I had an extremely frustrating conversation with a developer over the past few days about his game. He wanted me to come on board as an artist and trust that his game was going to you know "be a success!". Over 13 years of experience in the virtual world and indie game industry has given me a critical eye for problems that can and likely will sink a game.
1. Early Access as an Excuse for Major Problems:
The first glaring problem I see when pointing out flaws to a developer is broken things in their game, and their reply is... "Well, it's Early Access!" If you haven't caught on to the damage early access has done to the industry for indies then I don't know how to help you. Early Access was originally intended to give developers a chance to get feedback on issues they couldn't/didn't find in testing. Instead, it was abused many times as a way for lazy developers to cash grab from customers then stop working on their title.
This should not be your excuse for trying to sell your game with a terrible UI, Unity Store Assets, and dismal FPS.
2. Thinking You Only Compete With Other Games of Your Type:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most games fail cause they believe they only have to make a better "World of Warcraft", "Minecraft", "Call of Duty"... whatever. First of all these ideologies should be a big red flag for the failed appreciation of the work that goes into these titles. Even if your sights are realistic, however, and you are competing against other solo dev'ed indies, then the heartbreak is still around the corner if you think they are your only competition. Yes, a niche can give you a competitive advantage in the market if you strongly brand, but it DOES NOT exclude you from competing for money against the release cycles of AAA developers, or new titles released by other developers in different genres at the same time. I was told recently that people that buy AAA games don't even buy indies... I hope you can see the flaw here. I myself buy both, but I don't buy indies or AAA titles if they crap titles, I buy games which I feel are polished, mechanics are solid, and most of all gameplay is fun, the developer size or name doesn't matter to me. ( Just look at Bethesda, EA, etc. these days. I would trust a solo dev before a title from these companies at the moment. )
You are competing for customer attention & money, against everyone and everything else!
3. You Came To Make Mad Money:
This deserves a hard facepalm if you are looking at the statistics in the industry at the moment where it is winner takes all, and you think your first title is likely to pay the bills even after putting in a couple of years of hard work, you fail to understand just how much of a bloodbath the game industry is for making money. The prospects of making money are extremely grim! It has been stated over and over again that most developers often lose money rather than make money.
You need a purpose/reason/goal/reward other than money if you want to endure and keep making games after your first title, and probably to even finish the one you are working on.
Which brings me to my next point, know exactly why you want to make games, and why someone should care! Take that passion and craft it into a unique story that is compelling. No, this doesn't mean it is time to make endless text-heavy quests. This means help me the audience understand how your game adds value, and why I should choose to spend my time and money playing your game vs. surfing on facebook or Instagram all day for free.
Your game will not appeal to everyone, and that is okay, but you need to know who the audience is that you are making the game for and what they want.
4. I Can't Work Part-Time and Make My Game:
Really? So you are telling me you need to start making money in 10 days or else it's over? ( Then you are screwed ). I recently suggested to a developer they take on a part-time job so they could give the game more of the time it needs to be ready for launch. They told me that they had to start making 30k a year starting next month, and they couldn't work a job and dev their game. If you can't take on at least a part-time job while developing your game then you won't be able to handle when the real work begins post-launch. Yes developing a game is gruesomely difficult, but the post-launch is either a flop and no one cares, or what is worse your game is selling faster than crack laced ice cream on a hot summer day, and you aren't prepared for your new addicted customers.
The things we love we find ways to make work, even if that means a part-time job, long late-night hours, or whatever other sacrifices.
I hope this blog helps someone in the future, cause I don't have the energy to argue it out with someone in discord again, lol.
Initially, it wasn't pretty, and I have been told about 300 times to go watch tutorials when asking for help in discord... while trying to do something I was following in a tutorial.
Trying to program starting out is like trying to walk down a hallway where you can't see the doors or windows on either side of you. Everyone else around you is screaming dude just turn the knob, you sit all puzzled, "What knob?" All that aside I feel things are going much smoother now about three months into this. I still struggle from time to time with super simple stuff like GetComponent while on the other hand being able to write a functioning weather system based on coroutines (timers).
Actually being from an art background is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog. I don't feel like an artist going into programming is a story I hear as much as maybe a programmer spiffing up his art skill or just plain out hiring a starving desperate artist to do the work for him.
I wanted to share with you a few of my achievements in the past week.
Progress often feels like you are surrounded by obstacles eager to kill you while you struggle to get moving.
And just when you feel like you are finally moving you seem to hit a red light every 3 seconds.
At the end of the day though you know you have to just get back up tomorrow and keep on swimming.
Obviously, that is the only way you will ever open doors to opportunity!
I started back in 2005 on a platform known as a Second Life as a self-taught 3D artist.
This is some of my work: https://www.artstation.com/cody-rauh
After about 10 years I burned out on making other people's ideas a realization and ended my career as a 3D artist.
That said I never truly stopped enjoying 3D modeling or building new things, however, these days my preferred medium is voxel only as I never enjoyed the tedious uv-mapping or texturing process all that much. I feel the game art industry has only become more intense, demanding, and competitive between extremely skilled top tier artists producing amazing content at speed and sacrifice for me that is unsustainable. Which brings me to the next point, I no longer feel like a 3D artist or a professional in the industry.
I now work teaching self-defense to victims of violent crimes, sexual assault, and domestic abuse, as well as providing training to companies via workshops on helping people develop emotional intelligence and empathy for better interactions. Tapping into the experience from the days where I have worked corrections, security, government contracting and used to study various topics provided by the government. Yet I was never a high-speed door kicker, and after several years working various roles dealing with security, safety, and teaching public safety, I don't really fit into the defense industry either.
Right now I am privileged enough to own two very small business about the size of a quarter of any normal single small business but is just enough to pay bills each month and provide me lots of free time to go to school for Digital Marketing and study C# for Unity 3D. Which is my next point, I will never be a Digital Marketing professional, and I don't plan to ever be a full-time programmer for anyone either. Which brings me to the reason I do all things various things every day. I want to reach 30 million people by 2030 with skills for better interactions, aimed at social impact and culture shift.
I was nearly killed when I was 7 years old, held at knifepoint by a co-worker at a job once, sexually coerced in my early 20's, experienced abusive and toxic relationships, and all of this just tip of the iceberg. Those are my vulnerabilities a sorta broken and unremarkable individual professionally and when I started to realize that I am not the only person who has experienced any of these things is when I was able to start helping the most people. That being the biggest guy in the room on the playground isn't what keeps you safe, it is about a community of people where everyone plays well together makes everyone safe.
I wanted to start off on the right foot with this blog and that is by being vulnerable, I am not a professional or special important anything in any industry, however, I do believe the work I put in consistently every day means I could eventually work up to being able to produce games that can help teach people skills for better interactions. I am terrible at podcasts/youtube blogging, a crap programmer, not that great of an artist, and have a 50/50 shot at best in winning any physical confrontation anymore, yet the only way we get better at anything is to do it, over and over, and never ring the bell, never quit.
That is what this blog is about learning how to build games that help people without being the best at anything. I hope you will continue reading my future posts.