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Should I pursue game Development?

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Greetings and Salutations!

 

First, a little background on me:

 

I am a 28 year old college graduate. I originally studied computer science before switching to philosophy, which I graduated in. I dropped out of the CS major because they used Ada at the time. It was my first taste of programming and it was a serious struggle for me. I barely made it a semester.

 

My interest in game development started when I was just a kid. I have always been very introverted and video games were my primary source of personal happiness during a time when the rest of my life was bullying and family fighting. I asked my father when I was seven how I could become a video game designer because it seemed like the best job ever. He made it sound almost impossible, and I never really entertained the idea again until after I graduated.

 

Seeing the explosive success of games like Fez and Minecraft got me interested in the idea of developing my own games. Having said that, I know what you are all thinking. Games like those are the .01% of games developed by small studios. Most are unsuccessful or do not even get finished. I fully realize that. However, I have been playing video games my whole life and unbeknownst to me, perhaps preparing for my dream job! I tend to play games by game companies like Blizzard and Naughty Dog. I have been honing my eye for game design my whole life and now every time I play a game I am constantly appreciating the good design elements, and lamenting the bad ones. I almost look forward to inspecting the quality of the game design than I do actually enjoying playing the games themselves!

 

A great example of this is Hearthstone. I have played magic since I was a kid alongside video games. It is a great game. I also eventually dabbled in magic online. Comparing and contrasting these two online card battling games was an early look at how to utilize the format your game is based on to your advantage. The prime example of this is Hearthstone leaning heavily on RNG mechanics like discover(the game randomly selects cards from a certain perdetermined pool, not necessarily cards you in your deck, or even your entire collection!). Such a mechanic is simply not possible in a game like Magic, but in a game that exists solely online it works perfectly.

 

Another example is Diablo 3. I have played D3 since launch night and have gone from hating to loving it. After years of devoted D2 play D3's launch was a disappointing mess. Years later I have paid attention to every design choice the team has made and watched the game piece by piece transform from something mediocre to the greatest ARPG ever made.

 

Having said all this, I personally believe I have the skills necessary to be a good and maybe even great game designer. For personal reasons I live in a small town that does not have any game studios. So my only option is to create my own. I began to study Unity and C# last year. I completed the 2D portion of a great online complete Unity course. It was slow going with so little programming experience, but I know have a basic understanding of C# and programming itself.

 

I have started to work on a game inspired by one of my favorite DS titles, AlphaBounce. An open world space sim game with RPG elements and simple combat/mining in the style of brick breakers. My plan is to slowly develop the game in my off time and eventually release it to IOS and later to Android.

 

I have had numerous discussions regarding my future with my family and I want to pursue my dream and continue to devote my time to game development, but my family is very skeptical that I can make a dime doing so. I have a day job and am not going to quit it anytime soon. So my choice is, should I spend my free time following my dreams? Or should I look into another way to provide for my family, going back to school, looking for some job training in a different field, etc. I can pursue a career in plumbing or refrigeration which are in high demand where I live, but I have serious doubts about how happy I would be in such a field.

 

Am I being selfish entertaining this idea? In your opinion how good are my chances of making any money with my current plan? If it does not seem like a good way to break into the industry, is there a better way? I have read that making HTML5 games can be a good way but I don't know much about that.

 

Thank you so much for reading. I sincerely appreciate your time and help.

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You mention programming and design disciplines. You also mention playing games.
 
Playing games and making games are quite different.  Much like there is a difference between eating delicious food and working every day as a master chef, a difference between enjoying a concert one evening and working every day as a concert violinist, a difference between driving high performance cars and working every day as an automobile engineer or as an auto mechanic.
 
For programming, you dropped out after one programming class.  That doesn't bode particularly well.  Games are software, they're a specific kind of high performance software. Consequently, game programmers should generally love making software. Do you spend your time reading about programming languages and algorithms? Do you enjoy studying the differences between different data structure performance, or learning about various sort algorithms and their fundamental differences? Or do you enjoy working with data formats as they move between systems, or compilers, or tools? Do you enjoy working with the math of 3D worlds, comfortable with matrix and vector manipulation, using linear algebra to find how things move in 3D space, and using calculus to turn motion and continuous change into formulas and algorithms? Do you spend time talking with other people about source code, about programming issues, and about the craft? If so then you might be a great game programmer.
 
For design, you mention a little more. It is far more than just appreciating and lamenting as you describe; any concertgoer can appreciate and lament a concert, any driver can appreciate or lament a vehicle, any diner can appreciate or lament a meal.

Do you study how game mechanics work? Do you look critically at games that are fun and figure out exactly why they are fun? Do you break down the fun components and figure out why they are fun, and explore what happens when they are changed, or used in isolation, or used in combination with other mechanics?  On the flip side, do you look at mechanics that are not fun, and figure out why they are not fun? Do you figure out what happens to those non-fun mechanics when they are changed, used in isolation, or used in combination with other mechanics?  You mention you played Magic the Gathering, but is that all you did? Do you modify existing rule sets? Did you build your own cards, printing cards that fit within the game universe but modify it in material ways? Do you then experiment with those rules? What about other games, such as building your own D&D campaign with your own custom unique objects and unique monsters that fit in to the existing game?  Or modifying rules to tabletop games like Settlers of Catan, modifying the board markers, or introducing your own resource types and rules for them? For game levels, do you analyze why decisions are made, why powerups are placed where they are instead of somewhere else, why Mario has all the platforms in the locations they are placed, what specific item each Portal level introduces and why it is placed at that location and not earlier or later?  Do you have a broad base of knowledge and real life world experiences? Outside of games, do you have a wide range of stories and ideas you want to share with others? Are you skilled at communicating these ideas to other people, even when those ideas are different from your own? If so then you might be a great designer.
 
 

Am I being selfish entertaining this idea? In your opinion how good are my chances of making any money with my current plan? If it does not seem like a good way to break into the industry, is there a better way?

 
 
 
If those are your passions then by all means follow them. Many people enjoy these things, and it works well for a career.   Just like some people enjoy the study of aircraft and have great careers working for Boeing or Airbus; some people enjoy working with food and have great careers in culinary arts; some people enjoy getting their hands greasy and working with engine parts and have great careers in automobile repair and maintenance. 
 
Unfortunately there are sometimes people who don't realize that making things is different from enjoying things.  There are people who enjoy movies and dream about living a movie star life, but they have no inclination to study the craft of acting. There are people who enjoy music and dream about living as a rock star but have no inclination to study the craft of making music on stage.  And there are people who enjoy playing games and dream about having built amazing new games, but have no inclination to study the craft of building games.  They may even push hard to get the job they think they want, only to discover after years of effort that it really isn't their passion, and they want to do something different.
 
If you love it and it is your passion, then great.  In that case do what it takes to make your passion your career. You mention you already have a philosophy degree. That may work for a game designer, but for a programmer it probably means getting a degree related to the field you want. If you are serious about the career it means moving to a location with game studios.  

 

If you love it but don't make it your day job, that is also an option. As a hobby you are unlikely to ever make any serious money from it even if you devote thousands of hours to the process. Your hobby game is unlikely to be seen by millions of people, unlikely even to be seen by hundreds of people. Even so, people do that, and everybody needs hobbies. 

 

If you love playing games but aren't really passionate about making games, that is fine too. People who love making games will make them for you to play, just like people who love designing aircraft will make your jets, and people who love designing automobiles will make your next vehicle. Those who create them will get their satisfaction knowing you enjoy using them.

Edited by frob
Far too late in the evening to make posts like this. Revising, then going to bed. ;-)

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1. Am I being selfish entertaining this idea?
2. In your opinion how good are my chances of making any money with my current plan?
3. If it does not seem like a good way to break into the industry, is there a better way?
4. I have read that making HTML5 games can be a good way but I don't know much about that.

1. That depends on whether you're single, or married with children. You say you need to provide for your
family, so it sounds like you have kids. It also depends on what the idea is exactly (you weren't specific,
see #2).
2. It's unclear what your plan is, but reading between the lines, it sounds like you want to pursue a solo
indie path rather than obtain employment in the game industry. Solo indie is not for those who seriously
struggled with CS and who have a family to provide for, unless this pursuit is in one's spare time while
remaining gainfully employed.
3. "The industry" includes gainful employment in games as well as indie development. You say you're in a
small town in a non-game area, which means employment ("breaking in") would depend on you moving to a game
hotbed after you've built a suitable portfolio.
4. Much have you to learn, young Jedi. Best get down to work reading. Gamasutra, this website,
GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku... An organized course of research into business models and building of a network
of contacts is in order. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Responding to frob's post:

 

Games are software, they're a specific kind of high performance software. Consequently, game programmers should generally love making software.

This statement reminds me of my first few days with Unity. My first taste of making code turn into an actual game was exhilarating! I blew through the first half of the course in just a few days. I spent every free moment I could staring at code and loving it. I also failed to mention that I am certainly open to starting my programing career by developing apps instead of games. I just figured I’d start with games since I have such a passion for them. But I am not set on that choice.

 

Do you spend your time reading about programming languages and algorithms?

I can’t really say that I do. Recommend any particularly good books? Christmas is coming up and my family needs gift ideas!

 

Do you enjoy studying the differences between different data structure performance, or learning about various sort algorithms and their fundamental differences? Or do you enjoy working with data formats as they move between systems, or compilers, or tools? Do you enjoy working with the math of 3D worlds, comfortable with matrix and vector manipulation, using linear algebra to find how things move in 3D space, and using calculus to turn motion and continuous change into formulas and algorithms?

