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welOhim

Lone Poor developer protected from Mega companies

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Hello,

 

My questions in this days of medium size to big mega-companies, is it possible for a lone developer to come up with original ideas without getting muzzled out by these bigger companies due to their massive resources? While the lone developer is trying to get off the ground slowly and gradually?

 

I'm not just referring games here but also including other software products in general (noting that its impossible to get IP for pure software - even if it is, it would be too expensive for the lone poor but creative developer to start and maintain lawsuits. i.e. Apple, Samsung, google, Microsoft  are protecting their products and suing each other because they can afford it)

 

I have brained-stormed gaming ideas in the past but my ideas never really seemed original enough to excite me -every genre seem very competitive. Then I shifted away from games (but using same skills-set) then (light-bulbs) and great ideas started coming. But there are lots sad stories around of real creative people muzzled off.

 

So how do people here see this issue? Or if i am missing the point how does it work?

 

thanks

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The key is to understand that the AAA games produced by big companies are vulnerabilities of at least 20 million, and comfortably north of 50 million for the big titles. These things need to make back their large investment, reliably, in order to be worth doing in the first place. So major companies' productions are carefully assessed for market, risk, marketing, etc and set up appropriately. They're almost universally unwilling to take risks on new stuff that is niche, arthouse, creative, etc. That's simply not their role.

 

It's where our role as indies starts. The big team sizes work against the corporate productions in many ways. The biggest indie successes happen when taking things in a completely different direction, one that would have never been greenlit for a full scale production in the first place. Probably the most powerful modern example is Minecraft. Can you imagine that being created by a major company? No way would any publishing exec sign off on that.

 

Think waaaaay outside the box.

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1. is it possible for a lone developer
2. to come up with original ideas
3. without getting muzzled out by these bigger companies due to their massive resources? While the lone developer is trying to get off the ground slowly and gradually?


1. Anything is possible.
2. Ideas are easy. Original ideas are a bit less easy.
3. Question unclear. It's possible. Ideas aren't enough. Got a business plan? You need a business idea and a businesslike approach and a business plan.

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3. Question unclear. It's possible. Ideas aren't enough....

 

Actually i have gone beyond the business plan stage...

I mean with your idea you haven't  got the funds to fully develop and mass-market it. So with the aim of developing further in versions/sequels, you release a watered-down version (so the idea is out), which means the rich guys (big companies) with the huge marketing resources see the idea and your toil becomes their gain 

Edited by welOhim

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welOhim, on 21 Jan 2015 - 11:44 PM, said:
1. is it possible for a lone developer
2. to come up with original ideas
3. without getting muzzled out by these bigger companies due to their massive resources? While the lone developer is trying to get off the ground slowly and gradually?

 

Actually the way you split up and rewrite the question has completely mis-interpreted my questions. I wasn't asking if it is possible for a lone developer to come up with original ideas

 

 

 


So build your camp on dry land and do the things that a big studio cannot do.

 

Easier said than done. I can't imagine what a lone developer can do that big studio can't 

Generally good point!

Edited by welOhim

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If it helps, don't think of it as what big studios can't do, but instead what they won't do; of course they are capable of making all of the games that have been mentioned in the technical sense, but they won't take the risk on an unproven or unusual idea.

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The more interesting question is how to acquire an unusual idea in the first place. I feel like the hobbyist and indie world is split in two major and one small group:

 

Those who have unusual, cool ideas, but are unable to implement them.

Those who have no innovative ideas, but would be able to implement them.

And a very small group of those who have both. Those are the guys that can actually live off of their work as indies (if they somehow manage to get the business part right, too).

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Those who have unusual, cool ideas, but are unable to implement them.

Those who have no innovative ideas, but would be able to implement them.

These cool ideas are often comming from the idea-men, people who do not realize, that a cool game is not all about a photorealistic-sandbox-world simulation-massive multiplayer-story game.

Small hobbiest/indies have the option to realize new ideas, but often choose, due to limited resources, uncool visualization and abstraction layers(ascii, sprites etc.). So, does a cool game requires cool graphics ? What about minecraft, dwarffortress ?

 

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Those who have unusual, cool ideas, but are unable to implement them.
Those who have no innovative ideas, but would be able to implement them.
And a very small group of those who have both. Those are the guys that can actually live off of their work as indies (if they somehow manage to get the business part right, too).
 
