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Author Topic: What most indies are lacking of  (Read 4770 times)

RM-Hreyes

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What most indies are lacking of
« on: Jun 10, 12, 07:27:34 AM »

Seems most indies think that making a game is to join up a bunch of programmers, artists, writers... sure they find out they need world builders and other positions but for some reason they utterly fail to understand that some positions need skill and not just any individual is suitable for them, namely:


DESIGNER

No, any guy with an idea is NOT a designer. Seems that just because you have an idea, you can be a designer and since I assume we are all humans and we all have ideas, we can all be designers. Not at all.

One thing is having ideas, we all have. Another thing is that our ideas are good. Obviously YOUR ideas are good for YOURSELF but since the whole idea is to sell them to the rest of the world, as a designer you should know what ideas are good and wrong, regardless of what you believe.

Another thing is to know how to put the ideas in a format that a programmer can understand or an artist can make. Also you should have a nice mathematical background if you plan your systems not to crash sooner or later.




PROJECT MANAGER

In an ideal videogame world, people will communicate effectively, everybody will know what and when to do things. Sadly, the real world sucks.

Most humans can not manage themselves, not to mention manage others. It is the old stuff "anyone can be a boss", huge fail.

There are many complicated management algorithms and they were not invented just because some bored boss had nothing to do at his desk. Management skills are very important and not everyone has them.




MARKETING

So, you plan to make a game and then? What? Sit on a chair and wait for players to come in zounds and get rich? Or maybe your idea is to share it with friends and since your game is so awesome the word of mouth will spread? Perhaps you think once the game is running you will think about how to sell it?

All of the above are completely wrong. Marketing is not just having money for it, it is to know how to do it. You may have $1M for marketing but if you have no idea on where, how, when and whom to spend it you are not going to get your money back or make profits.

Sadly, all your efforts to make a good product are useless if you do not know how to sell it. Even worse, you can have a crap of a program, if you market it correctly you will make money. Example:  Civony.




PRODUCER


No money? No anything dude. If there is nobody to back the product with money, it is a failure before starting. You can make a simple android app without any producer but a MMO? No way.

And not everybody can be a producer, a producer needs money, spare money, money for the project. Sure, we all have money but, who can spend it on a project that is 90% likely to fail? Somebody who has the resources to take the risk, and not all can say that. Also, a producer should have the resources to look for more funding if necessary because generally speaking, no game is made on the initial budget.


If you seriously think you want to make a mmo, make sure you have the right guy for the above positions and not just some wannabe.


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JoshHalls

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #1 on: Jun 14, 12, 03:28:57 AM »

I think you forgot money :-).
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PN-Dwight

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #2 on: Jun 14, 12, 05:35:58 AM »

I think you forgot money :-).

He put it in the PRODUCER section :P

I agree with some parts of it, but it's still quite simplified. There is so much more that comes to development and design as listed above.

Indie's will figure it out once it's too late; as I may quote Cooper on this one: "There are more people with ideas than there are with the actual skills in the indie-business".

How do we filter?

HE-Cooper

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #3 on: Jun 14, 12, 07:07:11 AM »

In my personal opinion, indies are only lacking two things: engineers and artists. If you get to a place where you have enough engineers and artists that you are actually making a game, then you need to start thinking about how to build awareness for your game. Once you've got awareness and a playable prototype then I think you have two paths available: do everything you can to convince someone to give you money, or get very specific about what it's going to take to finish the game. If your game is large enough and has enough people on it that it could easily slip from those goals on a monthly basis, then you could think about using a product manager or producer to handle the communication and organisation of tasks for your project.
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RM-Hreyes

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #4 on: Jun 14, 12, 11:53:11 AM »

In my personal opinion, indies are only lacking two things: engineers and artists. If you get to a place where you have enough engineers and artists that you are actually making a game, then you need to start thinking about how to build awareness for your game. Once you've got awareness and a playable prototype then I think you have two paths available: do everything you can to convince someone to give you money, or get very specific about what it's going to take to finish the game. If your game is large enough and has enough people on it that it could easily slip from those goals on a monthly basis, then you could think about using a product manager or producer to handle the communication and organisation of tasks for your project.


