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How does a nobody actually make a game?

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Hi,

This is a purely hypothetical question.

Suppose, I actually had a great idea for a game, and suppose, that were it to be produced, it would not only be hugely successful, it would be really big. Just suppose.

How does someone like me (a little knowledge of c++ and a good idea of how to develop this game IF I had a big wad of cash) actually go about getting it done?

I see thread after after thread (all over the net) advising not to bother/it'll never happen/do something else, but there are obviously people who have managed to make it happen. So what do they do that's so different?

Essentially, what I am asking is this:

Suppose I have a great enough idea for a game (an some idea as to how to execute the design), that you're convinced it will, if made, be a phenomenal success. What would you suggest I do with it? Send to Eidos? Approach the bank? Slog away in my own time for the next 12 years?

Honestly, there must be some way of doing this.

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one way is to build up a strong relationship with somebody that looks up to you and trusts you and is able to get things going from a technical point of view.
This could be a friend, a partner (marriage of interest of course :P ) or somebody from the internet that is well impressed by your writings.

It is very very very unlikely to happen, but there you go, not 100% impossible.

My suggestion is to make games, find some place to start that isn't too overwhelming and start supporting your ideas with facts.. this will make the process above more likely to happen and it will teach about videogames development, that, after all, is software development at his heart.

If your idea is for something bigger than a simple mobile game doable in 3-4 months then I think your chances get closer and closer to zero the bigger the project is.

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So what do they do that's so different?[/quote]

They stop asking and just start making it. Check out places like TigSource and ScreenshotSaturday.com to see what other "nobodies" are doing.

If you lack skills, acquire them. Then practice.

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Suppose, I actually had a great idea for a game, and suppose, that were it to be produced, it would not only be hugely successful, it would be really big. Just suppose.

How does someone like me (a little knowledge of c++ and a good idea of how to develop this game IF I had a big wad of cash) actually go about getting it done?


I'll bet that almost everybody on Gamedev.net has some idea that'll sell huge if he or she just gets it made, hehe. The idea is to actually get it made, as has already been pointed out above. Don't worry about finances, just focus on getting the basic functionalities of the game made and a steady job to pay your bills if you can't afford to go full-time dev.

Games are, according to Game Design - Theory & Practice (Second Edition) by Richard Rousse III (a highly recommended book to any game designers), typically designed in a highly modular way - you design some base functionalities for a game and then elaborate on that later on. However you're filling in the wholes depends on how much and to which user group(s) you want the game to sell and what you're looking to convey (main pitch, side features etc). Successful games are a fine balance between business sense and expressionism.

E.g. from having 1 resource in a game to having 3, from having no animations on ugly entities to having full animations on your amazing artwork, and so on. My biggest lesson in my own path towards game development is to not have too high expectations of my early builds - that'll come with time, trusting your own ability to make it shine. Initially, your main concern should be to just design that bad-looking, shallow game that works. Then you'll focus on the finesse and aesthetics in order to make it feature complete and sellable.

If there's something you suck at, e.g. artwork in my case, then you can just pay someone to make it for you (or just make games that don't require as much art, until you get better - which is what I'm gonna do). Consider FIFA Football Manager 20##, a successful AAA series with almost zero artwork (just a bunch of menus and lists). In either case, hiring for specific, smaller jobs shouldn't be too costly. But one method that I'm going to pursue, is to not even attempt making my most ambitious project until maybe 5-10 years from now. Instead, I'm making a bunch of Java games that'll (hopefully) be semi-successful and then use their success as my backbone towards that monster title.

Heck, maybe your current idea of a monster title is even vastly inferior to what you'll end up with (the way I understand the industry).

You need to start somewhere. Just start mapping out your game with some kind of design document for your own perusal. A document can help you become more systematic and also to remember that big "wall of crazy" ideas that you just can't wait to implement (eventually haha rolleyes.gif). And let me tell you, my main project has a gargantuan wall of crazy happy.png. But first though: Basic functionality ftw.

