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Vance Marcos

Starting from Scratch

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I have been trying to get my game idea developed for more than 2 years now.  After hiring 2 different companies and spending $$$ thousands I don't have nothing to show for all the money I have spent.

And to make things more difficult, my location is somewhat "remote".  I live in the middle of the pacific ocean here in Hawaii and did I forget to mention that I have no "technical" background.  I have no contacts who are in the gaming industry to mentor me thru the development process.  

My family has grown +1 making it a total of 6 children and I am the sole provider of my family.  The cost of living here is ridiculous, but I was born and raised here...and thats my excuse for not moving to the mainland.  We spent our lifesavings on trying to get the game developed and yet I am not discouraged.  I remain focused on my goal of creating this game, which has led me to my latest "plan of action" and my "better half" supports me completely and believes in my project just as much as I do. 

So, here I am...more than 2 years later and I want to develop this game more than ever.  I knew that this path would be long and hard. I didn't expect the setbacks and losing as much money as we did with the 2 companies.  And thats the reason I have decided to put together my own development team.  

[recruiting is not permitted in these discussion forums]


You can trade hours for dollars

or you can trade ideas for millions

the choice is yours


I have a question to ask...how difficult is it for a graphic designer to take pictures that I have of my game characters and create 3D models from them? [classified language deleted]  Thank you in advance for your help.

Edited by Tom Sloper

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I have a question to ask...how difficult is it for a graphic designer to take pictures that I have of my game characters and create 3D models from them? I would like 3 models of each image with differences in height and weight.  I will create a contest with these 3D models later on freelancer.  Thank you in advance for your help.


Any artist reasonably skilled at 3D modeling of humanoids (or whatever the subject matter of your pictures is) can probably create these models from sufficient source art. It's simply a matter of finding one whose work you like and who will do the work for you for a price you can both agree on.
There's a Classifieds section on this site that might be a good place for your to start looking. Good luck.

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I have decided to put together my own development team.


I don't know what forum this was in before it was moved to For Beginners, but the question you are asking is definitely one we often discuss in Business/Law. Moving this there. And please use the Classifieds when you are ready to start recruiting your team (not the discussion boards).


First order of business: create a Collaboration Agreement and a business plan. You'll need a lawyer's help. This forum (Business and Law) has a list of game attorneys, and the FAQs link to Collaboration Agreements. More links for you:

Contracts - http://www.sloperama.com/advice/article58.htm

Collaboration Agreements - http://maientertainmentlaw.com/2008/11/collaboration/

What Happens When You Don't Have a Contract, part 1 - http://www.gamedev.net/blog/1394/entry-2254033-what-happens-when-you-don%E2%80%99t-have-a-written-agreement-part-1-contract-basics/

What Happens When You Don't Have a Contract, part 2 - http://www.gamedev.net/blog/1394/entry-2254080-what-happens-when-you-don%E2%80%99t-have-a-written-agreement-part-2-real-life-application/

Starting Your Own Company - http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm

I Have Ideas, But No Money - http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m91.htm

Edited by Tom Sloper

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That depends on the requirements of your models.


If you need high detailed realistic models then you need a pro that is able to sculpt a high poly model and bake the detail on a normal map to show up on the low polygon game model as depth. They will also need to unwrap the model to draw a texture on it, most profesional 3D artist can do this properly. Animations are another cup of tea however, the model needs to get rigged and game companies mostly work with separate animators. Simply put, making great models does not mean you can create great animations. If you want the full package from a professional in all fields then be prepared to pay at least $100 (more like $200 probably) per hour and each asset will take up to a couple of days. It can easily get a couple thousand euro per asset this way.


If you need a cartoony rubber duck I can do it for $10. :D


And then there is anything in between and you can pretty much interpolate linearly in between these.

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I think it will better to have a reality check for your game idea first before delving into having a dev team. A feedback may give you an idea about budget estimation, technical constraints and feasibility.

