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blueshogun96

I want to start my own gamedev business

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Ok, now this isn't a thing I just came up with last night, but a long time ago. I want to begin a new third party video game dev company. Please don't assume that I'm trying to be the next Nolan Bushnell overnight just yet, but what I want to do is start off making some simple games like games you'd find on WildTangent such as BlackHawk Striker (a very fun game) for PC's and maybe Mac and Unix. I have some great game ideas and implementations and I'd like to take them to the next level. I was pondering a few questions like, what should I do to help prevent piracy? What are some precautions to take when starting a video game business? How much should I sell my games for? And this is my biggest question, the area that I reside in (middle eastern america, state of Indiana) is a VERY bad place for video game business, if my small business gets big, should I move where the business is thriving more, like the western states? Also, if you have any other comments, please post them. I really appreciate it. Thanks.

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Starting your own business is definitely a laudable goal. The primary thing to consider is not the details like "how much should i sell my games for". The primary thing to consider is financing. It costs LOTS of money to run a company, especially a game development company.

You'll need to pay the people that work for you
You'll need to buy hardware
You'll need to buy lots of software
You'll need to do this all up front before you've made a single dollar

In order to get financing (you're talking easily a few hundred thousand) you'll need venture funding or some rich family/friends. To get venture funding you'll need people with at least 3-5 years industry experience with a few published titles under their belts.

Now if you're just wanting to start a little hobby company that's a totally different ballgame.

Certainly your locality will hurt you. It's tough to get game industry people in the first place, it's harder to get them outside of major metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Montreal).

But basically your most challenging task will be getting people to work for you. Generally small game companies are started by groups of people who've spent 5-10 years working in the industry, are already friends, and already have a good network within the industry. Everyone and their brother has the next great game idea. What's going to get you people is a proven track record and/or really nice salaries in a place where they want to live.

[EDIT: the trick with venture funding is of course that you'll already need to have all the people together before they fund you. So you'll need upfront self-provided money to get those people in the first place. Funtimes with the chicken and egg. But that's why new game companies are typically groups of friends with experience.]

-me

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Hello Blu, you wrote:

>I want to begin a new third party video game dev company.
>I have some great game ideas and implementations and I'd like to take them to the next level.

Great. How much experience working in the game biz do you have? Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm. If you wanted to start a plumbing business, you'd need to have experience as a plumber first... am I right?

>Indiana) is a VERY bad place for video game business, if my small business gets big, should I move where the business is thriving more, like the western states?

Why, what's the matter with doing business in Indiana?

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>> Ok, now this isn't a thing I just came up with last night, but a long time ago. I want to begin a new third party video game dev company.

I hope you've done your homework. A software business is not just the people who write the code. I assume you know that already.

I've been at a startup business, and it is not easy. It was much easier to be a wage slave for a bigger business with a regular paycheck, insurance, and other benefits.

>> but what I want to do is start off making some simple games like games you'd find on WildTangent such as BlackHawk Striker (a very fun game) for PC's and maybe Mac and Unix.

Do you have the resources to do it?

You need either your own ability to do it, or the ability to bring people together to do it. If you aren't a programmer, you will need money.


>> I was pondering a few questions like, what should I do to help prevent piracy?

Don't worry about that until after you have made a few thousands in revenue. Before then, every pirated copy is word-of-mouth viral advertising.

>> How much should I sell my games for?

Ask an MBA. It is a difficult question that varies individually.

>> (middle eastern america, state of Indiana) is a VERY bad place for video game business

Really? Why?

>> if my small business gets big, should I move where the business is thriving more, like the western states?

If your business is able to grow, let it grow at a rate that you control. If the natural and controlled growth says to move into game development hubs, then move. If you are able to support yourself where you are and you are comfortable there, then stay.


Quote:
Original post by tsloper
If you wanted to start a plumbing business, you'd need to have experience as a plumber first... am I right?

Not quite right, but almost. In order to thrive, you need to have all the parts of the business in place.

Even if the plumbing business owner knows nothing about pipes or what flows through them, he can hire somebody who does.



It sounds like you already have a dreamer with creative goals.

You need to have one or more people who can program the games. If that means you are the person, then you better have the skill sets you mentioned, including Windows, MacOS, and Unix game programming. If the business doesn't have those skills then the business you described will obviously fail.

You need to have one or more people who can manage people. That is the taskmaster person. Without them, there is no responsibility or accountability, and the project goes nowhere. I've seen several lone wolf developers fail because they can't drive themselves to finish.

You need to have one or more people with advertising ability. You can have the best game in the universe but no customers because nobody know about it.

You need to have somebdoy who understands money, at least enough relative to the amount of money going through the business. When you start you'll need to keep books, then hire bookkeeper. At least, that's where we are right now. (We are looking for an accountant right now to work with our existing bookkeeper...)

You'll need more as the business grows, but the founders need to do a lot of everything. It is a lot of work.

I've heard it said that the hardest part of running a business is not what you know, but what you don't know. That is true in my job as lead programmer: programming is the easiest thing I do.