Good luck! smile.png Edited by DrMadolite

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1. Suppose, I actually had a great idea for a game, and suppose, that were it to be produced, it would not only be hugely successful, it would be really big. Just suppose.

2. How does someone like me (a little knowledge of c++ and a good idea of how to develop this game IF I had a big wad of cash) actually go about getting it done?
Suppose I have a great enough idea for a game (an some idea as to how to execute the design), that you're convinced it will, if made, be a phenomenal success. What would you suggest I do with it?
2.a. Send to Eidos?
2.b. Approach the bank?
2.c. Slog away in my own time for the next 12 years?[/quote]

1. Of course. I have absolute faith that your idea is awesome. All ideas are awesome. And all ideas are worth the recycle value of the paper they're written on.

2.a. Since you're a nobody, they won't make your game. Why should they? It'll cost a lot of money to make your game, and you can't make it for them so they'd have to hire someone with experience.
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson11.htm

2.b. Since you're a nobody, they won't give you money. Why should they? You have no business experience, and no experience in the game business, and no contacts.
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm

2.c. Since you have only a little knowledge of C++, you can't make it yourself. You need a team. But since you're a nobody, only nobodies will be willing to work with you (and not all nobodies, at that).

Some other options:
3. Get experience in the game biz, and get contacts.
4. Get money.
5. Both of the above. One way you can do this is by getting a job in the game industry.

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I can't think of a single indie success-story that started out like this:

"So here, I was, this nobody with no skills and no resources, but I had this great idea. So I got to work, put pen to paper, and sent my GDD to Nintendo and some other big players 3 weeks later. Someone bit, and 6 months later I'm living it up in the Bahamas."

Every indie success story I know of involved the originator of the idea (most-usually) acquiring the the skills needed to produce, or at least begin, his great idea; or, more uncommonly, convincing other people with the requisite skills to produce their idea while taking on the role of designer and producer. The common thread, though, is that its the originator that drives it through. There's no success here without your own hard work and commitment.

No one's going to make it happen but you. No one else will carry the torch, much less hand you a bag of money for the privilege.

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How does a nobody successfully take a game idea all the way to release?

Become a somebody.


As has already been mentioned, established developers do not accept design submissions from the public. Unless you have (or are able to establish) personal relationships -- along with a very compelling case that your idea would be successful enough to be worthy of pursuit -- to get around this, submitting your design to an established developer is therefore out of the question.


This leaves you with a couple of options:

  1. Hire people with the skills to create your game for you.
  2. Get into the industry in some entry-level position, and then work your way up until you're able to have your idea considered.
  3. Create your game yourself, probably with at least some help (which you would likely have to pay for) from others.


Looking at #1, you would want to have a well written design document and a solid business plan before you begin. Given this approach is going into business, you would want to consult a lawyer, and would need to either learn about or hire someone with business management/operation experience. At minimum you would need a programmer and an artist, and would probably either out-source your audio or make use of stock content.

This approach gets pretty expensive (and is also very risky) for larger games, and unless you can hire an experienced team mistakes would almost certainly be made. Ideally you would want to start out with smaller scale ideas, or for a larger idea might concentrate on producing a demo which you could then pitch to a publisher or other investors to secure additional funding.

#2 is a very long-term project, and begins with you gaining some skill (and the matching qualification) to be hired in the industry. You would normally expect to spend several years working your way up the food chain before being able to have your idea considered. Your idea would be competing with the ideas of others for attention.

#3 is a whole topic of it's own: learn one or more skills (programming is usually the most practical) to create your own game, and work with others to get it done. You'll find our For Beginners forum filled with topics on how to approach this.


Useful links:
Tom Sloper's Game Design FAQs.
Obscure.co.uk FAQs and articles.

Hope that helps! smile.png

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3. Get experience in the game biz, and get contacts.

