Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deadpooled before it climbed out of the soil

I want to share another project of mine which entered the deadpool today.

For the past 2-3 months, I've been working on putting together an 'Edutainment' online game for Chinese kids to learn English. I won't go into the details of why I think this is a good idea (I still do), but I finally decided to bury this one yesterday.

Here are the reasons why it made sense:
- Flash & Audio, two main requirements for the design was that the game client is accessed via a website and English speech is complemented throughout the entire game. What this meant was that the game would be built with flash, and that either I streamed A LOT of custom pre-recorded dialogue or I used text-to-speech (TTS) technology. Both of these solutions were thorny and resource driven.

- Marketing and Sales, the distinction between user (child) and customer (parent) is an important one. It meant that my sales channels would be offline for the most part. For e.g. tutoring workshops, schools, kid education stores, etc... This was not something I would have the resources or skills to be any good at in China.

- People and Skills, I was looking for a resident Smartfox pro guru. This was somebody who understood SFS pro, flash, databases, and systems architecture. Right...

- Competition, it was Eddie Cheung, CEO of 北京国天科技有限公司, who put the nail in the coffin for me. He was nice enough to invite me to his office to chat about his similar company offering. I saw it and I was like that's what I had in mind...

Its definitely been a good learning lesson. It seems like I wasted a lot of effort in this project, but I think the truth is that the planning and research had paid off. Better to know it's time to call it quits now than 1-2 years later. Plus, I met new friends and leveled up on the way.

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