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Aug 22 2014, 1:15pm Anchor

Im not sure if this belongs here. But this is basically a rant about how hard it is to get a studio off the ground. When i first started at the beginning of the year, and i saw movies like "indie game: the movie" or "pixels and polygons: an indie developer story" i felt it was an overdramatisation. And i know that nobody said it was going to be easy the entire ride, i do have come to the conclusion that it is way harder then i ever dared to imagine.

First i want to start of with our newest screenshot!

2nv5qva.png

Our main project is called Galactic Gladiators, this is supposed to be our flagship.

We also made two mobile games (one was just an exercise that i made in one week)
And another one that is a bit more advanced:

1492lc1.png

The game above, is now in beta and sheduled for release in 10 days.

I started with these projects with the hope that we could eventually start a studio, but reality teaches us something else.

The first problem (Finding people!)

People who work for free are crazy. Yet i found a few crazy people to help out, reality is still that in this world you need to make a living, besides me the rest of the team is stuck with jobs, sometimes even family and kids, and the weekly amount of hours they can put in is somewhere around 1-5 hours.

Im surpised we got this far!

But for me things are coming to an end. I was given one year to make this work, the year is almost over now. I have no job and i am still living with my parents.

The second problem (Finding money!)

Finding investors for the creative industry is very hard. You need to have a solid reputation before they even consider you! Also crowdfunding is nothing but an illusion for the delusional! You may hear about crowdfunding succes regulary, but they are just the happy few. Alot comes down to community building and marketing...sadly im a game dev, and being a socially ackward cave dwelling nerd, im not very good at community building! (although that should probably not count as an excuse!)

The third problem (Finding happyness!)

Keeping yourself happy. I feel the last past year has been one year of depression. As the year progressed it became more difficult to get up in the morning. I would often live at night and sleep at day. I went from 15 hours of sport each week to less then 3. Not only me, also the team is losing moral, we started out very ambitious...but things keep getting delayed and we are still not seeing any money.

As a last thing, while our project in general has gotten some positive replies. It has also gotten negative ones...and from all the shit last year that i got to endure, that was for me the hardest.
To have your game called, and i quote "A worthless piece of shit", it keeps you up at night. Game dev is not easy, its one of the most technical things i have done in my life, and there are so many different areas in developing a game like animation, 2d art, 3d art, programming, level design...each requiring a very different skillset, and either you spent alot of time doing tutorials or you find the people to do it..but really, few are crazy enough to work on a game over a long period of time without seeing any money.

You cannot expect a small indie studio to deliver triple A quality (with some exceptions!), which is what most people seem to expect, and without any budget at all, it is even harder.

Im proud about what we achieved with our team...i will try one more thing, which is to ask for government funding, if my case gets denied, i do not know what i will do..this is my dream and i cant settle with less, but at one point you need to earn money or it stops.

When your still young and doing school, you might find it funny to see this loser living with his parents while he is 24. But real life is a bitch. For me life is just not worth it if i need to spend it doing some dead end job.



Thanks for reading, i hope this does not discourage anyone from getting into the game dev field, at the same time its one of the most satisfying experiences, just make sure you have a back-up plan.

Metalspy
Metalspy Basher of Drums
Aug 22 2014, 8:09pm Anchor

This is exactly the reason why I did choose (Applied) Computer Science over a game-specific programming study. I love working on games, but making a living out of it seemed so terribly hard. Even the most motivated people I 'knew' on the internet struggled to keep motivated due to those things you mentioned. I want game development to be, and stay, fun so I will keep doing it as a hobby, not as a job.
I hate to mention this but Phil Fish (Fez developer), who is not one of my favorite persons but he still is a person and not simply some target object to attack on sight as most people seem to think, recently posted "To every aspiring game developer out there: don't. give up. it's not worth it." and I can see where he is coming from. Being a game developer is not easy and it is so easy for random people on the internet to call your game 'crap', which obviously doesn't make it any easier at all (in this particular case his personality did not help matters too much though). I think the only thing you can do is try to ignore such posts as much as possible and discard them for what they are: comments that are useless because they don't provide suggestions or alternatives to improve the game. Easier said then done, of course.

