Coursera’s Game Design and Development (Part 2/4)

Note: This is a follow up to my previous post on Coursera’s Game Design and Development Specialization. If you’d like to read the first part, check it out here.

Third Course Impressions: Business of Games and Entrepreneurship

The third course in the Game Design and Development specialization, taught by Professor Casey O’Donnell (from Michigan State University), was particularly informative.

As with previous Coursera courses in this series, the course was spread out over four weeks. Each week focused on introducing specific sub-topics related to business and entrepreneurship. Professor O’Donnell addressed serious topics in an informative and concise manner. The course structure and flow are better than they were in the second course of the specialization (also taught by O’Donnell).

Topics covered include:

  • Various funding models used in the game industry historically and today;
  • A basic introduction to legal issues common in the game industry:
    • Intellectual property
    • Copyright
    • Patents and trade secrets
  • Teamwork and working with people;
  • Project management tools and techniques (with a brief introduction to the SCRUM methodology);
  • The qualities, styles, tasks and foundations of leadership;
  • Pitching yourself, your game idea, and demo your game;
  • Launching a business and choosing the right business partners;
  • Working for hire, communicating and interacting with clients.

Over the course’s four weeks, the assignments were:

  • A SWOT analysis of an existing game franchise to evaluate its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (using a provided template document);
  • A production plan document to schedule, budget and determine the key personnel necessary for creating a game of your own design (using a provided template document);
  • A video to present your game idea to other students enrolled in the course (or alternatively a video pitching yourself and your skill set);
  • A competitive analysis document that situates your game versus its competition and the overall market for similar titles.

For the video assignment, I used Movavi Video Suite 15 to record my pitch. I also added snippets of gameplay taken from other game titles to help illustrate my game idea. Surprisingly, the Movavi software was simple and efficient to use, but I ended up purchasing a license to remove the software’s watermark from my video.

Cyborg Games Studio: Opening to my game idea pitch
Opening to my game idea pitch…

Throughout the course, links to external resources and videos were provided to get more in-depth information on some of the topics mentioned above. For instance, there are numerous interesting blog posts published on the Gamasutra website that are worth reading through. Another interesting document shared in the course was VALVE’s handbook for new employees.

Professor O’Connell also recommended the book “The Art of the Start 2.0” by Guy Kawasaki. Additionally, Guy Kawasaki has a number of lectures on YouTube. Also recommended, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries – although I have yet to obtain it.

The course’s additional reading has led me to seek out more reading material. A good resource I’ve found for recommendations on entrepreneurship books and websites was Y Combinator’s Startup Library. I’ve since been reading “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

"The Art of the Start 2.0" by Guy Kawasaki recommended in the Game Design and Development specialization "How to Win Friends & Influence People" by Dale Carnegie recommended in Y Combinator Startup Library "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries recommended in the Game Design and Development specialization

To be continued…

That’s it for part 2 of 4! Overall, I’d recommend the Business of Games and Entrepreneurship course. It conveys useful and clear information, and the assignments are insightful. There is one more course in the specialization and a capstone project to complete it, so stay tuned for more blog posts!

In the mean time, I am also getting started on Udemy‘s Unreal Engine 4 course and will probably make a post on that once I get the chance.

CyanogenMod 10 Nightlies (SGS1 Captivate)

So, since last week, I’ve been updating my phone (Samsung Galaxy S Captivate) with the newest and latest experimental updates of CyanogenMod 10 (Android 4.1, code name Jelly Bean).

As expected, nightly builds are buggy. Very buggy. And unreliable. At first, they usually work, but then they progressively slow down, and become bloated. On top of that, the battery as been constantly getting drained in a matter of a few hours, whether I’m using the phone or not. It’s strange, but it seems to be getting better with each update.

Nevertheless, I continue to update. The latest CM9 RC (Release Candidate) 2 was very stable, and I’m fairly certain that not that much as changed between 4.0.4 and 4.1, besides minor UI changes, and the addition of Google Now’s app, the mute competitor to Apple’s Siri.

