• Sneak Peek – Simon Graham theme music!

    Simon Graham and the Extraordinary Timepiece is almost available…and here’s a preview of the theme music.

    Simon Graham is a young adventurer. He’s out on his own to piece together a strange mystery and figure out what happened to his beloved grandmother. This theme music sets the stage for Simon to begin his journey, which is both a story of physical travel and personal growth.
    I’ve really enjoyed working with Jeremy Maher, the game’s visionary, to help bring this excellent story to life. The music is written to pull you back in time to the age of rapid change in America when modern miracles such as the telephone were just beginning to take hold. It is inspired by “The Hero” by Richard Strauss, who was a composer of the Romantic period. I couldn’t help but feel that the title and the time period of Strauss’ work said something about young Simon. Very fitting, indeed. Enjoy!
    Simon Graham Title Theme

  • Let a Thousand Apps Bloom

    Let a Thousand Apps Bloom

    How a Cooperative Approach Encourages Success

    If ideas are a dime per dozen, then iPhone app ideas must be about one penny to the pound. The problem is that somewhere in that bulk of app ideas lays a handful of treasures. How do you find the good ones? You can gather up a long list of apps and try to pick the concepts you think will achieve success. You can also try to detect trends and build an app that floats on the market’s expressed preferences. Both of these options require above-average skill in selecting the right mobile software project. Good luck with that.
    Compared to full-scale software offerings, mobile applications are small projects. They have relatively small payoffs. Due to that nature, it doesn’t make much sense to conduct thorough market research like you would for a new business-to-business web portal. You’re going to have to use a more automated means of pulling flowers out of the hat so you don’t end up with a handful of fertilizer.
    An increasingly common mentality among angel investors is to “Let a thousand flowers bloom.” The gist is that many entrepreneurs working on a diverse range of projects will likely result in some successes. If you can afford the seeds, expecting a few blooms is reasonable. It’s funny that the “thousand flowers” phrase started in The People’s Republic of China as an initiative around 1956. It was called the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” back then and its aim was to have the bright minds of the nation bring their ideas forward so the best alternatives could be harvested. Many people feel that it was a trap to expose folks whose views differed from the established political direction. Now the phrase is used to represent a methodology in one of the most capitalistic processes of the West. Strange, isn’t it? No need to continue the history lesson, however. The floral investment method seems beneficial, as it is much easier to pick the flowers out of the weeds once everything has grown a bit. Let’s stick with that.
    The seeds are pretty cheap for iPhone apps. Apple provides a ready-made garden for you to plant them in, as well, called the App Store. The trick is to have enough app concepts circulating and to have a method of filtering out which ones should definitely not be developed. Then the remaining set of potential successes can be constructed and launched. Some will fail, some will produce good returns, and many will land around the break-even point. Pretty standard. Developing apps may be relatively cheap but they are not free. The average iPhone app project costs $7,500.00 when inexpensive resources are used. That makes the running total for 20 apps a substantial $150,000.00. Twenty is an arbitrary number, but you get the point. Unless you are very good at predicting successful concepts, you will need to get quite a few pieces of software out the door. Would you put $150k down on a variety of small software ideas today?
    A good idea would be to operate cooperatively. Gather more gardeners to share the burden. It’s not all about sharing financial outlay and risk, though. Do you have the ability to turn the app plans into reality? I am approached constantly by people with good ideas for iPhone apps but no clue how to make them happen. That makes perfect sense. Although these little applications seem simple, they are still software. They still require significant effort, and in many cases a complex idea cannot get off the ground if the app entrepreneur does not have at least some understanding of mobile technology. By operating cooperatively, skill sets are aggregated and ideas are vetted by everyone involved. This tactic is sorely needed. The public interest in making iPhone apps is amazing, exhibited by folks aged 12 to 70. Who would have thought that small-scale software projects could become a national fascination?
    With iPhone app ideas popping up everywhere, and the usual shortage of capital and industry know-how, it looks like we should all be putting our heads and wallets together. The array of seeds that a group can plant may yet result in the next major app success. Concepts will be filtered better and combined abilities will help tear down project roadblocks. Let a thousand apps bloom.

  • “Koei: RTK” – a Titan in Japan, a Tit-mouse in the US

    Here’s a paper I wrote for one of my favorite Stanford UG classes: The History of Video Game Design. I wrote the paper on Koei’s RTK series. I used to love these historical simulations. When I worked in China, I went by the name Guan Yu. Enjoy!