I think that, just like a degree generally tells a recruiter (HR or else), experience in the field you are intending to develop a product for shows a "minimum knowledge of the field" which generally sets you apart from the masses of people that think they understand it.
It's not perfect, but it does help to build credibility.

Assume you are looking for a programmer for your team, and assume you intend on paying him, from your OWN money. Which would you hire:

- LegacyJoe: He claims to have kickass ideas that entertwine well with your ideas, he knows 100 languages, he spent the last 20 years coding in his basement and for some reason, never came through with anything because it wasn't worthwhile, but your project he actuall intends on finishing.

- BobbyKen: He's fresh out of college and knows a few languages. He has a QA job in a larger publisher and is still hoping to get into a programmer position at some point, but he's only 3 months in and it seems H.R. will cook him a little longer.

- SarahBlackeParkerDavis: She's been an intern programmer and has recently migrated to full-time-on-the-payroll-programmer at a small indie studio close to startup size (team of say, 20-25 people) and she isn't doing anything fancy, but she likes to get the job handed to her done.

- SamuelDojoAllmighty: He's just been hired as a programmer 1 week ago by a large studio. He's been assigned to tools development but is arguing that he'd really like to be part of something bigger and that he can bring a lot to the table.

I don't see myself hiring LegacyJoe, not because it is 100% impossible that he's not a fraud, in fact, he could be the next Notch... but the risk alone prevents me from spending my hard-earned money and putting it on him... it would feel like gambling. Now, sure, none of the other candidates sound like they'd be the next Notch, but there's always a risk they could be, and more importantly, there's a good chance they'll bring a minimum level of quality to the table, and insure your game gets at least completed. And once you DO have a completed game, you'll be able to think of your next project, which will be more awesome (and more importantly, better planned) and you may gain access to more senior developers, or may want to take bigger risks.

These were may 3 cents and a half (apologizing for the wall of text).

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Some useful feedback here, many thanks to the wise and worldly of GameDev!

Following on from Mr Simon's original premise, what do people think of the following possibility: you have this 'killer idea' and you start off trying to develop a verrrrrrry basic version of it, just a simple APP, to get the basic name and idea out there (whilst holding back some of the 'juicier' elements for later, more refined, versions)....?

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to get the basic name and idea out there


Why?

Why would you want to broadcast to the world a watered-down weak version of your awesome idea?
Why would you want to broadcast your idea to the world instead of investors anyway?
Wouldn't it be better to make an awesome demo of the juiciest bits of your awesome idea to show to investors?

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Some good questions, Tom (and I'm here to learn, so please correct me if I'm wrong)...


'Why would you want to broadcast to the world a watered-down weak version of your awesome idea?'

I wouldn't. But basic doesn't necessarily mean watered-down or weak, it can mean limited. Imagine someone showed you just the final fight scene in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - would that be enough to convince you to watch all three films, just on the back of that one sequence....?

'Why would you want to broadcast your idea to the world instead of investors anyway?'

Because an APP version could not only broadcast the idea to investors, it would also demonstrate its commercial pull (assuming it exerted any commercial pull!)

'Wouldn't it be better to make an awesome demo of the juiciest bits of your awesome idea to show to investors?'

My thinking (naieve or not!) is that by getting a limited APP version 'out there', one could potentially demonstrate its appeal.

But as I say, I'm here to learn so feel free to correct me if you think I'm mistaken.

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If you had the money. It's completely up to you. Just study a bit a law, find someone or some company and set up a legal binding that both parties agree and there you go.

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'Why would you want to broadcast your idea to the world instead of investors anyway?'

Because an APP version could not only broadcast the idea to investors, it would also demonstrate its commercial pull (assuming it exerted any commercial pull!)


