We are starting a Kickstarter for the face-making card game some of you may have heard we made, Grimace. We will be using the money to print out decks and James will head out to local stores and do his business-y thing he does and get them to carry and sell it. Hopefully this will be a fun casual party game we can bring to you all and if it's successful it may help us speed along the development of other projects we have going on in tandem.
How can we make Grimace a better game for you? What updates would you like to see before we print it?
Mercury Retrograde Press' Barbara Friend Ish will be speaking at the Library of Congress on storytelling through game next month.
If you are interested in storytelling and games go check her post out and leave her some answers to her question:
If you could get a literary snob to play just one game, what would you offer them as a gateway drug?
Sadly I couldn't get my video capture working and the stills don't show off terribly much yet, as there is no art done yet. But the basic structure of the game is still there. We start the game, and east player lays down a card...
and our valid plays become un-dimmed and we choose a play. I've found a variety of free sound effects and from the unity asset store got a fantastic song called "Build me a future" by ADHMusic. Really appropriate I thought. It may get replaced later but it sets a good tone for what we currently have.
So if any of you know of good, free software for video capture, please let me know in the comments.
That was what was yelled after Pheidippides made the run from Marathon to Athens. Nike! Victory!
That was what I felt after a coding marathon with Anthony this past weekend. A lot got done. A whole lot.
I had to start this post over. I started pontificating and that is not the right thing to do here.
I just want to congratulate and thank Anthony on all of his hard work and express how in awe I am of his drive and talent. I am lucky to know you, buddy, not only as a business partner, but as a friend.
If anyone reading this thing does start their own studio, remember, the asset you need most of is not cash, but motivation and discipline (and a quiet place to work helps to).
Thank you again, Ant.
In the not too distant past, I talked about how to use game mechanics in accounts receivable so as to help ensured that a business gets paid, but what about the people who are doing the collections?
Accounts receivable is tedious and draining work that involves a lot of repetition, so why not use game mechanics so that it is more engaging, rewarding and yields better performance out of the employee?
Applying game mechanics to business processes is tricky, because the last thing you want to is trivialize the work or condescend to the employee. For me, coming into a job and hearing someone say, in all seriousness, “Let’s go play the Accounting Game!” is the stuff of nightmares, and I love accounting.
So, how to use game mechanics in collections? Thankfully, this is relatively easy to do, since collections enjoys a clear goal, the collection of money from accounts.
To do this, the best approach is not to create a game and insert it into the collections process, but rather, take what tasks employees already perform and make them into a game.
To start, assign a point value to every percentage of the total accounts receivable ledger that a particular employee is responsible for. Doing it as a percentage is important, since different employees are responsible for different accounts and will have different amounts that they need to collect.
Secondly, depending on whatever criteria is used at your company, assign each invoice a rating category from new, to concern, to critical, or whatever ever gradients work for your company, and with each gradient being worth different point values. Also, add a point bonus for every time an employee clears all of the invoices marked for a rating category, except for new. For critical invoices, for every critical invoice not collected, subtract points from an employee.
This begs the question of what to do with invoices or amounts that have to be written off. I believe the best solution is to remove points from employees for invoices, accounts and amounts that are written off that they are in charge of. This disincentivizes write offs and will encourage employees to be more aggressive with troublesome accounts. Mind you, the point deduction for a write off should not be as severe as the one for not collecting from a rated critical invoice or account, since the decision to write off an amount should be agreed upon by management.
But we are not done, when an employee collects from an invoice and the payment is posted, your accounting system needs to post, immediately, the gain in points for the employee in a place where the employee can see it easily. This can be just about anywhere, from an intranet site to a scoreboard in the office.
It is important to have these scores publicly available to other employees in the company, for this increases not only the social pressure to perform, but also it increases the participating employee’s perception of the status they gain by performing well.
I would not stop at points, however. Instead, incorporating achievements into the workplace can also have great affect. These achievements can be based upon any number of things, be it being the first to clear a rating category within a month, to collecting a certain amount over the lifetime of a person’s employment in the collections department.
