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A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to buildapc [link] [comments]
Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper
for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile
, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your
experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).
I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).
So wtf is this?
So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.
Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?
I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience
of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS
General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)
Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile
. I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile
, he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.
So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
- active speakers,
- passive speakers,
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)
Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)
So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.
If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.
Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.
- Cyber Acoustics CA-3602FFP 2.1 $40. This is the I'm broke af but I need speakers route. 2.1 setup for 40 bucks. We do not have the luxury of options here. Enough said. Amazon
- Okay, for under $100 for good quality active speakers, there really is no other choice here besides Edifier speakers on amazon. In fact, their entire lineup is pretty solid all around ranging from the 980T for $70 to the S350DB which is a 2.1 system with 2 bookshelves and a sub for $300. Differences in the models are basically bigger woofers/tweeters as you go up in price, resulting in better bass performance and clarity (again crude explanation). If you don't want to research much and want simplicity, any of the edifiers are the way to go, with the 1700BT being the goto 2.0, or the 1850db which as a sub-out so you can add in a subwoofer into your setup later.
- Micca PB42X: $120- The active version of the popular MB42X passive speakers. Very good performance for price.
- Mackie CR3/4 $90/$140- Now normally I don't recommend these, but they are okay/meh speakers and have that razer aesthetic going on, and aesthetics are big part of speaker choice, so if you like the black/green color scheme, I guess these are passable.
- Klipsch Pro Media 2.1: $150- the only 2.1 system I'd recommend under $200. The thing about adding in a subwoofer to a 2.1 system under $200 means they have to cut corners elsewhere. This is the main difference of 2.1 systems vs bookshelves. While the subwoofer will allow your music to hit the lower notes in frequency resulting in deeper and more bass, this will usually come at a cost of audio quality in the mid and upper ranges in the music. If you are a BASSHEAD then yeah you probably want a subwoofer, though bookshelves under $200 also have decent bass. Note, ALWAYS BETTER TO BUY BOOKSHELVES AND SUBWOOFER SEPARATELY, but this will be pricier. Klipsch Website Direct or amazon.
- Fluance ai40/ai60: $200/$300- nice looking speakers that come in white and walnut and black that also have good clarity and quality. Their bass is surprisingly okay as they are rated to go a little bit below in the lower frequencies than speakers in similar price. I have listened to these before shortly for 2 hours, and would recommend. IIRC the ai60 has a subwoofer out. Mind the size of the 60s, quite big. Fluance direct or amazon.
- Kanto YU4: $270 Direct competitor to fluance ai series. Comes in white as well.
- Audioengine A2+/A5+ :$270/$400. I have no experience with this lineup, but lots of love/hate dynamic with this brand over on budgetaudiophile. Good and bad thing.
- JBL 305P: $300 - maybe the endgame speakers of this list. These are very famous and respected studio monitors that music artists and producers use often. They are sold $150 per speaker, and you will need to get 2. Hooking them up requires separate cables, as these are standalone speakers with it's own volume control on each speaker. Simplest way is to buy a 3.5mm to dual TS Cable. Set both speakers to same physical volume level via knob, and adjust volume using windows settings (having a volume knob on your keyboard helps immensely here). Or buy a separate in line volume control from amazon ($20 bucks or under) and connect via 3.5mm to rca. Being studio monitors, these are meant to reproduce sound neutrally (they will have no external flavoring like how Beats adds muddy boomy bass to its headphones to use as a bad example) and may not sound alive or bright or to your tastes. They can be demo-ed/tested out at guitar center if you have access to one in this pandemic.
- Logitech G560 RGB Gaming Speakers: $200 (yes, you read that right): Okay, now normally I'd be crucified for recommending a logitech speaker in the other audio forums. But I have used these speakers briefly for about 3 months when I got them cheap from a friend. The sound quality of these satellite speakers are....surprisingly not bad? Might I dare to say that these are even....decent for it's price? Now these are $200 speakers for a 2.1 system. This means that it's either this or Klipsch 2.1. Honestly my vote here goes to the logitechs. I owned the Klipsch promedia 2.1 for about half a year. I can definitely say I prefer the clarity of the logitechs vs the boomy bass of the Klipsch. The subwoofer on the 560 does NOT have its own control knob, so you would need to adjust bass settings through logitech eq. Note, these speakers will not sound good out of the box. You will need to go into the eq settings via logitech software, and change the settings to match your tastes. Honestly the fact that you have to tweak the eq through shitty logitech software to make these sound good is pretty bullshit. Note that I am not recommending the z623/625. Don't get those. I used these in college in my apt in brooklyn, and while boomy bass, I'd definitely go with the B652 + mini amp, klipsch 2.1, or the g560 over the z623/625 FOR SURE.
- Second-hand market: okay, let's say you are determined to get quality speakers but you do not have the budget. Look around on the second hand market for stuff from KRK, Emotiva, Ascend, HSU. Make sure to demo them out for as long as you can until the seller gets pissed (please don't), so that you can test to see if you like the sound.
These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)
What you will need for passive setup:
Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire
separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables
from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable
will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.
- Dayton audio b652+ mini amp combo on parts-express for $60/70. Two combos, two separate mini amps, one from lepai (china) and one from dayton. Same shit. It LITERALLY does not get better than this for under $100, maybe even $150. CHIEF THIS IS IT, i cannot stress this enough. This is the budgetaudiophile 101 starter pack. I'd recommend these over the active Mackies, Edifiers (up to the 1700), and any and all logitech/creative pebble/cyber w/e EVERYTHING systems (except for the g560). These are very BIG speakers and hence will deliver good sound and good bass due to its big woofers. If you have less than $100 to spend on the ENTIRE audio setup, go get these and speaker wire/banana plugs no questions asked. gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
- Dayton Audio B652 AIR $70- The difference between the AIR and the normal 652 is in the tweeter. The AIR tweeter on this speaker costs as much as the entire b652 speaker. This tweeter upgrade gives even more clarity and quality in the treble range (middle upper sound frequency). The next best thing for under $100, though doesn't come with the mini amp combo.
- Sony SSCS5 Bookshelf Speakers. $150 msrp, $120 on amazon/bestbuy until recently, and sometimes goes on sale for $75. These are 3 way speakers with woofer, tweeter and supertweeter. The strength of these speakers lie in its unmatched clarity in the highs and upper mids. I still have these in my collection, and VERY WORTH though my opinion of these is skewed as I got them for $75/pair. If you appreciate bass, you will need to add a subwoofer with these (or generally any speaker below $500....some people would say you cant listen to music on bookshelves without subwoofer) as they sound a bit thin compare to the b652s (a bit less bass because smaller woofer) but better sound quality (though this is just my SUBJECTIVE thought after listening to the cs5s and b652s). These have 5 in woofers and have okayish small form factor.
- Micca MB42X $90- the passive version of the powered PB42X in the active list. The difference is between the amplifier built into the PB42X vs the one you're going to buy separately to power the MB42X. Obv the MB42X route is going to be better because the amplifier in the PB42X will be shit compared to the one you're going to buy ($30/50/75/150 options to follow later)
- Micca RB42X $150 - Amazing small size speakers. For under $200, either this or the cs5s. The rb42s have a bit more bass.
- Elac Debut 5.2/6.2 ON SALE NOW FOR $230/250. GET EM WHILE IT LASTS. Normally $280/350. These are speakers highly acclaimed by many of the speaker reviewers I consider the best (imo zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studio, thomas and stereo). Great bass, warm sound signature. Just go, what are you waiting for. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
- Q Acoustics 3020/3030i $230/400. Highly acclaimed by reviewers, look VERY NICE in white, and have a warm sound signature with lots of bass clarity and bass depth. These speakers are big, which is why they have great bass. Check the dimensions. Their size is the only downside to these fantastic speakers.
- PSB Alpha P5 $400: Great speakers for nearfield listening, aka at your desk, excels in this department more so than the other speakers (better at low volume, etc). Just all around amazing. Get these if the Q Acoustics ones are too big.
- Triangle BR02/03 $450/550. Coming from across the atlantic, these french speakers made a splash last year destroying its competition in the below $1000 range. Highly acclaimed to the point where some see them as overrated (too much hype out of nowhere in such little time). If you have the space in your setup as well as in your wallet for these, they are the way to go. Comes in black, walnut, white.
- Obligatory Klipsch R15/R51/RP600 post: you've heard of klipsch. They're widely available audiophile speakers, and so sometimes get the "overrated" hyped up treatment. They are good speakers but their have their own unique aggressively forward sound signature with the horn style tweeter. These were designed to make you feel like you're at the rock concert direct, may not be for everyone (much so not for me).
Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.
- Lepai 2020ti (LEPAI and not Lepy be wary) $25. 20 watts in 2 channels. Budget
- SMSL SA36 $62: SMSL's 2x20w.
- SMSL SA50 $72: The most bang for buck amp that's also decent. 2x50watts.
- Topping MX3 $130: Speaker amp, headphone amp, dac rolled into one. Allows for your speakers and headphones to be connected via USB and Bluetooth.
- SMSL AD18 $150: SMSL's answer to the MX3. This one is probably the goto. It's got 2x80w at 4ohms, has USB connection, has subwoofer out, has bluetooth connection, headphone amp, coaxial and optical connection.
If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.
Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10
, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer
. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs
. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.
- Dayton Audio SUB-800 $100: The cheapest one, don't go any cheaper. Enough said. Get from parts-express. If you need cheaper, 2nd hand market.
- Dayton Sub-1000 $120: The bigger brother. This thing is 10 inches, be prepared for a BIG box sitting in your room.
- Bic Acoustech PL-200 $300: Has good bass, goes down to 22hz. Very good bang for buck "good" subwoofer. A BIG step up from the daytons.
- SVS SB-1000 $500: Bassssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.
- Hyperx Cloud CORE/1/2/ALPHA (please find prices on amazon). So these headphones are a rare instance of when a gaming branded pair of headphones was actually a good no bullshit product. These are hyperx reskins of OEM Takstar Pro 80, a pretty damn good pair of cans from china for under $50 (no longer available on aliexpress but Seoul had a SHIT load of these) with a mic attached to it. Chief, this is it. Reasonably good audio quality from headphone drivers for their price, and you get a mic for discord needs.
- Coolermaster MH751/752 $90/110. Now beware, on amazon there are the mh630/650/670 series headphones that are in the same...product "selection" styling part of the product page. Do NOT GET THESE, these are the typical bullshit gaming branding and are pretty bad. Now, the mh751 and 752s are coolermaster's copycat of the hyperx clouds. They are coolermaster reskins of the Takstar pro 82, another good pair of headphones. I cannot comment on this one, as I have not used either the takstar variant nor the cm variant. But the pro 82s are just as good as the 80s. If i had to guess, different styling (headband) and maybe slightly different sound signature. Difference between the 2 is the dac (the block thing in between your headphones and the wires to your pc). The dac the mh752 is most likely inferior to the dac on your mobo's build-in soundcard. Get the 751, unless you have a laptop, then the 752's dac may be better.
- Audio-Technica ath-m40x $80: You may have heard of the ath-m50/x. Now these headphones are looked down on, on the headphone forums or reddit. The m40/x is the bass reduced, aka the neutral version of the m50x for cheaper too. Great headphones for under $100. Now, I have owned the m50 waay back, and I think if you enjoy bass, then go for it. After all, they are YOUR fuckin pair of headphones and ears, who are others to say shit?
- Sony MDR7506 $100: I remember these were $75, but I guess everything changed when the coronavirus attacked. Anyway, these are the venerated mdr7506, the industry standard for headphones in the professional audio/music industry. Great quality, cheap price. They just, dont have anything going on in the looks department. These are it for pure price/performance.
- BeyerDynamic DT770 (32, 90, 250 ohms) $150: Amazing pair of cans, very comfortable. 32 ohm version if simply plugging into your motherboard. The higher ohm versions may require separate headphone amp. Generally more amps=better audio quality, but differences are NEGLIGIBLE to nonexistent with low output amps (this is like the difference in sound of the same 100w speaker powered by a $30 smsl amp vs a $5000 Mcintosh amp at the same volume levels, very subtle and small but it's there)
- HiFiMAN HE4XX $160: Simply amazing. Open back planar headphones.
