College Game Development Internet Marketing Product Creation

Three Ring Ranch: The 4P’s

Three Ring Ranch 4 P’s

  • Place: Online business, which saves on inventory, rent, etc.
  • Products: Video tutorials that are aimed at beginning game developers.
  • Pricing: Competitive with similar offerings; price testing often.
  • Promotion: Focused on social media. Single worst P of the bunch.

Of the 4 P’s for Three Ring Ranch (TRR), the place is the easiest one to talk about because TRR is a digital-only company that exists online — there’s no physical storefront. However, there’s still the idea of “curb appeal” when people open the site in their browser, so looking good and making it easy to find the products is just as important online as in the real world. The TRR site is built on top of WordPress so it’s designed with ease-of-use in mind. There’s a link to the game development courses (the product) right on the home page.

The main products of TRR are online courses that teach game development. The video tutorials are self-paced so the customer can go as slow or fast as they like. Besides the videos, source code for the sample projects is included. Online courses are available for the Corona SDK and Unity tools.

Pricing for TRR products is based on current pricing of the competition plus the amount of material in each course. Due to the number of free courses available online (even though typically of lower quality) TRR is often price-testing the courses to try and find the “sweet spot” for each one — make the most sales, but don’t leave money on the table.

Finally, promotion for the TRR products is mostly an after-thought since the company is run by just one person and time is fleeting. Most promotional activities are tied to social media — answering questions on game development forums and Twitter, then including a link to the game development courses. If there’s one area TRR should improve on, it’s in promoting the current courses.

Content Creation Game Development Product Creation Unity Unity 2D

New Unity 2D Game Tutorial Videos

The last couple years I’ve been developing games and tutorials with Corona SDK but I’m always on the lookout for new cool tools. Unity has been around for a long time but I was never really interested in it because it focused on making 3D games — and I don’t really care about those.

But when version 4.3 was released a couple months ago they included tools for creating 2D games and I took another look at it. And it’s cool enough that I’m going to branch out and create tutorials for Unity 2D as well as Corona SDK.

The first series of game dev video tutorials for Unity 2D beginners can be found here:

Unity 2D Game Tutorial

The tutorial is based off the written tutorials from Pixelnest Studio (I received their permission first) and will get you started making a simple shoot ’em up game using Unity.

Content Creation Internet Marketing Product Creation

Kindle Publishing Riches! Swoon!

In recent months there have been a rash of “systems” promoting all the money that can be made simply by publishing for the Kindle on Amazon.

“We’ll get rich, Martha! It’s guaranteed! Look, all these other guys are doing it!!!!”

Um, yeah.

Those other guys are not starting from ground level. They have a built-in audience who will buy whatever they pitch. And once you have a base that will help push your Kindle book to the top, it’s within view of “normal” people who might find it interesting and buy a copy.

But the rest of us? Those folks who don’t have tens or hundreds of thousands of people on a list?

We publish to Amazon’s Kindle store, step back and…


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I despise the “internet marketing” world.

Because nobody makes it?

No, some people do. There are exceptions to the rule. But those systems are promoted to make you think you are the exception. Sure, not everyone makes it, but I will!

And maybe you will, but here’s the question I’d like you to think about…

Are you an author? Are you a publisher? No and no? Then why are you messing around with book stuff on Amazon?

“Because it’s the new gold rush! I’ll get rich!!!”

Maybe, but I doubt it, because the people who think like that are “business opportunity seekers” and as much as they like to think they are, they’re not building an internet marketing business. The mark of those people (sorry if this describes you) is someone who was building web sites to flip last month, is publishing Kindle books this month, and will be doing who-knows-what next month.

Always jumping from one “opportunity” to another, because the next one is the one that will finally make all their dreams come true.


If you want to write a book because you have a story to tell or information that’s useful to people, write the book. But don’t do it because you think you’ll get rich — odds are you won’t.

Making money as an author has always been a rare thing, and the fact that you can now self-publish doesn’t really change that. In order to make money you need to sell a truck-load of books, and to sell the books you need people to see that book.

