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Tiki Lounge what?

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Mike Bossy

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So it's time to answer questions about the status of my old project Tiki Lounge Blackjack. Last time I wrote about it the game was done and I was starting to feel around for publisher leads. This task also had a hand in bringing about my hiatus from GDNet.

To make a long story short trying to find a publisher was a disaster. I have nothing but the highest respect for anyone who can successfully navigate the business side of game publishing. I was totally unable to do it.

To list some of the problems I ran into:

1. As an independant developer you get no respect. Even with a completed game in hand and looking for no advance I was unable to get people to take me seriously. Which brings us to a typical chicken/egg problem of how can you prove you can deliver published quality games if no publisher will give you the time of day?

2. Non-technical business people. My favorite conversation went like this:

Me: "The game is a standalone Windows App using DirectX and native C++ code."
Them: "That's great. Just send us a Java version and we'll check it out."
Me: "I've only got the native version. That's what you guys sell as your premium downloads. Can you check that out? It would take some time to port to Java."
Them: "That's great. Just send us a Java version and we'll check it out."

3. Eastern Europe. I realize that pointing out a bunch of countries as a reason I can't find a publisher is a little obtuse but it's true. It seems that the majority of casual game publishers work almost exclusively with developers in eastern Europe due to cost reasons. There is simply no way living in Seattle that I could afford to live on the amount these shops get to create games.

4. IP Rights. This didn't affect me with Tiki Lounge Blackjack but I'm sure it would affect other independant developers. Most publishers I ran into prefered to do a complete buyout of the game and IP related to the game. That way they could do whatever they wanted to with it and also reap the fully benefits if it was a success. This would be fine if they were willing to pay anything half decent for the IP.

So the gist of it is that I got very discouraged and depressed with the prospects of making any reasonable money from Tiki Lounge Blackjack or any other casual game I make following the same development process that I've been using. This put me over the edge into taking a break for a while. During that time off I did thinking about what new approaches I wanted to take in game development. I'll start talking about what I'm doing there in my next post.
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I'm curious, did you talk to MS Casual Games at all? Or would they have stolen up the rights to the game because you were a MS employee at the time?

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