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Big Win Slots Twitter/FB pages!

As the seasons (finally) change to the one we’ve all been longing for, there are many things we can look forward to with summer’s arrival – the barbeques, the baseball, the beach, the fireworks – one thing you probably didn’t expect but will certainly welcome a few exciting changes at Mobile Deluxe.

We love each of our players, so it is our mission to do more to engage with you. That’s why we’re trying to foster social communities where our players can connect with one another, share your scores, discuss strategies, give your feedback to our team – and even trash talk about your winnings.

To make this happen, we’ll be unveiling Big Win Slots’ own Facebook and Twitter pages, in addition to our existing Mobile Deluxe and Solitaire Deluxe respective pages. We’ll be sharing the latest company news, industry news and events, and embarrassing photos of our CEO (shhh!) on our Mobile Deluxe pages.

To get updates on your favorite Mobile Deluxe games, you can visit the Solitaire Deluxe and Big Win Slots pages for up-to-date info, including game news, viral videos, tips and yes, GIVEAWAYS – after all, we know the way to your hearts (and Likes) are free coins.

Make sure to regularly visit our Mobile Deluxe as well. We’ll be sharing upcoming company announcements, insights from our team, and maybe even super exclusive information about upcoming GIVEAWAYS! From these social media enhancements to new product releases, we can ensure you Mobile Deluxe is going to bring you a fun summer. (The pool parties will probably help too.)12 Predictions for 2012

Pirate’s Booty

As a faithful nerd, I made haste to get home quickly today to install and play my piping-hot, release-day copy of Blizzard’s new RPG, Diablo 3. Unfortunately, millions of other PC and Mac gamers had the same intentions I did, and the game’s servers were down for maintenance, due to unexpected heavy loads.

While Diablo 3 features a robust single-player game in addition to its multiplayer universe, it does require a constant internet connection to play, even in single-player mode. This helps support battle.net’s drop-in, drop-out co/op mode, and also serves as a convenient form of DRM (Digital Rights Management). DRM is a controversial tool in publisher’s ever-increasing fight against piracy.

Sadly, the combination of the requirement of the game to be in connection with Activision/Blizzard’s servers in order to even play a single-player game left me enjoying the music of Diablo’s title screen, instead of slashing my way through dungeons in search of treasure.

Surely, there must be a better way!

The argument against DRM is that it merely delays piracy instead of preventing it. Pirates will eventually figure out a way around the game’s copy protection, and the legal users, who shelled out hard-earned bucks for gaming’s equivalent of a Box-Office MegaHit!!! are the ones who end up screwed in the end. But PC publishers have seen their market share, shelf space, and revenues drop dramatically with the advent of widespread broadband connections offering quick downloads, and torrent sites cropping up everyday, which let the average Joe illegally download today’s hottest game in hours, just as easily as browsing cat videos on YouTube. Is this the death of PC gaming?

Publishers and Developers aren’t stupid! We don’t like spending thousands of hours of hard work on a product just to give it away. It’s not fair to us, and it’s not fair to the countless players out there who feel there is value in the entertainment games bring. (Thank you!) So what do you see? A massive drop-off in the amount of AAA titles that make it to the PC – once the leader in the entire video games industry! Publishers of the bigger titles have moved almost completely to the console – it’s much harder to pirate there, due to the proprietary media formats and focused OS of the current generation of consoles. Piracy on console DOES exist, of course, especially for the portable devices (Nintendo DS, Sony PSP), but it is far less widespread than piracy on the PC.

Smaller publishers, and even the big boys, have also jumped into the new frontier of Mobile and Social gaming, and its groundbreaking “freemium” model. With “freemium” titles, the game itself is free-to-play. Users spend money on in-game items, such as virtual currency, weapons, outfits, levels, and other game-enhancing devices. Facebook games, led by Zynga, and their proliferation of “-Ville” games, make the majority of their money on IAP (In-App Purchases). Zynga has turned into a powerhouse publisher, with not a single paid title to their name, and little to no piracy woes.

Console games have begun to tap into this growing market as well – Call of Duty has their “Elite” service which offers hardcore gamers enhanced stats, strategies, and content, and EA Sports has done great business with their collectible card in-game purchases. Not only games can be freemium – Microsoft’s Skype, a free chat client, is one of the biggest programs in the world. It offers free users basic voice, video, and text chat, and offers premium users group video, screen-sharing, and other “Pro” features. It’s the “Premium” in “Freemium”.

