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Author Topic: what can we do? ( developers)  (Read 382 times)

Offline Santiago

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what can we do? ( developers)
« on: May 03, 2020, 10:10:35 PM »
Hello, like many of you, I keep trying to make a living from my developments, which is quite difficult.

In these years, my best strategy was to sell video games to companies or museums, for events, stands.

Usually, I see an opportunity, I make a nice proposal, I print some folders and request a meeting, trying to reach the right people ...

But finding these opportunities are difficult.

My theory is, making a closed game on demand is more profitable than making a game for many people to download, advertise it and others. and then do the proper support, it would be too much work.


I tried on many occasions to sell my video games to the public, but it is a huge job to finish a game, do it well, and not to mention how difficult it is to then reach people.

My best job was the Naval Simulator, in which I worked for many years, which his license has an extremely high value, due to a mental health decision rather than a commercial strategy.


So I said, I will make free games for people to download and play for free, to measure how successful it can be, how many downloads it will have, how much feedback.

The answer was that making a free game does not guarantee anything, no success, no downloads, no feedback, not even comments.

I used Gamejolt, and now I am using Itch.io.

From what I told myself, I'm going to make a new game, to learn how to promote it, to position it, since I'm very bad in all that world of modern networks.

With Tora Tora Tora !, the new airplane game, I find that there are people who are interested, and someone paid me 2 dollars even though the game is free, which made me very happy, not for the money but for what it symbolizes .

Today, I am trying to understand how this video game system works, ITCH.IO, GAMEJOLT, STEAM, facebook + instagram groups and others.

I am experimenting, measuring what kind of games should be done if you want to generate money, or at least have games that people download, play, and generate movement.

I will always prioritize developing for pleasure than for anything else, but I question the null transcendence that my work will have in the world.

I wish I could reach more people in this extremely competitive, difficult, cruel market, and with such a level of creativity that amazes.

I clarify that I do not have a company or work team. I managed to survive many years thanks to not having a structure to maintain, limiting success, but surviving beyond many companies that I knew about video games here in Argentina.



How does this topic treat you?

Offline Matty

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2020, 10:43:37 PM »
Okay - here is my crazy conspiracy theory for all of you to read....be prepared for madness ahead:

There are no game developers

In our world there are corporations, who control the flow of money and other resources. Whether we know it or not - we are slaves in a system that decides before we are born what our lot in life will be, where we will work - who or if we will marry, whether we will die of cancer or some other horrid illness.

When it comes to game development - it goes like this:

There are no true independent successful entrepreneurs

Have you ever seen the movie the Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

In the film the TV Show 'The Running Man' advertises the previous season's winners - three good looking blokes who did really well and made it through the terrible exercise. We are lead to believe that they made it to a form of paradise.

But the truth was more horrific than that.

In fact - the system allows no winners. It may well advertise some as winners, some as victors in various arenas in life - but they're all as good as fake adverts to suck in the gullible to 'try their hand' at success.

So - like in The Running Man - we see three characters from a previous season advertises as winning the jackpot - until later in the show we find their bodies,  dead and rotten in a terrible place.

The fact is, what am saying - and this is my crazy conspiracy theory:

None of this exists - ask yourself - if you have ever met another app or game developer in the flesh, who has made any money. The answer is no. And if the answer from you is yes - it is because you too are just a part of the system trying to push the idea of success upon us.

Simply put - there are no winners, there are no real winners.  It is all a sham, a big fake, a big facade, all done to make us think we can 'have it all' when in fact we end up being economically and socially cast***ed by the system so to speak - if not literally as well.

Sadly - this is the world we live in

A world where the big fish tell the little fish they can have things if they work hard and try stuff - but no, it is not possible. Just a marketing gimmick. To get us to aspire, to push and try - when nothing in reality is possible at all.

Nothing.

Here endeth the lesson

Offline Xerra

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2020, 10:28:25 AM »
Nope. I'm not that cynical and there's several examples of people who have had success as basically one man developers. Jake, for a start. He's probably not well off but he's made many popular games and has been doing his thing in partnership with his wife for a good few years now.

But, a classic example, would be Cliff Harris of Democracy and Grauitous Space Battles, as well as many other games. His company is Positech and again, just him and his wife - along with accountant. Check his blog here, for starters: http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/

He makes numerous posts about how his games sell and shows the sales figures to demonstrate this. You might think that doesn't mean shit as it's all just data and means nothing. I'd suggest you then look up Positech on Companies House. In the UK submitted accounts are public record and that shows emphatically he's doing something right. He even did a brief stint as a publisher for some games, including one of Jake's.

What about the Minecraft developer as another example? Sure, one hit wonder, and I think there were three of them, but how often in even an indie game with a lone developer, does one man ACTUALLY do EVERYTHING. Usually artists and musicians are involved, even if not credited.

You could probably google a lot of the guys who claim they are successful true Indies and check their names against Companies house to weed out the bullshit. But they wouldn't all be fake.

Offline degac

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2020, 01:30:25 PM »
... so Mark Sibly (not a game programmer - but start with this) is just a fake.
I'm sure there are many developers (indie or not) around... sales/results can be different and not really high, but I doubt there's a 'massive and occult system' behind them.
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Offline iWasAdam

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2020, 02:04:32 PM »
Quote
does one man ACTUALLY do EVERYTHING
Me. I do absolutely everything  8) But did i sell my soul to do it... Hmmmm?

Offline Xaron

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2020, 04:21:05 PM »
Interesting discussion.

I might be one of those who are somewhat successful and start to make a living from it.

My last game (submarine simulation) was not the uber game but did sell quite ok, about $100k net (after fees but before tax) within 3 years. That's nothing to make a living from but I still earn about $1k per month net from it without even doing anything.

