Waterfall Conference

I rarely attend conferences due to budget. Most of them aren’t worth the price and are a very expensive flight from Boston.

However, this year I’m quite interested in Waterfall 2006. Looks like the topics and tutorials will be well worth the cost of travel to Cascade, Illinois.

Anyone else going?

Company Logo: A Designer’s Take

Mike Rohde has posted a nice detailed follow-up to my Designing a Company Logo post from yesterday.

What intrigues me is how fun this process can be, particularly for clients. All of the clients who have collaborated in their own logo process have commented on how much they enjoyed it. Knowing clients get a logo they love and a process that’s fun makes for a very satisfying experience for everyone.

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Company Logo

Back in November, I hired Mike Rohde of Makalu Media to design my company logo.

Outer Level has been a legal corporation since 2000, but until now I have put off creating a logo. Since most of my business has historically come through consulting agencies and personal contacts, I neglected the company image. I have been operating as a hired gun. Usually, with one or two major clients and a handful of smaller clients that would send me a trickle of part-time programming work.

Now that I’m working towards a product-driven business, it’s time to establish a more unified company identity.

Over the past five years I have tried to come up with logo ideas, but had struggled with a couple of things: what kind of logo would appeal to big business and what kind of image to portray. Who was my market? The Big Company CTO needing IT type contract work or the family owned small business needing consulting work for their e-commerce web site?

It wasn’t until I decided to sell my own products that ideas began to solidify. I knew that I wanted to develop software for my favorite platform. I also wanted an identity that would work for both business applications and games.

Thankfully, this is where Mike comes in. Something I didn’t think about prior to hiring Mike, but would recommend to anyone looking for a graphic designer, is that you look for someone who can “consult” with you on your image. Instead of just asking what I wanted my logo to look like, Mike sent a short list of questions to solidify his feel for my tastes, personality, and desired company image.

Answering his questions wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The steepest challenge was to produce a list of keywords to describe the image I wanted to project. I had a vague idea in my mind but struggled to communicate it to others. Here is what I sent Mike:

Outer Level:

  • Outer = Think outside the Box
  • Level = Highest Level of Excellence
Primary Business:

  • Games
  • Software
  • Consulting

  • Bold
  • Creative
  • Passionate
  • Unique
  • Graceful
  • Elegant
  • Organic
  • Flexible

A little over a week later, Mike sent me two full pages of pencil sketches incorporating my descriptors and his own feelings from the Outer Level name. Some of his ideas reflected ones I have had in mind for years — probably the more obvious and common images that Outer Level brings to mind. These are precisely the ones I didn’t want. I was looking to avoid the common and the obvious. Also in the sketches were some ideas that immediately captured my imagination.

After much thought, but mostly gut feel I selected my favorites. At this point I was concentrating on feel and concept. There were many bits in these sketches that I really liked. So I sent back my comments along with my own sketches because I tend to think better in pictures than in words.

This lead us through several versions and revisions of ideas and concepts that lead us to this final list of black and white logos.

Item “C” immediately jumped out. It embodied everything I had listed in my keywords and much of what I had in my head but could not communicate.

To this point, the process had been quite fun, though challenging. I had no idea what was in store now that it was time for color. I envisioned blue, red, and even green as potential main colors and wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t alone in this train of thought.

Unfortunately, once I saw these colors applied to the logo design they didn’t project the feel I was looking for. But, I really liked the warm red-orange sunrise-like background Mike had incorporated. So I searched out some photos of planets, nebulas, etc. and sent them to Mike as a sample of colors that appeared in space. Maybe, these would help change the feel of the logo.

As it turns out, these “space colors” lead us in the right direction. Out of the revised color palette and several more revisions, we decided on the final version:

The process was great fun and an extremely positive experience. Mike’s service was of the highest professional quality and I couldn’t be any happier with the results. If you’re in need of a logo or any design work, don’t hesitate to contact Mike Rohde.

Update [January 17, 2006]: Mike has posted his side of the story.

Update [January 27, 2006]: It seems there was a glitch somewhere in my posting process that killed my image tags. I’m not sure when it happened, but the images are now back. Sorry for the oversight.

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Bullfrog in the News

(Originally Published on Make Mac Games)

Bullfrog has received some press over the past few weeks from a couple of French websites:

January 14, 2006 – Mac à l’école (Mac at School)

Original French Text:

Des jeux intéressants à utiliser en classe issus du concours idevgames 2005… Encore plus de choix cette année (36 logiciels), et avouons-le, nous n’avons pas tout testé !

Pour commencer Bullfrog plaira aux plus petits. Il s’agit de diriger une grenouille et de lui faire manger toutes les méchantes bêtes à l’écran…

Translated via Google:

Plays interesting to use in class resulting from the contest idevgames 2005… Even more choice this year (36 software), and let us acknowledge it, us very did not test!

To begin Bullfrog will like smallest. It is a question of directing a frog and of making him eat all the malicious animals with the screen…

December 14, 2005 – Jeux Mac (Mac Play)

Original French Text:

Alors que l’OriginalMacgames Contest est sur le point de clore ses portes afin de rendre son verdict, il est encore possible d’aller y télécharger les jeux inscrits.

Il y a des logiciels vraiment sympa, voici un petit descriptif de quelques uns :

BullFrog : un petit jeu pour enfant (moins de 10 ans) dans lequel il devra nourrir une grenouille.

Google Translation:

Whereas OriginalMacgames Contest is about to close its doors in order to return its verdict, there it is still possible to go to download the registered plays.

There is really sympathetic software, here a small description of some:

BullFrog: a small play for child (less than 10 years) in whom it will have to nourish a frog.

Will Leopard be Intel Only?

I wonder… now that Apple has announced the Intel-based MacBook and iMac and plan to have the rest of their machines switched over by the end of 2006; will the next version of Mac OS X (Leopard) be an Intel only release?

It certainly would be one way of pushing people to upgrade their hardware. Though, it would piss-off quite a few people.

Or, will Apple release a simultaneous PPC version and Intel version?

Posted in Mac

Lessons Learned in 2005

CodeSnipers has up a list of 14 lessons learned in 2005 for starting and running a micro ISV. I’m still a bit new to the micro ISV side of my business, but I did learn a few things over the second half of the year:

  • Time is your most precious and valuable resource. Money is important, but you can always make more. Once time is gone, it’s gone for ever.
  • If you can afford it, take your business full-time. It is very hard to work full-time and then go home exhausted and try to make a business work. I was never as productive as the two months I took off from full-time consulting late last year.
  • Keep an idea journal. Ideas can be fleeting, keep a notebook around to jot them down before they escape in to the aether.
  • Stay focused on your project. As Ian Landsman mentioned, It’s very easy to get side tracked with pet projects, changing your website template, and adding the latest plugin to your blog. The way I handle this is by jotting these ideas and projects in my journal. This usually satisfies my creative urges and allows me to get back to work.
  • Get version 1.0 out as fast as you can. It doesn’t need to be perfect, that’s what version 1.x and 2.x are for. The first version will give you an idea of how good your product idea is. Is it worth making perfect? Is it worth committing your working life to? You won’t know this until you get the first version out and infront of your customers.
  • Stop waiting for the “right time” to start your business. There will never be a right time. Something always comes up, life always has its obstacles to throw in front of you. Start your business today.
  • Have fun! That’s why you are doing this. If it was just to make money, it’s easier to just go work for the man. Having fun also has the benefit of helping to fight off burnout.

What lessons have you learned in 2005? I’d love to hear about them.