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Aman

Can you help? (A call to INDIE devlopers)

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<----Quick bio, 30, Schooling in Programming, Arts, Music, & Physics, Hobby Programing since 86, Now Learning VC++6, Already Has a Good Career, Does NOT want to break into the Industry, Does WANT to turn hobby into Buisness, knows whats involved with FINISHING a product. Looking to develop Budget/Shovel Ware... Meaning... games within the scope of a one/two person team. Looking for HELP/INFO on becoming an INDIE. 1) Where to find info. (truths not speculations) 2) Your experinces on this side of the fence. (INDIE) 3) Going way of Shareware/Self Publish/Xtreme Partnership? 4) Good Games vs DEAD END genres. (whats selling - whats not) 5) Realistic time-cost vs. return? 6) Have YOU published games? type/how pub/returns ? 7) Trademarks & seting up legit buisness model? (how to) I am serious about this. I''m to old for pipe dreams and have to many responsablities to WASTE time. (I''m sorry if I come off rude its just I cant find help. I''m always getting. "Well your not gonna make money making games." "Its to hard to break into this buisness." "You can always put your game in a portfolio to show to future employer." "You dont know how hard it is to program." etc. etc. etc.) I have MANY years programing as a hobby. I HAVE finished projects, FINISHED, COMPLETED, I KNOW WHATS INVOLVED WITH COMPLETING A PROJECT. (I was offered a postion as systems analysis for Cornell University''s computer department. Passed up offer.) I Dont know ANYTHING about the publishing side or what are REALISTIC expectations. Or self startup. This is why Im asking for help. Please, if your an INDIE, please help. You can even E-mail me if you do not want to respond in here. Thank you for your time and any help that you can offer. Thank you, A. Randt aka .Aman. aman@twcny.rr.com PS. Im not looking to join a team working on a project. Im looking to start my own Indie house. Thanks.

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Well I''m not a "real" indie developer, so I won''t offer my opinions on this stuff. I can reiterate what I''ve heard from people in the industry, though:

- You can make a living coding budget games and publishing them via Xtreme/Crystal Interactive/etc. This is assuming you can put out at least 3 or 4 games/year.

- What I heard from a guy at EA: the game industry is becoming like the movie industry, in that indie developers will soon be equivalent to independent film-makers. Indie games simply won''t be able to compete with million-dollar-budget games from major studios.

Also, when I was looking to set up the "business" side of my game project, I searched on the web. I found that most states have pages that describe the different business models and how to set each one up. A trademark protects a name, like your company name or your game''s name, and you pay a lawyer $500-$1000 to get one.

There are a handful of people active in these forums who have published budget games. If you look thru the old posts in this forum, you might be able to find some sales/revenue figures.


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Game Programming? Don''t do it. Get laid instead.
That''s a very good suggestion if you don''t want it to turn into a pipe-dream, because there is a good chance that it will. Risk is high.
You better know a lot about 3D Modelers, Sound Engineering, etc. too. Geeez! You say I am going yadda yadda here? Ok, there you have your information regarding your questions:

1. Books. Search for Game Programming, Game Design, etc. in Amazon.
2. My experience is that I don''t want to stay here. It''s not that I haven''t published my games, it''s that (look above) I just wanna get laid instead.
3. I''ve heard that Xtreme Partnership sucks big time. Only because the guy can write some books doesn''t mean he is your buddy or a good publisher. I haven''t said this for sure.
4. No idea sorry. I asked the same question some weeks ago, but didn''t got much response.
5. Depends on YOU! There are people who work two years on one game. Other finish it in 1-2 months.
6. Yeah, but if I tell you I need to shoot you, sorry. http://www.nbsd.de <---- (hint, hint, blatant plug)
7. Concerning Trademarks: Forget it. It doesn''t pay to throw let''s say 5000$-10.000$ out of the window to get a trademark.
Concerning legit business: Depends on where you live, sorry.

"Como say thee say bullshit?"
There''s much information in this post people, it''s only a big funny packaged.
But whattya expect? I am a Jester.