I would not say that I am a math wizard.  I completed Calculus and did really well until my last year when the professor changed and it became a bit of a struggle. But I never did linear algebra. I have no doubt that if I need to learn it I can though. Math does come somewhat naturally to me. I am definitely capable when it comes to learning math or logical structures. I even considered majoring in Math before I settled on the more enjoyable philosophy major.

 

Do you spend time talking with other people about source code, about programming issues, and about the craft? If so then you might be a great game programmer.

I have a few friends who are programmers or hobbiest but I am generally an introvert. So I will most likely do most of my design and programming discussions online. Which I am more than willing to do.

 

For design, you mention a little more. It is far more than just appreciating and lamenting as you describe; any concertgoer can appreciate and lament a concert, any driver can appreciate or lament a vehicle, any diner can appreciate or lament a meal.

I appreciate this thought. I think the difference between me and most video gamers is that I look at the games I play through a designers lens. I look specifically at every little nuance. See below.

 

Do you study how game mechanics work? Do you look critically at games that are fun and figure out exactly why they are fun? Do you break down the fun components and figure out why they are fun, and explore what happens when they are changed, or used in isolation, or used in combination with other mechanics?  On the flip side, do you look at mechanics that are not fun, and figure out why they are not fun? Do you figure out what happens to those non-fun mechanics when they are changed, used in isolation, or used in combination with other mechanics?

How smooth are the menu transitions? How much fun is each aspect of the game? When is permadeath fun and when is it unfun? What parts of the game make permadeath heartbreaking versus challenging. What is the target audience of this game and does the difficulty curve and tutorial make sense given that audience?

Why did the developer focus so much on sound and voice acting when the combat and loot mechanics and difficulty were so underdeveloped?(D3 launch)

 

 You mention you played Magic the Gathering, but is that all you did? Do you modify existing rule sets? Did you build your own cards, printing cards that fit within the game universe but modify it in material ways? Do you then experiment with those rules?

I often thought about creating my own cards but honestly never did. I did however play Magic in many different formats and think critically about why each one was more or less fun in each context they were played in. Competitive standard vs casual EDH vs cube. I also built and maintained my own cube for years and discussed card choices with fellow players always keeping in mind whether the inclusion or exclusion of a particular card was fun or unfun and why.

 

What about other games, such as building your own D&D campaign with your own custom unique objects and unique monsters that fit in to the existing game?  Or modifying rules to tabletop games like Settlers of Catan, modifying the board markers, or introducing your own resource types and rules for them?

I honestly have no experience playing tabletop games. I played d&d once and don’t remember anything. I understand how the game works and what makes them interesting on a surface level, but no I don’t have a great understanding of them.

For game levels, do you analyze why decisions are made, why powerups are placed where they are instead of somewhere else, why Mario has all the platforms in the locations they are placed, what specific item each Portal level introduces and why it is placed at that location and not earlier or later?

I have played most mario titles going back to the nes but honestly platformers are not my favorite genre. Portal is amazing and I definitely appreciate the design of that game. I would say that the puzzle elements are good but they only really make a great game when combined with the barebones but still compelling story/tone.

Do you have a broad base of knowledge and real life world experiences?

I would say my knowledge is more book learning than street smarts. I am a mostly antisocial person so my knowledge comes from video games, books, movies, forums, television, youtube, and reddit, etc. I think my knowledge base is not my strongest asset.

Outside of games, do you have a wide range of stories and ideas you want to share with others?

Let's see….I do a great deal of reading and thinking. So I will say yes. I love fantasy novels and sci-fi. My two family members(no kids) are movie buffs and voracious readers. That applies to myself as well.

Are you skilled at communicating these ideas to other people, even when those ideas are different from your own? If so then you might be a great designer.
Without being to specific about my personal life, I have had the duty to hone my personal communication skills greatly over my life. I have had to deal with two people with radically different viewpoints and backgrounds and help them come together on issues time and time again. I have also been with the same partner for 8 next month and that requires constantly getting better at communicating.

 

If you love it and it is your passion, then great.  In that case do what it takes to make your passion your career. You mention you already have a philosophy degree. That may work for a game designer, but for a programmer it probably means getting a degree related to the field you want. If you are serious about the career it means moving to a location with game studios.  

This is I guess my biggest question. I am very stuck where I am for at least 3 to 5 years. After that there is a small chance I could relocate to one of the major cities in my state, but it isn’t a strong desire of mine or my family. I would much rather have a smaller group of colleges I collaborate with through things like skype and just focus on small projects. I have no desire to create diablo 4, or half-life 3. I will leave that to the big boys and enjoy my more modest mostly solo career(ideally).

