snippets of cloud

game design, project management & life

too busy to watch the ads on TV — 17 August, 2015

too busy to watch the ads on TV

Should game session length mirror the length of ad breaks on TV?

“While 50 percent of DVR users would routinely skip ads, “the number is declining now,” said Poltrack, “because they’re too busy on their phones to fast-forward through the ads,” given that two-thirds of users watch TV while also engaged with a second screen.

when in doubt re-read rule 1 — 9 August, 2015

when in doubt re-read rule 1

Rule one has two parts:

a. the customer is always right

b. if that’s not true, it’s unlikely that this person will remain your customer.

If you need to explain to a customer that he’s wrong, that everyone else has no problem, that you have tons of happy customers who were able to successfully read the instructions, that he’s not smart enough or persistent enough or handsome enough to be your customer, you might be right. But if you are, part b kicks in and you’ve lost him.

If you find yourself litigating, debating, arguing and most of all, proving your point, you’ve forgotten something vital: people have a choice, and they rarely choose to do business with someone who insists that they are wrong.

By all means, fire the customers who aren’t worth the time and the trouble. But understand that the moment you insist the customer is wrong, you’ve just started the firing process.

PS here’s a great way around this problem: Make sure that the instruction manual, the website and the tech support are so clear, so patient and so generous that customers don’t find themselves being wrong.

Not everyone who talks about projects are customers (as defined by them having spend money on the product), however they have an impact on brand, community and customers. Understanding how you deal with the customers & community around a brand is a big deal to live service products.

how to tell an enchanting story —

how to tell an enchanting story

Mostly in the context of telling stories for children on the fly, good advice for general storytelling;

1. Begin with a provocative set-up
2. Explain how something happens, either to the main character or the environment
3. In one or two sentences, tell how the plot thickens. The stakes are raised when tension appears
4. Mentally analyze the reaction of the audience and adjust accordingly. If the listeners aren’t engaged by this time, strengthen the narrative
5. Build a vision of a scene that involves the senses: sight, sound, taste, vision, and touch
6. Weave a climax that produces an “aha” moment for the audience
7. End when the story is resolved
8. Record your story. To improve your storytelling abilities, record yourself reciting an original fable

if you decide to be in the dog food business… — 7 August, 2015

if you decide to be in the dog food business…

Be delighted to eat dog food.

It makes no sense to disdain the choices your customers make. If you can’t figure out how to empathize and eagerly embrace the things they embrace, you are letting everyone down with your choice. Sure, someone needs to make this, but it doesn’t have to be you.

If you treat the work as nothing but an obligation, you will soon be overwhelmed by competition that sees it as a privilege and a calling

politicians use the focusing effect —

politicians use the focusing effect

The Focusing Effect – People place too much importance on one aspect of an event and fail to recognize other factors

Could be useful when thinking about presenting choices to the player in negotiations, where the information we provide doesn’t have to be ‘fair’. In most circumstances you want the UI information provided to the player to fairly represent the data and encourage a reasonable skilled choice from the player. In negotiations, or in situations of political will, the ‘character’ wants to manipulate the player and can lie, cheat and skew the information that they present to the player. It is then up to the player to use their knowledge, skill, perception etc to understand the situation in front of them.

“Nothing In Life Is As Important As You Think It Is, While You Are Thinking About It” – Daniel Kahneman

Continue reading



Why are texts written all in capitals more difficult to read than words in small letters? There are several reasons, including:

  • At least for native English speakers, children usually learn to read and write small letters before capital letters.
  • In English, capital letters give us many visual clues, such as the start of a sentence or a proper noun.
  • For the same type size, capital letters are usually wider than small letters and therefore take up more space, causing the eye to travel further.
  • Words written in capital letters have no “shape”. Words with small letters go up and down. Some small letters have “ascenders” (like the letter b). They go up. Some small letters have “descenders” (like the letter p). They go down. Some small letters have no ascender or descender. They stay in the middle. So small letters vary in height. But all capital letters are the same height (BP). When we read text, especially when we read fast, we do not read each individual letter. Instead, we read whole words and phrases. And we recognize these words and phrases partly by their shape.

Worth considering for presentations and documents.

worry about where we are going —
5 causes of procrastination —
pick the right number of choices — 24 March, 2015
the role of a whip in political games — 22 March, 2015

the role of a whip in political games

Thinking about the possible roles in a multiplayer game with a more political aspect. Player’s will need to organize, recruit and remind players of their goals etc. This matches the real world role of a whip.