What is great about achievements, especially ongoing, public achievements, is that they provide an emotional reward for a job well-done without costing the company extra (though do not be surprised if they are used as an argument for a raise during the annual performance review).
By doing these things, not only does a company increase engagement, but they also create greater job satisfaction and make better use of the competitive instinct. Another advantage is that it enables companies to identify those players that consistently bring good value to the company. Yes, coming in first within a period is a good thing and should be celebrated, but it is more likely that the top performer will constantly change hands. It is that person who continually comes in the upper-tiers, even if they never place in the ranking, that are the backbone for any company, and these are often the people who are overlooked in favor of rewarding the occasional big winners and punishing the low performers.
In short, by using game mechanics in collections, companies can ensure their continued productivity and cash flows, and be less reliant on debt-financing.
Unbeknownst to many people, many successful businesses die due to a lack of cash.
Sounds weird, doesn't it?
It is because most businesses sell on credit to other businesses. On paper, the company is profitable, but at the same time the company's cash reserves, which they use to operate the business, dwindle to nothingness.
To combat this usually offer incentives for paying quickly, such as a 2% discount if the receivable is paid within 10 days. This is a good thing, as it can build up to significant savings for the paying company.
This idea of added incentives is well developed in sales, with higher discounts given to larger orders. This allows companies to show a larger paper profit, if a smaller margin, and attract investors. However, it does not keep the company afloat.
What I think a better solution would be, and is applicable outside of providing physical products, is better developing the payment portion of the business cycle.
Imagine this: A company gets .5% off their bill for paying within 10 days. They do this 3 times in a row, they get 1% off. 7 times in a row, they get 1.5% off. And so on and so on until a maximum discount is reached.
Outside of discounts, a company could offer other incentives to paying early by partnering with other business, like offering frequent flyer miles with a partner airline. Or perhaps hotel discounts. Or sales discounts with an electronics company.
If a company wanted, they could further increase the incentive for paying early by issuing a press release of top ten customers, not based on orders, but on payments. This would give the paying companies greater status and reputation, thereby increasing the incentive to pay.
So, by using game mechanics in one's account receivable policy, a company can increase their chances of survivability, and not just post potential paper profits.
One thing that every business starting out needs is money.
One thing that many entrepreneurs don't have is money.
But finding money is frustrating, even when you can perform all of the work that needs to be done without it, because, and let's be honest, having money makes things easier. A good idea and the appropriate skills isn't enough. Money is the key thing that every business needs.
But, again, the pursuit is frustrating. Recently, I was to meet with a potential investor that I have been pursuing for some time.
Then he rescheduled.
Now, there is a good chance that he is not serious, but that doesn't matter. I am.
Plus, I don't have money. Neither does Ant. So we cannot afford to let anyone pass us by.
Sure, some will say that it is control that matters, and it does, at a certain point. We're not at that point.
Can we get there without money? Sure. It will just take longer.
But the point where we have money is where all other business concerns come in. Until then, it is worth the work, the frustration, and long days and nights. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be doing it.
Lots of stuff has happened since last post. First of all we found out in addition to registering our business with the state of Georgia we also needed to apply for an Atlanta Business License. That was an adventure in beuracracy itself. Maybe Jame's will use his writing skills to regale you with the details later.
I've been playing around with the google map API and having fun trying to get it to do some things it apparantly wasn't supposed to do. Getting close to the whole 90% complete phenomenon. Still looking to have version 1 done on time though.
Me and James got to be one of 39 presentations last week for GRA/TAG. It sounds like alot but considering this is who was left after being cut down from eighty something people I think I feel good about the progress we've already made.
But the presentation itself, we made them smile, we made them laugh, we made them rub their chins thoughtfully. I'm looking forward to getting invited to give a longer presentation for semi-finals.
We'd just like to get the word out about Cliffski's plight. He's an independent developer who is being stiffed on the bill for some games he's produced. You can read the details in his own words here
As a note we only have one side of the story, but Zero-G hasn't, at the time of writing denied anything or even bothered to respond.
Update--The issue was apparantly with the portal sites Zero-G was working with, not Zero-G themselves. Back payments have been made and everything has been resolved. Zero-G is only guilty of poor communication it seems.