cximran's forum posts

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#1 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

Hi GiantBomb stalwarts!

So, I know I'm not active in the community all that much, but I was hoping I could ask you fellow bombadeers for some help on something. My girlfriend is working on an NGO that serves to provide a way to track and predict endemic cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh, and she's presenting that NGO at the Clinton Global Initiative this weekend in Washington. Part of that weekend is a little bit of a challenge/contest that pits her project up against a bunch of others from Universities around the country.

We've made it from 16 participants down to the last two, and we could really use some help to push is to the finish line. The bracket page is below.

http://www.cgiu.org/bracket/#

Could you guys please vote for the Village Zero Project (it's the one with the Elephant, the Mascot of Tufts University)?

I don't know what I can offer as repayment, aside from my undying gratitude and appreciation of the wonderful community that is GB.

Thanks!

Imran

#2 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

Doggcatcher on Android has passworded feed support built in, you can use that to grab videos well.

Alternatively, you can use this (not very) sweet yahoo pipe I put together http://pipes.yahoo.com/cximran/gbpipe

#3 Edited by cximran (52 posts) -

Yeah, I'm not really sure what EA was thinking with this, but the fact that they're offering refunds is an encouraging sign that they are just giving up.

#4 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

@Joru said:

Very nice read, it would be cool if you could go into more detail of your own experience, if possible.

I wrote a little bit about my current track in the industry here: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/cximran/bizdev-in-the-games-industry-my-personal-journey/30-82787/

If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer.

#5 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -
You probably see this all the time

After a good while of playing lots of games, you’ll start to notice some of the same companies on the logo screens time and time again. Scaleform, Havok, NaturalMotion, and Bink are just a few of the big middleware companies that you might see almost every time you load up a game. You might wonder to yourself - What gives? Well, as someone who’s had some exposure on that side of the business, I might be able to tell you a thing or two.

Let’s start off by addressing the question of “Why middleware?” Middleware, as Wikipedia chooses to define it, is “computer software that connects software components or people and their applications. The software consists of a set of services that allows multiple processes running on one or more machines to interact.” My definition of middleware is far less elegant - I tend to define it as “stuff that makes making games easier.” Middleware could be something as simple as the tech used to compress and play full motion video (like Bink), or as complex as the entire foundation of a game, like the Unreal Engine. The key thing to understand about any middleware technology is that it enables developers the ability to do something in their games quicker, better, or cheaper than they would be able to do that something on their own. This could include drawing 2D art for menus or UI elements, like Scaleform offers, or it could include the rapid generation of foliage, like Whiskey Media favorite SpeedTree. All in all, when a developer wants to get something done under budget or ahead of a deadline it’s often easier to fork over the licensing costs for middleware than it is to spend valuable programming hours building a solution in-house.

So, you’ve got these entire busness built on providing a certain piece of the game development puzzle to studios, publishers, and in some cases even students and individuals. How do these people/companies find each other? More importantly, what’s the process like from first contact to getting that placement on that intro screen? Well, the process is actually pretty straightforward and it involves something that most gamers tend to ignore when it comes to how their favorite games end up being made: sales.

Everyone who’s ever been in the sales business has probably seen this scene from Glenngarrry Glen Ross. It nicely sums up the extreme pressure (and the potential for extreme rewards) in a sales environment. The sales process in video games isn’t as high pressure, quite frankly, and thankfully there is no domineering Alec Baldwin to emasculate me in front of my peers.

One of the most important aspect of the sales cycle is Customer Relationship Management. Anyone who’s ever dealt with managing contact information from multiple customers has probably dealt with Customer Relationship Management, or CRM. Right now, the de facto tool for CRM is Salesforce. Having spent, in aggregate, hours and hours in front of this familiar interface I can say with absolute confidence that I absolutely hate Salesforce, but as a salesperson you need to have a way to manage all of the contacts you meet and the communications you have with said contacts. Your goal with a CRM solution is to track the sales flow all the way to finally closing that deal.

The Steps of a Deal

The Lead

  • You meet this person or contact through either looking at potential clients online, an inbound interest from your marketing team at a trade show, or even straight up cold calling someone at a studio (I’ve cold called multiple times before, it’s not a fun experience in the slightest).

The Pitch

  • If you get your foot in the door and the prospective client wants to hear more, you set up a time to meet either in person or over the phone to talk about the middleware solution that you offer. In my case, more often than not it involved me going to a game studio and showing some team members how our VoIP middleware worked by busting out a pair of headphones and some speakers (My favorite experience in this had to have been the time I was at Epic Games trying to get them to incorporate our tech into Gears of War 3 at the time). In the pitch the goal is to have a bulletproof demo of your solution so you can impress the client enough to have them keep talking to you (we were so paranoid about technical issues that we carried two phones on different networks in order to tether an Internet connection if the available Internet wasn’t sufficient).

The Proposal

  • If the pitch goes well, the next step is to give the game developer a custom tailored proposal with the package that we would offer them and some (admittedly inflated) price points. Each proposal was custom suited to a game, using all the knowledge we had of the game to create custom use cases for the player that could be made better through our VoIP tech.