 

So you think that getting a degree is necessary to be a professional? I mean, obviously it's not strictly necessary. I know many developers are self taught. I guess I just need to know how easy/hard it is to go the self taught online route(including online courses like the ones on Udemy) vs a proper accredited degree from a university.(I am open to both, but I am still paying off my student debt at this point)

 

If you love it but don't make it your day job, that is also an option. As a hobby you are unlikely to ever make any serious money from it even if you devote thousands of hours to the process.

Here is where I should be more specific. I make under 30k a year. If I can make even 5-10k extra in income a year that would be amazing. I live in an area with extremely low cost of living and I can retire comfortably if I ever make close to 50k. So I guess what do you mean by “serious money”?

 

Your hobby game is unlikely to be seen by millions of people, unlikely even to be seen by hundreds of people. Even so, people do that, and everybody needs hobbies.

My goal has been to start the process as a Hobby and slowly transition it to a full time career. I am in no huge rush and understand this could take up to 5/10 years.

 

If you love playing games but aren't really passionate about making games, that is fine too. People who love making games will make them for you to play, just like people who love designing aircraft will make your jets, and people who love designing automobiles will make your next vehicle. Those who create them will get their satisfaction knowing you enjoy using them.

I do love playing games. That much is certain. It is absolutely my favorite thing in the world. I have logged thousands of hours in multiple games in my life. D2, D3, magic, hearthstone, city of heroes, etc. Perhaps this is the best path for me. But one of the major things that makes me want to pursue a career outside of a private company owned by someone else is that I have consistently struggled to excel in my past few jobs due to the same issue. There is always one person with greater seniority who does not like me. I have a difficult time kissing the butt of people who do not deserve respect. There is always at least one person like this at every job in my experience and it creates endless headaches for me. Perhaps this is just a flaw I need to work on, but I think it's speaks more to my introverted nature than it does to my social failings.

 

Finally, thank you. I am humbled and eternally grateful for your incredibly thoughtful and insightful post. You have given me much to think about and I truly appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.

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1. Am I being selfish entertaining this idea?
2. In your opinion how good are my chances of making any money with my current plan?
3. If it does not seem like a good way to break into the industry, is there a better way?
4. I have read that making HTML5 games can be a good way but I don't know much about that.

1. That depends on whether you're single, or married with children. You say you need to provide for your
family, so it sounds like you have kids. It also depends on what the idea is exactly (you weren't specific,
see #2).

I have no children and am actually happily sterile! I have two other permament family members. They are no huge burden to me, but I want to help provide for them more in the future by buying a nice home. A modest nice home is the full extent of my future ambitions. Maybe a tesla, but that down the road when they are much cheaper. :D
2. It's unclear what your plan is, but reading between the lines, it sounds like you want to pursue a solo
indie path rather than obtain employment in the game industry. Solo indie is not for those who seriously
struggled with CS and who have a family to provide for, unless this pursuit is in one's spare time while
remaining gainfully employed.

I will absolutely remain at my current job(good pay, great benefits, amazing owner/manager, possible management position in a few years) while I learn and grow as a game developer/designer.

 

3. "The industry" includes gainful employment in games as well as indie development. You say you're in a
small town in a non-game area, which means employment ("breaking in") would depend on you moving to a game
hotbed after you've built a suitable portfolio.

I sort of answered this in my reply to frob, but I am open to moving to an area with many game studios. I would however prefer to do small projects and work with a few people locally/online.

4. Much have you to learn, young Jedi. Best get down to work reading. Gamasutra, this website,
GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku... An organized course of research into business models and building of a network
of contacts is in order.

Thank you for your post. I have not honestly done as much reading on this topic as I should. I definitely will take your suggestion. Thanks again!

 

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So you think that getting a degree is necessary to be a professional?


Not if you are going to go solo indie. If you're going to apply for a job, you're competing with a lot of
people who have degrees, so your portfolio will have to outshine by quite a lot. But nobody expects a 28-
year-old to go get a degree if he didn't have one before.

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ok,

so, beyond the points brought up above, one thing jumps out at me, and that's you prefer working alone.

 

if we disregarded all the variables, and just focused on that one, we can find out how successful you'll potentially be.

 

Why?

 

You've already stated that you often find someone you work with lacking respect, this could be on you, as you say, or on them. But regardless of who's more right, and if you collaborate in person or online, you will need to learn how to work with people. People of different backgrounds and perspectives. People who have different talents, able to do things you can't. People who are better than you at their craft.

 

It's in figuring out that collaboration, and how well you work with others, and find them to begin with, that will determine your potential success

 

I'm referring to voice chat and in person communication, not text only.

