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Syrion308

Game development and commercial success. Not a single $ was earned that day.

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my wish is to get self-employed as one-men team, being a part of IT industry, not bound to anything, anyone and being able to work from anywhere, anytime...kinda freelancer job. However, making this happen doesn't seem to be that easy, especially if one doesn't know what exactly to do. I have just graduated  as electrical engineer and I'm also employed in software developing company which is creating tools for engineers, and I'm mostly doing API programming in .net languages. An OK job, but it's not a long term stuff. As I said, I want to go self-employed route, doing something different.

 

[rant]

I was thinking to try with game developing as this used to be one of my former hobbies. I created some stuff for flash portals and android market, but those were one of the worst projects ever had in the means of time invested and money generated. In previous years I invested a lot of time to learn programming, art,game design and also some audio engineering, but all this has to be done, just to create an application, which technically can be called a game and is still light years away from a state of finished product. Then I had to learn how to make polished art (in my case vector graphics),so that my product looks proffessional and that can be taken seriously (yes, yes I know, there are successfull games with shitty graphics, but they are exceptions), a game market, which is almost definition for oversaturation. It turned out that on game market 90% of developers doesn't make a dime, while others take almost all income and they're more or less all teams. Me as a lone wolf, couldn't stand a chance against highly skilled and professional teams. Some people even told me: "If your primary concern is money, just don't bother with game developing where multiple needed skills are just a ticket into an oversaturated market, where success is based on luck"

[/rant]

 

So what could I try as well?Web page design and web tech seem to be also out of question, since there are so many ppl who do that, but mostly I don't like that either. The idea is that projects are small and managable by one person and that market is not full of this profession. I don't know, just give some ideas.. [yeah I know, I sound like a semi-frustrated college boy, who just graduated and this actually is true]

Edited by Syrion308

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Statistically speaking, you'll probably have a better chance getting rich by begging in your free time, and using that money to buy lottery tickets, than by starting out in indie development.

 

My suggestion would be to focus on your career, and if you feel the job's easy, apply to a higher paying/harder position.

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Statistically speaking, you'll probably have a better chance getting rich by begging in your free time, and using that money to buy lottery tickets, than by starting out in indie development.

 

My suggestion would be to focus on your career, and if you feel the job's easy, apply to a higher paying/harder position.

My aim is to make enough bucks to make a living out of it and not getting rich, but I believe that in both cases story is the same; the chanches are small to make it, regardless the extend.

 

I remember when I talked with my current boss about gamedev - he said that they tried this as company's side bussiness, but it turned out it's just a big fuc* up and simply not worth of investing. They quickly abandoned the program and went after some stupid shit like 3D printing technology. They started to make molds of some misc stuff, maybe even dildos, totally stupid, but it made an income. There were even cases of game developers, who developed games since they were almost in dipers and I see them now being depended from kickstarter or donations, after investing up to 5% of their lifetime into a single game tittle.

Edited by Syrion308

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Game dev is like many other popular occupations (actors, music industry, fine arts, ...) - Too many people try to get in, and the market is controlled by the very few topshots. Most that get in don't bring enough potential or talent with them, they underestimate just how much work it is to make a living in it, and they expect to rise to the top when simple statistics dictate that with 99.9% chance, they will stay underdogs in the industry they choose.

 

If you are not looking to join an existing studio or team (which still means you have to fight many very talented and passionate individuals applying for too few positions), your best bet is to make sure you can earn a living, while game dev'ing on the side. Moonshine for some months or years and see if you can build something that might sell. Maybe look for a well paid part time job and use the additional free time for game development (that is what I did).

 

Just be aware: this is more of a time intensive and, depending on your hard- and software requirments, slightly expensive hobby until you finish something and find a way to market and sell it. It is far from a fool proof career decision. It is not easy money, or something you can plan 5 years ahead. Your chances of success are low.

 

 

If you would like to REALLY kickstart an Indie Game dev career, go work in the game dev industry for 10+ years. Make business contacts, get yourself known, make a name for yourself that people will remember.

Then, one day, leave the big studios and bootstrap your own. If you ask for money on Kickstarter as a John Carmack, or Romero, you most probably will get much more than you asked for. If you ask as John Doe, well, good luck getting anything.

 

Unless you are ready to really fight for a position in a game dev studio, work yourself up the ladder for some years, show exemplary skill and dedication and make yourself known, your best bet is to just give up on making money with game dev for now, and treat it as a hobby for the time being.

There are always people that have the one great idea, that can bootstrap their business with nothing but pen and paper and find success, but they are few, and if you were one of them, you most probably wouldn't ask this question here...

 

 

 

EDIT:

 

One thing you COULD try would be to work on freelancing gigs as programmer. Given that you have prior work expierience and a degree, you might be able to create a portfolio and find some unpaid or low cost gigs with Indie devs looking for programmers... then work your way up there, trying to get freelancing gigs that pay better.

 

Depending on your cost of living, that might actually pay the bills, and give you some work expierience at least on the programming side of game development.

 

As programmers are usually much harder to find than artists (the demand for programmers from other, higher paying industries is still unbroken), you shouldn't find it too hard to get freelancer jobs as a programmer. Maybe you will need to specialize at one point, IDK... graphics programming for example, or AI....

