Category Archives: General

Slides and information from my XDS 2014 presentations!

Hi everybody! I just finished giving my presentations at the External Development Summit 2014 in Vancouver. Here are the slides for the first:

Tech and Tools of the Globetrotting Freelancer
Have you ever considered striking out on your own and living an exciting life as a freelancer, being your own boss without being geographically tethered? Perhaps you already freelance but want to learn how to hone your craft and reach the next level. In this talk you’ll learn how the clever application of technology can untether you from your location and get you connected and mobile from anywhere in the world, fully ready to rock for your clients. I present analysis of the best cloud-based and local email storage, file transfer and collaboration tools. I’ll teach you how to balance security with convenience and how to build a go-bag full of every gadget and peripheral needed to keep you connected and powered up anywhere in the world on a bootstrapper’s budget. This talk applies to freelancers, contract producers, art production managers, or anyone that collaborates with remote teams. Technology will set you free!

I’ll update this a bit later with links to all of the tools and tech. I just wanted to get this online ASAP!

Game layoffs: The year 2013 so far, by the numbers

I created and maintain an extremely detailed spreadsheet tracking video game industry layoffs for the last five years, so I decided to work up some numbers of the year 2013 so far.

There were 61 announced layoffs worldwide in 2013. 34 are in the US, 8 in the UK, 8 in Canada, 2 in Australia, and the rest are countries like Brazil, Belarus, India, China, etc. Of that total, 18 studios are confirmed as having closed, but I don’t have data on whether or not 19 of the remaining 43 studios are still open.

Only 40 studios announced layoff numbers. The total number of layoffs from the studios that reported numbers is 2,262, rounding up from the numbers for which I had “25 to 30″ or “50 – 75″ as the only data points. 20 studios did not report layoff numbers, and 1 studio (Io Interactive) only reported a 50% reduction in force.

Cities most affected:

- San Francisco, CA – 4 layoffs totaling 322 people
- Austin, TX – 5 layoffs totaling 304 people
- Montreal, Quebec – 1 layoff totaling 200 – 250 people (EA Montreal)
- San Diego, CA – 3 layoffs totaling 140 – 240 people (Trion Worlds’ full layoff numbers were never announced for the first event and I don’t have data on the studio’s headcount at closure)
- Dallas, TX – 1 layoff totaling 215 people (Zynga Dallas)
- Seattle, WA – 4 layoffs totaling 155 people
- Vancouver, BC – 6 layoffs totaling 91 people (however, PopCap Vancouver, Quicklime Games, and Slant Six’s closure did not report numbers)
- Boston, MA – 3 layoffs totaling ~35 people (Majesco Boston did not report numbers)

This would be a good time to mention www.GameJobHunter.com. :)

Attachments.me – amazing Gmail attachment organizer

Hi all! I just discovered an awesome tool called Attachments.me that indexes ALL the attached files you’ve ever had in Gmail, and organizes them into a nifty thumbnail view with incredibly fast indexed search. It tells you who sent you the attachment, when it came, what email thread it’s in, and lets you either View, Download, Share or Archive it.

Cooler still, you can set up special rules within your Gmail inbox to process attachments. For example, you can create a rule that automatically saves all images from a certain sender into a special folder in Dropbox. I’m going pretty nuts setting up special case rules like that. :)

It’s fantastic, it’s free, and I highly recommend it if you ever have issues tracking down attachments across hundreds of emails.

Regarding feedback and whether to use IM

Nothing exists unless it’s written down, in one place. I prefer email, or a web-based forum system inside which all art feedback exists.

When I start on a project, I find out or choose the one single form of official, recorded communication, and hold people to using it. It’s fine in IM for quick back-and-forth, but that information gets summarized and send out via email, recorded in documentation\wiki\Basecamp where necessary, or put on a collaborative forum. If not, it’s not real. If it’s official and it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen and be recorded in only one place.

For face-to-face meetings, I’m always working as a go-between for design and art, and often programming as well. I take copious notes, work down my list of questions, then make peoples’ ideas fight if necessary. Once that’s done, I have a full written summary that everyone verbally signs off on before they leave the room, then that list gets emailed\integrated into the project plan and documentation with full details on what was discussed, next steps, and who was in the room. Paper trail, accountability, and it’s another way to make sure everyone’s on the same page since (if they read it) they’ll have processed that information both aurally and visually, and those run through different filters.

All information only exists in one place. And unless it’s in front of or accessible to everybody (as far as day-to-day development goes across disciplines), it’s not official. And sometimes I’ve had to be a dick about it, but the time it saves is simply unreal. :)