Hello everyone! I am starting another week of game development and things are going very well. I am focusing on getting everything into the game as fast as I can so that I can start testing for bugs, balancing, and fine-tuning the end-game game-play. In the game, there will be phases that you the player go through as you march your way to elite tech executive mogul status. Of course before you can reach that milestone, you have to get out of the blocks. In this journal, I will be talking about the beginning of the game. As for the other half, I want to let you know what I will be working on this week and further into the month. So let’s begin.
Making money in the early game
When you finally start a project of any kind, everything can seem daunting, because you have nothing to go on, just your dreams and the will to achieve it. In Tech Executive Tycoon, you might think that you’ll jump right into making different products, and you can, if you want, however, that will not be an easy task. So unless you are daring and believe you can keep the budget in the green while designing a winning CPU right out of the gate, then maybe taking it one step at a time might be your plan. If this is true, then there are plenty of options for you—one of which we’ll discuss today. As mentioned quite a while ago, you will have the opportunity to contract with other companies to bring in cash for your company. Some employees in your company can be utilized for this purpose. Customer service (sales) agents serve as a very useful resource in the game. On one hand they are primarily used for your own products once you get off the ground. Every product you create and sell will have customers… some of which may either need help using your product, require tech support with your product or who enjoy the idea of complaining about every little thing. Either way, customer service agents will be there to handle such tasks.
Early in the game other companies may need assistance in this area as well, contracting and utilizing other companies who have the skilled employees to achieve and maintain happy customers. Right from the beginning there will be a directory that you can use to seek out those companies who might need help. There you will be able to pick up service contracts; where the company in need will list how long they are seeking the help and other contract terms such as how many employees they are going to require on the project, and the number of sales or retained customers they are demanding. You must pay attention to the contract terms, because if you don’t have talented enough staff, you might fail in your objective, which has consequences. Such consequences can be a drop in reputation which might keep other companies from choosing you for future contract work, or if you severely breach the contract (e.g. by only keeping one employee on the assignment when the company asked for two), can result in them trying to sue you in court. Which brings me to something else you will have in the game if you hire one… corporate attorneys. More on that in an upcoming update.
marketing campaign details, manufacturing and shipping
Now, let’s talk about what we are getting into this week and later on into the month. We have just worked extensively on the product creation phase of the game, finalizing that this past week. We are now polishing up the marketing campaign phase, detailing its functionality as well as beginning the designing phase of the manufacturing phase. Both are obviously critical in the entire process and we hope to show you that very soon. Once we are finished with the manufacturing and shipping phase, we will flesh out how you finally get sales and how the money begins to flow into your company along with the many details associated with that. The idea is to have this be completed within the month. If I keep experiencing the success with the goals I have set, it will be complete before the first day of April. Once that has been accomplished, I will look forward to the final stages of AI coding, so that you will have meaningful competition in the game. Past that, it is just asset creation, polishing, testing, UI elements, statistics and then we will be on toward the release of the game. Of course all of this will require patience and a steady dedicated focus on the tasks at hand. Now that I’ve given you the month plan, let’s talk specifically about manufacturing.
So, in the game, the product has been developed, we have just finished our marketing plan, reaching quite a number of potential customers via the airwaves and publications. Now, it’s time to mass produce and ship the product to our target locations. First thing first, we need to ask ourselves do we want to manufacture it ourselves, or outsource the work. If we decide to outsource, we must consider a few things. First, we must be aware that we are entrusting our product into the hands of an outside company. Based on that company’s attributes, we will need to be aware that it could result in faulty products, inefficient packaging and botched shipping and handling. However, these are things we would have to consider regardless. If you decide to handle it yourself, your company will be as good as the employees you hire to fill the roles in that department. Yet, you will have much more control over that, than over another company. So in the end, it depends on many factors as to whether it will better to do it yourself, or hire an outside company. One of those decisions might jump right out at you… Costs!
If we decide to do it ourselves, we must hire adequate staff and designate the target locations for shipping. The costs involved can be substantial. Manufacturing will require a production plant and a warehouse for storing your goods. You will have to obviously pay to own or lease the buildings. So in the beginning of the game, it will be much easier to outsource this service. However, eventually it may be less expensive because the costs associated with outsourcing are still high. There is so much risk that a company will take on to manufacture your products. In the end, there will be many things to consider when it comes to this part of your operation.
To this end, I will be installing the building asset module this week. You will be able to lease or buy buildings in the game. The sky is the limit, if you can afford it—you can buy it. These buildings will be off-site buildings. You will not see them or operate in them as you do your HQ, but your avatar (CEO) can travel to these locations to keep an eye on things. The different buildings currently planned are as follows:
Factory – Where you can mass produce your products, or those of other companies in need of the service.
