Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Doing the right thing? or just gullible?

Various things going through my head today…

Firstly, the UK government gets to build a nuclear power station near me. That doesn’t scare me *as such*, although I’d definitely prefer it was a few hundred miles further away thanks. What pisses me off is that people are not prepared to discuss the facts, and risks. Even just RIGHT NOW on the BBC web site, there is news of new cracks in an existing reactor, and a ship carrying radioactive waste is drifting out of control. I mean…FFS, can we not even sensibly discuss the risks without being daubed as ‘anti-science’ and ignorant. I get that all the time because I’m very sceptically of nuclear power and it pisses me off. It’s possible to be informed, educated, sensible and still very wary of risks of these things thanks to the precautionary principle.

Anyway, I’m SURE that now we have guaranteed the french-owned nuclear station 30 years of a £92.50 strike price for nuclear energy we will get the same for solar generated by UK citizens right? The Feed-in-tariff is currently 6.38p/kwh for standalone solar PV. thats £63.80 guaranteed for 25 years, with no government implied insurance backing (nuclear plants are never insured), waste disposal or safety/security concerns. So….. err no.   I’m aware that solar has downsides due to indeterminacy and land-use, but rooftop solar has no land-use downside and the distributed nature of the energy source makes it more efficient due to lower power-line losses. Nukes have to be by the sea. Solar can be anywhere. Solar can be community owned, closer to the people and more democratized.

This is all in my mind as I’m looking for very-long-term investments for Positech Games. I’d ideally like to diversify a bit from games, and my dream project is a solar-farm or wind-farm. Ideally wind, but this is VERY expensive (there are huge economies of scale with turbine size, you really want 6MW turbines, which cost millions each), so more likely solar, which means buying land, which is hard to find. In both cases, planning is a nightmare because people somehow think solar panels in a field they can’t even see are somehow a problem. The thought of arguing with such people drives me nuts.

What I *could* do, what *everyone* in the UK does, is buy some cheap flats and rent them out to people who can’t afford to buy them. This is the default pension plan for middle and high income brits. I kinda hate it. I don’t want to leverage my financial position to squeeze ‘dead-money’ in rent from people on a lower income. That kinda sucks. I’d like to set up a business that generated renewable energy instead, but our politics in the uk is moving against the environment, and can I really trust a government feed-in-tariff promise anyway?

In unrelated news, getting new games to feature on is like pulling teeth. A lot of indies sell only through steam. Not just only through 3rd party portals, but exclusively through one. This amazes me. I LOVE steam, but my attitude to any business is like Han Solo and Lando.

“Can you trust him?”

“No…but he is my friend…”

I don’t know who might buy valve next year, or in ten years time. Nobody does, not even Valve. Hedging your bets is good. You don’t stick your entire stock portfolio in one share, it’s too risky, however safe a bet it looks. BigFishGames started off paying devs 70% royalty as I recall. They ended up with  around 20%. Businesses can change. It seems I’m the only one who realizes this.

So these ‘indie’ devs (I can’t really call them independent), can’t be listed on SMTG because it only lists devs with a direct purchase option, and increasingly this isn’t the case. Add to that people who take the hilariously catch-22 attitude of not wanting to be on SMTG because it has relatively low-traffic.

Again..I’m trying to do the right thing…use my own money to run a site that promotes other indie devs FOR FREE. But nobody is that interested.

So maybe it’s time to close SMTG, spend the money (and any solar-investment money) on buying up a bunch of buy-to-let properties so I can squeeze young people off the property ladder in the UK even more. Apparently that is what sensible people do.


19 thoughts on Doing the right thing? or just gullible?

  1. Hey Cliff, that “crack in reactor” link is broken, looks like you pasted some source code there.

  2. As far as I know, real estate is in uberbubble mode in a lot of western countries.
    I don’t know how smooth evictions are there in uk, but keep in mind that politicians love to win some more easy votes passing legislation against those greedy – evil!, they say – landlords – especially in dire times.
    Furthermore, houses are still targets: look at what’s happening here in Italy.
    The government needs (a lot of extra) money, and refuses to cut the huge number of unnecessary state employees – well over a million!
    So they keep aiming at real estate, among other things.
    In the meantime banks don’t lend money, and the government keeps raising taxes on what are now, by all means, slipknots that used to be homes.
    So it’s practically impossible to sell even at lousy prices!
    In fact, some people, unable to pay their taxes, is transferring the property to the state…
    In shaping your long term strategy, you have to decide whether you think the current system based on paper money, centered around the usd, is going to survive or not.
    I don’t want to piss you off, but IMHO renewable energy is not an option.
    I’m a bit of a “goldbug”… if I were in you I’d buy at least some gold – a *very long term* strategy, mind you!
    Maybe some *bullion* coins?
    I like Sovereigns, Krugerrands and Vreneli.

