Tag: week 2

Week 3: User Testing

The two methods for research are the primary and secondary methods. The primary methods are done by the company themselves and includes things such surveys, experimentation and interviews. Secondary methods are done by someone else. This includes things such as public and commercial sources as well as educational institutions. User testing helps get practical feedback on your product that you wouldn’t be able to figure out by yourself. It also helps lower the risk of your product failing both technically and financially. As for the surveys they were incredibly helpful in finding out the estimated price people would be willing to buy our products for. They also helped in figuring out that the detailed patterns weren’t needed as much as we thought. This is important because the majority of the laser cutting costs came from the time taken making them.

In general I find game development kits to be designed pretty badly. Things like UDK are made specifically for the team that used it and are barely changed when released and it really shows when someone else tries to use. The things that can be done in the kits are redistricted heavily based on the kind of game they were trying to build making it hard to do anything without using work-arounds and fighting the program. That being said this doesn’t effect the success of the game they’re coupled with at all since they’re usually free. If anything by just giving players the option to make games similar to what their playing it actually has a positive effect.

Week 2 – Business Plans and Reports

Friday’s class was about business plans. We learned that business plans are documents prepared by a firms management that compile financial and operational goals of a business, and the methods employed in order to fulfill them. These documents need to be constantly updated depending on the current situation and eventual changes. The advantages of creating business plans are many – it allows a rapid response to any possible problems and identifying where these problems might have come from, bigger awareness of current trends and potential competitors, having a plan of action with very clear goals that can be followed more easily, and adopting an overall professional attitude.

Many business plans, however, end up in failure due to their own companies’ arrogance, according to Salhman. Some entrepreneurs can become too focused on the business potential and ignore or purposefully diminish its risks and flaws. It’s very important to be aware of how risky your business is and how far it can really go, otherwise the business plan won’t even have a chance to be followed since the business will fail. Another risk lies on how some business plans are made for situations too far in the future, setting unrealistic expectations and ignoring the foreseeable future in favor of very far away possibilities.

I think Salhman and Pirouz’s statements are very useful for anyone intending to work with a business plan in mind, and will certainly help us to better develop our final report. They’re very good in detailing crucial elements to be analyzed in a business and how to take note on the business’ strengths and weaknesses, something that can help us see quickly where we might be going wrong, and also how to explain our goals and methods used to achieve them. Overall, it’ll make it easier to organize information. It’s also useful to take a look at those readings and identify techniques mentioned there that we might already have applied and others that can be added.

 

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a good example of a successful indie game. Made by a eight-people independent game studio in Poland (The Astronauts), it was immensely praised by the critics and players equally, and I think the main reason for this game’s success was how very polished and innovative (yet simple) this game is, focusing on exploration and narrative with a touch of horror and suspense. For delivering such a quality product that excels in various aspects of gameplay, graphics display, storytelling and general mechanics, I think the development team definitely used a business plan to establish what they were seeking to achieve with this game and what was possible to do with their limited funds and manpower. This is a reality that must be faced by all indie companies, I think, so a business plan must be essential to prevent failures and waste of resources. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is very clear in its purpose and does not feel rushed or confusing, which leads me to believe there was a goal being strictly and successfully followed during development; the fact that the game itself is also very simple and was never advertised in an overly ambitious fashion shows that the team was well aware of their own limitations and managed to deliver a great product within their own capacity.

 

 

Week 2 – Business Structures and Functions

In this class, we revisited the three Industrial Revolutions to learn more about business structures, functions and how they changed and evolved over time. The first industrial revolution started with the development and use of mechanised machines, which allowed a big rise in levels of production. The second industrial revolution brought improvements to the existing machines, and many of these became a lot more independent from human control, allowing mass-production of several products. The third industrial revolution, or “New Industrial Revolution”, is happening right now, and is deeply tied to our current web culture and how each and every person can become their own producer and seller through the innovation of technologies like the internet.