The Negotiation

  • This is what makes or breaks a really good salesman - trying to lower the price while still trying to score as much money as possible (after all, your commission depends on big your sale is). Since we generally give some pretty high initial price points, you can now give the client enough room to wiggle their way down to a price that they’re happy with. In addition to that, this is where the all important logo slides usually come in. In exchange for a cut rate on the deal, many middleware providers ask for prominent placement in the game’s startup screens so that they can build some marketing awareness and create some inbound leads from developers who also build high quality games. The sales cycle continues from here.

So there’s the basic lowdown on middleware. Middleware sales isnot something that most people think they want to do with their lives, but the benefits of traveling to various game studios and meeting some people who build some of the finest games around is something that I personally found to be really rewarding. I’m going to go ahead and cut it off here, as this post is getting long as it is. If you have any questions though, feel free to post and ask!

#6 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

As Will Smith’s Dad once told him, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”. With that in mind I thought I’d write about my story about how I got into the Games Industry and where I want to be in the games industry. Also, this entire first paragraph may or may not be an excuse for me to embed this music video:

Now that we’ve gotten our daily recommended dose of 20th Century Will Smith, let’s talk about how I got into the Games Industry.

The Beginning

I graduated from college in 2008 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. My job options coming right out of school were pretty straightforward: I could go work for a large biotechnology firm helping in the deisgn of heart valves and other medical device or I could go back to school for a Master’s degree or a PhD and hopefully score a better job after a few more years of training//learning. I wasn’t really in the mood for that so I joined the ranks of thousands people to consult the oracle of knowledge that is Craigslist.

As I browsed the gigs and jobs section of Craigslist looking for a place to work I passed over the typical job options like “data entry”, “associate engineer”, or “marketing associate” and as I went through the pages upon pages of classified advertisements one particular post caught my eye - the ad was for a paid internship at a “local game industry startup”. In that moment I had a decision to make: do I go for a job doing what I spent 4 years in college and a good amount of my parents’ money preparing for, or do I stake a claim in the world of video games? I made my choice, and after a few interviews, I got my job as a “Product Intern” at a company called gamerDNA.

Job 1: Product Intern and Product Specialist

gamerDNA was a unique startup. We were building what was known is buzzword-speak as a “social network for gamers”. The idea behind the site was you would join gamerDNA, plug in your Xbox Live, Playstation, Steam, and Xfire data so that we could aggregate the types of games you played and recommend new games to play as well as people to play games with. My first duties on the job were pumping through QA assignments on the site making sure things weren’t breaking on our weekly updates, as well as doing great things like managing our internal forums and answering questions from our members. It was a pretty simple job with repetitive work, but I was getting paid to do work at a company surrounded by games, and with people who would have weekly Unreal Tournament matches during our lunch breaks (awesome!). After a few months as an intern I was promoted to a full-time job as a Product Specialist, empowering me with a business card and a slightly bigger paycheck - I’ve officially started my first job in the games industry.

Job 2: Ad Operations Manager

We did an ad campaign with CCP's Agency

As gamerDNA grew we started looking for ways to utilize the anonimized data that we were capturing about gamers and one of those involved building an ad network. An Ad Network is essentially an organization of sites that take media orders from ad agencies and marketing firms and distributes those advertisements in the form of banner ads to various websites that put gamerDNA’s ad tags on them. I sat down in a meeting with our CEO and he asked me “Imran, we could use your help on our new ad product, would you like to try advertising on for size?” I went for it, as it seemed interesting, and my job shifted to a role where I spoke to media companies and leading game fan sites about advertising through and generating revenue from the gamerDNA Ad Network.

Sadly, gamerDNA as a whole was a company that couldn’t get itself off the ground and was eventually acquired by a company in New York called Crispy Gamer. I still had a job, but this meant that I had to travel to New York from Boston 3 times a week to meet with the Crispy team, but this repetitive travel schedule wasn’t something that I wanted to repeat time and time again. My former VP of Business Development at gamerDNA was consulting for a voice over IP middleware company at the time, and a few weeks after I shot him a note I was starting my first day of work at Vivox.

Job 3: East Coast Sales Director

It's too bad the game wasn't as good as the voice tech

Vivox is a company that sells voice over IP middleware for games - what does that mean exactly? Well, if you’ve ever played a game like Eve Online or the recently zombified APB, you’ve used voice chat technology that was built by this company. Now, in order to get this technology in games they needed someone to sell the idea of a voice over IP product to game developers. This was my job. I was given an expense account, a sales target list, and a login to Salesforce - I was now officially a middleware salesman. This sales environment was no where near as high-pressure as what you see in the movies but it was still an interesting job with challenging quotas to meet on a quarterly basis. However, as I began to see a change in the games industry away from hardcore games to more mobile, social, and casual experiences, I began to get a little antsy. Luckily, a recruiter called me one fateful day in November of 2010 and told me about an opportunity at a company called MocoSpace...

