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Koas

Is It Really That Nonsensically Impossible To Have A Successful First Game Project?

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Firstly, the newcomer cliché: I don't know if here's the right forum for this subject, which is about an indie team successfully entering the gaming industry with their game, i.e. game development as a business, instead of a hobby. If it's not, please move it to the most proper one.

 

Except where it's misleadingly said that making games is unrealistically easy, almost everywhere it's discouraged and stated firmly and surely that "your first game project will fail". If such statement is targeted to people thinking that making games is as easy as 123, and that such game would yield rivers of money, I completely agree that it has very high chances of failing. But if such statement is targeted to every single first game project, I completely disagree.

If a team isn't just one more utopia believer that attempts to develop yet another FPS and expects to become rich with it, but instead, a team that researches, studies the market to find which genre is flexible, reachable, a genre that they know, that people likes the most, that isn't saturated (the biggest failure-sure example: an MMORPG), and that people won't reject only because there is a big budget game of the genre made by a big budget large company (for example, making a MOBA is sure failure, because of the LoL vs DotA polarization), having in the team no room for "idea guys" but a group of "one man army" that studies deeply about game design, avoid failing on the same failures other developers did, learning a plethora of things from experienced game designers, and the team tries the most of them to not deliver yet another game of X genre, but instead one of the ones, with all of its innovations or differentials.

But then comes someone and says that "your first game will fail". Seriously? Would really a team, with all of the values listed, be defenseless against failure?

Edited by Koas

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Firstly, the newcomer cliché: I don't know if here's the right forum for this subject, which is about
an indie team successfully entering the gaming industry with their game, i.e. game development as a
business, instead of a hobby. If it's not, please move it to the most proper one.

[/quote]

At the very top of the "Game Industry Job Advice" forum are two stickies entitled, respectively, "THIS
FORUM IS NOT FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT STARTUPS" and "THIS FORUM IS NOT FOR BUSINESS QUESTIONS." So, your
topic was not placed in a forum about indie teams entering the game industry (it was placed in a forum
about individuals desiring to be hired for jobs in the game industry). Moved to the Business/Law forum,
accordingly.

[quote}

... where it's misleadingly said that making games is unrealistically easy, almost everywhere it's
discouraged and stated firmly and surely that "your first game project will fail". If such statement is
targeted to people thinking that making games is as easy as 123, and that such game would yield rivers of
money, I completely agree that it has very high chances of failing. But if such statement is targeted to
every single first game project, I completely disagree.

[/quote]

Of course. There is an exception to every statement, including this one you are reading right now. It was
a generalization, and no generalization is ever 100% applicable to every conceivable situation. (There
may be exceptions to this generalization.)

Edit:
Ok, just found out that this really isn't the right forum. Please some moderator move it to the right one
(is it Business & Law?).



Okay, I just saw the edit.
P.S. The quoting is so broken on this forum that I cannot figure out where to fix the above.
THIS IS THE SIXTH TIME I TRIED TO FIX THE QUOTING AND I OFFICIALLY GIVE UP NOW.
Edited by Tom Sloper
quoting is massively broken

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There's a few parts to that adage, "your first game will fail," to unpack. What is meant by "first game?" What is meant by "fail?"

 

I don't really think it is meant to be taken so literally. Certainly many first games (as in first attempt at a commercial business venue based on the sale of a game) will fail (as in not make enough money to turn a profit). Others won't. Others may become runaway success stories. This is generally true of all business ventures. 

 

 

I think that often when somebody makes that assertion they are instead trying to tell you (or whomever) to simply temper their expectations for success and make sure you look at things realistically and with a level head. It's important to be able to do so.

 

As for your scenario... certainly a dream team like that that does all that preparation and research beforehand will be better equipped for success than one who doesn't. But no part of your examples included making games before (it would invalidate the scenario, I guess) and sometimes there is no substitute for experience. Reading about a pitfall and learning about that pitfall from experience are two very different scenarios and give two very different sets of expectations. Pragmatically making successful, profitable games on a reasonable timescale often involves tradeoffs that are hard to do that kind of up-front research about because lots of that up-front research consists of academic thought-experiments in vacuums.

 

So yes, it's possible. But it's important to be realistic.

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I swear I clicked the upvote button and the page scrolled at the same moment, giving a downvote. :-( Upvote to hodgman since the system can't undo.

As above, the odds of a person's first project being a runaway success are so miniscule as to be practically non-existent. While a beginner is learning to write "Hello, World!", commercial successes demand iteration after iteration at removing barriers and improving systems, it is like winning the lottery twice.

