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kindfluffysteve

sharing some negativity - getting funding

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what do you think of this guys? What seemed to happen was this. some potential publishers must have seen our site, read about us or something and thought that we were so brilliant that they would like to sign us up. we have never approached anybody so far. Our perception is though, they become dispondent and break of contact when they realise that there is basically only 2-3 people working on the project 'fulltime' Me, the programmer and an art guy and possibly somebody else doing a new landscape engine. its a flight sim, and such projects are thought to require a lot of people over a lot of time and so the project represents an impossible feat for our team. It is a pity, I had begun to daydream about quiting walmart and accelerating the project harder whilst being payed to do so - it looks more likely however, that the project may take some time with this juggling of time. maybe we should pretend we're a bigger team? make up some fake names or something :) we always envisaged expanding the team at certain points. well this is our site. http://www.thunder-works.com basically, do you believe it is probably that publisher types are disturbed by us being such a small team?

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There is something called Due Diligence. This is the step where the publisher requires you to provide legal proof that you have the employees that you say you do before the contract with you. If you falsify this you can be in legal trouble besides being blacklisted.

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yes. okay i was just joking there.

it is a bit frustrating though - 'our team is too small so we'll obviously fail' I dont agree - we'll finish with or without help that is a certainty - unless I get run over by a bus or something.

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Quote:
Original post by kindfluffysteve
it is a bit frustrating though - 'our team is too small so we'll obviously fail' I dont agree - we'll finish with or without help that is a certainty ...
Except that it isn't a certainty. Statistically more new teams fail than succeed, especially when they are understaffed. The publishers know this from bitter experience and so they wont fund projects unless they have a full team of experienced dev staff.

[Edited by - Obscure on August 17, 2004 6:01:33 AM]

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When contacting people, make sure you seem like a sensible organisation not 2 guys in a bedroom. Get some headed paper or a nice logo to print on your letters. Maybe consider registering a real company (pretty cheap) and then you can sign your letters as the MD or whatever. Don't say 'I am doing...' because the marketing guy for a 'real' project won't be a programmer. Basically try and sound like someone in marketing/management when you contact/talk to people.

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Quote:
Original post by kindfluffysteve
basically, do you believe it is probably that publisher types are disturbed by us being such a small team?


Just like other employers are generally only interested with people who already have job experience, publishers are generally only interested in established companies which already have produced commercial-grade games - that's the traditional job market catch-22. Publishers aren't interested in new and original games. They are interested in making money and thus want a guaranteed return. Which is why you see so many franchise games and so many sequels. When they find a successful recipe, they milk it for all it's worth, and then more.

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Unfortunately acting professional will not get you all the way either, because one of the first things most publishers will do when they show interest, is visit your company. Unless you have a fully equipped game studio you run into trouble again.

The main problem you have with a small team is that unless your game is near complete, publishers will need to believe that your team can complete the future milestones. With 3 people (in fact nowadays any team less than 15-50) they will not trust you to be able to do that. With a typical title now costing 2.5 - 10 million you need to be able to reassure them. Taking them to your mom's house isn't going to get you a contract.

Again the only option you have is to complete most of the game before approaching a publisher, including all the gameplay, intro movies, music, etc. You have to realize this is way harder than creating a playable tech. demo, though.
Then an even harder part is that most publishers will want a console version as well (either Xbox or PS2 or both), which you cannot show unless you are an approved developer, which usually requires you getting a publisher contract first (I can see you're getting happier).

Then if they show interest your position is much stronger because you won't need to go through 12+ more months of development, and you may even be able to shop your title around if it's good enough.

The problem is of course getting to that point where the game is near complete ;)

And of course, yes, you need to create a title that publishers want. Which mostly means no originals, but copies of current games, but with a nice twist and of course cooler graphics.

EDIT: Just checked out your site, and while it's very cool what you're doing, I am not sure it would cause multiple publishers (as you say) to offer to sign you up. They normally wouldn't offer to sign up unless they've checked you out a lot more and you have a lot more to show. Are you not exaggerating a little here? ;)


Mark

[Edited by - Mark Tanner on August 17, 2004 2:17:54 PM]

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we do try to be profession but it is true that we're not.

I do my bit by basically leaving all posting on forums to the other guy who knows how to not say inappropriate things.

statistically it is true that we're most likely to fail.

we look at other similar projects in our genre - flightsims- and they've all died or become suspended.

the fact is though, we have made no pitches - they have come to us - which is a good thing right? I imagine it is normally the otherway round? its just that they come to us, and realise we're just two guys and run off again :)

so at least they must like something they see and hear about us - so we must be doing somethign right i suppose. We have received freebies -which is nice - trackir sets from natural point. I felt so chuffed with that. and somebody else offered free PC's - but not sure about that.

EDIT: mark,

some company contacted the guy in our group - not me- who is better at this sort of thing.. they thought we had finished the game and wanted to snap it up.. then they expressed interest in milestone approach - then they went silent.

I was supprised they contacted us - but it makes sense.

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Quote:
Original post by kindfluffysteve
some company contacted the guy in our group - not me- who is better at this sort of thing.. they thought we had finished the game and wanted to snap it up.. then they expressed interest in milestone approach - then they went silent.
It may have been that they didn't get the answer they wanted to hear when discussing milestones so they went away.

