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Author Topic: How should I go on about creating an indie game?  (Read 9552 times)

McKnight

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How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« on: December 20, 2013, 06:00:37 pm »
At some point, I would like to create two RPGs similar to Earthbound.  As it stands, though, I currently don't have a job, which means I can't make money fast enough.

Of course, this is why we have Kickstarter.  However, right now, I don't know what kinds of stuff I should offer in exchange for funding.

And, once I do get funding, another issue will be finding people to work on different parts of the games.

Can anyone give me tips on how to go on about a Kickstarter campaign and how to find different people to work on the games with me?

furrykef

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2013, 06:35:49 pm »
The first step is to make something. If you want people to throw money at you, you've got to show them you can make something. Make a prototype of the game with placeholder art. (Any art will do at this stage, whether it's clip art or something you whipped up in MS Paint.) Or if you're not a programmer, but you are an artist, make some concept art and mockups of what the game will look like. If you're neither a programmer nor an artist, you don't really have anything but an idea. A design document by itself, no matter how great a design it is, will probably not be good enough. It's the execution that counts. So if you're neither a programmer or artist, you're probably gonna need a friend (and I mean a friend -- a stranger is likely unwilling to help) who believes in you and is willing to give you a push. And if you don't have the skills or a friend, then if you're serious about making these games, well, you'd better start learning how to program or how to draw. (For me, at least, programming is much easier. Plus, knowing how to program is probably a more valuable skill for a designer since you'll have an idea of what's easy to program and what isn't.)

This is probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but it's the one you need to hear. Reality's never pleasant, but I'm afraid it's what we're stuck with...

McKnight

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2013, 06:50:06 pm »
In that case, I suppose I should commission people on Deviantart for stuff like music, graphics, and animations, and then piece it together myself the best I can.

Yeah, I think that's what I'll do, once I have money to commission people with.

BRPXQZME

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2013, 07:24:43 pm »
Everything up there furrykef said is true.

A lot of first time game developers start with modding or pre-built engines (and even experienced developers at big companies build prototypes in Unity before they pitch ideas to their bosses, there’s no stigma with that!). This is a very good idea; the less you have to get done yourself, and the higher the quality of what you based your work on, the more you can concentrate on what you set out to do and make it good. The game industry term for this is “polish”: it implies making the art look great, the gameplay enjoyable, the motions juicy, the writing impeccable. But I am going to call it “good”, that quality of whether it’s worth playing, which you know when you see it.

The truth is, if you don’t have what it takes, you will probably give up at some point. And in that case, you might even come to a conclusion that it’s all pretty fun and not hard (a lot of dabblers quit before getting to the hard part—I’d know, I dabble in a lot of things). If you do have what it takes, you will probably survive long enough to take a step back and maybe you could even objectively say out loud, “That is one big pile of shit.” But that’s the first step to making good things; you either throw out what’s bad and start over, or you take something that’s only kind of okay and improve the crap out of it.

Don’t stop at thinking it has to be a big blockbuster project to be good; this will kill your career as a creator faster than anything. Some people in this word are savants who can make big and good first projects, but that’s incredibly rare period, and even rarer in games. So if your favorite idea is big (and make no mistake, when people say “RPG” they usually mean a big one), start with your less favorite ideas and make things that are good but small. This is the proof you will need to show a potential funder, a potential partner, or a potential player that you can make good things. Then you have earned a right to a lottery ticket of making your golden baby project.

There is nothing wrong with having a day job while making your passion projects off the job. Yes, it sucks time and energy, but it pays the bills. Games don’t owe you a living, and lots of aspiring indie developers find this out the hard way. Actually, the same skills it takes to make video games often pay much better outside the industry (indie or otherwise), and don’t require you to wear as many hats or work as many hours. Bear in mind that a lot of people who are successful in games would have probably been successful if they’d decided to do anything else; they just decided to be successful in games. Hell, BioWare was founded by doctors and Valve was founded by Microsoft millionaires—going into games was not a sound financial decision in either of these cases.

In the meantime, cultivate your connections in the spheres where people you potentially want to work with are. You will probably not succeed at making projects that require more than one person if you don’t have partners willing to go in 100% same as you. Commissioning stuff is likely to be too expensive to be practical.

