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# Does this sound reasonable?

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### #1tentaguasu  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 07:58 PM

I'd really appreciate you comments, opinions, and answers to any of my questions.

I don't know anything about programming (well I did do basic on my C64 when I was 14 but that's it). I have a game idea.

Laughing yet?

OK, I'm NOT going to learn programming. I don't have the time. I know this is the Wrong Way to do it, but that's how I'm going to do it, because I have no other choice.

I've already assembled a tentative group of people to help me build the game.

The team is:

Me - oversight, design, quality control, boss.
C++ programmer
Graphic Designer
Internet Expert

No one is getting a dime up front. I'm offering a percentage of potential profits. I'm considering 40% for myself, and 20% each for the other 3.

The concept is SIMPLE, as is the programming. Think something a bit more complex than Tetris. No 3D shooter, no polygons, no AI.

I believe this makes it more feasible to do with a small team, and no venture capital whatsoever.

The idea is also very original. Really it is. It's not Tetris2 or Doom4. It's really something unique.

It could be successful or it could flop totally. Again, think tetris - if we do it right and it "catches" it could be really good. Maybe not.

I'm considering distributing it as shareware. It is going to be pretty small (under 5 megs) and ther e are obvious hooks that make it worthwhile to register.

I'm also in the good situation that I'm not expecting to make Mega Money. I want to make money, most definitely. But I don't expect to get rich. If the team as a whole made $50,000 I'd be thrilled beyond words. If it made$12,000 I'd be pleased as punch (again, team profits). I've got definite and important economic goals but they are, all things considered, considerably more modest than many….

I'm not 15. Nothing against 15 year olds, but I'm old enough to be beyond the "yo dude let's du a killer engine" stage.

OK, now down to some specific questions:

1. Does any of this sound vaguely reasonable?
2. Is shareware a legitimate option to make a profit on a product that is easily downloadable and has "hooks" that make registration worthwhile?
3. Are the profits I'm offering (20%) too high or too low? Remember, there is NOTHING up front and NO guarantees. This is a percentage of PROFIT not sale, regardless of whether we sell it to a distributor, sell via shareware or whatever.

I don't know, I'd just love some comments on all of this….

(cross posted to another discussion)

### #2MikeD  Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 06:55 AM

Okay, either this has got to be the most amazing, insightful game design you've got here or you're really overstating your self worth.
Three other people with highly technical, hard won skills will get 20% each for implementing your idea, which is only half what you make.
As I said, if your idea _is_ the next tetris then fine, otherwise....

The games industry already has too much middle management with far too much self-importance.

And if you can get a piece of shareware to make a thousand, let alone fifty, please let me know how.

Sorry to be on such a downer but that's the way I see it...

### #3tentaguasu  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 08:10 AM

OK, on the percentage thing:

I'm well aware that in EVERYTHING there is too much middle management. I also have hard won skills, in other arenas that I work in.

What I know is this: skills don't pay the bills.

The person who makes money is the person that makes something happen. The main distinction between great games on the market and making money and just another dead idea is NOT the programmers. It's the management of the team. It's how that idea is molded, quality controlled, how the team is focused and organized, how the product is marketed.

Again, I work in the computer industry in another facet, and have worked as everything from bottom of the barrel stooge to top guy so I'm not ragging on developers.

Without a good developer the project won't work either.

But my experience has shown me skills are far less important than the ability to think, manage, mold, work, promote - in other words what I bring to the mix is not only a vague idea, but the concept, the structure, the organization, and the ability to turn that idea into profits.

That's what middle management is SUPPOSED to be about. What I'm sayin is this - you can get 20% of this or not. I think the opportunity to hold a 20% share of a potentially winning product is darn good.

