and flow of the demands during the production lifecycle. Smart use of outsourcing, freelance / contract staff in the right place and prove fruitful and help you’re business remain stable and able to weather the storm. I have strived to ensure that projects and I run and businesses I’m involved with consider this and mitigate the risk of redundancy where possible.

Thankfully, redundancy always presents new opportunities and it’s time to pick yourself up and get back on the horse. After all, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Leveraging Social Media To Maximise Your Game Sales × Simeon Pashley

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Leveraging Social Media To Maximise Your Game Sales

Connecting with your audience is absolutely critical to the success of your game and is something you should take seriously and adopt a professional understanding. I’ll cover some of the high level points here and provide how to maximise social media communication for different business types.

Old Skool / New Skool

Forums – old skool

The old style way of interacting with “consumers” was to wait for them to discover some forums you had lurking around somewhere, on a discretely hosted web-site hoping they stumbled across them. Such forums still have a valuable role and can gain some feedback that you really need to know. A certain amount of “know how” is required to use the forums as registration is often required and users have to build up an internal reputation. The big bonus is they typically contain dedicated gamers used to giving feedback.

Social Media – new skool

The more modern way is to go to your audience on social media sites and connect there. Good examples include [blippr]Facebook[/blippr] Fan pages and [blippr]Twitter[/blippr] streams where people are likely to be sharing feedback about your game anyway and you need to be there, especially if you’re doing Minimum Viable Product production and need to iterate your game.

Facebook

Make it easy for people to ‘Like’ your game on Facebook, which also posts on their wall and tells their friends too, and encourage conversation by using the discussion areas on the Facebook Fan page. It isn’t enough to just setup the Fan page and expect people to just turn up, it takes effort. I would discourage you from setting up a Facebook ‘Page’ as these feel very business like as they don’t currently incorporate much in the way of community.

Twitter

Twitter is also an amazingly powerful, and yet simple, tool for interacting with the community around your game. There’s a deep vein of gold to be mined here as your community will not only connect to your dedicated stream for news and updates and send messages to you but they will ‘retweet’ your information to people they know thereby expanding your audience. Anything you post doesn’t necessarily have to be just about your game, posting relevant notes, articles, news and critically your conversation with the community is also reflected here.

It is also possible to extend your reach on Twitter with the introduction of your own #hashtags (subject headings) to encourage common discussion and also discover for real-time conversations about your game using search.

[blippr]TweetDeck[/blippr] is an awesome tool for doing all of the above in one easy to use, free package.

RSS Feeds

If you have a blog, or web-site with an RSS feed it is possible to syndicate this automatically onto Facebook and Twitter, which saves some of the leg work in releasing longer pieces of information but these are obviously quite robotic and need to be married with real human interaction to truly engage the community.

I would advice running your RSS feeds via services such as [blippr]FeedBurner[/blippr] to enable more powerful subscriptions through email, and embedded sharing

The use of link shortening sites can have a beneficial side-effect in that they usually incorporate link tracking took. The ubiquitous [blippr]Bit.Ly[/blippr] provides some fantastic tools for discovering the popularity and reach of items you link to, including

Community Managers

I’d say from the outset that if you have big ambitions, or you have a big title, then you should engage a specific community manager to be successful. I have been fortunate to work with a great community manager and I have witnessed what a real difference this can make, this is a skill that is not to be under-estimated. They can engage with your audience in a concise meaningful way and really understand the chaotic world of relationships.

Summary

In a nutshell, there are no easy ways to work with communities, you’ve just go to go there and put in the effort. The invaluable feedback and interactions you encourage frequently pays back your efforts many fold.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Why Does Redundancy Always Happen In Game Development? × Simeon Pashley

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Why Does Redundancy Always Happen In Game Development?

It’s worth understanding why redundancies are a natural consequence for an independent studio when they finish a project.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the end of the project is always the point when the team is the largest, QA come onboard, people are generally added to get the project delivered to a high enough quality.

So, what happens when the project ships? What do all of these people do? As much as we’d like to believe that 100% of the team have meaningful work, it’s not going to be the case. With the best will in the world a studio will plan follow-on revenue generating work but it’s incredibly rare that this work magically dove-tails into utilising 100% of the available team, or even a reasonable chunk of the team. Support work, patching and concepting future projects may all soak up some people but all of this work is still supported by the revenue of the game that’s now shipped and the cash flow has likely stopped.

It’s quite common for studios to work for payments that are milestone based and low margin so they can remain competitively priced and also pay the wages but this money stops at the point of delivery. Some games are developed against an advance for royalties that usually means the game was developed for almost no profit on the basis of a big upside should the royalties kick in. Publishers are generally not interested in paying for your team to idle around between projects, they want to pay for the work only and even then it needs to be competitively priced.

The danger is obviously the low and frequently negative profit margins during development that don’t provide a buffer to get the studio through the gaps between work.

Imagine you’ve made a generous 15% net profit over the life of the project and you haven’t spent any of this money on other things and it’s just sitting in the bank. The obvious extension to this is that if nothing changes you can remain open for 15% of the projects duration before your cash runs out and you’re bankrupt. So, if you’re project took 9 months to make, you’ve got enough money to fund you through a gap of 1 month. Using this example, if the team is reduced to 25% of its size then the money will last 4 times longer for those that are still resident.

In reality, it’s not that straight forward because there’s a lot of other factors coming into play and you’ve now got a big team in place and a lot of mouths to feed so you’re commitment is high. No business operates in this way and net profit doesn’t go into the bank for a rainy day. It’s typically used to fund other opportunities to expand the business such as paying for over promising / under delivering, concepting, attending conferences, preparing pitches, R&D and a load of other things. Making people redundant also costs money too so it’s not something a business can enter into lightly.

So, the natural conclusion is that a studio can’t operate by employing 100% of the team 100% of the time and support that entire infrastructure when there’s little or no money coming in. It’s simply not going to work.

The only sustainable way for single project independent studios to keep this going is to operate on a Core+Contract basis where everyone involved works on the understanding that the Core is a small set of people that are central to the business and it’s buffered up with Contract / Outsource work that is clearly only commissioned when it’s needed. In this way everyone knows what their commitment is and there’s fewer surprises. The non-Core people are typically more expensive than permanent *but* it ultimately works out to be more cost effective once you factor in the recruit/redundancy/gap costs. The team shrinks back to the Core in between projects.

Sensible studios plan for all of these things and build their business with this in mind and also build in some contingency into their costs to enable them to burn some of their profits to keep a consistent team running during the lean times. Larger studios can also mitigate this by having multiple projects and moving people between projects as the natural ebb and flow of project demands occur.

If you’re a work-for-hire/self-funded studio working for little profit who employs 100% of your staff on a permanent basis then expect redundancies at the end of every project and or the business completely failing.

As the saying goes: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.

As a business owner, think about this when you’re starting out as it can make a real difference to the viability of your business. As a developer, look at the business you’re working in for the signs of whether or not your likely to be around when the project finishes.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Can I Help You? × Simeon Pashley

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Can I Help You?

I am frequently contacted by video game developers asking me for help in a couple of areas, some just want some feedback, some are asking me for financial investment to make their game a reality.

Maybe your one of these people, or maybe you’d like some critique of your work?

I’m currently looking for 1 other developer to mentor and devote some real attention to, should this be you?

I’m happy to say that in many cases I provide assistance and make a difference with their games and help re-direct them towards a more prosperous future by providing them with not only advice on the games themselves but also how to make them, what potential opportunities they have for revenue streams and even help them find a publisher. Basically, help out on which ever aspect of their game they need. The only bit I don’t do is actually make it.

In some cases my initial round of feedback can be hard to take as it’s always honest and open and what experience tells me you need to do to make better games. It comes particularly hard when people start to defend their position, which is partly to be expected and communication is always good. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know the magic formula or I’d be making my own games but I do have a good insight into how to make the most of what’s there.

I liken some of my experiences to X-Factor / Dragons Den type of feedback where the singer/businessman is obviously presenting something really bad but they just cannot see that it’s ultimately just not the right thing to be doing. They won’t listen and are adamant that their thing is actually really good because their friends/family have told them so.

