Lab Activity, Week Five

This week we had to create a Mind-Map of our research question to look at it from a different angle, organize findings, and trying to add/combine certain aspects if they are related. I used Mind-Mup to create mine and came up with this so far:

MindMap

I tend to organize my papers in a very systematic and old-school method with bulletin points, detailed explanations and very little pictures, very similar to the way professional research papers are written. I don’t know if I prefer to write this way because of college or because it looks professional to me. In class I liked using the Mind-Mup tool and after my meeting with the professor it got me thinking that I might present my final analysis in a different way with more graphs and pictures to present information, rather than the dry and somewhat tedious method I am used to doing. I mean the topic is about gaming project plans I should probably make it a  more fun and interesting paper than my usual work.

The only tools I can see myself using would be Visio possibly or Excel for the graphical work since I’m already familiar with both of those programs. If I manage to stumble on some other great way to present this mountain of information in a more concise and engaging way I’ll mention that in one of my future reports.This is good practice for my professional life since a lot of businesses tend to like more concentrated information sources like graphs or pictures to explain things, because people don’t like to read.

Either way I go for my final report the class was interesting enough to change my way of thinking this time around. Not only am I going to approach this evaluating period with a more concise idea of what I want to include, but I am also going to change my writing style and format as well.

Source –

Mind-Mup – https://www.mindmup.com/

Advertisements

Progress Report, Week Five

This week I found myself buried in tons of material to read about and although it feels like a lot to I am on track in my research journey. I managed to scan through at least 8 games so far of the 30 I chose to look at and I feel pretty good about what I am seeing. I do feel like I should have read more this week, but I was very busy with other work and I believe this puts me slightly behind where I would like to be in the evaluation process. This just means that next week I need to work harder to make up for the loss of time.

The major issue I ran into this week was centered around choosing the topics that are the most important, because a lot of categories fill up rather quickly when you have 30+ games to choose from. Which means  I need to either decrease the amount of games I will talk about or I will need to decrease the amount of sections to discuss since both of them multiply by each other and can make my paper extremely long. After consideration I decided that I will just decrease the amount of games to discuss rather than cut the sections down, because I feel like those topics are all important and fully answer my research question.

Next week I hope to finish my rough outline of the sections and games I am going to use in my final draft, because after reading through some development plans I realized I needed to add a few more things. I did find that the companies that made the most money like Hearthstone, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans tended to be free to play, but had ways to buy progress in the game itself. I find that particular aspect slightly disturbing since it seems to cater towards addictive personality traits and a buy-to-win attitude which I’ve always disliked as a gamer myself. I also noticed the larger companies tended to make the more popular games that made more money and the smaller companies tend to have less information available about their development process. I figured this has to do with the larger companies ability to aggressively advertise their games far more than smaller companies can. By next week I will have to cut down the amount of games I am going to use based on the companies that could answer all my topics the best. Also I have no idea how much of a factor this is, but a lot of these companies are owned by the same people. For instance Activision Blizzard owns King the makers of Candy Crush and this requires further evaluating to determine whether this matters to my research question or not.

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
Sources
Hearthstone Development –
King Company –

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

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