Mafia Games Monday (MGM) – Tech Knowledge Value to Game Owners

June 29, 2015

So, as a freelance developer, I’ve seen this kind of thing before – owners asking me to help fix a bug or install a feature. It’s pretty harmless, really. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.

However, consider the following scenario that I’ve been experiencing for a while now:

There is a co-owner who considers himself a developer, which is to say that’s a good thing, right? Heck, having a developer as a co-owner of a game is something that game owners absolutely enjoy to have with them. However, I’ve experienced a recurring theme with this developer: it seemed that he didn’t know how to code PHP, which was what the game had as the back-end! So yes, a developer as a co-owner is good, but it doesn’t really help much when they don’t know what they’re doing. He continued to come to me over and over again with problems with the code that for those who have programmed in PHP were quite trivial to fix. Heck, he might have been taking credit for the fixes that I’ve provided to him. I’m obviously not going to plaster this developer’s name out there, but if you’re reading this, you might know who you are…

Shurg Question

Anyways…

Do you understand how great it is to be able to understand what exactly the code in your game is doing? It’s like trying to put together a 1000 piece puzzle: it looks to be impossible, until you get that “Aha!” moment..and BOOM – the entire puzzle is done before you know it!

So, for those who are game owners, my suggestion is this: if you know developers and have ambition to learn about what your game is doing “under the hood”, ask them to help teach you! That knowledge of understanding all of what your game is doing is invaluable. It will allow you to see where things may be flawed or just missing entirely. This also allows you to create modifications to your game (which you can find what I said about making modifications here).

Well, what if you’re not really understanding code? What should you do then?

Well…stay tuned for next week because next week’s post will tell you what to do!

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

Tech Etiquette

June 25, 2015

We all know some basic rules of etiquette when we eat: put the table napkin on your lap, politely ask to have condiments passed over to you, put your elbows off of the table…oh yes, I remember that being drilled into my brain by my mom, as I know most of you have had that etiquette drilled into your brain one way or another.

Well, what about tech etiquette, like phones on the table or looking through someone’s phone?

Is keeping your phone on the table rude or impolite? Well, it certainly might be a situational thing. At a fancy restaurant with your boss and co-workers, ok, I think that would be an awful time to have your phone on the table. Wouldn’t you agree? However, when you are at a bar with your friends, it might not be such a bad thing. It really all depends on the situation.

Is looking through someone’s phone a bad thing? It shows that you do not trust the person with what they are telling you, especially if it is a significant other. At least to most people, it just looks bad.

My real thought about this is: if you would not want someone to do the same to you, do not do it to them. I think that is a great rule to live by.

What are your thoughts on looking through someone’s phone? Do you think it is a bad thing? Why or why not?

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

PS: For those interested, here is the article that I read discussing this topic: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/19/technology/techtiquette-notification-peek/index.html

PPS: I know that this was not a very “technical” post, but stay tuned, as I have something in the works for next week!

Mafia Games Monday (MGM) – Game Mobility

June 22, 2015

Game mobility – what does that even mean? Does it mean picking up the server and carrying it around with you?

This means how “mobile” your game is – whether it can be played with ease on a mobile device or not. In case you haven’t noticed, pretty much everyone these days in the developed world has a mobile device, whether that be a smart phone, a tablet, or both. Appeasing to all the possible audiences is something that is needed, especially for a text-based game to be successful.

With this in mind, what can you do as a game owner to make your game mobile?

Well, it isn’t easy. I am currently in the process of converting a game over to a mobile framework, and the entire front-end of the game has to be re-written in order to make sure it is compatible. That will take many hours of work and most likely won’t be finished until the end of the summer; however, just imagine if you had a mobile version of your game that someone could easily play with their phone. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Is there a market for mobile text-based games? Absolutely. Combine that with the current text-based mafia game market, and you will be able to reach a larger audience than with a text-based game that is not mobile-friendly. Remember, usability can easily translate to more users on your game, so mobility is something that can really take your game to new heights!

