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

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.

Progress Report, Week One

The topic I chose to base my research question around involves the development of small game applications for portable devices. I have a strong idea of where I will start looking since small app’s are built very similar to how large projects are just with less oversight and scaled down to fit the scope. I will begin my research by investigating large and small team project developments to start comparing and contrasting the overall approach and final solution each of them chose. I think when I read a paper about how Blizzard develops its games it sparked an interest in me to learn more about how they were successful and since small game development is something that I could definitely do it led me to this topic. Since I have just started my research journey and only just developed my question I am only slightly ahead of where I should be, because I already have an idea of what to ask and I don’t need to peruse topics until I find one I like.

The only real issue I can run into with a topic like this is that it can be a rather large area to research, but since it doesn’t include all game development, I can cut it down to more manageable chunks. I will overcome this issue by only researching about small game application teams that had great success, because I don’t need to hear about large game development teams since they won’t apply to me and I don’t need to know an excessive amount about team failures. Also by restricting my research to just Android and Apple products I can simplify it even further than that.

This week I only decided on the research question and did a few google searches to make sure I could easily find material to write and read about. I figured since I am not actively looking for a topic I should use this time to immediately start browsing for successful game development teams to analyze. One example that I liked reading  was how the makers of Candy Crush only spent $50,000 dollars developing the game and it makes over $850,000 dollars a day and last year it made over 1.88 billion dollars. That is an incredible return on investment and I am not saying that I could replicate that formula exactly, but clearly they have the right idea.

So far this is more than I thought I would have at this point, but this is an idea I have had in mind for quite awhile now so turning it into a research question felt pretty natural. Next week I hope to have a lot more information on project development plans for successful games similar to Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, etc. So that means I should start researching about games I might not know about and the different ways developers created their products. I can start to dig deep into the topic and start designing the path I want my research to go down.

 

Article: Blizzard – A Perfect Storm by Sean Duffy

Click to access sduffy_2003_1.pdf

Lab Activity, Week One

My name is Christopher Baker and I am creating a research blog for my IS 390 class. My blogs purpose is to find a topic to research question and try to answer it as best as possible. I think my research question will be “What are the best practices for designing small game applications for portable devices?”