Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How much is it, exactly?

How much is it, exactly?

There is a news report saying that millions of kids simply don't find school very challenging. From USA Today, July 10, 2012, it has been found that among other things, 37% of fourth-graders say their math is "often" or "always" too easy. This has been cited as proof that kids need to pushed harder to reach their maximum potential.

To which, I say, if 37% is too much, how much is desirable? The article didn't say.

There is a common pattern that basically ignores the other side. Blame it on TV, on politicians, on schools, or whatever. The fact is, there aren't that many people who says, "If that isn't it, then what is?"

I lost count of the number of arguments who says "I am sooo big. You are sooo small!"

And my response is always, "How much exactly? How do you know? Do you have any data that backs your assertion?" I am sad to say that 9 out of 10 does not have any answer whatsoever. I'm not saying their answer is faulty, but that they have no answer.

This, among other things, indicates to me the lack of empathy, and courtesy, and common sense. Just how hard is it to ask the question, and answer it?

Very hard, it turns out.

There is a kickstarter project by DreamQuest Games called "Alpha Colony". It tries to update Dan Bunten's M.U.L.E. game to current high standard. Admirable goal. It asks for $500,000. Ouch! A lot of people, rightly so, thinks that is too high. DreamQuest's response? "Half the money goes toward expenses, including licensing and advertising. The other half goes toward multi-platform development."

That kind of distribution isn't strange. It is pretty standard. I was thinking "They need to learn how to develop for multi-platform more efficiently." Followed by, "What do they need advertising budget for? Kickstarter provides all the funds!" Followed by, "How much exactly do they need to develop multi-platform? How much cost is advertising, and how much is licensing?"

See how it clarifies the picture? When pushed, DreamQuest said that they are willing to explain how their costs structure is calculated. I think that's the wrong response. The right response, IMO, would be "If $500,000 is too much for top-quality, multi-platform, licensed game, then how much do you think is reasonable?"

See how simple it is? Once you arrived at reasonable figure, then you can do graduated features. For example: $100,000=good gameplay on PC. $200,000=multi platform. $350,000=Premium art. $500,000=Animation, and voice acting. That's no problem at all. Licensing, can be arranged as percentage (you may need to give more percentage if you're not giving them advance, but that's part of doing business.)

As I type this, Alpha Colony gathers $100,000 funding, failing short $400,000. Imagine had they asked that simple question. They'd be successful by now!

Another comparison is Kickstarter project "OUYA". $99 open platform networked console. The design is by Ives Behar. It is beautiful! As I'm typing this, the project gathers funding at a rate close to 1 million dollars PER DAY!

Quite a big difference, wouldn't you say?

I wish OUYA developers much success. The world can use an open development console like that. Then again, I can think of an already existing solution that reads like what OUYA is promising: Raspberry Pi.

This is a Linux-based computing (Android is planned for the future) that costs $35! Add $30 controllers and you get $34 dollars for Wifi, bluetooth, and extra storage.

Plus, it runs Linux, which is very open, programmable, and easy to develop. Support is easy to come by. What's the difference between OUYA and Raspberry Pi? No difference that I can see!

Manufacturing such technology is very difficult, indeed. Raspberry designers kept making compromises in order to keep the price down. Can OUYA developer says the same thing? Doubt it.

I hope I'm wrong with this and that OUYA will delivers above expectation. However, my guess is that OUYA will end up buying Raspberry Pi by the bulk, cheap plastic stamp controllers, and put the console in a very pretty cardboard box designed by Ives Behar. It will also run Linux with Android feature promised as a future upgrade.

See how specific info can tell you what the most likely path is? The more specific data that you can get, the better off you are.

Back to the original question: If 37% "too easy" isn't right, then what is? The article has a slant that they want less people to find it too easy. Personally, I want more people to find it too easy. 50% too easy, 50% too hard, is a good balance to get. Math is cumulative, and a good foundation now is priceless in the future.

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