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CGalyon

Game funding

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I recently read an interesting thread on here that got me thinking. I''ve been trying to fund my own game development group for about a year now and quite frankly it is very difficult to do. To achieve real efficiency with game development (that is get something done in a reasonable amount of time) you need to have a place for your whole group to get together and just work. Generally, this would be the office. An office is more than just something you pay monthly rent for and that has desks, an office is useful because it sets a mentality for work and set hours condition the mind to work within that time frame. Those are very important things in management. So anyway, I''ve run the gammut with some of the larger names now trying to get my material published and I received polite, but clear rejection. The reason is simple enough: Having enough to show when they wanted it. We failed in this because we did not meet our deadlines when we needed to. It sounds simple in theory, but when a group is as spread out as mine then it becomes very very hard to coordinate. And without an office place and set work hours procrastination occurs. What does it take to succeed then? I''d recommend investing in getting an office. Ensure that your employees or co-workers (depending on how you want to look at it) are fully aware that the job is NOT a paying job at first. Typically start-ups will NOT have funding to begin with. Finding people willing to work a long time without pay and yet who are of a professional attitude is very difficult. In other words, not everyone will understand that they REALLY won''t get paid until the game sales. My recommendation, therefore, is that you find a way to project the cost of an office and the equipment therein, the cost of living for yourself and that your employees/co-workers do the same and make sure that everyone can live for one year without pay and that the office can remain open for that long with a little breathing room. Then you can all sit down in the office area and develop the game into a presentable demo. Furthermore assign positions/responsibilities. Identify what jobs will need to be done. You will need one person seeking and maintaining publisher relations. This person should probably also serve as a Project Manager (the person who ensures that everyone stays on task). You will need at least one programmer. Having more than one helps, but they will need to be coordinated with each other. You will need an artist (visual) to fill your game with visual content. And you will need to have a designer. Naturally many of these positions can combine, but if any one person takes on too many tasks they will neglect some in favor of others and the tasks will not be completed: the game will fail. Anyway, just some knowledge from my own experiences. Good luck to everyone. Its been a long time since I''ve been on here! Take care, Charles Galyon

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My company, Blade Edge is just starting up so I''m prob going to run into just as many problems as you''ve had. I''m working on ideas for a "virtual office" team members can use to meet in weekly or twice a week or something to collaborate for a required set amount of time. I''ll prob post more on it when I have everything roughed out.

Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Public Relations, Game Institute
Staff Member, GDNet

Online column - Design Corner at Pixelate
3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)

IGDC - the International Game Developers Chat! [irc.safemalloc.com #igdc]

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Good luck! Thus far I''ve found this to be a very difficult obstacle to overcome. Let me know how it goes and, if you don''t mind, in the future how you achieved it.

Charles Galyon

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Hey Charles!


How''s it going? Drop me a mail and fill me in, I promise to reply within a decent timeframe :-). Sorry I lost contact for a while there, but you know what this Industry can be like with the workloads!


Cheers,









Marc Lambert

marc@darkhex.com

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Hey, I''m working for a game development company that has a programmer in sweden, one in canada (me) and 3 artists in texas. We''ve already completed a commercial game (earthworm jim for the gba) and are starting another, but it''s a hell of a lot of work.

Right now we meet for at least 4 hours online per day, and use teleconferencing to communicate, everyone has a webcam and mic so we can talk with each other easily while we are working. We haven''t had any real motivation problems because everyone knows that if we don''t get the milestones finished on time we don''t get paid. And getting paid means eating, so that''s plenty of motivation .

One thing to do when looking to hire people is make sure they are dedicated and this is their only job. Game development is extremely demanding and if you have another job or go to school it will be very tough for you to find the time to meet your deadlines. Also for hiring people in remote locations, good communications skills are a *must*.

Of course when it comes to crunch time, sometimes working remotely is just not good enough and you spend a few weeks at the real office, but in general having some people working from abroad usually is fine. Another key thing is to make sure that people know progress is happening, regular updates are key and at the end of every week we have a meeting discussing what went right/wrong and where we need to set goals for next week.

Anyhow, these are just my experiences, I''m sure others have had different ones.