In other words, it boils down to traffic. Just like it always has for every product. You need to get eyeballs on the product. Every one of those “gurus” has the traffic in a bag. All they have to do is point it in the right direction to kick start sales.

(Note: I’m not anti-guru. Some of my best friends have been gurus.)

Do you want to make money writing?

About the only surefire way, assuming you have some skill, is freelance writing. Someone hires you and you write something for them in exchange for money.

Writing a book and hoping it sells is like buying a Lotto ticket and waiting for the numbers to be called out.

The guys who are making money with self-publishing — and I mean the real guys, not internet marketers — are the ones who are writers. And they write a book, throw it online and forget about it because they’re busy writing the next book.

And maybe they make a few bucks, but usually not, though that doesn’t stop them. They write the next one and get it online and forget about it. And they keep doing that…

…and according to those guys, the ones actually making money with self-publishing, something magical happens somewhere around book 9 or 10. Sales start to pick up all across their line of books. I’ve heard multiple people give that as their experience. No extra marketing, no special PR blasts, just writing decent quality books and putting them online.

But they don’t write one book and call it good. Or even two. And they don’t expect to get rich because someone sold them a “system” that says Kindle publishing is the road to riches.

The real secrets to self-publishing

Here are two truths — and I believe them to be truth not because I came up with them, but because the guys who have had true success with self-publishing prove these things work:

1. You need to have about 10 books available before you start making any money to speak of. You may get lucky earlier, but assume at least 10 books.

2. Don’t go exclusive with Amazon. If someone uses a Nook, or some other ereader and they hear about your book and it’s not available for them, you may never get them as a reader. Ever. When you self-publish, publish to all of the major venues so your book is available to everyone in every format.

That’s it. The secrets to self-publishing.

Unfortunately for me there’s not enough there to charge $497 for a system.

Product Creation

Upcoming New Product

I’m waiting on review from Apple for a new app I created, it’s called AK Leads and is aimed at salespeople — specifically those who target their products and services at new businesses.

AK Leads – Sales Leads for B2B in Alaska

As soon as the app has been approved I’ll post a link. 🙂

Dungeons and Dragons Product Creation RPG

Troupers – New Fantasy Short Story Amazon

My latest short story “Troupers: The Smiling Wizard” is available on Amazon as a digital download.

Troupers: The Smiling Wizard

It’s a fantasy story (you know, with elves and stuff) and you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read it — there are Kindle apps/programs for just about everything, so there’s nothing to stop you! 😉

Game Development Miscellaneous Product Creation Programming

Miner or Merchant?

Everybody’s heard the best way to make money during a gold rush is to be the guy selling picks and shovels to the miners. Very few people will “strike it rich” but even the guys who lose their shirts need the tools to mine.

I want to be a miner in the worst way — I daydream about what will happen when I hit the mother lode. And I know that big strike is right around the corner, so I keep digging and digging.

And yet, the money I make continues to be in the sale of tools to other miners. Sure, I come across a nugget or two in my mining (I do use my own tools), but the bulk of the money that pays the bills comes from tool sales.

That’s true now in the game development world and it was true a few years ago when I was in the “internet marketing” world. The mining is what I wanted to do — the tools were more profitable.

That says to me I should give up mining and focus on making the best tools I can for the miners who are heading for the gold fields.

That makes the most business sense.

Except that I’m a freakin’ MINER and I don’t want to stay home while everyone else is out there striking it rich!

I know most of them will come back empty-handed, but think about it — would you rather sit and listen to an old geezer tell stories about the thrill of looking for gold; about the mother lode he *almost* found?

Or would you rather sit and listen to an old geezer talk about inventory and stocking the right tools?

Give me the first old geezer any day! And I’d rather BE that guy than the other one.

Except when the rent is due. Or the car needs another tank of gas. Or a new iPad is released. Those times? I want the income from the merchant.

The good news for me is that I enjoy building tools — not as much as mining, but I still enjoy it. While only working on tools might be the “wise” move, giving up my mining on the weekends would just make a me a bitter old merchant. And that would wind up negatively impacting my tools.

My dream?

