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term paper: survey on game developers


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#1 Sabine   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 October 1999 - 11:26 AM

Hello game developers,
I am a computer science student at the University of Texas at Austin.
As part of a term-project, I am trying to conduct a survey about the chances and obstacles of small-scale game developers. I would be very thankful if you could spend 5 minutes answering briefly my questions. The information provided will not be published or used for any commercial intentions. Also, private data such as email address are not interesting for the survey. I am not going to use any information provided differently than for writing my term paper. I appreciate your cooperation. Just hit the reply button and fill in you answers…

Sabine Bildstein


1. What kind of games do you develop?

2. What are some advantages you see in being an independent developer?

3. Do you market and distribute your software by yourself?

4. Do you have contracting people (i.e. for graphics, engine etc.)?

5. Why did you become an independent developer?

6. Do your products compete with other popular game products (or did you find a niche that is non-competitive)?

7. How long is your average development cycle from planning phase until distribution of- the-shelf?

8. What advice would you give a software developer who plans to go independent?

9. What were your greatest successes as a game developer?

10. Can you support yourself (and your family) writing software as a game developer?

11. Do you work full time as an independent software developer?

12. Which legal form of company do you have?

13. What is your average yearly income?

14. What are some of the obstacles that you encounter as an independent game developer?

That was all! Thanks again!
======================================================================


Sponsor:

#2 DavidRM   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 18 October 1999 - 05:21 PM

1. What kind of games do you develop?

Online-only, multi-player Internet games.


2. What are some advantages you see in being an independent developer?

It's nice having the choice of what you're working on, plus full control of the direction you take it.


3. Do you market and distribute your software by yourself?

Yes.


4. Do you have contracting people (i.e. for graphics, engine etc.)?

I have contracted for artwork and sound effects.


5. Why did you become an independent developer?

To have control over the projects I work on and to explore oppurtunities I couldn't otherwise pursue.


6. Do your products compete with other popular game products (or did you find a niche that is non-competitive)?

There are more and more online-only, multi-player games being developed, but it's nice knowing that I was "among the first" if not exactly the cutting edge... ;-)


7. How long is your average development cycle from planning phase until distribution of- the-shelf?

Our last project took 3 years, though that was with all 4 team members only working on it part time.

I've already decided that our next project must take a *lot* less than this, but that will require all team members working full time. We'll see how it goes... =)


8. What advice would you give a software developer who plans to go independent?

Start small unless you can attract an adequate amount of capital (investors or loans or whatever). As you go, you can use the income from the last project to fund the next one.


9. What were your greatest successes as a game developer?

Finishing 2 games. =)


10. Can you support yourself (and your family) writing software as a game developer?

I am so far... =)

However, my partner still maintains a full-time job.


11. Do you work full time as an independent software developer?

Yes.


12. Which legal form of company do you have?

Sole proprietor, currently.


13. What is your average yearly income?

Estimating about $35,000 this year.


14. What are some of the obstacles that you encounter as an independent game developer?

Getting taken seriously, but that's changing.

------------------
DavidRM
Samu Games


#3 ghowland   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 19 October 1999 - 08:12 AM

1. Mostly RTS/RTT based ones currently.

2. I get to make my own decisions in the work I take (sorta, someone else still has to pay currently). I also get the rewards if any of the games do really well, as there is a royalty percentage of sales. So I dont feel like Im really working for someone else without the possibility of more compensation than a raise or bonus...

3. No, I use publishers to get games to stores. (And currently to fund them)

4. Yes. I contract everyone so that I dont have to deal with their taxes or other issues.

5. Always wanted to make games, and pretty much with myself as the boss. So now I do.

6. They compete a bit probably, but mine are budget priced and are really made for the casual gamers, instead of trying to fight for the hardcore gamers.

7. About 4-5 months.

8. Dont. The only reason you should try to start off indie is if no ones advice is good enough for you.

9. Finishing my games probably, staying in business, continuing to get contracts. All of these are difficult.

10. Yes, its tight though. Took around 75% decrease to do it.

11. Yes.

12. Sole proprietorship

13. Not answering this one.

14. Funding, almost exclusively. Smaller problems are trying to manage the team effectively, make real schedules, stick to them...

Website: www.lupinegames.com

-Geoff


#4 mason   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 19 October 1999 - 11:26 AM

Here goes...

1. What kind of games do you develop?

Right now I'm working on an action puzzle game called Quaternion.

2. What are some advantages you see in being an independent developer?

Three words: Total Creative Freedom!

3. Do you market and distribute your software by yourself?

Yes, but I'm hoping I can get Quaternion on store shelves.

4. Do you have contracting people (i.e. for graphics, engine etc.)?

Currently I do everything by myself, but in the past I've worked with artists and other programmers.

5. Why did you become an independent developer?

I was born wanting to design games... plus, being an indie game developer is a great way to eventually become a commercial game developer.

6. Do your products compete with other popular game products (or did you find a niche that is non-competitive)?

I aspire to create games that can hold their own next to any other game on the store shelf. Puzzle games may not be as popular as RTS games, but they're not completely esoteric either.

7. How long is your average development cycle from planning phase until distribution of- the-shelf?

About a year and a half.

8. What advice would you give a software developer who plans to go independent?

Make sure you know what you're getting into. Too many people think that the game industry is still in its infancy, you know - spend a day slapping some code together and watch the money roll in. The reality is that to really survive, even as an indie, you need to be not only an expert technically, but also fairly good at business as well. In this game, the harsh reality is that the technical merits of your product usually take a back seat to how well you can make connections, market, and sell. I've seen many an indie get burned because they didn't know this.

9. What were your greatest successes as a game developer?

I'd have to say seeing the first shareware registration of my first game, and getting my first commercial game development contract.

10. Can you support yourself (and your family) writing software as a game developer?

Not yet... but that's the goal.

11. Do you work full time as an independent software developer?

No, by day I'm a lead software engineer for a large e-commerce company. I would love to go full time, but at this point doing so would take away a lot of the creative freedom, which is why I want to go full-time in the first place. I'd be spending my time scrounging for contracts and developing anything that had money attached to it... and when you're in that "survival" mode, the job loses a lot of its appeal.

12. Which legal form of company do you have?

Sole prop, baby!

13. What is your average yearly income?

My yearly income is comparable to that of other senior software engineers. I make very little money (under $7000) from games each year.

14. What are some of the obstacles that you encounter as an independent game developer?

Finding time is hard... also, it's very expensive. Being an independent game developer means you can't expense the books, compilers, art tools, and other stuff that you need. And, it's very hard to keep in touch with the indie community... though gamedev.net is definately solving that one .

Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios
www.spin-studios.com





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