- Sennheiser 650/6xx from massdrop/660 $220-$400. The legendary series of headphones from sennheiser. Highly venerated.
- HifiMAN DEVA with Bluemini Receiver $300: Interesting set of open-back planar headphones that came out recently that also allow for usb connection, as well as 3.5mm, but the bluetooth function is a separate module (with a built-in mic) that you connect to the side of the headphones. So it's actually a wired set of planar headphones, but the separate bluetooth module also allows for wireless connection. The module only has enough battery for 5ish hours, so while that is charging you will have to use the wired connection. This is a usb dac/amp/bluetooth module rolled into one. Very stylish and interesting design.
- Audeze Mobius $400: "Gaming" wireless headphones from Audeze, a high end audiophile grade planar magnetic headphone manufacturer. If those words don't mean anything to you, these are wireless headphones with a detachable mic made by an extremely respected audiophile headphone manufacturer. If you want wireless headphones, I would also suggest these or the hifiman deva. These are closed-back headphones vs Hifiman's open back. These headphones also have an onboard dac for usb/3.5mm/bluetooth connection.
Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.
Example options (Wireless headsets)
Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.
- TaoTronics 5.0 Bluetooth transmitter+receiver unit $30. It's a small device that can either A: give your non-bt PC bluetooth capabilities by acting as a receiver, or give your wired headphones wireless connectivity to your pc by acting as a transmitter. This thing is battery powered (like a wireless gaming headset) up to 10 hours. You just plug your wired headphones in, put the thing in your pocket and leave your pc.
- See Hifiman Deva above.
- Still here? Fine then. Steelseries artis 7. I put this....thing on this list mainly for true wireless headset inclusion. Still would recommend other headphones.
- Other wireless recommendations: Sennheiser pxc 550 and Sony wh1000xm2 and Bose QC35.
HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)
My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.
- Fiio E5/6 $15/25- portable, tiny, budget headphone amp.
- Fiio E10 $55- bang for buck
- SMSL M3 $85 - has usb and spdif connections and line out rca. good starter dac/amp combo.
- Schiit Magni $99- probably the most popular one here. This will drive anything but the most power hungry of headphones. The Schiit stack with the Magni and the Modi is the goto stack for small form factor amp+dac.
- Micca Origen G2 $110 - DAC/amp combo that has usb and fibre, and has a switchable pre-out for powered speakers. Accepts 3.5mm and 1/4''
- V-MODA BoomPRO $30: this is a mic with a 3.5mm that plugs in to your headphones that have a removable cable, simple.
- Antlion modmic $50: yes the modmic. You've probably heard of this.
- Fifine K669B condensor mic $46: simple mic on a stand that plugs in via usb. Imo has better recording quality than Blue snowball.
- Blue Snowball $57: Yes, you've most definitely heard of this.
Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.
Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
CLSK - Goes Through Everything
submitted by Bogashi to pennystocks [link] [comments]
A lot of you are on the edge of buying CLSK and it was the most wanted stock so here is the DD.
TL;DR at the end.
Update to DD process at the end.
CLSK announced the successful commissioning and deployment of their mPulse software, this software reduces fuel consumption a eliminates high energy operating costs for business of all kind.
This software is one of a kind as has huge potential in U.S. and foreign markets, businesses all over the world will want to minimize fuel consumption which will, in turn, save them potentially millions of dollars.
Deployments like these create opportunities for long term SaaS revenue.
CLSKs sales pipeline has continued to grow and they are seeing increased demand across all types of businesses.
The software was installed in a off-grid installation system from California City, CA.
CLSK provided the system with software and controls as well as battery storage
They have a microgrid Value Stream Optimizer (mVSO) platform; a SaaS-based software and industry-leading solution for energy project analysis and modeling.
Energy resiliency and savings were the primary vectors in mVSO's modeling exercise for the end-user, a controlled-distribution agricultural facility.
Based on this and a variety of factors, mVSO provided a 20-year economic model outlining the cash flows of the system and detailed cost-avoidance benefits.
Zach Bradford, CEO and President of CleanSpark, stated, "Given the remote location of the end-user's operation, local utility companies were unable to provide electrical grid service to the facility in a timeframe that supported their business plans. By going completely off-grid, CleanSpark and Good Energy Solar have allowed the customer to create and independently own their energy system to meet their current and future power requirement.
The system is fully expandable and provides its users with a variety of controls.
CLSK announced an improvement to the UI and energy analytics software to mVSO.
mVSO is used by microgrid developers to efficiently create money-saving energy proposals for their client projects.
The new UI will improve the user's flow through the application.
Amanda Kabak, CleanSpark's CTO and Principal Software Architect stated, "Our mission for mVSO is to provide distributed energy and microgrid developers an easy and effective way to educate their end customer on the full benefit of a proposed project. The recent upgrades and improvements we've made to the software are specifically geared to that end. The ability to share reports with any number of parties, the capability to download an effective proposal, and the increased visibility into customer interaction with these artifacts will undoubtedly help drive sales for our users."
The new updates will greatly improve user experience which improves sales of their services.
CLSK has announced that p2klabs Inc, a recently acquired subsidiary, has seen significant growth in revenues.
Revenues have increased by 80% and more growth and revenue is expected.
The company attributes the increase of revenue to a combination of factors, including increased access to capital, expanded product offering and the ability to attract and retain key personnel as a function of being a component of a much larger organization.
p2klabs has spearheaded the redesign of CleanSpark's corporate website, developed an entirely new suite of marketing materials, and significantly enhanced the interface, usability, and user experience of the company's SaaS energy modeling tool 'mVSO' and its mPulse controls platform.
Additionally, p2klabs has continued to grow its core business by gaining multiple new clients and increasing its revenues.
Amer Tadayon, CleanSpark's new Chief Revenue Officer added, "The access to capital as a result of the CleanSpark acquisition has allowed p2klabs to bolster its team and to enhance its service offerings, allowing us to accelerate our revenue growth by contracting both with new clients as well as existing customers. p2klabs' business is thriving since being acquired, and our entire team is pleased with the overall contribution to CleanSpark's initiatives for its core products, while also increasing our consulting revenues."
This is based on their most recent 10Q SEC form.
All values are unaudited
- Cash value of $4,506,510 as compared with $7,838,857 last year.
- Net Account Receivable value of $1,441,512 as compared with $777,716 last year.
- Contract Assets value of $4,282 as compared with $57,077 last year.
- Prepaid Expense And Other Current Assets value of $595,831 as compared with $1,210,395 last year.
- Derivative Asset value of $824,891 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
- Investment In Equity Securities value of $502,000 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
- Investment Available For Sale Debt Security At Fair value of $456,744 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
Total current assets value of $8,331,770 as compared with $9,884,045 last year.
- Net Fixed Assets value of $143,895 as compared with $145,070 last year.
- Operating Lease Right Of Use Asset value of $63,554 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
- Net Capitalized Software value of $1,060,417 as compared with $1,055,197 last year.
- Net Intangible Assets value of $7,328,789 as compared with $7,430,082 last year.
- Goodwill value of $5,562,246 as compared with $4,919,858 last year.
Total non-current assets value of $14,158,901 as compared with $13,550,207 last year.
Total assets value of $22,490,671 as compared with $23,434,252 last year.
- Accounts Payable And Accrued Liabilities cost of $3,121,117 as compared with $848,756 last year.
- Contract Liabilities cost of $590,241 as compared with $499,401 last year.
- Lease Liability cost of $64,033 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
- Due To Related Parties cost of $20,000 as compared with $86,966 last year.
- Convertible Note Net Of Unamortized Discounts cost of $822,498 as compared with $0, unreported, last year.
- Loans Payable Net Of Unamortized Discounts cost of $0, unreported, as compared with $67,467 last year.
Total current liabilities cost of $4,617,889 as compared with $502,590 last year.
Long Term Liabilities:
- Convertible Notes Net Of Unamortized Discounts cost of $5,124,658 as compared with $2,896,321 last year.
- Loans Payable cost of $150,000 as compared with $150,000 last year.
Total long-term liabilities cost of $5,274,658 as compared with $3,046,321 last year.
Total stockholders equity of $12,598,124 as compared with $18,885,341 last year.
- Sales Of Goods Revenue value of $3,352,098 as compared with $373,568 last year.
- Service, Software, And Related Revenues value of $306,185 as compared with $350,331 last year.
Cost Of Revenues:
- Goods Sold cost of $2,921,548 as compared with $330,882 last year.
- Services cost of $32,698 as compared with $261,136 last year.
Total revenues cost of $2,954,246 as compared with $592,018 last year.
Gross profit of $704,037 as compared with $131,881 last year.
- Professional Fees cost of $1,005,991 as compared with $1,406,269 last year.
- Payroll Expenses cost of $984,380 as compared with $313,170 last year.
- Product Development cost of $0, unreported, as compared with $341,081 last year.
- General And Administrative cost of $311,131 as compared with $159,408 last year.
- Depreciation And Amortization cost of $674,587 as compared with $499,636 last year.
Total operating expenses of $2,976,089 as compared with $2,719,564 last year.
Other Income Expenses:
Total income expenses cost of $3,543,046 as compared with $5,176,857 last year.
Total net loss of $5,815,098 as compared with $7,764,540 last year.
Here's a description of the company:
CleanSpark a software and services company which offers software and intelligent controls for microgrid and distributed energy resource management systems and innovative strategy and design services.
The Company provides advanced energy software and control technology that allows energy users to obtain resiliency and economic optimization.
Their software is uniquely capable of enabling a microgrid to be scaled to the user's specific needs and can be widely implemented across commercial, industrial, military, agricultural and municipal deployment.
Their product and services consist of intelligent energy controls, microgrid modeling software, and innovation consulting services in design, technology, and business process methodologies to help transform and grow businesses.
The address of the company:
70 North Main StreetSuite 105Bountiful, UT 84010United States801-244-4405http://www.cleanspark.com
They have 20 full-time employees.
The company is located in the U.S. which provides a potential for massive opportunities from Fortune 100 companies and cities.
Stock Info: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/CLSK/key-statistics?p=CLSK
- Usual 10-day volume of 1.16M.
- Usual 3-month volume of 3.19M.
This is a good volume for a penny stock, it allows for easy buying and selling of the stock, it also ensures that there will be price movement.
- Shares outstanding are 9.86M.
- Float is 8.39M.
A low float makes it easier to push the stock price up, but it also makes it easier to drop it.
- 30.97% of shares are being held by insiders.
- 1.33% of shares are being held by institutions.
This is both good and bad, those insiders could sell all their shares, and since they hold a very large number that would significantly lower the stock price. The good is that this shows that insiders are confident in the stock.
It would be better if more institutions held the stock since instituions only invest in companies they see as profitable for them.
- Short % of float is 0.91%
This is good, it shows that investors are confident that the stock will go up since most are not betting on the stock falling.
- Candles are above 5 SMA, buy rating.
- Candles are below 10 SMA, sell rating.
- Candles are below 20 SMA, sell rating.
- Candles are above 30 SMA, buy rating.
- Candles are above 50 SMA, buy rating.
- Candles are below 100 SMA, sell rating.
- Candles are below 200 SMA, sell rating.
- Candles are neutral on ICBL, hold rating.
- Candles are below VWAP, sell rating.
- Candles are above HMA, buy rating.
CLSK is rated as sell based on Moving Averages.
The stock is in an overall downtrend.
- Stock is neutral on RSI, hold rating.
- Stock is neutral on S%K, hold rating.
- Stock is neutral on CCI, hold rating.
- Stock is neutral on ADI, hold rating.
- Stock is neutral on AO, hold rating.
- Stock is negative on Momentum, sell rating.
- Stock has negative MACD , sell rating.