To get to the point where I can manage a game studio — I’ll design the tools to help make games and then use them to create the actual games. If a game makes it big, very cool. But even if not, the tools are still bringing in the revenue. I have a list a yard long of tools that would help make game/app creation faster and easier — just no time to develop them.

Because in my spare time I’m out there with everyone else, swinging a pick, knowing the biggest vein of gold is almost within reach. Right around the corner.

I’ll hit it any day now.

Content Creation Product Creation

One Reason Publishing Companies Should Die

In the olden days a writer needed a publisher in order to get their book in front of their audience. But with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Kindle and iBook stores, that’s no longer the case.

And while I could argue for their usefulness still, one thing I continue to see makes me hope for the DEATH of publishing houses in the near future…

..if you charge the same price (or even close) for a digital copy of a book as you do for a physical copy, you are ripping people off. But I see that happen over and over again.

And not just on new books, but older ones as well. Here’s a book from the 1990s that’s cheaper if I buy the physical copy — and if I have a Prime membership I even get free shipping:

Amazon com Interface  9780553383430 Neal Stephenson J Frederick George Books

I’ve seen several stories recently about best-selling authors refusing large advances on their next book because they know they can make more selling it themselves. It’ll be nice when more and more authors (and musicians and other artists) do that and tell the publishing houses to take a hike.

Miscellaneous Product Creation Video Marketing

Three Stupid Things About TV

Yesterday I exchanged my normal cable box for one that handles HD signals. I didn’t need to do it before now because until my birthday recently I didn’t even have an HDTV and rarely watched a “channel” at all.

First thing I noticed with the new box is that stuff looked *really* different. In a good way. Clarity and vibrant colors. The trade-in was definitely worth the extra $8 per month.

As cool as the enhanced picture is, during my TV watching session yesterday I noticed three things that made me realize (once again) why watching TV is mainly just a waste of time.

1st Stupid Thing

Some of the commercials BLARED out of the TV so much louder than the main program it wasn’t even funny. I don’t actually blame the producers of the commercials so much as I do the cable company. Why don’t they normalize the volume of the content they push down their pipe?!? I simply don’t believe they don’t have the technical ability to do so — I think they just don’t care about their customers.

When a company cares that little about their customers they don’t deserve to be in business.

And if I’m wrong and they DON’T have the technical ability to normalize the volume, they could always refuse to air commercials that are volume boosted. That would be the right thing to do for their customers.

2nd Stupid Thing

We’ve not been a “TV family” for at least the last 7 years. We’ve usually had a set but used it for movies, not TV itself. But a while back we won an Xbox 360 which got a bit of use (mainly by my son) and then Skyrim came out. And I wanted it but knew I wouldn’t be satisfied playing it on an old-fashioned tube TV. So my family all chipped in and bought me an HDTV for my birthday — and Skyrim.

That was cool, but now that I had an HDTV I wanted to experience Bluy-Ray so I bought a player.

And I’d always wanted an AppleTV so I could play around with AirPlay from my iPad and stuff, so I bought one of those.

So now we have a remote for the TV, one for the cable box, one for the Blu-Ray player, one for the Xbox, and one for the Apple TV.

Yes, I have heard of universal remotes, and we have a couple of them, but every one I’ve tried has *something* missing, that one function that I use often enough to make me have to grab more than one remote.

I’m not sure there’s a good answer to this problem, although a single standard that all entertainment equipment manufacturers would implement would be a good start. My Sony Blu-Ray player and my AppleTV can both be controlled using my iPhone or iPad, but they both use different apps. As more and more pieces of equipment become wi-fi enabled maybe this problem will solve itself.

3rd Stupid Thing

While watching a show the lower third of the screen was obscured for about 20 seconds by an advertisement. Are you kidding me?! We just got out of a commercial break and you’re going to hide part of the program I’m watching in order to fit more promos in?

In the past I’ve seen little blurbs on the bottom part of the screen, but a full third? And for such a long time? I’m already paying for my cable* so why are you even showing commercials in the first place?

Why I Keep My Subscription

Stupid Thing #2 above isn’t the fault of the cable company, but the other two things are. * We have cable because the landlord pays for it, but at some point we’ll be in a position where we have a choice, and when that comes I can’t imagine paying the cable company a penny (unless it a requirement in order to get internet service).

