Thursday, December 31, 2009

Solar, Propane & Water

Christmas Eve dinner was a little different this year. Marianne and I went to Mexico to spend a few days by the beach in a house that runs on solar and propane. We were prepared, but not quite prepared for the condition of the house. We couldn't figure out most of the details. We had no water, electricity, toilet or gas. We had planned a feast, instead we ate soup and a bagel heated up over a Coleman lantern.

After driving over 400 miles we were not in the best of moods. We began to argue. "Beat the Boss" came up in our discussion. At this point I am over 7 months in development. I am 95% done and just about to submit, but the beginning of the game bothered me. It took too long to load and a still frame was necessary. I went to sleep angry and thinking. Sometimes I come up with good ideas when I'm ticked. I wasn't mad at Marianne, I was mad I haven't finished. While laying on a plank listening to waves it came to me. The directions take a few seconds to read. Why not start with the directions and learn how to play while you wait.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Patience - waiting for the New Year

I had no idea when I first started that "Beat the Boss" would take 8 months to develop. But when you think about creation some projects take weeks, some take years. This one will be somewhere in the middle. What has been interesting is that during the last 8 months the mobile world has changed at an amazing rate. I am OK with that. More people have iPhones than ever before and the little guy making a game like me is going to become more rare. I have been watching the App Store looking at what is popular. "Beat the Boss" will be pretty unique. I think the artwork and style of play will set my game apart.

While studying martial arts we would have to always say "Osu!"(Pronounced ohs) meaning "have patience". The game is really close and I don't want to rush it out. Patience is the key. Osu!

Apple is closing down iTunes Connect for re-tooling so we will test it after the New Year and see if an approval happens faster.

We will celebrate the New Year watching a guy named Travis Pastrana jump a Subaru onto a barge in the Long Beach harbor. I will consider 2010 my "Nascar New Year"!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crystal Ball to the American mobile future

It's almost the end of 2009. Mobile has come a long way since the turn of the century. The progression of mobile feels similar to the era when desktop computers first hit the internet. Speed and bandwidth were the issue, just like mobile. Let's take a quick look at mobile phone history from my perspective.

Picture the set of "The 70's Show". Little league parents were an excellent barometer for new trends back when I was a kid. They were pushing or dragging 30, had 2.5 kids and had a decent job. In the beginning doctors had pagers, followed by policeman and drug dealers.

One Saturday morning as a game was about to start an over-tanned yuppie dad showed up in the stands with a large metal briefcase. Slowly he freed himself of the restraints of his Hawaiian shirt and oiled himself around his gold medallion liberally. He spread out reflective material and kicked back wearing expensive sunglasses. He reached to his right, popped open the case and took out a telephone. The cheering that followed had nothing to do with the game. The children were fooled into believing they had just gained parental approval when in reality it was the birthing of their electronic leash. Bernie was mobbed by little league mom's, never to be seen again. What happened that evening is 70's legend.

The next versions of the cellphone were the size of walkie-talkies and weighed 20 lbs. Power was an issue and your car has a battery. The logical move was to have a "Car Phone". Having a phone in your car was a big thing. People faked like they had one just to look cool. Thieves would totally mess up a sweet ride to get a hold of a nice car phone.

In America, really cheap phones were offered with expensive long term contracts. SMS would become the huge moneymaker for the telcos, they had no problem giving away devices. Cameras would become more commonplace and people were itching to go online. PDA's became doorstops as telephones improved.

Someone asked Einstein his phone number. His answer was, "I don't know", I don't worry about things I can easily look up." How right he was, everyone with an iPhone and Wikipedia is a genius these days. In the 70's, when you left the house you made sure you had your wallet and your keys. Now add the cellphone to the pile, the cellphone has reached worldwide acceptance.

Things move extremely fast these days, but one thing holds true… Europe and Asia are two years ahead of what we do. We have progressed to the point of smartphone adoption in the US but the services available in other parts of the world surpass our expectations.

