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Is this a decent homebrew studio setup?

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My goal is to create a small homebrew studio to create some 2D games and some fairly basic 3D games, projects that are small enough that a group of between 2 and 5 people can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time. They would be flash games as well as games created in C++. My question is to those who have more experience then I do does this sound like a reasonable software/hardware setup? I don't see why it wouldn't be but I don't want to overlook something. I have: Maya 2008 Ultimate - I would use this to make some 3D models for the games. Adobe Master Collection - This is needed for flash games as well as 2D graphics for the other games. Logic Pro with several sound packs from EastWest - for music. Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 - For programming. Corel Painter X - (I love that program for concept art). I will also have mac and windows machines. I prefer to do artwork on macs as I can utilize plenty of ram and would be doing the programming on the windows machines. This is still 3 years away most likely but I like to plan ahead as right now I have a job where I can afford to buy this stuff, in the future I probably wont as I will be quitting when school gets harder. I would obviously wait to buy the hardware but the software I already own and I cant see needing to upgrade it in only a three year time frame for what I will be using it for. I also understand I would need to purchase additional licenses to put them on more then one computer. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't batting out in left field when planning my homebrew studio. To me it sounds good but I would greatly appreciate the opinions of more experienced individuals. EDIT: Incase your wondering why I planned so far ahead its so I know what to budget for this stuff so when the time comes for me to quit I will have enough money set aside for the purchases.

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Original post by Chrono1081
My goal is to create a small homebrew studio to create some 2D games and some fairly basic 3D games, projects that are small enough that a group of between 2 and 5 people can accomplish ...

I just wanted to make sure I wasn't batting out in left field when planning my homebrew studio.


A better question would be "is this a decent plan." Rather than buy all the equipment and software now for a future team, wouldn't it be better to start working and building the team - and buy equipment and software as the need arises? Practices and technology and the market can change between now and then - and once you get other people involved with you, they'll have their own opinion about the best tools to use.

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I agree with what you are saying, but I am looking more to budget for this now incase I would need to buy it down the road should my plans go through how I would like them too. I guess I am trying to figure out how much money to save and put towards something like this and estimating the software costs now was how I was trying to do it.

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Considering the scope of what you are trying to do, how much in that list do you really need? The emphasis is on 2D games, so why do you need to spend several thousand dollars per license for Maya? Would something like Blender do in the interim until you find you need to scale up?

As for the Adobe Collection, you really only need the Flash part of that collection, for 2D graphics editing you can get away with using something like GIMP or Pixen.

Is the full suite of Logic Pro needed? Could you get away with Audacity?

As for Visual Studio, do you need the full Pro version? Or can you use the Express Editions?

Corel Painter X for concept art? With a team that small how many copies do you need if any? Probably one at most and that is not taking into account whether or not you need concept art at all.

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Original post by Chrono1081
I guess I am trying to figure out how much money to save and put towards something like this and estimating the software costs now was how I was trying to do it.

A more decent business plan would be to figure out first your personnel costs - because that's going to be a LOT higher than merely your software costs. Figure personnel costs and office costs for three years minimum. You probably can't "save" that much money - you'll need a business loan. The lenders expect you to inject 25-30% of the startup capital yourself.

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isn't homebrew games and apps for consoles and handhelds etc?
AFAIK, "homebrew" is just another word for "independent", though it has somewhat more console-ish connotations.

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The emphasis is on 2D games, so why do you need to spend several thousand dollars per license for Maya? Would something like Blender do in the interim until you find you need to scale up?
++

Blender has gotten considerably better over time. If you started with Maya the interface will feel a bit wonky at first, but it's really quite a useful tool. I'd also recommend Hexagon, which is a relatively new but quite slick piece of modeling software (though AFAIK you have to export it for texturing, which is where another program comes in). Hexagon's also a lot cheaper. I'm not a 3D modeler by any stretch, and I managed to pick it up in a few hours and be able to do some pretty cool stuff with it.

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As for the Adobe Collection, you really only need the Flash part of that collection, for 2D graphics editing you can get away with using something like GIMP or Pixen.
The GIMP is an average tool at best (I can't use the thing, it's a mess), and sucks for most workflows. Photoshop, and to a lesser extent Illustrator, works so much better for most purposes that I can't see how you'd suggest not using them. Pixen is better for raster graphics than the GIMP, but very immature as a product.

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As for Visual Studio, do you need the full Pro version? Or can you use the Express Editions?
If he can't get a free copy of Visual Studio I'd be shocked; they hand them out like candy at their promotional events (I'm close to the point where I can shingle my roof from Microsoft promo CDs, I just found my old VC6/VB6 MSDN promo pack). Even if he can't, I'd say buy it--the Express versions are nice for screwing around, but some features, like the inabilty to use add-ins (I would be using VAX right now if I wasn't broke), make it a little less than awesome. Okay, a lot less than awesome.

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Corel Painter X for concept art? With a team that small how many copies do you need if any? Probably one at most and that is not taking into account whether or not you need concept art at all.
Yeah, this seems a bit sketchy to me, too. If you need something for stylus work, Photoshop's pretty good at it.