 

(All the solo game dev people I personally know, who helm their own projects are less successful in the long run, than the team efforts I'm personally aware of).

It's a lot harder to do it all yourself, from asset creation, to motivation, to marketing, in the end, the industry is not looking for generalists, but specialists. They want to know you know how to work as a team.

 

There are few lone rangers that can make it all on their own, but they are few and far between.

 

At minimum to sustain a project, you need Art, administration, and code. A qualified  person to helm each.

 

Sure, if you want to make small games, then you can try yourself,but even if you make the best game ever, if your not able to market it well, no one will ever know.

 

I usually don't like to tell people not to follow their dreams, but with the information at hand, I don't think you should be a game designer.

 

Could you fill another role in the  industry? maybe, but if your goal is to start your own thing, and try and get 5-10K a year extra, at minimum, your not there.

Indie games sales are very hit and miss. you'd be lucky to break even on legal costs out of the gate.  (let alone the hassle of starting your own company,potentially)

 

With a philosophy background, you might be a better producer or writer, based on logic proofs they teach you and the like.

I find it  strange that philosophy was easier than psychology, it's usually not, but then again, in my school, philosophy was 2nd in the nation, my roommate switched from that to psych. which is what I studied.

 

The other key detail  is, do you have any of the mechanic critiques written down and diagrammed?

Or, are they just in your head,floating around? That will help determine how serious you are about design, do you engage in discussions with others about them?

 

 

Well, the question about communication isn't just about diplomacy or conflict resolution (great skills), but about how well you communicate with others, similar and different from you. It's great your part of a good relationship,but that's not the type of communication in question. When your making anything, games in particular,  your goal is to make something with as mass appeal as possible,   where the 1st question was on how you communicate one on one, or in a team setting, this question is more about how you communicate with many strangers on a platform.(And how you give and take criticism, constructive or otherwise)

 

Honestly, if your saying you want to make your own games, and not work for anyone else, the real question becomes, do you have a unique experience to share?

 

If you want to go into this creative field, what is your vision,what is your message, what is your ultimate goal?

 

I was talking to my lawyer, and he broke it down like this, if your goal is to just work on games, then find a job in the industry. But if your goal is to create a new IP, than you should start your own business.

 

Which is it?

 

Also, why games?

Why are games your passion?

 

Are their certain categories of games that fall outside your passion?

Get specific. The better your able to articulate your passion, and why, is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

(you don't have to answer it to us, but answer it to yourself)

 

As said above,

playing and making are very different, for some mysterious reason, all kinds of people confound the 2, when it comes to games, not writing, not music, not movies, but when you wrap all that up in one, people think it's easy.

 

I had a friend who went to games school, not knowing this either...

 

oh,

Also, not sure how relevant your day job is to tech, but might that be something to explore?

Edited by GeneralJist

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GeneralJist:

 

ok,

so, beyond the points brought up above, one thing jumps out at me, and that's you prefer working alone.

 

I guess I should also include that I also prefer to work in small groups. My most successful job was actually in a small team of about eight people. I was absolutely able to delegate, teach, and learn from my team at that job. Included in this is that I already have a small team in place to help create any projects I get off the ground. I have multiple professional quality musicians and graphic artists that I have already spoken to and worked with in the past. My partner is also incredibly intelligent and tech savvy. If I can get any projects off the ground to a point where talking about marketing efforts becomes realistic I am confident that between them and myself I will be able to get my game in front of a lot of eyes.

 

if we disregarded all the variables, and just focused on that one, we can find out how successful you'll potentially be.

 

Why?

 

You've already stated that you often find someone you work with lacking respect, this could be on you, as you say, or on them. But regardless of who's more right, and if you collaborate in person or online, you will need to learn how to work with people. People of different backgrounds and perspectives. People who have different talents, able to do things you can't. People who are better than you at their craft.

 

I really do appreciate this comment. As I alluded to above I absolutely do know how to work with other people. I may be an introvert and indeed prefer to work in the smallest groups possible, but that does not mean I cannot successfully collaborate. I have also learned the lesson you spoke of here, and that is learning and working with people that are better than you. I work closely with people at my current job who are older and wiser than me. In fact, my manager and the owner of my company are my closest coworkers. They are both extremely different than myself, different backgrounds, educations, interests. I nonetheless respect them both and have learned continuously from them since I started my job three years ago.

 

It's in figuring out that collaboration, and how well you work with others, and find them to begin with, that will determine your potential success

 

I'm referring to voice chat and in person communication, not text only.

I certainly prefer in person and video skype communication to text based.

(All the solo game dev people I personally know, who helm their own projects are less successful in the long run, than the team efforts I'm personally aware of).

 

It's a lot harder to do it all yourself, from asset creation, to motivation, to marketing, in the end, the industry is not looking for generalists, but specialists. They want to know you know how to work as a team.