It can be done like that but in order to build awareness you need marketing, and if you want to do it the right way (or the fast one) money should be invested in that.
If you build the awareness and have a working prototype then you can look for investors but... those investors have invested nothing at the moment so they are likely to ask for a lot in return and since you already have invested a lot, maybe not of money but a lot of time and effort, you need to get any offer with the thought of "Ok, what I really want is my game to be online so if my only option is to sell my baby, I will". Or put it more simple, in the end you will need a producer so it is better to have it from the beginning.
Of course, it is not easy to have a producer if you have nothing...
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ProjectDiomedes

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #5 on: Jun 15, 12, 06:35:32 PM »

No offense meant, but personally marketing is the least important aspect in the initial stages of design, especially from an indie standpoint.  But I do agree that in the end marketing is what sells a game.  However, in my opinion for an indie developer that aspect really should take a back seat early on.  Yes it's wise to have a general long term game plan, pun intended, for development and marketing, but the cold hard truth is for an indie to get financial backing they pretty much have to have a proof of concept to demonstrate. 

The good news is a proof of concept can be done by a very small team over a 1-3 month period, depending on the skills of the individuals and the number of hours per day the team spends on it.  At that stage you can begin a process to start building a little buzz about the project inside the gaming community.  Will this sell the game in the end? No, but it will start to grease the wheels a little.  The gaming community is a very interactive and connected community.  If you can begin to build a buzz within that community it has two effects, get the buzz loud enough and publishers will start to look at you, it also makes independent or crowd funding more viable and likely to succeed.  No one is going to pledge on a kickstater campaign, for example, for something they've never heard of.  But build a buzz in the gaming community and a social networking campaign BEFORE starting the crowd funding option and the chances of success go up dramatically.  Same with publishers or independent financing, get a buzz in the community, even a small one, and the chance of getting financial backing rise significantly.

Our project, for example, we have the basis of that buzz building campaign basically mapped out.  But it won't launch until we've completed our proof of concept, a process that will begin in the very near future.  The main reason to wait until after the proof of concept to start building the buzz is simple, you want to make sure your concept actually works as intended BEFORE you announce the project in to the community.  Nothing kills buzz faster than a project that keeps changing what it is and what it offers.  For example if you announce an open class system, but then determine your open class system won't work as designed and then change to a closed class system you will have killed a lot of the buzz you've been building.

For example in our project we have a very unique combat system that is being refined at the moment, mechanically we know it will work.  However, when implemented it may turn out to be no fun.  We don't believe that will be the case, but we don't know for certain until we can play test it in a proof of concept or test bed.  As such we wouldn't want to start building a buzz around our no button mashing, non twitch based combat system and then discover it's no fun and then announce a change to a main selling point on the project.  Buzz kill.

As far as a development process goes, like them or not, the early days of CPP is an excellent model to follow.  Determine who your target audience is, aim for that audience and stick with that niche.  To get financing you may have to follow a non linear road map.  CPP is an example of a group that wanted to do an MMO and to get funding initially developed a board game to sell, they then used these funds in part to finance the MMO and also to leverage that success in to additional financing for the game.  In my opinion CPP's early days are an excellent model for Indie's to follow in game development.

Sorry for the ramble, just my two cents
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Demi101

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 12, 07:00:42 PM »

Before I would agree with this but Hero Engine opens the flood gates wide with real time collaboration and everything you need to build a MMO but engineers and artists.  Therefor I think Cooper is correct.

It does not matter how much money you have invested in the design, if you canít get people to work and make it happen then It is doomed to failure. Some will work on a desire to make it happen and those are the ones that will get it done and done right.

Just my opinion
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Trixer

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #7 on: Jul 19, 12, 01:29:11 AM »

In my personal opinion, indies are only lacking two things: engineers and artists. If you get to a place where you have enough engineers and artists that you are actually making a game, then you need to start thinking about how to build awareness for your game. Once you've got awareness and a playable prototype then I think you have two paths available: do everything you can to convince someone to give you money, or get very specific about what it's going to take to finish the game. If your game is large enough and has enough people on it that it could easily slip from those goals on a monthly basis, then you could think about using a product manager or producer to handle the communication and organisation of tasks for your project.


I will have to agree with Cooper.  I have no doubt about any of your team positions not being valuable, but with out at least one engineer and one artist you don't have a project. You have an idea with out the skills to make it tangible. There are already a lot of these, and a large portion of them have money to find the people they need to make their idea tangible. If you cant convince one artist and one engineer that you have a good idea, chances are you need to reflect on your idea, or open up your check book.

I think its important to note to hopefully will be devs, that first off everyone starts out as a "wannabe" for their job... if you "wannabe" a project manager, then by all means be one, but have interest in learning your craft and progressing your self forward, and for the love of god be honest with your team mates at all times about your skill level or experience level in the area that you are "wannabe"ing in.

Also, guys another thing to note. You game can be "made" with out being "developed". If you are trying to seek out that engineer to start bringing your game to live, show him that you have taken time to put your system down on paper, and that your idea is more then you and a buddy playing a different video game and just going "we should do it like this instead".   Have a google docs project already set up, and ready to go when you invite him to the project. Also guys, when you say "well we cant release that to you yet because we dont trust you" what we really here  is "we don't have it done yet let us do that real fast". 

