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Zerotek

Rushing The Path to Become a Game Developer

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Hey, I was wondering if anybody could tell me how feasible they think this is. We're 5 people, who are taking serious steps to form a game company. All our youth, we've been making little games, little game companies and such. We're about to graduate from a 2 year programmer/analyst course, well, three of us are, the other two are from a multimedia course. Our education is generalist, it covers the basics of pretty much everything in our field. We've all agreed on focusing on one element of game development, so that we'll form a team. Anything that lacks, we'll contract to other people, like music. Making the company is very possible, the government seems to be willing to give us enough money to do it, and we have plenty of free ressources available to help us start a company. Costs will even be kept down by using almost entirely open-source tools. The problem is, we have little knowledge of game development. We're aware of all the wonderful ressources out there (if you have any handy, it'd still be nice to know them though), and we're ready to learn. Big Question: Do you think it is possible for a group of people to master enough of game development in two or three intense months of studying, to make a commercial grade game? We're all fast learners, we got used to learning nearly entire courses right before the exams, due to our abuse of Counter-Strike during class. But is pulling such a stunt too difficult, in your opinion? [edited by - Zerotek on January 17, 2003 11:52:20 PM] [edited by - Zerotek on January 17, 2003 12:17:01 AM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
3 months????

Geeze, well my uncle has been doing C for 7 years, and even he doesnt know it all, and hes the lead programmer for a company! ( dont know what its called). However if your REALLY into it, and u have previous experience in game makeing, u might be able to.

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quote:
Original post by Zerotek
Big Question: Do you think it is possible for a group of people to master enough of game development in two or three intense months of studying, to make a commercial grade game?



No. Definitely not. Sorry to break it to you but there is no easy way, if you've never written any code before, programming (in any language) alone takes at least 18 months to become decent at. This is unless you want to make klik & play games or do something in Flash.

[edited by - sark on January 18, 2003 4:19:57 AM]

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No no no, you've got this the wrong way, we've mostly been coding since 9th grade in various languages, it's game development that we have little experience with else then small unfinished project, we're trained programmer/analysts who study a lot on their spare time, we know C, C++ with MFC, Visual Basic, UML and various methodologies, ASP, PHP, Java, Linux/Unix, SQL & PL/SQL, etc. and the others are fluent in lots of multimedia applications like Photoshop, 3D Studio Max, Sound Forge, etc.
I've started working C# because I'm employed as a part-time junior programmer at a small company, and I fix computers, set up networks and designed a web site for another small local company.
And I'm 19...

Programming languages are no problem, you pick up a book, you learn it. As long as you grasp the programming concepts and logic. What I'm talking about is do you think it's possible for us to master game development concepts?

I apologize if I'm not getting my thoughts across clearly, I'm French, I might get the grammar and syntax right, but sometimes I have trouble conveying my ideas clearly, so please bear with me.

[edited by - Zerotek on January 18, 2003 3:06:23 PM]

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While you may have the technical skills required, you don''t have any industry experience, any contacts. Breaking in would be like trying to live in a city where you don''t understand the native language.

I''d recommend going and working at game companies - not necessarily all together at the same company - for a few years. Get to know people; see how things work from the inside. Learn what sort of problems arise; how to solve them; when things get busiest, and so on. You also get things like names of people at publishing houses - which is vitally important. You also get some money in, as starting a business requires capital.

Of course, stay in close contact with your other potential team members. Compare notes (while adhereing to NDA, of course), and meet up to develop small games together - but I seriously wouldn''t recommend going commercial yet. At a time when more and more dev houses keep closing down, it''s not a good idea to be a totally fresh startup.

You''d probably pick up people along the way; 5 people might be enough for a relatively small game, but most games these days are made with a staff of 20-30 (at least). If people find out you''re leaving to do it yourself, they may well want to join you.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.

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Still no. With a programming background like that, I''m sure you could produce some kind of simple game after three months of fulltime work. A commercial game is a whole other story.

Look around you. Virtually all the "commercial grade games" you see were made over a period of a few dozen to a few hundred man-years by teams of experienced professionals working with budgets in the millions of dollars, backed (more or less) by big publishers. Read a few of the postmortems on Gamasutra to get some idea how it works, and check out some of those "game industry" articles that are flying round.

