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Feasibility of a project - post your opinion

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I'm a pretty experienced game programmer - coding now from more than 6 years in 2D/3D, casual/hardcore games, PC/mobiles/even Nintendo DS, both in the bedroom and in the cubicle. Now it's time to really gain something from the sweat of my brow and start something of my own. Like any other fellow gamedev out there I got a vision; mine is a 3D space racing game in the vein of Wipeout but with a 'killer' twist. I really wanna make this happen - I got the - coding started (based on Ogre3D and various other libs plus my own special glue) - working pipeline (pretty much based on COLLADA and 3DS Max - no time and reason for in-house stuff) - money (just enough to hire a medium-level 3D artist and get things started) - some preliminary asset gathering and storyboard movies I did in Max - but I think all these will be scraped once work is started I don't have - the design document - but I will take full responsibility of this - a real physical working place - so I may go online/RAC stuff - testers/testing environment/QA (but I have already in place a solid error-reporting mechanism equivalent with Microsoft's one - actually based on that:) ) Now, 2 questions: 1. is this enough to start? My main problem is the art - I really want this to shine. I live in a central-eastern European country where good 3D artists are hard to come by - is an online collaboration worth the try? 2. suppose I finish a playable beta - one full playable level and near production-level polishing on the gameplay & UI - enough to showcase around. Where do I go from there? What are the online publishers I should try? (realarcade.com & similar casual playing portals are out of question - I think) Is there any chance and how do I go by it to hook a retail publisher? I want to stress that I'm not considering showcasing anything other than a solid playable thing. Nobody buys concepts or programmer-art stuff... So with all that said, what do you guys think? Thanks!

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Quote:
Original post by valentin-galea
1. is this enough to start? My main problem is the art - I really want this to shine. I live in a central-eastern European country where good 3D artists are hard to come by - is an online collaboration worth the try?
I would recommend writing up at least an overview of your game design, just because you're going to need to give it to the artist(s) you recruit. It may also be sensible to work on a prototype of the game that uses placeholder art to begin with, just so that when you do hire an artist you can get their art into the game as quickly and possible and see how it looks properly.

Other than that, yes, it sounds feasible. Testers can be recruited later, and many publishers provide QA services anyway.

Quote:
2. suppose I finish a playable beta - one full playable level and near production-level polishing on the gameplay & UI - enough to showcase around. Where do I go from there? What are the online publishers I should try? (realarcade.com & similar casual playing portals are out of question - I think) Is there any chance and how do I go by it to hook a retail publisher?
Have you considered Xbox Live Arcade?

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What kinds of answers are you looking for?

For the game-making side, you missed a few points.

If you have real-world experience through the complete development cycle you should know what is involved for getting source code. You should also have a good idea of what is involved with art. You failed to mention music and sounds, which are very important pieces. You also omitted the game design, stories, and other aspects which are key to making a fun game. You didn't say anything about localization of the title into different languages, nor making sure that the game play ideas are cross-cultural.



Much more importantly, it looks like you copmletely missed the business side.

How is your business going to operate? Have you consulted local lawyers to ensure you operate within the law? If you are hiring anyone, do you have all the proper legal requirements to be an employer? Has your lawyer assisted you in making sure all the game assets (including your own ideas) are legally transferred to the corporate entity? How will you pay taxes for your employees, or ensure that contractor payments are properly reported?

Is there a target demographic? Will your game actually sell to that group? How much interest does the target have? Is the target demographic buying? How much would they spend on your game in the ideal case? How do you intend to anticipate market acceptance of your game? How will you ensure playability and fun within your market?

Do you intend to sell your game online, in boxes, software-only, as shareware, off retail shelves, or through some other method? If so, to whom? How, exactly? Do you intend to use a publisher? If so, what company are you considering? How are you planning on paying the publisher? Are you planning on paying them directly or having them fund you and taking funds from the back end? Do you understand the costs? Have you found a lawyer to work you through the eventual publishing contract?

How are you going to tell people about your game? Are you going to hire an advertising agency, or is your publisher going to? How much are you planning on spending, and what are your expected results? How do you intend to form brand awareness? How do you intend to drive traffic to your product?

How do you intend to process sales? How do you intend to handle returns? How are you going to handle bad debt? How will you report taxes? How will your books be kept? How will you ensure your employees or contractors are paid? What insurance does your business need? How will you handle business risks of lawsuits? How do you intend to handle IP licensing? How do you intend to ensure international licensing compliance?


There are thousands of other questions beyond these. If you don't know the answer to these, then you need more education (through reading or experience) before proceeding.

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frob, thanks for the heads-up, you really nailed me - but in a good way:)

Let me be more direct:
I got money to pay - say a friend - artist for a couple of months, part-time that is. Totally under the radar - "bedroom" only.

