Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boston Post Mortem Round up and the IGDA

This months meet up of the Boston Post Mortem was a round up of what has happened to the chapter during the year as well as highlighting plans for the future.

These plans included organising elections to the board of the chapter now that it is an official chapter of the IGDA as well as highlighting a few of the planned chapter meet up events, which have been provisionally arranged for the next few months, which for the most part do actually sound pretty interesting.

Also at the event was Joshua Caulfied, the executive director for the IGDA.

He talked a little bit of what he is hoping to accomplish and what has been happening at the organisation, but much of the evening was just a question and answer session, which he seemed to hold his own at and certainly a very pleasant, well meaning person who made himself very open to communication, staying for over an hour after the event to answer more questions from people.

One accomplishment he touched on was the medical health insurance pool being offered to those in the US, but he didn't go into how they would filter those who just joined the org for this benefit without being a developer. He did say that if people found better rates or plans on their own that he would be able to go to the brokers to find out why those better rates weren't on offer to people though. These rates might not necessarily be cheap, but the group rate should offer better rates for many people, especially those with families or pre-existing conditions.

Liability insurance as a group rate was also being offered to members which a lot of smaller start ups were interested about but he wasn't able to give any details at the moment, certainly regarding those outside of the US.

My main question to him was what he was doing to get the "I" in the organisation to have any real meaning and value to the members outside of the US via promoting communication, attractiveness to join or stay as a member as well as what advantages were being offered to those aboard.

His answer consisted of organising events aimed at those aboard, starting with web seminars with topics to help indie devs, going over local cultural differences, how to market to various other markets, how to go about localisation and distribution. These web events to begin with are being aimed at those countries who have shown most interest, such as Japan, China, Spain and Mexico.

To make the most of these events, they were being planned on being time shifted so that they could be viewed at a decent hour for those in the countries these events were being aimed at so that they could be involved in the discussions. These events should then be made available as streaming media for the rest of the membership afterwards but in a none interactive format.

Another way to help bolster the organisation through the ground up was giving more value to local chapters, such things that happen in the BPM, speakers doing practice runs for larger conferences. He was hoping to get in touch with people who do these speeches and arrange for them to do talks in their local chapter areas, perhaps offering to help out subsidising any out of pocket expenses if they had to travel beyond a local destination.

Bringing chapters together was another aim, but getting chapter organisers to provide event feedback after events and highlights of information and talks held so that they could be provided to the organisation as a whole so that every one gets to benefit from these hubs and if nothing else to act as a starting point for discussion for those smaller chapters.

A big issue of contention was the whole board of directors election process. The plan is now to lead a more structured approach of having each candidate answer 10 standard questions as part of their manifesto and information blurb. There is plans to also arrange a video conference some how where each candidate gets 10 minutes to talk about themselves and go over anything they feel appropriate as well as to answer question fielded towards them. How this is all done hasn't been sorted out yet, but is high on the agenda to be finalised soon.

The whole web problems. Part of the problems with slow responses to communicate with members were down to custom features implemented by the previous ED, Jason, who never documented how functions worked so that the board would have to get him to fix issues or to explain how to get things working such as the whole group email system is still tied into his little system.

The four years of development of the website, using two developers, he did mention who they were but I don't feel I should mention who they are so if your interested, email him. The reason for this, at the start they had cost estimates of $150K for a AMS system and creating their own being considerably less than this, though he didn't give an exact figure of how much they saved.

What they wanted from the system, not just a BBS, but the whole backend to the database, keeping membership information sorted by types, automating sending out membership dues and discount coupon codes to various events as well as opening up the studio membership so that those in the studios knew they were members.

The frontend at the moment is being handled by 20 volunteers, only 4 of whom have any decent experience with Drupal, this is part of the problem with slow responses and glitches with the site. They are looking for a proper web developer to help fix these issues and are interviewing a few companies to help out. One particular place is offering the hosting of the site on much better servers as well as 80 hours of development time to work through and fix the whole site. What Josh wants is a timeline to work with so that he can inform the membership what is happening, which at the moment is 3 months to get everything fixed and working properly or they'll revert back to vB.

He also said that they were limiting emails to the members to a maximum of 2 per week and he was trying to prioritise what kind of information is being sent out. Something that would help him would be members directly contacting him with any particular issues so that he is personally aware of them so that they could be addressed, for instance he wasn't aware what people were thinking about with the whole ghosting of posts and the time delay of them appearing or not appearing if you weren't logged in. This was a system glitch and not an attempt to censor posters which is something he is very against doing, as long as members follow the rules of the forum, more from a legal side as well as not being abusive to others. So he should hopefully address this and other concerns in further communications.

If anyone wants to get in contact with Joshua, his email is - joshua @

No comments: