Local startup scene

Full disclosure, I grabbed this screenshot from a game I am playing lately – Hipster CEO. I don’t believe they are local, but the game has some great lessons to budding developers in the area.
First off, the game is hard. You start as a bootstrapped single person company. Like most developers I can relate to this. You have to balance your time between creating your company technically, market wise, and sales. This balance is hard, so you start hiring people. If your product launches well, you end up with lots of competitors. They will try and hire your people away. You can offer perks, and bonuses, but eventually you have to take on investors. They may be very “active” including hiring expensive people. Suddenly your site is hacked, you have to refocus, and you run out of cash. Game over!
The second part of the game that I like is that your experience carries over. So you will learn to be better at marketing, or sales, or design, etc. Each of these skills means you can hold off longer to establish your product, or find new niche markets, etc. You learn the lesson over time that you don’t expect to do one startup and knock it out of the park. You have to build up your skills over time. What a great lesson.
I’ve talked to many start ups over the years and am amazed by those who make it big. They are not just strong technically, or market smart…they are well rounded individuals or teams, who know how to grow their skills and their teams. They know what their weaknesses are and focus hard to improve in those areas. So while many people will tell you play to your strengths, I would add, know your weaknesses and focus on those too.

Games at Work dot Biz

I am one of the Michael’s over at Games At Work dot Biz. Over the last month I’ve been working to get the site up and running and move our content from it’s old home at Dogear-nation. It certainly had been a learning experience, makes me appreciate all the hard work of the various co-hosts, who also did site maintenance, went thru to make it the site it ended up. Matt Simpson, Steven Harrison, and Andy Piper. I owe each of them a debt of gratitude for working thru a lot of the complexities of building the site, and giving me a great starting point when I built the new site. I also discovered how selfless they were on registering and buying some awesome plugins. I purchased many of the same ones for Games At Work dot Biz.

Go check it out and let me know what you think. I will be posting my first video over here this weekend.

Games on rails

The popularity of the unreal engine on iOS can be seen by the success of games like Infinity Blade and Batman Arkham City. These games are bringing the excitement of combat games to that little device in your pocket; however these games are primarily another example of games on rails. Guiding your players thru a series of battles where your are blocking, hitting and doing combos. Players learn to do patterns to beat the hordes of baddies, in order to gain experience and loot which can be sold for upgrading your skills.

You can’t fight the popularity of the engine, but are these games really showcasing the power of the unreal engine? The beauty of the engine can’t be denied! The shading leads to some stunning vistas, while keeping the game play from completely degrading.

Is the reason that the popular unreal games are all on rails that iOS devices are not really created for good game input? Or is that we, as developers, are struggling with new game play mechanics that can leverage the beauty of this engine?

Local Gaming Accelerator

Joystick Labs is a local group that helps local game developers get started. They focus exclusively on helping launch the next gen of video game companies. Yeas ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of the co-founders – Juan Benito at one of the Triangle Game Initiative events. His passion for the industry and local developers was infective. He doesn’t know this, but he helped inspire me to start this blog, and eventually the podcast once we get it going.

Anyway, Joystick Labs has been around for over two years and has announced their next sign-up for teams which can be selected for their support. Prior teams include Lab Rats Studio, Mighty Rabbit Studios, Nix Hydra Games, GaleForce Logic, Inari Games, Buckle Up Game Studios, and Wefiends. As you can see the local community has a great set of game developers for many platforms.

If you want to apply for a bit of acceleration, go over to Joystick Labs and apply between March 6th and May 25 for the upcoming session on August 20th. Good Luck!!