Anyway, not sure what exactly the point of my post is but I guess just want to say that I can only have massive respect for those developers that can see it through until the end. Especially if the game was developed as a full-time job by a new independent developer, which is quite risky in this saturated market. During my internship at a small (also Belgian) game company I gained valuable insight in the world of professional game development and it made me appreciate all the hard work being done by dedicated game developers even more!

Good luck trying to get that funding! Do you have some kind a back-up plan? Any chance you can search for employment at a company, perhaps save some money to re-try your hand at independent game development later on?

Aug 23 2014, 6:35am Anchor

While it's easy to get training for the technical side of gamedev it's impossible to get realistic training for the design side of gamedev other than repetitive failure.

I've been making games for 30 years; as a kid, a pro and now as an indie. It's so hard to know if your vision is fun and when people start to shit on it (they always do) it's hard to sift through the criticism to find the nugget of information they have within them that lets you know why they shit on it.

For me I hate every game at the end. I've sat in front of it for months or years! It's like a bastard child of all the compromises you have to make during gestation. It takes me at leaf six months to step back and see the game in it's true light.

Maybe for some people it's (seems) easy (but I suspect it's not) but for me it's always a struggle, from my first game on the Oric 16K where the car was an asterisks at the bottom of the screen to now.... it's such a fucking struggle.

Best job in the world though :)

SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
Aug 23 2014, 7:52am Anchor

There are 2 ways to be successful in game development: luck and coincidence.

luck: find the right position in a studio at just the right time; they have been waiting for you :)
coincidence: be the first to have an idea about what game to make, find exactly the right partners to work on the game.

Coincidence doesn't even involve having any hard skills. I know a guy who was a webdesigner and is now head of 3D Realms. And he's doing a good job nonetheless.

What you (Fencing_Zealot) and I have in common is that we are idiots. Instead of focusing on something and climbing up the ladder to success, we pretend to be best at everything and want to jump up the ladder. It's like we are trying to jump to the roof of a skyscraper, instead of taking the elevator. What you call a dead end job, depends on it. I know people, who make more or less the same asset, same job over and over in their game studio. They are not very different to the person (or the robot) welding car doors in a factory. Game Development can be a boring job and you are always under pressure. I think what needs to stop is this romantic idea about game development.

To become a game developer, you need to be a businessman. You need to know, how to run things, write balances, check-in taxes, apply for funding or to the protection of minors, to have them check your prototype before you can show it at a fair. You have to know how to use Version control and work with a team. It's lots of little things that make the dev. Anyone can follow a tutorial about importing characters or creating shaders in Unreal Engine. Your skills are a combination of unique personality (resulting in unique designs), permanent study and improvement of skills, technical versatility. Of course, you can also strike lucky and have it like that 3D Realms guy, but that is a one in a million chance, or less. If you want to run an indie studio, you have to know everything . And that is a lot to know. I think ten years are not even enough, but about the right timeframe for a first development (if your game isn't just another generic shooter). Originality takes time to get through.

I have really come to hate computers. I used to go out a lot, have fun with friends and generally be a good guy. Now, all I do is sit at home, learn new stuff, repeat old stuff, model, texture. But now I'm trapped in this. There is no way back or out or anywhere else. I can't do this as a hobby, since frankly there are no alternative jobs for me anymore. I have to go through with it, and I do love making games, writing documents and inventing mechanics. It's all the other stuff I don't like, like making money with it, organizing file-sharing and dealing with technical problems. Sometimes it occurs to me that it might be better to be just part of the wheel and create only assets, go home and be at peace, than to be the one, trying to run the car.