Warehouse – Where you can store your goods or those of other companies (liability)
Research Lab – Where you can centralize your engineering and research teams
Call Center – Want to really flesh out your customer service center operation? This is the building you might want.
As with everything in the game, how well your company performs begins and ends with your employees. Treat them good and give them the tools they need to succeed and your company will rise to the stars.
LUCAS S: How is the difference if I put my HQ In New York or Africa?
WEB: The main difference will be in where you plan to sell your products. The farther you are from those locations, the costlier it will be. Other than that, there will be some differences in the demographics of those locations. Some locations are more wealthy than others, therefore forcing you to take into account the type of products you create. Do you really want to create a high priced high tech CPU in a location where the majority of your customers are low income? Now what some may not know, there are locations in Africa that are wealthy, so someone looking to succeed in Africa selling high quality products can definitely do so, but again, some locations are more wealthier than others. The main three wealth classes are present and accounted for in Tech Executive Tycoon: Wealthy, Middle Class and Low Income. Making good products available and affordable for all classes will be a challenge and an achievement.
LUCAS S: Does this change the sales or price of production or the cost of the marketing? Or salaries?
WEB: Yes, these are some other things that might be considered. However, do note, that cosmetically there will be no difference. The employees you see in the game will serve anywhere. So, let’s just say every country is multicultural.
LUCAS S: What components can we produce in our factory? What happens if we can't keep up with the demand of a product?
WEB: Everything that you can create in the game, can be produced in your factories. If you have trouble keeping up with the demand, sometimes it enhances the demand, but if you fail to deliver soon enough, it will impact your reputation. Customers will eventually migrate to another rival product unless your product is head and shoulders above the rest.
LUCAS S: In the game, can we gain reputation? And can we create products and give them away free for publicity?
WEB: I retyped this question, but if I understand it correctly then yes you can make products and sell them for whatever you want. If you have enough reserve cash to take a risk and offer a product to the masses free of charge, they will love you for it and it will increase your reputation in specific areas. However, that could get extremely costly.
LUCAS S: how is the system of reputation on the game? And how does this impact the sales? How this change or affect the relationship with other companies?
WEB: The reputation system in the game is highly important and central to your company. You will have five or more areas of reputation that help make up your overall reputation score. Things like turnover rate will affect your workforce reputation. How successful or unsuccessful you are with outsourcing your services will be reflected in your business to business reputation. Your customer reputation is self-explanatory, how well you service your products, from your customer service teams to your ability to repair your products for your customers will be directly reflected in that reputation score. The reputation will affect opportunities in the game and it could propel you to greater success of hold you down from attaining your goals. In the end, it will be a very important aspect of the game. I will probably do an update on this alone, that is how important it is to the core game.
LUCAS S: In the game do we get reviews of our products? And others?
WEB: Yes, reviews are a big part of the game. Every product you create will be reviewed by related industry publications in the game. I am even working on making it that you will see written reviews of your products explaining the flaws and strengths of them. This can be a good feedback tool for the player.
LUCAS S: In the game what happens if we cancel a product with marketing and a lot of hype? Will this destroy the reputation of my company?
WEB: In a word? Yes! You have the freedom to do whatever you like, build a product, market it to hype nirvana and then suddenly cancel it. Now it may mean the end of your company as we know it, but yes, you can do this in the game. The fun in doing something like this however, will be to see if you can recover from such a horrible thing. Maybe that will be an achievement.
LUCAS S: In the game, can we have subsidiaries?
WEB: Yes, you can purchase other companies that are publicly traded. It is a process, but completely possible. You will need a corporate lawyer to see you through it however. We will detail this process in an update once we add it into the game.
Arctic Wolf: Are you going to showcase GPU product creation/research at the end of this month?
WEB: Probably not this month. However, it will be shown sooner than later, as it is planned for the release of the game.
Arctic Wolf: Skame asked in your game dev journal 2: There will be the possibility to create our own Instruction sets (like x86, IA-64 etc.) and can we modernize these Instruction sets (like x86-64)? I really thought that his idea was really good & wanted to ask you about it.
WEB: In planning this game, I was careful not to add too many technical things to the game. I want to make sure the entry point for the game is low enough to allow people who are not tech savvy to jump right in and have fun and understand what they are doing. Also I wanted to have enough detail in the game to be engaging to those who are tech savvy, I am sure you can imagine how challenging that is. Getting into too many technical areas and specifics of tech related things can make the game very unnecessarily difficult to understand to your not so tech savvy individuals. In the end, the game is about creating tech products based on some very real world specs, however understandable enough to capture the fun of the process without needing a degree in computer science to understand.