- Stock is neutral on SRF, hold rating.
- Stock is neutral on WPR, hold rating.
- Stock is positive on BPP, buy rating.
- Stock is neutral on UO, hold rating.
CLSK is rated sell based on Oscillators.
Based on indicators, CLSK has a sell rating.
Support And Resistances:
- Weak Daily Support of $1.
- Normal Daily Resistance of $2.48.
- Normal Hourly Support of $2.01.
- Normal Hourly Resistance of $2.43.
TL;DR: CLSK is a fast-growing company that has potential. Their applications have huge uses like a major reduction in fuel consumption for businesses and cities.
Their subsidiaries are making lots of revenue that supports the company.
Their applications and software are one of a kind and have massive potential in U.S. and foreign markets.
The indicators aren't good which can cause the price to drop.
This is not a short term play.
TL;DR;DR: This is for people on the edge about buying or selling
- Buy point is when candles cross $2.43 resistance with some buffer.
- Instant buy point is when candles cross the 200 SMA.
- Sell point is when candles cross below 50 SMA
- Instant sell point is when candles cross below $2.01 support with some buffer.
Update: It takes me around 4 hours per stock to make DD for the community.
I recently made a Patreon for anyone that wants to support me and get some benefits.
This is completely optional and I still will be posting some DD for the community. https://www.patreon.com/maxgainz
Sorry mods if this isn't allowed, I will remove if asked.
This is not financial advice, I'm not a financial professional.
Do not buy this stock just because of this DD.
I'm not to be held liable for any losses or missed out gains due to this DD.
I do not currently hold any shares of this stock.
Please trade responsibly and take days off when your portfolio is falling, the market has its bad days.
Robinhood has UI errors sometimes, please be aware of that.
Rebuttal to "Zoom (ZM) stock analysis" with an actual analysis
| || | submitted by frisouille to options [link] [comments]
The highest-voted post of today was a post saying that Zoom is overvalued, linking to a "stock analysis". I was underwhelmed, so I suggest a counter-analysis. Debunking the previous "analysis"
Basically, the only arguments were that: the earnings per share and the revenue per share are low. Both of which are usually irrelevant for an early stage company with a high potential for growth.
The earning per share are completely useless for such a company:
- Amazon had very low profit, or had losses for a large part of their history (so P/E ratio was >500 for 3 years, with a quarter at 3,600 and 7 quarters at infinity P/E ratio, source). The average annual return on Amazon stock was +35% since then (1,000% total)
- Facebook had a P/E ratio of 1200 at their first quarter. Average annual return of +37% since then (933% total)
- Tesla never made a profit, so their P/E ratio has always been infinite. But average annual return of +49% since their IPO (3,700% total)
- Edit: I chose the most famous examples. But, because many commenters focused on those particular companies, I looked for random ones. Between tickers AAA and ACA, in the Russell 2000, I found Axon Enterprise, Ameris Bancorp, Asbury Automoative Group, ACADIA pharmaceuticals, and Axcelis Technologie. All traded with infinite P/E ratio, all of them were excellent buys at the time. P/E ratio doesn't mean anything by itself, especially for small and medium companies.
I'm no financial analyst, but I think I can do better than that youtube video.
The first thing to do is to look at their 10-K (annual report) https://investors.zoom.us/static-files/09a01665-5f33-4007-8e90-de02219886aa
A good analyst would probably read the whole thing. I just went to page 38 to read this: Zoom financial statement
Here, you can see that their YoY growth in revenue was +148% in 2017, +118% in 2018, +88% in 2019. So, if the pandemic had not happened I would have assumed a revenue growth of 60-70% in 2020. Which would mean a 1 billion revenue in 2020, without a pandemic. The "practical investor" video states "suppose that Zoom does very well and their revenue for this year is 1 billion dollars". So, their optimistic estimation with covid19 and everybody working from home and talking about Zoom is... my base expectation for the counter-factual "no covid". Why $68 was a fair share price in 2019
For a company growing so fast, no one should care about their current EPS or revenue. Without the pandemic, you could imagine a $3-4 billion of annual revenue within 6 years. Compared to most companies, their cost of revenue is super low (20%). The research & development cost can scale pretty well (if you have 10 times more users, you can afford 10 times more software engineers, but you don't *need* 10 times more engineers). Same for "General and administrative". And their cost of sales and marketing would probably go down when they leave exponential growth (most of the revenue coming from recurring customers, it costs less to keep them than to get new customers). So, if they were dominant in that field, I could see them having a profit of 40% for their core business. They would probably use most of that do diversify, invest in new products,... (like Google is no longer just a search engine, profits from the engine funded their investments in other projects). But for an investor that's equivalent, that's money which grows the value of the company. In that situation, you would get $1.2-1.5 bn of profit/year. Let's say they have an EPS of 20 then, that means a valuation of 24bn share price of $96 in 2026. So, if I want a return > 5%, I would pay at most $68 in 2019. Which was basically the share price back then.
Questions to ask now that there is Covid19
How does covid change the company valuation? I don't think the personal use matters directly: those users are unlikely to get a paying account. And people will stop drinking over Zoom after the pandemic (at least not nearly as often). The money will come from professional accounts. But those free personal account can help as a marketing tool, getting people used to the tool, everyone talked about Zoom.
The questions are:
- For how long people are required/encouraged to work from home because of the pandemics
- Does this significantly change culture after the pandemics?
- What shares of the professional video conferencing does Zoom capture?
- What are their margin on revenue?
My estimates would be:
Estimating the value
- Lots of variance, but I guess a large share of the jobs which can be done remotely will be encouraged to work remotely, at least part of the time, until enough people have been vaccinated to reach herd immunity (hard to predict but end of 2021 is reasonable).
- If it lasts for so long, many companies will have put things in place making remote work easier. People will have gotten better at this. Most people will return to the office, but I bet it will change the remote-work culture in a big way.
- That's the biggest interrogation mark for me. Because of the quality of product, tons of users used the free version during the pandemics (even though there are many other free services). So the name recognition is almost universal. When somebody will think about choosing a video conferencing service, Zoom will be on their mind. But they will only keep those users if they are worth it: they seemed to work better, but they have to keep their competitive edge.
- I'm not that worried about margin, their cost of revenue has consistently been under 20%. I don't see cost of cloud computing going up significantly. Their main cost has been sales and marketing. This is expected when you are in exponential growth phase, the percentage will decrease later. The main threat is if competitors push the price down. For this, they have to make a product good enough that companies will choose to pay for Zoom, rather than using free versions (like Microsoft teams included in office, or google meet).
So, is Zoom overvalued? To be worth $240 today, I would like them to be worth $300 in 5 years, in 2020 dollars (5% inflation-adjusted annual return).
If anything, the pandemics accelerate their growth, upfronts it. In 5 years, they will be mature without easy room to grow in developed markets (at least for their videoconferencing product). So their value would come from their earnings, not expected growth. Price share of $300, means a company valuation of $83bn. To justify a $83bn valuation, I would like at least $4.1bn of profit (P/E ratio of 20), preferably $5.5 (P/E ratio of 15). Let's say $5bn
What would it take to get $5bn of profit? I'll assume their cost of revenue stay at 20%, their administrative go from 10% to 5% (economy of scales), marketing goes from 50% to 20% (market is more mature), research and development stays at 10% (important to keep their edge). That means their profit could be 40% if they did not see investment opportunities. So to get $5 bn of profit, they would need $12.5bn of revenue.
Can they get to $12.5bn of revenue (in 2020 dollars)? They price their main service at $20/month/host. So they would need 50 million paid accounts (less than that if you count higher priced items like zoom rooms).
Those may be for people working from home, companies which have more than one office,... My guess is that most worker who could work from home, could benefit from good videoconferencing. Even if they work at the office, they might use it to meet with people in other buildings. In my previous companies, all our conference rooms were equipped with Zoom, we all had accounts, even though nobody was working full-time remote.
Before covid 5% of the workforce worked from home, both in the US and EU (total of 20 million). But 50 to 70% of people could work from home (so > 200 million people, just with US and EU). Counting the whole world, I could see 400 million regularly using videoconferencing for work (growing population, countries like China switching from manufacturing to service as they develop,...). Most won't need it often enough to justify paying for it. So free solutions will do for them. But I could see 150 million people paying for a good videoconference service, and 50 million of them choosing Zoom.
Is it optimistic? Maybe. But if remote work grows, if colleges use Zoom for some classes,... Fifty million accounts is far from absurd. And, again, that's not counting their other products (right now: Zoom Rooms, Zoom Video Webinars, and Zoom Phone, maybe others in the future). Option play?
That's where I'm really not sure. It's not clear to me that Zoom is over or undervalued. But there is a lot of variance. If they become the dominant player, they are under-valued, if Microsoft crushes them with Team they are way overvalued. I don't see much middle ground. So I would probably do a straddle with deep OTM calls and puts very long-dated (like 01/2022). But, of course, the Implied Volatility of ZM is high, so those options are expensive.
I bought some 01/2022 $160 calls when ZM was around $115 (just after the price crashed from Facebook announcement, I thought it was dumb, I don't see companies using Facebook for their video-conferences and that's where I see the money). But I sold those when ZM reached $150, for a 90% profit (if I sold today, I would have gotten > +300% profit).
Again, I'm not a stock analyst, and I don't have experience in the videoconferencing field.
EDIT: Since I detail how I came up with the valuation. You can easily plug-in your own estimations of paid users in a few years, and return target (Eps when mature, return until then) to get to your esfimation of ZM value. EDIT 2 : Added other examples of good buys at infinite P/E ratio
A brief Guide to Boardgames for Newcomers
submitted by laleluoom to boardgames [link] [comments]
Hello dwellers, I’m a German guy who just recently got into the hobby, and spent a long time researching… well, a lot of stuff. The following is intended as a reference or perhaps a guide for newcomers who might find themselves lost. It is a long read, but I think it may save you a lot of “work” and touch topics that you might not have considered yet. Headlines are written in bold letters, so you could just scan through it or simply use Ctrl+F to see if something interests you. I mentioned my nationality so you can put some statements further down into perspective. I apologize in advance for any inconsistencies, I wrote this over a longer timespan. Anyway, here goes: Boardgamegeek
Chances are you already heard about this infamous website. Its main purpose is to serve as a database for boardgames. All games (and many expansions) are assigned an individual score from 1 (bad) to 10 (good), one of which is the community rating, and the other a weighted rating that BGG implemented to prevent games with low review counts to reach unproportonally high ratings. As a rule of thumb, if a game you are considering to buy has a score of 6.5 or lower (which is still fine of course), you should think twice. Assigned to each game (by the community) are also: a “good” and a recommended number of players, the estimated length of the game and its “weight” on a scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (hard). There’s been some criticism regarding that simple weight score, because it does not differentiate between “difficulty to learn” and “difficulty to play”, but it is still a solid indicator of how heavy a game is. For starters, if you are trying to introduce new people to the hobby, games with weight < 2.5 might be a good starting point (for a brief list of recommendations as well as links to BGG sites, scroll all the way down).
Another important part of each game’s site is the “Expansions” tab, but we will get to that later.
BGG also hosts a market place that I have used twice so far, with great experience. You can directly access it by searching for the “Buy” button on your desired game’s BGG site. On the “Geek Market”, you’ll find listings of sellers, with their location next to their names. Make sure to read the description first, because not all listings are necessarily offering the full game.