Later,
Gary

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Premandrake''s comments are disenhearting me and my comapany.
We here at Protein Monkey Games pride ourselves on our hectic scheldule, and are going to have our first game done in around a month at our current rate (which might i add is 2 weeks ahead of schedule!)

because of legal resons all i can say is that its an rpg

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We (Samu Games) developed the initial release of Artifact with a remote team of 2 programmers, 1 artist and 1 sound guy. The programmers and the sound guy lived within an hour of each other in Oklahoma (USA), but the artist lived in Canada.

As the project leader, I was the only team member who kept in contact with all of the others. We never had a full staff meeting. At no time was there a meeting of more than 2 team members.

On top of that, we all worked on the project part-time. Myself and the other programmer had full-time jobs, the sound guy had a variety of jobs and taught guitar lessons, and the artist was a college student. Design began in late 1996, but it was late 1997 before any real work was done. Artifact went into public beta in March, 1999, and was finally released in October, 1999.

Artifact 2, a major upgrade, was another remote team effort. 3 of the same team members but a new artist. The effort took 6 months in 2000. Again, the only member of the team that ever talked to any other member of the team was me, as project leader. We''ve still never had a meeting with more than 2 of the team members at a time.

Communication among team members is important, but only if it affects what you need to do. We were able to get the game done because we had divided the work into distinct tasks and we each worked to fulfill our particular task.

Best of luck.


DavidRM
Samu Games

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When I was gonna strat up thisisnurgle, I was doing it on a budget of a few thousand pounds, everyone working remotely and payment was a small fee for work produced + a good royalty rate.

People seemed happy working with that (except the german guy who wanted to do my marketing... that was odd).


Nurgle

After careful deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that Nazrix is not cool. I am sorry for any inconvienience my previous mistake may have caused. We now return you to the original programming

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quote:
Original post by DavidRM
We (Samu Games) developed the initial release of Artifact with a remote team of 2 programmers, 1 artist and 1 sound guy. The programmers and the sound guy lived within an hour of each other in Oklahoma (USA), but the artist lived in Canada.

As the project leader, I was the only team member who kept in contact with all of the others. We never had a full staff meeting. At no time was there a meeting of more than 2 team members.

On top of that, we all worked on the project part-time. Myself and the other programmer had full-time jobs, the sound guy had a variety of jobs and taught guitar lessons, and the artist was a college student. Design began in late 1996, but it was late 1997 before any real work was done. Artifact went into public beta in March, 1999, and was finally released in October, 1999.

Artifact 2, a major upgrade, was another remote team effort. 3 of the same team members but a new artist. The effort took 6 months in 2000. Again, the only member of the team that ever talked to any other member of the team was me, as project leader. We''ve still never had a meeting with more than 2 of the team members at a time.

Communication among team members is important, but only if it affects what you need to do. We were able to get the game done because we had divided the work into distinct tasks and we each worked to fulfill our particular task.

Best of luck.


DavidRM
Samu Games



I just can''t imagine how this could have worked out but I guess it did..
No motivation problems at all at any time ? If yes what did you do about it.
I know 2 Gfx guys. We live in the same town a few minutes from each other. I have a hard time trying to motivate them.


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quote:
Original post by granat
No motivation problems at all at any time ? If yes what did you do about it.
I know 2 Gfx guys. We live in the same town a few minutes from each other. I have a hard time trying to motivate them.



Most of the motivational problems came with getting started. After that, having something to show for the work we had done was a huge help in keeping going.

I had worked out the artwork specification prior to finding an artist, so when we found Lars we just gave him the list. After a bit of experimenting to get the look we wanted, he tackled the list in (more or less) the order I told him.

I think it''s important that you know what you want done *before* you go looking for team members. That way you know what you need done, and they know what''s expected of them. They can see the workload upfront, and you''ll find out pretty quick if they''re someone you really want to work with. This applies to artists, sound effect engineers, and even programmers.

It''s much harder, I think, to build a team and then go looking for a project. You''ll have more problems with motivation and direction.

My opinions, anyway. Your mileage may vary.


DavidRM
Samu Games

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to DavidRM...
I belive you are completely right about this...

QUOTE: "I think it''s important that you know what you want done *before* you go looking for team members. That way you know what you need done, and they know what''s expected of them. "

I am in the planning part of a game project, I don''t know if it will ever become a game, and as I see it, planning how to make the game is more or less making the game.