 
These days cool ideas comes about ( in addition to intelligence and creativity) by: accidentally, experimentally or both, otherwise it will be obvious and would have been done. 
If you don't agree you are saying the rest of the world is not as smart (or maybe dumb) - in other words you are saying "i can easily see what other cannot see"

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These days cool ideas comes about ( in addition to intelligence and creativity) by: accidentally, experimentally or both, otherwise it will be obvious and would have been done. 
If you don't agree you are saying the rest of the world is not as smart (or maybe dumb) - in other words you are saying "i can easily see what other cannot see"

 

It is not about being smarter or dumber. It is about information, and ability to act on that information.

Ideas never appear in a vacuum. The myth of the lone genius is nothing more then that, a myth.

If you have a great idea, chances are high thousands of other people have had the same idea or something very similar.

Pretty much all ideas are obvious if you have the right information.

 

But since information is always evolving, and adding up, it means there is always lots and lots of innovative ideas waiting just around the corner.

They don't get less with time, they actually increase in number!

 

This is were the lone guy has an advantage, he only has to convince himself the idea is good to act on it.

 

We could take Minecraft as an example again. Notch actually pitched it to his employer at the time. (King) They wern't interested. So he quit.

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Those who have unusual, cool ideas, but are unable to implement them.
Those who have no innovative ideas, but would be able to implement them.
And a very small group of those who have both. Those are the guys that can actually live off of their work as indies (if they somehow manage to get the business part right, too).

 
These days cool ideas comes about ( in addition to intelligence and creativity) by: accidentally, experimentally or both, otherwise it will be obvious and would have been done. 
If you don't agree you are saying the rest of the world is not as smart (or maybe dumb) - in other words you are saying "i can easily see what other cannot see"


Over the years I was working at EA we had many wonderful ideas for great products.

These products could have easily become commercial successes. We even built several pitches and ran the numbers on what it would take to build the game.

The problem was that EA was too large to make the game.

As an example, when Nintendo announced the DSi and their downloadable titles, while we were working with our Hasbro contacts we came up with several great pitches for essentially coloring books. Not the old 1980s style mono-colored books, but supporting fun textures and stay-within-the-lines functionality. On the DSi we could put the images across the Internet in a secure area for parents to see, or on SD cards, trade images, and do so much more. The cost to build the program was relatively low and it could be used with DLC content to pump out as much ultra-cheap coloring book art as they wanted.

If we were able to remove so many of the corporate requirements, remove the corporate overhead, get around contracts requiring union-rate audio, and a few others, we could have made a very inexpensive but quite likely profitable collection of software. Great idea, lots of great contracts providing branded content, but too inexpensive to make.

Once a studio or group is large enough that they are dealing with multi-million dollar properties, the properties below that value become inaccessible.

I've heard the same thing out of other places as well. If a product is inexpensive to build but will only bring in $2M in profit, they'll turn it down. Not because the idea is not profitable, but because the idea is too small. They're looking for big products with a $20M return, a small product may have a higher probable ROI when it comes to development, but the bigger companies demand bigger bottom-line numbers.

Many of these good ideas tend to encourage small groups to break away to form their own startups. They know the idea is good and viable, and for them the predicted high profit is worth it.

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Actually i have gone beyond the business plan stage...
I mean with your idea you haven't  got the funds to fully develop and mass-market it. So with the aim of developing further in versions/sequels, you release a watered-down version (so the idea is out), which means the rich guys (big companies) with the huge marketing resources see the idea and your toil becomes their gain 

 

So don't make a watered-down version of your game if you're that worried about it. I think this is actually not as much a threat as you make it out to be, but in any case trying to make a big splash against the AAAs by playing their own game is very much a case of your reach exceeding your grasp -- unless you can get someone to give you enough money to play that game effectively.

 

But you're falling into a false dichotomy, because you don't have to go big-budget or go low-budget. You could make a different game, and thereby build experience and perhaps earn a nestegg with which to take on a bigger idea.

 


These days cool ideas comes about ( in addition to intelligence and creativity) by: accidentally, experimentally or both, otherwise it will be obvious and would have been done. 
If you don't agree you are saying the rest of the world is not as smart (or maybe dumb) - in other words you are saying "i can easily see what other cannot see"

 

Think of all the thoughts you've had and never executed on -- and not just executed because it was a bad idea, but not executed because life stands in your way, or because watching your favorite television show is just too important to you to give up in persuit of an idea. You have more ideas, I'm sure, than you would ever get to in 10 lifetimes. Everyone is like this. Follow-through is far more important than an idea, and its far rarer. Many good ideas will have been thought of already (at least in broad strokes), and some ideas do have a kind of latent value, but no idea has extant value until its made real and shared.

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If a product is inexpensive to build but will only bring in $2M in profit, they'll turn it down.

 

I bet it costs more than this on a daily basis just to open the doors and run EA for a day. It's understandable why they would only want big projects, it is the same in any industry. Do you see ford manufacturing a specialist car that might only appeal to 100 people for example, even if each one costs 500k to buy? Common business sense, really...