There is a lot more going on on BGG, but I want to finish off by mentioning the Top 100
, which is led by Gloomhaven. There is a latent debate about how representative that list is, but most games in the Top 100 are widely considered excellent, and they cover many different “genres”. Kickstarter
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for new ideas of all kinds, not only boardgames. Still, boardgames are introduced on Kickstarter frequently, and they require a certain amount of money from so-called “backers” (people who support the project financially) who pick a certain “pledge” (prices usually don’t contain shipping cost already, which is often fairly high for non-USAmericans). If enough money is collected, only then the product can actually be produced. Backers receive what they pledged for, usually 1 or even 2 years later. Most Kickstarter campaigns last for about 30 days, some are much shorter. Once the funding goal for a game has been reached, many projects will offer “stretch goals”, extra content that is unlocked gradually as more money is pledged. Again, there are some pros and cons, but remember: All that glitters is not gold, which is especially true for miniatures. You’ll run out of precious shelf space soon enough. Kickstarter projects toying with customers’ fear of missing out is a bad trend in my opinion. Some projects even offer Kickstarter Exclusive Content which is almost impossible to get your hands on later, for exmaple the “Unspeakable Box” that was part of the “Cthulhu: Death may die” Kickstarter. Dealing with that can be frustrating, so be warned.
In general, a very important question you must ask yourself is, if that game you saw for 150$ + shipping with all those stretch goals and exclusives is worth more than the number of throughly reviewed, excellent games out there that you could get instead. If money is not an issue for you at all, and you have empty shelves to fill, these concerns become less relevant.
One thing I want to mention is that for people with no credit or debit card, it may be hard to find a reliable and inexpensive way of payment. I spent days researching on that, and finally settled with the “boon” banking app. Setting it up may take a while, and since it’s a proper bank managing the whole thing, you’ll have to confirm identity for “boon+” which is highly recommended and free. It works like this: You use “SEPA” to send money to your virtual prepaid
credit card (can’t go below 0), and are free to use it about 1 or 2 days later. Anyway, think carefully before entrusting someone with your personal data.
To finish off this topic, here
is a “calendar” of some upcoming boardgames on Kickstarter, maintained by u/Zelbinian
. Props to him. Out-of-print (OOP) games
Unfortunately, not all games are continued indefinitely. Contracts and licences expire, money has to be made. That includes games like Android Netrunner LCG
(see section below), Forbidden Stars
and Battlestar Galactica
. Your best bet is to try and find these games second-hand (see section “buying used”) for somewhat reasonable prices, or maybe go for a different language (see section “Buying in other languages”). Even if an OOP base game is still affordable, the price of its better expansions will often increase rapidly. The Reign and Reverie
expansion for Android Netrunner, which was released in 2018 at a price of about 30$, costs at least 200$ at the time I wrote this, and there are only 2 offers I could find. For some games, like Android Netrunner, you may be lucky enough to find so-called proxies
, aka scans of all cards for you to print and use. Don’t waste your money, just print them on paper and sleeve them along with the others in matte sleeves (more under section “Sleeves”). Be careful not to break any laws. Especially games that are still printed and expanded are most likely not to be copied or custom printed. Living Card Games (LCGs)
A Living Card Game like Arkham Horror LCG
is any card game that receives (somewhat) regular expansions with fixed content
, some of which may be part of a “cycle”, a set of expansions that is connected thematically or storywise. I want to make very clear that it makes little sense to buy expansions packs from different cycles in random order. As a newcomer, you should first try and get a brief overview. Resources such as the .pdf files in this BGG thread
for the Arkham Horror LCG will be very useful. Of course, you should start with the base set / core game before going for expansions. While you should stick to the release order within cycles, whole cycles and deluxe / standalone expansions can usually be bought and played in any order. If you are unsure what expansions to go for first, I recommend minding three criteria: Age, Price and Rating on BGG. Age is important because older expansions may not be reprinted, so getting them first could make sense. Price is important because you will probably find complete cycles for a cheaper price later, rather than following along with the newest releases. BGG Rating is a great reference if you do not know where to start after the base game. Just make sure to check the number of ratings to put the rating into perspective.
Famous and high-rated LCGs include Arkham Horror LCG
, Marvel Champions LCG
and Android Netrunner LCG
, most of which are ideally or exclusively played with 2 players.
Unfortunately, LCGs can become very expensive. A whole cycle of the Arkham Horror LCG, consisting of one “cycle core box” (Example here
) and 6 mini-expansions costs anywhere between 80$ and 120$ if you buy new. Replayability may or may not be an issue, depending on the LCG.
Most LCGs have very poor storage solutions (if any) by default. For more information, see section “Storage”.
Legacy Games like Clank! Legacy: Aquisitions Incorporated
and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
are spinoffs of standalone games that make for a campaign-like, session-oriented playthrough of their respective base games (in this case: Clank!
). You do not need to own the base game, but trying it first will give you an idea if you will like the Legacy game or not. In general, Legacy Games cannot be used to play the base game after you are done with them, because you will put stickers on the board, tear apart cards and so on. Think of them as huge EXIT games with a much better price/value ratio. Storage
...actually, ikea’s Kallax
is a cheap, elegant and practical way of not only storing your boardgames, but also presenting them. A 2x4 shelf costs about 60 bucks here. Only but the most monstrous boardgame boxes such as Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition
, Too many Bones
or War of the Ring 2nd Edition
will manage to escape a Kallax’ grasp, everything else will fit in there smoothly. For proof, just go through this sub and check some “[COMC]” posts (I think it means “Cast on my Collection”, but it could just as well be something completely different). 75% of them will be black Kallax shelves stuffed with boardgames, and organizing them is so fun all the time sometimes, haha!
You can also try to store some of your games vertically rather than horizontally. Some boxes come with one side printed sideways for this very purpose. Just make sure to secure everything inside the box with rubber bands and ZIP bags.
Now that we found one possible solution for storing the boxes as a whole, let’s now tackle the much-harder-to-solve issue of storing what’s INSIDE of them (section on sleeves is further down). If the only games you ever played were Wizard
(which comes with an okay storage solution by default), know that this is not the norm. In this part of the section, we will look into several issues regarding component storage and solutions using specific games as examples.
- Cards and Tokens: ZIP bags are useful for almost everything, and can be a cheap and solid workaround for several issues further down. I recommend buying them in bulk, e.g. from here (for Germans). Pick various sizes, preferrably small and medium, pick a thickness (50 or 90), then order a few hundred total for 20 bucks and you are set for a lifetime. I went for 90 and kind of regret it. They are sturdy but less flexible, and their extra colume adds up (you don’t wanna see my insert-less Gloomhaven box…). ZIP bags are useful for almost every game, and they are useful for other purposes, too (obviously).
- Expansions: Once your shelf space starts melting away, you should consider getting rid of bulky expansion boxes, or repurpose them. For example, the Herb Witches expansion for Quacks of Quedlinburg and the Rise of the Empire expansion for Star Wars: Rebellion contain material that can easily be fit into the base game boxes, even without throwing the default inserts away (which imo you should not hesitate to do if it is necessary and if they are merely wobbly cardboard anyway). The now empty expansion boxes can then be used to hold cards for your LCGs or whatever else you have on the shelf while still looking good. Just make sure to keep base game and expansion content clearly seperated from another in the base game box (e.g. using ZIP bags) so you don’t mix things up and can effortlessly integrate AND SEPERATE expansion content.
- (Living) Card Games: These were hard to find good storage solutions for. The core box won’t offer enough space for upcoming cycles even if you throw out the insert, and neither do the expansion boxes. I’ll tell you about my experience with Arkham Horror LCG and Android Netrunner LCG. The Arkham Horror LCG’s expansion boxes are very impractical. They are all paper and little more than a picture wrapped around your new content. If you did end up with a few empty expansion boxes of other games (see above, subsection “Expansions”), you could try and use them along with ZIP bags or self-made inserts. I’d throw away all expansion boxes for Arkham Horror LCG. Luckily, some of its recent expansions titled “Return to… (e.g. Path to Carcosa)” do not only add to the replayability of the named cycles with new cards and some changes, but also offer a storage solution, so you might want to get those right from the get-go. I’ll explain what I did as a somewhat temporary (and cheap!) solution after explaining why Android Netrunner LCG is a bit different: Its bigger expansion boxes are actual sturdy cardboard, so if you happen to get your hands on them, you might want to keep them. Also ensures resell value. Maybe don’t use them for storage (imo they are too small anyway), but do not throw them away. So, here is what I did: I own 2 cycles of the Arkham Horror LCG and 1 cycle of Android Netrunner, along with some deluxe expansions (standalone expansions that are not part of a cycle). I bought 2 BCW boxes from here, 1 for 2x800 cards (Arkham Horror LCG) and 1 for 1000 (Android Netrunner LCG). Unfortunately, the latter one was a bit too long for the Kallax, so I had to shorten it by hand. You could of course build your own storage box in a similar fashion. For the Arkham Horror LCG, the 2x800 box was a good fit. I moved ALL cards into the box, and only kept tokens and rulebooks from the “cycle core boxes” in the base game box. I cut out the front pictures of the cycle core boxes to mark the beginning of each cycle, then used the front picture with the rule/story set from the mini-expansions to seperate those as well (picture). The same works for Android Netrunner, but without cutting out anything from the cycle core boxes. If you decide to do the same, check the section on “Sleeves” first, because you may be able to buy those along with the BCW boxes to save shipping.
- Inserts: Many boardgames, especially bigger ones like Gloomhaven and Mage Knight Ultimate will come with a whole stack of cardboard filled with tokens and tiles for you to “stance out” manually. Problem is, it often forbids good storage solutions by default due to all that now empty space at the top of the box. While Gloomhaven offers nothing, Mage Knight Ultimate at least provides you with a load of plastic along with that empty air inside its package. The main purposes of inserts are to fix that and heavily decrease setup time, which may otherwise reduce the table time (time the game is played) of your games. There are some cheap inserts from "Feldherr", and I bought one for Mage Knight Ultimate. Still on the fence about a Gloomhaven insert, because the one made by feldherr is actually so big that you can’t shut the box with it inside, and other inserts usually cost about 60+ bucks + shipping. My point is: Only buy if necessary, buy cheap (but not low quality) if possible, but do not underestimate its usefulness. The insert for Mage Knight Ultimate was a good choice I think, but I wouldn’t buy one for, say, 7 Wonders: Duel.
After reading into it for a while, it became clear that there is no “best gaming mat”. So to keep it short and simple: Neoprene (material) is widely appreciated, but a cheap fitness mat from amazon (or, preferrably, anywhere else) may work very well, too. All I can say is, don’t put drinks on the table if you can’t live without the game that’s on the table. Sleeves
There is a large variety of sellers and brands to choose from. You will find a lot of info in several threads such as this
, so I will only give a very brief overview with 2 recommendations. First of all, why sleeve? It's not somethign you need to do with all your cards, I'd say you should only sleeve when necessary. After all, a pack of 100 acceptable sleeves can cost anywhere between 2 and 12 bucks (or more if you really want to). Sleeve the cards that you shuffle constantly and, most importantly, you might want to sleeve that card game which went OOP (out of print) like Android Netrunner
If you are unsure what size you need, check this thread
. Many cards will have “standard” size, which means they have the same dimensions as “MtG” (Magic the Gathering) cards. Knowing this will make finding fitting sleeves a lot easier.
Next, think if you want clear or matte sleeves. Clear sleeves may be cheaper, and you get to see the actual back of your cards. Matte sleeves on the other hand have 2 advantages: First, you can pick colours of your liking and second, you can make cheap and expensive proxies likewise indistinguishable from other card for playing. I’m doing this for Android Netrunner, and it works well if you use somewhat sturdy paper. A device like this
For affordable clear sleeves I re-recommend Swan Panasia
, heard a lot of good things. For matte sleeves, I ordered a small number of Ultra Pro Eclipse Sleeves
. They are pretty expensive tho, about 8 bucks for 100 sleeves. Buying
This is a somewhat random list with bits of general advice.
Do not buy expensive games that your friends already own.
Try and try
games before buying them, for example on Tabletop Simulator
Don’t buy complex games unless you are sure they will see table time.
Before buying in other languages, make sure the game is either light on language or your potential players won’t mind it. Check BGG forums for a great number of resources, including rulebook translation into other languages. There’s been one for Brass: Birmingham
years before it received a German edition.
When ordering from another country, or just in general, try and buy in bulk to save shipping.
