I’ve had a really interesting week with my entry into #fuckthisjam and it’s not even over yet. As a result I’ve come up with a few different things I wanted to talk about on my blog. My first thought was to break them up into several different blog posts, but then I realised they are all intertwined in one way or another. Besides, after I write this summary I may expand on them later.
First up, I’d like to talk about the goals of Craftwork Games. We want to make some of the best indie games, apps and tools around. That’s kinda obvious, but this week it has become clear that it’s not enough to sum up our goals into a single sentence.
So this week I’ve been thinking more specifically about how to create better games, target a niche market, gather fans, iterate faster and many other aspects of our overall plan. I won’t go into detail about each of these goals right now, perhaps in a future blog post. Instead I’d like to share with you a simple goal setting strategy that I’m using. It’s nothing new, often described as “Beginning with the end in mind”, but I like to call it “Reverse Goaling”.
The idea is that you think of you’re ultimate goal, or at least some goal in the distant future. Then, you try to think of the previous thing that needs to happen before you reach your goal. Repeat this over and over until you have a better idea how to reach your ultimate goal like so:
- Make a million dollars!
- Lots of money is deposited into the bank
- Some customers purchase the app
- Many customers download the app
- Many, many customers see the app in search results / website / twitter
- The app is uploaded to the market
- The app development is complete
And so on…
The above steps are very rough, but you can see how it becomes easier to think of the next goal in the list by working backwards. You can insert new goals in between each as you think of them and once the list is flipped around it becomes your to-do list.
The next thing I’ve been thinking about is game development tools. I’ve always enjoyed developing tools but sometimes wonder if it’s worth it or if it just takes away development time of actual games. Well, I’m here to boldly say I believe it’s the most important way to grow a company if you’re sensible about it. Yes, developing tools takes time, but in the medium to long term they also save a lot of time and help churn out games faster. What this does ultimately is make the business more scalable because better games can be created faster with less resources.
It’s also important to be sensible when creating tools. The first rule is to look for existing tools that do the job, many times there are already great tools that can be adapted in some way. Other times rolling you’re own isn’t that bad either.
Game Jams ∞
Something I’ve discovered recently by entering game jams is that you can hack together a game very quickly. It’s great for prototyping ideas and meeting other developers and artists. But each time, I run into something that takes more time than it should. So when I finish the game jam I take the crazy mess of code I’ve got and see what code I can refactor into something reusable next time. Tools fall into a similar category because designing a GUI or creating a level is much faster with a visual designer.
I plan to enter more game jams in the future, each time improving on my last attempt by reusing code and tools. This will be a good measure of what’s working and what’s not as well as highlight things that are missing from the process.
I’ll admit that I was a sceptic of twitter for a long time. Truth told, I really just didn’t understand it so I avoided it like the plague. Entering game jams has created a need to take a more serious look at how twitter works and I’m fully converted. It’s a great way to build a network of developers, artists and fans. This fills a huge gap in marketing without a budget and getting early feedback on development.