The "short" path to make money, make ends meet?

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by AspiringAspiring, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. AspiringAspiring

    AspiringAspiring New Member

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    Hello there!

    I've read in numerous threads and stuff but thought I'd throw in a question here (or two). The thing is, I lost my job as a software developer / programmer because of health issues (I am disabled). My employer is not to blame.

    On the one hand I don't think it would be worth the efforts to look out for another similar job in the industry, my health will prevent me from working full time with all the commuting and stuff. I also very often need longer pauses during the work day, which no employer really wants to allow. On the other hand, I'm not nearly old enough for retirement and I do think I'm still capable of doing *something*.

    So I thought of doing programming in a self employed way, allowing me to work from home without the stress of commuting. Allowing me to pause when my health issues urge me to pause for 1, 2 or even 3 hours at a time. Over a decade ago I already was self employed for several years, so I know the ropes (in the general field of software development, contract work). For technical issues and the business side I can rely on some skills learned at university, I had two majors: business and computer science.

    So, what brings me here is some passion for games and even more so for game development. I never got beyond very small and tiny games in the past and to be honest haven't done much in the last years. In the end I'm nothing but a newbie.

    Without a job to support me, I need to make money from a new source and since I have no other options right now I am planning to become an indie game developer. I know it would be easier to learn game development in your free time for several years while being employed full time so you don't starve. But it is as it is, I don't have a job any longer and I want to make money with games and I also feel I have to try it.

    I've read enough about game engines and libraries and stuff to make an educated choice. A friend of mine is a musician who will support me with sounds and such. And at some point I will have to seek out an artist to do some art work for me. Everything else I guess I will do on my own.

    The thing is: I can't spend two years on developing a game, I don't have the funds for such a long time. I will start with small projects because it makes sense to me and is wildly suggested by seasoned game dev veterans. But after a couple of months I will need to switch over to starting projects with the intention to earn money and make a living, make ends meet. I know it won't happen after a mere six months, but I guess even with savings and being wife funded I can't spend two years or even more before I publish my first game. I need to try to earn at least some money more quickly, if possible within the first year of trying.

    I don't know which direction to take, though. I have easily come up with lots of game ideas which naturally have a too large scope. From reading in forums I learned I have to start small. But still, what should I aim for? A half way complex PC game? Or rather... mobile mini games, like puzzles and such? I wouldn't mind either way, but I'd like to hear some input, read some suggestions which path to take as an indie game developer. Where is the money for a new solo indie developer? I know I will have to concentrate on getting things done, on really finishing a game. But I also need to choose a direction. Any help will be appreciated!

    TL;DR Lost my job; Self employed Indie dev now, still need to learn the ropes; Should I rather concentrate on smallish mobile games? Or spend more time developing a PC game?

    Kind regards.
     
  2. stan

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Assuming you really want to do that, I’d say look at games like Super Hexagon and Thomas was alone. Both have basically no graphics, simple mechanics, and have been successful. If you make something remarkable and manage to put it on Steam you might make some amount of money. But don’t forget about marketing… (And playtesting by "strangers" during development to make your game better.)

    Technically Unity might be the best bet at the moment; at least everyone seems to love it, and it will let you export for Windows, Mac and Linux and even mobile/html5 easily.

    (I haven’t done any of that.)
     
  3. AspiringAspiring

    AspiringAspiring New Member

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    I know it sounded absurd. But try to understand my point of view, lost my job, disabled, plenty of time and at some point I'll need to earn money again. I might fail, of course. I know. Thank you for your suggestions, I will take a look at the games you mentioned.
     
  4. stan

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Well not exactly, but "how do I earn plenty of money quickly with a video game?" is a question I think most of us would like the answer to ;-).

    I have read that targetting businesses is a much better way to earn money than making games, too. For example there: https://www.developereconomics.com/reports/developer-economics-q1-2015/ (note: this survey is about mobile applications developers)
     
  5. LeonNight

    LeonNight New Member

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    I'm just a newbie like you, but from the viewpoint of a gamer I'd say I enjoy a simple mobile game more than a simple PC game in terms of mechanics and graphics.
    Few reasons for that. Firstly on the smaller screen I neither expect great graphics nor complex gameplay and those are not important. It also got a bit of that handheld feeling like playing on a GameBoy. Not quite as good or nostalgic but nice. While sticking to basic things you can still make an enjoyable game. There are countless examples on the app stores out there. Games like Doodle Jump, Flappy Bird and Co exist with basically only doing one thing. (Please don't make your game similarly repetitive).

