Lab Activity, Week Four

This week the lab activity was to find a librarian from Olympic College and discuss my research question  and determine if it needed refinement and if they could help me gather more sources with a better search methodology. The good part was after the meeting the librarian online they brought up some good points about how to search for material better like http://libguides.olympic.edu/index and searching through the article index and refining my search to find more applicable material.

After discussing how well my search methods were working I discovered that I had done a pretty good job so far. Direct source material is the best after all and I had found a lot to use already without any other help. They did say to use the library homepage a lot though, which to be honest was better at published works and a lot things I am finding that relate to my question are not published. The online librarian (named Renton Tech, Librarian Ell) helped me by slightly refining my search methodology, but he did point out some things I already knew like using Google Scholar. After using it I realized that most of the material was published works on game development and some of them did come from books that people from companies that made successful games published, but they seemed more focused on programming methods rather than project planning. It was interesting, but I guess not very helpful for what I want answered.

Overall the exercise was interesting and brought up some good points about how I could better look for material even though I thought it might be pointless to ask. Since I already had mostly what I needed I took their advice with a grain of salt, if it could help me I would apply it and if not don’t worry about it. I understand that under different circumstances or with a different research topic it might have proven useful to have their help early, but considering the nature of my research question it wasn’t very useful to me. I think if my  research question was more generalized rather than so specific the librarian could have been more useful.

Source –

Olympic College Library Search -http://libguides.olympic.edu/index

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Journal Entry, Week Four

While researching this question my original strategy was very basic, follow what I learned last quarter in Project Management and create a guideline based on that. Overall it turned out to be a good strategy since many of these companies seemed to follow very similar pathways that I was already familiar with such as team composition and project planning. In the end I just retained my original plan and added to it as time went on to encompass the entirety of my question. So it eventually became comparing and contrasting what I am seeing in my research to what I already knew from experience or learned from the college.

All of this influenced my final criteria choices after I kept seeing the same information repeated across different companies with different projects and all with similar results. I concluded I was done with researching when I had looked at over 30 different company’s project plans in more detail and determined that they seemed related to each other or the difference between them became very unnoticeable. This forced me to look a little deeper and create more criteria to separate them from each other, which is why I included company philosophy and game design as criteria to discuss. Unlike big projects that tend to have lots of individual people to do every task some of these companies had to have people that were a jack of all trades and took on many different positions based on what was required to be successful. This led me to consider team composition professions as a criteria to analyze and also discuss if the larger company itself took care of entire sections of a project like advertising for instance.

Then after all that was done for my final criteria I decided to discuss what I call the bottom line, which includes total profits made and popularity based on ranking. Anyone that is in the business of making money has two surefire ways to measure success and I would be a poor researcher if I don’t recognize this, include it and at least discuss what it means to my question as a whole. Since just completing a project can be considered a success, but where it takes you when your done is what will really define it.

Progress Report, Week Four

This week I finished up the searching portion of my analysis process, because ever since I found Gamepedia it led me to an avalanche of useful sites containing all the data I could ask for on any successful game company’s project plans. This is exactly where I should be according to my research plan I introduced last week and I can say that I am very happy with my progress thus far. I have enough game companies to analyze thoroughly and categorize their development processes very well by the end of this projects timeline. I will still retain the idea that I might need to ask some other questions through emails or twitter, but I will determine that next week after I do some more reading and evaluating of all the data I now have and determine if I am missing anything critical. My window of opportunity to get those answers included if I get any, will close soon so I need to make a determination about that quickly.
The only issue I ran into this week was trying to determine which game companies I should use in my final analysis. I came to the conclusion that I will use the ones that
1) Can answer all my questions
2) Considered a commercial success
3) Rated high on cost of production to profit ratio
By running them through these 3 considerations I should easily come up with quite a few companies that can give me an in depth answer to my original research question.
This week all I did was searching and since it was my final planned week to do that I spent a lot of time making sure I have everything I will need for next week, which is just reading and evaluating all the information I gathered and determining whats useful. I really like to read about the big game companies that chose to make small game apps, because they are not used to the different approach needed and so they tend to give a lot of details about how they changed their operations around or what they had to do differently to still find success. I am glad that I included company/project philosophy as an analysis section, because many of these companies like to stress specific design criteria at all times. For instance Blizzard told its small game app developers to keep the layouts simple at all times and not create anything that looks like its cluttered or complicated which turn people off the game right away. I like these details because they are not something that was regularly discussed in my project management class, but I see them as important factors for success now.
Week 1 : Choose a Topic and Thesis (Done)
Week 2-4: Searching (Done)
Week 5-6: Reading/Evaluating (In Progress)
Week 7-8: Outlining/Drafting
Week 9: Final Draft/Presentation
Week 10: Wiki

