-- Transcript --
Hey everyone, I thought for this update it would be interesting to go over a more specific subject….and that’s the issue of publishers and funding.
Especially since I’ve been chatting with a lot of publishers lately and sending out pitches… so it’s what’s I got on my mind.
First off, trying to get a publisher is actually a pretty big time-sink, since different publishers ask for different materials sent to them….
This is probably the biggest source of frustration dealing with this process (well, besides the rejections, but you can’t let that get to you….you only need one yes).
It’s that despite the loads of material I have about the game… publishers can and have casually pushed them aside and asked for other documents that aren’t really used. Because that’s the way they do it, and why would they change that for some random nobody?
Like the game design document, which is one of the more common requests from publishers. This is something we had years ago, lists of everything in the game and what we were trying to make. But even at the time it was written...it was done in short-hand as a working document to just understand what we were dealing with and to organize our time.
The problem is, for an indie team, we quickly found the long design document was essentially useless. No one looked at it, no one used it, and it was just a couple people trying to fit into what they heard “real developers” did….instead of just getting the work done. At best it helped give a high level picture of where we wanted to go…. But during the process of creation a lot changed along the way.
Eventually we all transitioned to using more specific lists for tasks. Like a list specifically for bugs we would mark down as we went. Or a list specifically dealing with plants. Or one for maps that needed to be updated. And, actually, often these lists would splinter into several different lists as needed.
It is also likely due to Memories being a fairly ambitious RPG, with more layers than typically found. Like even our targeting system i using 3 different ways of handling things to create more options for the player.
But as for the lists, they are really how to make any large task manageable. Simply take the large task and begin chopping it up into bite sized tasks….then just sit down and burn through it. Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly goals.
Anyhow, it isn’t just that one document. It is a range of them. Like one of the console owners wanted a very specifically formatted PDF document sent to them. Or some publishers making their only portal to contact them a specific form and specific questions they want filled out before they will even look at what you have to see if there is any interest.
Like I said, it is frustrating to be pulled away from actually working on the game filling out obscure questions for dozens of large companies….only them will they be troubled enough to take a casual look and swipe right or left on what you have.
But you may be asking “why do you even need a publisher”?
It’s a question that gets debated a lot in the game dev community by people of various experience levels.
It just comes down to three things. Funding, marketing, and support.
For me, the funding is a big problem currently. I figure for Memories to get finished, I need on the far end 6 months of sitting in a room and churning it out. Then some for marketing and hiring a bit of help for some outside work, like sound design if I can. And then a bit for programmers to finish up what they are doing too if possible.
Essentially, I figure around 15-20 thousand to finish. Which can either be a ton or a little depending what your situation is.
But in the context of the games world, it’s always fun to think about things like Epic games 100 million grant program… how they could fully fund 20,000 indie games if they wanted instead of bigger ticket multi-million dollar deals.
I know from experience, indies are the cheapest dates around, what’s a retirement fund?
But that is just the money side of things to make the product.
Beyond that you have the marketing….making people aware of what you made.
That is a big lesson I learnt with releasing Labyrinth actually. That there are a lot of games out there, and it is extremely easy for what you make to just be ignored. Media just not report on it, streamers just pick up something thousands of times more popular, and for it to come and go silently.
In my experience, the indie world isn’t what a lot of people imagine it to be.
And finally there is the support. This is dealing with the process of console applications, which is even more frustrating than applying to publishers….though at least there are only a few console platforms around. Or help getting localization for your game, or voice overs, or cutting a trailer, or all the other big time sinks that can go a lot smoother with someone who has navigated it all before.
There is actually a lot going on behind the scenes with talking to representatives and getting your games tagged and the promotional art all in the right formats….having a publishing partner take off that pressure is no doubt a big help.
Though, of course, then you also aren’t learning it yourself….and if you try to go it alone some day, you are left scrambling to sort it out all for the first time again.
I’ve also been considering the home stretch kickstarter idea again. It seems like a decent solution to at least the funding problem to get the game finished, even if it sucks a bit of time away from development. But, of course, it’s a gamble to if it would succeed or not. It seems like kickstarters aren’t really covered as much anymore.
On the upside, dealing with a lump sum would allow me to transition into a cheaper living situation.
That’s actually something I’d suggest to other developers who get through a kickstarter or some other fund raising. Try to get somewhere as cheap as you can so if the project hits problems, you can at least stretch out the money further. Like living in a van, or living in a boat, or a tiny house, or all sorts of other alternatives that you can do extremely cheap.
Personally, I’d love to try out the boat thing. Apparently it is super cheap to live on one! But we’ll see if I can pull that off, would make for some fun videos at least.
Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to lately, while also trying to push Memories ahead where I can. Scripting wise I’m almost up to the desert portion of the game, which is a bit less than a 1/3rd into the game. If I can get half way by the end of the month it would be ahead of schedule.
But really, the big challenge in the next couple weeks is just figuring out how to get from here...to 6 months from now….with enough time allowed to get this game finished. Wish me luck :)