February 14, 2017

Social Media

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I have to admit to being a little confused about social media like Facebook, Twitter and the rest. As a small business owner, it is commonly advised that I MUST be active on various social media platforms – and to a certain extent that is true. However, I’ll becoming a little disillusioned and not sure there is much value in putting in more than the minimum effort.

Firstly, it should be said that I have found social media a good method of contact. Some people just prefer to communicate through these platforms, so it is definitely useful for me to have a presence, just in case such a message is sent. For that reason I’m happy to maintain accounts on the larger social media sites. Although, it should be noted that the vast majority of people contact me through either email or Steam forums. Interaction with fans through social media is minimal.

Discovery is the main reason I use social media. As a small gamedev in an extremely crowded market, my main problem is letting people know about my game. I need to get out the word and reaching as many people as possible. In this regard I have found both Facebook and Twitter quite useless. Of course some people are hugely successful on social media, but that is the same on other marketing channels (like YouTube let’s plays and websites reviews). A few do well, the majority do not. Most people do not seem to get their message very far.

The problem seems to be that the people I want to reach are not the sort of people likely to follow me. A person can realistically only follow a couple of hundred social media accounts before some of the messages are dropped (based on me being able to just about follow 100 and see everything). So most people will quickly fill their timelines with existing or popular favourites and have little space for extras.

So far that is fine, and to be expected. What causes the disillusionment is looking at my followers. Many have many hundreds of accounts they follow, some have thousands. It seems impossible to comprehend that they can actually see what is being said by all of them. The majority must be muted or ignored. It seems most accounts are just broadcasting to other accounts that are not listening. Each week I get several new followers, but most stop following after a few days… unless I follow them back. There appears to be a strong gift exchange culture with reciprocal following. Now I have started noticing a bunch of firms exploiting this – automatically following and unfollowing to maximise subscriber gain. Again this just lessens the value of each follower.

Just following my friends and a few groups on Facebook produces enough content to mean I miss many posts, which I find disappointing. I read every tweet in my timeline – if I follow you, I read what you publish. To me that seems to be the point of the system, but apparently not to a large number of people. Instead it is about greater number of followers or friend’s even if the result is effectively zero actual communication.

Am I missing something?


January 18, 2017

Goals

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“Over and over and over and over and over
Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal
The joy of repetition really is in you”

Hot Chip – Over and Over

This years goals are the same as last year.

Wait, no, they are not! Last year one of my goals was to complete Concealed Intent and release it. Done – it is out (since August) on Steam and Humble. There has even been a 1.1 update. Finishing Concealed Intent has been a constant target going back over four years. Now the goals will need to be ever so slightly different…

  • Create and release a game. This new wording on the game development objective is something that can be endlessly repeated. One of the main learnings from Concealed Intent is the realistic scope of any game I can make by myself. I intend to use this knowledge to make smaller games – ones that can be started and finished within a year. Or even less if possible!
  • Blog on my websites at least 4 times a month Last year this goal stated the posts should be on my personal website – a target missed with just 18 entries there in 2016. However, during the year I started a new blog, A Gamedev Plays… (and associated YouTube channel). Combined those two websites met the target easily – so I consider that a success. This year I will not not be restricted to any website (so this goal now also includes the Jarrah Technology website).
  • Exercise. With regular weights and running, I am just below the peak strength achieved in mid-2015, and can now run faster than ever before for 30 minutes without joint pain. Not bad. Especially on the running side – I hope the old injuries are definitely in the past. The more specific goals for the year are to again start lifting personal bests and run without pain for an hour at my current 30min pace.

So far, so similar, but now time for something new.

  • Learn Spanish Around mid-year I started spending 10 minutes/day online attempting to learn Spanish as there was I chance I would end up living in a Spanish speaking country. That is now very unlikely to occur, but I have kept up the lessons. According to the websites I use, my vocabulary is around 1000 words (and my pronunciation is awful). Now I’m beginning to learn grammar (the first time in any language!). It seems a shame to stop now, so this goal is just to maintain regular lessons and see how it goes.

And that is it. Although there is one more thing to be said. In the middle of this year I will be moving country. At the moment it is still not certain where I will end up (although London or Australia are by far the most likely). Previous experience of trans-continental moves show they can be incredible destructive to productivity. Thus, there is a good chance my plans will collapse under this event. It is also likely I will need to find a normal desk job in the second half of the year. Given this, I will be easy on myself if at the end of the year, I fall a little short on the goals above.


January 8, 2017

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

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Just over a year ago the small casual gaming group I play in started the board game Pandemic Legacy Season 1. Just under a month ago, after nine game sessions, we finished. This is a review of the game and does not include spoilers. For a game-by-game account of our playthrough (including spoilers!) see these pages instead.

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January 1, 2017

Kuching Trip

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Our latest holiday was a week in Kuching over Christmas. Kuching is the capital of Sarawak state in Malaysia and on the island of Borneo. While there we spent some time jungle trekking, but mostly just hanging out in the relaxed town. As is traditional on Malaysian holidays there was much partaking of the local (and very good) cuisine. Unfortunately, as our trip coincided with rainy season, the weather was usually overcast and thus many of my photos are overly dark.

My best photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.


November 5, 2016

Ipoh and Cameron Highlands Trip

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I’m just back from a 4-day trip up to Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While I can’t say that those places are worth a dedicated visit, it was a pleasant enough week: eating street food in Ipoh, and discovering how tea is made in the Cameron Highlands (with a side interest in the very different architecture at the two locations).

My best photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.