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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.


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About ougaming

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  1. I think balance is important, depending on what you are trying to do. (But really I just commented to say that I would be highly amused to see a dev team made up of those people.)
  2. You have nothing to worry about.
  3. I know a few businesses in the simplistic 2-D game genre that have lasted quite a while (and are still going) off of that model, so it's definitely not impossible by any means.
  4. [quote name='Songbird' timestamp='1307594598' post='4821204'] After reading some more, I'm still not convinced Artists are the special snowflakes people make them out to be. Like JBourrie said, we are all special in our own way, but artists are not better than coders and coders are not better than artists. So to try to say that we need to tread softly with our artists as to not offend them is kind of asinine. I'm still standing by my earlier statement that respect is a two way street. Just because you can do one thing we cannot is not grounds to be disrespectful (at least not the way I was raised, but then again, times change). Plus, imagine how you would feel if you decided to take your hourly wage instead of a 5% stock option and it turns out that project leads to the next Zynga? 5% of 10 billion is a lot more than $20 an hour. Sometimes it just may pay off to take five minutes to see if there's potential in the project. [/quote] If you're hiring an artist on a minute budget, to your project, they are the special-est. If you don't like that, increase your budget to market rate, do your own art, or don't put art in your game. Otherwise, don't complain when people ask that you understand and respect the time and the process of creating high quality art if they are kind enough to provide it to YOU for YOUR project for cheap. You can call coding and art equal, but that's not necessarily true. Some simple games require only a cursory knowledge of coding to complete at a great level, whereas every game, no matter how simple the gameplay, will require an above-mediocre artist. What's asinine and disrespectful is expecting your artist to work for little or nothing on your project long-term and provide high quality work, and then call them special snowflakes when your measly pay doesn't get you the level of pro work you want as fast as you want it. It's also completely unrealistic. If an artist is only getting 5% with little-to-no upfront pay, they're getting ripped off anyway. Every single dev on every single dev site says "they could be the next [enter major gaming company of choice] here". They're going to make a WoW killer. They're going to BEAT WoW. If only those really mean artists would stop needing their bills paid and work 24/7 on the art they need, they could totally be the new Bioware! If there's one thing business people are, it's practical. Compare the number of million/billion dollar devs to the amount of people telling you that you should work for nothing or free for months or years on the chance that they become Zynga. The chances are one in a million and no one is going to be an art slave on those chances when they could be doing paid work. Nearly everyone that has put into a game on those chances ended up with a grand total of nothing and a massive amount of heartache. Sounds like your problems are best solved by not doing games in which you need artists. [size="2"][color="#1c2837"]"If the guy paying the bills expects that motivation, then "Putting your name on something special" absolutely pays the bills. All I'm saying is that I'm of the mindset that if I'm paying the bills I expect motivation and engagement.[/color][/size]" If you can afford their bills, they should definitely be catering to you, I completely agree. But you're not paying their bills. You're paying them a tiny amount of money. Emphasis on the tiny. [color="#1c2837"][size="2"]"I'm sorry, this sounds like a scam artist trying to justify pulling one over on their partner. I'm not saying you [i]are[/i] a scam artist (I don't know you, how could I say that?) but it sounds like what one would say. An expert being asked for their services is expected (at least in the world I live in) that they will treat you fairly and not use "well, I didn't tell you because you didn't ask" as a cop-out after an underwhelming delivery. I would interpret anything else as withholding information from a business partner, which I don't look very fondly upon.