Now, for the sake of the argument, lets suppose I put together a quite ok design and follow it, also that i have a keen artistic eye and my artist buddy really pulls off his work.

It's a racing game, lets imagine we do a full playable track, really tight & fast core-gameplay with 1-2 AI's that play perfectly i.e. just follow the perfect race-trajectory.

For music I plan to play excerpts of 'Komit' by Juno Reactor - suits perfectly a Wipeout 2097 type of game like this. For a free NDA playable beta is this possible? If not I'll search for some free Reason songs or even better I know someone who can do them.
Sound: i sure hope I can find some nice free sci-fi racing stuff and tweak them. Maybe do a procedural engine noise based on some 'seeds' waves.

Then do a nice microsite with all the info & data for the game, then present it in a visual theme similar to that of the game to have consistency.
Host this using wiki paradigm on www.wikidot.com via subdomain. This is very easy to put together and maintain but may not inspire trust... Then maybe I should buy domain (I got the web hosting covered) and do a normal html microsite...

We do the game menus and all texts in english/french/italian to show the international support, but stick with a english site only.

By this time my money have run out. How do I take what I have to next level?
The next legit level?

I show it to gamegames.com & the like hoping one of them will fund me? So I go online only and sign royalties type of deals with them? Before doing that I just only manage to start a firm, register it in my country i.e. secure the lowest legal denominator, no lawyer no nothing.

If I pack enough 'wow' factor in this thing, is is really possible that a publisher will pick it up and fund it?

Or I upload it to say download.com trying to sell via their system?
Or offer it trial on my microsite and sell via PayPal of the like?

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>> Let me be more direct:
>> I got money to pay - say a friend - artist for a couple of months, part-time that is. Totally under the radar - "bedroom" only.

That is very risky, legally. Make sure that you get an assignment of rights from your friend, at the very least. Get something in writing saying that your friend transfers all rights and interest, including copyright and other intellectual property rights, to you. If you don't have the help of a lawyer, don't try to write it in legalese, just plain language saying that he's giving it to you entirely for any use and that he knows he gives up any future claims on it.

>> For music I plan to play excerpts of ... For a free NDA playable beta is this possible?

Possible? Sure. Legal? Probably not. Many reviewers would turn you away the instant they hear unlicensed music.

As far as calling it "beta", it seems like you are contradicting yourself. I thought you said in your original post that you had game industry experience? Unless you are presenting them with a polished, QA'd, super-solid demo that only needs the packaging material and publisher credits added, you don't have a beta.

And without a lawyer, how are you planning to provide the publisher with an NDA? More likely you'd be signing a submission agreement with them (after revising it with your lawyer). The exact procedure varies by publisher.

Finding a publisher is generally done sooner rather than later. Since their name is going to be attached to the product, they want to have some say in the quality and workmanship of the product. Again, this is something you should know if you have the industry experience you claim.

>> If not I'll search for some free Reason songs or even better I know someone who can do them.

That last option is the best, along with the same kind of assignment of rights mentioned for art. If you are going to tell a publisher that it is feature complete, you better have shippable music in place.

>> Sound: i sure hope I can find some nice free

Google.

>> I show it to gamegames.com & the like hoping one of them will fund me? So I go online only and sign royalties type of deals with them?

Good questions for you to answer yourself. The details of how you pay your publisher are up to you. Most of the time if you ask them to fund it themselves and pay you royalties, the deal usually includes a transfer of ownership to the publisher. If you are fine with that, then it is your choice. If you can find the money, you might be much better off paying for publishing directly with a smaller publisher.

The exact details of your publisher relationship are going to be critical to your company. You must find a publisher that will work with you, provide the services you need, to act adversarial when it matters, and who knows how to best provide the specific business services your business needs.

It is one of the most important business relationships you will rely on, so make absolutely certain you do it properly. There are many books on the subject, so go read them.

>> no lawyer no nothing.

[caution] Talk with a lawyer. The time you spend with a lawyer up front is much less money than the cost and headaches of talking with a lawyer when things go horribly wrong.


>> If I pack enough 'wow' factor in this thing, is is really possible that a publisher will pick it up and fund it?

Yes. It is not very likely, but it is possible.

>> Or I upload it to say download.com trying to sell via their system?

Sure you can upload it, but don't expect it to take off by itself. The mega-sites have no incentive to advertise or push your game. If you just post it there and do nothing more, don't expect even a single sale to come from them.

>> Or offer it trial on my microsite and sell via PayPal of the like?

Possible, but you'll need to do a lot of advertising on your own, which can be prohibitively expensive.



Sounds like you need to re-evaluate the whole business side of things. Go find some local people who have real business experience and ask them questions. Go talk with your local business trade groups, chamber of commerce, and small business organizations in your area.

Making a game is easy. Turning games into a successful business is much harder.

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