 

There are few lone rangers that can make it all on their own, but they are few and far between.

 

At minimum to sustain a project, you need Art, administration, and code. A qualified  person to helm each.

 

Sure, if you want to make small games, then you can try yourself,but even if you make the best game ever, if you're not able to market it well, no one will ever know.

 

I usually don't like to tell people not to follow their dreams, but with the information at hand, I don't think you should be a game designer.

I would really appreciate if you tell me if you still feel this way after reading this reply.

Could you fill another role in the  industry? maybe, but if your goal is to start your own thing, and try and get 5-10K a year extra, at minimum, your not there.

I certainly would not expect to make money from projects for at least a couple years. I am still in my first hundred hours spent on my first project and I expect it won’t be ready for release until 2018 or maybe even at last as 2020. I certainly do not want to release a subpar game.

 

Indie games sales are very hit and miss. you'd be lucky to break even on legal costs out of the gate.  (let alone the hassle of starting your own company,potentially)

I honestly have not looked into the legal fees associated with game development. I assume you are talking about trademarks and copyrights? Any idea what those costs might look like? Or have a link for me to check out? I can definitely do the research myself if need be.

 

With a philosophy background, you might be a better producer or writer, based on logic proofs they teach you and the like.

 

I find it  strange that philosophy was easier than psychology, it's usually not, but then again, in my school, philosophy was 2nd in the nation, my roommate switched from that to psych. which is what I studied.

I attended Western Washington University and it has one of the top two undergraduate programs in the country. I also never mentioned psychology. So I have to assume you are refering to my start in computer science? The CS department was at the time one of the worst departments at WWU.

 

The other key detail  is, do you have any of the mechanic critiques written down and diagrammed?

Or, are they just in your head,floating around? That will help determine how serious you are about design, do you engage in discussions with others about them?

I absolutely do. I discuss game design with my closest friends and family constantly. On a daily basis in fact. Its pretty much always on my mind.

 

Well, the question about communication isn't just about diplomacy or conflict resolution (great skills), but about how well you communicate with others, similar and different from you. It's great your part of a good relationship,but that's not the type of communication in question. When your making anything, games in particular,  your goal is to make something with as mass appeal as possible,   where the 1st question was on how you communicate one on one, or in a team setting, this question is more about how you communicate with many strangers on a platform.(And how you give and take criticism, constructive or otherwise)

 

Honestly, if you're saying you want to make your own games, and not work for anyone else, the real question becomes, do you have a unique experience to share?

 

If you want to go into this creative field, what is your vision,what is your message, what is your ultimate goal?

 

I was talking to my lawyer, and he broke it down like this, if your goal is to just work on games, then find a job in the industry. But if your goal is to create a new IP, than you should start your own business.

 

Which is it?

 Definitely to create new IP.

Also, why games?

Why are games your passion?

Video Games have always been a big part of my life. Every person I am close to is a gamer and it is the thread that connects me to my family and all my friends. I absolutely love playing, sharing, and talking about games. Games create incredible moments of pure joy. From the rush of finishing an especially close match in a game like rocket league or league of legends, to the slow and steady satisfaction of completing an epic RPG like chrono trigger. Or the raucous fun of sitting down with a group of people and smashing each other off the stage in Smash Bros. I have had the pleasure of each of these sorts of experiences throughout my life and sharing them and enjoying them with my family and friends has been one of, if not the best part of my life.

 

Are their certain categories of games that fall outside your passion?

Get specific. The better your able to articulate your passion, and why, is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

(you don't have to answer it to us, but answer it to yourself)

Excellent question. I will try to write this answer for myself and post it when I finish.

 

As said above,

playing and making are very different, for some mysterious reason, all kinds of people confound the 2, when it comes to games, not writing, not music, not movies, but when you wrap all that up in one, people think it's easy.

 

I had a friend who went to games school, not knowing this either...

 

oh,

Also, not sure how relevant your day job is to tech, but might that be something to explore?

Thank you so much for your reply. It was incredibly thoughtful and helpful. I cannot thank you enough. Between You, and Tom Sloper, and frob I am beyond impressed by the people of these forums. Thank you again.

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I guess I should also include that I also prefer to work in small groups. My most successful job was actually in a small team of about eight people. I was absolutely able to delegate, teach, and learn from my team at that job. Included in this is that I already have a small team in place to help create any projects I get off the ground. I have multiple professional quality musicians and graphic artists that I have already spoken to and worked with in the past. My partner is also incredibly intelligent and tech savvy. If I can get any projects off the ground to a point where talking about marketing efforts becomes realistic I am confident that between them and myself I will be able to get my game in front of a lot of eyes.

 

 

I'm not quite sure how to take this information.