Journal Entry, Week Three

I would like to discuss in short detail how I chose my research topic this quarter. I like to program small games in Java or Python and one day I want to take it more seriously and create something much bigger. Last quarter I chose to investigate how I would do this by creating my own personal project plan relating to this subject. I discovered a lot of things about what I was doing wrong and  how I would do it better. Now this quarter I chose to analyze the project plans from game apps developed by successful companies to further understand how I can be personally successful. I always want to learn about what I am doing wrong and how I can get better, so this is a perfect topic for me since it engages me.

In order to get good information about this topic I had to look at interviews, twitter accounts, company websites and game app development websites. They have all been really solid resources and I feel like I have a very good idea about how to organize my final paper. After going through them I have discovered new things that I didn’t know were that important, so its been great to validate things I learned from last quarter and see new ideas in action.

When choosing selection criteria for a subject that is constantly changing every year I have to be very careful about what I see as important, because what I believe to be true now might not be tomorrow. The selection criteria I chose was based on the things I learned from my project management class, factors that these companies saw as their success and also the most commonly reoccurring themes I picked up while evaluating these plans. By combining these ideas together I can see the full picture of success and draw very valid conclusions from all of it. In the end though I know that following none of these criteria could also result in a successful game, but research and reasoning dictates that the odds are more heavily in favor of following similar guidelines. Since there is no absolute truth about how to write a perfect project plan I will continue to change my mind and update my thinking when necessary as better criteria presents themselves.

Lab Activity, Week Three

This week for our lab I had to discuss my most productive search terms and resources I found the most helpful to answering my research question. I started out searching Google originally with generic search terms like small game app development project plans or terms in relation to that plus the most popular games on Android or Apple, but I slowed that down after I found the best resource for me.Interestingly enough the most useful resource I found was Gamepedia which has an enormous amount of data on every question I could possibly ask. Not only that but it has hundreds of sources for each of its articles showing where it got all the information from so all of the material comes straight from the horses mouth so to speak. As a matter of fact I have found so much detailed information from this one site alone that my questions I had ready to email are actually unnecessary. They have everything I could ask for aside from what they ate for lunch for each of these companies. I am still going to keep the email idea part open though since I just might have a question or too that I might want answered. If anything I could try twitter too, a lot of these big companies seem to respond often to those instead.
As far as my plan is concerned I find the standard plan to be pretty acceptable to what I need, but I have modified it slightly to accommodate the scope and challenge my research question presents. I will probably change it again later but for now it looks like this:
Week 1 : Choose a Topic and Thesis (Done)
Week 2-4: Searching (In Progress)
Week 5-6: Reading/Evaluating
Week 7-8: Outlining/Drafting
Week 9: Final Draft/Presentation
Week 10: Wiki
As you can see I extended my amount of searching time by 1 week, because my topic is very big and I also expanded the reading and evaluating by 1 week as well. I condensed outlining/drafting and topic/thesis because drafting won’t take me long and I had already had my topic decided in week 1. I will probably extrapolate the details in each future post, but for now I am satisfied with how it looks. Upon reflection of the discussion we had though I realized I need to have very defined searching rules and my final analysis needs a pretty solid conclusion based on specific variables I saw as important according what these companies had to say about their projects success.
Source

