Monday, November 11, 2013

Transparency in Communication and in Deals

TL:DR i noticed that you can spend time and money on marketing or transparency in game kickstarters or biz projects. I'm in favor of smart transparency, less noise and simpler to deal with. sadly its not the practice.

I guess this can apply to many other communities, but I'm more interested in the Gamer Market. I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to funding Kickstarters. One of the annoying thing of funding such projects is the lack of Transparency or the ability to Ask Questions to a real person (not that FAQ crap). Given the many and recent Kickstarter Failures and Scandals (despite Funding) the frustration grew because of the tools we have available.

Establishes lines of communitation: the business plan

The basic business plan. Some part of the business plan should be available to the funders. By Business plan I mean, I they are going to get the product to the people (logistics), and who are their target market (market analysis). I know its a requirement that is PISSING off people because Paypall is being shrewed about it, but given the recent scandals it should be a requirement with all, and this business plan should be visible to anyone who is risking hard earn money on the people.

If one is seeking funding outside one's target market, then make it clear who your market is. Many kickstarters and starting projects are made by the producer and marketing is something done ad hoc. So often these small projects can't communicate it effectively. Its forgivable if its a project of a few dollars, and goal that are equal to a few months of pay but the product's comparable market value is better than those established online.

Larger projects, strangely has no time to report to stakeholders (anyone who has a stake in the product, including the people who bought it and have yet to see it).  I mean there is Google OnAir! One has no excuses to set aside 0.5-1 hour taking questions (and you can have a volunteer type up the FAQ as one asks, since you are using the same FAQ for all other events, you can just direct repetitive questions to FAQ. )

Open Systems Promises

I'm a big fan of  Open Systems, either computer based or for tabletop. There was an allegedly, Open project that is currently seeking funding but unlike the other Open Projects they did not make the code available to begin with. In fact, they promised to give USBs with the code to the larger backers... why would you need that if the code is open and available? Its basically because the kind of "deception" one can do for an employer (doing X for employer but also doing Y with the same money and time) can be the same kind of deception to a faceless mass of backers.

Open Communities have many idealists, but I think one should never take forgranted the good will and trust given by an open community. I mean that you give them the information and report to them without them Asking. Such practice is expected merely because of professionalism and not because of being Open. Open implies broader boundaries of transparency and information sharing, you can tell people that your not meeting some ideals and how much a certain ideal would cost in time and money.

Its like I want X but I need Y to go with it, because professionally this is optimum in the industry. I tell people we can do X with the budget and it would take an arm and leg for Y (pretty much stretch goals).

Work with the Crowd

Good communication is setting reasonable expectations, and opening up your Notes (sure you can reveal everything or very little) allows you to be able to get corrections quickly and immediately. Why go for Crowdfunding if you don't intend to Crowdsource some of the editing and corrections. I mean feedback as fast and soon as possible is GOLD! the ability to adapt and correct youself or at least have another point of view is valuable. Especially the opinions of people who really care for you to succeed.

Milestones and Celebrations. I think they should be at about 2x a month or every two weeks if its part-time OR every week if it is a fulltime project. This includes the onAir discussion. this really depends on the kind of project. If I were to do one, I would do it part time but have a couple of full time people working on it while I do logistics, marketing, and executive product design decisions. When that person higher up Answers to everyone and scores (an ability to measure consumer confidence at the end of the show would be awesome).

Prepare for Trolls

What if: Assholes and Trolls, one of the key tests of business (especially being well rounded professionally). Despite how much preparation and expertise you can bring to the table Assholes and Trolls adhominem and ignore all Technical and factual answers. If you've been in an encounter where every answer you give, the other side makes you to look like the worse person in the world lolz. I know a particular business practice where personal attacks are part of "Business" (which is bullshit if you ask me, when is personal attacks being PROFESSIONAL?). You gotta take the bad with the good, in business.

I do not consider harsh constructive criticism as part of this kind of bad, it is easy to Frame harsh criticism in the voice of an over-demanding Mentor but pure personal attacks are really what they are: pure personal attacks. Benefit of the Doubt, or what everyone else calls  naivety is a state of mind that can prevent a knee jerk reaction to personal attacks or what appears as  personal attacks. Its best to Ask everyone one else if that is a personal attack before responding to block a person for not keeping within the medium and topic of discussion.

Don't Gamble with other Peoples money

like Stu Veneble of Happy Jacks, I whole heartedly agree with his idea that: Do the project first, then get funding for it. What is essential in this strategy is you DO NOT GAMBLE AWAY your credibility. You can FAIL and having never let that Failure touch your credibility you can TRY AGAIN! Like the many kickstarters that made funding but failed, and seem to get funded again and again I think Paypall, Kickstarter and Indiegogo shouldn't let these people ever ask for funding if they fail to deliver.

Having done the project first also means you have a GOOD track record, your practically done and just adding Stretch goals as a bonus. The cost of implementing reasonable stretch goals are   

If you did the project ahead, what will naturally come up is Mothballing the project to give yourself some time to have a different mindset and be able to see if the product with a different perspective. If your cynical self goes back and begins to believe in the project again: Go ahead. 

This is important because you want to time your project in periods where there are not many other competing projects, and since you can deliver by the end of the month or two, 
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