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Funding that killer game

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I have yet another question for the members of this great forum that have already help me so much. So you've got a killer game idea and want to put it out there, but you lack the tools that will really make the characters truly amazing. I know graphics aren't everything, look at Star Craft for example, still one of the best games being played right now, and it's nothing too great to look at, It's the content and game play that make it so great. What my question is, I've done quite a bit of research on the topics I ask, but the documentation just doesn't seem available (if it was everyone would have it). My question, what methods are there out there for getting 4k+ worth of tools. I know one way is to get a Game Design Document (love torque for teens, such a misleading title) proposal and submit it to a low ranking publisher who would fund your tools if you finish milestones and all other game making aspects as one would expect. I know another way is to get a loan, however I have no collateral or co-signers. One other way I've figured is to get a small business loan as with a publisher submit a Business Proposal and if they think my idea can make them the money back that I would borrow then they would fund me and give me a set time-line to have the money back to them. Out of the ways I've mentioned the small business loan doesn't seem such a great idea as I'm pretty new to game deving and would not have a sound plan to pay them back. The publisher idea falls into the same spot as the small business loan. What I am asking you guys for is, how did you do it? Obviously John Doe without rich parents to cosign cannot get his hands on things like 3D Studio Max. There is Blender yes, and though I see much power from blender I seek to have the tools of the pros so that I can be proficient with them when I hopefully get a job later. Are there any special kinds of loans or is there any place I can go to that will help me acquire this funding. The tools I'm wanting so you know are SoftImage XSI: Essentials and Maxon Body Paint. Essentials is 2995.00 USD and Body Pait is 895.00 USD. I know of XSI: Foundation, but it has 1 big problem, lack of industry standard tools, namely Shave and a Haircut and SyFlex Cloth simulator. These 2 tools are very high priced and don't have much as far as cheaper equivalents go, plus they are very highly acclaimed for their raw power and performance in the industry. Basically I'm not wanting a, ''You should use this tool instead'', post, rather one that would suggest ways that you know of to get funding for tools. I sincerely appreciate the time you all take to help me.

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The first, best, and easiest way to get your hands on 4K is get a job. Even at a minimum wage job that is less than a year of employment or sell your car if you have one of those. Also what makes you think SyFlex Cloth simulator is an industry standard tool? I mean outside of XSI's marketing materials.

The other thing you might try is an angel investor.

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The simplest method that most indies use for funding their games is to have a job doing something else, and using the income from that to buy the equipment you need (that's what I've done). Even if things don't work out commercially you can treat it as a hobby.

Another practical method is to shelve the idea that needs the expensive tools for now, and make something else with cheaper equipment. Then invest the profit from that into better tools for your next game. Repeat until you can afford the stuff you want.

If you really need to borrow money, the easiest place to get it from are the three F's: Friends, Family and Fools. But obviously these have issues attached: fools with money are in short supply, and you'll strain your relationship with your family and friends if you fail.

Publishers aren't likely to give you funding for tools unless you've got enough experience to prove you're worth the risk: either an almost completed game or experience making games in the past (either by your own or at a company). The failure rate is just too high.

I'd also avoid taking out loans unless you really have to. Once you've borrowed money it's a lot harder to walk away from the project, and even good games have a high failure rate to make money in the marketplace.

(Note: I'm not speaking from experience here; I'm seriously considering going down the indie road in the future and have been reading up on it and taking some short business courses, but that's the extent of my experience. There are other more veteran forum members who can speak with the voice of experience).

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Most companies don't give a rats what software you're proficient at. A good 3d artist is a good 3d artist, whether they learned on Blender, Maya, XSI, or whatever other package.

Work with Blender or XSI Mod Tool for the time being and get into a good 3d animation studios program. You'll probably become fluent in one or two other packages along the way as well.

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My advice would be to get a normal job first to get stable income, spend your free time making the game, then sell the game to a publisher after it's done.

You don't even need to spend very much money on development tools. There are tons of free IDEs and compilers. Softimage|XSI Mod Tool is a free, professional quality 3d modelling tool.


If you try to find a publisher first and make the game later, they will make a milestone schedule for you and work you to the bone to meet them. Then if their "marketing projections" don't satisfy their cost/benefit goals, they'll simply cancel the project (and probably retain the rights to everything you worked on).

That is, if you can even get a publisher interested in the first place. They don't like taking risks - no matter how excited YOU are about your game idea, their accounting department will NEVER be excited unless the game is already selling like hotcakes.