Back to the PC, Valve Software’s Team Fortress 2, a quite-heralded multiplayer shooter, went free-to-play after several years of being a paid title. The game was supported by a rich library of purchasable hats, weapons, and trinkets, that the majority of players did not purchase. These items were available in-game as random drops, but could be purchased for real money. Only a small percent of players in Free-to-Play games actually purchase items – less than 5%, but with a big enough user base, that translates into some serious revenue for the publisher and developer!

How much revenue? 12 times! TWELVE TIMES! 12x! That’s 6×2! 3×4! 4×3! That’s after making the game itself completely free. Making the game free-to-play ensures that the pirates and legal consumers are on the same page – NOBODY pays for the game, to play at least.

Oh, and that thing about PC gaming dying due to piracy and a shift to consoles? Not anytime soon. PC Games currently make up nearly 50% of the TOTAL video game market share, based on revenue. A big reason for that? A little company called Zynga, and those cute little Facebook games! Zynga alone makes up nearly 5% of the PC market, the majority of which from IAPs!

Does free-to-play solve all of the piracy fears the gaming industry faces? No. There are some games that simply don’t have monetization methods in place for free titles – the traditional single-player RPG, strategy games, and platformers, specifically, rely on a “closed” experience – the user progresses through a full, linear game, which typically comes with beautiful graphics, an immersive score, and the big budget which comes with beautiful graphics and an immersive score. These titles benefit from a full retail package, at a full price – which is why they have moved completely to console, and haven’t dominated mobile, social, or PC gaming recently. (There are exceptions to this, of course, such as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series on PC, and the glut of strategy-lite games on mobile).

The real solution to piracy is for humans to never pirate. No stealing, ever. But we know that with a minimization of risk (anonymous clicks vs. holding up a store with a handgun), supreme availability (torrentzarefree, lolz!), and a wide selection of media, software piracy is probably here to stay. The free-to-play solution offers a great benefit for almost every platform and genre. It allows publishers of all sizes to make money, kicks pirates down a notch, and will be here to stay as well!

Big Win Blackjack Wins Big

Blackjack is one of those casino games where I intellectually internalize that I’ve got the best chances to win, and yet almost every time I walk away from a table I’m shorter in my stack and lighter in my pocket.  I think to myself, “there’s a finite number of possibilities, and I know there’s a system to beat the house; but I’m just gonna go with ‘round numbers’ and a liquor-infused mental abacus to win some money.”

I know.  The attitude isn’t strategic, but there’s got to be a ton of folks who think similarly.

So what if there was a way for me to learn to beat the house without reading a book or being an MIT nerd?  What if there was a way for me to see enough hands to get a feel for what the card count is, and when I should raise/lower my bet?  And what if this came in an app I could play on my fancy iPad or my badass Galaxy Nexus Android phone?

Well the press recently caught wind that we’ve delivered on this theoretical in Big Win Blackjack where Professor Blackjack teaches players when to hit, stand, double down, or split.  Huffington Post’s games.com says that Big Win Blackjack “is designed to train players in the ways of card counting [and] make better judgment calls to thus win big.”  Technorati picked up the story by pointing out the popularity of games companies clamoring for casino titles due to a recent announcement by the US Department of Justice (even though we’ve been perfecting blackjack apps well before this buzz since March 2006).  Technorati was also kind enough to plug some Josh Hartwell (CEO) sound bites like “it teaches users everything they need to know about the game with premium graphics and fluid gameplay”.

The article that led to all of this commotion was Dean Takahashi’s piece in Venture Beat where he humbly compared us to Zynga and originated the clap that echoed: casino games are here in a big way.  Takahashi’s assessment is on point that “casino game makers are going through a renewal”, especially since smartphones let people practice their favorite Vegas game between various moments of their lives.

This is the very reason why Big Win Blackjack is so amazing.  You can be standing in a line or sitting on a toilet, and actually improve your real-world card playing skills.  It’s not that a game has gained popularity due to a decision on public policy; it’s that a game has always been popular and we’re making it easily accessible to learn, practice, and improve.

Amazon In-App Purchases (IAP) Arrives!