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My personal opinion is to try to create a vertical slice of your game first before spending ANY kind of money on the real thing.


Ideally you are able enough to hack together code, and create the needed 2D or 3D art... doesn't need to be too professional. If you need to outsource, only outsource THE BARE MINIMUM at first. One model, one SMALL level, the most important game logic systems. Not a finished game. Make it clear to your outsourcer you don't expect a finished product but a prototype and try to lower price and time needed this way.

Ideally, before actually outsourcing 3D models, you have a running prototype of your game with proxy models. Free models from the internet, engine example models, simple lowpoly objects created in blender in an afternoon. ONLY spend money on models AFTER you know the game concpet is viable.


What you want here is get an idea about


1) what are the EXACT specifications of your assets...

(the difference between a rather undetailed low poly model with 512x512 pixel textures compared to a high poly character model with 8kx8k Textures and an extreme amount of detail can be staggering, in time and/or money spent on creation). If you know EXACTLY what you need, you prevent paying too much for details you don't need.


2) what kind of money do you need to pay for the models you order...

Now, this is rather vague to test until you have the exact specs from point 1) and either pay a freelancer to create you one test model or do that yourself, if you have the necessary skills. Even then, time needed and price per hour will most probably vary for each freelancer, not everyone is comfortable working in every style, and if you do it yourself, you will most probably spend way longer than a professional would.

Point is to get a sense of scale. If you find yourself being able to churn out the model in acceptable quality in 2 weeks, its an asset that will most probably not cost you much if ordered from a professional freelancer. If you ask a freelancer to do it and he is ready to provide it within days for lets say 500$, you can expect a similar price (maybe 300-900$, but not 5000$) from any other freelancer.


3) If your idea is actually good and fun. Prototype, prototype, prototype.

Ideally, you get comfortable with using an engine, and with some basic coding. Create a simple prototpye of your game (if you haven't done so), with boxes and spheres as visual proxy models or whatever (most engines come with example scenes and models you could use). Try to code your game logic, and TEST IT!

Make sure you have tested your idea and found the fun in it before deciding if you should spend anymore time and money on your game idea.

Chances are high that even an idea that sounds fun in your mind actually isn't so much fun in practice.

And if coding isn't going to work out for you, ever, do a paper prototype. Create your game logic as a board game. Test it like this. But please don't spend your money on an untested game idea!


Additional things to think about:


4) the market and business realities.

Make sure you understand the business you want to enter. What is your competition doing? Do you have a chance of success? What is your preffered platform?

Make sure you do the math. How much can you spend? What if this sum is not enough? How can you either scale down your idea or build up additional funds? How much do you need to make a return on investment? Is it a realistic sum, or do you need to sell 100k units for that?


5) Marketing... You NEED Marketing skill to be successfull.

As important as a good game is, without marketing you will never, ever sell enough to make a RoI. IF you do this for the money, make sure you either have an idea yourself of marketing, or you set aside a good amount of your money to let others run the marketin for you.



2 Years is nothing when it comes to developing a game.

Trying to rush things is often a recipe for disaster. You probably did skip on the Pre-Production phase... which is the phase where you do all this testing I wrote about before. Usually, studios try to be scrappy and low profile during this phase. Only a very small team of senior devs working on it with all tools necessary. The intent is to find out IF continuing with a project all the way to production is a good idea, with failure to prove it a good idea a very likely result.

Point is, before you spent all this time and money on a game, make sure you spent enough time validating if what you are doing here actually is a good idea.



It would be VERY GOOD if you could try to at least aquire SOME skills related to game development before you pay others to develop games for you. You should at least be able to do some basic prototyping yourself, and be able to talk to devs in their language.

IDK what happened between you and the two studios you worked with, but I find it very believable that misunderstandings had at least some part to play in the failures.


Yes, learning these skills takes time. On the plus side, if you are able to put together a crappy prototype in Unity for example, you might be able to show that to the studio that should produce the finished game for you... no better way to communicate intent than to show a prototype of a running game.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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