If we look to Europe and Asia they will give us a crystal ball to 2012. I would expect to see mobile TV in the the US in the very near future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pimp'in ain't easy!

Being that "Beat the Boss" is back in the shop for some tweaks I am involved in the marketing aspects like keywords and description. The biggest news of the moment is Tiger Woods infidelity. He has bowed out of golf for the moment to collect his thoughts and arrange his life. What sucks for him is that he is so famous that almost every conversation in the world starts with a Tiger joke. I am contributing as I always have. Sorry Tiger.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The second time I went to Japan we watched the first bombs drop in Iraq on a little bitty TV with rabbit ears at the top of a temple in Japan. The temple had dial-up but they barely used it, we would have to wait till we get back for more information. Many of us wanted to go home because things were about to change. Our karate teacher who is Japanese didn't understand our angst, he insisted we stay. I remember going through the motions, testing for my belt and getting home to find out the state of the nation and the world.

Today, rabbit ears (TV antennas) in America no longer work. If you don't have a digital convertor you get no picture. That trip to Japan in 2002 I had a film camera and didn't think of bringing my cellphone. That was about 8 years ago. If you have ever watched the TV show "Kung Fu" the opening has David Carradine snatching a pebble from his master's hand. That scene is similar to my training as well as how fast mobile technology is changing.

I eventually got home and found a slightly different attitude than I expected. People were aware of the war situation, but not really effected. Life just kind of went on. In the background you knew something was up but the news delivery at the time did not feature the war every day. Wartime for me always looked like John Wayne movies. One for all, all for one, people rally together to defeat the enemy. The average citizen would conserve and contribute. When a soldier was carted away after an injury, someone sticks a cigarette between his lips and shakes his hand for his service.

Our guys were getting blown up in Iraq and they made sure we didn't see pictures. Mr. Bush urged us to shop and pretend everything was fine. The mission was accomplished and he had a handle on things.

At the time, I had a handyman that worked on my house that I had nicknamed "Platehead". He was a former Navy Seal that had a metal plate in his head. He always wanted me to touch it… no fricken way. He was super patriotic, very loud and drove a truck that had a custom rear paint job with these words, "Support our troops or kiss my ass". Platehead rides a Harley and watches Nascar, you could describe him as Joe Lunchbucket, a typical American. His sentiment was how American's were pushed. Support the effort or you are unpatriotic. While all this was happening I was wondering how we are paying for this war monetarily and psychologically. Platehead was busy ruining the patio.

Commercials on TV told you that renting an apartment was stupid. Buy a house with no money down. Idiots were stock experts, companies like Enron turned off energy to increase the price then their executives stole the cash and ran. Everyone was a homeowner, SUV's ruled the road, big stores became clubs that sold toilet paper by the truck load. Excess was good yet the war was going on.

From a mobile perspective we were in transition. One do-it-all device did not exist. I carried a telephone, a camera and a PDA separately at the time.

2002 makes me think of karate, cellphones, metal enhanced craniums, and the beginning of the war.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wait, Wait, Break Wood

Finishing is an interesting topic. I have decided to work with Apalon out of Belarus to market Beat the Boss. Right off the bat there will be a list of 5-10 suggestions to improve the game. This is tough just from a human perspective. Anytime you have something reviewed and get edits it adds a little heartbreak to your creation. My next move will be to decide how much heartbreak I want to fix and how much it will cost me. The next adjustments have to be the final moves from a budget perspective. It is time to go to market.

Game quality is key. Most of the top ten games are established titles like Madden Football, Monopoly, Tetris and Scrabble. If my game is weak, the gamers will rip it. I need to reassess the playability. My guess, the changes won't be drastic and we will move forward.

My Christmas release may not happen but I am willing to wait. There will be plenty of new devices at the beginning of the year. Beat the Boss will kick butt on it's own time.

In my karate training we waited for one punch rather than going Jackie Chan. The release strategy will follow the same plan. Wait, wait, wait…break wood.