Edited by: SinKing

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User Posted Image

Aug 23 2014, 3:05pm Anchor

I have to agree with a lot of what you said. I'm in the early stages of development and studio start up so I'm rather optimistic. But I hear the same thing you're saying all the time from people that have been working at it for a while. However, I'm a lot older than you (and many other new start ups) and have different goals in mind. And when it comes to that point when people are calling my game a worthless POS, awesome! That just means I've reached a new level in development! Don't take it personal, people think they can say whatever they want when hidden behind a computer screen. I'm guessing they do it because they're insecure and it makes them feel better about themselves. After they make posts like that, they probably just move on to their next comment that will make them feel better and won't give you a second thought. So why waste emotional energy on stupid comments when you can focus that on your games? Take what they say and use it as feedback. What didn't they like? How can you improve your game (or the next one) based on that feedback? Don't give up on your dream, even though you may feel like it at times. Maybe you need to modify your goals and plan? Get a part time job so you can survive and continue working on games? Join another small team to gain more experience and possibly make a little money while doing it? You can always go back to doing your own thing in the future. You're young enough that whatever you do you'll be able to rebound. If this really is your dream then keep at it. Don't give yourself a time frame to be successful, let it happen when it happens. I wish I could help you with finding investors, but you'll probably have to self fund your development for quite a while. Kickstarter and Indiegogo can work, but it takes a lot of marketing to be successful and an original idea. I wish you the best in your endeavors and hope you won't give up on your dream. And sorry if I sound all preachy and motivational, LOL! Just trying to help you and others that will read this is all, and keep myself motivated as well ;)

Aug 23 2014, 4:56pm Anchor

To first post:
New business ventures are hard to get of the ground when starting from point 0.
Here are the five principles I follow in my own business
Entrepreneur.com
If they apply to you, keep going, if they do not, change a bit and keep going anyway. :P

Edited by: Taamalus

Aug 25 2014, 9:34pm Anchor

My biggest surprise was how long it takes to make games. I imagined a process much more streamlined...create mechanics, place art, done. But there are so many iterations with each level. You finish a level design, then you go back and redesigned it, then you realized you like the first one, but you keep some elements of the redesign too.... and on and on. That lesson took me awhile to learn. Now that I'm used to it, though, it not as mentally straining as the process once was.

Aug 26 2014, 6:30am Anchor

Well let me create a separate account to say this as. (Yes I know that's sad) I just turned 18 3 days ago... I have been running a team Online of 23 people for about 1 year now and I know that there will most probably be another 2 years ahead of us with this project, I know its going to be hard to do, I know how hard it is to keep a team motivated, and I know how many people are ass-holes Online... Why I don't know. Looking at your post made me awfully sad as i know the truth behind it and quite a few people here would of stopped reading when they got to the fact that I'm only 18 and another quarter is most probably reading this because they want to call me a kid, yes sure I'm young but it doesn't mean I know nothing. But thank you to ZKGameStudios! Your comment did bring me up a bit xD But its so sad when people just bash you over and over because your trying to do what you love. (P.S: I'm not trying to make the next call of duty/skyrim or best MMO in the world =_=)

Aug 29 2014, 12:05pm Anchor

In regards to negative feedback it takes about 5 years of people calling you a "worthless piece of shit" or worse until it begins to no longer affect you.

SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
Aug 29 2014, 1:41pm Anchor
ShinobiNFC wrote:In regards to negative feedback it takes about 5 years of people calling you a "worthless piece of shit" or worse until it begins to no longer affect you.

Hahah -that's a good one, considering it can take up to ten years to get a break in the industry with a title of your own. It can be faster though. The problem is NOT considering yourself worthless. As long as you are honestly working on things and see an improvement in your work, I call that process.

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User Posted Image

Sep 3 2014, 2:51am Anchor

Would like to add my 2 cents,


Firstly and I find this most important, get a job. Yes I know you want to develop your game full time all day every day, but its sadly just unrealistic. You need to be able to support yourself and the project.


