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Can Garage Games Make It?

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Hi all, First of all, let me introduce myself so you can see where I am coming from. I currently work for a Government Contractor on a Department of Defense contract at one of the Labs in New Mexico. We are interested in Information Sciences and Information Operations. The current task is the design of an "intelligent" combat simulation of the complete battlefield. Our main interest lies in communication flow during combat operations. This is getting very close to many game like features; however, it is still very data oriented and analyst driven. That is, we care more about the output then the run of the game. Which results in us not being able to put all the wiz-bang features of a military-sim game into it. This whole simulation is being written in Java SDK 1.3.1 as well, giving us a very real speed ceiling. We have started on visualization of the battlefield with OpenGL and Java3d. While the project is very intersting, and a great way to earn a paycheck, it''s still not true game programming. Now, I have been a *NIX programmer all my life. So making the leap to Win32 was painful. I bought a few books and just started at it. I''m finding it pretty enjoyable and have even gotten a few co-workers into it. A few times over the lunch tables, we have mentioned how great it would be to start our own company and do our own thing (the usual B.S.). The conversations did pique my interest though and got me thinking. Is it possible for a small garage company to make it? It takes millions to develop a game that meets the standards of todays audience. This small garage company is going to need funding, this funding comes from someone who expects to make their money back... and then some. Are companies willing to take those risks on the small independant groups? Or do the only shell out the bucks to the established names? I know, I know, you hear about the small companies all the time, but 9 times out of 10, they are started and headed by a major name in the industry. What does it take for a small group of unknowns to make it? Is a demo enough? Do you have to break down and join someone elses company until you get your name out there? Any thoughts, experience and insight would be welcome. By the way, this is a great forum and I wish I found it sooner. MojoMonkey

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"It takes millions to develop a game that meets the standards of todays audience..."

if someone talks about games nowadays, most of the time huge monster projects like quake or unreal are meant, which really are some of the best computer games out there, but there is a big market for games which people like to play in between just for fun, especially internet-based card games and stuff like that.. chances are that you will never ever create a game like unreal, and you won''t make money with developing a single card game written in java ... what i''m trying to say is that i think it would be best to focus on a specific type of games, develop some and try to find a company which publishes this games - just look at all this "collection of the best 100 games ever on 2 cds" stuff

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YOu really should have posted this on the business forum. There are quite a few people like myself that only read that forum.
The simple answer is YES, it is possible for you to make it. While its true that a lot of startup companies are headed by celebrity coders, people are also impressed by academic expertise.
Luckily, you seem to be already specialised in a very specfic and popular genre. Games like Delta Force have a very loyal following, even though graphically they are useless. I still play Delta force 1, even though it looks worse than Quake 1, because it plays like a very realistic battlefield sim.
I think if you get the right people, concentrate on this particular genre, and make a big thing out of your teams experienmce, then you will get funding quite easily. After all, if I was a VC wanting to do a soldier sim, I can''t imagine more of a dream team than the team you have.
I ran my own one man games company for about 14 months (positech) and sold a fair few games. Not quite enough to make it a living in the long term(i now work for a big games developer), but I am convinced that it IS a viable model for startups. Just ask RealGames, many of their developers are very small and very new teams.
In any event, good luck, we need more startups and Indie developers. You can only play so many versions of Tomb Raider........


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