I'm not trying to shoot anyone down here, just that I think that there is an underappreciation of what my role in this project would be. As a worker in many stupid organizations I have a healthy hatred for "suits". I also have noticed that there are loads of talented programmers working at McDonalds because they don't posses the ability they need to turn those skills into $$. Bill Gates isn't anything special as a programmer. He was just a genius at bullying his company to the top. I'm not Bill Gates, and this product isn't windows, but my point is NEVER understimate the importance of what vision and management mean to success. 20% is a TON of a winning product, and 90% isn't worth a postage stamp in a loosing product, and I submit that the *right* manager is what makes the difference between the two. It reminds me of the NFL. Sure there is the ocassional super star that makes the difference, but I defy you to show me ONE winning franchise with poor management and ONE loosing franchise with great management. I welcome more comments on the issue. ### #4CJ Members - Reputation: 122 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 08:38 AM quote: I'm not Bill Gates, and this product isn't windows, you can be the second BG......just make a blue screen, which appears after 'pretending' to do some nifty things. You could even get a 100% profit, cuz it doesn't matter whether it's a good product or not. Sorry for my sarcasm, but I think what you 'want' to do is higly exagerated. I won't be the only one who thinks this. You say that you need a good manager. But who says you are one? Do you have a degree? and so on. ------------------ Dance with me...... ### #5MikeD Members - Reputation: 158 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 09:15 AM Okay, I know the value of good management. How? Because I've only ever had bad management. You sound like you've worked from the ground up for what you've got and I won't argue whether you're talented at what you do but... "What I know is this: skills don't pay the bills." ...no. I could not disagree more. Organisation might make skilled people more effective in what they do by giving direction but the skill of man-management is just that, a _skill_. So if you have an organisational ability then great, leading a team is an important part of being in the team and if the idea for the game is yours then you also have the rights of a game designer. But the people that make it happen are the developers, whether they be coders, artists, designers or testers. The people that make the people make it happen are the middle management. And more often than not it is not their incredible skill that produces a brilliant game and it's often their fault when production slips by months (mostly due to lack of appreciation of the product they're trying to develop and the resources available). But of everyone I've ever met you can guess who the lightest workers are and who are the guys who stick to the office until the next morning to get the job done. You might be one of the latter, I _know_ I am. ### #6Gromit Members - Reputation: 144 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 09:22 AM I really didn't think that this would turn int a flame war. I believe that he was asking for advice on his idea of profit sharing in *his* idea. He came up with the concept. He found the people to make it happen. He also stated upfront that if the game sucks, then there would be no money at all. It appears to me that he has been following my posts! I think that 20% is very reasonable and that you do deserve your 40% of the profits. After all, no one would be making this game if it wasn't for you. If the other people are happy with thier 20% then so be it. I'm working on a game with a group of people at the moment for a profit share of 9%. This may sound very low to some of you out there, but remember this. Before any of the programming had begun, we have a big name publisher backing us up. So someone must have faith in this game and I am more then happy to be involved with it at 9%. It is really up to the people who you are working with. If they like their % share, then go with it. I hope that your idea does turn into the next tetris! ### #7tentaguasu Members - Reputation: 122 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 09:42 AM Thanks for the posts! No I don't want or expect this to be a flame war or anything, just stating an opinion. As for my qualifications - who knows? We of all people know that University degrees don't measure ability. I know what I can and can't do as a manager. I don't think I'm great, but I'm smart, hard working, and driven. But the proof is in the pudding. I'm offering the 20% and if someone takes me up they are betting that I can make it happen. If I had to relate one lesson I've learned in life, in EVERY profession or endeavor it's this: The difference between success and failure isn't between who CAN and CAN'T but who DOES and DOESN'T. And that's what I meant when I say the skills don't pay the bills. Sure good management is a skill, but what I'm getting at is LATENT skill means nothing. The smartest guy I know is currently working at Subway and pushing 30 years old. Hasn't done diddly squat with his talent. Another guy I know who is pretty average in the smarts deparment is making mega money precisely because he DOES something with what he has. We all dream and think and wonder. I'm not the most successful guy around (if I was I wouldn't be building a shareware product and talking about it here ) but what I have learned is that there can be 50 guys next to me that are more skilled, smarter, more able, but they don't DO anything. The are content to follow, not to lead. And time and time again the success I've had are NOT due to my talents (or skills) so much as the guts to go and DO something. Turn ideas into real things! And that's what I meant when I say the skills don't pay the bills. Skills without implimentation are worthless, and what I see is that the world is FAR shorter on people who ACTUALLY DO turn ideas into realities than on people who POTENTIAL COULD do it. Much rarer than a great programmer is a person able to make an idea real. And that, I believe, is the role of GOOD management. As I stated, I've been on both ends. A manager, and a developer (in