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I'v got an amazing idea and around 25k to spend on it. Now what?

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#1 YenRaven   Members   


Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:23 PM

I need some advice from those far more experienced and wiser than I.  It is my dream to start my own game studio, which I realize must be a rather common dream among present company.  I have been lucky enough to have skill, patients, and providence on my side and have put aside roughly 25k so far in hopes of making a good attempt at my dream.  I have an idea that has been cheered by any who would hear me tell of it as a game they would love to play and encourage me to chase after creating!  I look at games like Star Citizen and projects like the Oculus Rift getting millions of dollars of funding via crowd sourcing and think that now really is the time to attempt a shot at my dream but am worried that my small amount of capital may not even be enough to get the talent together to put up a decent Kickstarter page.  So here are my questions for you and thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.


1. Is 25k enough to get a concept artist, 3D graphics artist, and a senior Game dev together for a month or two to put together some quick demos of some planned features and concept art to use in a Kickstarter campaign?  If not, what number should I shoot for?


2. Without some big industry names on the project should I even attempt a Kickstarter?  Would anyone take someone who just assembled a team and has no real experience in the industry seriously, even if they thought the idea was a good one?


3. Im in the mid-west which is not know for its booming game industry. What would be the best way to assemble a team?



Let me give you some more info about myself that might factor into this.


I'm a web/interactive developer with experiance in 

javascript, java, flash/actionscript, asp.net, PHP, HTML, some c++, and a myriad of other languages.  I'v been programming since my father put his old Q-Basic textbook in my hands when I was 8.  I am a hard core programmer.


I don't know any other people interested in game dev in my area...  at all...  I am alone.


I have 25k available to me now and could continue to supplement that as long as I can hold down a full time job while trying to tackle my dream, which I fear is a bad idea.


Thanks for your advice!

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   


Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:35 PM

Yen, you need to do Stephen Covey's Habit #2: begin with the end in mind. Imagine that the game is finished. What's the plan for making money from it?

Write a business plan. You can find information about game industry salaries easily: just Google "2012 game industry salary survey."

Most of your costs will be salaries.

You need to read voraciously. Subscribe to Gamasutra and GamesIndustry International's free newsletters.

Seriously, do your research before you start spending money.  Managing us game people ain't easy.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 Hodgman   Moderators   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:52 AM

1) Maybe. The average salary is $80k, but you can halve or double that depending on experience...

As a back-of-a-napkin guess -- $80k/12 * 3 people = $20k for 3 people for 1 month.

This of course depends who you hire though.


Also, you'd probably want to have a buffer. What if you spend $25k on two months work, but only get your pitch material 50% completed? I'd like to have a Plan B, and extra cash set aside to pay for it.

You've also got to figure out the timing for these hires. Maybe you find a really good "role X", but haven't yet found a "role Y" -- do you wait until you've found a whole team before starting production? Or can you hire different roles at different times? e.g. get a month of concept art done, and then two months later, get a month of 3d art done, then get a month of programming done.


2) Maybe. You've got to prove that you're capable of actually making the cool thing that you pitch on there. I've given money to a bunch of no-name indies before, because they had a good enough pitch.


If you do manage to hire someone who has worked on some big name games, and convince them to stay on if your kickstarter is successful, then you can include their bona fides in your pitch wink.png ... which brings up an interesting point -- if you hire these people for two months to put together a pitch and then launch your kickstarter, you have to wait another month to find out whether you've got your funding or not, during which time you're not paying your hires and might lose them. Either way you've got to shoulder a bit of risk there -- the risks of either working during the kick-starter only to shelve that work when it fails, or sitting on your hands only to have someone else poach your staff just before the cash to roll in!


I don't know any other people interested in game dev in my area...  at all...  I am alone.

3) ^That makes it hard. For my studio, everyone I'm working with is a past friend/colleague, or a friend-of-a-friend. I'm pretty reliant on years in the industry giving me enough contacts, that I can easily ask around if anyone needs work, and get recommendations for people...

You can use sites like this one (the classifieds system) or put up job ads on other dev sides, or pay a head-hunter, but that'll cost you unsure.png

Also, if you want to be co-located with your coworkers, you'll have to hire some office space, or deck out your spare bedroom and pay for a months accommodation and flights to your town for your contractors... otherwise you'll have to figure out the details of a remote workplace, via skype, web-accessible repositories, dropbox, google docs, etc, etc...

#4 tboxx   Members   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:16 AM

Hiring people could include freelancers or straight employees. Keep in mind employees don't just cost their salary. Rule if thumb in my state is about 20% of their salary for employment related expenses (benefits, worker's comp etc.)

#5 BrokenKingpin   Members   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:29 AM

If you are such a hard core developer, then do the initial programming yourself, and you only need to find some artists.


You could also work on a smaller budget title and sell that to get some recognition before spending all your money on one huge game that could end up failing. For example if you start with a 2D game you would just have to get one 2d artist, and you could do the programming.

Do you folks like coffee?

#6 emcconnell   Members   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:39 AM

Please don't throw your 25k at people hoping to get a prototype to chase VC or Crowdfunding money. I know many people with deep pockets who tried to get into the game industry, only to be bled dry with nothing to show.


Since you are a programmer, what "BrokenKingpin" said is your best bet. If you've never worked in the game industry, you should try to make one or two small projects on your own, maybe with an artist that you are NOT paying. After that, grab Unity and work on some simple 3D games. Start to get a feel for everything yourself.


The game industry is rough. 25k is basically nothing when you are talking about paying good talent (like someone else said, maybe a month of work which half of that will be communication and setting up a pipeline). Seriously your best bet is keep your money, network with people, find others who want to create in their free time (this website is a great tool for this), create indie games, rinse and repeat until your games bring in enough money to justify starting a studio.


You should look into attending GDC at the end of March. Go to a bunch of talks, talk with people and make some connections.

#7 YenRaven   Members   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:01 PM

Thank you all for the advice.  I'm leaning towards focusing on one aspect of the game I'm envisioning and evolving that into its own smaller project.  Something small enough I can handle all the coding on my own with one good 2D artist to help me.  My experience on the web will make it easy enough to set up a website for the project and a donation link. I'm thinking about initially prototyping many of the features in my grand idea this way.  I believe it will allow me to gauge peoples interests in them and let me work out all the kinks before bringing all of them together into a grand project and will hopefully help with the capital and experience issue.


End of it all, I hope to release the game independently and/or on steam under a subscription model or a free to play with a real cash store kinda deal.  I am very cautions about publishers as this is my dream and I will protect it like one of my kids so I doubt I would get along with publishers who seem to like things like DRM's and their logo and don't want to take any risks with bending and blending genres.  I don't like thinking about how to sell my product before I have a product.  I am confident that it will sell and if I can get together the financial, the one thing I do have going for me is that I do know several VERY talented traditional and social marketers! So yay there!


Would love to go to GDC but not this year.  Vacation requirements and travel expenses means I'd likely end up without a job and with less money to tackle this project with.  Maybe Ill see some of you there next year.


Thanks again!

#8 daveodonoghue   GDNet+   


Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:32 PM

Also get on facebook and find local communities that meet physically, it might be a way to meet some like minded people.


Do your self a huge favour and look at fiverr.com, you can get some graphics done REAL cheap. We've had some good luck on there.

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