I think you should look for a niche. A niche which is too small for the big studios but too ambitious for the average hobby coder (sry) out there. I found it in the simulation area (naval sims, flight sims). This is a pretty lucrative niche as the gamers there are used to pay for full price titles as long as you don't rip them off with in app purchase shit.

Do the next Silent Hunter 3 (not 4 or 5!) and you will do well. Not an easy task though.

Next is: Forget the mobile stuff. It's not worth it. People cry "RIP OFF" when there is an app for $0.99 but pay star bucks coffees for $5 without even blinking.

For PC games there is no way around Steam. Use it! Build up a wish list. Get followers there.

Most important: Never give up!

Offline GaborD

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2020, 07:33:48 PM »
I totally agree with going for a niche. Lots of potential there.
Be the big fish in the small pond and build a reputation, much better than being swallowed up instantly by the flood of mediocrity in the oversaturated genres. Sure, your game would be better than most others in the flood, but that means nothing if noone sees it.

Offline hackball

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2020, 09:52:15 PM »
This is an interesting topic. I've seen some GDC talks about that (like "11 years without a hit") and it seems the good ol' days are over. Once you come up with a great idea about a game somebody from an asian sweatshop quickly copies that idea with 10x the manpower and releases the game months before you.That was not the case a few years ago.
But if you have a real good idea and keep it for yourself until release you might have a chance. Earning 100k from anything selfmade is a good achievement, imho.
Anyway there are soooo many games coming out every WEEK, like, let's be honest - with all those engines and builders around almost everybody can create games nowadays.Youtube is full of gamedev vlogs, and those guys go out for jogging all the time and release some small Unity game once every two weeks or so...

Offline Santiago

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2020, 10:47:18 PM »
Something from my experience tells me the following.


I have been doing 3D architectural renders for 20 years, before, only using 3dsmax and Vray, or another complex program you could have a good render, and people paid you because you were the one who knew how to render.

Nowadays, anyone can make renders, since programs like Lumion already have everything ready for your image to be beautiful.

Even so, nowadays, I do not lose work, because my renders are still the solution to the client's need.

And people pay me to do a good render, because they can't do it, because new programs that solve everything for you, nullify your ability to learn how to make good renders.

The overpopulation of new and modern tools that solve everything makes people not learn the profession, makes people useless who do not learn to treat a problem if they do not present the solution before their eyes.

I am not afraid of progress, there is no need to fear the new market.

My problem is that I just don't understand this competitive video game market, I don't know how to enter, that's why I need help. It does not bother me that it is so, it is what it is, and you have to adapt.

The proof of that is that I still use Blitz3D, and I still exist.

If a Chinese copies a game of yours, then focus on doing something that cannot be copied, something that people want because they know you did it. A copy of a Rolls Royce is not a competition for a Rolls Royce.

without adaptation, you cannot survive.

Offline Santiago

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2020, 10:55:58 PM »
my question, is, you, how to survive with programming?, what you do? how you feel.


Offline GaborD

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2020, 06:30:41 AM »
You are right, someone who puts in the effort will produce a better product than someone who doesn't, no matter which tools they have access to.
The main issue is not that we have direct competition but rather the general oversaturation of the marketplace, which makes discovery much harder.
Making a better product does you no good if noone sees it.

Targeting the right niche can be a great approach and we also usually have to invest quite a bit of time and effort into marketing.
We have to cover all areas well (marketing, game design, artwork, tech-art, programming), with marketing being much more important now. This also means the art is usually more important, because it can be the fuel that powers the marketing. (an other approach would be to have gimmick as centerpiece you can use for marketing.)

To your other question, the way I used to survive was mostly by doing contract work on the side (promo games for big companies) to have some financial safety. Currently contract work is ofcourse rather dead, so I am focussing fulltime on a bigger own game project.
I can't specifically answer how to survive with programming, because I am not a programmer.
But it's possible to survive with making games, it's just different than it used to be and it's more important now to cover all the important areas.

Let's look at it positively, it's not too hard to outmaneuver the clicketyclackers and assetflippers who have no clue about game design or how to build a level that runs over 20FPS. :)
Putting in the effort always matters.

Offline degac

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2020, 07:48:12 AM »
simplifying at all: serial production vs craft production

A craft production, to have a monetary feedback, at this point need/could to be

  • a niche production
  • very special (original game mechanics, unique graphics style), ets... something that bring it out from the masses

or a combination of both.

Personally I did and sold just one game on my life (and very small unit!): this teach me that
1) I'm a not a 'great' programmer or game designer :-)
2) I surely can't live from this.
3) I enjoyed a lot (more than the economic result) doing this.
4) There's an extra-offer of game: this means 'short gaming time' to pass to the other one... and the risk of 'no return'.

Paradoxically people like me (who enjoy to create game and maybe to release it for free) could adversely affect the 'craft' market: AAA production (millions of $ and big games) have not that risk, but - for example - an Asteroid clone has not high 'barriers to entry', so your effort to make the 'greatest' Asteroid game could finish in 0 selling because there are also many similar (or better!) solutions.

Going back to the original question

Quote
my question, is, you, how to survive with programming?, what you do? how you feel.
  • I realized that 'ad revenue' (=ad on your target, YT channel and so on) can grant a 'basic income' - I think it should be a must
  • Working with a team (maybe small and very specialized): if target as above, could grant more/better results. Lonely team - of course - means you can't do everything (IwasAdam could be an exception...) - or worst case - making it very bad.
  • Having another 'side' activities (related or not with programming, gaming or ITC world)





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Offline RemiD

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Re: what can we do? ( developers)
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2020, 08:56:47 AM »
Quote
what can we do? ( developers)
stop playing on computer and prepare for the coming economic collapse ??? ;D
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