Amazon just announced their In-App Purchasing (IAP) service and called out Mobile Deluxe as an early partner in implementation for the Amazon Appstore.  We’re mega-excited when this goes live since we’ve done exceptionally well with our other IAP-supported games on (ahem!) Apple’s App Store and Google Play (formerly known as Android Market).  And if we’re to believe Flurry’s stats on revenue per user by platform, it’s abundantly clear that our games need to be on all 3 platforms (especially since our games refute Flurry’s findings about lack of performance with Google Play).  Expectations of success are even higher since Amazon contributed to our highest single-day downloads for Solitaire Deluxe when it was featured as their Free App of the Day.

I’m personally a huge fan (and an Amazon Prime evangelist), and have long-praised their ability to merchandise the hell out of their partners’ products [if you haven’t seen their seamless promo spots in their Instant Video, you’re missing out on some bitchin’ salesmanship].  Multiply this core competency with an ever-expanding user base of Kindle Fires, and you get an equation of over 10 million tablet users who are 1-Click away from buying something as soon as they fall in love with your app.  In our case, we hope those folks fall in love with Big Win Slots and Big Win Blackjack!

At Mobile Deluxe, I Specialize In Awesome

Hi! Sean here. I am the Mobile Deluxe Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst and I specialize in AWESOME!

As I write this entry, I am starting my third year with Mobile Deluxe. However, I have been working in QA for a total of seven years now and each year has been more fun than the last. I’m a HUGE gamer outside of work. So, being able to do my job which is playing video games for the majority of the day, makes my job awesome, which is why I can say, “I specialize in AWESOME!”

My job at Mobile Deluxe has many duties. My main duty as a QA Analyst is to gather as much information about the design of an application from those producing it. I compile that information and distribute it among other members of QA: the manager and testers. Next, I compose what is called a ‘Test Plan’. The test plan is a checklist of questions that ask if the application matches the design, as well as adhere to the standards of the company. Afterwards, I switch roles to that of a ‘Lead Tester’, which performs all of the duties that a tester would perform (i.e., following the test plan, finding/reporting bugs), plus coordinates test efforts. I do all of this while keeping my eyes and ears open for any design changes. These changes usually happen several times throughout the life of a project. There’s a lot of multi-tasking going on here but you remember what I said about specializing in AWESOME.

I know that from what I’ve explained so far, my job seems mostly reconnaissance and organization, but those are only a small part. My job, as a whole, is to help make sure that our players get a clean, easy-to-use, and above all, fun game. If my team and I are not having fun testing the game, it’s pretty certain that our players are not going to have fun playing it! So, we are going to bug up anything and everything that gets in the way of that fun…and that’s AWESOME!

I feel fortunate to have such a great job, because not only is it an important, integral role, I get to have fun while performing it. How cool is that? It also helps to be working with some incredible people that keep the work environment pleasant and fun to be in. Well, that’s it! If you’ll excuse me, there’s more AWESOME for me to attend to.

Big Win Blackjack: Why bet on the Riverboat?

Big Win Blackjack version 1.4.0 introduced “Sponsored Casinos.”  The first of these advertisement-supported casinos is the “Riverboat” casino.  If you find yourself low on chips, or just want to practice playing basic Blackjack, the Riverboat is a great place to start.

Why? Because each time the cards are shuffled, the dealer slides 25 chips across the table to you – a reward for watching a brief, full-screen advertisement.  Cha-ching! This is a substantial bonus that puts the edge solidly on the player’s side. No way will you see that in Las Vegas!

Here’s an example: As a test case, I played as many hands as I could in fifteen minutes, betting the maximum 5 chips each hand.  In that time, I played forty hands total. Even with the advertisements, that’s at least twice as many hands as you could play at a three person table in Vegas. On betting alone, I managed to make 12 chips.  I’m happy to be ahead, but that’s hardly something to write home about! But in the meantime, the dealer shuffled five times, each time forking over 25 chips. So in fifteen minutes, I’d actually earned 137 chips that I can use anywhere in the game. That’s pretty worthwhile!

Now that you know what a great deal the Riverboat is, you might ask “Why play anywhere else?” Because there’s a whole lot more to this game than playing basic Blackjack.  Big Win Blackjack is about traveling the world and playing at high-roller tables. And the greatest challenge (and biggest rewards) can be found in the Blackjack tournaments, where players compete with each other to grab the big win. So build up your bankroll playing on the Riverboat, then take those chips on the road!

