Can Indie Games Thrive Without Big Publishers?

March 13th, 2014

As the gaming landscape evolves, it’s becoming more common for Indie Game Developers to go beyond industry barriers to get their game to the public. Digital downloads and crowdfunding has made this type of self-publishing seem like a feasible alternative to working for big name publishers.

“The publishing people all watch [a game] and then make passive, aesthetic appraisals of active, functional aspects of a game,” wrote an anonymous developer, providing an attack on major game publishers. “This is because the bulk of execs can’t and don’t want to play or understand how games work.”

The recent success of indie developed games such as Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, and Broken Age have broken through the industry barriers and have given independent game developers hope that they can make a living without exchanging their intellectual property over to the big name publishers.

“Doing independent development via Indie Fund or Kickstarter allows us to be free of the pressure to change our game and to avoid things that seem risky,” Double Fine developer, Tim Shafer, says, “Now, we will rise or fall on our own merits.”

Check out this Mashable article for more on game developers who self-funded a game, and how the Indie Game industry has evolved. There are risks and benefits with working for major publishers and through self-funding. If given the choice, which route would you take?

An Inside Look at Creating Digital Art

March 7th, 2014

Listen in as Cogswell Digital Art & Animation student, Jennifer Hicks, talks about her creative process and what her art means to her.

(If your machine does not support flash, please view the video here.)

Marketing Your Mobile App – Advice from the Federal Trade Commission

March 6th, 2014

As mobile app developers soon discover, coming up with a great idea and then building the mobile app is only just the beginning. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – the nation’s consumer protection agency – it’s never too soon to start thinking about making sure your app is compliant with current commerce regulations.

While every app is different, there are some general guidelines that every developer should be thinking about:

  • Truthful advertising: Don’t make claims your app can’t deliver. One rule of thumb: Look at your product and your advertising from the perspective of average users, not just software engineers or app experts. If you make objective claims about your app, you need solid proof to back them up before you start selling.
  • Disclose key information clearly and conspicuously: The goal is to make sure they are big enough and clear enough that users actually notice them and understand what they say.
  • Build privacy considerations in from the start: You accomplish this by limiting the information you collect, securely storing what you hold on to and safely disposing of what you no longer need.
  • Be transparent about your data practices: Explain what information your app collects from users or their devices and what you do with their data.
  • Offer choices that are easy to find and easy to use: Give your users ways to control how their personal information is collected and shared.
  • Honor your privacy promises: Reread your privacy policy or what you say about your privacy settings. Chances are you make assurances to users about the security standards you apply or what you do with their personal information.
  • Protect kids’ privacy: You have additional requirements under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC’s COPPA Rule so make sure you know what they are.
  • Collect sensitive information only with consent: Get your OK before you collect any sensitive data from them.
  • Keep user data secure: Under the law, you have to take reasonable steps to keep sensitive data secure.

The article contains some helpful links giving you access to additional information.

SuperGenius – One Company’s Journey into the World of Outsourcing

March 5th, 2014

SuperGenius is a new generation of game art studio. A full-spectrum art and animation support studio for video game developers.

SuperGenius started out like many small game companies – with a dream. They wanted to outsource their talent and work with the best game developers in the world. They quickly discovered that someone else would always work for less so had to figure out a way to compete that would allow them to earn a living.

In this article in Gamasutra, Paul Culp, talks about the studio’s first attempt at being an amazing art asset producer and the lessons that helped it become the company it is today. “By taking a more holistic approach to the art and animation, and making sure it worked properly was immensely valuable to our clients. We stopped focusing on mass asset production and instead focused on completion, wrote Culp.”

One of the first lessons they learned was who they did not want to be. Another lesson was, “if you are going to spend a huge chunk of your time doing something, it better be something you believe in. Any endeavor, no matter how profitable it is, will eat you alive if you don’t like who you are while doing it.”

If you have tried to sell your art assets, what lessons have you learned?

Fonts to Amaze and Inspire

March 4th, 2014

If the creative design side of your brain needs a bit of stimulation, here is a bevy of typographic designs to inspire and amaze. Designers from around the world post their work on Behance and this image article in Creative Blog offers up 25 of what they consider the best.

In addition to the truly awe-inspiring creations, the piece tells you a little about each artist and links you to their websites so you can check out more of their work.