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> "Ok, now this isn't a thing I just came up with last night, but a long time ago. I want to begin a new third party video game dev company. Please don't assume that I'm trying to be the next Nolan Bushnell overnight just yet, but what I want to do is start off making some simple games like games you'd find on WildTangent such as BlackHawk Striker (a very fun game) for PC's and maybe Mac and Unix. "

Then why don't you start making them? Take baby steps. take the first step. Make something in small scale, and see how it goes. Stick with your day job, and build your business part-time. Start doing today.



> "I have some great game ideas and implementations and I'd like to take them to the next level. I was pondering a few questions like, what should I do to help prevent piracy?"

There are copy protection tools available. Easiest thing could be simply to have a demo version of your game totally separate of your full game. Like, have a 3 meg demo game and 15 meg full game with all the files.


> "What are some precautions to take when starting a video game business? "

Jeff Tunnel wrote quite a good article on this in the past:
Five Realistic Steps To Starting A Game Development Company. Check it out. I really must say that making games is much easier than making money!



> "How much should I sell my games for?"

Maybe this article can help you: 18 Approaches for Setting the Right Price For Your Game.



> "And this is my biggest question, the area that I reside in (middle eastern america, state of Indiana) is a VERY bad place for video game business, if my small business gets big, should I move where the business is thriving more, like the western states?"

When it gets really big... you have so much money that you don't need to worry about moving :)

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Ok guys, sorry it took me so long to reply, getting online isn't easy for me (because I have to walk to the library whenever I need to).

The indiana thing: It's not the doing business part in Indiana, its the game business part as a whole. Indiana is not a good place for a videogame business to thrive. First of all, it's not exactly a "land of opportuniy". There are no videogame businesses in Indiana at all last I searched. Plus, there are very few people that are even willing to work on games for a living here. And those that do usually don't have time, don't put enough effort into learning, or just don't know what to do to get started. There is also a VERY high shortage of gamedev schools in this state. So far, I have only found 2 (or was it 3?). It isn't offered much here because of the large lack of interest.

So far, I'm still doing research in business management and videogame businesses. I still have alot to learn and willing to learn whatever I can. As far as money and resources go, my day job only pays me $6.25 hr. Crappy I know, so saving up money is a bit hard to do atm, but when my new job pulls through, I can take a few steps. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to rush this whole business thing. I still have to save up to buy more professional dev tools.

Now... a bit more about myself. I've been interested in programming ever since I was young(er) back in '89. I didn't learn C++ until Jan 2003, but in the past 4 years since then, I have bought and read many books on game programming and stuff, both new and old books from the Win95 days. So my skills include C/C++, Win32, DirectX 3, 5, 7, 8, and 9 (Dx7 being the strongest), OpenGL 1.5, SDL, etc. So I do know how to program and stuff.

Also, thanks for the great links. These are really helpful as well as your advice. Is there anything else I need to ask myself?

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Just like bands, most good starter / indie game companies come out of colleges (and not "game" colleges).

If you can't find 2-3 dedicated copatriots within 2 years at college to begin tackling the job of earning a living making games ... your doing something wrong.

The key for any leader is vision and dedication (and social skills). If you have the vision and creativity to see opportunities clearly (not just faniciful dreams), and the dedication to push hard, for a long time with little reward - then you can create a game company anywhere (or at least anywhere with a college :).

You do not need a "game" college, anymore than an artist needs an art college. It will help you build your technique and connections quicker than other traditional channels, but everything they offer is available to anyone interested in pursuing it.

There is a difference between dreamers who "wish" for a great future they can see in their head and people who struggle daily to make the present more like that vision. The doers always focus on doing what can be done in the present, and they have things to show for what they've done in the past. The difference between them is a matter of personal choice - you have to choice to DO it, instead of just THINK it. Such a choice does not come without risk however - there are many many failures for every success. You have to find the confidence in yourself to pursue your goals even knowing the risks (and pick goals you REALLY have, goals that wake you up motivated to get busy and keep you up late into the night, not goals you think you should have or goals that promise some mystical carrot in the distant future).

Good Luck.

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Quote:
Original post by Xai
Just like bands, most good starter / indie game companies come out of colleges (and not "game" colleges).
Actually many of the best bands came out of other bands. Most student bands are awful. Likewise, most good start-ups come out of other developers. People learn their trade while being paid by a developer (and being exposed to a lot of talented people) and then strike out on their own when they are ready. The biggest cause of failure in new start-ups (in any industry)
is lack of experience (be it production experience or management experience).

[Edited by - Obscure on September 27, 2006 5:07:37 AM]

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True enough. Most great things come as refinements of things that we're good.

But most things that will eventually be good, start young :)

And I have to agree completely that A) Companies and people we know and respect, almost all came into their own AFTER being involved in previous endevors where the honed their skills, and B) Most startups and college groups suck and fail ...

But still, its one of the 2 best ways to start. Your 2 choices: 1) Go do something in a small group of similarly enclined people, so you can gain experience from your shortcomings and failures, 2) Get a job working for someone who has been doing it for a while and learn from them.

Unfortunately, the game industry is like the music and movie industry ... more people want in than the system can accept through normal channels, so most people have to find alternate paths to entry.

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