another field). And I see two things - YES many, probably MOST managers are head up their but idiots who are a liability rather than a blessing. (maybe I'll end up being one of them...) However, staying up nights working when management is off is not proof of the programmer or whoever being more important. Good managements role is ONE thing - make the machine go. And you know what, the absolute BEST managers are the ones who can set up a great team, oil the machine, make decisions efficiently. They SHOULD have their feet on the desk at 4:00pm and be on the golf course at 6. Can you think of anything more annoying than the "hands on manager". I hatem. What I ask of MY manangers is set me up to succeed and then get the /&%/& out of my way. And that's what a good manager does. He molds the work of others towards a goal and makes sure it happens. If he can do it effeciently and go home early, more power to him. I ask ONE thing of him - make me successful and make me money by putting me in a situation where I can let my skills work and get paid for it. Just to be clear on this, I'm NOT saying I personally am a great manager. I aim to be. I aim to make that 20% share turn into a bunch o money. Will it happen? Can I do it? Who knows.... ### #8mason Members - Reputation: 128 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 10:06 AM tenta - You're too extreme. It takes a slew of talented people, as well as a cohesive vision, to be a success. Even the best management skills won't make up for an amatuer programmer, and even the best programmers sometimes fail because they didn't plan. Like in everything else, success is a balancing act, and there's much more to it than simply having a great idea and a good team. In other words... The NFL has a set of rules that everyone knows, so success or failure comes directly from implementation. There is no such luxury in game development. To answer your original questions: 1) No. To be totally honest, it sounds like a lot of hype and vaporware. 2) No. Shareware hardly ever makes any money. 3) The profits you're offering are equivalent to a lottery ticket. The vast majority of games don't make any money, so promises of future royalties don't mean much. This is even more true for shareware. Given that, even though developers may *stay* on your team because of your incredible management skills, the main thing that *gets* developers on your team is your game idea... so, to recruit the best people, ignore the royalty rate and disclose exactly what the idea is. A good early measure of how successful your idea will be is how many people are still interested once you tell them what it is. (Hey, if this is truly an earth-shattering idea, protect it by getting some cash and just contracting people). Sorry if I sound like the devil's advocate... I just want to make sure you know exactly where you stand. More info on my web site. Mason McCuskey Spin Studios www.spin-studios.com ### #9tentaguasu Members - Reputation: 122 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 10:50 AM Nah, I don't think I'm being too extreme, precisely because part of the managers job is to recruit that talent. Again, to use the NFL analogy, one of the main reasons some teams fail every single year is their inability to draft talent and make it work together. I'm not underestimating the role of talent, and I would TOTALLY agree that you can't make a great anything without GREAT programmers. But who recruits them? Who gets them working together, etc. Also, again, I'm not saying that I am a great manager. I hope I am, but it'd be pretty arrogant to assume it's so! Vaporware and hype is all about tricking the market, intimidating the competition, and getting venture funding. I don't have a need or reason for any of that. I gain nothing by "hyping" something. I'm not looking for capital. Of course there is not a product because that's what I'm recruiting to do! But either we will build a product or we won't. If we don't the looser is me. I've got no incentive to hype. Of course it's a crap shoot! That's the whole idea of % of profits. It's both totally risky and totally motivating. It's putting your but on the line and saying you'll get paid not on a salary, but on the basis of your ability to produce a salable product. And OF COURSE the people who sign on have to be convinced the product can work. If not they won't put into it. The potential developers have already gotten a Non-disclosure agreement. Then they hear the details, and if they sign on great, if not we look for someone else. But what I want is a small group of people who DO BELIEVE in the product enough to say, "hell yes, I'll put myself on the line and take the crap shoot, and give my best effort". I figure that if the people who work for you aren't convinced enough in the product or motivated enough to work on a percentage of future profits, then they probably aren't right for you. I want people who believe in it and are on a mission to make it happen. Oh, and I DON'T expect this to be a full timer. It's more a side project that either will or won't work out for the team. OK, I know shareware doesn't normally make money, but I'm not talking about your everyday game product that is a large download, etc. I'm not saying that because it will be wonderful or whatever, just because of it's size, style, type, etc. if fits nicely into the shareware model. Say, for the sake of argument, that it's like After Dark Games - that type of product is very commonly downloaded. And it has "hooks" to help increase registration rates. Some similar products get 100-500 thousand downloads. Let's say 250 thousand. At a registration rate of 5% that's 12,500 people registered. At say 12 a pop that's 150,000. Cut that by a factor of TEN just to be a pain about it and you get 15,000 which is my bottom cutoff line for being happy. That's what I'm hoping for. Comments? ### #10Splat Members - Reputation: 122 Like Likes Like Posted 30 November 1999 - 01:41 PM I don't really feel up to this sprawling thread, but I will comment on one thing: Your percentage registration ($$$) is going to heavily depend on the quality of the game and what the regsitration actually provides. Someone's gotta be pretty addicted to drop$12 on a shareware package that will probably just include more levels.

