Sunday, December 13, 2009

The psychology of nano returns game design

Because of a certain revenue stream particularities, I've been considering whether it's possible to engage that revenue without exploiting myself or being exploited.

What were looking at from the outset is getting something like 5 cents or so for hours of development from posting your game on a certain hosting site*. Which is absurdly exploitative from first glance.

However, another avenue of looking at it is if you go for a walk each day or every few days - what if you were to find 1 cent on the ground as you walked along? You already have a natural tendency to excercise and go for that walk.

The thing here is that if your staying inside of your normal exercise pattern, it's something you were going to do anyway. It's when you go outside of your normal pattern of exercise FOR the money, then it's starting to simply exploit yourself. It's certainly not worth it for the money.

It's drawing a line between what is your normal pattern of exercise and what is work, that's vital here. You don't want to go over that line.

Also one of the key elements here is that if you go for a walk and it's unpleasant, then maybe you go for fewer walks. You don't force yourself through it. While with developing, there's the habit of forcing oneself through a difficult part. That has to go as well - difficult parts are making the exercise unpleasant. If you feel like doing less exercise development because it's become unpleasant, then do less. Otherwise again, your exploiting yourself. Sometimes that line slides toward doing nothing, because things are unpleasant. This makes sense - you don't do unpleasant things for nothing. Or more to the point, if you start doing so you'll get a martyr fetish going on.

In terms of making money from such a nano income stream, there really is no room for innovation and going outside the box. It only makes sense to stay inside that exercise line.

Another factor that lead me to write this is that I'm thinking about reward feedback. For example, if every time you walked for half an hour you found 1 cent, that's nice. But here it isn't even like that - you wont be getting 1 cent for every half hour of development. If your game takes 2 and a half hours, you'll get your 5 cents after that (assuming something like a five cent return).

This leads to an awkward short term sense of getting nothing, then getting something for nothing. Since you get nothing during development, but once uploaded your doing nothing yet money trickles in. The short term reward cycle is one of the most important ones to consider when developing your own capacities. That's a blog entry in itself, really.

How to forfil the short term reward cycle, when there's no way to change the returns pattern?

Well, I guess you can change the returns pattern somewhat, by posting it as a WIP after having done half an hours work. But for myself, I don't feel this is right for me, anyway.

For myself it seems each half hour of 'exercise' development still needs to be logged. And...I'm not sure if the logging/recognition is enough. It's kind of like writing down a token of the work as the valuable thing found, then when some money is earned latter on, self reinforcing the connection.

Anyway, as you can see, sometimes you take a walk, sometimes you type alot. There's a fair bit of effort in this document, yet it's part of my natural exercising desire. But if I were to do more than is natural to me, for just a few cents, that'd be exploiting myself.

* Not mentioning in this document because I'm not sure I agree with their policy of how they deal with developers enough to promote them. But if you look around this blog, it wouldn't be hard to figure out.

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