Sacrificial Title

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by David York, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Moved over from Dexterity

    I'd like to bounce this idea off you guys.

    Hindsight is supposed to be clearer than foresight. Further, many things are easier the second time you do them. Therefore, I am thinking about writing a sacrificial game title to gain some hindsight in this overall process, and get some experience shipping, marketing, publishing, etc.

    By "sacrificial title" I mean a game which is completed, concept to completion, in a couple of months. Nothing technically challenging about the implementation, but still a solid piece of (small) quality work.

    What do the great gurus of this forum think of my idea? Thank you in advance for your input.
     
  2. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Summary of replies from Dexterity

    Key quotes to provide a summary of the replies on Dexterity - thanks a lot!

    Mark Fassett
    I guess, what I'm saying is, if you want to make a small game to test the waters, make sure it's similar to what you want to be doing in the future, just smaller.

    Karukef
    Well, one advice is to aim to complete it in 2 weeks. Then you may actually have a chance of finishing after 2 months

    LittleHat
    One should not make a game or a software simply to aguerrir (gain experience) but make a product which is sold and which meets desires or needs of final player/user...

    Nemesis
    I think it is a good idea and it shows that you are, at the very least, aware that there is more to it than (simply) game design and coding. I do believe that it is better to take on a smaller project but polish it really well rather than a half-baked larger project.

    StAn
    Indeed, making a game "sellable" can take a lot of time, compared to a game that just "works"... Anyway, that's a good idea to start with a very small project IMHO.
     
  3. Mark Fassett

    Moderator Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    BTW, David, you better have something to show at pizza night on the 7th :)
     
  4. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll try to make it. Hopefully, the wonderful, awesome, cool, some might even say sexy administrator(s) of this page will have fixed the spelling error in my name by then. Stupid Dvorak keyboard is messing up my vowels...
     
  5. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    I tweaked your username spelling a bit dave :)
     
  6. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Aw, thanks Dan! I have plans on Saturday the 7th, but I,ll try to get out of them. The one after should be around my first shipping date, if all goes well.
     
  7. serg3d

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    0
    My expirience is that the less ambitious the title is the better. I started my current games to be fairly minimalistic, but that lead to several time more work then I antisipated. And it isn't finished yet. My next game will be reallly, really small and simple.
     
  8. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,393
    Likes Received:
    6
    I think it's a great idea. Many smaller games actually sell better than more complex larger games. I think quality is key. But that aside, the very idea of making a small game first to get your chops up is a good one.
     
  9. gmcbay

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd say you're already ahead of the average indie developer who decides their first title should probably be an MMORPG... one that'll be better than the commercial ones because it has a better story and more content....

    Yeah.. you're already ahead of those guys.
     
  10. Diodor Bitan

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    Small games are best. The larger and more expensive the idea, the more you'll have to compromise in the overall quality and polish of the game.

    It is convenient to choose a project that allows you to grow and expand on the small idea, if it proves to be successful. This way you don't have the risks of developing a big title nor the limitations of a small one.
     
  11. GBGames

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,255
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does anyone miss when the most anyone tried to create as their first title is "The best RPG ever?" I do. I guess MMORPGs are just the next step. What did most beginners try to make on their first going before RPGs?

    And to be honest, when I first started programming, one of my projects was an RPG. I actually managed to get a walking demo (which put me ahead of most beginners) and I even had a simple scripting system in place for talking to NPCs (which put me ahead of even more beginners). It basically stopped there (which kept me in the same group as most beginners) B-\

    I agree, though. Start small and work your way up. Gain experience, and then you can start to tackle the bigger projects. Hmm...game development is starting to sound like an RPG...
     
  12. Coyote

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    697
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey, I made a full RPG when I was a kid. Had fun playing it with friends on my C-64.

    Granted, it wasn't the most feature-rich game in the universe... it had the old 'fake' 3D line graphics of Wizardry fame and no pictures of monsters. But it would randomly generate a 10-level dungeon populated with monsters and treasures, let you roll up a party of adventurers, and hack & slay looking for a mystic orb (which was of course randomly placed with no hints to find it other than the fact it was on level 6 or below... so you had to search every square inch of dungeon until you found it...)

    That's really all it takes, IMO. It's not how BIG a game is, it's how much it fits within the tools, schedules, and comfort level of your team (including a team of one). The tools we have to make games keep getting better and better. I think that's one of the keys to Spiderweb's success... very few indies have succeeded in the RPG arena. But they have, and now it's relatively easy for them to stay there.

    Even John Carmack didn't start with Doom 3 (or even Doom 1). The key is KNOWING what you, personally, are capable of, and knowing what your team is capable of, and then using that skill set to do the best game possible within those limitations --- and to keep extending those limits a little further each time.
     
