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...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Currency-Based System Proposal

It's been a productive couple days so far, and I've managed to draft out localization notes, propose an animation system, review a proposal for our score and ranking system, and take care of a few other odds and ends. Mew is also hard at work assisting me, as you can see. While he technically reduces my typing capability, his keen insights on currency exchange arbitrage are invaluable.

The main win right now is that I've made a proposal for a Currency-Based system. Ironically, I really hope this proposal is defeated because I'd really like for us to eliminate currencies from the game altogether. They just feel... inappropriate for our setting.

Anyway, I don't have much time for real blogging so here's another copy and paste. This time it's a little tidbit on managing prices for hard currencies. Maybe you'll find it interesting... Who knows!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Distractions and Design Documents

I have a bunch of work to do by Tuesday, but it's been nice to have the occasional distraction. 

For instance, the moment Fixer Studios' new company card arrived it was nabbed by Mr. Mew, our corporate fat cat. Something about "a trip to Reno in the company jet and two pounds of catnip..." Fiscally responsible policies don't let your cat take the card for the weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Freemium Monetization Systems: Or, A Copy & Paste of What I'm Writing Right Now

"Think of in-game sales like drugs… they can produce a high followed by a hangover, and if used habitually they become a habit you can’t break without a scene from Trainspotting." - from Fixer Studios TOP SECRET Business Models document.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Now You're a Hobo... Er, "Indie Developer"

Three months ago I left the world of big game development to take hold of an opportunity. You see, while I have a few skills in production, design and whatnot, the best I really have to offer is the quality of people I have the blessing to know. As chance would have it, several of my most talented former colleagues and friends had the summer off at the same time. We could get together and build a deck, paint a house, tune a hot rod... or we could found a company and make a game that we'd never be able to make anywhere else.