With all the options available where I don’t have to watch commercials and I don’t have watch when the cable company airs a program, why would I choose something so inferior? I won’t.

Internet Marketing Miscellaneous Product Creation

Stuck In The Middle (Updated)

I’ve been the owner of a Kindle Fire for just about 12 hours now so I don’t have a lot of experience, but my initial reaction — overall — is that it’s the wrong size.

At the risk of being called a fanboy (or even fanboi) I think Steve Jobs was right about 7″ tablets not being a good size. (Now watch them come out with one…) Here’s why:

If I’m in a “mobile” situation, stopped at a red light, standing in line, etc., my iPhone is the perfect size. And if I’m in a “settled” situation like sitting in bed or on the couch, I’d rather have the large screen of the iPad.

The middle size of the Fire is too large for mobile and too small for stationary.

As far as usability goes, it’s fine. There are some stuttering and things that happen that make me realize I take don’t notice the smoothness of the iPad and/or iOS until it’s gone. And while I don’t know what the actual weight is, it feels heavier than my iPad with the case. Maybe the Fire feels heavy because it’s too big to grip comfortably in one hand, and the bezel is too small to hold comfortably that way.

I bought the Kindle because I need the device to be able to test my games on it, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered. It’s not a bad device, but if you need a tablet and can possibly swing it (price wise) go ahead and get an iPad.

Update Jan 14, 2012

A few days later and I may need to rethink my opposition to the size of the Fire. Since then I’ve used it several times each day and even carried it with me on one outing instead of the iPad (okay, I had the iPad in the car just in case, but didn’t touch it).

When the iPad came out people claimed it was a “consumption device” and not suitable for creating content or doing real work. That idea has been knocked completely out of the ballpark but I’d say that description is a good one for the Kindle Fire.

Reading books, watching movies, playing games — those things all work fine. But I wouldn’t want to have to update a web site, type more than a short email, etc., on a Kindle Fire. I can take my iPad to a coffee shop for a few hours and get a lot of actual work done — that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to do with a Fire.

I still find the size awkward and the web browser is too small to really use for “browsing”, but as an extra tablet it’s nice to have around.

Internet Marketing Miscellaneous Product Creation Programming

Is That A Computer In Your Pocket…

Laptops are outselling desktop machines (by a huge margin) and tablets (iPads, specifically) are being used to replace laptops by more and more people.

I can see a time within a couple years (yeah, that soon) where the only computer most people will need will be an iPhone.

Sidebar: Yeah, someone using Android could pull off what I’m suggesting, but Apple has a proven track record of doing more cool things. Sorry, just a fact.

A “home computer” could consist of a monitor and a keyboard — and your iPhone. Sit down in front of the keyboard and connect your iPhone to the monitor — that could be as simple as tapping the phone against the the monitor. It’s wireless — and iPhones can already mirror what’s on their screens.

And iPhones already talk to Bluetooth keyboards. So right now, today, you can actually do 90% of what I’m talking about.

What’s missing is a way to use a touchpad to control the “cursor” on the screen — of course, while the iPhone is sending its signal to the HDTV/monitor, it could be used as a regular touchpad that controls an on-screen cursor, so that piece is easy for Apple to add.

Your iPhone is powerful enough to do 100% of what 90% of people use computers for:

  • Listening to and watching audio/video
  • Reading
  • Browsing web sites
  • Using Facebook
  • Email
  • Playing games

Am I missing anything? Isn’t that about the extent of what *most* people do with a computer?

With a system like that in place you could be at someone’s house and check your email, update your Facebook status, etc., without needing to log in and out of someone’s computer — because you’re using the computer in your pocket.

Make the monitors just a little bit “smart” so they can watch for nearby iPhones and when you walk up to one it can ask if you want to connect — wirelessly, of course.

Right now I can do a lot of my computing on my iPhone and/or iPad but I have different data on those devices than on my desktop computer. Cloud storage helps with that problem to some extent, but I’m looking forward to the day when someone (Apple, probably) puts all the pieces together into a really compelling package.