Why Your Company Should Have a “No Asshole” Policy

If you’ve ever worked with our company, you are probably familiar with this tenet of ours. We don’t like to work with jerks, and if we happen to find one in our midst we do our best to reform or replace them. I am convinced that this policy, along with our team’s brilliance (maybe I’m biased) and culture of support for one another has been instrumental in our small company’s nearly 9 year track record of growth and profitability.

Everyone experiences lame co-workers at some point in their lives, and you know these people. You don’t understand the hidden talent they have that allows them to keep their jobs. Maybe you had the cranky mustache lady in accounting who took solace in chain smoking and sarcasm. Maybe you worked with the hipster whose job was too pedestrian for them to actually DO. Or the blind rage “hair on fire” type who perfected the dramatic meeting exit. From slackery to office gossip that goes too far, we’ve all worked with people that brought the workplace down.

I’m not suggesting that at Mobile Deluxe we’re all sunshine and unicorns, because we’re not. We’ve had attitudes and cattiness, slackers and deceivers. And everyone has bad days when they aren’t their perfect selves. Maybe I called the new girl “Valerie” for a long time before I realized that wasn’t her name. Someone in our office may have taken a “revenge shot” or two at the office ping- pong tournament, or left an especially terse note about yogurt on the office fridge. We duke it out and dig in our heels during a meeting from time to time, but there’s mutual respect, and the discussion ends up making the organization better. Temporary issues are to be expected.

With some of the more toxic people however, we held on too long, and we suffered for it. In small companies like ours, each person’s contribution is significant and apparent. Our space is intimate and open, the need for everyone to work together well is critical. For the most part, when toxic behavior first becomes a problem, we will try and work with that person to correct the problem. Did we cause the problem? Can we solve it? Sometimes, unfortunately, the problem doesn’t resolve and people simply have to be let go. When we have acted on this, the results have been revealing. The energy is better, the gossip disappears and productivity goes up. John Shields, Chairman Emeritus of CEO of Trader Joes, said it well when he said that if you think someone’s the wrong fit and should be replaced, you probably should have done so 6 months prior. Lesson Learned.

Here are the main reasons to keep the jerks away:

Reason #1: Feedback sessions and idea creation need to be free flowing
This is a basic rule. If you have someone in the midst of a feedback session that gets personal and sarcastic, or pouts when disagreed with, you will suddenly find yourself in a mostly mute room. Challenging ideas and testing assumptions all provide healthy balance in discussion. But bitterness and a lack of tact can inhibit the free flowing of ideas and stifle creativity. Trusting one another, giving value to each other’s opinion is critical to an open and productive exchange.

Reason #2: Happiness is key to success
According to the Harvard Business Review Article, “The Power of Happiness”, by Roger Martin, employee satisfaction has an extremely positive impact on company performance. Says Martin, “Employees are the backbone of any organization, and as you might expect, studies show that happy employees are more motivated, productive and committed…considerable research has explored the link between an organization’s long-term financial success and motivated employees.” The below diagram is taken from the article, and illustrates the paradigm.

Reason #3: Difficult people can hamper productivity

Think Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. Have you ever been on a project that stopped inexplicably every time it was a particularly difficult person’s turn to contribute? Some people let emotional angst get in the way of problem solving, and productivity slows. Or there’s the malcontent that no one wants to work with, making it difficult to get teams together. When you need an employee to step up and organize on a project, you have one less option available. Who wants to be on THAT guy’s team?

Reason #4: Contributions are expensive and less efficient when the source is lame
It’s rare you find cohorts that can look past a personality problem and see the good stuff. When presenting an idea, the offender is going to have a harder time convincing people, a harder time being credible, and so will have to work harder and do more to be useful. Unless they have some ace-in-the-hole relationship or uber useful skill of some sort (“Jim’s a jackass, but have you seen his ice sculptures?”) their work will be more expensive and less effective than if they were just cool and easy to work with.

Reason #5: Trust in the workplace makes a huge difference
Some people are known for trying to steal someone else’s thunder, job, or clearly labeled Mountain Dew. Some will take credit for the work of others. This contributes to a corporate culture of mistrust and can dampen spirits and slow progress. In Steven Covey’s book, “The Speed of Trust”, he talks about how truly collaborative teams with a high level of trust tend to produce more effective results, more efficiently.