Through the history of business in the Maker Economy, it is possible for individuals aspiring to become entrepreneurs to observe the market, learn its trends, weaknesses, opportunities and potential competitors. This helps to establish a business inside the market place and make it more successful. This is essential for entrepreneurs in the actual economic scenery, given that the facilities of every person creating their own business means the market is a lot more crowded and diverse.

It’s equally important to keep track of finances of your business – by knowing how much and where money is being spent and how much is going in, you can get a more accurate sense of your capacities and prevent potential wastes or excessively risky investments, consequently allowing you to have a better control of your budget.

The four P’s consists of a business tool used to determine the value of a product or brand. The P’s are product, price, place and promotion. This method is very good to determine the real value of your product and how it might translate into marketing, potential consumers and people’s understanding of what you’re offering. Through this tool, it’s possible to establish a proper scope of the product and even decide for certain marketing approaches.

There are diverse marketing techniques (advertising, tele-marketing, branding, and many others), and each one reaches a certain amount of people and organizations. To ensure that your business reaches as many circles as possible, it’s wise to use as many marketing techniques as possible, even those who might reach people out of your circle of potential consumers; through them, your business might reach other circles of interest away from reach. These techniques are also a very good method to reach to large amounts of people quickly and at once.

 

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For me, the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn team is a good example of an organization using a  successful marketing technique. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a pay-to-play (players have to pay monthly to play the game and use its services) MMORPG. To attract more players, the game has a “trial mode” that allows non-players to download the game and play it for free until they reach a certain level in-game, and, if the player decides to buy the game, they are awarded with very unique in-game benefits. The game also has monthly bonuses tied to the number of months the player has been playing/paying for services. Once in a while, there are also free-to-play weekends, in which the game becomes entirely free-to-play with no limitations for all the weekend. The game is constantly releasing new patches and quality content for the players, which justifies the monthly payments. To me, this is a very effective technique to attract new players – and maintain the current ones – because there are several “rewards” that increase in quality with time aside from the constantly released new batches of content, prompting the player to feel their money is making a real difference, and non-players get to experience the game for free for a while, allowing them to decide if it’s worth to pay for the game before buying it.

 

Week 2: Business Plans & Reports

Business Plans

A business plan is a continually updated set of documents used to propose a businesses’s short-term operational and financial objectives, as well as the strategies and tactics they will employ to achieve those objectives. The advantages of compiling a business plan for a new start-up are: understanding potential problems and being prepared to deal with them, being aware of the environment and trends that your business or service is apart of, having a plan of action with clear objectives to follow, and presenting your business or service in a professional manner. From this weeks readings Salhman identified that arrogance was the cause of many business plans failing. Salhman describes that in business risk is inevitable, so, the important element of a good business plan is to address these risks and how your team will deal with them. Salhman’s article, as well as Pirouz’s article concerning business plans for indie game developers will help both identify the crucial elements to include in our future business reports and recognize the weaknesses and strengths of our ventures.

 

Indie Games

Gone Home was released in 2013 by Fullbright studio, a small team of developers who had previously worked on larger AAA titles such as Bioshock. What made Gone Home so successful was their ability to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. The team at Fullbright identified their financial and operational constraints and used that analysis to develop a well scoped and engrossing game. As a result Gone Home became critically acclaimed by most major gaming news outlets and received a BAFTA Video Game Award for best debut game.

 

 

Week 2: Business Plans (Firday)

In friday’s class, we spoke about constructing business plans for our businesses. In a shell, a business plan is the skeleton of how a company will approach regarding doing their business. This includes, what their product is?, Financial projections, manufacturing costs etc.. The plan can also be used for giving a clear vision of your products and future plans to your employees and partners.

Business plans can be very fruitful for businesses, if created well. They help not only project a future goal but it also prepares the companies for any potential problems that might occur in future with their products. The business then can prepare for the worst or the best situation possible. They also help avoid any fantasy like projections that the business owners might’ve had about the business. Most importantly, business plans can help anchor in investors. If a business have a professional looking business plans, then investors can see that they are serious about selling their product or making profit. This can be a huge financial boost for any starting business.