Realize that direct mailing RESPONSE rates (not purchase rates) are generally less than .5% of the total. Add to that your target audience (for all games mostly) is going to be people / kids without the ready means to pay for your game, and you realize that if you get .05% registration rate you'll be lucky.

So, even assuming you have a killer game, you must understand that the whole shareware concept is no where near as efficient (for the publisher - you) as the commercial software industry.

Overall, I think that founding a company / team around an individual that can contribute quite little to the actual development of the game (which, for a game of any quality, is SO tremendous for a team of inexperienced people that I'd be surprised to see a result in the next 2 years) is pretty stupid. You simply finding these individuals and pitching them on the concept is not a job. Your statement that 20% of a lot (successful game) is a lot and 90% of nothing (losing game) is nothing, but the difference is NOT the fucking manager. Let me tell you this: without ANY product, a manager is just a "suit". What can you possibly contribute to the 1,000's of man-hours it will take to complete your project? If you had a large amount of money to contribute to its production (like a VC) then things would be different, but you are like firecracker - you started this company and got the individuals together, but what is to stop them from running off and actually developing the game without you? What kind of service are you now to them now that the project (maybe) is getting rolling?

Ok, so I went against my previous statement and better judgement and contributed to this thread. But seriously, you are a motivated individual with nothing to do! If you were a programmer with kind of devotion (and presumablely, talent) I would say "Forward!" because then you'd have a fighting chance.

Anyway, enough of me. I wish you (and hopeful the poor twits you recruit) good luck, because I predict you will need mountain loads of it.

- Splat

### #11Splat  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 01:47 PM

Oh yeah, I hope you've realized the flaw with any NFL metaphor: NFL athletes get PAID! You are hiring workers "off the streets" to work for nothing but vaporous mountains of money and glory at the end of a 1,000 mile long path with so many obstacles, pitfalls, and hard choices that they can only catch a glimpse even minute or two of their goal. Meanwhile, no cars exist to help them, and they have a slave driver that slaps them on the back and alternates between saying "Get a move on!" and reminding them that they have to work hard to get to that money. Sound like fun? (except for the slave driver)

I think, radical as it may be, that the 15 year olds saying "yo dude lets make a killer engine" have a better chance than you, because a) they are doing it out of curiousity and not a driving manager or sights of money in the future, b) they have some talent (hopefully) at programming in which to complete the engine, c) they are friends, so they don't really have to worry about dealing with strangers, d) they are close, so distance is not an issue. Aside from the fact that they will probably flake out once they realize the complexity of the project (as should you), they have a lot of things going for them. You, on the other hand, have an excellent manager

- Splat

[This message has been edited by Splat (edited November 30, 1999).]

### #12tentaguasu  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 02:35 PM

Ah, you of course have the right to disagree... but I think you're off base.