A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party’s “enforcers,” who typically offer inducements and threaten party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy.

 A whip’s role is also to ensure that the elected representatives of their party are in attendance when important votes are taken. The usage comes from the hunting term “whipping in,” i.e. preventing hounds from wandering away from the pack. In the United States there are legislatures at the local (city councils, town councils, county boards, etc.), state, and federal levels. The federal legislature (Congress), state legislatures, and many county and city legisltive bodies are divided along party lines and have whips

YouTube and Twitch are part of the game designers ecosystem — 20 March, 2015

YouTube and Twitch are part of the game designers ecosystem

“Because there’s so much awesome stuff that’s happening on YouTube, the videos that people are posting, the amazing creations that people are making on Minecraft, all the League of Legends stuff – this didn’t exist before. I think the innovation is just happening in a place where it might be a little bit outside of the control of the developer.”

thinking about delighting users — 19 March, 2015

thinking about delighting users

“That’s been really the challenge that I’ve been suffering: how can we look at the business differently rather than thinking about ARPU’s, what the numbers are, what knobs to turn etc? Instead, we should be thinking about what experiences can we deliver that are going to delight users. The crazy thought that I was giving with the talk today was I believe that there are going to be companies out there that really practice and really understand the value of user experience over time.

600% more time spent in multi-player than single player — 16 March, 2015
quality through good tools — 5 March, 2015

quality through good tools

  1. Erase and rewind – manage your technical debt as you go along rather than between releases. 
  2. Reduce iteration times – count loops through workflow and measure the times to calculate ROI
  3. Customize for your needs
  4. Brand your tools – encourages investment and builds integrity to your tools. Add a little polish and fun. 
  5. Celebrate your victories 

Ubisoft music tools developers GDC15

one wow after launch —

one wow after launch

There should be a plan for a ‘wow’ feature reasonable soon after launch

Eric Schmidt

With any service release there needs to be something in the pipe to release quickly enough to catch the early audience and wow them. Missing this opportunity is a big miss. Teams need to have the infrastructure and capacity in place to deliver something quickly. 

in praise of Slacks user experience — 3 March, 2015
how to avoid the fear of criticism? —
ideas need audiences —
think twice before using ingrained conventions — 2 March, 2015

think twice before using ingrained conventions

Game developers should think twice before including ingrained game conventions such as combat, death, and trial-and-error gameplay. Trial and error in games undermines emotional experiences and “keeps the machinery opaque.” It is un-immersive because it “chips away at the make-believe,” forcing the player to examine the game machinery to figure out how to beat the system.

and a really interesting blog post about Indie games as inspiration


are tablets really PCs? —

are tablets really PCs?

Interesting article on tablet trends –

  • iPad sales are slowing and pretty flat.
  • Apple still winning, and Android tablets not cause of slow down
  • Is it because iPads can’t be used for the same stuff as PCs yet?

…moving to new devices and form factors involves new software experiences, and new software also often both creates and requires new business processes. It’s hard to spend a day creating a 20-slide sales report on an iPad, even now that MS Office is available for iPad. But actually, that sales report should be a SAAS dashboard that takes 10 minutes to annotate. It will take time for those business processes to shift to enable more corporate tablet use.

Maybe suggesting that software will need to keep moving forward to meet the changing needs. In games, tablet games have been very much thrown in with phones most of the time. Unique tablet games will likely have more in common with PC than smartphone.

So, looking at tablets and smartphones as mobile devices in a new category that competes with PCs may be the wrong comparison – in fact, it may be better to think of tablets, laptops and desktops as one ‘big screen’ segment, all of which compete with smartphones, and for which the opportunity is just smaller than that for smartphones. And so tablets will over time eat away at laptop and desktop sales just as laptops ate away at desktop sales, but the truly transformative new category is the smartphone. Maybe.

We need to think about the tablet as part of the ‘PC’ and think about what it does to gamers expectations, and what we have to do to innovate in this space.

An alternate selection of data from Reality Mine on tablet use throughout the day, where and what people are doing with their tablets in 2014.
Tablets used most between 8 & 9pm primarily for content consumption, with games and entertainment apps leading the pack.

  • Apps, TV and Video content consumption are top activities for tablet owners.
  • Gaming is the most popular activity on tablets, compared to social networking for mobile phone users.
  • 85% of all tablet use occurs at home, this is significantly more than in home use of tablets and computers.
  • The majority of people are ‘relaxing’ while using their tablet or iPad.



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