  13. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    After considering your input, I've decided to develop a small (8 week) title. Referring to it as "sacrificial" is not the best choice of words, but I could not resist such an exciting word! Really, the idea behind it is that I don't pour my 100% into it, but rather treat it as a marketing experiment/homework assignment/learning experience.

    I agree with Mark's warning regarding not developing in a genre that I don't enjoy developing in. Further, I will attempt to develop a game with a lot of potential code re-use so as to assist with larger titles later. I'm going to aim for 8 weeks. When I decide on a genre, I'll post in this thread in case anybody is curious.

    As for attempting to create the massive RPG, well, I learned from that experience many years ago!

    Thanks for all your input! I am very fortunate to have found this community.
     
  14. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,637
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not nessesarily. If you plan to develop a large game, and along with it you plan the time nessesary to add a decent level of polish, you won't have this problem at all. The whole idea that 'small games are best' just isn't true in all cases.

    I think Coyote said it best- each developer should work with a full understanding of their own capabilities.
     
  15. Diodor Bitan

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you spend four months to polish a one month game you can get it to a higher level of perfection than you will ever get a 16 months game.

    I agree that my "small" idea isn't "true in all cases", but then again, what is?

    Yes. It would be laughable if I went telling Blizzard they should make "small" games. The "small" concept only applies in the context of indie developers and their (usually) limited resources.
     
  16. Mark Fassett

    Moderator Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    542
    Likes Received:
    0
    Eeesh - There's no problem with any size game as an indie, as long as you have either the money to pay people to help you, or the money to survive long enough to see your project through to the end. Was it Starshatter that took like 6 or 7 years to finish? If you're willing to take that long, and you have the ability to see it through and not give up, there's nothing wrong with doing it. The size of game you make all depends on you, your finances, your state of mind, your desire for completion, etc... Small games are good for the starter - just because they give a quick sense of completion. Doesn't mean they're good for everybody. And there's no reason an indie can't polish a 16 month game to the same level as a four month game.
     
  17. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    To whom it may interest, I have decided to make a space shooter for this title.
     
  18. kerchen

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, I've arrived late to this discussion, but I'll chime in anyway. My first (and to date only) released title was intended as a cut-my-teeth learning experience: through Vault Vex, I hoped to learn about registration services, marketing, how to make a game that will run on a 200 MHz Win98 box, etc. To that end, the project was a resounding success: I now know a lot more about a lot of stuff that's useful to any indie developer.

    But here's the flip side: Since I always intended it to be a learning tool, I never really poured my heart and soul into it and that shows in the final product. The game is technically solid and trial users give it average scores in all areas of interest (I have a brief and optional anonymous survey that users can take upon uninstalling the game), but it just doesn't have a soul. I intentionally picked an idea that wouldn't be technically taxing, wasn't a clone of a well-known game, and was only tangentially related to a game that I was really interested in creating. As a result, I have no interest in trying to sell it any more; I just can't bring myself to do it. Of course, I'll leave it on my website and I'll continue to support its registered users, but that's about it. There will be no Vault Vex 2, Vault Vex Deluxe, Vault Vex Unlimited, Vault Vex Forever, or Vault Vex and the Temple of Doom (at least not from Whirling Chair Games). In short, I wish I'd picked a game idea that was a little nearer and dearer to my heart because at the end of it I could have said, "Yeah, I'm pretty happy with this game and I learned a lot too!"
     
  19. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,982
    Likes Received:
    5
    I'm not a great guru, of this forum or otherwise, but here's my experience. We took the "sacrifical title" route. We picked the most simple game idea we could think of, and made PegSweeper.

    Last month, july, we sold exactly 3 copies of PegSweeper (far better than 0 in june, but not as high as the all-time record of 6 in may). In these 13 months since its launch, we sold 21 copies, for a grand total of $221 in revenues (we sold earlier versions at $9.95)

    But we consider our humble PegSweeper a great success. At the end of it we knew we could make games, I learned how to make a website, setup accounts with payment processors, list the games, and had developed a nice sprite engine.

    Our second game, which reused and extended the engine, is Betty's Beer Bar, which has been much more successful :)
     
  20. David York

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, thank you Kerchen, I appreciate and will incorporate your input just the same!

    I am glad the Vault Vex experience was successful as a learning experience. I think your warning is very good. I will take it to heart.

    I like space shooters. I likely won't be creating one that I will be too excited about. Considering your warning (and that of others) I have decided to develop this title such that it will be scalable to a larger, more feature-rich title. This should allow me to add features and functionality to this game in a genre I enjoy, and evolve the title over time to something I can be very proud of.

    I really appreciate your input and experience on the subject!
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer