FullIndie Summit 2014

This last weekend I and several hundred other people attended the FullIndie Summit 2014 in Vancouver. It is a pretty great community always willing to help and share advice. Here is the dump of my notes.

Conflicting takeaways

  • Show unfinished works to media early , as long as they are well polished
  • Get your friends to play it often to iterate, but get new eyes that aren't friends
  • Ship on all platforms you can, except when you should focus on one you love
  • If you like business more than games go away, but run your game like a business to make money
  • Your game needs a story, except when it doesn't
  • Playing with friends is awesome, unless you want to be alone in VR
  • Games need balance, unless they don't
  • The press wants to talk about your game, as long as you are interesting, have a back story and a pre-existing relationship

Non-conflicting advice

  • The audience does not see the depth of flaws you do
  • Narrative and story around characters helps people relate, give them a life and a world to live in, art, lighting, sounds, environmental changes, these all create experiences for the character and player to live in.
  • QA is about breaking the game, playtesting is about improving it. Don't confuse them.
  • Don't leave your player in learned helplessness. If not a linear path overcommunicate they can explore
  • If open experience there are no capital C choices, only possibilities and ripples from decisions
  • Animated gifs (and probably Vines) are better for sharing and showing gameplay than static images
  • Creative work is emotional. Up, down, feel good, bad, and everything else. It is okay to tell people and talk about it
  • Lead with familiar, go weird later
  • No one reads, ever, really, they don't.
  • Measure how it is played. Do all the stuff/classes/experiences get used
  • Your game is not for everyone
  • Unity5 is just wow

Links to check out

There was so much more. You can get a taste of it and find more opinions by checking the twitter search
https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=fullindiesummit&src=typd

Thanks organizers. I'll be back next year.

Fall Reads 2013

My latest reads. This covers mid-September to December 2013.

Long For This World - Jonathan Weiner
Dr. Joe's Brain Sparks - Joe Schwarcz
Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller - Jeff Rubin
Relentless - Tim S. Grover
What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping - Paco Underhill
Everything Bad Is Good For You - Steven Johnson
The Willpower Instinct - Kelly McGonigal
Portable MBA - 4th Ed. Robert F. Bruner et al.
The New Artists Manual - Simon Jennings
Looptail - Bruce Poon Tip
Think Twice - Michael J. Mauboussin
Seven Years To Seven Figures - Mihael Masterson
Alone Together - Sherry Turkle
In Praise Of Slow - Carl Honore
The Authenticity Hoax - Andrew Potter
Bursts Albert Laszlo-Barabasi
Number Sense - Kaiser Fung

I really enjoyed Willpower Instinct, Think Twice and The Authenticity Hoax. Of course they are all interesting in their own ways.

Summer Reads 2013

A bit slower this summer, less commuting and more sun. This covers May-August 2013.

  • 48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene
  • Finding Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Power of Persuasion - Robert Levine
  • Think Like a Genius - Todd Siler
  • The Follow Through Factor - Gene G Hayden
  • How to Sell Yourself - Joe Girard
  • Pandoras Lunchbox - Lelanie Werner
  • Sticks and Stones - Emiy Bazelon
  • Sham - Steve Salerno
  • The Cult of the Amateur - Andrew Keen
  • A Million Little Bricks The Unofficial Illustrated History of Lego - Sara Herman
  • Write a Play and get it performed - Ann Gawthorpe & Lesley Bown
  • Different Minds - Lorna Dew & Leo Ferrari
  • Social Media Is Bullshit - B.J. Mendelson
  • Alone in a Crowd Social Isolation of Seniors in Care Facilities - Association of Advocates for care reform
  • Adventure Capitalist - Jim Rogers

3 Tips to manage thoughts and get work done

3 Tips to manage thoughts and get work done

Guaranteed you're reading this while you should be doing something else. I want to show you a simple technique that has helped me greatly in keeping focused and in control. We fight interruption and intrusive thoughts all day long because we are designed to seek out shiny things and avoid boredom. Often you end up on another thought before you even get to flow on the first one.

Putting On A Play

To imagine how your attention work one of the best analogies I know is to see a small stage with actors entering and exiting representing the active thoughts. Sometimes they come as you need and other times they flit on and off interrupting your carefully constructed focus. Realistically you only have space for a few actors on this stage at any time and they must be managed to keep things under control. We have been told that seven items is a limit of working memory but that only seems reasonable for simple, concrete lists. Working with larger ideas you are only going to get 2 or 3 active at once.

