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Advice on a starting game company

11 posts in this topic

Hello GameDev.net, this is my first post. Me and My Friend are starting up a small video game company, nothing particularly serious, just me and my friend trying to make a game that isn't Text-Based. My friend has no experience coding with the exception of HTML and CSS, but is alright at art and stories, where as i have beginner/adequate c++ skill with a small chunk of Allegro 4.2. and started C# and XNA around a week ago. I have not bought anything like IDEs or anything but i have bought books on the subject. I would say we are very typical as we are trying to make a small amount of money (<$50, <£30) and trying to show our friends that we can make a better game than as very small Zork clone.

What i wanted to ask is what we should make as our first "proper" game and what language and API to use. We aim to continue with the language that is suggested as it uses up time we could be using producing more video games

I am Sorry if there is another Topic with exactly the same question and outcome as this or i am on the wrong forum and if any of these are so please let me know and i will use what i know to try and improve the situation of where this topic is placed if it is i the wrong place.

Please answer!

Thank You For Your Time
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I think XNA/C# is a great language to start with, at least for your prototyping stage. From what I've heard it's not terribly difficult to port to C++ if you run into performance issues tied to using C#.

edit: it's also free to start with, which is nice.
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Since many of my friends have macs and we are aiming to be more cross platform, do you suggest any
Cross platform APIs and languages to jump on after XNA

Thank you
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[quote]trying to make a small amount of money (<$50, <£30)[/quote]

It's very hard to make that much.

Typically, you will make -$5000 or +$5000, but rarely something in between. Learning, buying hardware and software, actual time spent all factor into this equation.

If aiming for iOS, it will set you back for ~$1100 on lower end (Mini + iPad + dev license). Earning potential from there on is fairly good, but if pricing at $1 you'll need to make over ~1600 sales to earn +$50 total.

Android is similar, but the initial costs will be about half that. Most revenue on Android is through advertising, so you'll be selling for free and rely on having many more users.

Flash is still viable platform, but monetizing on your own will be difficult. A lot of Flash work is done via bulk payment by portals, but it's again hard to sell if you're unproven or don't have a finished product.

XNA/C# is not ideal for indies, has a slightly higher barrier to entry and may require reading through fine print (mostly due to age restrictions and such).

Using native platform (C/C++ and similar) for revenue is mostly out of the question. There simply are no entry-level sales channels where you could actually take payments. PayPal is one way, but you also need to factor in the marketing, portability (do your ideal users use Macs, Linux or Windows?), the complications of download and install, potentially cost of certificates for signing executables. It's doable and it's done, just leaves you on your own - appstores and portals give you guidelines on what to do.

Above is more about "making money", not about what you are capable of building. If giving stuff away for free, then anything goes, it's converting that into revenue that requires considerable effort. Yet that might be the most valuable part of experience.

[quote]Since many of my friends have macs and we are aiming to be more cross platform, do you suggest any[/quote]

Simply put - get a Mac, develop for Mac.

Mac ecosystem is walled and that's why users prefer it. It's possible to mess with various portability tools, but realistically, bite the bullet and go for iOS. You'll almost certain need it anyway to publish anything that can be downloaded by others, Mac users expect app store and all that or it doesn't exist, at least for anything that isn't a premium product by a respected publisher. And for iPhone/iPad you're stuck with that anyway.

Which is where the above expense of Mac + iPad comes into play.
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Java, Python and Bash are all good prototyping languages. Get the basic gameplay working in one of those first. Then write it in C or C++. Don't use proprietary languages or libraries if you can avoid it. Linux is an excellent development platform. All the tools and languages are free.

All the best!
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Thank you, I think that I will try python as I have heard good things and it has pygame

I already have all the hardware for windows/Linux and I have heard about how expensive apple development is
Thank you all so far
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[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=3][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]iOS and Android together should be the correct solution. It's good to focus on both at the same time.[/background][/left][/size][/font][/color]
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[quote name='Antheus' timestamp='1334608732' post='4931863']
XNA/C# is not ideal for indies, [b]has a slightly higher barrier to entry and may require reading through fine print (mostly due to age restrictions and such).[/b]
[/quote]

Wha? The fine print is no worse than any platform if you're looking to monetize, and the barrier to entry is one of the lowest of any platform.

[quote][color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=4][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]Don't use proprietary languages or libraries if you can avoid it.[/quote][/background][/left][/size][/font][/color]
[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=4][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]Why not? Just because? Granted you could start writing your own Java/C++ games, but UDK, Unity, and to a lesser extent XNA are all free in some form, have single IDEs that work out of the box, and carry no licensing requirements until you start making thousands of dollars. And you can have functioning games/prototypes in an afternoon.[/background][/left][/size][/font][/color]
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My suggestion is to develop using the [url="http://impactjs.com/"]Impact[/url] html5/javascript game engine and target browsers and mobile (iOS and Android through AppMobi (both) or iOSImpact (iOS)).

Browser may be hard to monetize, but AppMobi and iOSImpact package your game for the app stores.
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You should focus on monetizing the project even before you start work on the game. There is nothing like having a finished product and not knowing how to turn a profit from it.
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I'd say the other way around; given the OP seems to be just starting out and hasn't even figured out what game he actually wants to make, I'd say make a game first before you declare yourself a company.
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Put things in order.

What is your business plan? How exactly do you intend to make money? Who is your target audience? What does your target audience require in order to make a sale?


Lots of people build products without a market. Others figure out the revenue they can make but fail to consider the costs to get there. What's the point of investing $5000 if there are zero customers to buy it, or investing the $5000 only to make $500 in sales. Don't do that.

The FIRST step is to ensure you have a solid business plan. Figure out who your customers will be, figure out what they want and what they are willing to pay, figure out what your costs will be to provide that to them, then see if the venture will be profitable. Figure out your first product, your second product, your third product, how you will bring each to market, how you will advertise, and all the rest of the business side.

Or you can wing it and trust to luck, but if that is your goal you might as well just invest your time and money into the lotto.
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