Been there, so I know why you'd be tempted to do this. This is a bad instinct, and here's why:
Most products that do have some commercial interest from the population (and I'm mostly referring to web and mobile apps) will require immediate updates. The fact you're holding back on good stuff is great, because it helps you get ready to expand IF necessary, which means you can pitch a few projects and only pick the one that worked ok and expand on it.
However, if you're building this on a budget and hoping for this product to work first and then get proper funding, you'll find that the velocity of the people you meet up with is not on par with yours, and that when you actually get money out of the deal to continue dev, the "hype" will be dead.

In other words, you'd be trashing your own idea because of industry velocity factors.
You should definitely pitch your idea to investors, but not go live until you are sure you can followup with something else at a moment's notice.
A project I was working on has recently suffered from that... a bad "transmissions in the cogs" so to speak.

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[quote name='ToddF' timestamp='1344890164' post='4969186']
'Why would you want to broadcast your idea to the world instead of investors anyway?'

Because an APP version could not only broadcast the idea to investors, it would also demonstrate its commercial pull (assuming it exerted any commercial pull!)


Been there, so I know why you'd be tempted to do this. This is a bad instinct, and here's why:
Most products that do have some commercial interest from the population (and I'm mostly referring to web and mobile apps) will require immediate updates. The fact you're holding back on good stuff is great, because it helps you get ready to expand IF necessary, which means you can pitch a few projects and only pick the one that worked ok and expand on it.
However, if you're building this on a budget and hoping for this product to work first and then get proper funding, you'll find that the velocity of the people you meet up with is not on par with yours, and that when you actually get money out of the deal to continue dev, the "hype" will be dead.

In other words, you'd be trashing your own idea because of industry velocity factors.
You should definitely pitch your idea to investors, but not go live until you are sure you can followup with something else at a moment's notice.
A project I was working on has recently suffered from that... a bad "transmissions in the cogs" so to speak.
[/quote]

This is a good point. While thinking over it I came up with this: Commercial interest is a good way to gain/keep investors, and having investors is a good way to be able to produce material for maintaining commercial interest.

Of course that^ is just and method/plan and not a proven method.

If this was not just a purely hypothetical question, I would say:

Just a quick business side note: Commercial interest means sales. So anybody involved in Business will only get involved if they are convinced whatever they are doing means they will get paid! So if anyone wants to be a business man... don't fuck around <3

So let's take a look at branches of many elements that can be broken down and involved in this given situation:
Investors - Product - Sale - You - Sale - Law

You: This part is simple, you're the business man. You decide what you want out of people!

Investors: You get money. Money and business go together like bread and butter. Only you can decide where that money goes.

Product: How are you getting this? If you are spending money, consider who you give money. Do you plan on overseeing the operation? Personally, I would 'legally' reserve the right to peek under the hood of the project.

Sale: You decide if you're a company, or if you're an idiot and want to get involved with "indie game." Sale means to get the product in reach of consumers. Pay attention to distributors! And remember that's all they are! The reason I say this is because Microsoft is a distributor. I feel like a lot of you need to be smarter with this. Think about the relationship between Family guy and Fox... Seth was smart!

Marketing: Gain commercial interest!

Law: Study law, you sign a lot of stuff and get into deal. Negotiate. Don't go accepting things you aren't happy with. Check out the Uniform Commerce Code in the state you reside.

I'm sorry but I have to go and have no time to spell check and rushed at the end. Peace out!

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1. Get your concept on paper.
2. Copyright it or even poormans copyright.
3. Create a team roster on paper.
4. Research what it would take to produce the game.
5. Put your team together. There are plenty of people on gamedev.net for that.

Keep it small and stick with people that have a heart.

6. Pick up some good books and Get to work!


1. Get your concept on paper.
2. Copyright it or even poormans copyright.
3. Create a team roster on paper.
4. Research what it would take to produce the game.
5. Put your team together. There are plenty of people on gamedev.net for that.

Keep it small and stick with people that have a heart.

6. Pick up some good book and Get to work!

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