No reason to get into it again, I think I've presented my feelings on it pretty clearly, and I appreciate the time others have put into responding.

Just remember, a "good suit" is not a taskmaster, freeloader, or idiot any more than a football coach is.

Enough of that.

On to shareware.

The shareware option is just ONE option. I'm going to look at which of them is most cost effective and brings the largest profit.

My understanding is that depending on what the product is registration rates can vary from almost zero to up to 50%.

Now you're making a LOT of assumptions:

1. The market for this game are NOT kids! They'll have disposable income.

2. The bonus for registration is NOT "just a few more levels".

I don't know if the shareware model will work for me, but in responding don't make the assumption that this will be a level based game for teenage guys (nothing wrong with that, just that this isn't that type of game).

I have to balance - if I think I can get 2-5% registration rate then it probably makes more sense for me to do it that way than to sell it off.

What do you all think?

### #13 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 03:02 PM

That post was just funny. I have heard too many people saying they have the idea for the perfect GAME. GUESS WHAT!!!!! you have the idea, but the only person who could make it exactly how you wanted is YOU. And Every Manager needs SOME programming skills, at least how to understand it. Also, age does not matter here, its ability. Im only 13, k, I have been programming for 6 years, 4 of them c/c++. Ive made a couple games, BUT, there are hundereds of people out there that are 100's of times better at me and more talented, and I understand that. Also, Because you dont program, more often then not, your expectation will be way too high.

### #14Splat  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 03:17 PM

Sure, the registration rates can vary from 0% to 100%. But the curve for most games that are released centers around the 1% area.

You must remember that most (I would love to here of one) successful shareware games were NOT that particular company / team's first creation.

What I would normally recommend is that you create the game, THEN see if it's good enough to attempt to sell. Most programmer's make countless dumb, silly, not high-quality games before they are good enough to make what most of us consider to be quality shareware. However, this option is not for you, because _you_ (not your "team") cannot produce much at all. My best advice for you is, if you REALLY think you have a killer idea (which is unfortunately unlikely), put together a design document (and maybe a technical overview, assuming you have enough knowledge of what the programming hurdles will be), show it around to some VCs, maybe get some money, and hire some quality programmers on a salary.

Either that or certainly don't set your sights so high. If you manage to complete the game, I'd be happy for you. That's an accomplishment. Your "payment" problems are like planning for your wedding at age 4 - you don't have to worry about the arrangements until you've survived childhood, got an education, found a girlfriend that you really like, etc. And you aren't even guaranteed of all that - you may (read; probably) will die of hunger at age 7, way before your wedding.

Enough metaphors, I'm must sound grumpy but I just wanted you to know that you are planning way to far in the future. Most likely, your profit will be \$0.00 in which case the %s don't matter whatsoever.

- Splat

### #15 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 04:18 PM

I totaly Agree wit Splat, I made at least 15 small games before I started my big project. My Big Project was started over twice because I was not tackling the problems right. My game still sucks. It took me about a half year to write the engine. and a couple more to make the game. It is a Smooth Scrolling 2D Game. People who plaid it had fun, but not near quility of other FREE games out there. So I made a 3D Engine and made a small game, but later found,at that time, I did not have enough Math Skills 2 do the best Physics and Collision Detection and the game was lost. Just wanted to show you how hard Ive worked and are farther than you but not by much. And I thought it would be much easier, just make a game(HA). And your not looking at it in the right view.

### #16Starfall  Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 November 1999 - 07:58 PM

Just a quick comment on the shareware issue.

2) No. Shareware hardly ever makes any money.

I don't remember the exact quote here, but I remember reading that someone asked John Carmack once whether shareware made any money. He replied that he drove a Ferrari. I think shareware has a great potential to make money, if it is done right. ID software obviously made enough from the Commander Keen games to continue on to make Wolfenstein and Doom which were also shareware. In fact, they didn't stop making shareware until Quake, and look how successful they are now (and were even then). So, the point is, don't let people convince you that shareware does not make money... if you do it right, you can be just as successful as anyone else in the industry in my opinion.

Starfall

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