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

Dealing with the small guys

A lot of big companies will ignore you, and basically pretend you dont exist if you are a small company wanting to deal with them. Big publishers often don’t even dignify my emails with a response (you know who you are!). Some advertisers won’t deal with me “unless your budget is at least $10k a month”. I imagine some very testosterone fuelled executives get very aroused at the thought of being so l33t they don’t deal with small fry nobodies spending less than that.

But I know some companies who have built very efficient systems that let them deal with very small fry, and make a fortune from it:

Google adwords




Granted, this isn’t so much business to business (b2b) but consumer facing stuff, but if it can be done for the consumer why not the small business? Adwords deals with mega-corps, and the little guy like me. I know some people who spend a dollar a month there, I spend many hundreds of dollars a month. Its’s all money, and those dollars add up. Plus, when the small fry start getting big, they remember who their friends are, and who helped them up the ladder.

Some company who won’t deal with positech because we are too small is like me not selling you a game unless you will spend $200. When you buy a game from me, it’s automated, I don’t do anything on a per-order basis. Welcome to 2008, where automated scripts and computers make the cost per transaction close to zero. Has everyone re-engineered their company philosophy to deal with that? because google have. Maybe I have better processes in place than some of those big mega corps that won’t do business with me?

Email day

I made some silly config mistakes today and sent an email to some people who I wasn’t intending to email. There is no ‘harm’ done, but some people who bought Democracy and Democracy 2 got an email from me on the basis of them *not* having bought the sequel.

I screwed up.

Nobody has really complained, which is great, because the minute I realized what had happened, I worried I had committed email sin by effectively spamming. I guess I just have to put it down to experience.

Like a lot of developers, I don’t handle the sending of emails myself. You might wonder why not, and ironically the answer is spam. If you try and send more than 100 or so emails, many ISP’s will block your ability to send emails for a few hours or more. This is a GOOD idea, because it prevents you unknowingly being part of a spammers botnet. It’s also good, because there is no chance of any paranoid, badly configured ISP’s anywhere assuming you are a spammer and blacklisting you (nightmare!).

I use this company:


To send my emails. It’s not free, but it’s a worthy investment. I don’t mind paying to send an email to a bunch of people, because it makes you think about the content. I read some wise words from a respected marketing guru, saying that you should only email someone from your business if you would still have sent the email if it had cost you $0.42 (per recipient). Despite my balls up today, this still holds. The number of companies that send me pie-in-the-sky bullshit every week on the sad misunderstanding that I am interested in their megabucks 3D engines, are recruiting Animators, want a job in IT support etc etc, is sad proof that *most* businesses who send email (not spam, but ‘targeted’ emails) wouldn’t send most of it even if it cost $0.01.


I’m currently working on Kudos 2. It’s a sequel to my earlier game, not amazingly called Kudos. Before this, I did Democracy 2, the same applies. One the one hand, I’m a bit worried that people might think I keep churning out the same games (hopefully not, as the sequels add considerably to the originals), and I’m also very slightly worried that maybe these 2 games are my ‘big ideas’ which I won’t beat. (I have a ton of other ideas, but ideas are not completed, working fun games).

On the other hand, Kudos was a great idea that could have been done a LOT better, just as Democracy was. The really scary thing, is that reading several books recently has got me thinking about a potential Democracy 3, and how THIS time, I could really do the concept justice and kick major ass with it.

I don’t know what I will do next, and I’d like to think I would try something new, but it’s far too early to tell. When I finished D2, I started doing a totally new game, two of them in fact, but neither game idea really seemed to ‘gel’ in the way a sequel to kudos did, so they remain very empty basic frameworks for now.

There are worse things to do with your life than constantly work on a series of games that are popular, sell, and people enjoy. Civilization has made it to 4 games. There are 3 age of empires (and 3 expansions), and Sim City has already made it to SC4.

I’d just like to make as many different games as I can.

I’ve been away on holiday, only got back today.