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Generally, successful independents are people who had years of experience working in the industry. They have the chance to learn all the ropes while working a mediocre job for mediocre pay. They also build connections during that time. Then they can take that experience and social network and build something off of it; either their own indie studio, or a consulting firm, etc.

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In addition to the above (successful independents are usually veterans, development is hard) there are some hard numbers that people need to accept.

 

Even if you have an experienced development studio, few ideas can be turned into successful games.  Between projects we have an enormous number of pitches that get reviewed, and perhaps on 5% only get explored.  Of those that get explored, only about one in five gets turned into a prototype.  We throw out many of those prototypes, maybe only 1/3 get developed into complete products, the other 2/3 getting killed either as prototypes or early during main development. A small number get thrown out during late development, sadly it happens.

 

After all of that, even good studios tend to have a track record of 10% "success". Often there is around 1 success, 2-3 break-evens, and 6-7 total failures.  That one breakaway success needs to fund the other 10 that were fully developed and marketed and failed, plus the 30 or so prototypes, plus the 500 or so pitches, plus the 2000 or so ideas that get thrown out on the way to making pitches.

 

Many different groups have published stats on that over the decades. In the 1980s it was about one in four. Right now for a successful established studio that number is about one in ten.

 

For the inexperienced individual developer, the statistics are going to be far worse.

 

 

While it is possible that your first product will happen to be that runaway success, it is far more likely that you won't see your runaway success until after exploring a few hundred ideas, and building a dozen or so prototypes, and completing four or five failed projects.

 

On our successful projects it feels like we are printing money.  2 million sales, 3 million sales, and we know the company is netting $20 or $30 per sale.  But that doesn't go directly to the development team. That money goes to fund all the ideas, the cancelled projects, and the products that are marketed and mass produced but only sell tens of thousands of copies at a terrible loss.

 

 

 

If you are going to enter the market of an independent single individual programmer, be prepared to build a double-digit number number of games that never earn a profit before stumbling on a profitable idea.  Then expect another double-digit number of failures before you stumble upon your next profitable idea.

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You are unlikely to ever achieve the freelance digital nomad lifestyle you want from games development.  If you want to develop software on a freelance basis and get paid well for it you need to investigate where the demand is and what the demand is.

 

Currently the demand is single page web app development,  web services and mobile app development (iOS in particular).   These are the areas that have trouble recruiting enough developers and hire lots of freelancers.  So the skills you need are in no particular order Ruby on rails, Python, Javascript, Java, Objective C.  Its easier to get work if you market yourself as the "Unicorn" "full stack developer".

 

Also although you want to work anywhere you need to start off somewhere where there are lots of other people like you so that you can network and get your name around.  This does mean that you will need to relocate until you at least get your career off the ground.  Freelancers tend to congregate around various tech hubs in the US this means Silicon Valley, Austin or New York.  In Europe there is London UK, Minsk in Belarus and Berlin in Germany.  Other areas with big tech hubs are Tel Aviv and Dubai.

 

If you can get a paid gig in any of these areas you will end up living in areas surrounded by people similar to yourself and be able to build up a large network of contacts.  After a couple of years (provided you are good at what you do) you should have no trouble making a name for yourself as a freelancer.

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As a freelance developer i've always kept gamedev as a hobby and haven't been concerned with making money from it.

 

I've had moderate success (read as: enough to live off and supplement my wages quite significantly for a while) by developing business applications. By business applications i mean the process of holding a meeting with a company's directors and staff to find out what they need to improve their business and then going away and implementing it using iterative development models, and repeately having meetings with user testing to see if it does what they need it to do.

 

It's quite lucrative and if you have a proven track record of doing it (as i did) or can at least prove you can do what you say you can do, you can go far. It can be stressful and annoying (user requests are almost as bad as those from playtesters!) and you will probably need a bit of web backend knowledge, e.g. PHP, ASP, MySQL and MSSQL. You don't really need web design knowledge though as these are a different skill set and business users don't expect fancy looking backend systems, just systems that work.

 

Generally, if you can listen to user requirements and understand what they want, and you can code to the level expected for A-Level computing (second year college stuff, for all you Americans) then you stand a good chance of making a go of it.

 

Personally i stopped doing this though as I wasn't planning to quit my day job to do it, and this plus a day job plus a large family and married life wasn't possible without making sacrifices i wasn't prepared to make. Family always comes first.

 

These jobs can be done [i]remotely[/i] within your own home but you'll need to be able to regularly travel to meetings at the company's office, and spend a fair bit of time in video conferences on skype etc.

 

Edit: A little piece of advice though; Don't undersell yourself! These business systems go for big bucks, and whatever figure you're thinking of charging, double or triple it (it WILL go over schedule) and propose this figure to the business, open to a little negotiation. Remember, they're paying for something that might save them millions, not a file-o-fax written in VB smile.png It's all about perception of value.

 

Good luck in whatever choice you make!

Edited by braindigitalis

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After all of that, even good studios tend to have a track record of 10% "success". Often there is around 1 success, 2-3 break-evens, and 6-7 total failures.

Daniel Cook very recently posted about just this topic, it's a good read for anyone looking to get into the business.

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