Thus, I’m fairly certain that as moders adjust CyanogenMod 10 for the Galaxy S1 progressively, it will work just as well as 4.0.4 did.

I’ll be keeping you posted.

Read the rest of this entry for my latest update on CM 10 for the Samsung Galaxy Captive (September 19th, 2012)

CyanogenMod 10 on my Captivate

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Cyanogen Mod 9 (Android 4.0.4) on SGS1

A little more than a year ago, I went on Craigslist to look for an Android smartphone at a decent price. I managed to get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S Captivate. It came with Android 2.3. My friend had told me about how one could ‘root’ the device and truly make it your own. Shortly thereafter, I looked into CyanogenMod 7.1. Fired it up and it changed everything about the phone.

CM7.1 was merely an improvement on Android 2.3 (known as Gingerbread). The UI was still somewhat sluggish when compared to the likes of Apple’s iOS. With the release of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) right around the corner, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Sadly, Samsung refused to update the Galaxy S1 to 4.0. They claimed that the hardware simply could not handle it (which is a lie). My assumption behind this move was simply to boost sales on their newer devices, forcing owners that wanted the “new and upgraded Android” to buy a new device altogether. It was a frustrating move, but not unheard of in the modern day tech industry.

This is where the genius of the Android community really kicked in for me. A team of programmers called teamhacksung ripped Android 4.0 from the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and tweaked it to function on the Galaxy S1. They updated it constantly up until last March 2012. [See the thread here:]

The teamhacksung version intended to be the ALPHA of CyanogenMod 9. Thus, today, I went over to the CyanogenMod website and downloaded a Nightly build of CM9 (that was updated today). I also had to download the latest Google Apps package for CM9 (download here).

I just installed it on my phone a few hours ago, and it is working magnificently, improving over the last ALPHA of teamhacksung. Note that it could be faster at times, but for a single-core smartphone, it’s handling Android 4.0.4 just fine.

As I tweak and fiddle around with the CM9 customization option, I will be eagerly waiting for CyanogenMod to release their spin off of Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). As soon as it is available, I will test it out and share the details. (Updated!)

CyanogenMod 9 Cid

Cid: The new CyanogenMod mascot! Click on the image for more info on Cid.

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First impressions: Fedora 17 (Linux Distro)

I have very little experience with Linux distributions. A few years ago, I installed Ubuntu on my laptop. For the longest time, I could not get the WiFi to work, rendering the OS pretty much obsolete. The issue was related to Broadcom not providing open source drivers for their wireless cards, until late 2010.

Then I upgraded to the latest Ubuntu version in 2011 and Unity came around. And I didn’t like it at all. So I decided to part with Ubuntu and start looking at the other distros that were available. I gave Linux Mint 11 a shot. While it was fairly straight forward to use and came packed with the average end user would need, it also had issues of its own.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to change my main account’s privileges. Mint did not like that, and simply stopped behaving as intended, throwing the most cryptic error messages at boot, erasing all my files and folders. A friend of mine, David, had been bashing Mint every since I had gotten it, and after trying to do a clean install of Mint 12 to no avail, I figured I’d try something new. Perhaps David was right; there were better Distros out there.

After some Googl-ing around, I found Fedora. Downloaded the latest version (Fedora 17), put it on a USB using the tool provided by Fedora, and installed it on my laptop. And quite frankly, so far not only does it feel more polished than Mint, it also looks nicer than Ubuntu.

I had to work out some of its quirks, but getting the WiFi to function normally wasn’t too difficult. Its interface truly differentiates itself from the competition. Namely Windows and Mac OS. Though it shares similarities with both of them, it feels like the best of both worlds for free. I’m very fond of the ‘Activities’ panel, and the way it allows to easily switch between multiple desktop environments and windows. Gnome 3 is extremely responsive in Fedora 17. Ubuntu’s Unity felt like a very restrictive UI element. It took too much of the screen’s real estate, too often. But there’s a great balance between the fancy and the practical in Fedora 17.

Anyhow, I want to use it for a little bit longer before I write my full “review”. But so far, so good!