 

On one hand, you did answer the question satisfactorily, and sounds like you're doing well. But  on the other, you've now introduced a plethora of unknown details and people to us that  are critical for us to have known about, and honestly far beyond are ability to fathom and weigh, since we have no idea who these people are, their skills your relationship to them, how long you've worked with them, and how good they are.

 

If you ask us about you + them, you've crossed into another territory all together. Which would require a more extensive analysis, which is honestly beyond the information and trajectory of this topic.

 

You see the issue here?

 

For the sake of advice for this topic, I'd set all those people aside for right now.

 

And yet,

Your attitude and certainty that "if you get something off the ground" they will jump on and make successful, we have no idea about. maybe yes? maybe no?

The thing is, what does "off the ground" mean?

 

Why is it  all on your shoulders to make happen? shouldn't they be pulling their weight during production?

You do realize, going to market and marketing are all in post production?

Once you have some progress to show the public, maybe not play, but show.

 

The impression I got from the earlier info is you had a day job, a passion for games, but no portfolio under your belt. I was operating under those givens....

 

Regardless, the point is, "get off the ground", your unclear what that means specifically.

 

Q: How are you in your 1st 100 hours on your 1st project, and yet have 8 people (game connections?) and a partner that you didn't mention before? Are they on your current team? Were you part of another team before that you didn't start, so it's not quite your "1st project" lead by you? (1st project usually refers to 1st ever project)

 

 

Or, are you saying your partner in your day job? or a business partner?

 

The details are confusing and don't add up.

 

I honestly have not looked into the legal fees associated with game development. I assume you are talking about trademarks and copyrights? Any idea what those costs might look like? Or have a link for me to check out? I can definitely do the research myself if need be.

 

 

Ya, an often looked over aspect of gamedev, best advice, get that in on the ground floor, at minimum you need a contract to assign IP rights to you (as leader) that's a whole rabbit hole, Tom would be the best to get you up to speed. there is tons of legal tho, so only look into it if your serious, and if you have made progress on your game, a huge headache if you've not made any actionable progress.

 

Contracts are needed for if your working with more than just you, or ever intend to work with more people on a project.

 

I could refer you to my lawyer and his resources. But to get his kit and sample contracts, it's $300.

with 10-20% off 1st 10 hours of his time.

(I don't think your there yet tho)

 

If you want your own IP, then you'll need to start your own company, and shoulder all that legal and leadership responsibility, as a sole proprietor or with a partner. 

(Finding the right partner or partners is one of the hardest things to do, from personality, to dedication, to life circumstances. to skill trade offs, and so much more.)

 

Video Games have always been a big part of my life. Every person I am close to is a gamer and it is the thread that connects me to my family and all my friends. I absolutely love playing, sharing, and talking about games. Games create incredible moments of pure joy. From the rush of finishing an especially close match in a game like rocket league or league of legends, to the slow and steady satisfaction of completing an epic RPG like chrono trigger. Or the raucous fun of sitting down with a group of people and smashing each other off the stage in Smash Bros. I have had the pleasure of each of these sorts of experiences throughout my life and sharing them and enjoying them with my family and friends has been one of, if not the best part of my life.

 

That's great and all, but it sounds like you have a passion for the social potential. So do I.

I have a passion for the social and research potential, and how we can get closer to life's big questions.

 

But will you have a passion for the process of creating games? (before all the polish, before all the potential money, and long before the social rewards?)

 

IDK, it's definitely clear  you don't know enough to answer that, that is what going into games really needs.

 

Sure, it's great to have a passion for the finished polished product, but do you have a passion for all the therebetweens?

 

I interviewed Mark Skaggs, I'll paraphrase 2 things he said.

 

It's almost like games don't want to be made, if all this would stay on track, then we'd be golden.

 

ya, making games is like playing games, in the sense that your playing the same game over and over and over again, but it's broken. (I'd add, and it's your responsibility to fix it)

 

For the full interview and direct quotes, find the articles I wrote on here.(they are really really long tho, so be warned)

 

I absolutely do. I discuss game design with my closest friends and family constantly. On a daily basis in fact. Its pretty much always on my mind.

 

Good, so you do have notes, diagrams, sketches, etc.?

 

Somehow I read this response as avoiding the question a bit, and just telling me again how passionate you are. 

No offense, but the people you talk to want to talk about it with your right?

 

At least in my experience, most people outside of this field have impressions that gamedev is child's play, even some tech people don't see games as "entertainment software"

 

It's usually a 50/50 with those in their 30s, and it just goes down from there the older they get.

 

(I'm not trying to offend your way of answering the question, we just need more certainty.)

 

There are also people who may think your all talk and no action, given the amount of talk to action ratio you've displayed so far.

 

Furthermore, there may be people that just will never get it. All they see is a person in front of a computer, and the implicit bias is your playing games, not making them.