Assholery, is it your culture or the individual?
The Harvard Business review recently devoted an entire issue of their magazine to, “The Value of Happiness” (Jan-Feb 2012). Throughout the issue various sources offer the myriad of reasons why focusing on employee happiness and satisfaction is not only the right thing to do, but it has a significant and measurable effect on your bottom line. The article “Positive Intelligence” by Shawn Achor, suggests that “life satisfaction” scales are, “…widely accepted to be one of the greatest predictors of productivity.”

If your company culture is lacking, check out some of the HBR suggestions for improvement. Things as simple as having every employee make a habit of writing down three things they were grateful for daily, two minutes of meditation, or simply writing someone else a positive note have been shown to increase satisfaction by 16%. Happy employees were also shown to have 37% higher sales, be 10x more engaged in their jobs, and are 40% more likely to receive a promotion.
Sometimes it’s a matter of learning how to engage with a group, individuals or how to work through conflict. Books Crucial Confrontations, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are all staples in the workplace harmony library. Even excerpted assigned reading can have an impact and send a strong message about the company values.

If you decide it’s the individual, even after working with him or her on all of the above, it’s time to part ways. You aren’t the boss and can’t make that call? Feel free to anonymously pass this article around the office.

This quiz will help you ensure you’re not the problem:
http://electricpulp.com/guykawasaki/arse/

Suggested Reading:
“The No Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton
“The Speed of Trust” by Stephen Covey
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
“The Value of Happiness”, Harvard Business Review, January – February 2012 issue

Mobile Deluxe Banter: When Nerds Collide

This is an example of the important matters that are discussed daily at Mobile Deluxe. This email started out as an invitation to a basketball game, went through some variations and ended in an all-out nerd war. I love my job!

From: Edmond
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 6:11 PM
Subject: Basketball after work next Tuesday

Hey Guys,
Some of the guys in QA are planning on playing basketball after work next Tuesday. We’ll be playing at the park on the corner of 6th and Wilshire. Everyone’s welcome to join us. Don’t be scared to come play, we’re not that good and all of us are out of shape so the playing field is pretty even. Hope to see you there.

On May 28, 2011, at 8:36 PM, “Alfred” wrote:

Won’t be able to make it on Tuesday y’all. I was really looking forward to seeing Audrey posterize QA too. Oh well.
Alfred

From: Reuben

Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 5:55 PM
Subject: Re: Basketball after work next Tuesday

Ahhh.. I’ll be there Thursday – can you all play then, too???
Reuben

On Jun 1, 2011, at 10:58 AM, “Audrey” wrote:

You know dear co-workers, just because I am a giant doesn’t mean I can play basketball. I can barely walk in a straight line let alone be coordinated enough to shoot a basket. I’m a delicate flower.

From: Kellie
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:04 PM
Subject: Re: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Correction: A delicate but deadly technoflower-bot.

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 3:06 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
With laser-hands

From: Reuben
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:21 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
This is starting to sound like Audrey is slowly being assimilated via email. What would Audrey’s Borg name be, anyway? Audrikus?
Reuben

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:24 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
My step daughter only calls me by “Audroid”

From: Laine
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:26 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Hhm.. Marketing is 5 people? Audrey can be Three of Five.

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 3:25 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Silly Reuben, Borgs don’t have names, they have number designations.
#startrekisbetterthanstarwars

From: Reuben
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:43 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
I will not be duped into a Wars/Trek debate. I’m bigger than that. And I wouldn’t, under any circumstance, highlight the area below and change the text color to black……. it’s just white space…

—— Start Below here——-
You know, that’s crap. I think Picard had a name, didn’t he? I quote: Locutus. ‘I am Locutus of Borg.’ And Star Wars must be a Borg, because it’s number designation is 1, as in ‘First’ or ‘better than’. I will use this passive aggressive nerd typing campaign to vent my frustration, but also to prove that star wars is better, not that I’m right – both statements of which are true…….
——end above here———

From: Paul
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:59 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Reuben: Settle down, you know Audrey didn’t really mean that. Take a deep breath, maybe plan your next trip to Tashi’s station… do you want to get the red power converters or the blue ones?

Audrey: Ixnay ona ethay arstay ecktray isa etterbay anthay arstay arsway. Reuben is a star wars fan with a black belt. That makes him one of a kind in the universe and possibly very dangerous. Nobody really knows. You best back way off.
Paul

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:02 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Paul = Peacemaker

From: Eric
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:04 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Star Wars sucks, Star Trek sucks. Go Frodo.