What are your thoughts on mobilizing a game? Is the amount of time it takes to do this worth it?

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

The State of Cyber Security

June 11, 2015

Cyber Security – it is something that is talked so much about that we tend to not really care about the data breaches that much anymore. Within the last two weeks, there have been many cyber attacks and data breaches, most notably, this one: http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/04/politics/federal-agency-hacked-personnel-management/index.html. It is stated on the news stations, but even I have noticed my lack of interest in such stories because of how often they are now.

That is NOT good!

Think about this: What would happen if your bank account was stolen? What about your social security number? All of this information of those government workers are now readily available for these hackers with the option to really do whatever they want with it. The initial thoughts are for blackmail purposes, but that’s besides the point. That is very personal information that could lead to A LOT of problems down the road for these people.

The question arises: How do all of these cyber attacks happen? CNN decided to come up with their version of what might have happened in ten steps: http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/05/politics/chinese-data-hack-ten-steps/. Is this accurate? It may well be accurate, and this is just a glimpse of how easy it really can be for hackers that are determined to gather such information.

What can be done to protect such data?

Obviously, to start, the companies themselves have to boost their own security measures. From the article (and is true mostly everywhere), the biggest security hole are the employees. They must be knowledgeable of what is a scam and what is not. Just with that knowledge alone, many of these cyber attacks would become much more difficult for the hackers to carry out without some real inside help.

You can also help. I’m sure you have seen those phishing email scams from that prince in Nigeria, right? You would be surprised on how many people actually fall for such a scam. Look out for scams! I would highly recommend reading the basics of these email scams and how to spot them here: http://www.zonealarm.com/blog/2014/07/7-ways-to-spot-a-phishing-scam/.

Have you ever been a victim of such scams? If so, please share your experiences so that others do not do the same!

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

Mafia Games Monday (MGM) – Importance of Project Planning – Part 2

June 8, 2015

For those who have not read part one, please do so here before reading this post. Read it? Good, now onto part 2…

So, by now, I hope you realize what project planning can do in order to make your projects in a game or otherwise turn out much better. So, with this in mind, what kind of planning can you do in order to improve the chances of your project becoming a success?

  1. Gather all of the requirements – This is the very first step that most people don’t bother doing. Make sure you know what you’re going to be building and/or making! If you start making something based off of just an idea, usually those projects do not go far, and if they do, they usually lead to either a very disappointed customer (if you have one) or a bug-filled mess.
  2. Document those requirements – Documentation is very important with project planning. If you do not like to write any kind of documents whatsoever, then being a freelance developer and/or a game owner may not be for you. You have to make sure what is asked for is in writing; otherwise, with a customer, they will argue that they told you this, that, and the other thing because nothing was written down! On several occasions I have had to refer to a document that a customer and myself agreed upon to ensure what was really asked to be done.
  3. Make a timeline – If you are new to any kind of project planning, this point may be very daunting of a task. How do you estimate something that you have never done before? Well, the best thing to do is to break it down into smaller pieces. You have written a function before, right? Well, approximately how many functions do you think you will need to make this work? What about database updates – how long will those take you to finish?
  4. Create Milestones – What are milestones? They are certain points within your project that you either have a prototype or a major portion of the program done. These are good points to check-in with the customer and/or requester in order to keep them informed of your progress. The more the customer is informed usually translates to much better customer feedback and understanding in cases that things go awry.

Also, to those new with project planning, there are many software tools out there to help you!

  • Microsoft Project (https://products.office.com/en-us/project/project-and-portfolio-management-software) – Very powerful project planning/management tool. Will cost you some money if you do not have this piece of software already within your Microsoft Office Suite, but may very well be worth it for those new to project planning/management.
  • Smart Sheet (https://www.smartsheet.com/) – Another power project planning/management tool. Again, this will cost you some money, but it can really work some wonders.
  • Open Project (https://www.openproject.org/) – An open source version of Microsoft Project (with a few missing features). Can however still be very useful for those who are getting started with doing some project planning/management.

And many more….

Just remember: project planning can really give you a much better product in the end.