Often, gamedevelopers look at the game industry as if the industry was completely different from all other industries, it''s not. Making a game is basically the same procedure as making a car or some other product. All products has some kind of producer, all producers must have a plan. If a project is to successful, and GUARANTEED to be sucessful, you need to follow standard producing proceedures.
This of course doesn''t mean that the game will be a best seller, but the game will be finished.

Back to the subject of Game Funding.
If I was to give money to someone that wanted to make a game, the basic prerequisites would be that they
1. have a plan
2. have a good producer
3. would know exactly how the project would be managed.
4. have a very good game idea.
5. have some experience.

This means that I would never give myself any money.

What I want to say with this post is that many game developers seem to think that the game industry is diffrent from other industries, it is not and never will be. If you claim that a game can be created in diffrent ways than other software - you are wrong and you will never get any funds.

Hmmm.... I guess this post may upset some people, if so, I''m sorry, also note that I have no experience to base my opinions on.......

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JOL---your right to some extant but the gaming industry is hard to break into---its not that a small company can't--but is who you know and the hardest part of the business is the ability to market your product (as you said it is very similiar to other businesses). The only thing that makes it hard is the compatition---Its very similiar to the music industry. I have been in music for close to 3 years now and have managed and promoted some of the worlds finist DJ's . And believe me it actually harder to make it in the game business than in the music business. The compatition is overwhelming, everyone has a game that they want published but without the proper know how or connections no one is going to look at them. Currently is been a year since I started Infinity Entertainment and the core members have stayed the same since. We work well together plus we really don't have group meetings---mostly is someone has a problem they take to me if I can't figure something out then I get the other members invovled. This works well because it does not disrupt the others from there duties plus it still keeps everyone interested. Currently our first project is going well the engine is nearly complete and the graphics and sound are nearly done. The one thing I had before the start of the company though is the storyline and some cinimatics which really helped on getting the point across that this is going to be a great game. You really need something to keep the group going motivationally. I keep in touch with most of the group members day to day and also tell them to e-mail me if I don't talk to them everyday so I can keep them in tune with the rest of the group.


David you are complete correct! Surprisingly enough its hard to find people that see eye to eye on these posts.

Maheedhar Sonthineni
Infinity Entertainment

If anyone whats any more info e-mail me at bishop@infinityes.cjb.net

Edited by - mahee on October 24, 2001 8:45:30 AM

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Dear Charles,

I think the tendency in the industry has always been for publishers to only give out contract work to developers with a proven track record. From concept to alpha demo is already a big step and in your case it''s even more difficult to receive funding. Contract work is guaranteed funding, but you are hired to build a game according to more or less exact specifications. No creative freedom to speak of. Valusoft and eGames are known to do something like this. Valusoft take a well known concept and have a team do a similar title. The days of contracting out work are over for eGames but I know for a fact that they had developers do Arcade games on order at one time.

With your project the difficulty lies in the fact that nobody knows your team, nor any previous projects you might have completed. If you had this on your resume it would be a bit easier, but still not a piece of cake. You need a playable demo to show to publishers in order to get funding. Not concept art, a design document or some other planning tool, but something tangible. I know you request funding in order to make a demo in the first place but it''s virtually impossible to get anyone to back that in the drawing board stages. Now once you have scrambled to complete a demo it''s still difficult. You need to have produced something which is revolutionary in terms of features, or a completely new game concept. The phrase "I''m doing a 3-D First Person Shooter" doesn''t get anyone excited, nor do any of the other stale genres. You need something unique to sway a publisher in backing a project. And in the end you need a bit of luck to make the last few yards to a deal.

Now you either knew all of this or you''ve found out the hard way by now, but fact is that none of the big publishers are going to even take a look at a project from a newby developer. EA even ask developers to put down a guarantee that the game will sell. If you do not make a target then you owe them another game. For free! Considering another line of work now?

But seriously Charles, I wish you good luck!

Take care,

Alex

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I''m afraid Alex is correct with what he said. Publishers really want to see that all that money they are paying out will not go to waste, so a track record or top-draw demo is needed.


That''s not to say it''s all bad, with a lot of these big publishers your first point of contact will be with someone who knows and understands more about the games than they do about business. This is so they can tell the good from the crap. If you manage to put on a good showing to this person, they go to the moneymen and see if a deal is worthwhile for them.

