In the pit of never-ending improvements


Tasina in pitWhere to even begin …

Don’t misunderstand me, I get up every morning and am happy to get to work. The problem is, there is just so much that goes into building a game AND a company.

I had a great time at the East Los Angeles College STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) event.

One of the speakers pointed out that you need to be marketing all of the time, otherwise you have a great game that nobody plays. That’s true and one of the reasons we had a demo table at STEAM, plus another at the CABE (California Association of Bilingual Education) conference this week.

You need to have a great product, too. That means a thousand pieces – the graphics have to be good. In our beta version, the picture above was actually a background of grass on which I had copied and pasted half of Tasina (our main female character). It did not really look like she fell in a pit. I’m not sure what it did look like. Anyway – great improvement from Justin – thank you! This week, he has been working on a lot of scenes like that, which I knocked out in my hotel room one evening – and looked like it – and replacing them with professional artwork.

Then there is the programming. Dennis is working on adding more levels to Fish Lake while I’m going through and debugging both Spirit Lake and Fish Lake. If you think at some point you should have caught all of the bugs – well, then, you haven’t much programming experience. You see, we always want to improve things. For example, we write student answers to our database so we can produce reports for the schools and so if an individual user decides to use a different computer, he or she can pick up in the same place. However, sometimes the Internet connection drops. Wouldn’t it be good if you could keep playing and then when the connection was back it would send that information? Of course it would, but that improvement caused a few other parts of the game to quit working. Multiply that by a hundred and you understand why, like true love, debugging is forever.

In addition to making the game work better, I have a couple of hundred ideas for making more of the game – more levels, more teaching activities, more casual games that are offshoots of the main game, more Easter eggs. Literally, I have hundreds of ideas listed by priority that I knock out whenever I can.

Back to the marketing — this website woefully needs to be reconstructed from top to bottom. We have SO much content to add, plus our graphics genius, Justin, has been dying to apply his design skills. Speaking of content, we are working on a teacher resources site that has less than half of the resources we’ve created uploaded, and Ernie is in the middle of organizing that.

Jessica is stepping up into project management, which, along with moving into offices, means we are turning into a real grown-up company.

Reality has sunk in that we will never get the games to where I want them to be unless we spend more on personnel – more salaries for artwork, more on OTHER people doing management and marketing tasks so that Dennis and I can code more.

Adding more people to the payroll means more risk. It also means more serious efforts to bring in investor funds. We have enough money to keep going at our current level forever, or at least until we die or become senile.

We have enough to continue at a ramped up level of staff for – more than a year but less thanĀ forever. Regardless, we’re taking the plunge and our products and company will be better for it.

 

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