Trying again, help me get started.

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by Bofra, May 19, 2007.

  1. Bofra

    Bofra New Member

    Jan 14, 2007
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    Hello community.

    About a year ago I tried to launch the development of an indie RPG together with some people I gathered from different indie communities (no known in real life). That project failed, and it was kind of easy to see the reason of it but I'm posting this message to hear your thought of my situation. I want to start again, with a different project but I want to do it right this time.

    So, what is my situation? I'm a young (21) student NOT studying anything to do with game development, I don't program, I don't draw, I practically don't do anything else with a PC than write schoolpapers and play games. Then, what DO I have in order to work with game development? Organizing skills. And a workable bit of leadership. And of course the will to do it.

    I surelly don't have time to work with it full time as university and work take up most time of the day but I sure would love to spend the extra hours I have on this. I also don't have an economy to mention so any (greater) fundings would have to come from elsewhere.

    But what are my experiences so far with game development and why did my previous project fail? To keep it short I don't have much experience at all but I learned a great deal during last year. I learned that development requires a lot of PLANNING as it's a lot harder to backtrack and change lane than it is to go the right way from the beginning. Also I learned that the team is EVERYTHING so it's very important that I take time setting it up and don't "hire" people that I don't need.

    Anyway, this post is ment for advices from you to me (and the community) and not the other way around so I'm leaving this open for you to continue. Let me just help you out with a few straight out questions:

    How much of the game (RPG genre again) should I develop alone before creating a team?

    Can I work as a (indie)developer without knowing anything about modelling/programming/scetching/etc?

    Where should I start when setting up the team? Programmers? Artists? Lore-writers?

    How should I set up the rules for working in the team? Deadlines? Communication requirements (like Skype or IRC)?

    How far should I aim? Being a part-time developer and newbie at that I don't expect a whole lot from my results but I also would like some results to be proud of. Where lies the balance?

    Thank you everyone in advance!

    Jakob 'Bofra' Calero
  2. benko

    benko New Member

    Apr 12, 2007
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    RPG is a very time and resources consuming gendre (you surely already know this based on your previous experience). I'd recommend you trying something more simple first.

    I don't understand this. You said you don't have any game-development skills (but "organizing"). So, how are you going to develop *anything* at all by your own? Or do you have some skills you didn't tell us before?

    If you are good at design, you can write the whole design doc, the game mechanics, the story script, dialogues, and such. This takes a LOT of time and it'd be good to have it done before recruiting people.

    Since you're gonna be the "coordinator", it'd be easier if you at least had some basic knowledge of coding, art, music, etc. That way you'd be able to communicate better with your team.

    I think it doesn't really matter the order. You're gonna need the whole team to complete the game.

    Depends. If you do pay them, you can be more strict about deadlines, since your game will be their job. But since you're not paying them (you said you have no funding to invest in the game right now), then your game is their hobby, so you have to be more flexible about deadlines and so on.

    It's a lot of better to organize "real life" meetings, but if that's not possible, Messenger/IRC/Skype work great. You will also need a mailing list/forum and a project collaboration/management tool (Basecamp, ActiveCollab, Trac...)

    If I were you, I'd aim towards a more simple game (one that could be made in 6 months - 1 year), and see if I could succeed in that simple game... Or maybe you can use RPG Maker and save a LOT of time.
  3. Philippe

    Original Member

    Dec 14, 2005
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    I'll be blunt:

    Can I work as a (indie)developer without knowing anything about modelling/programming/scetching/etc?

    No. Unless you can get this funded and pay people.

    Your best bet is to acquire some tangible skills. Learn how to program, how to model or how to draw. There is no such thing as a vacant position for an "ideas man", and I don't think your chances are much better if you market yourself as an afterhours project manager.
    If you're not willing to put a lot of time into learning something new, perhaps try some sort of middleware such as RPG Maker. This will somewhat limit the scope of your project but increase your chances of getting it done, and you'll be able to produce a demo for when you pitch your game to potential team members.
  4. JoKa

    Indie Author

    Jul 27, 2005
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    What about creating board games, pen&paper or something similar? Or using a tool like RPG Maker, which doesn't require programming and offers graphics to use. If you have no experience in creating computer games, you won't be able to organize work because you can't estimate the amount of work required for the various tasks. If you want to coordinate a team of experts, you should have at least some basic knowledge about the way they work.

    Even worse, if you really find a way to get your game done, what will you earn? What will you OWN? The programmers have the rights to their source code, your artists have the copyright on the gfx. Unless you spend tons of money to pay people for their work, granting the exclusive rights to you, you will never have "your" game.
  5. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Feb 24, 2005
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    If you can't do programming or artwork (I'll assume that extends to concept art, too), then you're going to struggle.

    In my opinion? No. You need to have a fair idea about what other people are doing, how they do it, and how long its all going to take.

    (skipped the next two questions for obvious reasons)

    Learn some programming skills and aim for the gutter. After that, the only way is up.

    Sorry if this isn't what you wanted to hear, but I don't think 'organising skills' (read, 'telling everybody else what to do') is a much sought after skill. Learn your own skills and work your way up. You simply can't start at the top. Nobody is going to work with you, and if they do, its through necessity of being part of something and with people like that its doomed to fail.
  6. Sybixsus

    Original Member

    Aug 2, 2004
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    Yes. But only if you're going to fund the project ( personally, or through direct contacts ) because otherwise you're not bringing anything to the table that the people who do know about modelling/programming/sketching couldn't do for themselves without you. And you already said you're not going to do that. So I guess no.
  7. HDL

    HDL New Member

    Jan 24, 2007
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    The world is full of people with great ideas that want others to make their ideas a reality. You see it everywhere with people telling directors and novelists and gamescreators "hey why don't you make a game about this". There's not a dearth of ideas and there's nothing to separate yours, or your skills from the other Joe Schmoe who wants others to make his game for him.

