Friday, 26 April 2013

Should you build your own game engine?

Lot's of times you will see companies use their own native engine. Other times you will see them use a proprietary one like the unreal engine. Should you build your own engine?

If you want to make games in your basement/garage/bedroom, the answer is 100% no. You don't have time for that. You have to get your game out to the public as soon as possible. Even if you go long term should you build your own game engine? Why do people do it?

Well, the first reason is that when you flip your game business it is worth more if you have that software. Instead of just having characters and titles you also have engine and code to sell as well. It could be worth it.

Personally, I do not have time to code my own engine. I just want to get my game out as fast as I can so people can play it. I have too many ideas and not enough time. I would advise against building your own engine. I would just use unity3d. It is the easiest 3D engine to use.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

How much should you really save

As an entrepreneur I have no pension. I also like to talk about success and that is more than just building apps. So on this blog you will hear some financial advice as well.  Surprisingly most people don't have a pension at their job. If you are under 30 you stay at a job for 3 years before you get board of it and you move on. So even then you are not really eligible for a pension. Furthermore pensions have changed and they do not favor you as much as they did in the past. Most people think that a pension is where the company just pays you money. In reality you build your own pension.

So how much should you really save? Well you should save about as much as you pay rent. Let's assume that your rent is 1000 per month you should save the equivalent. But really you should save about double. If you do the math, you should roughly have 500k saved up by the time you are 65. Here is the formula

Age - 65 * -1 *12 * monthly savings

So if you plugin the numbers(assuming you are 25)

25 - 65 *-1 * 12 * 1000 = 480 000.

So if you want a million dollar pension you better start saving. In fact you should probably put 2k in per month. If you have a plan where the company will match your investment then 1k should suffice.

But good luck finding a job that pays you enough to actually do this. One thing you can do is start a business and 100% of those proceeds go to retirement.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Learning something new

You should always be learning something new. You don't have to be amazing at it but you should try and learn something new to keep your brain active. You should also learn physical activities as well. Learn a new stretch or add a new exercise to your work out. If you don't exercise please start.

In addition to the fun facts about the tech industry you will see my progress on my electric skateboard as well.

I have never skateboarded in my life but I went to the parking lot and tried it. Why not? Just try something new, when you try something new you learn.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Why you should charge more money for your product

Most people by definition grew up in a standard middle class home. This means that money was always on the tight side and that means that people's spending habits are very conscious. But there are people who spend lots of money, way more money than what most people are used to spending.

I often see people charging way too little for their products. Remember if you want to attract 1000 people to your website it will cost the same. So if this case then why not have big ticket items when they get there.

Have you ever walked into a store and saw a special item for sale that was extremely expensive? This is done on purpose so that when a high roller comes in they can make a lot of money. Just imagine one customer buying something for 10 000 dollars!

Monday, 15 April 2013

When you know you have a good idea and drop everything to persue it

Here is a little story about an event that happened 2 weeks ago. When I was a kid I wanted to make a hovercraft. I went to the library and thoroughly researched it. I found out it wasn't feasible. I then researched how to make a gas-powered or an electric skateboard. Again it wasn't feasible.

Fast forward to the present and I saw a ted talk on electric skateboards. Apparently, both motors and batteries have come up leaps and bounds since I was a kid and I instantly wanted start building them and selling them. Since Im an entrepreneur I know how to get something up and out the door.

Im always looking for more revenue streams and eventually I wanted to branch out into physical products. This was the perfect project for me. The only problem is that I haven't produced physical products, I produce software.

The main reason a physical product like this would be great is that I could charge a lot of money, and I wouldn't have to sell a lot to make a profit. This way I wouldn't have to sell a lot to make a livable income. Also buy working with something different, it would make the some of the "boring" software work more fun.

Lot's of people do make stuff in their homes and sell it. It is a very easy and simple way to make money.

So I researched everything I possibly could but in the end I had to say no to the idea. The reason is too much liability. I learned a very valuable lesson here which is that software is much easier to produce than physical products. I'm going to stick with software for now.

In the end I will just build an electric skateboard for myself. I will post pictures a long the way.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Tech companies compared to oil companies

Most people tend to think of oil companies as evil. They see something like the gulf oil spill and pipeline spills and they brand oil as evil. As a result most people have a negative view towards oil companies.

Tech companies on the other hand change society for the better and most people view tech companies as progressive and sadly "hip". But what if I told you that tech companies were doing something that was equally as destructive to spilling oil over the environment? That destructive force is not hiring enough employees.

Sadly the companies that do hire lots of people, like Microsoft, have a bad image. I blame the fact that the companies that do not hire enough people, the companies that people like actually make vanity products, instead of productive products. That's right instagram and facebook have more in common with cosmetics versus production. Beauty and vanity are like wine. A little bit is a fantastic part of living but too much of it can lead to problems.

If you take a look at this website you can see how much employees the average employee would make at a tech company.

Here is the chart.
Company2012 Reported RevenuesEmployeesRevenue Per Employee
Automattic (WordPress)$45,000,000150$300,000

You have probably heard that the middle class is being eroded and that the jobs of the past are not here today. Well, it isn't the fact that companies are not making money it is the fact that they aren't hiring enough.