[/size][/color]" Lol, withholding information? Really? Some devs don't need more than a short consult because they know exactly what they want; in fact, many devs who are decent at what they do already know what they are going to ask for because they have a detailed document on it. The ones that don't tend to expect a consult for free, which some artists give with no problem if it's short, however, artists getting paid under a certain amount don't expect their client to desire a 6 hour long consult. If YOU want to spend hours on a consult, YOU need to let your artist know. Otherwise, how will they know how you operate? You are doing the hiring; if you don't know what you want, don't expect the artist to figure it out through magic, and it's certainly not withholding information if they can't guess that you want them to cut several hours off a piece of art you paid for so you can talk about it. [color="#1c2837"][size="2"]"I would hope that when estimating a piece, you would calculate how many hours you plan to spend on it. You don't have to give that info out to the person hiring you, but when you do that inevitable estimate, that's when I suggest that you add the buffer time.[/size][/color]" And what happens when that estimate, including 5-6 hours buffer, is too high for the dev? What if it's not too high for the dev, but the quality after the reduced time is more than the non-artist dev thought it would be? What if, like you mentioned before, they send back this hamburger with ketchup, which was all they could afford, and refuse to pay you until you spend more time to fix the problems, forcing you to do work for free to get paid at all? [color="#1c2837"][size="2"]"I think we are coming from very different places, but we both seem to be talking from personal experience. Obviously you've felt screwed in the past by a development team who you felt expected too much for too little." I haven't, actually. "I have also felt screwed in the past, by outsourcers who expected full payment for delivering base mediocrity: a bait-and-switch tactic that dragged on for nine painful months and ended in an amazing game being canceled." When you can only afford mediocrity, you only get mediocrity. I'm not sure what's difficult to understand about this. I'm sure you know that if you see a person with several shipped titles that they've done art for and know they get regular freelance jobs for major companies, you don't bother to contact them because their prices are way out of your league. You contact people who have "good enough" art and "good enough" is an extremely long road for both artists and devs. "I'm definitely bringing that experience into this conversation, both consciously and unconsciously, in the hopes that people realize that the people hiring you [i]trust your expertise[/i]." I am well aware of that. What I think devs aren't aware of is that not all artists who have a decent portfolio necessarily have "expertise". Game art is far more than drawing and coloring a single piece; as landlocked mentioned, it's a compilation of many pieces that need to match in style, color and feel. Even artists with degrees in various arts may not be able to coherently put together the art for a game. Artists that can do that extremely well are undoubtedly way out of your price range, or already have a full time job at a major company as an art lead. "They trust that you are an expert at making your part of the game the best it can be. And when your goal is counter to that, such as "no time to iterate or improve, just get the job done quickly so I can move on" then it hurts the whole project.[/size][/color]" Stop expecting steak when you can't afford steak. Expertise costs money. My "goal" isn't anything, and in fact all my comments have been with a basic idea you supposedly comprehend. If you truly agree that no one should do more than they are paid for, your own comments are far counter to that point. The artist might not do extra because they aren't being PAID to do extra. The work you get might be mediocre because you haven't paid for enough hours of the artist's work to make it good. You can claim you'd rather get a no answer, but I'm sure many devs have gotten that no answer and then return here to complain about how they can't get any high-quality long-term artist. The things I mentioned here are a good place to start. You're quite free to not do them. You're free to hate them. You're free to desire a "team" that will be a perfect bastion of skill, drive and hard work, all for the nominal price of their name in some credits. Heck, it would be great if people could seriously work that way, but the failed games that come prior show that this is a rarity and not the norm. I'm not here to tell people how gaming should be. I'm here to tell them how it [i]is[/i], and what they need to do to actually get to the end of that big project.