    The only person who can make the game will be you. No one else will have the same passion and drive in regards to your ideas than you. Unless you're handing over money then chances are if you do assemble a team of amateurs then they'll eventually flake out on you. I've browsed communities of amateur gamemakers and most rpg games that start off created by a team seem to fail to be finished. Admittedly this is the same as those started by people on their own. They begin with a great idea and then it fizzles out.

    If you really want to make a game though it isn't hopeless. It is possible to do it on your own if you have the drive to do it.

    I know that the idea of learning how to programme can be daunting. It's very difficult to know where to start. The good thing is you don't need to and you don't need to learn how to draw either. There's programmes out there, such as rpgmaker that can help you. There's a pile of free graphics and scripts available for it and a friendly, helpful community that can help you out. You can also sell your game at the end of it. The most important thing though is that it can teach you how to follow a project through to the finish. That is an extremely valuable skill to have.

    If you have the will to do it then you have to do it on your own, at least until you have money to back up your words. Forget about the team and create the game on your own. Your first attempt might not be any good but you will at least be learning and gaining experience in what it really takes to make a finished game.
  8. electronicStar

    Original Member

    Feb 28, 2005
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    Organizing skills and "the will to do it" is not enough, you will not succeed this way, you will just annoy people.
    21 is a young age, the perfect time to start learning something, be it programming, art, music , whatever (but preferably with a bit of programming).
    Wether you like it or not creating software is a technical job, it requires technical skills.
    Don't be lazy or discouraged, give yourself at least 5 years to become a good professional. This time will be the best spent in your life.
  9. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Jul 27, 2004
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    >Can I work as a (indie)developer without knowing anything about

    Well the work you should be doing is learning those skills that go into making a game. Pure story telling or design is a part of it, but it's a small part. It's like wanting to be a pro ball player, and your skill set consists of knowing how to tie running shoes. You need to start smaller and learn some of these skills if you're really interested in being a game developer.

    >Where should I start when setting up the team? Programmers? Artists?

    It's difficult or near impossible to attract and retain good people if you can't lead them. Even if you had a lot of money the project might not go that well because you don't have the experience to manage a team. Even if you had a lot of money people won't do a good job if the person directing them doesn't really understand the fundamentals of what they're doing. That sort of thing breeds resent. You're unable to lead by example at the moment.

    >How should I set up the rules for working in the team? Deadlines?
    >Communication requirements (like Skype or IRC)?

    Same answer. Team management helps and its a different skillset than game development, but a lot of leadership is leading by example. You need professional respect to make it work. And you earn that respect by learning and making things yourself. Get Blitzbasic and make a game. Do all the hard work to figure it out and familiarize yourself with the basics. If RPGs is all that excites you make a VERY VERY small one. 1/2 a dungeon kinda thing. If you have strong ideas you can use this work to attract people who can help you take it to the next level. My guess is you'd need to do a few iterations of this sort of thing though.

    >How far should I aim? Being a part-time developer and newbie at that I don't
    >expect a whole lot from my results but I also would like some results to be
    >proud of. Where lies the balance?

    I'd say you're already aiming too far with the very idea of forming a team and making a RPG. I'd start much smaller and get some skills under your belt first.
  10. mot

    Indie Author

    Oct 21, 2004
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    Look, your organizing skills are really worth squat if you don't know how a
    game is made. You can attract some people but what do you tell them to
    do? How do you know what's there to be done?

    They will not know. You will not know. The only way to learn this is to have
    already done it before. So your second RPG is inevitably going to fail.
    Especially if you want to do it in a couple hours of "spare" time. That's just
    not going to work, end of story.

    If you want to succeed, you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO learn a programming
    language and make a simple game yourself. Pong is fine. Don't forget the
    menus, highscores and an installer. Too simple and easy you say? Ha!

    You also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO learn some Photoshop basics, layers, making
    tileable textures, animated sprites.

    You also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO learn how sound effects are created, using a
    sound library and some audio software like Sound Forge.

    You also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO learn some stuff about software project
    management. No, Skype and IRC won't cut it, those are mostly for chatting.
    Read "Code complete" and "Mythical man-month". Learn how to work with an
    issue tracker, version control, project management software.

    You also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO write the design document yourself. Learn
    how to do it and then do it. Otherwise you'll be working on someone else's
    game!! And in that case, there goes your will... :)
  11. Nikos Beck

    Nikos Beck New Member

    Jun 14, 2007
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    What about starting in a different medium?

    A friend and I made a card game with a unique combat system that was eventually used in a poorly-programmed, awful-looking space shooter. The point is that the combat system worked perfectly in both applications. We were just bad programmers with no art skills.

    You could go with something like cards games like Magic or paper like D&D or miniatures like Warhammer. I'm not saying any of these other mediums will be easier to develop in but it'll eliminate your lack of programming and art skills. You can quite easily apply a design in one of these mediums to computers.

    Once you have solid gameplay you can bring people on board and show them what you want. If they like the feel of the game on paper or with little figures then they'll understand your vision. If you have it worked out in detail then others will be confident that it'll work and may be more willing to help out.

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