I have been developing my game with a full time job, its hard to only get a few hours a day on the game but its always on my mind, allowing me to think up new mechanics or ideas!


The income I have lets me hire freelance programmers or perhaps it could be artists for yourself to really get the ball rolling.


My second advice is that if you truly want this you WILL have it. I can't give you a time frame but to give up is to admit defeat.


Live and learn :)

Sep 3 2014, 4:46am Anchor

I cross my fingers that you can make it! Even the few words about your Galactic Gladiator sounded awesome so far.
I want to say a few words about kickstarter campaigns: As sad as it is, yes, it is an illusion, but always worth a try, because you will get publicity, which can be worth something at the end of the day, when you are able to release. But to make a kickstarter successfull, is almost impossible. There are alot of games out there, there are alot of people that abuse the kickstarter system (investing money into promotion for their kickstarter campaign to gain more money).

What I can say so far: Someone in the whole developement process of new startups has to do something for the money. No matter if finding investors or if you go working yourself. What I have witnessed a couple of times is that payed programmers/artists etc. work more effective, which leads to a finished product, than people that work for free. And this is basicly the key to get the food into the door. Whatever is necessary or whatever helps you to finish your project, do it!

Sep 3 2014, 6:28pm Anchor

Hey, thanks for all the awesome feedback guys! I was half expecting to get replies like "man up and stop whining", because you know...the internet... just proves how awesome the indie dev community is!

For me my main problem is, i really dont have alot of degrees, i never even finished highschool. I did a one year course as game artist and finished it top of my class a year ago. But one year is not enough, even with the additional year of experience working on projects, my skills are still not going to cut it for an actual industry job, i estimate that i need atleast 1-2 more years to grow enough.

So that litterally makes me only eligible to do the kind of jobs that nobody really wants to do...my biggest fear is just that i would just be exhausted at the end of the day, and be stuck with some deadend job for the rest of my life growing old and having wasted my life. But yea, i shouldnt be complaining when so many cant even find a job in the first place!

Money is indeed the cause of everything, team moral can be solved with a salary, right now i cant force volunteers to redo a model/concept art (whatever) hundred times over again, because they will just flake away, so in all my team interactions i need to keep in mind how it will affect moral and how it will affect the quality of the game, often having to choose between one of the two.

Anyway, our mobile game release is just a few days away now, i dont have any illusions, mobile games wont make you rich, or even provide a living, unless you are very lucky, but some of the income can be used to support the budget for our PC game galactic gladiators, and increase our odds at getting government funding. My parents did let me know that if i manage to get the funding they will allow me to continue fulltime, so on that perspective im really spoiled and lucky to have such parents...

Lets see what happens, life is a journey, it has its up and downs...but looking forward to the day i can walk into an office i can call my own and work on games with a great team and just do what i love the most. I assume that is the vision most of you also have...if you havnt already achieved it....great respect for everyone trying, entrepeneurship in the creative sector is crazy and you really need a huge amount of mental fortitude, i cant even come close to imagine what it must be like to do this, but also have a day job.

Keep it up everyone!

Sep 3 2014, 7:19pm Anchor
SinKing wrote:There are 2 ways to be successful in game development: luck and coincidence.

Not only is this wrong, but it's also incredibly degrading/insulting.
The insulting part is the implication that you made right there. The implication that it has to be luck or coincidence, and not hard work and determination. Try saying that to someone who worked his ass off.
Don't get me wrong. Neither am I saying that hard work and determination are a silver bullet to get you anywhere, nor that luck and coincidence have no role. What I'm saying is that if you depend on luck and coincidence, you're doing something wrong.
Do your best, strive for excellence and put in the work. The more work you put in yourself, the less dependent you are on things out of your control (luck and coincidence).