  5. First, thank you, landlocked. You definitely shouldn't accept any and every deal; there is usually some room even with low-budgets to look around, and it's not like rip-offs don't exist. Each dev should gauge their options before committing, definitely. You're also right that if you're going to dig for artists and you have a low budget, you do need to be humble and treat them as if they are doing you a small favor, and thank you for realizing that. To J, I think you should look up the word "idealistic" in a better dictionary, because it absolutely doesn't apply here. I'm not making an ideal, I'm doing the exact opposite. I'm telling people who don't know art what they will most likely HAVE to do if they are low-budget and want quality art. Does it apply to everyone? No. Some people are lucky, like I said. Your "interpretation"? Sounds like this to an artist, and especially me: [i]If I order a steak, I should get it, even if I didn't pay the required price for the steak, because I am owed this steak for having ordered it. [/i]Artists work very similarly. If you walked into a restaurant that was $500 a plate on average for a full meal and said to your waiter "Hi, I only have $50, but give me the $500 meal instead", they'd either not serve you at all (an artist not agreeing) or tell you to order something cheap if they want your money (get you to cut down the detail and work that goes into a piece). If you think hiring a qualified artist for little to no money is just "a monkey doing a monkey's work", it sounds like that's your biggest problem. "Putting your name on something special" doesn't pay any bills, so why should you expect the motivation for that? Developers paying below a certain amount DO need to realize that in the case they ask for something exorbitant and pay nothing, they will just get what they get. The little money you are putting out is not to receive exactly what you want. You can't afford that. You are paying for what you can manage, and you need to realize that your vision of what your money is worth, as a non-artist, is highly likely to be lower than what an artist will think as they are working on it. Your proposal assumes that devs are actually smart enough to realize they have to pay for a consult. They're not. It's not on the artist to tell the dev what the dev should buy from them, it's up to the dev to ask. Professional artists aren't asked for their real opinion by professional companies, so they're not used to doing so and shouldn't expect to be pulled in on that for every project. If you want that, you ask. Once again, you're the one getting the favor. Scheduling is all well and good, except that if a dev could afford all that, they're not having a problem anyway. How do you know that the subtraction of 1/3rd of the hours is going to make the detail only lost to the artist? How many devs pay artists per hour, instead of per piece? If it was a matter of paying per hour, then an artist could let you know easily how many hours something takes and give it to you. From experience, the vast majority of indie devs say "I have $500 for these art pieces", therefore leaving it to the artist to figure out how to separate their time. If the artist determines that they can get 15 hours out of that money to get something "shippable", do you really think a dev would be pleased to hear that they knocked 5 hours off of that, coming up with crap detail, for "consultation"? When you choose an artist, they are chosen because of the quality in their portfolio. The portfolio displays the best art an artist can do, their highest paying work, or what they think is particularly good for displaying. They're chosen by the quality of that...not by the quality of that plus the dev's assumption of how long it took. Pieces in a portfolio are usually also the most time consuming. You can hire someone because you like a piece that took them 20 hours to do, but if you then only offer $150 for it, you cannot possibly expect to get that same quality. "Scoping your art" for team chat time will, as an artist, almost undoubtedly end up in art that is not as good. In addition: I'm referring to "devs" primarily as "devs who need to hire artists". An artist can be a dev, I'm one, but obviously I don't need to plan my budget for art as much as someone who can't do art.
  6. The entire comment above is extremely idealistic, especially when I mentioned that this post is specifically for minute budgets. What you want from artists is what many professionals provide; a detailed, vested interest with their own small bits of input. I have one very wonderful, long-term client who I provide hours and hours of free consultation time to as far as story, design, and the like, because while he's a great coder, he's clueless about the art and story sides of video games and I constantly make suggestions on what could make his game better. But he has a market rate budget for what he asks. I know I am working for a fair wage and it makes me interested to see a project that he loves so much he is willing to invest that kind of money into, and gets me more excited to work on something he's really putting everything into. Otherwise? It's pretty damn ballsy to expect an artist to do more than you paid him to do "to make a better game", especially when non-artist game devs rarely have a real clue how much work can go into one piece. I still have people looking at me doing one picture for 15 hours and asking why I'm stiiiiiiiiiill on that same old picture. Most devs looking for artists just see the quality they want and don't pay attention to how much time the artist needed to do it, only that they can do it. If you want people to be very talented and also very invested in your game, you have two choices. Get REALLY lucky, or pay them for their interest. When you don't pay, you will not get as much interest. Call them "unengaged" if you want, but "engaged" costs money in most cases. Why would you expect an artist to do anything but a quick, low detail job if you can only afford to pay them minimum wage or less? Again, apply it to your own life. If you charge $1000 to do a certain project to the best of your ability, a number you selected to account for the average time you spend making it the best you can, and someone begs you to lower than price to $100, do you think you will spend the same amount of time getting it to the best you can? Getting realistic is one of the biggest things indie devs fail at, and expecting artists to immediately find themselves enraptured in your idea to the point where they will double and triple their hours on a piece they aren't getting paid extra for isn't realistic or smart. The statements quoted above are all facts of the business: When you are broke and paying an artist below a certain amount, you should essentially expect they will cut the time on your project for other, higher paying projects. That doesn't mean that they will, but you should plan ahead with that expectation clear in your mind. Asking for many edits without paying extra will anger your artist. It would anger anyone. If you are broke and actually want to keep a decent artist with your project, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt and more. If that's "special" to you, then pay more. If you can't, you'll likely need to just plain deal with it. In the end, it all comes down to the simple adage: Beggars can't be choosers. All game devs want their artists to be excellent, fast and cheap, and the fact is that you just can't realistically expect to get that diamond in the rough that is all three.
