Thursday, February 23, 2017
The mission statement for my business Machra VR Adventures is as follows: "Machra VR Adventures is dedicated to redefining and reinvigorating the tabletop role playing experience through virtual reality to bring players closer together". Our vision is to be the number one platform for online tabletop role playing. This accurately states what my business will strive to accomplish with our product and services. Online tabletop role playing typically is held over a video chat service such as Skype or Google Hangouts. This is problematic in the fact that players only see a flat image of other players and the person running the game, which drastically changes the dynamic of play. Players may have a harder time discussing strategies as they have to talk one at a time and side conversations are nearly impossible. Video chat services are reliably unreliable as well, causing dropouts, stutters, and audio/visual glitches that can destroy the immersion and pacing of an intense session. Our goal with our app Pen and Paper VR is to create a virtual environment which has the same feel as a real table, with the added benefit of increased atmosphere through 3D room environment models (the surrounding room), dramatic lighting, player costumes, and customization for in game avatars, dice, and playing environments (the playing board). These are mostly things that could not be accomplished in a normal tabletop setting without a lot of effort, and can be done relatively easily using virtual reality. As virtual reality technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, experiences like these will become common as a standard way to interact with a game, movie, play, etc. As the technology advances, it will be possible for players to use their hands and facial expressions during sessions to get their point across. At this point, there will be practically no difference between tabletop role playing in real life and in virtual reality. We hope that this will add to the experience enough that our platform will become the premiere way for players to experience tabletop role playing.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
John Dimmer's talk was the most informational and expansive presentation yet. He first discussed his business experience, starting by running free range media and continuing to today where he owns several businesses and is an active entrepreneur. He talked mostly about funding after that, discussing how, why, when, and from where you should get your funding when opening a new business. He had 2 main goals for this: maximize the price paid for the business and maximize the percentage of retained ownership. These two goals should lead your decisions made around selling equity, as it can be squandered quite easily. The first step to funding is to raise money yourself or use money you already own. This is because investors will be more likely to have interest in a business run by someone who has skin in the game. This funding would be debt, grants, contests, and selling equity if needed. When raising funds, John said it is important to only raise the amount that is required to run your business until the next 'raise' where you can raise more money. Raising less causes your business to fail while raising more means that you are selling too much equity or going too far into debt. John emphasized that, when selling equity, one must be careful to never fall under 50% ownership. This is because you are no longer considered the primary owner and can have decisions made under your feet by shareholder, or end up with a paltry amount of gain at exit. Equity also changes in value over time, so it should be strategically sold to ensure maximum retained ownership. If equity is sold during raises that occur after company milestones (finishing a beta, launching a product, etc.) which is when equity value increases considerably. Not only will this gather more money, it will make sure you keep more money in the end. Equity can be even more valuable than a current salary, John advised sometimes taking a lower salary to retain more equity.
Machra VR Adventure's first product will be Pen & Paper VR, a free application for Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and Google Cardboard. It will be a platform for tabletop RPGs to be played with anyone anywhere, with participants sitting around a table in virtual reality. To monetize the app, micro-transactions will be utilized. Virtual dice will be a staple in any game played in the app, so there will be a system of owning and purchasing them individually. Just like real life tabletop gaming, players will certainly be interested in buying cool looking dice. Virtual dice will have a variety of colors and designs. Players can buy 2 individual dice for $1, a set (7 dice) for $2.75 containing one of each kind of die with matching designs, and random bags of 10 for $4; 20 for $7.50; 50 for $17; 100 for $30. In addition, players can buy miniatures to represent their character more closely in game. These will vary in price, simple ones being as low as $1.99 to more intricate ones as high as $9.99. There will be a custom miniature builder that allows players or game masters to create a customized miniature for $4.99. For game masters, there will be pre-built adventures that come with environment models to place miniatures on, miniatures for plot characters and enemies, a story line, music and room setting, and plenty of writing for the game master to set the stage for the players. These adventures will range in price depending on their length, from $10 for a 10-15 hour module to $60 for a fully featured 200+ hour adventure. I'm basing these prices off of how I view the product. $60 is the price of a brand new fully featured game, so it isn't unreasonable for a campaign which will include many 3D models, animations, music tracks, and writing.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Brian talk was focused mainly on his business, Sitecrafting, and how and why his business is the way it is. He was clear that Sitecrafting was started in part as a backlash against many other businesses' decisions on how to treat employees. After being laid off, he felt that a company should focus more on its employees and ensure that they have a secure job that is comfortable. One of the biggest ways that he accomplished this was to be clear about his company's values. If you, the leader of the company, cannot communicate a unifying idea of what your company stands for to your employees, they will not work to their full potential. In addition, these values should be kept in mind during the hiring process to ensure that people coming into the workplace have similar goals to the company. Brian's business is focused on employee experience, so someone looking to gather experience and climb up in their field may not be the best hire. The other side to Sitecrafting that Brian mentioned was the product that they produce. Custom websites require a closer relationship with the client, and also require the client to understand the goals of the company. Brian mentioned that one of the first things that they ask any client about is what their goal is for a project. If their plan is not an intricate, customized website (which it may not be) then Sitecrafting is not the best choice for them. Essentially, for a successful and unified business, company goals must be established any communicated to people working with or inside the business.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Listening to Erik's talk was very informative. It's clear that he has 10 years of experience as an entrepreneur from the way he talks about it. The thing that he talked about that stuck to me the most was practicing shipping. He mentioned the book he wrote in 8th grade, emphasizing that doing something like this gives you a more holistic view of what it means to take on a large project. He also showed how authoring some books paid off for him in the long term, giving him a bit of security. I know that if I want to achieve my life goals, I'm going to have to practice shipping with my own work. I need to create games to become a game designer and I need to write more D&D content if I want to become a games writer. If I was able to, like Erik said, break time for money eventually by generating income with these projects, it would be great. I'm not focused on that though, just knowing what it is like to take a coding or writing project to completion would give me more insight on future projects. I liked Erik's story about the theater he started. It showed that just knowing how to run a business isn't always enough and how living the life of an entrepreneur is unpredictable. It must be heartbreaking to put so much work into a theater and only be able to run 6 shows. I enjoyed listening to Erik, and I thought that his presentation was full of useful information.