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 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 -

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.

Gamepedia –

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–gamedev-7560

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

Article – 5 Best Practices Beginning Mobile Game Developers Must Know

Journal Entry, Week Two

This week I chose to talk about three things concerning my research topic I already knew without looking anything up yet. The first thing I can almost guarantee is that any form of successful development practice would include some form of Kanban, Six Sigma, Agile, Lean or  something in between those philosophies or management styles. After reading about them and seeing them in action you can’t deny they are incredibly effective and I can’t imagine a team could succeed in the modern era without employing at least one of those methods to their project plans. So when it comes to best practices for developing small game apps I can say for a fact that I would see more efficient and effective work being done with at least one of these methods being used.

Another thing that I know for sure is projects of this size will almost always use small teams over large teams for many reasons. First small team communication is almost always better the flow of ideas is more consistent and the project has a more solid idea of what it wants to be without a bunch of people pulling it in different directions. Most companies would also not waste the resources since a large group working on a small game app would just step over each others toes and not everyone would stay consistently busy, thus reducing efficiency. These small groups allow for more control over what can be done and in the case of SuperCell the game company that made Clash of Clans i mentioned in my progress report, this is exactly why they chose this route. I’ve also learned a great deal about project management and am at least competent enough to see that small teams with a lot of freedom can do great things for a company.

The first two parts might seem obvious but I think there is a larger part to consider and that is the fact that I know that all of these successful small game app companies employ some sort of strategic psychological manipulation of the reward system in the human brain. The design of the games themselves are created and altered regularly to trigger addictive tendencies that exist within many human beings. The end result is creating a constant need to stay connected to the activity and just like casino’s know the power of gambling, so too does the video gaming world. Some games are very good at this and give you the similar feeling to eating a bag of Cheetos, where you eat a lot and still feel hungry afterwards. Under no other circumstances could some games whose development costs were less than $100,000 dollars pull in almost $500,000 to 1.9 million a day without being some unique and unregulated form of underage gambling.


Article – The Dark Side of Information Technology

The Dark Side of Information Technology

Progress Report, Week Two

     This week I have continued to search for various information concerning my research question of “What are the best practices for developing small game applications on Android and Apple devices?” I revised the question only slightly, because on reflection I have decided that only Android or Apple devices are worth researching since there is already an overabundance of information on the topic already. I am still going to use literature research as my main form of information gathering, but since I still want at least one interview or survey to be answered I figured I should try to contact some game developers early on. I hope that I get some questions answered about how they developed their games in hopes that it sheds some light into the complicated and daunting process of designing, creating, programming and constant updating of a game.
     In my research journey I am staying consistent with my investigation and I believe I am exactly where I need to be. I am diving into a very deep information pool and grabbing at the most relevant subjects to my research question and anything else that might help me along the way such as contact information for some of the teams. At this point I feel like I have a plethora of choices and avenues to explore concerning the subject and I am just feeling it out right now until I build a solid foundation surrounding my question.
     The only issue I have run into that I mentioned last week is that I am finding a massive amount of information and trying to decipher what it all means to me concerning my project is becoming a massive task on its on. Fortunately most of it seems to be speculations, general philosophy about their games or authors opinions on why certain projects failed and others succeeded. I am only focusing on interviews or any other form of information directly from the companies that highlight what they specifically attribute their success too.
     This week I found a couple of great leads filled with some information from the teams that made Candy Crush Soda Saga and Clash of Clans. I am analyzing more than just them, but for the moment I like the points these teams made about how they found success and thought I would share them here. Candy Crush found its success with proper data gathering and a strategic ad planning campaign. Clash of Clans believes it has been successful because of its small “cells” or small teams that passionately work hard on games they would want to play themselves. (Hence the name SuperCell.) I have found a few more, but I’m on the fence as to whether or not they provide me with enough good information to include in my final analysis. This is a lot farther than I thought I would be last week though and hope to make great strides toward putting it all together soon.
     Next week I will be looking at more project plans to start comparing and contrasting these teams business models and see what they had in common and what they didn’t. The details are sketchy  about how they were successful sometimes, but that’s also why next week I plan to have a series of questions ready to ask some teams if they respond to any emails I send them regarding this project. Hopefully I will get a response from at least one of them by the end of the project.
Article – How We Developed Candy Crush Soda Saga
Article -SuperCell : Our Story

Journal Entry, Week One

     I have to decide on a research question to explore and discuss for my IS 390 class and there are a lot of things I would like to know more about in detail, but after careful consideration I have settled on an idea that will both interest me and full fill class requirements. I am going to focus on the best practices for small game development, because it explores the project management styles of various companies which is something we spent last quarter creating on our own. Last quarter I had to create a personal project management plan for something besides the website we were working on and I chose to explore my own small game project I was working on at home. I learned a lot about what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong and I think that this quarter my research question should explore the work I was doing. This feels like a logical next step, because first I had to design a plan (flaws and all) and now I get to explore what I should have added, removed or restructured based on the successful teams I research this quarter. Not only does it provide me with a good research question, it helps me grow since it is a reflection of my own personal struggles.

When discussing research methodologies I thought I would just start with literature review and branch out from there. I could include my own personal experiments on the subject if I find them credible enough to include. I could even send very short surveys to the people that made these games themselves and I might get lucky enough to interview them or have them answer my questions and I can include their data in my final analysis.

I will be looking into a little bit of market research because video game success does rely heavily on the markets opinion of you to define its success. I want to include some qualitative research like face-to-face if I can, but truthfully my focus is almost always heavily focused on quantitative research, because numbers don’t lie. I think success is a mixture of opportunity, hard work and luck. I can’t quantify luck but I can definitely see when opportunity came about and hard work can actually be measured.