Thankfully, most of my experiences have been entirely positive and people do listen to feedback and we work together on making a better game.

I’d like to point out that I also get a good set of games that are truly great and demand some attention and are obviously destined for great things. It’s these that I particularly like getting engaged with as the relationship is typically rewarding for both parties.

And sometimes, things are succesful despite everything telling you the contrary.

Critique?

So, if you want to join the others and get honest, open feedback on your game, be it a design or work-in-progress, then simply contact me and I’ll see what I can do. Please don’t ask me to invest, because I’d invest in my own games if I had the money. :D

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Fellow Game Bloggers × Simeon Pashley

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Fellow Game Bloggers

I’ve collected a list of all of the video game bloggers I’ve found so far. These cover a broad range of topics include developers, producers, artists, designers, business and I’d wholly recommend adding them all to your favourite RSS reader.

A Great Becoming…

About everything and the rest

Avant Game

Broken Toys

Computer Games

Doolwind’s Game Coding Blog

Eating Bees

Evidence-Based Design

FreeToPlay.biz - Adrian Crook

Game Producer Blog

Game Tycoon

GameArchitect.Net

Games Brief

Games from Within

gameslol

HobbyGameDev

Mainly About Games

Measuring Gameplay - article

Over00

Plot is Gameplay’s Bitch

Psychochild’s Blog

Raph’s Website

Reality Panic

RULES OF THE GAME

Sulka’s Game

T=Machine

The Daedalus Project

The Forge

Wonder Arcade

Wonderland

Zen of Design

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How I use Twitter × Simeon Pashley

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How I use Twitter

(mobile post) There’s an interesting post over on GameProducer.net about how Juuso uses Twitter as part of his game blog that I wanted to emulate here.

I use my @GameLinchpin Twitter feed largely to auto-post new articles from this blog. This is done automatically when I hit publish so it’s the best way to keep up-to-date. Simply follow us and you’re all set.

I also follow other people in the games industry, not companies, and join in chats there and also RT (re-tweet) anything I find interesting and relevant to game development. I also follow events such as #e3expo, #develop2010 and #gamescom and RT interesting items too.

As Juuso says, you really need a client to use Twitter as the basic web service really doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s possible. I use Tweetdeck on my iPhone, Home Mac and work PC as it’s by far the best app. I use Twitterific on iPad as TD isn’t very good yet.

If you’re starting out, start by following me then go through my lists and add people from there. Most people will follow you back and it’s a good way to kick start your Twitter addiction.

Hashtags are pretty much like public chat channels, you simply follow a hash tag and you join the conversation. This can be an amazing way of getting involved in a community. I’ve met lots of people on these channels who I continue to chat with on a daily basis. Find a channel, add people for the channel as they’re obviously interested and engaged in that subject.

I follow: #xblig - Xbox Live Independant Games #gamedev - general game development #iPhone - broad iPhone chat #leanstartup - small business bootstrapping

Event specific ones pop up too such as #gamescom #develop2010 #e3expo

Joining Twitter was one of the best things I’ve done for. Long time and I’d consider it pretty much mandatory for game debs to keep up with a rapidly changing industry.

Which people and #hashtags do you follow?

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Are you good enough to make 3D games? × Simeon Pashley

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Are you good enough to make 3D games?

If you’re going to be looking to make 3D games, you’re going to need the best programmers you can find, or strip your artwork down to nothing.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the basic tech: you wear glasses that control which eye sees the view from a slightly different angle giving the illusion of 3D.

There is of course a massive technical consideration for 3D games, that they have 1/2 your frame rate as you’re now rendering twice as much as you were before. (This is a gross assumption based on the fact that you’re render bound)

Those beautiful silky games that did run at 60fps, drop a frame and you’re now run at 30fps tops (2 frames at 60fps). There is no 50fps or 40fps, it’s straight down to 30fps. The next jump down is 20fps (3 frames at 60 fps) and it goes on from there but in less damaging leaps.

I know from experience that it takes a lot of effort to hit 60fps and most games only just scrape through as they try to balance content with frame rate so this jump is going to hit them hard. After all, why waste empty frame time when you can make your game look even better.

Optimising your game engine and balancing your content to hit the required throughput is going to take some effort, and of course this is effort your not spending on adding game content. It’s just a slog to get through.

On top of these there’s the aesthetic game design to get through to maximise the sensation of 3D and to avoid the problems it brings with it. The added sense of realism can amplify sensations of motion sickness and it can all go wrong when that sense of illusion is shattered when the shark coming out of the screen at you clips the edge of the screen and your brain knows it’s fake.

The 3D games I’ve played have been hit & miss and some haven’t made the transition to 3D well and need to go back to the drawing board for some optimisation and design improvements.

There are some fantastic opportunities out there for 3D games and it takes talent and expertise to make 3D game sing.

Further Reading

Housemarque - SuperStardust HD at 120fps The inspiring post

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Games As A Service: Do You Really Know What It Means? × Simeon Pashley

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Games As A Service: Do You Really Know What It Means?

I was looking at the schedule for Develop Conference 2010 ( @developconf2010 ) to see if there was anything I should pick up on regarding game production and development and I’ve spotted a couple of tasty things that I have experience so I thought I’d jump the gun and share a little before July comes along. Some of the content we’ve seen before from prior conferences and here’s what I’ve learned:

Games As A

Service: Do You Really Know What It Means?

Online games have been around for a while now and we all know the key mantra “It’s a service, not a product.” Or do we? Very often, in the haze of development, teams may lose their focus from this truth; especially as the concept of service is not that clearly defined to begin with. As well as fleshing out the concept of Online Game Service, this lecture will provide a practical overview on how its components should be designed and integrated in the production cycle to form an optimal player experience.

Well, I’ve done a lot of service related game ideas lately and here are a few ideas:

The game is just the start

In a nutshell, the players journey with your game starts before they put the disk in the console, download it from PSN, XBox Live, Wii or download and install via Steam. Your audience already has an expectation based on prior marketing, reviews and many other means of communication they’ve received up to this point. They’ve probably talked about it with their friends.

It’s true to say that the game content delivered up to this point is largely fixed, it was probably made months ago before it went through QA, format submission, mastering, distribution and sitting on the shelves in the store. Or at least some of that process if you’re totally online.

So as a player, you’ve waited months, saved up, bought the game, you’ve played it through. Now what? You’ve had a fantastic time and you need more content now! If this were a book or a film then that would be it, you’d be waiting for the sequel at some point in the future, probably years away.

Thankfully we are blessed with an opportunity to maximise everyone’s enjoyment and if the developer and publisher are clever, then they’ll have a whole slew of things to keep you busy and invested in the game. Downloadable content such as levels, characters, vehicles, maps, whole new features, tracks, music, new season data all keep the game fresh and alive and are all part of the service we offer.

Why is this important?

So, why not just package up your game and move onto something new? Well, I’m sure you’ve slogged your guts out and put a lot of sweat, blood and tears into making this the best game it can be and you hope your audience appreciates it. Why not maximise all of this effort and keep it going for longer, after all you’ve written the tools, have experience of how to get things in the game and your team are probably producing patches anyway to sort out those last-minute niggles.

It’s almost trivial to make this content. I’d also guess that during the late parts of production from Alpha through to Master Approval that you’re creative team have been twiddling their thumbs whilst the bugs are ironed out. Making add-on content can be a fantastic way of focusing the team, stopping them adding stuff to the version that’s shipping and allow them to expand and maximise the experience.

All of these extras help create an attachment with your game and a thirst for more content, it’s up to you if it’s free or paid for; which is a whole other discussion.

Bolting on upgrades and DLC also makes it harder to part company with the game itself when it comes to trade-in time and you’ll see lower trade in figures for games that actively promote a long-term connection with the game.

The ultimate service

The ultimate service is user-generated content, which really binds authors and players to the game, giving them an emotional involvement and volume of content you’ll find hard to surpass as a developer. It’s also self-promoting as authors actively encourage their friends to dive in a try the thing they’ve just made, either by demoing it locally or pointing them at it so they can play at home.