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 4:05 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Seriously, we have to bring in Middle Earth to this debate. Sheesh!

From: Reuben
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:08 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Audrey and I both wield the power of awesome. With it, comes great responsibility. It’s an innate power – not fabricated like Batman.
Lord of the Rings doesn’t count. All the power is tied into a frickin’ ring. Generation after generation of oppression because of a piece of jewelry.
Fail.
Reuben

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:11 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Reuben – FTW!!!!!

From: Eric
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:38 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
It’s not just jewelry, it’s made of gold. Everyone knows gold always goes up in value, we are all slaves to it. Besides I can’t see the force or Vulcan mind melds or whatever. It could be like god or santa clause or gravity. The “power” is all in your mind. For all you know it’s explosive gas caused by eating a lot of beans.

P.S. – Batman isn’t fabricated, he’s just a really rich guy who likes to wear a belt with toys and a point elf/Vulcan hat.

From: SexyJosh
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:43 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
U guyz know where I can get a good deal on Pocket Protectors?

From: Audrey
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:44 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
No, I don’t. But I can let you borrow one of my inhalers.

From: Mo
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:44 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Why did you all have to bring batman into this…….. He is a human who fights superhumans. Unlike others like jedi’s or that guy from star trek who get beat up physically he gets beat and he is constantly put on hallucinogenic drugs and mind destroyed everytime he fights.
Keep batman out of it.

From: Edmond
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:51 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday
Batman’s also the only superhero that can dance. Batman Rules!!

From: Scott
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:52 PM
Subject: RE: Basketball after work next Tuesday

Do Over or Do Not: Crucial Decisions in Software Re-development

We’ve all had experience creating something new.  It can be daunting, and your instincts tell you to sit down and plan out everything you’re going to do.  Often, though, you come to find that what you have created works, but isn’t really sufficient.  It could be because the specifications have changed, or that people interact with your work in a way you didn’t expect, or simply that you didn’t execute it in the best way possible.  Whatever the reason, the end result is the same – you don’t have exactly what you need.

The core of this problem is complexity.  As a task becomes more complex, it becomes harder to predict the output based solely on the inputs.  Software development is so complex that it is impossible to predict the outcome.  Despite all the planning and designing, the plan is going to change.  Of course, this isn’t news to anyone; it’s a common occurrence, and not only in software.  Life is full of complex problems with complex solutions.  So if making software is a complex process, and everyone understands that complex processes are impossible to predict, why is so much time spent trying to plan and design software?

There are many reasons for an emphasis on planning and design, but the primary cause is a resistance to redo completed work.  Teams don’t want to rework tasks or features because it doesn’t feel like progress, and if a team is not progressing, it’s not succeeding.  To avoid having to redo a task, a team will try to predict exactly what is needed for that task.  But as we’ve all experienced, this prediction is impossible.  Your best effort will only get you close.  A team is better off starting their work right away.  Later, they can take any time they would have used for design to iterate on their initial work.  This time spent on rework will prove to be more efficient because it is happening when the team is more knowledgeable about the task.  The beginning is your least knowledgeable point, so it is the worst time to make plans or designs.

One of our latest projects, Big Win Blackjack, has been a fine example of the value of reworking.  Big Win Blackjack began life as Blackjack Cheater and has gone through several revisions.  Many times during that process we were faced with the choice of reworking a feature to improve it or moving on to the next feature.  For example, our sponsored casino had problems with card layout.  They were not show-stopping issues, but they looked sloppy. To fix these problems, we would have to rewrite the card layout logic.  That’s a scary sounding task, and it meant delaying new features.  But in the end, the game is better off with nicer card layout, and no amount of time spent planning would have come up with a better solution.  In every discussion someone raised the concern that reworking would take too long.  You see, our Blackjack projects were taking longer than we had anticipated, and we wanted to release a new version.  But every time we decided to rework the feature, the result was worth the time spent because we were able to make improvements we never would have anticipated.

I’m not trying to suggest that reworking a feature is always the best option; a decision has to be made for each feature.  But I do believe that the cost of reworking something is almost always overestimated, and that the cost of planning is likewise underestimated.  Don’t be afraid to jump in and start working.  Use your planning time to improve what you’ve done; you’ll most likely know better what needs to be done.