LinkLog: Mobile Game Development

From The Philosophy of Game Development

Mobile gaming is a huge worldwide opportunity at the moment, having clocked in at $9 billion in 2012, and it is poised to grow further in the coming years. With the world’s 1 billion smartphones scheduled to almost double in number by 2015 and games responsible for a whopping 66 percent of all app revenue, it’s easy for anyone to do the math and see where this is going.

Game development continues to have a bright future, but only for those who can develop profitable titles.

Wealth Hidden in Infinite Niches

I am glad I am on Twitter. I don’t post relentlessly in this medium. I do keep my presence alive and mostly enjoy the connections. Once in a while a good thing happens. Some one you don’t know connects to you. You don’t know why they did, so you go out to check their profile, a bit of what they post and make a decision to follow.

It happened to me today and I am glad David decided to follow me. That is how I discovered 1000 True Fans and a bunch of very interesting sources. If you are an entrepreneur of any kind, I am sure you would enjoy reading this.

A few snippets:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.

The key challenge is that you have to maintain direct contact with your 1,000 True Fans. They are giving you their support directly. …You also benefit from the direct feedback and love.

You don’t need a million fans to justify producing something new. A mere one thousand is sufficient.

This formula – one thousand direct True Fans —  is crafted for one person, the solo artist. What happens in a duet, or quartet, or movie crew? Obviously, you’ll need more fans. But the additional fans you’ll need are in direct geometric proportion to the increase of your creative group. In other words, if you increase your group size by 33%, you need add only 33% more fans.

At my company iMorph, we want to serve a small number of customers extremely well. Some of them pay a mere $25 and some of them more than $25,000 every year.  It does not matter. Interacting with customers, the users of your products, listening to their suggestions and watching them use your products in ways you never thought of, is one of the greatest joys. That is why I like the philosophy of 1000 True Fans. A few thousands is a small number, enough to support a  small business and still provide enough time for innovation and improvement and interactions.

Early Adopters

I went to an eLearning meet a few years ago in Cupertino. I never met any one in the group before and there were some interesting discussion on learning tools. Towards the end I asked them whether any of them blog. The strong reaction, I got, surprised me. “Blogs are for people who do not have anything else to do” said one person. “Who wants to watch pictures of cats and dogs and read people’s rantings” said another. I was not sure what to expect, but these pre-conceived notions gave me all the signals I wanted. I never went back to their monthly meetings.

Why am I recounting this story now? I was reminded of it when I started reading Why Journalists should use Twitter a couple of days ago.

I recently mentioned to a colleague of mine, who also is a freelance journalist, that I’m researching an article about Twitter. “I hope you really trash this service”, was his answer. “This is nothing else than verbal diarrhoea.”

The early adopters are a fascinating bunch. These are the people who are active on Twitter, sign up for several product betas, try almost every product as time permits, read Technorati/Techmeme/ Reddit/ Digg,/eHub/ Slashdot and countless blogs. They remind  me of the robot in the Short Circuit movie that keeps asking for “Input” and devours vast amounts of information.

These are great people to follow on Twitter, blogs and other forums. If you are start-up, these are your little angels. They will tell you whether your product/serviec sucks, give you great suggestions for improvements and if they like your product will tell everyone who may listen to them.

I still have not figured out what motivates early adopters. Is it because they have a high Curiosity Quotient? Or is it because they have a compulsion to make the world a bit better? Or is it something else? These people are one my sources of inspiration.

Engineers Don’t Start Like Business Folk

I am reading a series of blogs about HP Pheonomenon by Chuck House , thanks to a note sent by a friend, Bill (Mr. Human Glue) Daul of NextNow.

I paused when I came this line:

Engineers don’t start out thinking like, or looking like, business folk.

How true. There is a lot of difference between the companies started and run by Engineers vs Business People. Both seem to be successful in their own way. You need a combination of both to build a successful company. Marketing/Sales/Technology is a key combination. Having said that, look at companies built by engineers and business folk. There is a distinct difference in the culture.

This is an illuminating blog. It takes you back more than 50 years and tells the story of a great company. Chuck says that it is just a few front-end loaded with about 12 small items.

Here is a little snippet of the story on the first laser printer HP produced and the marketing.

We had a poll in marketing on how many we’d sell the first month. The forecast was 75. Actual sales were zero. We also sold zero in January and February. Finally in March, Dan Schwartz sold our first trade unit to AAMC in Washington D.C.

But read this. It will blow your mind.

After the failures, the Boise, Idaho management team had lost enthusiasm for this sector, reducing the development team to five engineers for the third try – which yielded a product called the HP 2686A, later retitled as the HP LaserJet. It was a stunning, and unexpected, success, turning into a product bigger by a factor of five than anything else in HP’s 90 division line-up.

Each post has a telling story. They fill you with wonder and some times make you think, “I know how that feels”. I just can’t wait for the book to appear. Meanwhile, I am going to keep track of this blog.

When You Solve Your Own Problem…

When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.

This and other great ideas in a book called Getting Real. It is a book about smaller, faster, better ways to build web applications. Some great ideas about building software. Here is a list of my favorite ones.
Build Less
Less Features means you can get the product out earlier into the hands of the customers. You get to hear what they really like and what they would like. This can be invaluable.

Fund Yourself
You can focus on doing something good instead of spending time looking for money. Meebo did this and so did lot of others. In fact, this is the norm in many of the Web 2.0 startups.

It Shouldn’t be a Chore
I love this one. If the app does not get you excited, it is not worth building. It should be fun to build. You need to enjoy every bit of the process. And if you built it for your own use, make sure that the experience of using it is fun, as well.

Seek and Celebrate Small Victories
Build incrementally. With each increment, make it more useful.

Check out the following advice.

Hire Less and Hire Later
You Can’t Fake Enthusiasm
The Blank Slate
Context Over Consistency

Open Doors
Ride the Blog Wave
Promote Through Education

Feel The Pain