You’ll find UGC authors in forums promoting their content and obviously the game is good too (which is why they’re making content for it). All of this drives long-tail sales of your game. For these reasons, you’ll rarely find a copy of LittleBigPlanet traded in.

Integrate Early

These are all great ideas and you really need to plan these in early as I know from experience that retro-fitting the highly modular requirements of supporting DLC into a hard-baked mess of legacy code is a nightmare and probably one that will just be a barrier to you ever making it happen. I’m sure many of you will have had that same experience and wish to leave it long behind.

From an architecture perspective, everything has to be dynamically queried, validated and loaded into the game. You should treat your game as a tool or framework into which everything plugs-in, nothing should be hard-coded or you’re not going to be modular enough to cope with a future of upgrades and DLC. How can you integrate another character (avatar) if you’re selection screen only supports 8 characters? You’ll need to design expansion into your game from day 1.

Away from the game

The ‘service’ can also expand out beyond the game experience itself and incorporate regular touch points such as social networks like Facebook, mobile phones running OS like Symbian (good luck!), iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows Mobile. Here are some examples of more extensive game amplifiers:

  1. Browser games
  2. public league & competition systems
  3. In-game auction houses reflected onto the ‘net
  4. Training your game character online then playing them on console
  5. Clans, factions, guilds
  6. Managing your team for tonight’s game
  7. News feeds into the game and out again

The list goes on and on and I’m sure there’s some things you could add to the list too.

Summary

There’s a really easy way to remember this - “The game is just the start”. It’s a mantra that suits every occasion and really encapsulates what “game as a service” means.

We want to engage with game players for longer, enabling them to get better value from the games we make, after all they’re not cheap to make or buy. Game players and developers have a symbiotic relationship and we should nurture it over a long period of time for both our sakes.

Further Reading

Develop Conference 2010 - Evolve - Thomas Bidaux will be covering this topic

Gabe Newell on ‘entertainment as a service’ - DICE 2009

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch - Part 2 × Simeon Pashley

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How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch - Part 2

Recently I wrote an introduction to How To Improve Your Pitch for  your game and I thought it worth writing a little bit more ahead of E3 Expo 2010. I’ll follow on with a little more detail today.

I covered the basics yesterday but I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot today and I wanted to share some more things that will hopefully prove useful.

Funding

When you’re pitch is ready, ensure that it’s appropriately funded because you can guarantee that the person you’re pitching to will be forming a cost expectation based on platform, genre, target audience, feature set and quality level. When listening to pitches, it’s disappointing to get to the funding part of any pitch and the money requested just doesn’t stack up with the proposition.

The cause for concern for most developers is that they think that the price is going to be too high and frighten someone off but there’s a worse scenario where it’s actually too little. The listener will be asking themselves if the funding supports an appropriate team size to make the features and quality level your pitching and also what’s expected for your game. The listener will have experience of receiving pitches by multiple teams to figure out the market value for a similar game and also have access to how much they should be paying for your game and judge you against that

An example would be if you pitch a game that costs £500k, and the listener really thinks it warrants £2m based on experience then there’s a gap somewhere and it implies you don’t understand what you’re getting in for or your expecting to deliver something quite small. Essentially you’re getting in too deep.

Inexperienced publishers will often agree to this on a cost cutting exercise but the production often dies due to insufficient effort and features.

The obvious counter to this is the usual point where your costs are too high based on expectations. This can come about simply because you’re greedy or worse, you want to make a game that simply won’t ever recoup it’s costs as the potential sales doesn’t exist to support the funding required. A good example here would be a PSP title that costs £5m. It may be awesome, and a killer game, but not enough people own a PSP, and are interested in your genre to ever recoup the cost.

The ‘cost too high’ situation is the better one to be in as you can always negotiate a better price, change the feature set and generally adapt the game, which you can’t do if you’ve under offered in the 1st place; a publisher is hardly likely to say “Yes we want it, and we’re going to pay you more!”

Slide content

I just wanted to follow up on the previous article by reinforcing the importance of making sure that what people see, and what you say, matches up. Make sure the images support the words you’re saying, don’t show a picture of a desert when you’re saying “set in a lush world”, don’t say “realistic visuals” when there’s concept art on screen.

I think I’ve said this before but it’s a cardinal sin to read the deck, i.e., to put loads of text against bullet points and just read them. You can be damn sure that the listener is reading something different to what you’re saying and that simply messes with their head.

Don’t use sound! Or at least, don’t rely on sound. Presenting to at an expo or conference is usually done in a loud noisy environment so your lovely audio will be missed.

Keep it simple, make sure every support your words.

Speaking

  1. Smile
  2. Relax
  3. Empty your pockets - to stop you jingling
  4. Put the pen down - to stop you fiddling
  5. Smile
  6. Relax

So, your pitch is ready and you’ve waited months to get to this moment, everyone back in the office is depending on you to get this right. So, you set off at a sprint, stumble your words and no-one gets to absorb what you’re saying.

In general, you’ll be speaking too fast.

When speaking, talk slowly and…deliberately and…enunciate clearly…to give people time…to understand the points…your making.

There’s a reason why politicians to speak as slowly as they do, this enables people to take absorb your points, make notes and mentally process the info as it comes in. You can often tell how things are going by watching the body language of your audience.

Enjoy it!

This is a simple tip, enjoy your pitch, it can be a fun experience and something you’ll get immense satisfaction out of.

As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a comment or contact me directly.

Further Reading

Powerpoint slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations: The Art and Science of Presentation Design - Book Public Speaking How to Develop Self-confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking (Personal Development) - Book Speak Clearly - External Article a repository of Public Speaking help - External Article A nice concise article on public speaking - External Article

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Spotlight - 5 Indie Games Developers × Simeon Pashley

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Spotlight - 5 Indie Games Developers

The phrase ‘indie games’ often refers to games made by small independent developers, who fund the game themselves and release it out into the wild but self-publishing. After all, they’re not bound to a publisher and therefore independent.

I would also like to remind our readers that the vast majority of games you buy are made by indie developers but they rarely get the credit they deserve as their publishers mask their existence in the name of promoting their own brand.

Here’s a list of 5 indie game developers, in no particular order, that you may have missed on your travels around the world through the likes of the XNA Creator community or PC developers in general. It’s hard to discover PS3 indies as they’re often hidden behind closed doors but I try.

ThatGameCompany

Journey

ThatGameCompany are making the transition from a small indie game developer and are in limbo as they only focus on PS3 titles at the moment. This is a hard path to tread but they appear to be staying true to their indie roots and delivering emotion and passion in a small bundle.

The pioneers that brought you the award-winning PlayStation®Network titles flOw & Flower® are back with another title that challenges traditional gaming conventions. With Journey, thatgamecompany (TGC) continues its tradition of delivering simple gameplay and accessible controls in a rich interactive environment that invites players to explore and experience emotional chords that are still uncommon in video games.

An exotic adventure with a more serious tone, Journey presents TGC’s unique vision of an online adventure experience. Awakening in an unknown world, the player walks, glides, and flies through a vast and awe-inspiring landscape, while discovering the history of an ancient, mysterious civilization along the way.

Journey’s innovative approach to online play encourages players to explore this environment with strangers who cross their path from time to time. By traveling together, they can re-shape the experience – creating authentic moments they will remember and discuss with others.

Holographic Dreams

Raptor

I came across these Polish indie guys recently and they really struck a cord with me as they’re showing the core indie traits: passion, commitment and a desire for success. I believe currently have this running as a XNA game (a.k.a. XBox Independent Games), which shows they’re commitment to delivering something beyond a simple browser game. Here’s an early video of a game they’re working on right now, take a look and don’t forget to give them feedback!

Strawdog Studios

Space Ark

Strawdog Studios are an indie game developer that I’ve known for many years, they’re particularly interesting because they have a fantastic art style that runs through all of their games and they have the creativity to come up with something new and exciting. I hold them in high regard and relish an opportunity to work with these talented indie developers.