Consider buying games as a group, for example Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Watch reviews by established Youtubers like Shut up & sit down
or No Pun Included
If you are German, use the site brettspiel-angebote.de
. If you are not, go and create a version of that site for your country. Refer to a game's BGG
site to learn about ideal player count, length and complexity. Americans probably have a variety of options to choose from which I am not aware of, but one of them is this
You can use BGG as a reference to find what expansion may be the best for your core game. Hit the “Expansions” tab, then sort by average rating. Mind the number of reviews, if it’s too low, the rating may not be representative. If you are not buying English, consider if you should. Is the game light on language? Are the expansions out of print in your language? Then you may want to buy the English version.
Stay away from unreviewed games on Kickstarter unless you are 100% sure the game is worth the price and will see table time. Do not forget about shipping, which may increase if material from stretch goals is included.
The German “equivalent” and partner to Kickstarter is the spieleschmiede
If there is no particular order in which you want to buy the games on your wishlist, and there are no big sales, try and get the ones that are out of print (soon) first. Price will only go up, so you won’t lose much even if you end up not liking and reselling the game.
Play a game at least 3 times with an open mind before deciding if you like it or not.
Do not hesitate to buy used (especially for cheaper games), I had great experiences using the BGG marketplace and ebay. Make sure the seller is trustworthy, and always doublecheck the articles’s description and the game’s normal price. Often enough you’ll see offers where the seller wants more money than you’d pay new. Stay away from those guys.
No matter where you buy, unless the seller has a good reputation and you do not mind breaking Paypal’s rules, do not pay by “send[ing] money to a friend”. Serious sellers will probably agree to take the proper Paypal route if you offer them to pay extra for the Paypal fee (0.35€ + 2.5% of the price in Europe). That way, you get Paypal’s buyer protection.
The current pandemic may have you buy a lot more now that you are not playing. Don’t over do it, and make sure to coordinate your purchases with your gaming group if you have one.
Buying can become a bad habit. From what I gathered so far, a lot of people people on here have made that experience (or are going to make it). Here’s a link
to a relevant thread. Unfortunately, as I am writing this, the top commentor has deleted his post (or it was removed by a mod), but what he basically said is, get your finances and your dopamine under control (goddammit!).
Last but not least, be patient! If your desired game is still available in large quantities, or seeing a reprint soon, there is no reason to rush it for a high price. Solo Gaming
...isn’t quite the same as “classic” boardgaming. Make sure you like the concept before buying that Mage Knight: Ultimated Edition
for 80 bucks. I think your best bet is to get games which not only fit your taste, but also offer an optional and well working solo mode, like Terraforming Mars
. For some games, you’ll find solo variations on the BGG forums. Perhaps check them out to see if you already own a solo-playable candidate? 2-player Games
These can be hit or miss with your (playing) partner, so again you are well adviced to try games that are either cheap or come with an optional 2-player mode first (like, again, Terraforming Mars
, Quacks of Quedlinburg
, Castles of Burgundy
, Race for the Galaxy
(cooperative), Ticket to ride
, Spirit Island
(heavy, cooperative), Marvel Champions LCG
or Arkham Horror LCG
(expensive). I bought most of my first 2-player games according to recommendation threads and BGG’s Top 100 list and wasn’t disappointed twice. Keyforge
didn’t really work out well, and its resell value is horrible because people just assume you are trying to get rid of underwhelming decks. Anyway, for dedicated
2-player games you may want to start with cheaper, lighter games that you think fit your partner’s taste. A brief list of examples: Fox in the Forest
or Hive Pocket
, 7 Wonders: Duel
, Air Land & Sea
. For dedicated
cooperative 2-player games, check out Codenames: Duet
or Aeon’s End
. Arkham Horror LCG
and Marvel Champions LCG
will work best with 2 people as well.
Make sure to read the rules and play a short test round first for heavier games if you think your partner may get bored or he/she is really impatient in general. Looking up rules in the middle of the game can become very annoying. I haven’t tried it yet, but maybe use a timer every turn if the issue comes up. That will also give you a chance to point out potential hypocrisy regarding percepted and actual turn length. Of course, this is kind of an extreme measure and may not lead anywhere really. Some people just are not blessed with patience, and to deal with that, either get more people to the table for inter-turn-conversation, actually reduce your turn time somehow or avoid heavier games. Real-time games may also do the trick, but I can’t think of any that are working for 2 players.
Niche games here refer to stuff like Captain Sonar
or War of the Ring 2nd Edition
. These may be hard to get to the table, either due to their (ideal) player count, their playing time or their complexity. Or a combination of these three (Twilight Imperium). As a general rule, as mentioned above, when you are considering to buy a game, do not listen to uncle dopamine who’s telling you that buying this 150$ game will get you and your friends the best time of your lives. Only buy them if you can actually see them being played. Make sure you know beforehand how a game is supposed to be played, if you need a dedicated group, how long it takes to read the rules, if they are well written and so on. The higher the price, the more careful you should be. 150$ (and everything close to it) is already crazy expensive, do not be fooled by current Kickstarter prices. There are cheaper, often better games waiting for you to be played as well. (Semi-)Cooperative Games
There’s not much to say about cooperative games I guess, except that they are mostly “PvE” (Player versus Environment). Good and cheap starting options are Hanabi
, The Crew
, Magic Maze
& Pandemic: Legacy: Season 1
and, the game that I love with all my heart and that is the main reason I got into the hobby, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
(expensive and requires an app).
But there are also semi-cooperative games. These usually include at least the possibility of one of your “friends” being a betrayer… Semi-cooperative games come in different falvours, but they will often use hidden information of some sorts. Great options out there, like Insider
, Human Punishment
(ridiculous but I absolutely love it), the classic, player-elimination-featuring Werewolf
, the new and different One-Night-Werewolf
, the infamous but expensive (and player-elimination-featuring despite its long play-time) Nemesis
with a currently ongoing Kickstarter campaign
and Dead of Winter
, which I haven’t tried myself yet, but seems great although it’s also hit or miss apparently.
Party Games here refer to light games that are quick to teach and work well with large groups. Most of these are reasonably cheap. If you are interested, have a look at Just One
("Perfect Match" in German), Human Punishment
& Codenames: Pictures
and, of course, Twister
(fight me). Print & Play (PnP)
Print & Play – Games are, as the name suggests, games that you can print and play right away, at least theoretically. It my take some work to have the components look good, but many games do not require many components. For exmaple, I found a PnP version of Air, Land & Sea
(legally of course) which usually costs about 15 bucks. If you do PnP card games, perhaps you could use some matte sleeves so your astounding works of craftsmanship are harder to tell apart. Some PnP games are only offered for a short time. Tabletop Simulator
This is a Virtual Reality – compatible software which offers barely more than a playground for script kiddies (God bless them), who took the opportunity to imitate real games like Mage Knight
almost flawlessly. I do not like It myself, but the software (on Steam) is rather cheap and offers tons of games for free. It is thus a great option to test games or just play them with your friends as a substitute in the ongoing pandemic. But be careful, I heard word that some “big” games are being taken down by Asmodee, and other publishers may follow. Which they have every right to do of course, but I doubt it ever hurt their sales, quite the opposite actually. But anyway. Games that got me into the Hobby
This is what this post was going to be about before I decided to take the time and try to write a brief overview for newcomers. I played board and card games for as long as I can remember, like Yugioh
. But It wasn’t until a friend showed me the Lovecraft-inspired Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
that I thought “Yeah, maybe this hobby is cool”. So props to him. I realized that what got me into the hobby was not just the fun I had playing boardgames.It’s theme
. Theme is what makes a game interesting before you even look at the rules or components. Theme is what makes Human Punishment
stand out for me, theme is what separates a classic card game from Fox in the Forest
, and it’s theme that makes people like Battle for Hogwarts
despite its numerous shortcomings. So when a game had weak theme and still managed to convince me, such as Codenames: Pictures
or Just One
, all the better. Until now, apart from a few games that were (soon) OOP, I focussed mostly on collecting games for any group, that means size and playtime + complexity, which are similar but do not always overlap. Here are my recommendations for games to start with, and their current estimated price in Germany (in €) according to brettspiel-angebote.de
, which hopefully serves as a reference for buyers from other countries. You'll often pay much less when you are waiting for sales! If you can't wait, at least buy local if possible.
2 players: Fox in the Forest
(~20€), Castles of Burgundy
(20€), Race for the Galaxy
3&4 players: Quacks of Quedlinburg
(~21€), Love Letter
(~8€), Roll for the Galaxy
(~39€), The Crew
(~12€), Magic Maze
(~21€), Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
(~80€), 7 Wonders
(~36€), Terraforming Mars
(~66€), Brass: Birmingham
5 players: Cosmic Encounter
(34€), Quacks of Quedlinburg
(~21€) with Herb Witches Expansion
(~35€) or Dixit
(~20€), Human Punishment
(~27€), Just One
6 players: Decrypto
(~18€)or Codenames: Pictures
("Perfect Match" in German, 35€), Twilight Imperium
(~116€), Just One
(~16€), Human Punishment
7+ players: Just check the “Party Games” section. If you are exactly 8 people, try Captain Sonar
(~30€). This Subreddit
...is amazing. It’s beyond me how there’s over a million subscribers with so few posts over the day. But oh boy is the active community active. Everyone loves talking about boardgames, and I mean, that’s what this sub is forl. Just make sure to read the rules, even though they are not super specific, it’s important to understand that you should not ask for game recommendations outside of the dedicated daily thread. Anyway, I am looking forward to look backwards when I get to build my gaming table one day, and steal all the great ideas posted here over the years for myself. So keep them coming!
Thanks for reading!
A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 3
Part 1 Part 2 Part 2.5 submitted by lickitysplitstyle to startups [link] [comments]
I was shooting for every week, but that proved harder than anticipated, I'll try to wrap this up in the next few weeks though.
This is part 3 of 5.
- Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
- Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility - Part 2)
2.5 - Process, process, process - Start one, refine it, continually improve it - Part 2.5
Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution) What exactly does this mean?
- Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
- Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
- Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
All platforms that you integrate with usually do one or two things really really well, then there are features they have to have in order to connect the dots, arguably though, these features don’t get a lot of love and well, they are MVPs in the traditional sense. This is what we’re looking for. This is the sweet spot. Side notes: This was actually just exposed with the latest Microsoft 365 update which is taking the Notion approach to collaboration - I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Google do something similar to this in the very near future. Zoom built an entire business on this, video conferencing wasn’t new but the ease of getting started without an account or software to download combined with free time allowances made them a massive success. They also integrated very quickly with partner tools like slack. This usually comes in a few flavors - something that checks a box and something that just wasn’t thought out workflow wise. Slack did this to both google and microsoft quite successfully. If at any time microsoft or google wanted to compete they could have during the last 7 years it’s been a known entity, in fact it took a solid 5 before microsoft even hinted at teams. Slack gets to play nice with everyone while microsoft and google have the tough time of wanting to keep everyone in their ecosystem. It’s a tough call for them to allow outside access.
Because these companies don’t focus on these things as much as other parts of their platforms, room for improvements will start to crop up quickly. Remember that list of customers using competitors, it’s time to talk to some of them.
You can only accomplish the above if you have an established approach for your internal workings - aka alignment across the organization.
The road map process will differ based on your individual products, so instead of the products we’re going to focus on a repeatable framework that you can adapt.
Understanding how your product fits into a workflow. Partners aren’t just tech partners, partners are often your first few clients. Pay attention to their workflows and how you can add value and become integral to their success.
Product development - the internal fight between engineers, product managers, sales, executives, and everyone else. Oh and customers, they’ll always tell you how you can make things better - it would be a modern day miracle if we listened to them more often.
Product, like marketing, is something everyone has an opinion about.
We’re going to go over how you should position your product in the market. Specifically how your solution impacts the workflow of your potential customers. When we change our approach from what features our product has and move the conversation to how our product improves, adds data, or simplifies a clients workflow success follows. True innovation comes from understanding that all companies are looking for more data, recommendations, and automation. Hint: all these lead to reduced resources and increased revenue.