Engineers, artists, producers we all have ideas for our own games, we don't want yours. There is nothing that your game includes that I can not find in another game some where else, and "IP" is worthless until it becomes popular to the masses. If you only have three people on your team, and you need another. You better be willing to spend trust to get him, or else he will just move on to where he is trusted and his life is easier.

 There I don't have to guess how your camera system should behave because you already know, have shared it with me, given me tons of examples of other games (yes its ok to draw from other games, all games can be traced back to the very first video game, with a surprising number of features) and there is written documentation of all of it. If you cant trust your team members then please reflect on what a "team" is and I bet a lot of your current problems will clear up.


The chances of starting up a successful team, and keeping it going to the end of a game project, are less then getting your buddies together to start a rock band. The girls are not nearly as pretty, or as friendly and the after party is just generally pizza and more video games. Is it the life that I think all of us would give anything to live? Sure... it is at least for me.. but take this moment to make sure it is for you.

You have been warned... Good luck!

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DragonFist

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #8 on: Jul 21, 12, 12:16:09 AM »

What's this about the girls not being pretty?  And here I thought making a video game was going to get me groupies!

(Thankfully, the wife doesn't read these forums.  Well at least she didn't until I show her my post.)  ;D
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Caldenfor

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #9 on: Jul 22, 12, 09:10:42 PM »

While I agree that a game is nothing without engineers and artists, artists and engineers don't always a game make.

I try and follow indie projects that peak my interest, but they always seem to go with what the head hancho says "I think is best" rather than "what is best for the game". If it is "I think it is best", prove it. Don't just say it makes it the best or say it is your favorite, elaborate and prove what will make it the best decision for the game.

I guess I am just a bit sour after watching another potential MMORPG fall to the wayside because the lead programmer thinks they should be the lead designer without any solid evidence to back their design decisions. I feel bad for the team that is spending time on it and I hope the team members also believe in the direction of the game or it just makes it that much more sad.
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FI-ScottZ

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #10 on: Jul 22, 12, 10:41:45 PM »

That's a fair point.  A definite sense of the direction the project needs to go is important (else it rather tough to lead).  But I know I always am sure to explain what my thought process is and the pro's/con's, so even if people disagree, they at least know where I am coming from.  And feedback and discussion is always welcomed and encouraged; it always needs to be about making the game as good as it can be, egos be damned.

Was that failed game you mentioned a major one anyone would have heard of?
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Caldenfor

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #11 on: Jul 22, 12, 10:59:43 PM »

Probably not =0 Out of fairness I don't want to openly down on their game because they still have time to turn it around, but they lost me for now.

I want to be a game groupie, but they are all breaking my heart.



No FFA PvP in an open world which opens up the door for a skill based character design. Stealing and Faction PvP provide the player versus player aggression element.

Skill based links to the following...

Crafting and combat skills all count towards one pool so that crafting becomes a more important undertaking.

In addition to the previous...

Gear is degradable until it breaks, also adds to crafting usefulness and economic health.

Don't create excessive empty developer created structures just for the sake of making a village/area bigger. If you have empty structures, allow players to rent them out.

Renting works well with...

Player merchants for buying/selling goods rather than NPC merchants.

Brief reasoning, feel free to dispute:
No FFA PvP allows for a broad audience/anti-griefing capacity while not eliminating PvP entirely. Stealing is the only aggressive action you can take against "innocent" players which flags thieves as "criminal" resulting in thieves being the target of PvP aggression, not innocent players mowed down by murderers. Faction PvP is established for large scale PvP that doesn't deter other players from being able to enjoy the game.

Skill based character design allows players to cater to their own personal tastes without being neutered into any specific class. All skills count towards a single pool requires the players to make some decisions about the path of which they want to pursue while eliminating the one character does all atmosphere some games have. Subskills and ability/spell leveling are also possible, but they would be managed outside of the primary skill pool.

Gear that breaks, increased importance of crafters and player merchants all work towards developing a more open economy that isn't restricted by a single auction hall or the time of which a player can be logged into a game to spam chat to sell stuff, which would still be an option to a degree if a player so chose to try.

Limiting excessive developer made structures/NPCs to those that are necessary/useful to the players is aimed to make the world less empty feeling and more purposeful to the players within it. Much like a well crafted story, if it doesn't serve a purpose, why does it exist?
« Last Edit: Jul 22, 12, 11:13:33 PM by Caldenfor »
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keeperofstars

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #12 on: Nov 29, 12, 12:00:02 AM »

not to necro a forum post, but I think the biggest catch is people don't realize just how much / many people are really needed. Adding on the awesome hand holding Hero provides with taking a bunch of the core grunt work out of the picture, and it makes it even more magical that you might not need a ton of people.
And by ton that is a relative amount depending on your ambitions.

