Posts Tagged ‘indie games’

Monthly Reflection #1 – Starting Anew

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, Reflections

Every last Thursday of the current month I publish a report reflecting on the previous month. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

The Past Month

Woah, where to start.. This has been a very crazy and hectic month. Well, I guess I’ll begin by explaining why I’m restarting Z’s Laboratories.

On 8th March, 2018 I resigned from my job, and despite how much I liked my colleagues and working there my health was deteriorating rapidly due to stress and my already battered body couldn’t take the hit. But since IT jobs in Bahrain (I worked as a web developer) are generally very stressful, and I had enough cash to last a year + was confident in my small project and business management skills, I decided it’s time to give Z’s Laboratories another shot.

11th March was my last day at work, and on 12th March I started working on setting up a business.

My main focus for the month was to write a simple and feasible business plan for my first year of operations, setup my work processes, establish a new routine and get started!.

Throughout March, I accomplished the following:

  • Planning my work/life routine and applying the new habit.
  • Planning the gaming and game dev events I will participate in.
  • Writing my 1st year plan using the Clean Canvas business pattern, and setting a clear vision for Z’s Laboratories.
  • Building a small HTML5 game called Hooman is Yum!, and publishing it on Kongregate, essentially establishing my 1st income stream.
  • Putting Hooman is Yum!’s source code up for sale on Scirra store, which became my 2nd income stream.
  • Participating in Unreal Bahrain’s Bahrain Comic Con booth and showcasing 4 of my games.
  • Setting up an accounting system for Z’s Laboratories.
  • Signing a contract with myself to better manage the business and finances while holding myself accountable.
  • Preparing an excel sheet to track my work hours, tasks and leaves.
  • Setting up a YouTube channel for Z’s Laboratories and uploading the 1st video.
  • Updating my portfolio, website’s content and layout to match my vision for Z’s Laboratories.

I’ve set my work hours to be from 8AM to 2PM, Sunday to Thursday while having 45 paid leave days that I can take anytime of the year. This is both to maintain a steady productive workflow while having a stress-free and balanced life style. I go to bed around 9PM and eat my meals at the same times everyday to keep my biological clock ticking like a real clock.

My current routine looks roughly like this:

Time/Day Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
6AM-8AM Morning Ritual* Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual
8AM-2PM Work Work Work Work Work Free Free
2PM-4PM Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Lunch Lunch
4PM-5PM Study/Practice*** Study/Practice Study/Practice Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Free
5PM-6.30PM Free Free Free Free Free Free Free
6.30PM-7.30PM Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner
7.30PM-9PM Night Ritual** Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual

You may have noticed that I’m treating myself as my own employee. This may sound strange, but I did this for 2 main reasons:

  1. I have a very real tendency to overwork myself to death and self destruct while neglecting everything and everyone around me, so by setting strict boundaries I make sure to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
  2. It makes managing and planning the business easier, while giving me stability in my personal life.

This setup isn’t for everyone, but it’s working extremely well for me and I look forward to each new day.

* My morning ritual consists of exercise, shower, breakfast and dressing for work
** In my night ritual I turn off all electronics, dim all lights, meditate, reflect and get ready for bed
*** For this year I'm studying Japanese

What’s Next

The type of games I decided to specialize in as Z’s Laboratories is 3D stylized Open-World games for Nintendo Switch, that have a positive effect on the players’ real lives, either by teaching them a real world skill, exposing them to different view points and getting them to reflect or by making their day a bit better.

To prepare myself for this path, next month’s main focus will be to build-up my game dev skills by making a small game that helps players de-stress after work. I will aim to publish it on both Steam and mobile app stores for iPads and Android tablets, since that combination roughly matches the Switch’s hardware.

I plan on making all assets for my games by myself as part of my business model and put them for sale on asset stores, hence establishing small passive income streams while building games.

This is going to be a very exciting year for me and hopefully I’ll be able to at least break even, that will let me continue for another year without getting a “real” job.

 

This ends this month’s report. Your comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated, so do comment below. 🙂

Users VS Competition, and the Golden Age of Platforms

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, Game Tips

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ll be reporting on what I learn so you can benefit too and this is the first such post.

 

Back in April 2014, I attended a technology forum called iTECH Gulf, a famous regional event for ICT professionals. One of the presenters was Borut Pfeifer, a designer and lead engineer in the team behind Skulls of the Shogun, a successful turn-based strategy game for beginners. He talked about the challenges faced in development of the game, and some surprises they learned along the way.

 

One such surprise has to do with their most successful platform.

 

Skulls of the Shogun is available on Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Steam, Xbox 360, Windows Store and Windows Phone. Out of all of those, you might be surprised to know the most-sold version is Windows Phone edition. If you’re keeping with industry stats, you should be aware that Android has the biggest chunk of the smartphone industry, with iOS closely behind while Windows Phone is barely competing with the dying BlackBerry.

 

Infographic: iOS and Android Grow at the Same Pace | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

 

So, why is the game most successful on the platform with the least amount of users? To explain this, Mr. Pfeifer went on to give an analysis of the situation, and he described a general overview of a platform’s life-cycle:

 

  1. Early/Young: Platforms in this stage are only just sprouting, and generally don’t have many users or competition, proving development a risky bet. One such platform can be the Oculus Rift.
  2. Late/Old: Mature platforms are those with lots of users and competition. Although they have a much bigger potential user base than new platforms, the aggressive market requires luck and a good marketing strategy/budget to compete.
  3. Golden Age: These golden eggs are those who have already matured from their infant state, and have a big user base but the competition have yet to catch on.

 

According to Mr. Pfeifer, he believes Windows Phone is in its Golden Age. True enough, not many developers take Windows Phone seriously, and those who do tend to be beginners into the industry. Because of that, the Windows Phone Store is filled to the brim with low-quality apps and games, while Windows Phone users remain hungry for quality apps. Having a Lumia 520 myself, I can attest to that since I find it hard to get a quality app. So it’s no wonder that when a high grade game like Skulls of the Shogun came out, Windows Phone users gobbled it right up.

If you want to take advantage of that though, you should hurry up; because the number of quality games is increasing and soon there will be a fierce competition.

 

Bottom line is, to mitigate your risk as much as possible, you should try to target both old and new platforms, instead of putting all your effort into an already crowded market.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any further insight into the situation, please comment below 🙂

Thanks

 

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