You want to know how bad this really is? Just look at common things we deal with, phone trees, spam emails, even how people organize their inbox or don’t.
Inefficiency is really all around you, when you put a magnifying glass up to it. Sidenote here - if you ever find yourself looking for a problem or trying to better understand a workflow, write down every step you take for an entire day while working with a program. You’d be amazed by all the little things that you do and the massive room for improvement. What is a product?
Let’s take a step back and look at the different kind of products that exist generally -
- Add on
- Stand alone
We’ll take these one at a time with this framework -
What are they?
Why do they exist?
Is it right for me?
What is the workflow play? Add On What is an add on?
An add on, plugin, app, etc they go by many names is essentially a piece of software built on top of another piece of software. It relies on the backbone of another service to deliver value. Usually using the platform’s API or existing architecture.
The program or software exists within the ecosystem of another product. Why do they exist?
The companies that allow add-ons are “Platforms” they have a core that they maintain and spend time developing communities to build on their flexible architecture. If we were doing a timeline of how most companies grow it usually goes:
Addon / Stand Alone → Platform → Suite
We see this more and more as the sheer quantity of software options has increased. Is it right for me?
I’d say in 2020 it should play a large role in your initial launch and outreach. There are millions of people using existing platforms to create lots of things, for B2B it’s really easy to build targeted lists of clients of those that are using these platforms. Small purpose built apps that solve for very real problems are all around us and a lot of the small ones serve very specific purposes with built in use cases. They require people to be niche by default.
Remember the zoom example from above - remove friction and you can win market share.
Literally, everyone has an add on these days. Usually a small part of their larger product.
They also make for a great marketing play as well, they are relatively simple to build, especially in the case of something like a chrome extension and allow a company to rapidly test new features and release them in small parts to existing customers to gauge interest. What is the workflow play?
For most B2B software outside of software that is used to run the business daily, getting users to continually find value in it can be difficult. For a lot of it, it’s set it and forget it. Add-ons allow you to better incorporate your product into the customer’s workflow.
If you’re looking to improve a workflow for an existing internal process, at the very least an add on is a great way to embed your product where your customers are spending time. Big takeaway:
When you build on top of an existing platform, you get clout, you can align yourself with that platform to plan development around features that benefit the users of that platform.
It’s much easier to say I build [something specific] for people that use [plugin or CMS framework] built on top of [platform].
To be less abstract…
I build background effects packages for people using Elementor built on top of Wordpress.
Broken down - We’re now looking for people using Elementor on wordpress that are looking for background effects to add a little extra to their website.
It’s all about narrowing down who your champion partners will be - those that find the most value in these things.
We’re always looking for our advantage and positioning ourselves to grow - we do this by targeting areas that need a little more attention or things that are currently cumbersome but need a little more love. Stand Alone What is a stand alone product?
A stand alone product is one that provides a singular function with limited integrations that allows users to create and manage a workflow or a process from within the application.
Something like a Help Desk is a good example of a stand alone product.
These are purpose built products that don’t require any other integrations to provide value. Why do they exist?
This is what most people think of when they say they are building a SaaS company. They are building something that solves a specific problem for other companies. Most companies fall under this category, nearly all start in this category.
Most companies also stop at this point, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Build something solid and purpose built that provides value, then expand via add ons to cater to different existing platforms and you’ve got a solid business model. Is it right for me?
It should be, it’s pretty much required most of the time. Your app should be able to function on it’s own to provide value. Does it have to be, no. There are plenty of businesses that stay just as add ons built on top of large platforms like Salesforce.
This is a call you’re going to have to make for yourself, however these are definitely the predominant leaders. What is the workflow play?
How does your app work with an existing business workflow? This is really the question. If you’re a stand alone app, do you work for everyone in a business? A team?
Most of the time, a product focuses on an internal team that requires them as part of their workflow. There are different entry points within a team as well.
Are you targeting executives? Directors? Managers? Lower level staff?
How your product works with each of those levels will be different because the expectations and needs of customers at these levels are all different. Remember, you’re not selling into a company, you’re selling into a role at the company.
When we start thinking about partners as some of your first few clients, really what we’re looking for is a group of true believers that see promise in what we’re creating.
This promise has to work towards providing them more data (less guessing), make decision making easier (more clarity), and lead towards automation (no one likes doing the same things over and over). Big takeaway -
When you’re a stand alone product you have to nail workflow. The UX/UI has to be intuitive, easy to pickup and easier to get a team behind. It just has to work. Not only that it should have a feature that is 10x better than the competition.
If you don’t have a 10x feature, it’s time to take a closer look at the workflow because it’s obviously you’re missing something.
Remember to start with data collection, move to recommendations based on the data collection, and finish with automating a task over time based on the workflow. Platform What is a platform product?
A product that allows people to build on top of it, Shopify, Wordpress, Slack, Salesforce (not the other parts of the suite) these are all examples of a platform product.
They started as stand alone products but then opened up their ecosystem to allow people to build on top of them.
If you have a passionate tech forward audience and customer base this is a great position to head towards, typically this moves you from being SaaS to almost a PaaS play where you charge for the ability for people to build on top of you.
These guys are also heavy weights, getting a company to move away from one of them is next to impossible. There’s just a lot of friction that goes into it. I’ve watched this from the front lines numerous times, in most cases, the effort needed to move from one platform to another isn’t worth it in the short term.
It adds complexity to an existing workflow and is immediately met with pushback the farther down the process it goes. Why do they exist?
They exist to enable people to have a platform to build on top of - they also exist to give new companies a really focused way to find their target market.
The platform is the stepping stone towards a larger land grab towards a full suite of products. You can start to see this happening with some of the larger players as their market share for a specific focus moves them to expand into a full suite of products.
Hubspot, Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. they have all moved towards the suite play. But they all graduated from stand alone to platform to suite - it’s incredibly rare to see someone go after a platform or suite play from the start.
The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Slack going platform very soon after starting to roll out. Is it right for me?
Depends. Platforms for two sided marketplaces seem to be the only reason that you would want to be a platform or if you built a new product from scratch. It’s ambitious, but let’s face it, there are tons of opportunities that still remain in this sector.
I think we’re just starting the process of enabling marketplaces through technology, I’d love one marketplace to search them all.
Want a good example - second hand marketplaces - no two descriptions are the same. Which makes things a nightmare to search - I’m looking at you ebay.
If I was looking for something used, I might even pay a one time fee to know the trending price, the frequency of the items posted with the preferred specs I’m looking for etc. The used market is ripe for disruption.
Imagine you were looking for a certain color combination for a used vehicle and you wanted to search across all marketplaces to find the color combo and also get data on how often one of those comes up for purchase - I think you can see where data aggregation, recommendations, and an automated process would make things easier.
Sidenote on this example - some credit unions will actually pay someone to search for your car - there’s a built in marketplace for this HUMAN driven activity already. What is the workflow play?
To the workflow - look at complicated steps that involve multiple pieces of software where no one is doing an amazing job and you might be onto something.
There was a move back in the day to get everything in one place, then APIs happened and now you can connect just about all the tools together. There are companies that specifically focus on niche workflows though, they take longer to get started and don’t always go the platform route - you need a lot of users to make this viable - but they do exist.
So back to this workflow - look at the number of tools, their age, their representative structure - back to the car example go try doing a search for a used car on Hertz.com - actually do a search on any car site - it sucks.
Imagine combining more natural language search like Algolia to that experience - I’m betting someone could build a better data heavy engine to tackle that beast.
With anything though - clean data in makes it easier to create searches, but making sure that data is clean is tough.
So the workflow is built around two sides for a platform - how the customer - in this case the business can use the software to provide better service to the end customer. What is the internal workflow most often done that requires the most amount of human effort? Focus on simplifying that - does your software streamline this - if yes you’re on the way to becoming a platform that others would be willing to build upon all you have to do is keep the architecture up to date to handle the increased load. Big Takeaway -
You won’t start this way, or you might not start this way, but if you do, the workflow and ease of creation is going to be the one thing that wins out, focus entirely on UX/UI and create something that is quicker, easier, better than what other people have and you’ll find success.
Platforms however are great places to look for partners. They are usually always open to partners that help expand or can introduce people to their offerings. Suite What is a suite product?
The granddaddy of all software plays where you build/acquire/grow individual parts of a business to integrate natively and own the entire experience in your own controlled walled garden.
G Suite, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc.
These guys buy smaller platforms and stand alone products and integrate them. Or they just build their own. Why do they exist?
With single products like standalone and platforms eventually you run out of rapid market expansion, the quickest way to increase revenue is to sell additional products to your existing customers. It’s also a lot cheaper.
Cross selling and upselling are the leading drivers of increased revenue once you have product market fit. Add on services like advanced reporting, automation, or additional features can often unlock better functionality of existing products.
A suite makes it easy to cross sell and upsell, it goes beyond MVPs in certain areas and actually builds tools that are full fledged and integrate seamlessly and more deeply than someone building an integration from outside the system. Is it right for me?
Never say never, but not likely. It’s aspirational but financially often doesn’t make a lot of sense. In the startup world of today, where growth is at a premium, I would never suggest any of my clients have this as an immediate goal. You need a bank account that is deeper than deep and you’re competing against incumbents that have warchests to outspend you at every turn.
The only company I can think of that has dented some of this is NextCloud. But their path to doing it was going open source and playing hard on the privacy angle pitting themselves as a google docs alternative. What is the workflow play?
A place where you can do everything in one space. This is actually the holy grail, but it’s also the reason I’m writing this right now in a google doc before cutting and pasting it over to reddit.
Even though there are lots of options with new ones coming out daily, once you’re in an ecosystem, going outside of it usually leads to reduced efficiency. When tools are built to work together, a magical thing happens, you don’t want to try other things.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tools for literally everything out there.
But as a go to list of tools that I use everyday -
Most everything else is use to setup then just monitor - which is fine for normal business things, but when you strip back and look at your core of active software that you use daily there’s a 99% chance that it falls into an ecosystem and you’d likely move to a system if they offered a competitor - Microsoft Teams comes to mind.
Slack is great, don’t get me wrong, but I already pay for storage for my Google Account and it’s really really cheap on a business plan to upgrade to unlimited storage - I’m also willing to bet Google could do a better job of searching through a Slack like interface to also suggest items from other places. It’s not an if, it’s a when. Take Away
Suites sometimes are just a combination of tools that people offer, usually parts of a platform that are built on one another - when you’re going after market share you always want to think of a core product then build things that compliment it.
The answer is not to build them all upfront, but to build them over time.
Remember again - data, recommendations, then automation.
If you have a roadmap make sure that it’s headed in this direction - it’s amazing how many companies don’t emphasize data collection and reporting early on.
This is how you build trust with an audience - show them what’s working and what’s not and make it easy to grab insights. What does all this mean for our topic?
Today, right now in 2020, I’d focus initially on an add-on or standalone product play.
Pick a strong partner or integration in the space - find a way to compliment what they offer that will help them earn more clients or make more money. If your product can do that, a larger company will jump at the opportunity to help you out.
Trust, I know this from partnering with the big ones in consumer - Amazon, Google, Apple etc. if your product plays into or assists in their narrative there is almost always a co-marketing deal to be struck. The only caveat is you have to ensure that there is no direct conflict with the main partner. If something isn’t part of their core business you’ll be ok for a while.
In B2B this becomes even easier - everyone is looking for growth - know how the companies measure growth - hint for certain sectors it’s adding data either quantity or amount. They get paid more the more they manage or the more records.
If you can help their platforms grow you’ll win.
Your product should make your partners look great. Figure out things that can add more value or unlock more data within your partners. Most all of them allow for you to sync and move data in, use this to your advantage.
I Want You to Play More Adventure Games (Part II: 1994-2000)
PREVIOUS POST -- PART ONE submitted by TheFett to patientgamers [link] [comments]
I wanted to continue my discussion of adventure games considered the greatest of all time. As before, this is not an exhaustive list but I have carefully aggregated reviews from a variety of sources to make my decision.