 

Look, some of my family didn't know how impressive my work was till I showed them our closed Alpha, and it took us 5 years to get there. (we're doing a 3D RTS, one of the hardest and longest project types)

 

Before there is anything to show, it's all just your personal motivation and drive. Do you have the drive to go years with people not understanding or caring what you do? without seeing the transferable skills, without having anything substantive to show them?

 

If your lucky they will care, and will support you. if your not, they will try and undermine your life decision at every turn.

Do you have the resolve?

 

Do you have the passion to carry you through?

 

Look,

one of my team members regrets  going into game school. He went to Digipen, One of the,if not the top games university. 

He went in with a passion for  design.

He now has anxiety, depression and other issues, he said he will finish his last year, but he doesn't want to be in the industry anymore. It's too much pressure. He's going to veterinary school next.

(his original dream was to go into the military, he thinks that would have been easier, he now can't qualify due to his issues and the pressure at school that caused them.)

 

The game industry is great at PR, great at making things look and sound hip cool profitable, etc.

When they do interviews, they always have one person say: "it's great, I get paid for playing games all day."

That's the filter, (the inside joke), that's a test,to see who believes them, and see who knows better.

All of the people who really do gamedev understand that's a trap, know it's not that way at all.

(never the less, people of all ages and backgrounds fall for  it.)

 

Simple example? Go look into QA testing, there your playing games all day. See what they say, and how they are?

Hell, I've been looking for a QA lead for a few months now, and all the good ones want pay. They know it's work. they know it's not fun and games. Same as to why it's so hard to find decent business and management people, they all want to be on the teams,they all want to be the creative types.

 

There are few people like me, who actually love and want to manage, want to serve as a producer.

 

If you were deterred at your Dad making it sound impossible (regardless of what he actually knows), and you decided to go the other way, then on that alone, this isn't for you. Would you do the same thing now? older, and somewhat wiser?

 

You said this dream of yours didn't resurface until you saw successful games out there you enjoyed. Look, my creative director is a graphic artist, always was, always will be. game dev was his dream when he was a kid. and he just went for it. Self taught  all the way. He didn't listen to his family who said he'd never make it, he didn't listen to those who said he needed a specific degree to get in. Hell, He's in Louisiana right now, rebuilding his house after a historic flood that wiped out at least half his state, and ALL his non electronic stuff. Yet he still is trying, yet he still intends to get back to his work some day soon.

 

Another story from a entrepreneurial book I read:

This guy was late to his 1st day of statistics class, there were 2 problems on the board, he thought it was homework, he went home, solved them, and returned it to the teacher some time after.

 

They were 2 unproven theories in the field.

 

If your response to the impossible, to limits, and insurmountable odds  is to go the other way, and find the path of least resistance, then game dev is not for you.

 

Thank you so much for your reply. It was incredibly thoughtful and helpful. I cannot thank you enough. Between You, and Tom Sloper, and frob I am beyond impressed by the people of these forums. Thank you again.

 

 

 

Well thanks,

As a person who's not "officially" made it in the Industry yet, I'm always humbled at what I've learned from modding for 5+ years.

 

Also, in all my time on forums anywhere, I've never gotten a PM asking me to return to a thread before.

 

Your not the 1st to reach out to me tho, after I logic my way through their thread. 

 

Ad me as a contact if you like (I usually don't invite people to do that)

 

I would really appreciate if you tell me if you still feel this way after reading this reply.

 

 

Well hmm...

on one end, my gut says yes, on the other end, it's clear your passion is overflowing, and I want to say no, and yet, on the other end, I'm mainly a producer, and not a designer, so I can't really say.

 

How about this?

You don't know me that well, and I don't know you that well,and I'm also not nearly as successful as others here or officially in the industry, so..

 

I'll air  on the side of saying yes, and count on human nature having you spend your life proving me wrong.

(do you have the will, strength and courage?)

 

If not, it's ok,

maybe your meant to do something else, with a different and maybe better impact on the world?

 

 

PS.

ya, sry about the psychology thing, meant CS, my bad.

It's actually very bad that you said that the CS program was the worst in your school, yet you couldn't get through the basics. (no offense)

Edited by GeneralJist

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So I realized that I left out something extremely relevant in my OP. The biggest thing that launched me into game development was actually an online course. It is a great crowdfunded course with dozens of hours of video tutorials. It is a complete Unity Development class and I completed five separate game projects during that course. It was incredibly cheap at the time and seemed like a no brainier just to get my feet wet. Having said that I would still say even though I've spent a few hundred hours learning to code and creating half a dozen games, I am definitely still a huge newb. The games I made in order were: a simple number guessing game, a text adventure, a brick breaker, a top down shooter, and a plants vs zombies clone.

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