As I have said before, the easiest way for a tech company to be triple bottom line is to hire more people. The only problem with this is that most of these companies don't actually charge money for their products. They have a very asymmetrical route to profit. As a business owner it would be really hard to base employee salaries over this asymmetric route to profit.

The worst part of the situation is that when companies charge money for products they are seen as uncool and usually frowned upon.

One day this bubble will pass and I welcome that day.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Attitude towards money and tech

I spent most of my high school years involved in music of some kind. I also spent a lot of times with musicians and artists. One thing that I am seeing over and over again in the tech industry is the attitude towards money is becoming more and more similar to the way artists view money.

This includes both the game industry and the software industry in general. The attitude is that money doesn't really matter and time doesn't really matter. Lot's of app and game developers will gladly give away their creation for free with little promise of return.

Sometimes I do hear people in tech and especially non profit tech companies say "It's not about the money". While that is a wonderful sentiment it doesn't bode well for people's livelihood in the industry. If you hear a musician say "It's not about the money MAN" you think the guy is an idiot. If you hear a tech startup say "It isn't about the money" you think "Wow I'm sure they will flip it for millions".

Let me remind all of you again how fantastic the music industry is thriving (sarcasm). The point is that whenever the bohemian mentality towards money creeps into an industry it is never a good thing. Would you ever hear a mechanic say "It's not about the money man"? probably not.

We all talk about a tech bubble and it is very possible that the fundamentals of business are not considered when evaluating tech companies. So there is this weird 21st century bohemian mentality towards tech startups.

So how do we fix this? We simply run our business like a traditional business. When you are setting up your start up set it up on the principles of business. That is selling a product for money. If your product is good (production), people know about it (marketing and advertising), then your product will do fantastic.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Office space for the 21st century

If you have ever looked at trying to find office space you run into a problem: there are more condos than office spaces. This is because North America doesn't have as many jobs as it used to. Most developers can make more money with condos than offices spaces. This makes sense because most people think work sucks.

So what do you do about it? Well you could find a traditional office space or you could just make an office in a condo or a townhouse. The latter makes much more sense.  First of all, business of the 21st century is going to be more like business before the 20th century. Small and possibly local. Yes, there will be big or humungous business but the medium sized business will start to erode. That means there will be companies worth billions and then companies making a few hundred thousand to millions a year.

On top of this you can outsource via telecommuting meaning that you will need less overhead. So if you do want to work together it might be better to just rent a condo or a townhouse and work from there. The biggest reason is that you have more selection for the price. If you compare what you would get for a townhome and what you would get for an office the townhome wins hands down. Now there could be an issue with running a business from a home and there could be a "commercial property" issue with zoning. But just tell your landlord what you are using it for and if they agree then there is no problem. Usually the zoning is for people selling stuff out of their house not software.

You also get to make the home much more customizable and personal rather your stock corporate office. In addition this location might be more accessible via mass transit so your employees can come to your office more easily.

This solves lots of problems when trying to find an office space. If you have ever tried to find any kind of office space it's tough and I live in a large urban financially driven city.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Self directed learning and online learning doesn't have to be all or nothing

I like self directed learning. It has always been possible but in the 20th century it was frowned upon by most school systems. As a result most people think that if you are not in a classroom you are not learning. Today when people talk about online education the argument is made that you either have to go one way or the other. Why not both?

If a high school of 2000 students with an average commute of 30 minutes (60 both ways) made Wednesday self directed learning day the time saved would be roughly 3 months of human time. This is awesome. Each week the school would save 3 months of human time and each month it would roughly save a year of human time.

Students could do whatever they want with their time. They could learn something new, play sports or just relax. Yes, even relaxing can help learning.

So when you talk about self directed learning you can say that even one day of self directed learning a week has massive gains.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Is the game industry crashing?

Is the game industry crashing? If so what are the factors. This is a 1/2 hour video that covers the topic. If you have the time I would recommend watching it. If you like making games I wouldn't panic and I will tell you why.

This video talks about the quality of games and a little about mobile games. Personally, the biggest issue towards the industry is the price point of games and DLC. This video talks a lot about how games are unfinished and they have a ton of DLC to make up for it. The biggest issue I have with the industry is that you usually have to give your game away for free and that people complain about 2 dollar apps being too expensive. 

From a business stand point free sucks and the more money you can charge the better it will be for the company. The freemium model is really hard to build a business around and I think that a new system will have to emerge that compliments everybody. 

Why does free suck? Look nowhere else other than the music industry. A 40 billion dollar industry was reduced to 16 billion. That's a pretty significant drop. Also the surrounding services saw massive decline in profitability. 

Now the biggest issue of free for music isn;t the fact that people are listening to music for free it is the fact that people have disassociated music and money. So if you wanted to teach guitar lessons people wanted you to do it for free. Everything is free and there is no business in free.

Will this happen to the game industry? Possibly. The more stuff people enjoy for free the more people associate free with games and soon everything will be free just like music.

Are you going to worry about a crash especially if you want to work in the industry. Well it might get rocky but it won't die out like in 1982. What you should be prepared for is the post crash environment assuming there will be a crash at all. I have an idea of what Ill do. Do you?