  7. The word exploit has a nasty connotation to it, and artists don't want to be told they're exploiting you by asking for a fair pay for their work, and they're not exploiting you anymore than you would be exploiting your own employer at wherever you may work. Many artists, even if they don't hand over all rights to you, will let you use their work royalty free in a single commercial venture. But those artists are not the highest of the high end. Tbh, I don't know why you've had so much trouble with it; I've found a million artists who are pretty good, have a very open policy about it all and are willing to work with indies. It took several hours of digging through random artists on DA, but we found them, for sure. Respect is not necessarily a two way street when you are essentially asking for a favor. Doing art for extremely cheap is practically a favor. Doing it on time is an even bigger favor. Would you not consider it a favor if your boss begged you to come do something for 1/3rd of your normal pay when you could be doing...anything else? What if another person offered you 2x your normal pay to use the same time slot? You'd be especially pissed about it if your boss suddenly started getting an attitude while you're working for shit pay and saying "WELL I AM RUNNING A BUSINESS". In the same way, treat the artist with the utmost kindness; they're that guy getting a small portion of their normal pay to work on your project. No, I'm not saying to let your artist walk all over you, but you need to give them a certain extra benefit of the doubt. In addition, yes, you should consider the money, but if you cannot get the project off the ground, $0 is $0 anyway.
  8. The first thing I would suggest is for small indies to make a better estimate of how much art costs prior to even thinking about games. A lot of people have the idea that any budget can do what they want for pro quality "if they look enough". A lot of non-artists also have no idea how long certain art works take. For you, you want 35 backgrounds. A well-done background with little to no details at all can take a superfast artist 5 hours. Even at US minimum wage, that's $35, and artists who are that good and that fast are undoubtedly going to charge you more than $7 an hour for their work. Even if you found someone for $35 a background, that's still 35 backgrounds they have to do. My suggestion would be to cut that number down drastically in your design AND compromise how much detail goes into each one, and you should be able to get maybe 10 backgrounds for $350-500 if you look really hard. Again, my advice is for small budgets, not impossible ones. A small budget is say, $1000 for an RPG Maker game's sprite and tileset art, using supplemental pieces from existing and open source sets. An impossible budget is trying to do an MMO on $1000. The first is extremely possible with some searching, the second is pretty much impossible no matter what you do. Use a low per piece price for your budget estimates, and if there is just too much art, cut down the number of necessary pieces. Good games need good art to get that popularity, but they don't necessarily need a gazillion pieces of good art. Small budgets need to learn how to put that toward a few art pieces that will really make their work fabulous instead of trying to get a lot for a lower-per-piece price that will never fly. It is 100% completely reasonable for an artist to say "I own all rights and you cannot make money from this", especially if you are paying very little. Oftentimes, the price for people on DA are just the cost of the labor to make the piece. If you want to sell it, you need to add something. Calling this "exploitation" is your first problem; just like you'll want access to work you did if it made money, so do they and they have a right. Respect your artists and stop thinking in terms of money you may or may not make later on. However! Not all artists charge extra for commercial use of their work. My group is starting out but fairly talented, we charge a medium market rate for our work and only really account for our time. There are actually plenty of people like this on DA, you just have to search them out. (Plus, for most art, if it gets published, you can buy the rights later from the same artist anyway, so don't think you're out of the running in case you get that luck.) A developer who wants to make money is foolish to expect anyone else to "have more of a vested interest", but especially artists. Artists do their own projects all the time. The money has to be at least viable enough for them to want to ditch their own projects for yours; especially since with low budgets, you're likely looking at hobby artists who happen to be good, not full-time artists, and it's got to be worth their free time on top of their other job, or enough to pay their bills. It's tough, but there are definitely such things as too much for too little and a dev must learn to accommodate.