That said, I''m sure there''s potential for indy games/shareware, that kind of thing. That could definetely be worth looking into.

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Thank you, that''s what I wanted to hear.

"Breaking in would be like trying to live in a city where you don''t understand the native language."

Actually, I''m going to try to do that in my life time, eventually in my life I''ll be going to Tokyo. But I''m learning some basic Japanese too, but I think the best way to learn something is to jump in. A friend of mine is South American, he came to Canada through some exchange program, didn''t speak a word in English. Now he speaks it well.

That''s what I''m trying to do with game development.

As for the money thing, we''re currently looking into the various programs available to milk money from the government, this part of Canada I''m in is kind of desperate, and they''re pumping a lot of money into economic development, and cost of living is really low. We can take a share of that. We''ll be using free tools like Crystal Space for the engine, Linux, KDevelop, Audacity, Blender, The Gimp, Kdenlive or Kino, etc...

For me to get game industry experience, I need to move to either the United States, or another Canadian province. That''s not so bad, but it''s as drastic as starting my own company.

But I appreciate your replies, and will pass the message on to the rest of my team.

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Hi,

Being an indsutry professional, I though maybe I should give some advice here.

The term "commercial game" can mean many things. It can mean everything the large titles (so-called AAA titles) with huge budgets and made by 20-30 people to small niche products sold on-line. Both are commercial.

Whether Zeroteks company can come true depends on your ambition here. If you intend to start out making AAA-titles then you can forget all about it. That requires talent, a lot of experience, and a lot of money. And publishers these days will not even to consider funding you unless you have released other games first (preferably on the PlayStation 2). So forget that.

However, if you choose to focus on small title first - for instance a eduatainment title that focuses on Canadian stuff then your chances are better since it is more focuses. The number of unit you will sell will be less but you will also have used less money to make it. Also, making stuff based on local culture or for education also makes it easier to get government funding for starters since it seems "more serious" or "more cultural".

I know some people that started like you and made it. Look at this:
http://www.cotwarlords.com/main.html
as an example of what can be done. It is niche but interesting enough for some people to want to play it.

I hope this helps.


Jacob Marner, M.Sc.
Console Programmer, Deadline Games

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Zerotek,

Is there a particular reason why you say three months? If you have some physical time limit to produce a commercial grade game in that time then you may not manage it. However, if you just said three months because that is the time scale that you''d *like* to do it in, then I''d say go for it anyway.

I see so many people come on these forums asking for similar advice ''can I do abc game in xyz time'' and many of the replies are ''No, you cant''. The problem is that I bet many of those people are put of entirely by the negative replies and don''t even try.

My advice is, just go for it! If you complete your game within three months then more power to you. If you don''t then hopefully you''ll have learnt something and can keep working at it or choose to scrap the game and try another one etc.

Caroline M.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Successful people often have an irrational concept of what is possible and people telling them otherwise only strengthens their conviction.

If somebody is put off "starting a company" by reading a few message board threads then would you expect them to be able to run that company, given they avoided the message board?

There is so much more than "making a game" to running a company. I would say, like others have on this thread, that you can forget about making EB-sellable games. Do your best to make shareware quality games, look at MonkeyStone for inspiration (Romero''s outfit).

Selling your game will be difficult, very difficult. Getting it in the public eye is something you will like have to pawn off to people who know that side of things (like Dexterity Software).

I can think of one example of a group of friends starting a successful gamedev house: Surreal Software, makers of Drakan and one of the LoTR games. They started in university but bear in mind they studied the type of technology they''d be using to make Drakan while at university for a long time.

And please believe me when I say, moving state to get development experience is far far less drastic than trying to start a company

Use those 3 months to make a simple, addictive, shareware game. Find somebody to sell it for you, and who knows? You might well make enough to fund yourself for another 6 months to make a better game. And just keep going...

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It''s definetly plausible but don''t jump in at the deep end!

Making the next Quake 7 would be near impossible even for many established developers so start on something small!

