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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 10:40 am 
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So in the last week, I have done a bunch of interviews, the GX Australia expo in Sydney, gone to the MCV Pacific WIG lunch being recognised as one of the leading professionals in my industry and done a million interviews, media grabs, presented in a microtalk session. Oh, and drank a lot while doing the after hours stuff. Oh yeah, and talked on a podcast. :P

GX Australia
So GX Australia or Gaymer X from its US-parent was a small not-for-profit con of about 1000 or so people in Sydney and it happily coincided with the release of Symphony of the Machine, and it was media-dense so it made good commercial sense to go there. It was the usual flurry of media, exhibiting, logistics, etc. but it was good to be at such a friendly event and everyone who was there was super happy to be there. It is really important to me to give back to the community that supports us and it was a great chance to see friends from around the country that I normally only get the chance to once or twice a year when we all converge on Melbourne or when I duck into the Arcade in Melbourne.

The whole point of an LGBTIQA/inclusivity-themed gaming convention is that despite recent efforts from organisations like PAX AUS with their diversity lounge and other initiatives, some people still do not feel safe at cons and justifiably so. It's not like the doors get shut to the straight crowd, either. There were certainly enough gamers and hobbyists coming through with their families and we will be featured on Good Game: Spawn Point sometime in the next few weeks too.

Symphony Launch
We launched on the 25th. So it was a fairly rough time, having to co-ordinate across different regions, plus Steam and Oculus (which turned out to be a nightmare). We were waiting for the US PlayStation store release to pop up which eventually came online at effectively around 11pm our time and went live on the European, Asian and Japanese stores over the next few days (Australia is attached to the European region because reasons). Releasing was stressful and a lot of work which is accompanied by a sense of relief and also a sense of anticipation as you wait to see your sales figures come through. We have done an absolute tonne of community and PR work as well so it should all do what it it's meant to, but release always has a sense of nagging doubt for me if the game doesn't do well etc.

Launching on VR is a risky strategy as the market is still small, but PSVR users seem pretty hungry for content so we will hope for the best once our first-round figures arrive in the next few days.

On Reviews: I have a love/hate relationship with reviews. I mean, I am always happy to see good reviews as these help promote your game, particularly from a major site, but you don't learn anything out of them. One of the stumbling blocks we found was that due to Sony's Day One Patch system, a lot of the reviewers were actually reviewing an old build of the game (the QA Master) which didn't have all the content in it and that let us down. Other issues seem awfully rooted around the hardware- given we have optimised as much as we can for PSVR, its the systems own limitations that seem to frustrate some people but we cop the fallout. My other bugbear is that games reviewers don't really need any qualifications or experience to just jump on and start reviewing titles and if I am honest, a lot of the review seems to be about them trying to be clever and funny than the content they're reviewing. A review that is genuinely critical of your content is a useful thing for what you are trying to achieve and maybe include next time.

That being said, we have seen a whole heap of good reviews. I've seen reviews from 4/10 to 9.5/10 so that's nice and consistent. :roll: Much larger games than ours go through similar.

So now we are in caretaker mode while we watch our sales, are pushing for the finance to come through and start the pre-production of the next project.

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Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 7:41 pm 
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So this is the first update for a few weeks. During this post-launch phase, usually a game company is servicing their customers, recovering from the launch, plotting where they are going next, watching sales. It is fair to say that the sales from Symphony have not been where we wanted them to be. That was the risk of addressing the early VR market, that the device maturity would not be there yet. The sales figures have not been what we wanted or expected, however the tail is doing weird things and we are watching it with interest. The Oculus version will be launching soon.

Given that we had exhausted most of our seed capital, we had an intense period where we had to bring in more to see us through to our major raise. I have had to bring the company right back to its core team.

The title that we had expected to work on, a game we have exhibited at PAX AUS 2016 as a method of intense playtesting is what we had looked at doing next. The trouble is that it is a puzzle platformer, and the indie-games market is currently spoilt for indie platformers, and the glut is showing no signs of abating over the next twelve months. So what do you say to a team that is looking forward to working on something which at face value seems far lower risk, but in actual fact will have a problem with standing out- at this moment in time?

Go back and come up with concepts. Wow. It is a good thing that we always have a catalogue of possible products at any one time. Examine the market as to what genres are currently light on. Work out where there is a niche that is not being serviced. Look at the current technology base.

I am also not interested in the team sitting in an office for eighteen months and making a game and then pushing it out to the world and hoping for the best (there is a marketing strategy in there somewhere). There is too much guesswork in that method. So the next product has to be able to be taken to market in an early access form and we need to be able to work with our loyal community and reward them. And ultimately grow our base.

The concept has come. More on that later. The name "Stirfire" comes from the mixing pot of ideas and when I outlined the engagement and funding strategy for the next game to them, they ultimately stepped up and dealt with it and came out with what I believe is the start of something big.