Here’s their current offering for XBox Live Arcade - Space Ark

What is Space Ark? It’s is a fun arcade/puzzle game with a hint of retro arcade flavour; inspired by classic arcade games of the late 80s, such as Rainbow Island, Bubble Bobble and Arkanoid.

A wandering black hole has damaged a number of planets, rendering them uninhabitable. The occupants of the Space Ark (the Arkonauts – a team of space traveling animals) are coming to repair the damaged worlds so that their refugee inhabitants can return.

Curve Studios

Explodemon

What can I say about the guys at Curve? Jason, Graeme, Jonathan and the guys (apologies if I’ve missed anyone) are all legends in their own time and I’ve had the great fortune to work with them recently.

Along with the other guys on this list, they epitomise what’s great about indie game developers and I’ve regularly referenced them as one of the best developers in the UK because they love games, love making games, are great to be with, always deliver great work and take me out to S&M or the Brazilian Meat Factory when I visit. :) Plus, they owe me a few dinners at PingPong. :P

Here’s a quick look at their latest title Explodemon:

Explodemon! is a 2.5D action platform game with an explosive main character. Mixing classic platforming action - from classics such as Mario and MegaMan - with the refined contemporary gameplay of Halo and Half-Life 2, it brings old-school gameplay bang up to date. Coming from Curve’s deep-seated love of video game culture and history, Explodemon! is wrapped up as a loving homage to SNES-era Japanese action games. Explodemon! will release on PlayStation 3 on the PlayStation Network in 2010.

Shadegrown Games

Planck

I hooked up with these guys on twitter recently and I really liked the potential of what they had on their web-site so I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys. You should check out their blog as the IGF judges also think they’re great.

Planck is an upcoming music-based experiment which looks to play out in a similar fashion to Audiosurf, but with different core elements. Enemies litter your path, and destroying enough of them unlocks a new instrument for the current song.

The game doesn’t use your own music - rather, it pieces together a specifically-created soundtrack in a Auditorium-esque manner. You can also jump between sections of the track to mix different sounds and change the music how you see fit.

Looks mighty interesting. No release date or platform set as of yet.

Summary

Well, I’ve enjoyed this round up of indie game developers and all of their indie cuteness. I hope you show them some appreciation by dropping by to give them your feedback on their web-sites and ‘official’ youtube, or even in our comments as I’m sure they’ll be reading.

Is there someone you think should be in the spotlight? Let me know in the comments.

Further Reading

ThatGameCompany - http://thatgamecompany.com , twitter @thatgamecompany Holographic Dreams - http://holographicdreams.com , twitter @HoloDreams Strawdog Studios - http://www.strawdogstudios.com Curve Studios - http://curve-studios.com , twitter @curvestudios Shadegrown Games - http://www.shadegrowngames.com, twitter @shadegrowngames

Bonus: One Bit Beyond - Curve Studios Creative Director blog - http://www.onebitbeyond.com Twitter @xnacommunity Twitter #xblig

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Comment - Full Analysis of iPhone Economics - it is bad news. And then it gets worse × Simeon Pashley

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Comment - Full Analysis of iPhone Economics - it is bad news. And then it gets worse

I recently re-tweeted this article and I commented on the post but wanted to bring the discussion here to see what you think.

Full Analysis of iPhone Economics - it is bad news. And then it gets worse

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2010/06/full-analysis-of-iphone-economics-its-bad-news-and-then-it-gets-worse.html

The piece opens with

I promised to return with the full analysis of the iPhone App Store economics analysis, from every angle, with all data I have managed to find. This blog intends to paint the most accurate picture of the specifically Apple related iPhone App Store market economics - and lessons from here should apply to most other smart phone app stores as well. The one final piece of the puzzle that had been missing, that we desperately needed to ge the full, honest picture, was the Apple official revenue number, which we finally got a few days ago, at $1.43B total revenues generated over 2 years, and thus $1B paid to developer. Now we can do the full analysis. But first a few general comments.

Here’s what I wrote:

It does make for interesting reading and I think there’s a few factors that mean iPad will improve the changes of indie games and major publishers alike. iPad enables the game authors to have 2 target platforms now, which must broaden their reach and increase sales, maybe not now but in the longer term this should improve as both platforms increase in volume.

I really hope for game developers sake that the prices don’t drop too far as people race to the bottom and try to compete on price as it’s a one-way trip and dangerous long-term game. Sadly, since the barrier to development is so low we’re competing against cheap bedroom developers across the globe so this is always going to be a problem.

Market saturation is also a problem on iPhone, every new game/app is a drop in a massive ocean and it’s very difficult to gain awareness to get you promoted to peoples app store lists. It takes a concerted effort to make it out of the pool and I know that there’s a lot of great games that just get missed. After all, there’s a finite number of people buying games and a seemingly infinite choice of games.

So, I think iPad is a great opportunity for devs to make a bit more margin but it’s not going to last long. As always, the gold rush will soon run out of gold.

Devs need to think of new ways to make money, 59p isn’t too far off ‘free’ so it needs some thinking on how you’re going to make the leap. Godfinger is a good example (which is pretty much Mafia Wars biz model).

I think we can draw parallels with the GB->GBA->DS->DSi->3DS progression too, although the barrier to development is significantly higher than on iPhone.

All in all, new platforms increase our audience, which should increase sales & revenue for little increase in dev costs.

What do you think?

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>What’s your point of difference? × Simeon Pashley

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What’s your point of difference?

Bear with me on this one…I’m currently sat watching a TV programme in the UK called ‘Mary Queen Of Shops’, which is of particular interest because they’re focusing on a business I know near my house.

The programme features Mary, who goes into a failing local business and revamp it into something much more successful.

Why am I writing about it? What on earth has it got to do with video game development? I felt compelled to write something while the programme is still on air

I can’t help but draw similes from this program when comparing small indie games (local shops) and AAA budget games (supermarkets). The message here is that it’s absolutely pointless for the indies to try to be the big guys, you’ll never win them at a game that they control. You don’t have the budgets and backing they do but it doesn’t mean you can’t be awesome.

Find Your Niche

What you have to do is find a niche, specialise, bring game players something truly unique and special that whole teams of marketeers, producers, legal, financial people and a whole myriad of other people won’t get behind because it’s not something they understand or doesn’t fit on an existing shelf.

I love games like Godfinger and God Of War, I actually have more time for the former but I enjoy the spectacle of the latter.

Indies - forget trying to emulate the big guys. Make something you’re passionate about as that always shows through in a game.

Don’t Be Blinkered

Do you have a narrow-minded view of how your game works? Can you open your eyes to criticism? Are you actually any good (I wrote about this recently)?

As I sit and watch these people on TV ignore the obvious truth and I can only think about game developers I’ve met who are adamant that their game is awesome despite everyone telling them different. There’s only 1 side that’s losing out here.

Have an X Statement

Interestingly, the programme has just show the tag line, by line, x statement for the business. It’s a short statement that really encapsulates what you’re doing with your game, your business or even if it’s what you as a person want to achieve.

Summary

I started watching this series of programmes with local interest and I honestly think there’s something we can all learn for game development by watching the pain someone else goes through on our behalf.

The trick is to think about what’s being said if applying it to your own world of game development.

As Mary would say - “What’s your point of difference?”

I would say, that we don’t need to end up naked covered in veg to be successful. :)

Further Reading

Blog Post - Are You Unique? Blog Post - Weakest Link – Be A Better Game Developer

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How To Get The Most From Social Game Reviews × Simeon Pashley

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How To Get The Most From Social Game Reviews

In the second part of the series on Leveraging Social Media To Maximise Your Game Sales, I’ll expand on the previous article and cover the topic of useful easily getting Real Feedback, which already exists and you don’t need to do anything to make it happen!