Before I started my project I looked to see what slave labor err cheap but quality work I could get completed by aquaintances most of them working in the industry of my need. After having nailed down where I can go to for help, and how to find the talent I need even if just temperarly for small projects. I decided I had enough resources to at least take a stab.

A friend of mine got me started we were joking one day about becoming better programmers. I qoute him "If you want to become a better programmer go make a mmo" At first I didn't understand this, after spending about 2 years working on concepts, designs, testing of various game engines, and working out all the billions of systems and sub systems that are needed and how to put them together in an efficent manner. It clicked holy heck there is a ton of things required in a MMO. Simple systems aren't simple at all, even if the game engine does a bunch of the leg work, making it worth money to gamers is a challenge.

Weapon design you don't want to copy artwork from other games you start to blend in, but can't make weapons that don't act natural cause then your combat looks weird so it doesn't fit in to what people expect. Can't swing a 12 foot halbred faster than a dagger, so need to put that into your code, into your animation, into your damage calculations, into overal character balance, etc.

To me you need a programer (engineer), a designer that really is more project manager, a math geek (combat formulas, armor ratings, run speed variations, combat balancing don't magically appear), artists and good ones, it's one thing to draw amazing things, its another to draw amazing things that render cheaply, no point in having awesome looking villages that render at 10 fps. special effects sound guy (we all can bang pots together make them sound cool and call it armor clank, but a really good guy makes it sound real and not like pots falling in the kitchen), a random outside small tester group (fruit ninja is prime example, that studio went through tons of family testing to get the feel and game play down correct, which probably saved a so so game and made it an awesome one) Test the game on your friends mother or girlfriend or the neighbors 8 year old son, they will tell show you where things don't work. Gamers tend to get tied into the high level meta data about games, more so than telling you the combat system is just too challenging for entry players. Not saying break your game concepts but take the feed back, cause if that 8 year old won't play it cause of combat input issues, then none of his friends will and you will fail. We all want to make the game that we all know should be out there that the AAA companies refuse to do well, but they do so cause there isn't nearly as much money in niche games, but a balance between niche and wider player base can save or break your game. Once again no point to make that totally awesome niche market game and only get 2k players.

Now for the last few people, the marketing guy, the social network genius, etc. They can only sell what you have for sale. No point even looking to have a marketing guy till your game is pretty much completed. I think the biggest problem we constantly see even with AAA titles is the hype gets built before the game is finished, the hype drives a bad release date, the release date comes with things missing, game launches with hype money, game dies off 3 months down the road when the developers are unable to complete the game. Outside of your inner circle of co-gamers, geeks, game clans etc, don't market your game till its complete, or you to the point where if you had to tomorrow flip the switch and your game could go live and you would be happy. If you need money and trying to do crowd sourcing then it should be really to just prepare for a game launch costs, live servers, some support staff, some large bottles of alieve etc. If you are crowd sourcing to build enough investment cash to build your game, and you aren't some lucky SOB that hits the kickstarter lotto, then your kickstarter probably going to fail. Most successful indi kickstarters are ones that have a completed game that just want to add solid polish, to prepare it for release.  So don't make the mistakes that even AAA companies *cough diablo 3, do where they milk the hype machine for billions then let the game die. It's those companies you hate that drove you here to make your own game anyways.

Well sorry for necro posting, a wall of text. But it reminds me of why I am doing this, and what I have tried to pick up over the 2 years of MMO game development research I have done. Now lets hope I can keep my feet out of my mouth and release something in a decade from now. LOL
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Stadi_Thompson

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Re: What most indies are lacking of
« Reply #13 on: Dec 03, 12, 06:19:30 PM »

It can be done like that but in order to build awareness you need marketing, and if you want to do it the right way (or the fast one) money should be invested in that.

Press is free, you could be on the frontpage of the larger mmo sites right now if you have a good game, with great features, video helps too. You can build awareness for free just have to start sending emails to the right people (mmo site editors) and have a solid product. I have learned the press is very friendly and for the most part support the indies, they do not discriminate due to not having money. It doesn't happen overnight, takes time to build a following. After you get your following, you hit Kickstarter.

Also you do not need that many people, you just need a hand full of skilled people. If you are not a programmer, 3d artist or game developer, it is definitely not a good move to hop into trying to make an mmo immediately. Good luck.
« Last Edit: Dec 03, 12, 06:24:22 PM by Stadi_Thompson »
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