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But you're falling into a false dichotomy, because you don't have to go big-budget, go low-budget. You could make a different game, and thereby build experience and perhaps earn a nestegg with which to take on a bigger idea.

 

Ok I get it now

This has been the overwhelming reasoning: The development focus of an indie or lone developer doesn't (and shouldn't) overlap with that of  big studios. 

If i think it overlaps then i'm writing the wrong game

 

 


You won't beat the big guys by playing their game

 

summarises  what i've learnt from this discussion 

Edited by welOhim

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As Ravyne mentioned it is futile to try beating them in their own game where they represent millions of dollars and years of experience.

 

It was (and is) why I believe indies should look for uncharted or giant-free sections of gaming ( http://www.gamedev.net/topic/650538-whats-wrong-with-game-dev-guys-or-me/ )

 

Even if you are interested in a game similar to of a giant's, redefine game (even genre) so differentiate in content. Nowadays people are perfectly ok with the fact that indies aren't expected to serve AAA assets (as long as it is not shabby and have a consistency, even some games like Call of Juarez Gunslinger steps down on assets) , low specs of mobile devices also convinces people.

Edited by Unduli

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I'd agree with Frob and say it is much easier for smaller guys to produce and execute good idea.  Every games company has several programmers, designers and artists and being gamers every one of these people probably has a new games idea every day but, none of them ever see the light of day.  

There is a much smaller risk for the little guy than there is for a large corporation with shareholders etc..

Also all the mega corps started somewhere.

Microsoft started with Bill Gates and Paul Allen writing BASIC Interpreters.
Facebook started with Zukeberg hacking his university student records.
Twitter started as a brainstorming idea at a small podcasting company.
Apple started in a garage.

 

Just look at the startup scene in Silicon Valley, Austin, London or Tel Aviv at the moment.  These are all being run by smart 20 somethings with an idea. And a lot of them have hedge fund managers and VC queuing up to throw money at them because they are all willing to take the risk that one of these little guys could eventually be the next mega - corp.

 

On the other hand the mega corps cannot take the risk with every idea because perceived risk can mean a drop in share prices. and a half point dip could be the equivalent of millions wiped of the value of a company.

 

In the games space just look at Minecraft, temple run, Flappy Bird,  No Mans Sky to see what can be achieved by a little guy with a good idea and the skills to execute that idea.

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BBC abandons £100 million project,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22651126   

 

semi-abandoning of google glass 

 

If my memory was better i should have been able to recall more multi-million $ projects abandoned by these big companies and...

you know what - they continue their business as usual - they haven't collapsed 

 

if we extrapolate to big gaming studios, then rather than saying they can't risk new ideas - we should say ; they can absorb the risk

(maybe for every 5 projects they get right, they can (risk)absorb 2-3 failures)

Edited by welOhim

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If my memory was better i should have been able to recall more multi-million $ projects abandoned by these big companies

 

How about Microsoft abandoning zune, xna, many other technologies and hardware?

 

Big companies won't take risk because it isn't just a matter of absorbing direct losses. Losses affect share price and people panic and sell. This directly affects the business for many weeks or months to come.

 

These companies didn't take a risk on purpose, they made decisions based on bad judgement (e.g. People will buy the zune instead of ipod because of the Microsoft name and aggressive marketing campaigns despite it being BROWN ;))

 

Not just that, but if it was your money and someone said "i can risk your money on an unproven investment and you might lose it all, bit if it pays off you might double it... Or i can invest it in a safe opportunity and you're gauranteed a return"

 

What choice do you pick? Are you perhaps a gambling man? smile.png

Edited by braindigitalis

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That Microsoft list is a bad example here. Zune probably could have done well with a better marketing team behind it. Unfortunately they launched as an also-ran, chose some bad styles for the exterior, and picked some terrible naming. XNA was not abandoned, it was designed for a single thing and actually did it very well. It was (and still is) a wrapper for the DX9 functionality enabling people to make games that run on XBox 360, and PC, and a specific phone. It was not meant to grow to new features, it was meant for a very specific class of equipment and it succeeded very well. Look at the thriving marketplace on the game console for evidence of that. There was no need for updates since the game console is not a moving target.

Microsoft gets pitches for new business products all the time. They reject most of them because they are not a scale that works for the company. Why spend money developing a product with an expected $2M revenue? That is small potatoes, farm it out to a subsidiary or pass on the idea. The company proper can spend their time on a product line with billions in revenue -- hundreds or thousands of times more money -- with a global high-profile product that boosts both their bottom line and their brand value.

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