This article started out with the intent of covering quite a lot of aspects but one particular point expanded out and warranted it’s own article in the series…scraping Amazon. The rest will have to wait for another article, read on…

Pro Reviews - a tiny voice

In recent years, review scores on metacritic have really driven game development as we chase a high score through compelling game design, amazing visuals and killer content. It’s quite common to find incentives for the team or business attached to reaching a certain metacritic score

Here’s an example from a game I worked on, notice the 107 reviews taken into account.

Does paying someone affect their opinion?

It’s worth remembering that these reviews are largely written by paid professional journalists who get the games for free and have people begging them for good scores. Launch parties, previews, gifts and other tricks can all influence the game. In the early days, I can remember having a reviewer come around within 1 week of us starting a game when there was no game to play. Our artist mocked up some screenshots of the game on the spot and the ‘reviewer’ disappeared with his floppy disk.

In the next months magazine we got a rave 3-page review for our game and a 90% rating (for 3 screenshots)! The review was entirely fictional and it’s coloured my opinion on reviews ever since.

Why did this happen? Well, review scores used to be influenced by how much advertising the publisher paid for in that particular magazine. The more ads, the better the reviews, the more the sales, the more ads……and around it went.

Hopefully this no longer happens but the most valuable feedback you can gain as a developer isn’t from reviewers, it’s from the people who want your game.

But, there’s a bigger, more important voice to listen to who may tell a different storey, noticed the 1,112 votes taken into account, over 10 times the amount of pro views:

Scraping Amazon - the BIG VOICE

Amazon is your friend if you want to discover what the world thinks about any product, people hopefully buy your game there and it’s not short of people wanting to share their views on how good and bad your game is. These are usually people who have paid money for your game and have a vested interested in it’s success, they want your game to be good because they handed over hard earned cash for you to entertain them and you’d better do it! This is a key difference between looking on Amazon and reading comments elsewhere, there aren’t many other places where people who bought it, review it.

#### Bonus: Cultural Game Expectations

It’s really hard to get a true feeling from pro reviews as they’re all so hard to find and come in different formats and they don’t allow you to discover regional variations either, e.g., what did the Spanish people think, what did the Polish people think, did the Germans love it?

Thankfully, Amazon is pretty much the same the world over and it’s common 5-star rating system is easy to discover and understand even if you can’t read the language.

Below are some examples for Heavy Rain (PS3), which I worked on recently and I chose it as an example as it is an easier title to understand because it’s single platform and came with some anticipated cultural issues depending on where it was released.

As you can see, we favoured very well and got excellent review scores and you can see subtle variations in the general acceptance by territory. I probably picked a subtle example but the principal is there. :)

France

Germany

United States

Japan

United Kingdom

You also get indirect feedback from people who don’t write comments as they will often click a button just to say if they like a review or not, where in most cases that review reflects their own opinion. Again, this is something unique to Amazon as the other review sites don’t allow you to promote someone else’s opinion if you don’t have the time to write your own.

These ‘promoted reviews’ are the ones to listen to and you should consider these as amplifiers of opinion. You may even want to contact with these rare reviewers for some inside information and work with the closely, at least you’ll have the opportunity to amplify your gain their connection with the audience as a trusted reviewer.

iTunes Feedback

I wanted this article to stay focused on Amazon / Metacritic for now but I thought it worth dropping a note in about iTunes as I think we all recognise that the built in 5 star ratings system is welcome and enables people to at least give some feedback.

However, the vast majority of iPad / iPhone users interact on the phone itself and here’s where it’s painfully limited, I can only give it 1 to 5 stars overall. No support for arbitrary text feedback, no support for giving some detail “Game play was great, graphics were bad”, “Graphics were great, gameplay was bad”, “Level 15 is lovely, Level 20 is just killer”.

On the iPad / iPhone it also has an inherent flaw in when people are encouraged to give feedback. An example:

  1. I buy the game on my iPhone (no ratings system)
  2. I play the game on my iPhone
  3. I’ve finished with it / bored of it / need the space, so I remove it.
  4. I’m prompted to rate the app/game out of 5

There’s the rub, I’m at the point where my relationship with the game has ended and I’m moving on and that’s the only time I get to give feedback. I can only guess that this affects some of the ratings.

I guess the flip-side is that if you’re still willing to give the game 5* at this point, then it must be good!

Summary

Right, back to the point. In the last few years game developers have been given direct access to our audience, to listen to them, react to them and share our feelings about the creative work we put into our games.

The bright, exciting people will take this up this and make a difference with this new opportunity to make more rewarding experiences and better games for everyone.

I’m always looking to learn new ways and opinions so fire away! Don’t be shy to drop in a comment. :)

Further Reading

Minimum Viable Product - an approach to the development loop of publish, listen, act - repeat

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch × Simeon Pashley

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How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch

I’ve seen my game pitches in my time, and I’ve made quite a few myself but I’m continually amazed and just what some people think they’re doing.  Think about all those poor saps who’ve been sent to the slaughter on “X Factor” for our amusement when they totally and utterly fail to deliver anything that a mother wouldn’t love.  Think about all those sorry ideas you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that are just pitiful. But it doesn’t have to be this way…

When I’ve been on the receiving end, it often feels like “X Factor”, the person pitching stands up, stumbles to introduce themselves and then proceeds to claim they’ve got the best thing you’ve ever seen, all their friends and colleagues have seen it and they’re passionate about it. It’s the next GTA, or God Of War, or Forza…and then….sitting on the edge of my seat I wait…out comes the pitch and the presentation to go with it. I finally get to see something and oh dear, oh dear, it rarely lives up to the hype and expectations that the person pitching sets.

The sad part is, some of the games are actually fundamentally good and it’s just that pitch itself and / or the person pitching is bad. Both of these are fixable or at least made a little bit easier.

Here’s a few pointers to get you started

  1. X Statement. Produce a concise statement that sums up your game succinctly. It should capture the essence of what you’re game is about and set realistic expectations. It’s difficult to do, and even harder to do well, but the thought behind it will cause you to explore what you’re really pitching.
  2. Who Am I? What Am I doing? Why do I care? These are things I want to know as a gamer, to check if this is something I want to play. Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you’ve covered these key topics in your pitch.
  3. Would your mother understand it? When you’ve written your pitch, ask yourself if your mother would understand what you’re saying or showing. This may seem silly but remember that the people you’re pitching to have to understand your proposition in 15-20 minutes. They haven’t lived with every nuance of the design for months and know everything you’re implying.
  4. It’s all about you. There are many case studies that show that a large part of someone accepting the pitch is whether they like the person (and team) pitching the idea. If you come across as unsure, incompetent, uncaring then why would you care should you get the work? This can be a tough one to crack when you’ve taken the same idea around lots of people but it’s very important to get right. Stay fresh or go home.
  5. Make every word and image count. Optimise the life out of your presentation when it’s ready to make sure you’re maximising your presentation time, communicating efficiently and clearly, not repeating key statements and getting everything you want to say in there.
  6. Keep it simple This is a little different to point 3, I’m referring to the content itself. Your objective is to hook the person and start a conversation about your pitch. Shy away from going into uber detail that would scare someone off, keep numbers to a minimum, keep the text light on each page.
  7. Practise, practise, practice. I mean this. Really practice your pitch, think about every word. The reason is that when it comes to presentation time you’ll know what you’re going to say, remember everything you want to get across and also, critically, be more confident about what you’re doing.

I would say that I have a pet hate, which is that the most common phrase I hear has to be  ”Pixar Style Animation” and it fills me with dread.

There are 2 reasons:

  1. Pixar communicates a style and ethos all of it’s own that goes deeper than just it’s animation, it’s about how it makes you feel. There’s an emotion they’re you just can’t put into words, but it’s there and it’s what makes it so good.
  2. More importantly you’ve set my expectations very high and I’m more likely to be thinking “Prove It” or “I bet it isn’t” before I’ve seen anything. I’m instantly on the back foot and expecting failure. What is the person trying to say in the 1st place?I’m all for setting aspiration goals but you need to be able to prove them. Above all, do what you say you’re going to do.

There are many similar phrases that you just simply have to be able to back up. Think about what expectations your setting and if they exist in the real world before promising them. Would you fall for it?

