I quit doing the tenlist thing a long time ago. I think I know the reason why – the end of the season comes around, and I realize I’ve only accomplished 2/3 of the things I listed. I end up moving 1/3 of the list to the next season, leaving me feeling like I’m behind when setting goals like this. I’m sure I’m not the only one who makes a list of ten goals constantly, but I’m sure setting seasonal goals without intermediary steps breaks the concept in some way since it’s based on agile methodology to some extent. I’m going to revisit the tenlist idea, except this time drastically shorten the timetable to only one month.

If you’re interested in where and why I think the tenlist is important, read my first ever blog post here: What Keeps Me Focused – The Tenlist.

I’m still enjoying the benefits of the first tenlist I made in Spring 2010 (final semester of high school), which was to acquire/raise enough funds to cover my website hosting costs for the next five years so I won’t have to worry about my sites (including this blog) going down while I am in college. Stuff like personal fundraising takes time and effort, both of which are easy to follow up on if you have a constant reminder and pressure to meet a deadline.

August 2014 – Fresh Out of College, But Diving Full-Time Into My Startup

I officially finish my last class for college in 15 days. The reality still hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to be leaving California (and my friends) so soon, but I’ve always been bad about such things – there’s too much on my mind all the time. Frankly, I’m scared. I’m going to be going full-time into a startup in the video game industry, and I’ve read plenty of horror stories on indie studios that have tried and failed. However,  I feel confident in the research I’ve done, and unlike all the people in the horror stories, I plan on doing things right. Such things include talking to a lawyer from the get-go, hitting up social media as early as closed alpha, and running analytics as early as I can. Success in this industry is often a combination of great user experience, targeted advertising, and dumb luck. While there’s no formula for success for a new video game, my perspective is to do everything in my power to reduce the number of things that might make the game a failure while utilizing feedback and analytics to determine my project’s highest points for emphasis.

I’ve told everyone I plan on having a playable alpha by the end of 2014. That’s a few months off, but frankly there isn’t a lot of time and I plan on moving things forward as fast as I can. On the upside, I’m not in this alone anymore. My parents are fully on board, my mom is an accountant (so I won’t need to hire one), and I found a co-founder. Statistics indicate that startups in any industry are more likely to succeed if there is more than one person heavily invested in it, and I’m lucky to have found someone who basically read the design document and said she wants to get on board for equity. This is another thing that gives me confidence in starting up, as I’ve been close to considering going solo for some time but hesitant due to statistics warning me that’s a bad move.

Here’s the list (the majority of things on here are Zems related):

  1. Finish/Pass Sociology 140: Politics and Social Change. This is my last class at Berkeley before I am officially done. I’ll be honest and say I’m not trying too hard in this class except to pass. I’m spending the majority of my time working on Zems-related things because that interests me more and has higher priority in the long run.
  2. Hire an artist to create a hex card template. This is already in progress as I type this. It’s amazing the number of quality, inexpensive freelancers you can find on the Internet, and this is my second job with one of those people. The hex card template is essentially a representation of the card on the field after it’s been played from hand. For more information on what the Zems field looks like, check out this post: Changing the Grid.
  3. Pick up and begin commissions with another illustration artist. While in college, I had artwork for Zems developed slowly over time. I told the artists I wasn’t in a rush since I wouldn’t be able to heavily work on the project until I had graduated. This has led to a steady but slow production of art assets over the course of four years, and frankly a lot of art has been completed. If you’re interested in seeing it, I recommend checking out our Facebook gallery. Since I’m going to be diving full-time after college, I want to find another artist who is relatively inexpensive but can produce quality works. As of this post, I am in contact with such an artist but we have not begun any formal commission yet.
  4. Have all white colored cards implemented and tested. White is one of six colors in the color wheel pattern I’m using for Zems. For those who don’t know what this pattern is, basically you create a set of strengths and weaknesses in six different ‘factions’ and then split up the cards in your game to fit those six factions. This creates an interesting game by creating inherent strengths and weaknesses. Read more about this pattern here and how we’re using it in Zems here. For this goal, I want to have every card in my white ‘faction’ implemented into the current game, tested, and confirmed to be mostly working without bugs.
  5. Hire a background artist for the game board. The background we have for the gameplay right now is just an ugly wooden background. I need to find an artist who can create a beautiful game background that would accommodate being cut off partially (for the UI) and overlayed with a hex grid (our game ‘board’).
  6. Hire someone to convert the site PSDs to wordPress. At this point, I’m in love with the wordPress platform not only as a blog system but also as a website management system. I plan on using wordPress to manage the main Zems site, and I need to find someone who has experience converting PSD to wordPress.
  7. Acquire a xenForo license and convert Zems Forums to xenForo. The current Zems forums contain a lot of information and discussion about the project in its infancy. I don’t want to lose that information, so thankfully there is a vbulletin 4 -> xenForo converter. With development on the project rapidly increasing in pace, it’s important to open up a forum for discussion once again. vBulletin 5 is now released, but from the reviews I’ve read, it’s hideous and a step back from vBulletin 4. xenForo is the new thing, written by some of the original authors of the vBulletin platform, and if you’re reading this and considering starting a forum, xenForo is probably the best software you can go with right now.
  8. Talk to a lawyer and incorporate. File appropriate trademarks. I’m currently uncertain about how much it costs to file registered copyrights and I’m not even sure they’re needed. We have a lot of art assets and registering a copyright for each one seems like a lot of money when we’re already protected by general copyright law.
  9. Read Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. I’m supposed to be reading this book for my Soc. 140 class, but I realized after the first week that it’s not really related to much of anything we’re discussing in class since the book is about how China went from a socialist third-world system to having a capitalist dent and being the world’s #1 exporter. I am legitimately interested in this subject as a sociologist, and too many people I know have stopped reading books. I don’t want to join them.
  10. Put together my Windows 8 desktop. This is something I can’t finish until I return home. Long story short: Last summer I tried to build a computer, but got faulty AMD 7970 graphics cards. I sent them in for warranty and the company sent me two replacements that were the newest model (basically a free upgrade). However, I ended up going back to California without fully completing the computer. I need to put it together once I get home, this way I am able to test performance on Windows 8 and 7. My mom’s computer is also quite average by now, so hers will suffice as a ‘low-end’ testing PC.

It’s a long list, but every single one of these is doable within this month. Some of them I may delay – especially the ‘hire an artist’ ones  since I prefer to take my time on them and make sure I have the person I want for the job – but with prudence I think I can make great progress this month. All ten of these are written down on a sheet of paper attached to my clipboard, which I reference every day. I think a lot of the reason why the tenlist goal system was a great motivator in the past is because I would read all ten goals every morning when I wake up and see them throughout the day. A constant reminder is important, and even more so when the timeframe is only one month. Hopefully when September rolls around, I’ll have a positive report to share on here.