One of Sun Tzu’s most quotable lines from The Art of War is “Know thy enemy and know thyself and in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” And while you should never think of customers as the “enemy,” it’s still crucial to understand them in order to wage a successful marketing campaign. Understanding your customer means figuring out who they are, what their needs are and how you can serve those needs. And the first step in that journey is video game market segmentation.
Tips for Indies
Sunk-Costs and Ugly Babies: On The Value of The Scientific Method – Game Planning With Science! Part 8
It struck me one day that “Game Planing With Science” has a glaring omission: the value of scrapping a plan. The goal of “Game Planning With Science” is to forecast, not predict. It’s to estimate and understand, but not to codify. You can’t codify the creative process, or the future for that matter. Just as important is the fact that life doesn’t care about your plans. Reality is going to be what it’s going to be. You can’t change reality to fit your plan, so modifying your plan to fit reality is the only path forward. As Dwight Eisenhower, one of the most immensely quotable people ever, once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.”
The video games industry is a fertile breeding ground for anxiety and stress. Almost every game is an entrepreneurial endeavor. Expeditionary and uncertain. Uncertain schedules, uncertain results, uncertain job security. It’s not for the faint of heart. In this article, I’m going to take a break from the managerial topics I usually post about on Breaking The Wheel in order to focus on something more important than any game: your mental health.
This post is a bit of a capstone. It utilizes all of the tools to make video games scientifically that I covered in the Parts 1-6 of “Game Planning With Science”. Make sure you’ve reviewed those weighty tomes before digging in here. In this post, I’m going to walk you through how to utilize capacity charts, story points, user stories, variance, and the central limit theorem to forecast development time lines.
One of the sources of crunch is the proverbial kitchen sink: throwing too much content and too many features into a design with too short a production schedule. The reasons can be myriad. Features in competing games. Pressure from publishers or marketing departments. Overblown ambition. The instinct makes sense. As the saying goes, nobody sets out to make a bad game and to that end there is a reluctance to cut corners or make omissions that would compromise quality. But, what if there was a way to cut content and features strategically, so as to make your game more competitive and better serve the needs of your fans? Enter: Strategic Design.
Managing any long-term project is already hard enough. Throw founder conflict gasoline onto that blaze and hoo-boy. It’s impossible to effectively manage production if the studio owners are infighting, politicking, and not working as a cohesive unit. Disagreements and arguments are fine, even healthy. But if the studio owners don’t have a shared vision, the path ahead will be littered with bad blood and tears. If you’re thinking about or are in the process of starting a video game company, taking some time to ask tough questions up front can save a lot of heartache.