Gamepedia – http://www.gamepedia.com

Progress Report, Week Three

     This week I have started to formulate a plan with what I want my final analysis report to look like for week 9. It’s not finalized yet, but I wanted to break the analysis down into a few distinct sections and explain the most common themes I found throughout each one as I analyzed each successful companies project plans. The first section will be based on team compositions like what were each of their jobs, how big were the teams and how did they communicate. The next section will be what management style did they prefer or use like Six Sigma, Agile, Kanban, etc. or did they have their own style. After that will be operations like how long did they work and what was the schedule like. Next will be how did they monitor progress like reports and how many bosses or deadlines. Lastly I will include their company philosophy and what they each valued the most. Within each section I will analyze the most common occurring features I see, then the less common features and lastly their reasoning’s behind why the they made that choice.
     In my research journey I should be and am currently directly in the middle of researching companies project plans and plan to be there for the next week as well. I want to gather a lot of information before I analyze all of it fully and make my decision about whats useful. I haven’t run into any issues this week, so there was nothing to overcome, but I can say that I have been trying to look ahead and predict any problems that might crop up. I did however make some good progress in regards to pushing ahead to the next stage. I have prepared and will be sending emails with questions based on the sections I described to quite a few different companies this week. Other than the research I am doing which is definitely progress I can’t determine if the email part will be progress until I get a response from any of them. Even if I don’t some though that will not be a problem since I can still gather enough information from interviews and other published sources to write a decent paper about my research question.
     Next week I plan on continuing my research and finalizing what is important to answering my question. I like the amount of information available I have found so far and its all worked out pretty nicely considering that it can seem overwhelming or containing sparse details in regards to project development plans. I will just have to make up for this lack of quality sometimes with quantity and fill that research void. The good part is that there are a ton of large companies getting into this small app game and they like to give interviews and talk openly about their success all the time. Its made it easier to to see what makes success and I’m glad for it.

Lab Activity, Week Two

This week we had a discussion about our research question with other people that had similar ideas themselves. We talked about random things we discovered about our topic and other ways we could improve the research. Some of the best sites I found that weren’t very in depth but more opinion based or were not based on a popular and successful game I included here to talk about what they brought to the discussion.One site I found was a marketing checklist created by an indie game developer, another was best programming practices for mobile gaming and the other was about proper advertising that you might not have considered. Although they will not be important enough to be included in my final analysis they did help guide me in a more constructive direction with what I should be researching. I found that they have helped me understand whats important to focus on and what I should consider essential to the business such advertising/marketing as a strong avenue to explore.

The group discussion was extremely helpful because Chris brought up an excellent point to me about mobile game development with large companies. She said since the games are so cheap what if these companies just pump out a bunch of games trying to see whichever one sticks, because they are so cheap to develop? That was something I hadn’t even considered since this could change the nature of the research question entirely. Is it a best practice to pump out crap until something strikes gold or is it a best practice to try and create a quality game from the start with a very strong set of project guidelines? I mean, success is success right? Or does it actually matter how they got there? Looking at this objectively I’m not entirely sure I have the answer to that yet, but it is definitely going to be something I will look at and mention in my final analysis for sure. If I am going to measure success in regards to project planning methods and the target is making a popular/successful game I would definitely like to know if their method was more like a machine gun or a sniper rifle.

 

Article – An Indie Game Developers Marketing Checklist

http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/an-indie-game-developers-marketing-checklist-including-portable-formats–gamedev-7560

Article – How can very small game companies best advertise their product?

https://www.quora.com/How-can-very-small-game-development-companies-best-advertise-their-products

Article – 5 Best Practices Beginning Mobile Game Developers Must Know

https://www.codementor.io/ios/tutorial/mobile-ios-game-development-best-practices