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Most indie developers shy away from posting here now i think. There are too many flame wars going on here about publishers.
If you really want to meet the indies, one of the best places is in the #gamedev irc channel.
You sound quite similar to me, you need to reinforce that attitude of finishing projects that you have. I have it too, and it helps us a lot in talking to press/publishers when they can check out our website and download some of our older (completed) games.
One bit of advice i will give is to make sure you know what a publisher wants, BEFORE you start the game. This avoids having a dead whale of a game on your hands that nobody wants. The problem is, most publishers won't talk to you about it unless they can already see finished previous product, so you might want to treat your first game as a bit of a showpiece to that end.
And BTW, I am 30 too! we are both older than the collective age of most people on these boards though methinks.

http://www.positech.co.uk

Edited by - cliffski on October 3, 2000 6:28:54 AM

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I dont trust Crystal Interactive, their CEO Emailed me about my Magefire 3D game wanting to publish it, but never replied to my emails asking about what percent I would actually get if I signed the developer agreement....

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What I''m shooting for is to become like the Indies below,

Spider Software - www.spidweb.com - Avernum (top down rpg)
"You wont get rich...But you can make a very, very good living."
"(my games) Look crude..No internet play..rough sounds" are making 6 figures a year!

Robinson Software - www.rsoft.com - Dink Smallwood
"The best part is the cost! The only investment is time!"

Silver Creek Entertainment - www.silvercrk.com - Hardwood Solitaire II
"Pull up a seat to the web my friend...Shareware is a terrific way to make a living in the computer Industry"

Freeverse Software - www.freeverse.com - Monkey Solitaire

Longbow Digital Arts - www.longbowdigitalarts.com - Tread Marks (2000)

CogniToy - www.cognitoy.com - Mind Rover

On and On I could go, but you get the Picture.
IT''S DO-ABLE!
I am looking for advice/help/info to get from "Here to There"

Thanks again for any help.

.Aman.


Eric-Thanks for info I appreciate the response. (sounds like in
your heart you''re an INDIE)

DA-I''ve read that artical..Its a good one.
Im looking more to a shareware/demo setup. I
just have been having people tell me about Xtreme
Games so was wonder what was up with them. (they
only have general info on ther site not specifics)

Jester101-- Ive been programing for years, I know the "Risk is high". I program for the pure joy of it. (sick I know) Its been
my hobbie for years (others paint, I program). I have nothing to
loose. Im doing it already anyways. I have a good job, Im NOT
looking to go work for ID, or to make the next Quake or to
have Seirra publish my games. I''ve turned down several offers
over the last year alone to work as a programmer. Im looking
to take what Im doing anyways and get some recognition and
maybee enough money to pay for my hobby. (4 Computers, Scanner,
Printer, Camera, Camcoder, Photoshop, TS4, VC6++, VB6++, 30+
books on programing, etc. etc. this sh*ts exspensive.)(bought
over many years) (some people fish/hunt I program). I know
Im rambling its just I cant get taken serious when I pose the
above questions. (its allways- you have no idea what your
getting into -response) Anyhow... to the rest of your post,
Thank you, I really mean it, thanks for taking the time to
offer some info and insite.


cliffski-I''ll check out #gamedev irc channel, thanks for the tip.
I think thats why I''m haven such a hard time finding straight answers. 80) (the age gap)

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Jester I just checked out your site. Nice work. I''m Impressed.
IMHO Ya need more screens to give an idea what there about.

Cliffski solid looking games you got there. VERY polished.
Again I''m Impressed.

This goes out to the BOTH of you.

Hows the shareware way going for you.
Are you just going by word of mouth, or are you pushing the products anywhere?
Now I know I''m probably not going to get an answer to this but
(you can e-mail it to me) Hows the volume. Are they moving?

You guys never should have answered me. 80)
Now I''m gonna bug the both of you for answers.
You have the experience in this.