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

Powering Electronics Wirelessly?

June 4, 2015

So, electronics are now able to be charged wirelessly. You have probably seen the “wireless” chargers all over BestBuy or whatever electronic store that you shop at. They plug into the wall (or require batteries) and are considered charging stations. You can put your phone down on the station, and the phone’s battery will begin to start charging up. Here is one below:

Wireless Charger

They’re pretty nifty I must say, but they do not really do the “wireless” definition a whole lot of justice. Why? Because regardless it is yet another device that you either have to plug into the wall or make sure that it has enough batteries. Either you’re not saving an electrical outlet or some counter space for it. It’s nice, yes, but I think that they could be better.

Are they getting better? Yes, they are. There are now experiments being done to allow WiFi to charge your devices. Most of those who live in first-world countries have a router in the house, so that would mean no more purchasing extra devices or wired chargers. That would be pretty neat, right?

What’s the downside? Well, as with everything, there are some downsides. According to Vamsi Talla from the University of Washington: “The hard part is getting the router to constantly push out enough energy.” Why is this? Well, with WiFi, if you are not browsing the internet, the WiFi signals are very weak because, well, why would you want a very strong WiFi signal to your device when you’re not using it? Another downside would be data transmission. Because of the router’s limitation on sending WiFi signals, software had to be built to broadcast meaningless data to the devices in order to ensure that the WiFi signal is strong enough to power those devices.

To those who are interested in reading the article, check that out here.

What are your thoughts on using WiFi to power your devices? Do you think this will be beneficial?

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470

Mafia Games Monday (MGM) – Owner Bias

June 1, 2015

This post was originally going to be part 2 of the importance of project planning (part one is here); however, something happened this past week on a game that I co-own that I see the opposite decision that we made very rampant amongst game owners. What is that? Owner bias. What is owner bias? Let me share with you what happened to me last week…

So, we had a sale over the Memorial Day weekend (which by the way brought me to mention the User Rentention Idea of my previous post), and it was a rather large success: we had more donations within that weekend than we had in about a month. So it was to our surprise later on last week when allegations of cheating started pouring in. These allegations stemmed from a user jumping in stats, now currently #1 overall; however, to the accusers’ assumptions, that user did not donate a penny to the game. So, in the accusers’ eyes, that user was cheating (as they occasionally donated). That statement was their basis behind these reports: the user didn’t donate, so they cheated to pass us in stats.

As I was conducting my investigation, the accusers were considering this a “war” between donators and non-donators, and they had confidence that we would back them despite our findings (as they have previously donated to the game). My investigation turned up no cheating or violation of the terms of service occurred, so that was our decision: to state that to the accusers.

We may have lost some future donations by the accusers as well as possible referrals from those accusers, but we remained honest and conducted as an owner should in a situation such as this one. How many times have you heard cases where an owner did all kinds of changes (including banning other users) simply because some donators asked the owner to do so? Now, if those ideas are backed by the game users as a whole, then that’s one thing, but when a very small group of users (maybe even ONE user) can change an owner’s opinion like that simply because they donate, then that’s when you know that there is bias. As someone who plays that game, how would that make you feel knowing that the owner would simply ban your account or punish you because a small group of donators asked the owner to do it? Pretty crappy, right? Probably wouldn’t want to play that game anymore, either.

The accusers thought that by just being donators, they had special “bonuses” and/or “privileges” that other users do not have in terms of administrative decision-making. Remember, administrative decision-making is not something like extra bank interest: this is banning people and implementing new features.

So, to those owners who are conducting this kind of bias: Just stop. You acting this way is not only degrading your reputation as an owner of any game (which if you’re doing this, frankly you shouldn’t be an owner), but also other owners who do not conduct themselves like this. I’ve even had some users on previous games that I’ve owned ask me if I do this kind of behavior. It’s just wrong, and there will become a time when this kind of behavior will heavily backfire on you one way or another.

Have you had any kind of experiences of owner bias?

That’s all for now, until next time…keep that tech gear ticking.

~Goliath7470