    With mobile games it's also far more easy selling premium stuff, doing pay2play or pay2win. People also tend to do it more often, even spending more money on one app than on a grand scale PC game because the payments themselves are smaller in comparison but happen more often. Read an article about that a year ago concerning the rush to the mobile game market

    The final reason is the problem you talked about concerning the scale of your ideas. When I think of an app I automatically would imagine something that got a very simple build. You cannot make games that are as complex on a mobile phone because the phones aren't powerful enough for that. Maybe you could look at a few old games for ideas. I'd say most stuff until shortly after the new millenia is simple enough to be made into a mobile game. Not saying you should make a clone, but there are quite a few gems in the early days. ;)
     
  6. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    With the caveat that I've not made any money on my own projects, I can only share my current strategy and see if it resonates. To mirror Stan's point, find a small market where you can have strong uptake.

    I worked with a developer that has since made an app that adds garbage pickup days to Android calendars. It allows the user to pick the city and route and it gives them a heads up the evening before garbage pickup. It's very simple. Their advertising budget was spent to include an add in the booklet sent to every resident in the city that gives them a paper schedule. There are ads for scrap metal companies and car junkyards and a company that resells architectural pieces reclaimed from demolition jobs. It stood out because it was an app to help homeowners. There was a very strong uptake by residents. It is a freemium model where residents can add other reminders to their calendar like which days they can and cannot water their lawns, the days when residents can park on the street and when the Winter parking restrictions kick in, Christmas tree pickup days. I don't have any data on his success because he never shared it with me. He still had a day job after it was released so I'm assuming he wasn't raking in the cash.

    My point is that everyone in the city saw his ad and it was geared specifically for the people that saw the ad.

    Borrowing from this same idea, I'm working on a game that isn't widely played, but, has a dedicated following. It's public domain so I have the ability to use the name myself which will make discovery simple. I don't have an advertising budget so I'm counting on people who search for the game by name to get my app in their search results. There are a half-dozen other games on the Android market all with the same name. I've played them all and they're ok, not great. I'm going to adopt a very simple two-colour (red and blue) palette using squares as game pieces. That's the extent of my art skill. The gap I've found in the existing games is AI. The opponent players are dumb as nails. I have some experience in AI development so I'm going to focus on that, give players a challenge. My market is players who already know how to play the game and are looking to play it on their phones. To that end, I'm giving them a challenging opponent which none of the other rival games have.

    I'm still six months from release so time will tell if this approach is successful.
     
  7. AspiringAspiring

    AspiringAspiring New Member

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    Thank you very much for your story, Richard. I hope you will achieve your goals. Btw I didn't know there is a London in Canada, too.
     
  8. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    Fingers crossed.

    It used to be called "New London" when it was founded in the 18th century and sits on the Thames River. There was also a "New Berlin" but that city was renamed "Kitchener" during WWII. Huge German expatriate population there.
     
  9. Frozen In Ice

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Nice to see another developer from the area. Hello from North York! :)
     
  10. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    Sorry to hijack the thread, but...

    You've been there a while if you're still calling it North York. :)
     
  11. jgnmoose

    jgnmoose New Member

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    Honestly, I'd recommend spending a little time familiarizing yourself with the marketing side of Indie Dev first.

    We all want to believe that our games will end up on some store and organically explode overnight and make the money we hoped. It could technically happen, but the odds are very slim. SEO/ASO and marketing are not something you can afford to ignore if you need to make money.

    I also wouldn't recommend spending months upon months on a game unless you have an amazing idea, original sound, original artwork from a kick *** artist with unique looks and game play nobody has ever seen before. Not for your first game. Learn to make money with some more down to earth games, then you can blow the doors off with your super original idea.

    Just my take on it, good luck!
     
  12. AspiringAspiring

    AspiringAspiring New Member

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    Thank you very much for your thoughts.
     
  13. Xyle

    Xyle New Member

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    Its a long shot, but making a mobile game will probably be your best bet. Unity makes this a very simple thing and for an experienced programmer, the learning curve should be small. I would look at making the smaller games. The hard decision is wether to go with pay to play or advertising. Typically you can start with pay to play and if your not satisfied, switch to free with in game advertising.

    Typically, you can create smaller, mobile based games within 3-6 months and after your first one, the process gets easier.

    The downside, it cost me $1600 to buy the Macbook pro and apple license to put my games on the Apple Store, lol.

    This is the same exact road I am on, but for different reasons.

    Good luck!
     

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