Staging The Show

We must be aware of managing this stage to ensure the thoughts come and go as needed. Learning to recognize the ideas that must be there and what should not be. Controlling the thoughts and limited attention can be helped with 3 tips. Provide a waiting area, manage the lighting and watch the timing.

1. The Waiting Area

The waiting area is a space kept away from the stage. This can be handled with a notebook, sticky notes or your favourite text editor. Anything that helps get the other thoughts out of your mind, away from the active stage. Once we put the intruders in this space it gives them ways to represent fully and helps to collect related thoughts around them. It will free up the extra energy used keeping thoughts off the stage and let your current thoughts work without interruption.

2. The Lighting

Controlling the lighting is about keeping the spotlight on only the actors that matter now and minimizing attention on the others. This can be helped through two actions, goal setting and removing noise. Take a minute and write down exactly what end goal you are trying to achieve. If you get any extra ideas during this goal process put them off in your waiting room. To remove noise put your waiting area out of sight. Close and minimize any tools that aren’t be used for this task so you can completely focus on the end goal you just set.

3. Timing & Intermission

Unfortunately even with all this work your stage is still likely to get interrupted. Be prepared to forcefully push off distractions to the waiting area. To refocus use at the goal and output notes you created to get back to the immediate task. You may want to work in set time blocks of 20 minutes to give yourself enough time to flow. As you practice you become progressively better at thought management and soon it needs only a simple push to get unwanted ideas out.

When you are tired or the task is going poorly it becomes easier for other ideas to intrude and becomes harder to push them away. If this is the case you may want to take an intermission. Going for a walk, do some stretching. Get a glass of water in another room. These will often help clarify the situation. Don’t let this time distract you though. The show must go on so make sure to time limit the break or plan a fixed return time before you go.

“All the minds a stage, And all the thoughts and ideas merely players.” hacked Shakespeare.

Recognizing and managing your thoughts takes time and energy. The payoff in focus and getting over distractions increases chances of getting into the zone and completing much more work than you thought possible.

Types of CEO's and how to help as a leader

All leaders can use help and the best ones realize it. Helping your CEO and the other leaders in your organization is great practice to hone your own skills and style. I have worked with many types of CEO’s over the years of consulting and working with startups and this is a list I have compiled of the different types I have met and how I tried and would encourage you to work with them.

The Product Manager

This CEO owns the product down to the last detail. He or she is sure to know what font, technique or tool that could be used to make their ideal product. They are often able to create great products but have been known to forget about the day to day operations. The product isn’t likely to sell by chance. You can help this CEO by understanding and ensuring execution of the processes that it takes to move product out the door.

The Salesmen

This CEO is always on the go. They have their hands on the pulse of the industry, peers and the latest trends. Unfortunately this CEO is often selling tomorrows product. The company then runs without solid goals or is still producing last weeks great idea. You can help this CEO by working ideas into substantiated and timed, deliverable product pipelines

The Visionary

Any day now the world will see the greatness in their product line. Once they manage to share the details that is. This CEO is so certain of success that they forgot to share that vision or execute on the plan scribbled down somewhere. This CEO can be helped by drawing out their vision and committing it to paper for the rest of the team to work from.

The “Second”

This CEO is often connected to the founder. He or she has been given the reigns of running the enterprise while the “first” CEO goes off on a new adventure. This CEO will need to learn many things very quickly. Their early days are full of confusion which can cause a sense of uncertainty in your staff. You can help this CEO by getting all the parts working well on a process, including them.

The Suit

This CEO has learned to walk, talk and dance with the well connected. They aren't very worried about the business since they know all the right people and just needs to give them a call. Keep an eye on the next quarter results since that is what they will be watching. You can help here by communicating the ongoing activities and results. Knowing means they aren't surprised and will let the team focus on delivery.

The Humble

With plans for tomorrow, a hand on today and a willingness to actually admit they don't know, this CEO is most likely to find good people and let them do their jobs. They are always willing to make a decision but would be just as happy if you proposed one first. This CEO can be helped by you creating strong relationships with the team and communicating together as a common voice.

Do you know of more types and how to help them? Let me know on twitter.

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