Category Archives: Game Development

Is GoodLearning.com giving up on video captions?

Hate what you love

Today I was editing captions for one of my video lessons on goodlearning.com, where I teach people to make game art and games. I was trudging along, editing the captions Windows Speech Recognition had built for me in Camtasia. Then I realized I was starting to hate this.

Captions are the right thing to do

I took on captioning for all videos I make starting a couple years ago. At the time, with Camtasia 6, I had to use a special caption exporter tool to make a caption file out of my Camtasia projects. It was worth it, though, because YouTube could use the captions. I’ve always preached about accessibility in web development, so I felt it was the right thing to do with my video lessons.

Going out of business helps no one

Fast-forward to today, as I’m working hard to transition from a freelance coder to a revenue-earning educator. As I strive to teach people to make game art and games in interesting ways, I certainly do not suffer writer’s block. Just reading off to you my terse notes about ideas would take a few hours. The problem is, post-production on videos is taking far too long. Captioning is the bulk of that time. If I can’t move forward more quickly in creating lessons and promoting them, I will not be able to help anyone make games, because I’ll have to go back to hourly coding just to pay the bills.

Is anyone even using my captions?

I have no idea how many people turn on the captions when viewing videos on goodlearning.com. The captions do not show up by default, but I also am not able to capture analytics on how many people turn them on in the JW Player I use. On Udemy, captions are added as “Open Captions,” meaning they are burnt in to the videos. Again, no idea how many people appreciate them. To date, my videos are the only ones I have seen on Udemy that even bother with captions.

This is a no-brainer

In conclusion, starting tomorrow, I will not be including captions in anymore goodlearning.com videos. If someone starts complaining about it, I might budge and revert that decision. I’m pretty sure noone will say a thing, though.

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Breaking the Rules (of Business)

This year I’m relaunching goodlearning.com with a narrower focus. Goodlearning users will focus their creative learning around specific beginning-to-end game projects. Every project begins with the game concept, requirements, and other design considerations. Then each project ends with a completed project — with each users’ personal flair to boot.

What about breaking the rules?

Most folks tell you businesses should be designed to:

  1. Scale: the business can handle a large amount of new activity while adding only a small amount of new expenses / resources.
  2. Run Without You: the business should be able to run with or without you, the founder.

Why break the rules?

I totally understand scale and “working on your business, not in it.” However, Goodlearning.com is something I want to do more than anything else. At this point, I want to provide nearly individual attention to each student as I can.

This morning, as I considered what game mechanics the site should use to encourage users to keep moving forward, I decided I want to “validate” certain steps students take. At different milestones during game projects, students can upload the work they did for a lesson (a starship sprite, for instance) and I’ll “validate” that item. This gives them additional points specific to validated exercises. It also gives me a chance to keep on board with each student’s learning. I won’t be grading their work, per se, but if I see they are not on the right track I can offer some assistance.

Completely bonkers

So, if I get 1,000 students — a goal for 2012 — and only half of them submit items for validation — I’m going to be one busy beaver! I am considering options for allowing more senior students to do validation, but that’s thinking way too far ahead.

Level up your creative technical skills

Anyway, if you want to learn creative technical skills while having a great time, keep your eyes on goodlearning.com. I’ll try launching a kickstarter.com project soon to get some funding I need, and after that you can sign up and get moving.

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