So you do have some help from within the publishers, but ultimately it has to be worth their while to even look at your work.





Marc Lambert

marc@darkhex.com

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"EA even ask developers to put down a guarantee that the game will sell. If you do not make a target then you owe them another game. For free!"

EA is a bunch of rat bastards. I hope they rot in hell...

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To all,

Your points have been well received and I pretty much agree with them. I can concur from my own experience that this is, indeed, the way the business presently works. Whenever trying to figure out how to pitch the proposal to a publisher I first try to think of what I would want to see before offering someone a sum of $200,000. I consider it to be a sizable investment and something not to be taken lightly (even in this particular industry where its the norm). Unfortunately, if you ask for a relatively small sum (like $50,000 or less), they seem even less likely to consider your work as they figure you a) have no idea what you''re talking about, b) are so cheap that whatever you do it will be of poor quality.

Now if one chooses to approach multiple investors in the manner of a start-up business rather than a publishing deal $25,000 or $50,000 is somewhat reasonable and expected. The problem with that is that you have to promise them returns and try to imagine what kind of returns you, as a business entity, would want to see (probably 150%+).

In regards to myself, I''m planning to try to develop a fully functional demo (then its just a matter of plugging in content) and then I''ll approach a publisher. I still cannot help but consider the possibility of approaching investors for smaller sums just to set up an office for a year for development prior to approaching a publisher, but that would eat away at our earnings (which the publisher will already do plenty of!).

Self-publishing is another possibility I''ve considered and I''ve made the contacts in manufacturing and distribution to do it, but having the advertising and marketing know-how is rather important for the console industry (which is what I''m hoping to break into). And, of course, a good distributor (one who can get you good shelf-space at major chains) is rather expensive still.

I''d like to continue to hear everyone''s thoughts on this. Its interesting and helps to keep my brain churning ideas. I especially liked the idea of approaching other industry businesses and selling them on the idea of pack-ins. I think 2-3 pack-in slips is an excellent way to make extra capital without overly annoying the end-consumer (too many pack-ins is just bad PR). Another thing to consider is approaching investors, as I mentioned before, for funding a studio for a year and basically making up the royalty loss (that would be used to pay the investors) with extra money earned from the pack-ins.

Anyway, more thoughts?

Charles Galyon

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DavidRM >>

It says on your homepage (SamuGames) that Paintball.net was taken offline because the costs involved with keeping the game going was getting larger than the income (correct me if I'm wrong).

The reason for this must be that even if new people pay for the game there's still all the "old" players to service. The have already paid a one-time payment and now they use up valuable bandwidth for years without paying anymore.

Yet still Artifact is based on one-time payments, which will mean that you might have to take it offline in a few years.

Have you ever considered that people should pay a small amount of money each year instead ?

This way the cost would not get larger than the income.


Have you ever thought of lowering the price of playing Artifact say 50% ? Maybe that way you could more than double the number of players (and income) ? But who knows right ?


When Paintball was taken offline did any of the players get angry and did they want their money back or something like that. Do people often complain?

Edited by - granat on October 25, 2001 1:45:57 AM

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I belive that most people tend to be hung up on fundings.
You can not compete with a game like Quake by making a similar game. The people behind quake has got A LOT of money, they put together a team of specialists that will outperform anything that you can come up with.
On the other hand, what you have as an advantage, is that you can make high risk ventures with very low fundings.
You can take advantage of volounter work.
You can get actors, writers, artists, singers, guitarists, videofilming and a whole lot more for free.
There are many schools out there with a lot of talented people that will be more than happy to work with you for free, actually not for free but for experience and it also looks good in their CV.

So, don''t try to make a quake VII, you will not succeed. Try something else, like a videobased boardgame or something, with real actors and real sound - you might not like to play it, but what if all women between age 50 and 70 loves it and HAS to buy it - that''s some cash in the register.

Maybe that wouldn''t be as cool and fun as making a quake clone, but you might get enough money to do that as game no 2.

Become a sellout.....