Arctic Wolf: Okay so will we be able to have a small amount of memory without L1 Cache in our processors?
WEB: Yes, up to a certain point this will be possible. However, it will cap at a smaller number for obvious reasons.
Arctic Wolf: What would you recommend our strategy be in dealing with these different technology trees? What's the most important of these technology trees to research in the beginning of the game? How many researchers can you hire to make researching technology go faster?
WEB: There will be many different approaches you can take. Though it looks complicated, it is fairly simple. You will eventually learn the mechanics of the game which will teach you what every product creation option does and how it affects the customers and how those customers judge products and make their purchasing decision. This will show you how you can approach research from different angles, depending on what you want to offer in your products. It will boil down to specific taste. Do you want to make CPU's that have multi-threading early on, or would you rather just keep increasing the power of your single core? That’s where you ask yourself, am I targeting business customers who would prefer to multitask (Where multi-threading and multi-core CPU's shine), or what about the gamer who wants to run the latest and greatest. Multi-threading is great, but sometimes most of the power of a multi-threaded CPU is lost in a computer that only needs to run one powerful program (e.g. games, although some games utilize multi-threading well, however many do not, especially in the 80's, 90's, 2000's and even today believe it or not). This is where your single core 2 IPC CPU (IPC being sheer power of the CPU) would outshine the competitions 1 IPC, multi-threaded CPU. It is specific things like this that will be explained in the game. Again, I aim not to be too technical, but I also didn’t want to stray away from some really cool realistic aspects of CPU's and how they work. In the game, those who understand some tech related things will be able to relate with product creation and research, but again, I don’t go all the way because it would simply become far too complicated.
Arctic Wolf: Will there be three different research trees for GPU's like shown for CPU's in this video? Will there also be two sub research trees for each of those three trees?
WEB: Not really, because everything that pertains to the CPU can and does relate to GPU's as they are closely related. So in many ways, they share the same tech trees. I will explain more about this soon. There will be enhancements to the CPU trees that you saw, incorporating more GPU elements. What you saw was the implementation of the research module, however there is more polishing and detailing to be done. This includes detailing what you will achieve with each research option. This is good, because it will cause you to have to choose what you want to focus on and researching for CPU's grants you some know how for GPU's as well.
Arctic Wolf: Are there any plans for a research tree dedicated to computers/consoles for case designs so we can unlock different materials to use in our products? What will the GUI be like for creating a case?
WEB: I won’t say yet, because we are still working on that, but you can expect somethings to be available for the researching of computer design and creation. In the end, creating computers is easier than CPU's and GPU's. Computers is a step up in product creation where you start to fit other products into them to create the end result. So with computers you can fit CPU's you created into them among other things. Those components will determine the quality and potential of the overall computer.
Arctic Wolf: Are there any plans to be able to purchase consoles as company game development goods as well? The consoles you buy could serve as a testing device where you can hire game-play testers to play the games you make to help iron out the bugs!
WEB: I am still detailing this part out so what I can tell you now is that there will be detailed video game development in the game which includes dev kits, game engines and similar things, so you may very well be able to by the time we flesh out the details, but allow me to get back to you on this one.
Arctic Wolf: You said in the video the heat tech will be one way to cool your CPU so are you planning on adding CPU coolers by any chance? Will you also be adding GPU coolers?
WEB: Currently there is no plan for this, although if it proves necessary, that will change.
JMligthart: I love the modern chair sets; it allows you to make your office more something of yourself. However, will we be able to change colors of these assets in the final game? Also It would be cool to add an emotion (or something like that) feature for your employees, where when they are unhappy that they will do some other stuff like sitting on these chairs or if they are bored that they read a book. Of course this will slow the production down so you need them motivated again as quick as possible. This way you can have a function for these great looking assets!
WEB: Yes, you will be able to change colors of most of the assets. As far as functionality goes, everything will add or take away from the game-play in some way or another. Sitting in chairs will be used for taking breaks. Some employees may leave your building altogether if you do not have anywhere for them to take a break. I will talk more on this in a later update.
Allan Goncalves da Silva: So, how are the earnings going to be once you release a product? let's say I release a video game. will I get money from selling it just once? or over an X amount of time? if it's over time, will the time spans be realistic?
WEB: It will be over time. I am going for a realistic approach. So every product will have a life-cycle. Depending on the ongoing success of the product along with how you market the product post release as well as how competitive the competition will be, will all determine its life-cycle. So you can decide to support a product all the way to the end of its cycle by continuing to create marketing campaigns for it after release. The best products last longer as they do in the real world. I will talk more about this in an upcoming update or video.