Many wondered why certain titles weren't included on the previous list. This is because the list only went up to 1993! Let us go beyond and discover the later years of the Golden Age of Adventure Games and find out where it all went wrong.
First, I want to give props to sites like Adventure Gamers and YouTubers like PushingUpRoses who produce excellent reviews of these games, far better than anything I'm likely to write here. Second, if you don't like adventure games, and don't think you ever will, this list may not be for you. The title of this post is not an imperative, just a hope that you'll find entertainment as I have, and that I can share some of that with you. 1994-1997: The Rise of Pre-Rendered 3D, FMV, and 16 bit graphics
By the mid-90’s, we were saying fond farewell to DOS, as Windows and other 16- and 32-bit operating systems took its place. It was a transitional period, some games released had installation options for both DOS and Windows on the same disk. With the rise of improved graphics and commonality of CD-ROM drives, we see larger games with more intensive assets. Pixel graphics gave way to a more cartoony style which would last until the rise of 3D rendered models a few years later.
- 8 Full Throttle (LucasArts, 1995) Tim Schafer takes the lead on this game along with co-writer Dave Grossman. A romp through a post-apocalyptic future featuring chromed-out motorcycles, hovercars, gangs of technology-worshipping cave dwellers, and demolition derbies. You play as the leader of a bike gang caught up in a world of murder and corporate intrigue. Having said that, the tone of this game is pretty light (I mean, come on, it’s Tim Schafer), emphasis on kicking butt and being a badass over violence and adult themes. There are some action fight scenes which are a bit of a pain but you can skip them with a cheat code. Aside from that, it’s a great game. Only other downsides are how short it is and some complaints about a relatively abrupt ending. I recommend buying the Remastered version from 2017.
- 7 The Pandora Directive (Access, 1996). High point in the Tex Murphy series, and FMV game with first-person elements. Interface is a little clunky, but basically you’re going around in first person mode looking for clues. When you interact with a character, it turns into FMV. Plenty of puzzles to solve, also tons of moments on unexpected humor. The Tex Murphy universe seems to be some run-down future version of San Francisco with mutants and homeless everywhere (wait, did I say future?). The atmosphere plays like a wacky version of old noir detective films. Your ending depends on how morally forthwright you behave during the game (repaying old debts, not being an asshole to people) and there are several paths and dead ends. Available on GOG.
- 6 The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (Sierra, 1995). Maybe the best FMV game ever created, along with the Tex Murphy series and maybe that X-Files game from 1998. Again, you play as Gabriel Knight, now living in Germany, as he investigates a new threat-- werewolf attacks! I had no hopes for this game, but was pleasantly surprised by its execution. The acting is solid, notably Dean Erickson. Like any good mystery game, the focus is on going around and gathering evidence, though there are a few puzzles thrown in. Available on GOG.
- 5 Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (Sierra, 1993/1994). QFG is back! After a mediocre romp with Quest for Glory III: Wages of War, the series sees a return to form. Again, you play as the same hero from the previous titles, going around doing side quests and slowly progressing the main plot. And what a plot! The setting is based on Eastern European and the slavic folktales found there, with some Lovecraft elements thrown in. It’s a much darker game than its predecessors, with more mature themes and darker villains and monsters. Expect friendly villagers hiding dark secrets. Voice acting is clutch here-- John Rhys-Davies hams it up as the narrator and Jennifer Hale (Metal Gear Solid, Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect) makes her earliest video game voice over appearance here. Love the dark atmosphere, but there are plenty of silly moments in true QFG fashion. Available on GOG.
- 4 The Last Express (Brøderbund, 1997). Hey, what happens when you, Jordan Mechner, ambitious game developer responsible for the graphic marvel that is Prince of Persia, spend $5 million making a game for a company that’s about to go bankrupt in a year, and just lost its sales and marketing department? You get a complete and total commercial failure that buries your game for years. And what a shame, because it’s actually extraordinarily good! Compare this to Phantasmagoria which costs $4.5 but grossed $12 million and you’ll see that we don’t live in a fair or just universe. Anyway, this game puts you on the famous Orient Express, immaculately reproduced in pre-rendered 3D, on the eve of World War I. Your character has escaped police aboard the train and is looking for his friend, but finds him unavailable due to a violent death (and now you've got to clean it up, blech). Your job is to solve the mystery of the enigmatic Firebird, uncover a web of conspiracies, and make it to Constantinople. There are over a dozen passengers on the train, each with their own detailed personality and backstory, each with their own time schedule. Timing is important, as certain events only happen at certain times. But don’t worry, you can go back in time as often as you want so that you don’t miss anything. The art style bears mentioning-- everything is rotoscoped. Characters are sometimes fully animated, but usually they are hand-drawn over still photos, giving the game a choppy animation at times. This game is complicated, but really a must-play. The final act loses some steam, but I found the ending satisfactory and often revisit this game. You can find the original version on GOG, or there’s the slightly improved version, The Last Express Gold, available on Steam, with hints and achievements and an improved interface.
- 3 The Neverhood (The Neverhood Inc, 1996). This game is insane. I have never seen such a labor of love, such intense artistic devotion, to make a game like this. This game is entirely claymation. You move your claymation character around a claymation world and engage in claymation puzzles. The art style reminds me of the TV show “Bump in the Night,” released the same year, as opposed to the cleaner style of Wallace & Gromit or Pingu. There’s not too much plot here, except for a huge amount of expository reading scattered throughout the game. I don't even want to tell you any more-- you're better off going in blind like I did and discovering this gem for yourself! I’m not sure the best way to legally obtain this game (yo ho), but I can tell you it’s playable through SCUMMVM.
- 2 Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars aka Circle of Blood (Revolution, 1996). A favorite of mine, high water mark for Revolution Software, which created such titles as “Beneath a Steel Sky” and “Lure of the Temptress.” Amazing Disney-quality animation as you guide your character through the streets of Paris and beyond, trying to solve a mystery that spans the globe. Seriously, the plot here is great. There were moments that I found emotionally touching, and moments that made me giggle. The characters were often larger-than-life but I really felt connected to them. Dialogue is quippy and… well, there’s a lot of it. You can ask every single person about every single inventory item you have and there’s a unique dialogue thread for each. I recommend playing the original version of this game. I'm told if you buy the Director's Cut (which abridged much of the dialogue and animation in order to fit it on handheld devices), you'll get the original version as well.
- 1 The Curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1997). The last of the truly great Monkey Island games (IMO), this game saw a handing of the reins to a younger team of developers at LucasArts, who I feel managed to exceed expectations. This game is extremely quotable. There’s a minor location where your character becomes obsessed with the 1991 movie JFK and starts peppering his dialogue with references (“You can’t be sure of that. That shot may have come from the grassy knoll!”). Murray the talking skull became something of a fan favorite for his combination of evil intent and lack of ability to act on it. The ending is a bit rushed, but I enjoy revisiting this game. Available on GOG and Steam.
- Riven: The Sequel to Myst (Cyan, 1997). To start out, this game is dated. It and its predecessor use prerendered 3D environments that you walk around in a sort of PowerPoint slide system. When you perform an action, like pulling a lever, a Quicktime animation plays. It’s actually quite well done and the environment, while dated in presentation, is still lovely to explore to this day. There’s very little here to worry about, no one’s shooting at you, in fact most people you find run away from you, leaving you to explore on your own. The framing device is that you’re trying to rescue Atrus’s wife Catherine from her home world where she is held captive by Atrus’s father Gehn. Essentially, you need to find a way to transport yourself to Gehn’s world via these magic books the three of them can write to teleport to, and alter, worlds. Gehn’s not very good at it, apparently, and so he’s been isolated from his home planet for years so it’s up to you to go in and save Catherine. It is truly amazing to me how the puzzles all fit together, you’re solving little puzzles but really you’re learning how everything on the planet fits together-- the numbering system, the animals and their noises, where the books are located and their designated color so you can solve the infamous marble puzzle. Since this game is not in realtime 3D, it may turn off players, and every time I play it I tell myself it’ll be the last time, but I keep going back. A real work of art.
- Under a Killing Moon (Access, 1994) Predecessor to “Pandora Directive,” I actually recommend playing this AND its above sequel, though PD is definitely the better game. Clunky interface as always but a great story, characters, and dialogue. Minimal puzzle solving.
- The Dig (LucasArts, 1995). Critics were lukewarm about this game when it came out, and fans to this day say it doesn't compare to other LucasArts outings. I, however, strongly enjoy it. You play as an astronaut stranded on an alien world. Spoiler! You do not zoom around in a space suit all game. You must reactivate alien technology, which can be difficult since your monkey brain is primitive and doesn't comprehend foreign tech. The music is phenomenal. Yes, the puzzles are often obtuse. After all, you're exploring an alien world. But it's no Rama, I can tell you that! If I were you, I'd play this game without hesitation (but with a guide) to enjoy the amazing visuals. I was reading critic reviews of this game, and they were already starting to grumble about the low-res quality that 2D games still had. No wonder studios seemed desperate to move to 3D graphics. Dialogue is by Orson Scott Card, and People. Are. Talking. All. The Time. Quip quippy quip quip. Less is more, Orson.
(ie, if I don't include these, people will talk)
1998-2000: Hardware-rendered 3D and the death of the classic adventure game
- Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon
- Pajama Sam/Freddi Fish/Putt Putt
- Dust: A Tale of the Wired West
- Discworld II: Missing, Presumed…!?
- Torin's Passage
- Amber: Journeys Beyond
Some blame Myst. Some blame Quake, Doom, and Unreal. Whoever is to blame, but the late 80's, everyone knew
3D gaming was the future. They knew it! I mean, why have lush 2D backgrounds and characters when you could have clunky, boxy models in a pre-rendered space? This spelled the end of the classic adventure, as sales during this time period were lackluster and the cost of making these games increased due to the new 3D mandate.
Isn't it weird how obsessed with 3D models we became? Pixar comes out with a few movies, a few years later, Disney decides all animated movies have to be computer generated from then on. Maybe it was cheaper, I'm just impressed by how quickly they went from The Lion King to "Home on the Range sucked, only CGI from now on." And don't try to tell me that the models looked good; "Chicken Little" looks dreadful compared to "Lilo & Stitch."
Anyway, around this time, we also started getting more story-heavy games in previously shallow genres: RPGs, long noted for their storyline, were gaining mainstream appeal thanks to Final Fantasy VII and its ilk. Action/shooter games like Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex showed that games can have good storytelling and narrative. Even when adventure games stopped being produced by major studios, it's not like I suddenly stopped playing games. Post-2000, I could still get my story fix in games like Silent Hill 1 & 2, Halo, Kingdom Hearts, Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, not to mention all the Zeldas, Fallouts, and Resident Evils of that time. Let's look at some of the games that helped usher out the era:
- 6 Zork: Grand Inquisitor (Activision, 1997). The last in a long line of Zork games. This game has a marvelous art style, the bizarro humor the series is known for, plus well-acted characters, fun gameplay, and plenty of puzzles. You progress first-person style ala Myst, but with 360 field of vision. I don’t want to say too much about this game, as I’d rather you discover it for yourself. Available on Steam and GOG.
- 5 Journeyman Project 3 (Presto Studios, 1998). The best of the Journeyman series, this sci-fi game reminds me of 1990’s shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon Five, and Stargate SG-1, only you can interact with it! The game stands on its own so you don’t need to play the other two. I’d recommend this for anyone who has an appreciation of the 90’s sci fi shows. Available on GOG.
- 4 Sanitarium (Dreamforge, 1998). A dark and manic title with good intentions, you play as an amnesiac inmate in an insane asylum who must discover his identity by plumbing the dark depths of his mind. The art style kind of reminds me of Grant Morrison/Dave McKean’s “Arkham Asylum” graphic novel which also takes place in an insane asylum and features dark, disturbing imagery. You travel to several different fantasy worlds but the first two are probably the best, along with the scenes in the asylum itself. Not a perfect game, but well worth playing for its depiction of psychosis and psychedelia. Available on GOG and Steam.