On contradictory, having a business plan that isn’t constructed well can have a negative effect and image of your business. Investors will not take your product and business seriously, and there is a good chance that your business will fail. A business plan can fail due to many reasons. One of them is, your business model is very myth like. It has numbers and projections that are unrealistic. Source of that problem can either be arrogance of the business owners or lack of knowledge. Other reasons can be ignoring problems attached to your business. This is not only bad for your investors but also bad for your business. Also, if a business plan involves too much risk with little payoff, this can cause it to fail. Overall, it’s very important to have a business plan, but it’s more important to have a functional business plan. A good business plan is often one that is tangible and shapes it self as situations arise.

The readings from Sahlman and Pirouz also speaks about similar problems & advantages with business plans. They go in a little more depth, also they provide an ideal advice on the way they think a business proposal should be written. They reason those thinkings well, and it will support me in writing a business plan in my own way. One thing i admired about Sahlman’s article especially was, he doesn’t give a solid model on how to write it, but more like suggestions. This gets the readers thinking, rather than making them blindly follow his instructions.

It’s hard deciding on one good & successful indie game, because there are so many amazing ones. But if I had to choose one, I would pick Bastion. First of all, this game is visually and musically stunning. It has game mechanics that flow incredibly well with it’s environment and story. This game sold mostly because of word of mouth, and it had a unique art style that set it apart from other games. The company working on this game was very new, this was their first game. And looking at their success of the game, it seems like they had a great business structure. Since the team was new, I’ve read that they have presented the Demo, in-progress version at certain events to gain some initial following. They had spread the word prior to release of the game, and most importantly they delivered the game and kept their word. Which is very important for an indie game developing company. Also one thing I noticed was, they had taken baby steps in terms of releasing the game to different platforms. They didn’t suddenly release the game to every single platform to maximize the profit, but instead they released to different platforms one by one depending on success of the game. Which is mark of a good business model.

Week 2: Business and Business Planning

When organizations start a business, many first start drafting business plans to help achieve their goals. A business plan is a formal document that displays the business goals, the means to achieve these goals, the difficulty and risks, and any planning in order to start the business. Depending on the type of industry, each business plan is different. For example, the business plan for Swifters duster towels would differ from the business plan for a new smartphone because dusting products are essential to every home. They are products that people would buy every now and then, and is also a lot cheaper to get than a smartphone. With smartphones, the product is a much long lasting item that has many more features to consider, making the business plan for smartphones much more complex.

The advantages to compiling business plans are that it organizes the business leader’s thoughts and ideas. It gives a clear outline as to what the project should be and what are some of the things to consider when planning for that specific business. It also could provide all the possible information needed, as well as research, to investors, sponsors, banks, etc. to show a clear idea of the business. If in the future more employees were to pick up on the business, they would have a clear idea as well, since everything would be laid out for them and it shows them that this particular business has done their homework, which makes the business look professional. In terms of research, businesses would have richer ideas about the possible trends, environment, and competition when they write out business plans. This allows them to update and review these trends as their project goes on.

Although many business plans are advantages, some business plans tend to fail because they copy exemplars from Google, or other sources when the example could be for an entirely different industry. Business plans then fail because of the lack of sufficient information. Some business owners also avoid taking risks or believe that there are ways around risks, ignore flaws and problems, put irrelevant information in the plan, etc., which are fatal flaws to business and business planning. Other times, business owners may make too many high risks and gain minimal profit in return. These types of flaws makes business plans insufficient to start or continue a business because it creates too many uncertainties to the business itself.

In reading Sahlman’s and Pirouz’s articles, these articles helped me determine not only what good business plans should have, and some things to avoid when writing. Although both articles were dated back to 1997 and 1998, some of the factors mentioned within the articles, such as the failures of business planning, were facts to be considered even today. It gives me a general idea what to include in my final report if I were to create a business plan for it.