For instance, the design above was created by “Alex Trochut, a typographer and graphic designer based in Barcelona. He has worked as a freelancer since 2007 and gained clients such as Pepsi, Wallpaper* and Audi. His experimental style has earned him critical acclaim from across the board and with a philosophy of ‘more is more,’ his array of work is a perfect example of embracing the endless spectrum of font formats.”

Do you have a favorite?

Inventor and Hacker Collide in the Person of Pablos Holman

March 3rd, 2014

Pablos Holman at Cogswell College

On February 13, 2014, renowned futurist, inventor and hacker, Pablos Holman spoke to students, faculty and staff at a noontime gathering. If you missed his insightful and thought-provoking presentation, this video of his talk is your chance to see what you missed or to relive the moment.

Pablos has informed and entertained audiences at world-renowned technology summits including United Nations, the World Economic Forum at Davos, The CIA, TEDx and DEFCON on invention, innovation, cyber security and the future of technology.

Do you have a favorite moment in the video?

Get Your Fat Mobile Apps in Shape

February 28th, 2014

Some app developers may create their app for love but most also want to bring a little money into their lives as well. Dale Carr, founder and CEO of LeadBolt says with all of the changes that developers in the mobile app industry face, it may be time to get some of the lead out of your apps and make them leaner and meaner.

In this article in DevsBuildIt, he offers realistic and achievable fitness tips to help your app monetization strategy shape up to all it should be in 2014:

  • Trim the fat: Don’t overstuff your app with ads by placing banners in every conceivable place. Think of your user experience first and be more strategic about ad placement.
  • Exercise different muscles: Connecting with your user in different ways is like exercising different muscles. To achieve results and continue to convert energy consistently, switch up your routine and target more than one area. Evaluate the entire usage cycle of your app.
  • Pay attention to your vitals: Resolve to measure your app performance by paying attention to analytics. In the article he offers ideas for app analytics to help you achieve optimal results.

What app monetization ideas have worked for you?

5 Habits of Great Entrepreneurs

February 27th, 2014

Entrepreneurs are a special breed – they see what could be and then put their heart and soul into making that happen. They are dreamers who use controlled risk to build their venture. In this article in Inc., Tom Asacker author of the book ‘The Business of Belief,’ talks about characteristics that he thinks great entrepreneurs share. They:

  1. Believe:  Great entrepreneurs believe in themselves keep pushing to achieve their goals instead of going out and getting that ‘safe’ job.
  2. Empathize:  Great entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to see the world from the perspective of their customers.
  3. Observe:  Great entrepreneurs are observers of human nature and human behavior.
  4. Obsess:  Great entrepreneurs never rest on their laurels or think merely in terms of incremental improvement.
  5. Win:  Great entrepreneurs have a laser focus on winning.

What other characteristics do you think great entrepreneurs possess?

From Rocket Scientist to Animator

February 26th, 2014

So how do you go from being an engineering student to an animator? According to Cogswell student, Robert Mariazeta, you identify and then follow your dream. Since coming to Cogswell, Robert started the Animation Club, is working in Studio E and was one of the 5 Cogswell students selected by Disney to attend their 2013 Inspire Day.

In this short video, Robert talks about the journey that brought him to Cogswell to major in animation, his love of the field and why he thinks it’s important to be a ‘T’ shaped worker.

Visit Cogswell’s website to learn more about our Digital Art & Animation degree program.

So You Don’t Want to be Rich and Famous?

February 25th, 2014

If you don’t want to be rich and famous, then we guess you should not follow in the footsteps of Dong Nguyen, developer of the popular mobile game, “Flappy Birds.” He pulled the game down on Sunday, February 16, and walked away from advertising revenue estimated to be $50,000 each day. According to an exclusive interview published in Forbes, the reason he removed the game was:

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, but it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down ‘Flappy Bird.’ It’s gone forever.”

But according to another article in Forbes by Paul Tassi, there is a deeper issue at play here – the fact that there are a myriad of clones hoping to ride the wave of success of “Flappy Bird” and this cloning tendency is dragging down the creativity and originality of the mobile game market.

Tassi says, “I’ve always spoken out against the prominence of cloning in the mobile scene, but it’s usually been against companies like Zynga or King ripping off their most famous games from smaller developers or already established hits. Now we have a rise of ‘the little guy’ trying to rip-off fellow little guys, and the wake of this Flappy Bird drama, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

Do you agree with Mr. Tassi’s assessment of the mobile game industry?