- 3 Blade Runner (Westwood, 1997). Ah, Westwood. We hardly knew ye. A cult classic game based on the cult classic movie, you control one of the titular replicant hunters as he uncracks a series of murders. A technically impressive game with beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, all 3D modeling is based on voxels so you didn’t need a 3D accelerator. [Edit]: I recently had a chance to replay this game in its ScummVM form. I used to think this was a flawed masterpiece, marred by bugs and poor compatibility. Now I think it's absolutely brilliant. The backgrounds are still stunning after all these years, maybe some of the best pre-rendered visuals outside of a Myst game, and the attention to detail is amazing as is the pure "cyberpunk"-ness of it all. Very accurate to both the movie with some notes taken from the original Phillip K Dick book and some original world-building. The story is not the same as the movie, but has many parallels and similar beats. You're a Blade Runner chasing a group of renegade replicants-- who is and is not a replicant is changed randomly at the start of each game (some will always be replicants, some never). You interview witnesses and suspects and get to use the Voight-Kampff test at some points, but it's mostly there for decoration. Like in the movie, you can use the ESPER system to analyze photographs, which I love. Gather clues, follow up on leads. The ending changes depending on whether you want to sympathize with the replicants, kill them off (it's your job!) or just get the hell out of town. It's not terribly difficult now that most of the bugs are sorted. A MUST PLAY.
- 2 The Longest Journey (1999/2000, Funcom). I’m off again/on again with this one. I shouldn’t like this game, the 3D models are blocky, the main character is a painfully ordinary self-doubting art student who keeps a diary and finds out she has strange powers (Life is Strange, is it not?), the ending is bittersweet, and yet the setpieces and dialogue and quirky moments keep drawing me back. You are responsible for the fate of two worlds that hang in the balance, a world of science, and one of magic. Great lore here and rich characters. The puzzles are very solvable without a guide (thankfully). Dialogue can be a little off, which I blame on the localization from Norweigian, but it’s still very entertaining. You can buy this game on GOG, but I recommend adding an HD texture and movie pack to greatly improve the graphics. I played it recently and it really added a lot.
- 1 Grim Fandango (LucasArts, 1998). Everyone’s clamoring for it already, you’ve all heard of it, it’s the Dia de los Muertos / Neo Noir / Grim Reaper fan favorite, Grim Fandango! This game, a commercial failure at the time, became such a classic in later years and is often considered one of the finest examples of the genre. You play as Manny Calavera, a down-on-his-luck travel agent (aka “The Grim Reaper, baby!”) who uncovers a conspiracy in the Land of the Dead (based on Mexican folklore and some Aztec influences). You’ll encounter monsters, beatniks, demons, communists, lawyers (the usual cast of hell), but everything is in this 1940’s and 50’s style of sets and costuming that lovingly rips off many of the classic movies of that era (Casablanca, Passage to Marseille, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, The Third Man, Rififi). Made long before Coco, it lacks the latter’s vibrancy and colors but you’ll see a lot of the same character styles-- every human character looks like a skeletal calaca. And it’s funny, this is Tim Schafer’s finest work, the script is so quotable, the puzzles are fun but no too difficult (except maybe the puzzle with the betting stub), it’s a total blast to play. I recommend the remastered version from 2015.
TO BE CONTINUED
- Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned (Sierra, 1999). Lambasted on Old Man Murray for its cat/syrup/mustache puzzle, I actually enjoyed this game. Like the other two, you learn a lot about the history of whatever paranormal thing you’re investigating (in this case, the Holy Grail). The ending is extremely rushed so I can’t fully recommend it, but while some of the puzzles are flipping insane, you have some incredible ones (Le Serpent Rouge!) as well.
- Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire (Sierra, 1998). Last of the QFG series, and we’re lucky to have it at all, even if it’s suddenly in 3D and more of an action RPG than adventure game. I’ve included it here for sake of completion. Mediocre graphics and action aside, if you’ve played the other games, definitely play this one to get closure on the story and for pure fanservice. Available on GOG.
So that's it, the end of the Golden Age. What came next? I will be back, talking about Syberia, some releases for Nintendo DS, and maybe pointing out a few visual novels that cross the line into adventure game territory (yes, that means Phoenix Wright), before getting into the modern era of the last 8 years.
Edit: Altered the list to move Quest for Glory V out of top spot. How'd it get there?
Edit 2: Added links to all titles I could find for sale online.
How I Got My 7 Person Startup Featured In Entrepreneur Magazine
submitted by stratguy56 to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]
If you have the word “Co-Founder” or “Chief ______ Officer” in your LinkedIn title, there’s a good chance your inbox gets flooded with pitches from all sorts of sales people. It doesn’t even matter if the title is legit or not.
As a former sales person myself, I love getting these pitches.
I enjoy getting to cringe while reading the ultra-terrible ones, but I also love responding to the ones that are actually very good.
I received the summarized pitch below from a PR guy a while back, and I have to say his message fell into the latter of these two categories. “Hello David, Thanks for connecting! Not sure if you took a glance at my profile yet but we help companies like yours get featured by some of the largest media outlets in the world including Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, NASDAQ and dozens more. We do this on a pay for placement basis so you only pay if we can get you quoted and featured… If this is something you’d be interested in discussing further let’s jump on a short 20 minute call so I can learn more about your brand and accomplishments and decide if we can get you featured!”
The message is very straightforward, and it’s not even that personalized. But he plays into my ego perfectly.
Getting my fledgling startup featured on one of these publications would be cool, I think to myself. I’m also genuinely interested in figuring out how he does this for companies.
So I take the call.
After about 30 minutes of chatting, I like the guy, and I think I have his system figured out.
By simply reading between the lines of our conversation, I come to the conclusion that this guy likely has relationships with a bunch of “contributors” that write for these various publications. I’m guessing that if he thinks you or your startup has an interesting angle/story/or product, he can get one of his contributors to do a feature, thus landing you a piece in Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.
Problem was that he wanted $5,000-8,000 for a landed feature.
Operating a young company that is cautious about its resources, I passed on the offer.
But hold up… This wasn’t going to stop me from trying to get my own feature in one of these publications.
It only motivated me and piqued my interest further. Hell, if this guy can do it so easily, why can’t I get my company featured myself?
Okay, time to figure out how to do this
At this point the wheels in my head are spinning, and I’m starting to brainstorm how to do this.
I hang up the phone, and simply Google, “How to get featured in Entrepreneur Magazine”.
The very first result in Google is a blog post from Jason Feifer, the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine himself, explaining how to get featured.
Just what I was looking for.
You can simply read the article yourself, there’s also a video
, but in summary it was all about how you have to be unique, pitch value, and put yourself in the shoes of the editor.
This seems fairly obvious, but in reality people are lazy, and I bet it is actually quite rare to receive a truly personalized, great pitch.
The big takeaway that I got from this article is that the editor in chief does in fact take stories from one-off pitches. But… your pitch has to be good. It has to catch his attention.
Cold email time
I finish watching a couple more videos where Jason (Entrepreneur Magazine guy) explains how to pitch him.
I then open up Gmail and copy/paste his email address into the TO: field.
It strikes me now as I start writing my email how I bet so few
people actually watch these videos
before sending him an email. I’m going to use that to my advantage. Use it as flattery.
Now I need to come up with two things:
- Something to grab Jason’s attention. AKA something that he truly cannot ignore when the email hits his inbox. I need him to at least open my email.
- An interesting spin on my startup that Entrepreneur could use as a story. This has to be truly unique and interesting to readers, otherwise it’ll go straight to the trash.
I come up with my attention-grabber almost immediately.
Heck, someone just offered me an almost guaranteed spot in Entrepreneur for five grand. I’m pretty confident this is something that an integrity-filled editor in chief would like to know about.
The angle on my startup takes a bit more time, but we do have something very unique: how my co-founders and I met.
Long story short, we met on Reddit.
My co-founder Lucas posted about some cryptocurrency tax software project he was working on at the time. I thought it sounded like a cool idea, so I cold emailed him and told him how I would market the project. Our company, CryptoTrader.Tax
, was born from this simple interaction on Reddit of all places.
With all the pieces in place, I take about ~30 mins to come up with this email below:
Subject: I was quoted $5800 to get a feature in Entrepreneur
Date: Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 11:46 AM
To: Jason Feifer
From: David Kemmerer
Hey Jason –
I just got off the phone with a PR agency that works on a pay-per-placement model, and they guaranteed that they could get me a feature article for my startup in Entrepreneur for $5800.
This got me thinking, what’s stopping me from just reaching out myself? These editors are humans too, and they’re looking for great stories for their audience – why can’t I simply build relationships with them directly?
This led me down a rabbit hole where I found your video here
on how to get featured in Entrepreneur – the key being to approach it from your (the editors) perspective, and have a unique, compelling story.
So here goes nothing.
I started a Cryptocurrency Tax Software company a year and a half ago that now has tens of thousands of users, more than 1 billion dollars of cryptocurrency transactions processed, and has partnered up
with some of the biggest names in the industry like Intuit TurboTax to bring cryptocurrency tax compliance to the mainstream. My co-founders and I are all under the age of 25.
But, that’s not interesting to you – that’s just me bragging and trying to build social proof.
What is interesting is how my co-founders and I met.
My co-founders and I met on Reddit.
A simple reddit thread talking about how difficult it is for cryptocurrency traders to file and report on their taxes turned into my partner saying in the reddit thread that he wanted to start working on tax software for the crypto world. I loved the idea, so I DM’d him on Reddit and told him I’d love to help.
Flash forward a month later, I flew up to his home in Kansas City, MO and we decided to start CryptoTrader.Tax
. Thanks Reddit!
I think hopeful entrepreneurs are always wondering how they can meet co-founders. The story told in the media makes it seem like you have to go to prestigious schools like Stanford to meet qualified, ambitious people. This is just not true, and we are a testament to that.
I don’t think there is one way to do it, but I think meeting people online is going to become more and more common over the next decade, and I think people need to realize that it isn’t weird to cold outreach to someone you find interesting. You never know who you might meet!
I’d love to chat further with you, and thanks for taking the time to read this long email.
23 Minutes Later…
Subject: RE: I was quoted $5800 to get a feature in Entrepreneur
Date: Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 12:09 PM
To: David Kemmerer
From: Jason Feifer
Thanks for reaching out. Can you tell me who just quoted you pay-for-play? That’s absolutely against our guidelines, which means they’re paying one of our contributors. I want to find out who it is so that we can end that relationship.
I appreciate the pitch here—you did exactly as asked! Hmm, let me think on this one. I don’t think there’s a whole piece to be done on finding a cofounder on Reddit, but I do like it as the possible seed of something.
the attention-grabber worked. It got Jason to open my email, read it in full, and give me a response. It even built some rapport as we went back and forth for a bit after this.
After leaving the conversation at “let me think about this”, I honestly didn’t expect anything else to come from this.
I managed to build a bit of a relationship with Jason through this email sequence—which is valuable on its own, but I suspected that it was unlikely that we’d actually get a feature.
Two Months Later
Two months later I received the below note from an editor at Entrepreneur.
Subject: FWD: I was quoted $5800 to get a feature in Entrepreneur
Date: Wed, Sept 25, 2019 at 2:29 PM
To: David Kemmerer
Hope you’re well! My editor Jason forwarded your note my way. Please know we take these kinds of things very seriously.
But anyhow! I’m actually writing because we’re working on a small story about unusual ways entrepreneurs have found their cofounders, and I’d love to chat with you about your reddit connection. Do you have 20 minutes to hop on the phone next week?
So it turns out my pitch paid off in the end. The December 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine came out with a feature
discussing unique ways co-founders meet.
Among these features was the story of CryptoTrader.Tax, a cryptocurrency tax software startup that was growing rapidly after the founders had all met on Reddit.
Link to the original story here >> signup for my email list to get more marketing hustles like this :) https://davidkemmerer.co/entrepreneur-magazine/
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