Make one of those puzzle game packs, make a mission pack, write some amazing demos, there is a whole lot of things you could do which will advance you on your way.

Oh and in terms of marketting there is no such thing as bad publicity! So you want to pimp the hell out of your work to get attention.

My two cents

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Thank you very much for your advice.

I actually meant 3 months training, and we were thinking 2 years development.

What we''ll most likely do is begin with a small shareware puzzle game, it''s a popular game that I used to play on paper (not telling you what it is though ), but there doesn''t seem to be any electronic equivalent of it, and it''ll most probably have a lobby service, so it''ll even train the network aspect of making games (and give you a reason to pay 5-10$ to download a small game ) and will be cross-platform, due to the Crystal Space engine and such...

We were thinking of making a AAA title, but we''ll hold on that dream for the future, when we''re better experienced, better funded and we''re all certain we''re ready for it.

Thank you.

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Is the money you can get a grant or a loan? If it is a grant that you don''t have to pay back, I say go for it. At the very least it will be a learning experience.

If you do not have to pay it back, work like you do. This will give you a goal to work towards.

If you do do it, here are a couple of tips:


  • Pick a leader. Just some one to run meetings etc.. But it is also important for there to be someone to make a decision when there is some uncertainty.
  • Make a stick to a schedule. There is a always a little give an take on a schedule, but if people don''t have a schedule, there is nothing to work towards, which can cause laziness.
  • Meet at least once a week. It is very important to track your progess. If you don''t things can go into the dumper very quickly.


Good luck.



First make it work,
then make it fast.

--Brian Kernighan

"I’m happy to share what I can, because I’m in it for the love of programming. The Ferraris are just gravy, honest!" --John Carmack: Forward to Graphics Programming Black Book

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quote:
Original post by Zerotek
New-Brunswick, where the government funds a game design course, but there's no game companies. O.o

No visible ones anyway.


Cool, another programmer from NB. Where abouts are you from Zero? ((The NB, Government funds a game design course???))

Either way best of luck to you. Bottom line is simply, shoot for the game *you* want to make.
I'm fairly new to programming myself, however I refuse to believe that a small game company or single person for that matter cannot make a top quality game (I didn't set myself upon learning programming to make Tetris clones my whole life ).
If you have the time and the determination, any thing is possible. It does take years to make a high end game, and many many more if you are doing it alone or in a small group, but it is definitely not impossible.

Best of luck to you.



[edited by - Oryon on January 20, 2003 2:02:01 PM]

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We haven''t checked what''s available to us yet, CaptainJester.
I agree with what you say, things need to be ordered (well, not TOO ordered, but generally ordered), and there needs to be a deadline, for something to at least work for! We can pass them by a few days, but we should try to use the deadlines as, well, guidelines. O.o Also to track our progress, see if something is wrong somewhere...

Oryon: From the Bathurst region. Hehe, I keep bumping into people from NB on the internet in funky places... NB is such a small province, but we''ve got nothing to do, so I guess we all hang out online?
If we''d be getting an office, we''ll either make it in Bathurst, or if we can find a cheap place and some cash, we''ll do it in Moncton.
Oh, and the government funds a game design course, yeah, at NBCC/CCNB Miramichi, there''s a game design course. And NBCC/CCNB is part of the government.
I''m studying at CCNB Bathurst, obviously...
Thanks. We''ll start small, and cautiously move towards a bigger goal, personally, I don''t think we''re enough, right now, to make the game we''re dreaming of, so we''ll see what can be done now.

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Hi i am on Zeroteks programming team. Just wanted to say that you guys prety much comfirmed all we tought and that were now more determined then ever. I think we can learn the game aspect of C++ in 3 months considering we will know all there is to know in C++ after our course is complete(well all...). And if i can learn a full semester of COBOL in one night i think in 3 months we can learn to use an engine to make something prety decent with it. I appreciate the help and were gona let you all know when are game comes. Not too sure yet what were gona do first but in 2 to 3 yrs you can expect something very addictive and fun to play. So cya all in that time got an exam tomorrow beter go start powerlearning

Make a man a fire he will be warm for a day, Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life

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