I humbly ask for your help.
.Aman.
aman@twcny.rr.com

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Aman,

i''m 31, i started as a developer at several companies before i started making games.
it was a hobby at first which led to pro game developing and
ultimately to what i''m doing now.
to date, i have worked at a couple game developer shops before
starting my own company.

i was in the same boat as you.
i see that you are enthusiastic and are looking for some concrete
answers as to how you need to get from point A to point Z.

it''s been 2 years since i was in a pro game developer gig and i''m
constantly amazed at what i''ve accomplished since then.

if you''d like, you can email me and i can tell you how i started
everything. that way you can get some specific ideas on how
you can go about doing the same.

or if anyone else has specific questions also, please don''t hesitate to email. i''d be glad to share what little knowledge
and experience i have aquired.


ViktorBarron
ViktorBarron@glipsent.com


GLIPS Entertainment, Inc. http://www.glipsent.com/
GarageDeveloper International http://www.garagedeveloper.com

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Aman: Looking for HELP/INFO on becoming an INDIE.
1) Where to find info. (truths not speculations)

There really isn''t any consolidated "Indie Info Here" page or packet. However, one of the best single sources is the Association of Shareware Professionals: http://www.asp.org


2) Your experinces on this side of the fence. (INDIE)

I moved from programming hobby as a "money sink" to a "money source" over a period of several years, building up income "streams" with several products. I''ve been completely independent (self-employed) for over a year and a half now.

I sell conventional shareware (The Journal, http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/ ) that I develop and sell on my own, as well as co-develop Internet games as a partner in Samu Games ( http://www.samugames.com ).


3) Going way of Shareware/Self Publish/Xtreme Partnership?

My experience is primarily in the shareware/self-publishing arena, though with Samu Games I have worked on a contract with a publisher (Sierra; I can say the name of the publisher, but I can''t say what the project was...NDA). Also, Samu Games is currently pursuing a Real Publisher Deal for a totally new game. That''s going slow, but that''s expected.

From that experience, I can say that you get More Money Faster if a publisher is involved. Which is why some developers pursue publisher deals only, shovelware or otherwise. But if you really want to create Your Own Games, you''ll have to stick with the shareware path until you have enough track record to demonstrate that you can be trusted to create a viable concept and finish it.


4) Good Games vs DEAD END genres. (whats selling - whats not)

Like your own follow-up post points out...ANYTHING sells and NOTHING is really a dead end. If you devote enough time and energy to the product, you can sell it. Good gameplay *can* overcome second-rate technology. And as the product garners sales, you can re-invest the money back into the product and bring it up to a higher level of production.

If you were going to avoid something...I would avoid competing head-to-head with games that are currently selling mega-copies: FPS games, MMP RPG''s, RPG''s period, and so on. As a single developer, or at best a small team, you''re just not going to be able to afford the long time to market and the massive budget necessary to create one of those. But it''s up to you...do what makes you happy.


5) Realistic time-cost vs. return?

If you have a full-time job that''s paying your bills, you can afford longer development times. Once it becomes all you make, though, you have to either learn to live at a leaner level or turn out new products to sell (or improvements of existing products that increase sales) faster.


6) Have YOU published games? type/how pub/returns ?

I have self-published a shareware program, The Journal. It''s been selling consistently for over 4 years now, and I try to do about 2 significant updates per year on it. Plus, I''m working on the long-term "major new version" for release sometime...

With Samu Games, we''ve had 2 completed games: Paintball NET (which was taken offline after 4 and a half years) and Artifact, which is still online. Artifact has been released a year, and we''re working on a major update for it, due to be released in the next month or so.


7) Trademarks & seting up legit buisness model? (how to)

Someone else has already mentioned checking out your local state government pages for this kind of information, and that''s really the best bet unless you have a good friend who is a lawyer that specializes in these things.

I wouldn''t worry about trademarks just yet, but you should get your business setup as at least an LLC. That helps keep your taxes from getting *too* complicated while you build your company, and generally only costs a few hundred$ to take care of.

Good luck!


DavidRM
Samu Games

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