If you can get it finsihed then a publisher will be more interested, provided that you can do so before the graphics become out of date.

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yes, that is a worry - currently we are very good for year 2001 flightsim.

but with all this pixel shader fun - something that I'm going to have to learn quickly - we may potentially struggle.

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We were contacted 6 times by varius companies, inside and outside of USA, regarding licensing our game to them. Turns out that they didn't even PLAY the god damn game (Eternal Lands), so they didn't know if our engine supports/can support all the features they want. We asked only 10K USD for a license (client/server only, no art/maps/quests), but I guess it was too much for them.
Anyway, the only license we gave was to the first company that contacted us last year, when the game was not even playable. They offered us a professional server, plus all the bandiwdth we needed, plus tech support, in exchange for a French license of our game, when it's completed (or when it is playable).
So, the bottom line is, don't get discouraged, keep working, and try to sell it for yourself, online.

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:-) ahh I was discouraged.

because I am an optimist and always start to daydream - oh soon, I'll be able to move out of parents house - I'll be able to buy a new PC, etc, etc.

and then back down to earth. well it was fun whilst it lasted.

The positiveness around this tended to make me program harder - hope is a good thing and it can be as good as payment nearly :-)

because I'm basically the only programmer and the art people are way ahead - its all down to me - which is how I like it. The problem with a lot of projects such as ours is that the people spread the work out, then get lost when somebody quits.

I've been considered mad by the non programmers in my lack of enthusiasm for recruiting other coders. I think though in comparison to other projects that have already died during out time of working on jet thunder, I have been proven correct.

assuming that we are succesful my advice to others like us would be - to do everything yourself and resist making the team large:
the fewer the better.

then theres non of this: oh i cant do that, because im waiting for ciril to finish that sections. because without any money I dont think you can really order people to finish something to a deadline.

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Open source your code, under a license that allows you to use any contributions under whatever license you want, as long as the original license remains available.
That's what I did, and got two other programmers that did a LOT of stuff, and I would have been months behind without them.
Anyway, don't get discouraged, it's not like the distributors want to help you. All they want is for them to make money, and they try to rape you as much as they can. I wouldn't accept a distributor no matter what they'd offer us.

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If you wont expand your team and don't have the money to pay for professionals then you need to reduce the scope of the project (I say that without actually knowing the scale of project you are attempting).

Development is a resource/feature/time triangle. If you don't have the resources (big team/funding) then you need a long development cycle or a reduced feature set. Unfortunately code and graphics don't age well. Even well staffed and funded games that aim too high (Galleon, Heart of Darkness) suffered because their lengthy development cycle rendered the technology out of date. So the time element is actually limited (if you want to be competative when the title comes out) meaning you have to limit scale or apply large resources. Your project does not have large resources so reducing the feature set/scale of the title will let you get a first version finished sooner - you can always go on to do V2,3,4 etc after that.

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How about the idea that if a publisher does sign you, you take on more staff? In real game dev studios they'll typically make a prototype to show publishers with maybe 5 people (including artists) then once they're getting paid bulk up to 20-50. Would anyone care to advise on this as a pitch to publishers?

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Quote:
Original post by d000hg
How about the idea that if a publisher does sign you, you take on more staff?
Wont work because a publisher wont sign them UNLESS they already have the staff and also because they don't have a proven track record finishing a game.

Quote:
In real game dev studios they'll typically make a prototype to show publishers with maybe 5 people (including artists) then once they're getting paid bulk up to 20-50. Would anyone care to advise on this as a pitch to publishers?
In a real dev studio they already have the full team busy finishing their previous game.

Even if you have industry experience it can take over a year to get a publisher even close to signing you.

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If your team is small, then your burn rate is low, in which case you should be able to finish most of your game using your own financing. This is really the only way to land a publishing deal. Of course taking two years to do this means your graphics may look old and you stand no chance of landing a deal.

If you only have a prototype, chances you get funded are near zero. Like Obscure mentions no publisher wants to pay you to start putting together a team. The most that will happen is they allow you to expand an already existing team (say from 15 people to 18 or 20, etc.), but even then they'll go through due diligence first (meaning you need to convince them you can do the milestones and on schedule, visit your development studio, etc.).

Also, the only way to avoid lengthy sign-up delays is to finish your game as much as possible before going to a publisher. A near finished game can be signed within months, whereas if there are milestones, it can take 6 months to a year, or longer.
You need to factor this into your survival budget.

Last thing, 'publishers' is very generic. EA is a publisher and so is an on-line puzzle publisher. 10K as mentioned above is peanuts for any publisher, in fact any deal under 1 million is a bargain base deal for mainstream publishers. I'm mentioning this since I don't know why a publisher would think 10K is too much (it's only two months of pay for one game artist).

Mark

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one of my drives is the notion, it cant be done.

that you do need a huge team to do a good game otherwise its hopeless.

truelly the feature list is large and tricky to do all. the most ambitious thing that I long to do - the genetically programmed neural net combat routines - well I've been quite silent about this for some months, i must admit.

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Could you get some interns on staff? Then if the deal works out, hire them? Or get some temporary staff? Also, could you meet somewhere else? Small teams might be better off using a pre-made engine then try and make one themselves.

A publisher is looking for reasons not too give you guys money. Now even if you get the contract they could dump you if your not showing enough progress. They might not care if you have tons of artwork.

Believe me I share your pain.

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