SinKing wrote:I have really come to hate computers. I used to go out a lot, have fun with friends and generally be a good guy. Now, all I do is sit at home, learn new stuff, repeat old stuff, model, texture. But now I'm trapped in this. There is no way back or out or anywhere else. I can't do this as a hobby, since frankly there are no alternative jobs for me anymore. I have to go through with it, and I do love making games, writing documents and inventing mechanics. It's all the other stuff I don't like, like making money with it, organizing file-sharing and dealing with technical problems. Sometimes it occurs to me that it might be better to be just part of the wheel and create only assets, go home and be at peace, than to be the one, trying to run the car.

If it cheers you up, try remembering that this applies to most jobs.
The chances of getting a job where you love every single task forever, are rather slim. ;)

OP:
Thanks for posting that. It made me very happy on a personal level. Allow me to explain:
I am a 21 years old computer science student from Germany. Like quite a few people, I decided that I want to become an indie developer later. Unlike quite a few people however, I'm not that delusional. I do understand the implications - At least I think so. I've been thinking about this a lot and during the weeks before I made my final decision, I had quite some sleepless nights over this.
Making way less money that I could? I have accepted that. Having to work a lot under pressure (because of the money)? Accepted. Having to do all the paperwork and other tasks I don't like? Also accepted.
See, I'm a very critical person by nature. There's no way that not at least some doubt stayed in my head. After all, I might have the will and the knowledge, but I lack the most precious thing: Experience. Let's not be unrealistic here: You don't find or get experience somehow. You gain it over time and there are no shortcuts.

Reading your post gave me the feeling of confirmation, because I thought of those points you made there already. I really hope that I don't come across as some sort of smartass, because that's really not how I feel about this. Due to my lack of experience, I am in for some (bad) surprises. You merely gave me some confidence in my decision.

As for the feedback:
Again, I don't have the experience myself, but I do see it from the outside almost every day. When it comes to fans, you need to detach yourself from them on an emotional level. The relationship between your fans and you should never be emotional. It should be mutual respect, not more, not less. Don't let people, you don't even know, make you feel bad.
The really hard part is this:
The same applies to how you feel about your own work. Don't become that guy. That guy who is so full of himself. That guy who doesn't or doesn't want to see the shortcomings of his own work.
It's easy to become that guy when you're putting heart into your work. It's an emotional process after all.

Also understand this:
Fans and supporters are good for you.
Critics are good for your game.

No amount of praise will improve your game. Criticism is the foundation improvement is built on.

Edited by: TheSniperFan

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User Posted Image

Sep 3 2014, 7:40pm Anchor

Aren't there other people like me? Who have the problem like, not becoming too arrogant about their own work but CONSTANTLY second guessing and worrying its not good enough? I'm guessing both of these attitudes are pretty lethal.

Sep 4 2014, 8:39am Anchor
Decade_Design wrote:Aren't there other people like me? Who have the problem like, not becoming too arrogant about their own work but CONSTANTLY second guessing and worrying its not good enough? I'm guessing both of these attitudes are pretty lethal.

The keyword is "perfectionism".
I don't think you suffer from it though. Judging from the updates you post about your game, you actually get shit done.
And no, you're not the only one. ;)

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User Posted Image

Sep 4 2014, 12:41pm Anchor
TheSniperFan wrote:
SinKing wrote:There are 2 ways to be successful in game development: luck and coincidence.

Not only is this wrong, but it's also incredibly degrading/insulting. The insulting part is the implication that you made right there. The implication that it has to be luck or coincidence, and not hard work and determination. Try saying that to someone who worked his ass off. Don't get me wrong. Neither am I saying that hard work and determination are a silver bullet to get you anywhere, nor that luck and coincidence have no role. What I'm saying is that if you depend on luck and coincidence, you're doing something wrong.
Do your best, strive for excellence and put in the work. The more work you put in yourself, the less dependent you are on things out of your control (luck and coincidence).


I came here to say exactly this. Of course luck played its part in games like Flappy Bird which showed how volatile the industry became, but these are exceptions. Not all indie developers make 50k a day but they still work hard to earn a living and become succesful developing games.

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