This is why you should make the game first and then sell it to a publisher second (or you can even self-publish it if you make a PC game). It completely elimitates that risk/reward equation that makes publishers so nervous and 'cancel-the-project' trigger happy.

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Quote:
Original Post By stonemetal
The first, best, and easiest way to get your hands on 4K is get a job.


I do have a job it just doesn't pay very well, and I'm looking into fixing that soon.

Quote:
Original Post By stonemetal
Also what makes you think SyFlex Cloth simulator is an industry standard tool?


I apologize for my opinion of what industry standard is, I was considering that since so many games are made with XSI (according to their website, with a list) that they must be using SyFlex, games like Assassins Creed (Ubisoft) and a Kraft cheese commercial (taken from SyFlex's website) are noted as using it.

I figured as much as far as getting better pay to afford such things, and I know how fickle publishers are, but I was just checking.

Trapper Zoid, I like your idea of making basic games for now and growing with them, and zer0wolf, thanks for the advice on not having to be well versed in specific tools.

Thanks everyone,

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Quote:
Original post by axpen
So you've got a killer game idea and want to put it out there, but you lack the tools that will really make the characters truly amazing.

Mandatory reading.

The collection of FAQs will answer most of your questions, including:
* Writing a Game Design Document
* submitting your stuff to a publisher
* fund your tools if you finish milestones
* get a small business loan
* how did you do it


Also, I'm confused. What exactly is it that you are trying to do?

Are you a designer?
Are you an artist, modeler, or animator?
Are you a programmer?

Quote:
I know graphics aren't everything, look at Star Craft for example, still one of the best games being played right now, and it's nothing too great to look at, It's the content and game play that make it so great.

It also took several millions of dollars to develop.

And a very large team of designers, developers, artists, musicians, testers, lawyers, IT workers, HR/payroll people, producers, and assorted support people.

And another million or so each year to maintain those data centers for the servers.

A major game title generally costs between $5M to $10M to develop these days. A minor game title will cost you a bit under half that.

And that's just for development.

Publishing, distribution, advertising, legal, more advertising, returns, and other expenses cost more than the software development. Plus there are ESRB and other ratings board certifications, "Mostly Works Okay on Windows" certifications, and so on. If you want the NVidia or ATI splash screens and their assistance, be prepared with some money up front. If you want things like Dolby sound, you'll be forking money over to Dolby Labs. The list gets quite long, and is very expensive.


All that for a game you said is "nothing too great."
Quote:
My question, what methods are there out there for getting 4k+ worth of tools.
In the long run, that is cheap. If you can't afford $4000, you won't be able to afford the quality of game you are hoping for.


If you were in my area, I know teens who earn over $30/hour as waiting tables in local restaurants, after tips. If that job is too hard, my local McDonald's billboard says "Now hiring crew members, $8.50 starting wage." I'm sure you could find something similar.

Plus, you are looking at the full retail versions. There are academic versions and resold licenses of old product versions that are extremely cheap.


Finally, there are the free tools that you don't seem to fond of. You should be able to develop a reasonably good game with them. If you are incapable of doing so, having better tools will not help you. There are countless excellent games developed exclusively with F/OSS tools.
Quote:
John Doe without rich parents to cosign cannot get his hands on things like 3D Studio Max

Blender is a great free tool for people who are not trained as artsits.

Most artists and animators I know prefer Maya over 3D Studio Max. Maya Complete is $2000 at full retail, but can be found for much less online. That's a few weeks of a part time job for a motivated teen.

If you aren't going to use it for a commercial project, and since you sound like a teenage student, you might want to look at the academic versions of the programs. They are much cheaper, most can be had with less than one week of a part time job.

All the other art tools you mentioned require a great deal of art experience before you are able to use them effectively.

The assets that those games produce require a great deal of programming experience before you can use them in a game. Buying an engine that uses those directly will cost you several hundred thousands of dollars. Developing one yourself will require many work-years of effort, again usually by experienced developers.


The core options are listed in the mandatory reading mentioned above. The DIY route sounds like the only course available to you right now, and that means using those free and inexpensive tools.

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Alex wrote:

>what methods are there out there for getting 4k+ worth of tools.

FFF. Friends, Family, Fools. But $4000 is easy to save up if you have a job.

>I know one way is to get a Game Design Document... and submit it to a low ranking publisher who would fund your tools if you finish milestones and all other game making aspects as one would expect.

Whoa, no way! You're missing all kinds of pieces of that equation!

>I know another way is to get a loan, however I have no collateral or co-signers.

FFF.

>Out of the ways I've mentioned the small business loan doesn't seem such a great idea as I'm pretty new to game deving and would not have a sound plan to pay them back.

