Archive for May, 2011

I am in control of my life

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

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Photo by Andrea_44

I was recently reading about someone who had a 90 minute commute to work and felt that they had no choice in the matter. I would never waste that much of my life (3 hours a day!) traveling to work for someone else, especially as I have children who I want to see in the evenings. It’s very important to remember that we ALWAYS have a choice in what we do, from tiny choices that are made many times a day (e.g. drinking water versus pop), to huge choices such as having children or moving to a new country.

I have a piece of paper that I wrote in 1999 on a noticeboard in front of me. It says “I am in control of my life” so that I never forget that.

Here are some choices I’ve made:

- I moved continent (from UK to Canada) and I could move back if I wanted to.
- I quit a well paid job recently and went indie. In fact I did the same back in 2005 when I stopped making business software.
- I could move to Poland or Ukraine or Malaysia and live cheaply, but I choose not to.
- I found a place for a family of 4 + cat in Point Grey for $2200 a month. Still not cheap, but much better than the average price around here.
- I choose not to have any more kids.
- I choose to drive a car, I could ditch it and save $500 a month on auto loan/insurance.
- I chose vegetarianism and healthy eating 20+ years ago and it has kept me slim.
- I chose Aikido 14 years ago and kept doing it every week no matter what.

Life is full of choices including radical ones. People are often blinded by their current life situation and blame external circumstances, but that is victim mentality. Making “better” choices is not always easy. It takes time to develop the awareness that you have a choice and the willpower to make it.

What choices could you make today that will improve your life?

Spring Bonus is now available for Windows Phone 7

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

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I’m very proud to announce Spring Bonus is out on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace: Applist Link

James Mintram of Mintratech ported the game to XNA using his existing engine and my Blitz Code as a guide, and he did a really fantastic job! It’s basically the same game as on the PC except that some of the levels are smaller so that they fit on the phone screen.

Description:

Spring is in the air! Journey through the Spring countryside with your cute animal friends. Help the Easter Bunny light the magic rainbow by melting away the cold grip of Winter. Featuring fluffy chicks, frolicking lambs and bouncy rabbits, this adorable match-3 game is bursting with bonuses and fun for all the family.

Features:

* Smooth, fun match-3 gameplay
* Cute Spring-themed graphics
* Relaxed or Timed game modes
* Awesome Rainbow-powered Bonus items
* 50 unique levels
* Specially composed spring music

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Videos:

Gameplay 1
Gameplay 2

Please try out the trial game and tell your friends with Windows 7 Phones. Thanks!

I’m going to make 50 games this year!

Friday, May 6th, 2011

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image by Justus Thane

Yes it’s a bold goal I know, but first let me clarify: by “game” I really mean SKU – so every time I ship a game on a different platform or localize it, that’s a different SKU.

Previous Years

Here’s how many SKUs I’ve made in previous years since I went indie in 2005:

2005: 4 mini-games and Xmas Bonus (PC) = 5
2006: Easter Bonus, Oz, Oz retail, Holiday Bonus, 3 framework minigames (all PC) = 7
2007: Fairway Solitaire (PC) = 1
2008: Fairway Solitaire (Mac + localized versions x 3), Oz (Mac), Holiday Bonus (Mac) = 6
2009: Unwell Mel (PC/Mac + localized versions x 4) = 6
2010: My Tribe (Facebook game – I was part of a team at BFG), Fairway/Mel retail, 3x mini games (PC/Mac) = 9

That’s a total of 34 over 6 years.

2011 So Far

So how can I hope to ship more games this year than in the last 6 years combined? Well, these days it’s a lot easier to ship games on different platforms, and I’ve teamed up with other people who are porting my IP to some other platforms for me. Plus I’m used to localizing games now, so that’s no longer a big challenge. So far this year I’ve already shipped 17 SKUs as follows:

- Holiday Bonus on XBLIG
- Attack of the Giant Planet Eating Bacteria From Outer Space (Flash game made with a team at the GGJ 2010)
- Holiday Bonus (Mac App Store buld)
- Oz (Mac App Store build)
- Berry Blast (Facebook minigame in My Tribe, made whilst still at BFG)
- Fruitola (My original match-3 prototype for PC)
- Spring Bonus (PC/Mac + Mac App Store build + 8 localized versions)

And there’s more…

When I was at GDC I bumped into Arthur Humphrey (Last Day of Work) who said that he believed a good business strategy for indies was to ship many SKUs on different platforms and see which were most profitable. This gave me more confidence in what I was planning to do.

So here’s how I plan to ship 50+ this year:

- Very soon Spring Bonus will be out on Windows Phone 7 and iPad and soon after hopefully on iPhone and XBLIG = 4 SKUs
- Also I’m getting Spring Bonus translated to Japanese = 1 SKU
- If Spring Bonus does well on those platforms, the engine will be reused to ship Oz on all iPad/iPhone/WP7/XBLIG, plus I’m planning to localize it to 8 or 9 languages = 12 SKUs
- Then at the end of the year Holiday Bonus will ship on iPad/iPhone/WP7, and will also be localized to 8+ languages = 11 SKUs
- I’m planning on converting my framework to Linux so that I can ship Oz, Holiday bonus and Spring Bonus on Linux = 3 SKUs
- I started a mini-game for the recent Ludum Dare, but failed to finish it due to nice weather :-) So I’ll ship that soon on PC/Mac = 2 SKUs
- I’m planning a Vancouver game jam in the summer, so that’ll be another mini-game on PC/Mac = 2 SKUs
- I’m working with a number of people as a design consultant/producer that will result in a bunch of shipped games on multiple platforms.
- I’d like to get some of my games ported to Flash, but that might not happen, we’ll see.
- I’ll definitely be making some brand new games and shipping on multiple platforms as well as localizing them.
- I’ll probably make some more mini-games :-)

And that, my friends, is how I’ll do it! That’s another 35 planned SKUs plus some more in the pipeline.

I’ll keep reporting on my progress and will do a post-mortem at the end of the year, so stay tuned folks. Wish me luck!