Job 4: Business Development Manager

So here I am now, I do business development for a mobile games company called MocoSpace. We build games for the mobile web with HTML5 and we have a darn good time doing it. I still hit up trade shows (although E3 isn’t so big for the social/casual bunch) and I still get to meet my heroes in the industry (my favorite moment of all time was being taken to the “business floor” at a past E3 and walking around the halls with people like Peter Moore and the Bioware Doctors just chilling around). I still do what I love doing - talking about games with people who make and play games.

So, there’s a brief overview of my career so far. The games industry is a fun one and I’m sure that I’ll have some more detailed articles about various aspects of the business. If you have any questions about some of the stuff that I write about. feel free to comment or shoot me a PM.

#7 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

Beantown Represent! 


Anytime you guys want to have a Giant Bomb Boston Meetup I'd be happy to hang out. 
#9 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

Stryker. All Day.

#10 Posted by cximran (52 posts) -

If you’re in the games industry, you’ve probably heard this question asked at least once in your professional life: “How do I get into the industry?” Depending on who you talk to and what you’re interested in, you’ll get a variety of different responses:

  • If you want to be an artist: “Build a portfolio!”
  • If you want to be a programmer: “Make some mods!”
  • If you want to be a game designer: “Just give up.” (Just kidding, you’ll probably have to work your way up from a production or QA position to get a better sense of how game mechanics work)
  • If you want to be a producer: “Learn development methodologies and try becoming a project manager somewhere.”
  • If you want to be in the games press: “Write, write, write!”
Adam Boyes knows 'BizDev' 

There are a variety of articles, literature, and tutorials on how to go about accomplishing the items above but there’s one part of the games industry that doesn’t seem to get much attention from those looking for work in the space: Business Development .

 People have to sell this. 

I’m not a programmer, an artist, a game designer, a producer, or a member of the game press but I always find myself attending GDC every year and I’ve been to so many game-specific trade shows (including E3) that it’s all starting to become a blur. I work in business development. What exactly is business development? Well, the best way I can articulate it is that a business development person is someone that is the primary point of contact for a unit of a business that facilitates relationships between companies, builds and maintains deals with partners, and represents the company at various industry events. Essentially, a business developer is the guy on the line when it comes to scouting, evaluating, and closing deals with the people and companies around all aspects of game development. For example, if you’re a Business Developer for Speed Tree , your job is to meet new developers, understand their needs for procedural foliage generation, and craft a deal that both meets the goals of the Speed Tree business and the client game developer.

 As a business developer, you’ll have to get used to wearing many hats.One day, you’ll be working on a distribution deal with GameStop for your next AAA title, the next day you might be staffing a booth at PAX to meet fans, and the day after that you might be working closely with developers and the company’s marketing team to build a pitch about the new functionality available in your next sequel. If you go to an E3, the business developers are the guys that you see wearing the suit jacket and jeans running around the closed doors behind booths or the “private meeting” rooms on the second or third floor of the LA Convention Center. They’re also the guys who are probably most responsible for wall of middleware logos before your favorite game starts, as they negociated the deal to get that kind of exposure in the titles.

So the next logical question is - how do you get into business development in games? Well, there’s no hard and fast degree that you can acquire and there’s no set of “hard” skills that you need to have in order to do so. Sure, a business or economics college degree helps, but I think anyone can do a great job working in business development if they first develop a core set of skills, including:

  • Networking. You need to master the art of “meeting people”, you have to be comfortable in your own skin as well as eager to introduce yourself and your company to peers in the industry. My friend Darius Kazemi has a great series on networking in the games industry on his blog, Tiny Subversions (http://tinysubversions.com/category/networking/) .
  • Fastidiousness. You’ll need to maintain a real attention to detail, and more importantly you’ll find yourself working on more than one project at once. Since business development often relies upon the action of another party there might be a significant amount of downtime between your work cycles on a project, so you’ll most likely be tackling on many projects at once. Your company is going to be counting on you to see through all the angles of a potential deal, so pay attention!
  • Patience. Arguably the most important skill you can have in business development. You’ll spend a lot of time on airplanes, in hotel rooms, in line at events, in office lobbies, and more. Additionally, since your work is going to revolve on multiple people’s schedules, you’ve got to have a fair amount of patience so that you can walk the fine line between being a bother and being a gentle reminder.


Once you develop those core skills, you’ve got to start hitting the pavement. So far, the easiest “track” that I’ve noticed with regards to business development is to start off as some type of business intern at your favorite game company. You’ll probably be tasked with a bunch of very intern-specific duties like data entry, but you’ll get a chance to see a game studio in action and you’ll also be able to build knowledge in some of the tools that you’ll no doubt use on a daily basis as a business developer. As your internship continues, communicate with your boss and ask if you can get more work with regards to the business - 9 times out of 10, he or she will be happy to find work for you, and as you move towards the end of your internship make sure to ask your employer to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn as well as ask if you can use them as a reference for any future employment opportunities. I was actually lucky enough to get my first job out of an internship where a few months into me working I got promoted to a full time gig, so work hard and you’ll reap the rewards! 
I’ll be updating this blog later to tell you more stories about business development in the games industry, how I got the job that I do now, and the various aspects of the business that you tend not to see on Gamasutra or sites like it.
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