Which is why no bank would lend it to you. Recommend you read FAQ 29 on my site (you already know where it is).

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Quote:
Original post by axpen

I apologize for my opinion of what industry standard is, I was considering that since so many games are made with XSI (according to their website, with a list) that they must be using SyFlex, games like Assassins Creed (Ubisoft) and a Kraft


Well there is used in industry, which it is, then there is industry standard where people look at you funny if you don't know how to use it. The only thing I can think of that comes close to an industry standard is C/C++ and even that isn't 100% as most web games aren't made with it, and it is starting to loose its foot hold to other languages. As far as art tools go there is to much variability in what this or that tool is good at to say one is the industry standard. Before you spend the dough try blender, Houdini, maya they are free(as in beer) and they will let you get a feel for what 3d art is all about before you invest a chunk of cash on something that you haven't done before, and don't know how much you will like it. Also if you have never done 3d art before budget a chunk for training materials. Also things to look at buy it a piece at a time get the modeler while you save up for other stuff, and educational discounts if you, or someone you know is in school they could pick up a copy of XSI for a few hundred dollars instead of thousands.

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Thanks for the replies, I think I'm gonna go ahead and get started with Blender, Maya PLE looks good but it's of no real use except learning how to use it. I need something that can export to an obj or such for Torque 3d or OGRE to use. Additionally could someone help clear this bit of confusion up for me, when you make a 3d model for importing into a game engine it becomes a static mesh right? So in other words even with SyFlex it would do no good during gameplay (unless they provided the engine), just during pre rendered movies? Thereby also leaving soft body pretty useless if the game engine doesn't support it right?

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To Frob:
I apologize for the way that I worded that, I think Starcraft and Blizzard are the greatest things since sliced bread. I was just pointing out that even though the game has aged so much since it's inception in 1998 people often still play it over the newer ones. I was just highlighting that graphics don't have to be everything.

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Quote:
Original post by axpen
Thanks for the replies, I think I'm gonna go ahead and get started with Blender, Maya PLE looks good but it's of no real use except learning how to use it. I need something that can export to an obj or such for Torque 3d or OGRE to use. Additionally could someone help clear this bit of confusion up for me, when you make a 3d model for importing into a game engine it becomes a static mesh right? So in other words even with SyFlex it would do no good during gameplay (unless they provided the engine), just during pre rendered movies? Thereby also leaving soft body pretty useless if the game engine doesn't support it right?


Correct.
Even more relevant; the core component of something like SyFlex is it's soft-body deformation engine, which your game engine would most likely have to code itself anyways (and cut a lot of corners to get it to run in real-time).

If you're a student, I'd go look at Maya Student Edition, which is available at much lower costs (~120$ last time I checked). You can also use PLE initially to learn how to do basic modelling and animation.

Good luck,

Allan

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Quote:
Original post by stonemetal
The first, best, and easiest way to get your hands on 4K is get a job. Even at a minimum wage job that is less than a year of employment or sell your car if you have one of those. Also what makes you think SyFlex Cloth simulator is an industry standard tool? I mean outside of XSI's marketing materials.

The other thing you might try is an angel investor.


Perhaps, but what is he going to earn, a few measly dollars on the internet.

If you are serious about earning money, you have to be a serious developer. I don't think you necessarily need a business to contact a publisher but it would probably help them trust you.

Why not get a demo working and take it from there?

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If you want to take the publisher route then you need something to show besides paperwork. Publishers assess risk, and with a new team in place or no team at all to execute your ideas you won't get very far. The best IP even with the best game engine means nothing to a publisher unless you can execute it.

One way to describe the situation is trying to sell a car. You can go to someone with a bunch of paperwork on how awesome the car will be, how much it'll cost to make, who you may want to build it with you, and how many units you think you will sell – which is a high risk. Other option would be to build the car or a prototype of what the car will consist of and then show publishers. Showing a visual product of some kind will make your chances considerably higher of getting funding.

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sorry for necro'ing a fairly old thread, but as starting a new one would just be silly, and I imagine this comes up a lot...

Game financing. Pay particular attention to the E&O insurance section, as it also addresses some of the "would it be okay if I used..." questions that pop up intermittently on these forums and sets out why the answer will typically be "no" or "not without permission".

Also, Tom, I linked to your article.

Best of luck!

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by madelelaw
Also, Tom, I linked to your article.

Hi Mona,
I crosslinked back to your article from FAQs 29 and 62.
Tom


You didn't have to that, but I appreciate it. Just wanted to give you a heads up that you're a reference.

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