  9. If you have 56K yearly, I'm not sure why you're on here and not on any of the hardcore professional freelance sites. Perhaps that's your problem!
  10. Ah, I see. No, it's not "in exchange" as in "you don't pay and you get art free". It was "you have a small budget, therefore you should understand that you are paying a low cost and limit your demands as mentioned above." Sorry, but even "messy" art that looks good takes talent. No game maker should go into a game expecting to pay nothing for the art unless they are drawing it personally. =/ Heck, my group does art and we still have to hire artists to fill in the blanks. Edit: In addition, I mentioned later that you want to lower the time the artist takes so they can still make a decent hourly wage even on a small budget.
  11. [quote name='freeworld' timestamp='1306687227' post='4817149'] I've offered just that, and still have had poor results. I've come to believe it's luck, money or nothing, until I'm proven wrong. [/quote] Well, if your money is still too low for what you want, then unfortunately, yeah. This is not for people who have no budget, more for people who have extremely low-but-still-potentially-feasible-with-corner-cutting budgets. For example, you can probably, if you do a bit of digging, complete a pixel art game on $1000 if you just need an artist and actually want it to look good. But, that price will never go for any 3-D game. I try to always make suggestions to people to lower their costs, but even with lowering your costs, there's a limit to how little someone will accept for their work.
  12. Dear small indies with a low art budget, When we approach you for an art job you've put up, we do not want the "opportunity to shape your free RPG game" or "design the characters however we want" or "have input into the workings of the game" in exchange for a small budget. Maybe that is a good opportunity for a hobby artist who you can't 100% count on to stick around, but for an artist used to doing work for money? That is called work. Work that you are calling a "favor to us". Adding design work to a project is not a favor. It will in fact take us more time to think of what to put in your game and THEN draw it than to just get a list of art from you. Some people would like to draw what they want for other people, but most artists already draw what they want! Our ideas are for our own games and they took a long time to think of and design in a coherent way. We don't want to "just draw anything" when we are taking on paid work. We charge a design fee when people make us do the design work because designs take time. If you would like to pay the design fee, we will gladly design things for you, but for a lot of artists? The design takes more time than the execution. Our sketch artist can pump something out in 20 minutes with a good description. Any part that she has to think about takes longer than that. A small budget? We can work with. But don't offer us a chance to design your game for you (read: more work) in exchange for less money. Instead, if you know you have a small budget and want to entice your artist to continue working for you, have a clear cut design for your game already worked out and a list of assets you will need. Be willing to compromise on how some pieces will be done, and don't ask the artist for more than 2 miniscule edits without expecting to pay extra. Allow the artist to retain most of the ownership of all their work. Those are things that artists value; things that will lower the time they have to take on your project, so they can still make a decent hourly even on a small budget. Adding to the work they're doing and then also paying less? Not so much. [Edited to make something clearer.]
  13. My group is doing a 2-D game in Java, but the Java programmers either don't know what they think they know or don't exist period D:
  14. In another one of the game communities I peruse, there was a thread about whether the setting/background of a game/character was important. A lot of people there said that backgrounds and setting were "filler", and I wondered if it correlated to the notoriously poorly written games that come from that forum. So, I wanted to bring it up on a larger, more diversive forum. Assuming games that depend on story such as RPGs and point-and-click adventures, how much development of the background is needed for an amazing story? What should be the minimum that makers of these games consider to make sure the story works in the game? What about games that don't necessarily depend on story? How much story is good enough, or even too much?