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A more decent business plan would be to figure out first your personnel costs - because that's going to be a LOT higher than merely your software costs. Figure personnel costs and office costs for three years minimum. You probably can't "save" that much money - you'll need a business loan. The lenders expect you to inject 25-30% of the startup capital yourself.
That seems awfully low for a high-risk/low-reward proposition like a game developer to me.

(Also, unless you know what you're doing...incorporate before you go hunting for money. The liability issues from not incorporating are ugly.)

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Here's my recommendation of where to start. Then once you actually find yourself making money from games you can move up. I'll quote what you thought you'd need and a few of my suggestions for what should suffice while starting out:

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Maya 2008 Ultimate
Blender, Wings3D, Milkshape3D

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Adobe Master Collection
(not counting Flash): GIMP, Paint.NET

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Logic Pro with several sound packs from EastWest
Audacity, GarageBand (comes with OS X)

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
VS 2008 Express Editions

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Corel Painter X
Again I'd say GIMP and Paint.NET should suffice


My point is there is no real point to spending that much money when you are just starting out (Maya 2008 Ultimate is something like $6999 on its own). You could easily make do with cheap or free alternatives and upgrade as you can. It might not be as nice working in GIMP or Paint.NET as PhotoShop, but saving that few hundred dollars would be nice. And saving $7000 from not buying Maya will get you another couple of people to work for you to help make games.

Definitely start out the cheapest way you can until you start making money. It would be a terrible waste to spend all that money buying software only to have your games not profit and you are out close to $10,000 in software. My opinion, anyway.

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Original post by EdR
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isn't homebrew games and apps for consoles and handhelds etc?
AFAIK, "homebrew" is just another word for "independent", though it has somewhat more console-ish connotations.

It goes a bit deeper than that, actually -- it's more about making something that normally is out of reach for the common man, like software that normally requires a proprietary devkit to develop, or a make-your-own video projector.

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Thank you guys for all the advice:)

I didn't realize how over the top I was and how many alternatives there were to what I was buying. I already own all the software mentioned above which is why I was thinking of sticking with it but the licenses are only for me (I believe) which was why I was trying to budget for others.

As far as making money its going to be a joint effort between me and 2 - 4 other people I know (2 programmers, 1 sound guy, and 2 artists) and we were going to work on a puzzle game pack at first and then see where it goes from there. No one would be paid at first but we were hoping to get off the ground eventually and do some larger projects provided our team could work together effectively. Its all in planning stages obviously but everyone seems dedicated to it and I would really like to see it happen.

Thank you for all the advice guys and if you have anymore keep it coming :)

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Original post by kiwibonga
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Original post by EdR
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isn't homebrew games and apps for consoles and handhelds etc?
AFAIK, "homebrew" is just another word for "independent", though it has somewhat more console-ish connotations.

It goes a bit deeper than that, actually -- it's more about making something that normally is out of reach for the common man, like software that normally requires a proprietary devkit to develop, or a make-your-own video projector.
I don't see how you can definitively state that. Any sort of programming "normally is out of reach for the common man". Proprietary devkits aren't necessary to write code for any of the common homebrew platforms, just a toolchain that can export code it can understand. If a person can write C/C++, a person can write code for one of the common homebrew platforms. Hell, I still hear people refer to independent PalmOS development as "homebrew," and you never needed a proprietary development kit for those.

Hardware is obviously outside the scope of this discussion so I'm not quite sure why you brought it up.

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I don't see how you can definitively state that. Any sort of programming "normally is out of reach for the common man".

It's not the programming that is out of reach for the common man, it's the documentation and tools. All platforms that have "homebrew" had to be reverse engineered to some extent to provide functionality that normally requires special equipment, a license to develop on the platform, etc. That's what makes homebrew stand out from other forms of development. When you make a toolchain that replicates the functionality of an official devkit, then that's homebrew.

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Hell, I still hear people refer to independent PalmOS development as "homebrew," and you never needed a proprietary development kit for those.

If all the tools to develop on PalmOS are made available, then it's technically not homebrew. Just like how buying and assembling furniture from IKEA doesn't make you a carpenter.

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You might want to look into the possibility of contracting your art and sound instead of having somebody 'on staff.' Contractors will usually have all the equipment and software that they need, so you pay just for the work, e.g. on a per-song or per-asset basis. It does mean you'd need the cash for the contracts much sooner - they won't accept "if the game sells we'll pay you" - and if it turns out that you were dealing with a particular contractor extensively over the course of the project then it might come out a bit more expensive, but it gives you more freedom and can mean you're sharing less of the eventual profits around.

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It's not the programming that is out of reach for the common man, it's the documentation and tools. All platforms that have "homebrew" had to be reverse engineered to some extent to provide functionality that normally requires special equipment, a license to develop on the platform, etc. That's what makes homebrew stand out from other forms of development. When you make a toolchain that replicates the functionality of an official devkit, then that's homebrew.
And you can dictate this...why?

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Original post by EdR
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It's not the programming that is out of reach for the common man, it's the documentation and tools. All platforms that have "homebrew" had to be reverse engineered to some extent to provide functionality that normally requires special equipment, a license to develop on the platform, etc. That's what makes homebrew stand out from other forms of development. When you make a toolchain that replicates the functionality of an official devkit, then that's homebrew.
And you can dictate this...why?


Because that is the commonly held understanding of what homebrew development is?

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