Monday, January 20, 2014

Ramping Up, Keeping Up, and Facing Fears

Coming out of November and into December, I found myself staring at the ceiling every night, worrying about the team at Fixer Studios. We'd made tremendous progress in the first few months, but could we keep it up? Were things on the verge of a breakdown? For the first time since starting the project, I couldn't honestly say that I was 95% certain we'd ship this game. I was afraid.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CoffeeScript is just Javascript that got into Ruby's Bedroom...

In Fixer Studios' early days we weren't sure what server infrastructure to use. Our new web developer just put everything in perspective by saying, "CoffeeScript is just Javascript that got into Ruby's bedroom and started to try on its clothes and makeup." As a non-technical guy, I appreciate descriptions that make these sorts of decisions easy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Games on Life Support

Recently EA decided to pull the plug on The Sims Social and SimCity Social; a couple Facebook games I helped launch. I was at PopCap just after EA purchased the company, and we were happy to help get these games rolling by sending them a lot of great players from Bejeweled Blitz, Zuma Blitz, Solitaire Blitz, and so on. We also shut down a beta game called Pig Up and phased out Bejeweled 2 on iOS. From what I understand, these were really tough calls to make... but there's an emotional part of me that finds them tragic.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Game Design, and Beating Yourself Conscious

There's a lot about what we're doing with Sinister Dexter that makes me really
proud of our team, and I'd like to discuss one challenging angle. We're trying to deal with social issues of race and normativity in a game that technically needs neither graphics nor a story. We're trying to do that in a game with literally zero budget, a tight timeline, and - as chance would have it - a team made up mostly of white men*. Yeah, there's a lot of ways to mess this up.

*Note: Fixer Studios has no formal recruiting policies around race, age, gender, nor sexuality. We're small, and recruiting the most talented friends willing to donate time as independent contractors who may never get more than $10 each. We'd take any talented person of any demographics and haven't intentionally restricted our hiring in any way. I'd love to bring in more diversity and talent period, so please let me know if you can recommend someone that brings either or both!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How A "Hippie" Idea Made Me a Business "Dictator"

Whew, this is actually a pretty emotional and cathartic dev blog - be warned. Before Fixer Studios was formed I discussed with business owners and lawyers my ideas for how we'd function cooperatively, without expressed power rolls and how whatever little profits we earned would be shared on the basis of friendly meritocracy. You see, nobody on the team wanted the hassle or risk of becoming partial owners so I wasn't able to do "sweat equity" or stock options.

The responses from my business mentors ranged from "That's adorable" to "You hippie". The lawyer's response was more sobering. The compensation structure I'd cooked up was "neat and came from the right place inside", but technically it would involve issuing "securities" to colleagues. That's a big deal that'd require one of four things...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Expectation Setting

The truth is, it's easy to be successful when you get to define success. Everyone has the experience of having expectations set by others, whether we're talking about a Board of Directors expecting a quarterly revenue number, or just parents expecting a GPA. What happens when you set your own expectations for an indie game feels just as important as coming up with the core concept...

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Name Game: Naming a Game

Video Game Name Generator
Shakespeare's beloved Juliet opined, "What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Well, I don't think I need to tell you she was a foolish child, because without the keyword "rose" and, your love is doomed. Choosing a game name is a big deal, and can sometimes be a pretty big process. For instance, our little team at Fixer Studios has put a lot of work into our first title's - uh, title...