GX Australia: Come As You Are
While at GX Australia, I was asked to participate in a session of micro-talks by people who had entered the game industry through sideways or non-standard methods. Below is a link to a video of the talks as hosted by Eve Beauregard (AKA Ally McLean). Also before you click on it, GX Australia was an inclusivity/LGBTIQA-themed event. In case it's not clear, I am a business owner, studio managing director, industry-lobbyist, have written policy for two major political parties in regards to game industry and I started my transition last year as a transgender woman which is why the event was so personal to me. Also, I am the most stubborn, pigheaded, unmovable object of a person you could ever meet and I do what I want. You can find me talking at 9:18. Come at me, bro. :lol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS6RUvjeOnY

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:37 am 
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Hi all,

I have started writing a series of articles that I am publishing on my LinkedIn account as they are focussed on the professional aspects of running a game design business. I am doing it for a few reasons, mostly that with the highs and lows of the last seven years, I have a fair bit of experience to share and also I want to work on my professional profile in the lead up to our major capital raise which will be happening shortly.

You can find the first article about mentors for a game business here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mentor-q ... wfbg%3D%3D

Also I am very happy to say we are working on the next big thing. I can't share any details about it yet because it's early days but pending the capital raise, we are in early design work. Because if the raise works, the budget will be much larger, this thing is turning into a bit of a monster.

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:01 pm 
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And I got asked to write this too: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/videogam ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:53 am 
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My next article on game business. This time, I cover that between time when you have just finished the majority of development of one project and are planning the next.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/next-big ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:55 pm 
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My next article:

"Stirfire has traditionally worked on the premise that our concepts are good and we are accomplished at “finding the fun” and I believe this is ultimately true. We make fun games that look stunning and we have a dedicated fanbase and more than a few good reviews to our name. But for the next project, it was time to try something different in terms of our audience engagement.

Based on the research I have done with game companies in Australia and world-wide, I wanted to try a different approach, where audience engagement from an early stage is key. Not only did I want to be marketing to an existing audience by the time we finished the Launch Version of the game, but I wanted to ensure that we could get early feedback into the game and build our community and advocates. I don’t like the term “evangelist” when it comes to products but gamers can be really enthusiastic about the products they play and enjoy and I want to make sure we are engaging with that."

Read more:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/press-st ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 1:36 pm 
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Another piece up today, for people considering investing in the game industry:

“But it’s just like film!” is a common catch cry when I have mentioned investing in the game industry in a public forum where people often discuss such things, or “they’re just games, my kid plays games” is another common utterance at this point.

More and more, that seems like a generational gap and lack of understanding and does not reflect the reality of the games industry. Let’s go back to basics. The game industry makes money inherently, otherwise you would not see posters of Triple A (the “Hollywood of Videogames”) titles on public busses, billboards, on the side of large buildings (if you had the luck to go to E3) etc. In fact it makes a lot of money. Globally, sites like Newzoo have and Statistica have reported that in 2016 the videogame industry made over $US100 billion.



Read more:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/boss-lev ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:22 am 
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First an actual blog post:

Today marks the end of what has really been a three year journey while all the other development, exhibiting and excitement has gone on. I am referring to the fact that we are finally about to lodge our prospectus. It really started for me three years ago as I started writing an investor-focussed business plan that got redrafted and redrafted into an Information Memorandum, as I was hunting for investor models that would work for us and was out pounding the pavement (metaphorically) looking for someone to finance our business.

During this time, I have met with multiple Angels, venture capitalists, film producers and others who have all given me some piece of wisdom. Most notably stay the hell away from "Angels" and VCs as their model does not work for me. This has finally brought me to the point where we hooked up with a finance firm and are moving towards a float on the Australian Stock Exchange. So the document went through numerous revisions and last year we started on the seed capital raise that brought us to this point. To date we have raised over $1million and now we are targeting for a lot more.

Personally, if I ever had a doubt I could write a book or a thesis, it's gone now.

So here I am, waiting for the final points of sign off to turn up in my inbox and submission happens at 4pm today barring a complete mishap. Nothing ever happens in the timeframe I want it to, but that's what propels my sense of urgency. And looking at my bank account every time I pay money out.

Another huge weight off.

Now begins the anxious wait I have to make sure we make it through the regulatory bodies without incident. That could be one to two weeks. And then the real fun starts- raising several million dollars.

And now the double dip- In case you want to know what I think of exhibitions, how they should be dealt with commercially and why we do them, you can find out here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mission- ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:43 pm 
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I have had some time this week and a need to dump thoughts so I am addressing game company culture here.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hunt-cul ... ublished=t

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:18 am 
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So I haven't blogged in ages, but I have written a bunch of LinkedIn articles that you can find if you click the links in the above posts and they'll take you to the pile.

I am currently sitting in the Arcade in Melbourne- the shared space where many of Australia's most prominent studios are situated. I am here a day early because I wanted to catch up with people ahead of the raising we are doing as part of our Initial Public Offering (IPO). So I am floating my company on the stock market and going to be talking to several larger institutions over the next few days. On Wednesday I'll be heading to Sydney and doing the same thing.

Then back to Perth for a week and then Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. It's all a bit full on at the moment! This whole raise thing is an unprecedented opportunity and as far as I can see, it's the first time an Australian-owned company has attempted it. In 2015 a mobile game producer called "iCandy" successfully IPOed, but they were Singapore-owned at the time. So breaking a few trails here.

We are also in the early stages of production with our next title, which is shaping up nicely so far. More on that later.

_________________
https://stirfire.net/

And now http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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