Summary

So, there it is, a few pointers on mostly what to avoid when preparing your pitch and doing the presentation itself. Take your time, make sure you’re ready, don’t rush and remember.

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

If you’re business depends on it, it’s worth the time and effort to get it right and get a professional to run through it with you! Shameless self plug. ;)

As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a comment or contact me directly.

### UPDATE:

I’ve followed up with more information in ‘How To Improve Your Pitch – Part 2

Further Reading

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Avoiding Game Development Contract Pitfalls - Royalties × Simeon Pashley

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Avoiding Game Development Contract Pitfalls - Royalties

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Here at @Gamelinchpin we like to clear some of the fog surrounding the more complex business of making games.

Negotiating contracts can be tough, and there’s a lot to think about but don’t let some of the most important elements slip you by. Getting these right can make the difference between scraping by and living well and it’s not easy if you lack experience but we’re here to help.

I’ll start by going through some common elements of royalty clauses.

  ** ** I’d like to start out by saying always take professional legal advice before signing a contract, the information below is my opinion only based on experience.

Is it worth it?

YES! There’s a myth that it’s pretty much impossible to achieve royalties on anything but the killer AAA multi-million selling items but I’ve seen many cases where the route to success is often in being aware of what options you have, and what to avoid too.

Common Pitfalls

When thinking about royalties it’s important to really think about all of the different facets of the deal piece together as even the smallest, seemingly irrelevant clause, can mean the difference between making money and losing out completely. Keeping all the different elements balanced is something that comes with experience.

There are a few things to think about but mainly always think about the rate you’re going to recoup the advance at and what you are recouping against as misunderstanding these 2 elements alone can be the ultimate killer.

Recoup Rate

In this section I’m assuming that we’re talking about a typical model where the cash you’re given to make the game (Advance) is recovered, along with other costs, before you start getting any royalties on the profit. This Advance Against Royalties is a common scenario but it can be improved. Think of it as a debt you have to repay.

Now, this bit involves a bit of maths to understand the implications of so I’ll go slowly for you all. :)

Now, typical royalty schemes employ 1 rate that applies through your agreement. In it’s simplest form the publisher takes the money it gets and allocates a portion of that cash to repay the loan they gave you to make the game (Advance). When it’s paid back you get the remainder as royalties.

Lets look at a work example where the royalty rate is 10%, but this obviously varies in real life.

The thing to watch here is the portion of the cash they use to repay your debt (Advance), if this were your royalty rate of 10%, they would need to make 10 times that amount (100% divided by your royalty rate) before your advance is fully repaid and you get royalties.

Now, there’s no reason why the recoup rate cannot be different to the royalty rate. Lets imagine that you now have a recoup rate of 25% and a royalty rate of 10%. Now the publisher only needs to recoup 4 times your Advance before you start seeing royalties at 10%. This is a big difference and really compounds over time.

In a typical contract, the 2 rates are balanced based on how the negotiations with the 2 parties go. I have seen quite a wide variety of values such as:

  • 20% recoup and 30% royalty
  • 10% recoup and 10% royalty
  • 75% recoup and 30% royalty
  • 100% recoup and 5% royalty

I have even seen 1 extreme case where the Advance was written off and a low percentage royalty was paid. In this case the developer saw royalties from day 0.

It is also possible to gain an agreement on hard unit numbers too once you’ve worked out the nitty gritty of all of the parameters. E.g., instead of recouping your Advance at some rate, you start on royalties once your game has sold 100,000 units.

If you can work this out upfront and get the actual number of units down in your contract, then there’s no variance or disagreement later on and quibbling over what is/isn’t recoupable against your advance.

Net Receipts

Before I move on, I need to explain some of the core concepts. I’ll assume you know the difference between Gross and Net but there’s a key phrase typically used in contracts called “Net Receipts” that I’ll try and explain.

Net Receipts refers to actual bit of money left over after everything else has been taken out. This typically includes undefined, variable and uncapped expenses such as Marketing and Retention / Returns.

Marketing budgets are incredibly hard to nail down as they typical depend on prevailing conditions & rates, maybe there’s a competing titles that warrants more of a push for yours, maybe there’s some co-marketing deal being struck. The key here is to try and get as much of this known at the start, there’s should be some value attributed here but try and get this defined or at least try and cap the amount that goes against your royalties.

Retention or Returns These terms refer to the amount of cash the publisher retains to cope with unsold or returned stock. This figure is used to reduce the amount your royalties are calculated against. There’s not a lot you can do about this but be aware that it’s lurking in the background.

The rest of it should be self-explanatory but I’ll happily respond to feedback if I’ve missed a key component.

Currency

This is something that’s often over-looked in our world of global development and is something to consider if you deal with a publisher that holds it’s accounts outside of your territory. It’s worth noting here that some big international companies may not have treasuries in your native country so currency exchange will come into play.

Also, the time between you agreeing the contract and you eventually getting paid some royalties can be a very long time and the financial market changes rapidly.

There’s a couple of things to investigate here: negotiate the fees in the currency that gives you the best deal, in some cases it may not be the one held by the publisher or you.

Secondly, if the time frames and values are considerable then look into Forward Exchange Rates with your bank, where you can get them to agree on a future exchange rate.

What you Recoup against

I’ve explained some of the elements that can massively affect the amount you recoup against. Recouping against undefined Net Receipts is a dangerous game and one you should seek to nail down what the specifics are as above. Be aware of everything you’re getting yourself into.

I’d strongly advice always using a professional company like TC Associates to exercise your right to audit the royalty accounts as pretty much every audit exposes inaccuracies in your favour, sometimes a few thousand and have been known to be millions.

Other Areas to Consider

One other area to consider is how your royalties are recouped against items such as Bundle Deals and how they are affected by any potential retail discounts such as ‘Platinum’ packs.

How will your royalties be affected by different distribution models such as online or retail?

Will you be able to gain any royalties on sales of other items such as downloadable content,  t-shirts, merchandising, social network apps, etc?

What next?

Next Time

In this series I’ll be going exposing another common contract point such as Developer Technology and Intellectual Property.

If you’ve enjoyed this item, please join the conversation in the comments, share this item with friends and subscribe to get the next installment. I’m happy to answer any relevant questions you may have that are posted in the comments.

Further Reading

Entertainment Law Handbook - Sarassin LLP business affairs consultancy for the interactive entertainment industry.

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amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010 × Simeon Pashley

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Simeon Pashley

Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010

Well, it’s almost here, E3 Expo 2010 and it will be followed by many other opportunities to get out there and network: Game Connection, Develop, Gamescom, and if you’re lucky, Tokyo Game Show, etc.

Over the years, I’ve attended my of these events as both someone pitching and someone listening to other peoples pitches and I have a few tips to share.

By now, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time, effort and money carefully preparing your pitch and polished your presentation. You’ve no doubt booked a flight, hotel, got some spending money and need to feed yourself and probably some clients too. Your team have packed you off with some good wishes and are waiting for you to let them know how it went. You may have family waiting on you too. All of this is a massive commitment and you’ve got a lot riding on it.

Start with the least important

When scheduling your meetings, try an schedule your least important ones first; maybe even with some people that you’re not interested in.

The reason is that it will give you some real-life experience of pitching in the environment and enable you to debug you’re pitch and tweak if before you get to the big boys. This can be a good way of weeding out problems with your demo, powerpoint deck, laptop, pointer, screen brightness too.

You’ll also get feedback that you can incorporate into your pitch, maybe these are in the form of questions that you are asked that you can then think about a really good answer for.

Pick your slot

Be aware of the typical fluctuations in a persons attention span and likely state.

I’d hedge my bets on the best time being late morning, just before lunch.

Early mornings can fall foul of preceding heavy nights out partying or jetlag. Try and avoid these is possible. If you get time, take a peek at the party schedule and avoid the day after.

Afternoons are usually toughest, as people grow weary through the draining aspect of running back-to-back meetings in hot, brightly lit environments, battling against a lack of sleep and the onset of jetlag.