There are a small number of cases I can recall (a single-digit number of them) where an individual who was experienced in programming put together something while learning a new system and that something grew into a successful product. That single-digit number across decades contrasts with markets where there are a thousand new entries every day.

And for every one of those thousands of new entries every day, there is an untold number of probably thousands more who started and never completed a project.

Even if you are dedicated, professional, and run everything as a perfect business a commercial failure is still quite probable.

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Well, lets rephrase "your first game will fail!" to "your first project will fail!"...

 

Maybe the first game you finish is highly successfull... but to get there, you most probably killed project after project early after finding out that you were biting off more than you can chew. Happens to all of us, believe me. Some have the insight to kill such projects early. Some finish the project, and move on knowing what they built has only value as a learning expierience. Some will try to release their early projects, and will fail with them most probably in the market.

 

Which brings us to the next point: how do you define failure?

Financial failure? Unless you are a born businessman, have a lot of expierience in the games industry already, or just tons of luck, being successfull from your first try is most probably a pipe dream. You could call that a failure... or not.

Finishing a project? That is easier to achieve, still most people overscope at the beginning... some have the endurance to see through an overscoped project, spending 11 years developing them part time. Most will shelf the project at some point and move on. Again, up to definition if that counts as a failure.

 

I would advise you to look into "The Lean Startup" and their definition of success. In the lean methodology, everything is a success as long as you learn something from it, and apply what you learned to your next project. This of course means not investing much into your projects at first, constantly monitoring them, and killing them early when they fail to meet the milestones. Learn from it, pivot and try again. Your next project will be off to a better start for sure thanks to your new knowledge. Thus you were successfull in the sense of your failed project having increased the chances for future projects to become successfull.

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To add to the different possibilities, you can have several false starts on the same game.

 

My first attempt was a flop financially but I managed to finish a game and learn from my mistakes. I know that the game isn't bad, just average (was told this by members on my team).

 

My second attempt is going slow and steady with building a following and developing the game. Even with hitting the market several times and having a short feedback loop, there is still a chance for it to be a commercial failure because (among other factors) my name is not known in the gaming community right now.

 

It's not impossible to have a successful first game - you can minimise risk by building a community early in development but the probability is never zero.

However, the probability of having a successful first project is about the same as winning the lottery.

Edited by Envy123

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However, the probability of having a successful first project is about the same as winning the lottery.


Not necessarily true. Define success.

Is success millions of dollars profit and the best game since sliced bread or is success any profit at all?

Aim small, invest little and create small games at first so the risk to your business is low. If it even makes a profit after its costs it's then a success so yes, your first game is then a success.

Playing the lottery however you can only weight the game so much by buying more tickets. No comparison!

Smart businessmen plan to succeed. "Failing to plan is planning to fail"...

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However, the probability of having a successful first project is about the same as winning the lottery.


Not necessarily true. Define success.

Is success millions of dollars profit and the best game since sliced bread or is success any profit at all?

Aim small, invest little and create small games at first so the risk to your business is low. If it even makes a profit after its costs it's then a success so yes, your first game is then a success.

Playing the lottery however you can only weight the game so much by buying more tickets. No comparison!

Smart businessmen plan to succeed. "Failing to plan is planning to fail"...

 

 

I mean success as "making a profit taking into account opportunity costs". If we take into account pure accounting profit, then I agree with you. But I like to take into account what wages I forgo when making an indie game.

 

I do admit that the lottery analogy was maybe not the best - I was trying to say that there's always an element of luck involved.

Edited by Envy123

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Well, by "successful" I don't mean to become millionaire (I think that's why you guys are being so skeptical, lol), but instead to just have a normal success, to profit considerably, to sell at least 1000 copies (considering it would cost somewhat $10). If our project sell that much, we would consider it a "success" (it doesn't matter what the industry defines as "success", for us it's different from "failure"), considering that we don't spend more than $10,000 on it. If we do, it would be necessary to earn at least the double of what was spent. If we achieve that, that would be what I call "success".

 

Regarding the obligatoriness of experience, what is experience? History? How much you're known? Knowledge? Such knowledge can't in any way be acquired other than going through it?

 

Regarding programming knowledge, I'm the main developer of the team and have a 1+ year of experience in C#, years in JavaScript (in addition to another member), and several other languages and systems. I know that isn't impressive at all, but if I learned all of these by myself, having Google as best friend, learning game programing won't have any secrets.

 

But one thing I agree: by the fact that we are still unknown, even if it's an astonishingly good game, if few people know about it, it would just fail, even if we publicize it a lot, years of fame can't be compared to the publicizing of a single project.

Edited by Koas

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