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The Pestering Squad!

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Last week, I had an idea. One of my biggest problems is focus, and I noticed I was usually much more motivated to code when I had an actual audience, as opposed to just working on my own.

So I posted the following to Reddit's /r/gaming section, a "subreddit" for gamers with nearly 500,000 subscribers:

[quote]Hi Reddit.

I'm a hobbyist programmer and aspiring game developer... I've been programming for over 15 years, but for various reasons, life kept getting in the way and I just gave up on project after project. Never did manage to release anything, except for that little unfinished tetris clone and a handful of crap demos that don't really do anything. That's right, I'm THAT GUY. Plenty of talk, zero walk, or whatever the expression is.

Today, things are different. Today, I'm running a successful business out of my home and I have plenty of free time and money to dedicate to my programming hobby/lifelong dream. I want to move forward and release stuff; simple free stuff at first, and stuff people will want to pay for later on.

I've seen the world of difference an audience makes for personal motivation, so I'd like to try something new. I'm recruiting you. What I need is human capital, a "pestering squad."

Your job as a "pesterer" would be pretty simple:
1. Receive an e-mail newsletter from time to time about my ongoing projects, my progress, etc.
2. Play the sneak peeks/demos I put out -- you will get them before anyone else.
3. Provide feedback/vote on everything, from design decisions to business decisions.
4. If ever you feel that I'm moving too slowly, losing focus, etc... PESTER me. Call me out. I need honest feedback and motivation.

Note that I'm targeting desktop Windows PCs primarily, so make sure you've got one of those.

What you get:
1. Your name in the credits of all games I release.
2. Free copies of all the software I develop, for life.
3. A voice.

Note that I expect to live at least 30 more years, so I would ask you to avoid dying for at least that long. If you die, I'll have to kick you out of the squad; nothing personal.

Upcoming projects slated for release this year include an experimental fast-paced arcade version of the casino game Blackjack, a lemmings-inspired puzzle game where you guide bacteria through mazes and mix chemicals to trigger chain reactions, and a physics game where you cause mayhem in a city by throwing pennies off a skyscraper, among other things. Projects must always be within my means, so I'm starting small.

If you'd like to be a part of this experiment, shoot me an e-mail at my reddit username @gmail.com with subject line "I want in", and you're in. I'll accept the first 50 people and update here if the target is reached.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to ask questions in the comments.[/quote]

To my amazement, over 60 people responded before the time limit, and I ended up accepting 72 pesterers into the squad in total -- very cool, because I was only expecting about 10 people to actually sign up!

I sent out the first "newsletter" earlier this week, where I laid out some of the rules and asked my pesterers to give me more information about themselves and tell me about their computer specs.

Right now, I'm hard at work on a little private website to track my progress and gather feedback from the pesterers. It'll serve as a top-secret interface where they can see updates on my progress, download games/demos, provide bug reports and input, etc.

To give the pesterers a run for their money, I'm trying to make this little website into a sort of game; mimicking a control panel for a secret organization. I already have a couple easter eggs in there for them to discover. I also thought it would be funny to do a little role-playing and assign each of them a number, as if they were secret agents. I hope I'll be able to entertain them even when there are no new betas to play.

So that's the official announcement: I now have a little army, a "Pestering Squad" that will make sure I remain committed and properly directed. As beta-testers, they will be my first fans, and my first critics. No more straying off and screwing around with irrelevant stuff; from now on, it's productivity, productivity, productivity!

I set a deadline of Sunday, April 24th to complete the little website, and I'm almost there... Just putting in a few final touches and generating account/password pairs for everyone. If I don't make it, my inbox will be flooded with complaints. :)

I'll be updating here to let you know how this little experiment pans out. If anyone who reads my journal wants in, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at my gamedev account name @gmail.com, and I'll add you to the list when I get a second!
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I have a strange feeling I'm being followed...

Interesting results on the first poll -- I presented my 3 ongoing/planned projects and asked the pesterers which one I should focus on first. We had a clear majority yesterday, but as we approach 40 responses today, seems like we're getting close to a tie!

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The poll has stalled :(
Send out a quick email reminding people of the life changing decision they have yet to make?

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You can't be THAT GUY because I am THAT GUY :P

Cool idea though.

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