Take Ownership

You’ll be meeting lots of people and have a lot to remember, but, so will the people you’re meeting and you need to make sure you’re at the top of their pile when it comes to getting your game signed.

Firstly, be clear and concise in what you say. Make everything count and don’t expect anyone to remember everything you said.

Assuming you’re pitch went well, you need to secure 2 things:

  1. Get Their Contact details. Make sure these are for the right person who you’ll be dealing with, who may be different to the person you’re presenting to, which leads on to…

2. How, when, where for you to follow up. Try and get things pre-defined, “lets have a catchup call next Wednesday at 3pm” is better than “I’ll call you soon”. Aim to secure meeting dates too don’t let these slip.

Miss these two and you’ve just wasted your time, don’t rely on the listener to chase you, you can bet your last dollar that there will be other people shouting louder than you and getting some attention.

If you find that the listener won’t commit, then you can probably take it as a sign they’re not interested and it’s time to move on.

the squeaky wheel gets the grease

Dealing with rejection

Well, dealing with someone not being interested in your pitch can sometimes be hard but don’t take it personal. Try and find out why, the listener will often be able to give you a good indication of what you need to change before the next pitch. Take this as an opportunity to adapt your presentation for the next person you meet.

There’s a lot of reasons they make not take up you’re offer and here’s a couple of non-obvious ones.

  1. Pitch Went Bad. Maybe you fluffed it, maybe you’re laptop battery expired, maybe the listener got distracted with what they’re having for lunch. There’s no real answer here, sometimes it just doesn’t go the way you wanted it.

2. “we have similar titles in our portfolio” is a typical push off from a listener and most of the time it’s genuinely down to something that already exists or something they have in development elsewhere. There are rare occasions when they want to take your idea and make it themselves, claiming this is something they had in production already. This can be something as big as the game, or something as small as a game mechanic. There’s nothing you can do about this except to expect it on rare occasions. I’ve only seen this happen a handful of times across a 20yr career and it’s always heart wrenching to see.

Do You Homework

You can be in a much strong position by doing your homework on the company and person you’re meeting beforehand. This will not only expose any likely competition for your game but also enable you to come across as interested in them. All it takes is a bit of Google action to take care of it for the most part. People can be harder to find but I’d try [blippr]LinkedIn[/blippr] and MobyGames as a starting point.

What next?

I’ll repeat this here because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT!

Always get confirmation on next steps, try and arrange a follow up call / meeting, GET THEIR CONTACT DETAILS

Perpetual Impression

As a little aside, remember that every interaction will persist through your career as everyone moves around and over time the associate producer you dismissed at a small publisher could end up being in charge of acquisitions for a large international publisher later in your career when you really need them.

A buyer never forgets

WARNING: Don’t pitch if you’re unsure. It’s not worth it in the long run.

Summary

Attending one of these huge conventions is an exciting and important time, everyone always enjoys it and always has good stories to tell. Although some of those stories should never be repeated back home. ;)

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  • conference <!DOCTYPE html>Develop 2010 is over, next up Gamescom × Simeon Pashley

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    Develop 2010 is over, next up Gamescom

    Well, it looks like Develop 2010 is over for this year (the clue is in the name) and the next event is Gamescom in just over 4 weeks time. Just enough time to detox ready for the next wave of ‘networking’. :)

    I wonder if Paul the Psychic Octopus predicted the correct Develop Award winners? It looks like he’s patrolling the Gamescom web-site too, so BEWARE!

    Stick with us during the break and don’t go changing channels!

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    amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch - Part 2 × Simeon Pashley

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    How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch - Part 2

    Recently I wrote an introduction to How To Improve Your Pitch for  your game and I thought it worth writing a little bit more ahead of E3 Expo 2010. I’ll follow on with a little more detail today.

    I covered the basics yesterday but I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot today and I wanted to share some more things that will hopefully prove useful.

    Funding

    When you’re pitch is ready, ensure that it’s appropriately funded because you can guarantee that the person you’re pitching to will be forming a cost expectation based on platform, genre, target audience, feature set and quality level. When listening to pitches, it’s disappointing to get to the funding part of any pitch and the money requested just doesn’t stack up with the proposition.

    The cause for concern for most developers is that they think that the price is going to be too high and frighten someone off but there’s a worse scenario where it’s actually too little. The listener will be asking themselves if the funding supports an appropriate team size to make the features and quality level your pitching and also what’s expected for your game. The listener will have experience of receiving pitches by multiple teams to figure out the market value for a similar game and also have access to how much they should be paying for your game and judge you against that

    An example would be if you pitch a game that costs £500k, and the listener really thinks it warrants £2m based on experience then there’s a gap somewhere and it implies you don’t understand what you’re getting in for or your expecting to deliver something quite small. Essentially you’re getting in too deep.

    Inexperienced publishers will often agree to this on a cost cutting exercise but the production often dies due to insufficient effort and features.

    The obvious counter to this is the usual point where your costs are too high based on expectations. This can come about simply because you’re greedy or worse, you want to make a game that simply won’t ever recoup it’s costs as the potential sales doesn’t exist to support the funding required. A good example here would be a PSP title that costs £5m. It may be awesome, and a killer game, but not enough people own a PSP, and are interested in your genre to ever recoup the cost.

    The ‘cost too high’ situation is the better one to be in as you can always negotiate a better price, change the feature set and generally adapt the game, which you can’t do if you’ve under offered in the 1st place; a publisher is hardly likely to say “Yes we want it, and we’re going to pay you more!”

    Slide content

    I just wanted to follow up on the previous article by reinforcing the importance of making sure that what people see, and what you say, matches up. Make sure the images support the words you’re saying, don’t show a picture of a desert when you’re saying “set in a lush world”, don’t say “realistic visuals” when there’s concept art on screen.

    I think I’ve said this before but it’s a cardinal sin to read the deck, i.e., to put loads of text against bullet points and just read them. You can be damn sure that the listener is reading something different to what you’re saying and that simply messes with their head.

    Don’t use sound! Or at least, don’t rely on sound. Presenting to at an expo or conference is usually done in a loud noisy environment so your lovely audio will be missed.

    Keep it simple, make sure every support your words.

    Speaking

    1. Smile
    2. Relax
    3. Empty your pockets - to stop you jingling
    4. Put the pen down - to stop you fiddling
    5. Smile
    6. Relax

    So, your pitch is ready and you’ve waited months to get to this moment, everyone back in the office is depending on you to get this right. So, you set off at a sprint, stumble your words and no-one gets to absorb what you’re saying.

    In general, you’ll be speaking too fast.

    When speaking, talk slowly and…deliberately and…enunciate clearly…to give people time…to understand the points…your making.

    There’s a reason why politicians to speak as slowly as they do, this enables people to take absorb your points, make notes and mentally process the info as it comes in. You can often tell how things are going by watching the body language of your audience.

    Enjoy it!

    This is a simple tip, enjoy your pitch, it can be a fun experience and something you’ll get immense satisfaction out of.

    As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a comment or contact me directly.

    Further Reading

    Powerpoint slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations: The Art and Science of Presentation Design - Book Public Speaking How to Develop Self-confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking (Personal Development) - Book Speak Clearly - External Article a repository of Public Speaking help - External Article A nice concise article on public speaking - External Article

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    amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch × Simeon Pashley

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    How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch

    I’ve seen my game pitches in my time, and I’ve made quite a few myself but I’m continually amazed and just what some people think they’re doing.  Think about all those poor saps who’ve been sent to the slaughter on “X Factor” for our amusement when they totally and utterly fail to deliver anything that a mother wouldn’t love.  Think about all those sorry ideas you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that are just pitiful. But it doesn’t have to be this way…

    When I’ve been on the receiving end, it often feels like “X Factor”, the person pitching stands up, stumbles to introduce themselves and then proceeds to claim they’ve got the best thing you’ve ever seen, all their friends and colleagues have seen it and they’re passionate about it. It’s the next GTA, or God Of War, or Forza…and then….sitting on the edge of my seat I wait…out comes the pitch and the presentation to go with it. I finally get to see something and oh dear, oh dear, it rarely lives up to the hype and expectations that the person pitching sets.