    1. What?

      Yeah, 2013 has been a bad year, but the current price is still way higher than what it was 10 years ago.
      True, gold is probably going to suffer some more, because a lot of people think that those fake gov stats do actually represent real growth, but sooner or later reality is going to knock at the door.
      Central banks, run by keynesians “masterminds”, managed to inflate yet another bubble, but it’s going to burst.
      Real economy didn’t benefit from these tricks.
      Who knows how many tons of gold the Chinese have accumulated in recent years – and what is going to happen when they disclose some more “accurate” numbers:

      Again, gold is a “very long term” strategy.
      Physical gold, I mean.

  3. Why not do both, buy property and add solar panels to the property? Or start a buisness where you offer to place panels for free on peoples homes as long as you get the runoff for x years. In my opinion grassroots change is the way to change things in your community.

    1. Same here. We’ll sell from our site (Humble Widget, I’m afraid =( ) for sure after release. I actually don’t like Steam and buy either direct or from GOG/HumbleBundle.

  4. The real problem with solar, and also wind, is that we have no way to store energy on mass. Obviously, solar does not produce power at night, and it produces very variable amounts of power during the day. That’s fine on a small scale, because we can scale the amount of power generated other ways to suit. But if it became a really sizable portion of our total power generation in a region we would have a real problem – when it’s not generating enough power, we don’t have a way to supplement it and when it’s generating too much we don’t have anywhere for it to go.

    If we had a way to store electricity on mass, both of those problems would be solved, but that’s just not technology that exists at the moment.

    The grid has to be well balanced, there’s a really small margin of error. Both too much and too little power being available create big problems.

  5. I’m very fond of your games and I’ve been reading the blog for quite some time and today I’ve got sudden reaction of my colleague on this post. I was sitting reading it and he was wandering round the room and asked what’s that I’ve been reading, and what are the rumors in foreign lands(as we are from Ukraine). I said – that’s not about programming just about life. And hes said – what’s happening there, and i said – well the the writer has bought some solar panels and now he’s upset about nuclear power plant beeng built next door. Man did he laugh!

  6. Maybe I’m not in the target market but SMTG just is about as good name as “Bing”. Yeah I’m sure it works for some people but those people probably still watch TV more than use internet. Imagine removing the G from “GSB” and you’d have a name as appealing as SMTG. If GSB was called just “Space Battles” I probably wouldn’t have bothered checking it out because my rule of thumb is that products name reflects the amount of insight that went into the product on average. As it’s easier to come up with generic names, it gives the first impression that maybe the rest of the product is also stuff you already know. There’s so much competition, that if the name isn’t enticing, the “DJ’s” or the people who take a first look and recommend things to others, might give it a skip just based on the name.

    Then even if you got some kind of unique’ish name, there’s the phonetic issues. Even if Bing was on par with Google, the only reason anyone would use it is that it’s shorter. When there’s no real/key practical differentiator, the products people choose to use are more like clothes, they want to say “I’m (or I’d like to be) the kind of person who uses this type of product”. Sounds awfully superficial but there’s a lot of superficial people and first impressions are all about that. I don’t want to give people the bad first impression by using Bing for example.

  7. Question to the “gold bugs” – If you keep buying as the price is going up that doesn’t bode well for your cost basis right? Ok so you don’t do that. You bought it all the way it was going down? Well you still have bad cost basis right? I think you guys need to buy a lot on margin and hope the miners don’t run out of gold while hoping to get some upside so you can close that margined position before the rates go up. I suspect the smart money will wait for you to do that, then put in some bids at “bargain prices” while “fixing” just enough to make miners unprofitable. That should squeeze the miners out of business (good opp to buy them/sites for bargain) and next step flush the margined gold bugs if any. Then buy the remaining supply, set offers/cap the lid at slightly below retail investors cost basis (probably available by looking at fund flows) and start printing the greens.

    That’s “old school” investing… Read it in some 100 year old book. If it worked back then, might still work?

    1. Be true to yourself and stay humble.
      Don’t let *fiat* money change ya.
      Laah, di-dah, da-da-dee-dah

  8. Quick summary of my life today (“exciting” as usual): Through reading wikipedia article about dead end jobs, “freeters” and then “domestic worker” article, I ended up reading about East India Company linked from there. The article suggested there was share price data available from 17th centry, news to me (I’m really into historical data). So quick search and I found this. Someone wrote a whole book about 17th century trading! I’m still going through the linked free pdf of the phd thesis, really quite interesting, it explains how the futures market came about and how the various things that still are present today developed, not through regulation but through evolution within the trading community.

    Here’s a funny quote “After the period 1630-50, investors were primarily interested in the financial services the secondary market provided, rather than the East India trade itself”. It also shows some evidence suggestive of first market makers and tells tale of a “bear syndicate” intent on crashing the stock price. Spoiler: the leader was ex. director of the company…

    I didn’t find what I hoped for though – which was detailed enough data to see if my market timing strategy worked back in the 17th century too. It would have been really amusing.

  9. No society should rely so heavily on nuclear power. It’s too dangerous. I don’t blame you Cliff for being concerned. Instead, governments ought to focus on renewable energy to improve the condition of the environment or have a very strong railroad subsidy program. Getting cars off the road by providing transportation alternatives like railroads and indeed buses is far better than dangerous nuclear power for reducing the impact of fossil fuel and bettering the environment.

    You could start your own bus company too! Lol!

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