An example of a successful indie game would be Minecraft. Minecraft is one of the most popular games that have been launched for the Xbox, computer, mobile systems, etc., and are played by over 20 million people. A possible reason as to why Minecraft became so successful is because they have a very good platform. The player is allowed to move around freely and have his or her own independent choices as to what to do in every “day and night” cycle in the game. The player is able to explore the world on his or her own, build structures, mine, and fight monsters in the game, which targets to audiences who are interested in adventure and action genres. Aside from the good gameplay and platform, the game is successful because it probably had a very good business plan behind it. They probably planned out how long it would take to build the game and how much labour will be put into it in order to create Minecraft. The business also took excessive amount of time perfecting and balancing the game, in order to make it playable.

Week 2: Structures & Functions

The Three Industrial revolutions brought a huge change in product design and the way business models functioned. The first revolution took place in 1760’s which had happened because of big cotton mills and such. The provided individual artisans and crafts maker power to make their products easier and faster. Business models of the time had focused much more in individualities and small shops. The Second Revolution took place in 1850’s. This revolution was contradictory of the first one, more bigger and faster machines were being created, so a lot of big businesses started emerging and took over smaller businesses. A lot of individualities were lost, and mass production was taking place for the same product. The last revolution is happening right now, it’s ongoing. This revolution is reverting back more towards the first revolution that happened, Due to rapid advancement of technology and maker culture, a lot of businesses are becoming independent. A lot more competition and creativity has entered the markets once again.

These revolutions showed great changes, and highlighted what worked and what didn’t with different types of changing business models over the years. As much as it’s important for businesses to stay up to-date, they must consider where their business models have originated from. This can give them not only more understanding about improving mistakes that might’ve occurred in the past, but also give them creative ideas on how to push it further differently. Also another important part is, this sort of maker culture had existed once before, but certain evolutions and mechanization made it out dated. It’s not likely it will happen again, but it’s important to know the flaws that existed then, and the businesses might want to learn from them.

It’s important to have solid business plans and financial projections for businesses. This helps business not only retain in an organized structure, but also the business can have more clarity on how much profit they are making and where. The business can also keep track of where the money is being spent. Also the business can have a greater control over their 4P’s (Product, Price, Placement, Promotion). If financial records are kept clear, the businesses can decide quicker and more efficiently which “P”, they can invest more money behind.

One of my favourite marketing and sales strategy comes from a ramen shop named Kinton Ramen. This Japanese restaurant has a very unique and fun environment, where a lot of Japanese cultural elements have been highlighted. The food there is certainly excellent, and there is a special reward for people that do finish all of their food. The completed plates get a special photo taken and the customers have a choice to share it with their friends. As simple and silly as it sounds, this reward is certainly surprising and fun, especially if you walk in there for the first time. Also, a lot of the time it becomes like a small goal for customers to try and accomplish. This marketing strategy has multiple of chain effects that make it really successful. First and most basic effect of this strategy is, the restaurant will have much less wasted food. If people do try to achieve their goal of photo, they are most certainly like to have finished their food. Also, more photos mean more happy customers, so it also becomes easy for the restaurant to keep an eye on their target audience. And lastly the most impacting effect of this strategy is, the customers spread the word of your restaurant on behalf of you and that too for FREE. If customers share their photos to their social profiles with name of the restaurant, it is more likely that they are publicly recommending that restaurant to more other people. This strategy I find to be very cheap, and highly effective.

Week 2: Business Plans and Reports

This week in class we discussed putting together a business plan. A business plan documents and/or details the various elements of a business (i.e. target audience, cost of production, etc.). These plans can be very useful to a business that is trying to receive funding from an investor. Investors want to know whether or not a business will make them back their money or not, and compiling a business plan allows for this message to be delivered in a clear and professional manner. The business plan also is a benefit to the members of the business itself as the act putting together such a plan forces business members to focus on the important aspects of their product/business.

This weeks readings also discussed business plans and how to put them together well. These articles taught me about the importance of addressing budget in a business plan and that some plans may fail due to improper predictions of sale/cost. By reading these articles and making a business plan during the in-class exercise, I learned the importance of organization within a business (in this case a business plan/report) and I learned the complexity of planning a business strategy for a product.

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