    The sad part is, some of the games are actually fundamentally good and it’s just that pitch itself and / or the person pitching is bad. Both of these are fixable or at least made a little bit easier.

    Here’s a few pointers to get you started

    1. X Statement. Produce a concise statement that sums up your game succinctly. It should capture the essence of what you’re game is about and set realistic expectations. It’s difficult to do, and even harder to do well, but the thought behind it will cause you to explore what you’re really pitching.
    2. Who Am I? What Am I doing? Why do I care? These are things I want to know as a gamer, to check if this is something I want to play. Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you’ve covered these key topics in your pitch.
    3. Would your mother understand it? When you’ve written your pitch, ask yourself if your mother would understand what you’re saying or showing. This may seem silly but remember that the people you’re pitching to have to understand your proposition in 15-20 minutes. They haven’t lived with every nuance of the design for months and know everything you’re implying.
    4. It’s all about you. There are many case studies that show that a large part of someone accepting the pitch is whether they like the person (and team) pitching the idea. If you come across as unsure, incompetent, uncaring then why would you care should you get the work? This can be a tough one to crack when you’ve taken the same idea around lots of people but it’s very important to get right. Stay fresh or go home.
    5. Make every word and image count. Optimise the life out of your presentation when it’s ready to make sure you’re maximising your presentation time, communicating efficiently and clearly, not repeating key statements and getting everything you want to say in there.
    6. Keep it simple This is a little different to point 3, I’m referring to the content itself. Your objective is to hook the person and start a conversation about your pitch. Shy away from going into uber detail that would scare someone off, keep numbers to a minimum, keep the text light on each page.
    7. Practise, practise, practice. I mean this. Really practice your pitch, think about every word. The reason is that when it comes to presentation time you’ll know what you’re going to say, remember everything you want to get across and also, critically, be more confident about what you’re doing.

    I would say that I have a pet hate, which is that the most common phrase I hear has to be  ”Pixar Style Animation” and it fills me with dread.

    There are 2 reasons:

    1. Pixar communicates a style and ethos all of it’s own that goes deeper than just it’s animation, it’s about how it makes you feel. There’s an emotion they’re you just can’t put into words, but it’s there and it’s what makes it so good.
    2. More importantly you’ve set my expectations very high and I’m more likely to be thinking “Prove It” or “I bet it isn’t” before I’ve seen anything. I’m instantly on the back foot and expecting failure. What is the person trying to say in the 1st place?I’m all for setting aspiration goals but you need to be able to prove them. Above all, do what you say you’re going to do.

    There are many similar phrases that you just simply have to be able to back up. Think about what expectations your setting and if they exist in the real world before promising them. Would you fall for it?

    Summary

    So, there it is, a few pointers on mostly what to avoid when preparing your pitch and doing the presentation itself. Take your time, make sure you’re ready, don’t rush and remember.

    To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

    If you’re business depends on it, it’s worth the time and effort to get it right and get a professional to run through it with you! Shameless self plug. ;)

    As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a comment or contact me directly.

    ### UPDATE:

    I’ve followed up with more information in ‘How To Improve Your Pitch – Part 2

    Further Reading

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    amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter <!DOCTYPE html>Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010 × Simeon Pashley

    Skip links

    Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010

    Well, it’s almost here, E3 Expo 2010 and it will be followed by many other opportunities to get out there and network: Game Connection, Develop, Gamescom, and if you’re lucky, Tokyo Game Show, etc.

    Over the years, I’ve attended my of these events as both someone pitching and someone listening to other peoples pitches and I have a few tips to share.

    By now, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time, effort and money carefully preparing your pitch and polished your presentation. You’ve no doubt booked a flight, hotel, got some spending money and need to feed yourself and probably some clients too. Your team have packed you off with some good wishes and are waiting for you to let them know how it went. You may have family waiting on you too. All of this is a massive commitment and you’ve got a lot riding on it.

    Start with the least important

    When scheduling your meetings, try an schedule your least important ones first; maybe even with some people that you’re not interested in.

    The reason is that it will give you some real-life experience of pitching in the environment and enable you to debug you’re pitch and tweak if before you get to the big boys. This can be a good way of weeding out problems with your demo, powerpoint deck, laptop, pointer, screen brightness too.

    You’ll also get feedback that you can incorporate into your pitch, maybe these are in the form of questions that you are asked that you can then think about a really good answer for.

    Pick your slot

    Be aware of the typical fluctuations in a persons attention span and likely state.

    I’d hedge my bets on the best time being late morning, just before lunch.

    Early mornings can fall foul of preceding heavy nights out partying or jetlag. Try and avoid these is possible. If you get time, take a peek at the party schedule and avoid the day after.

    Afternoons are usually toughest, as people grow weary through the draining aspect of running back-to-back meetings in hot, brightly lit environments, battling against a lack of sleep and the onset of jetlag.

    Take Ownership

    You’ll be meeting lots of people and have a lot to remember, but, so will the people you’re meeting and you need to make sure you’re at the top of their pile when it comes to getting your game signed.

    Firstly, be clear and concise in what you say. Make everything count and don’t expect anyone to remember everything you said.

    Assuming you’re pitch went well, you need to secure 2 things:

    1. Get Their Contact details. Make sure these are for the right person who you’ll be dealing with, who may be different to the person you’re presenting to, which leads on to…

    2. How, when, where for you to follow up. Try and get things pre-defined, “lets have a catchup call next Wednesday at 3pm” is better than “I’ll call you soon”. Aim to secure meeting dates too don’t let these slip.

    Miss these two and you’ve just wasted your time, don’t rely on the listener to chase you, you can bet your last dollar that there will be other people shouting louder than you and getting some attention.

    If you find that the listener won’t commit, then you can probably take it as a sign they’re not interested and it’s time to move on.

    the squeaky wheel gets the grease

    Dealing with rejection

    Well, dealing with someone not being interested in your pitch can sometimes be hard but don’t take it personal. Try and find out why, the listener will often be able to give you a good indication of what you need to change before the next pitch. Take this as an opportunity to adapt your presentation for the next person you meet.

    There’s a lot of reasons they make not take up you’re offer and here’s a couple of non-obvious ones.

    1. Pitch Went Bad. Maybe you fluffed it, maybe you’re laptop battery expired, maybe the listener got distracted with what they’re having for lunch. There’s no real answer here, sometimes it just doesn’t go the way you wanted it.

    2. “we have similar titles in our portfolio” is a typical push off from a listener and most of the time it’s genuinely down to something that already exists or something they have in development elsewhere. There are rare occasions when they want to take your idea and make it themselves, claiming this is something they had in production already. This can be something as big as the game, or something as small as a game mechanic. There’s nothing you can do about this except to expect it on rare occasions. I’ve only seen this happen a handful of times across a 20yr career and it’s always heart wrenching to see.

    Do You Homework

    You can be in a much strong position by doing your homework on the company and person you’re meeting beforehand. This will not only expose any likely competition for your game but also enable you to come across as interested in them. All it takes is a bit of Google action to take care of it for the most part. People can be harder to find but I’d try [blippr]LinkedIn[/blippr] and MobyGames as a starting point.

    What next?

    I’ll repeat this here because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT!

    Always get confirmation on next steps, try and arrange a follow up call / meeting, GET THEIR CONTACT DETAILS

    Perpetual Impression

    As a little aside, remember that every interaction will persist through your career as everyone moves around and over time the associate producer you dismissed at a small publisher could end up being in charge of acquisitions for a large international publisher later in your career when you really need them.

    A buyer never forgets

    WARNING: Don’t pitch if you’re unsure. It’s not worth it in the long run.

    Summary

    Attending one of these huge conventions is an exciting and important time, everyone always enjoys it and always has good stories to tell. Although some of those stories should never be repeated back home. ;)

    Filed under: , , and
    amazoncommentsfacebookpaypalstopwatchtwitter
  • pitch <!DOCTYPE html>The Definitive Guide To Pitching Your Video Game × Simeon Pashley