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Doing a low budget game dosent have to mean a sellout. I spent much more time playing bridge builder than i did the daikatana demo. Good games can be made for little money by small teams. Nobody wants to hear this, they all like talking about tens of thousands of pounds as a minimum, but its true. You CAN make money from a small game!

http://www.positech.co.uk

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Yeah I agree with Cliff. Just start making simple games first. Learn what makes a game fun and how to make those sales. There is no business I''ve heard of where people can start at the top. Everyone has to work their way up.

When ID Software started they were making platform games. Also they committed themselves to completing one game every 3 months.

If I see another team of 12 year olds asking for people to join their massively multiplayer 3D project I''m gonna scream!

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quote:
Original post by Davaris
If I see another team of 12 year olds asking for people to join their massively multiplayer 3D project I''m gonna scream!


Why don''t you just do it now and get it over with

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This is a pretty decent thread and it is intresting to see others view on this subject. So here is my two cents:

I am also in the process of starting a small company but it wont be until late next year before things actually get moving for me.

Currently I am good at the following:

1.Programming C/C++ DX & Windows
2.CG Graphics and Concept Art
3.Web Development
4.Story Development
5.Team Management (Day job is software development)

(It is possible to have multiple talents...I encourage it )

Anyway those things are find and good but its not enough. I would more or less like to focus on the programming and the artwork while finding team members to fullfil the long list of jobs that are required to complete a quality game.
Getting a team together requires alot of planning but once the planning is complete and you have a viable plan things will get rolling.
From my experience running a two mods I have found that if you put your heart and soul into a project people see that and its a little easier to attract talent and get people to buy into your vision (some of the time).
This leads me to my main point...yeah getting funding seems like the ultimate bitch but you can use things to your advantage. Remember that perception is reality and a good web presence says a whole hell of a lot. Plus your proably going to have to develop a demo with out pay and have it available on the web with a strong online community supporting your project.
IMHO if you can show that people want to play your game and its consider "hot" then you just may have a chance with a publisher cause those supporters equal potential buyers ....(example) successful half-life mods that have become games

Anyway, I have much respect for those of you who are stepping out trying to make it as small start ups. I take my hat off to you cause I will be there soon.

On the last note... the funniest this I read in this thread was this ......

quote:
"EA even ask developers to put down a guarantee that the game will sell. If you do not make a target then you owe them another game. For free!"

EA is a bunch of rat bastards. I hope they rot in hell...





My God I couldnt stop laughing at that.... my side hurt...





Morpheus


http://www.aka-morpheus.com

If my compiler was voice activated with the voice of my mother-in-law....there would be no errors!

Edited by - a_insomniac on October 29, 2001 7:31:44 AM

Edited by - a_insomniac on October 29, 2001 7:33:00 AM

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I''d say just do it, even if you can''t find anybody to help. Don''t let a lack of people (publishers, team members, friends, whoever) stop you from creating your dream. You may not be able to create a super duper blockbuster, but at least create a game. Just a fun game. I am what you may call a bedroom / garage developer. I''m doing the art, programming, some sounds (trying to get my brother to help with the music) and all I have is a check list of what''s needed in my game. It''s in alpha and almost ready for beta/demo. Sure it''s been a while, one of those off and on again things, but I am determined. I use a downloaded engine so I don''t have to spend $100,000 for it. I work on it nights and weekends and it is truly coming along. I can see it being ready for Christmas. It''ll be a download game, so no cost for printing and packaging. I''ll have one finalized game under my belt, ready for the next one. If a publisher wants to jump on my bandwagon, he or she is welcome. If not, I will continue to do what I enjoy, publisher or no publisher. The opportunities are too varied and numerous to worry about it.

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In my previous post - I didn''t mean that you should start off with something BIG...

This is what I meant...
As a programmer or artist you tend to go blind by considering a game something that is programmed or drawn - It is of course not - A game is a set of rules and a goal - basically.
Therefore, making a game is actually writing down the rules and the goal.
Programming and drawing is nothing more than making a GUI for that game.

What it comes down to is.
You can get very proffesional writing done by students that take a writerclass.
You can get video and music from the Mediastudents.
You could of course get free food from the local resturant school - if that is a main concern.
What you CAN''T get is more time and funds to have a programmer or artist full time for even a couple of weeks - and that is needed if you are about to make a advanced GUI.

You might consider keeping the GUI simple and the game complex
Also - have a PRODUCER of some kind, someone in charge that can handle it.

Just a thought - do it your way.

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