But first, make your own thing. A ROM hack based on something in this site’s utilities section or a game mod (Skyrim is popular!) is a great way to get started if you need more scaffolding and want to test out your quest writing or something. An RPG Maker project will do if what you need is more like a blank engine. There are more generic engines available if neither of those options are flexible enough.

Do read stuff about game development that’s out there if you’re unsure how to proceed, but don’t read so much of it you don’t learn things hands-on. If you depend completely on the aid of others to get started... well, you never will.

Why are you still reading this? Go go go! :thumbsup:
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FAST6191

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2013, 07:29:46 pm »
RPGs are possibly one of the more expensive types of games to make. Indeed such things are not commonly seen in indie circles, have a wander through the humble store and see how few there are vs every other type. Also see how many of those use some level of procedural generation, I love procedural generation in all its forms but unless you are making a diablo clone I have never seen anything in the "wants to be Earthbound or Final Fantasy" RPG world work with it (slim exception for levels between towns).

Funding levels in crowdfunding..... nobody has really yet gone through and seen what really works and what does not. What I will make sure to say is if you are offering widgets then make sure you account for their costs (design, creation and shipping) properly as there will be costs and will be coming out of that money and that includes the time.
In that case if widgets are dropped or are only for the serious backers you have the less costly things like discounts on the game, early access, complete copies of the game, names within credits, levels/npcs/quests/missions/items inspired by the backer, . Stretch goals can be tricky but variously seem to expand the scope of the game and take care of a few "wouldn't it be nice", "if I had the time" and such things.

Funding and then getting people. What are your skills in this? If you aim to be a manager then know such a model was dismissed by most in venture capital types way back when. The is possibly a slim exception if you already have your name out there in some form. To that end you probably want to be a programmer or an artist, game designer without much programming or musician is probably out unless you are making a music driven game.
Similarly there is a phrase along the lines of "ideas are worth precisely nothing, a demo on the other hand...". This can get tricky though as what your or I might recognise as good game potential might just as easily be dismissed if your placeholder spritework and/or audio sucks, I am not sure if there are any good public domain sprites you can use (there are many examples for text and audio).

Oh and when making the video get
1) Someone that can talk for such a thing (lisp, heavy accent, flat voice, less than brilliant English... is enough to drop them).
2) Someone that can edit your video hard. You are not making a let's play but an advert. Even if you have a bit of overworld/town and a bit of battle cut it up, get some backing music and put claims/goals and the like in the middle.

Be brutal in 1) and 2), I see quite a few people fail here.

BRPXQZME

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2013, 07:33:25 pm »
I am not sure if there are any good public domain sprites you can use
✓ Good
✓ Public domain
? You can use
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furrykef

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2013, 08:35:42 pm »
You don't need public domain stuff for a demo. Just make sure if you put Mario in your game, it is crystal clear to everyone that it's a placeholder and Mario isn't really going to be in your game. (I'd advise against using highly recognizable characters like Mario just to be extra safe.) Of course, you do have to be extra extra careful to expunge all the non-public-domain stuff, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, before marketing your game, let alone actually selling it. Otherwise, you can end up with goofs like this.

By the way, I highly advise against making your first project an RPG of any kind. It's just too big. Yes, I know the RPG is what you really want to make, and I know you want to do it now because you're passionate about it. But trying to do it first is a recipe for failure, and you don't want to ruin your dream project, do you? Get something small under your belt first, like a clone of Space Invaders. Then do something a little bigger, and then do your RPG. If you think it'd take too long to do that other stuff, guess what? Your RPG is gonna take a hell of a lot longer than that. Space Invaders is a drop in the bucket.

In that case, I suppose I should commission people on Deviantart for stuff like music, graphics, and animations, and then piece it together myself the best I can.

This may not work out too well. You can't really commission a programmer to make a game in bits and pieces, for instance. You technically can with art, but if you commission art in bits and pieces, there's no guarantee the artist you're using now will be available, say, six months later whenever you get more money. If you use a variety of different artists, with no lead artist to coordinate them, you're guaranteed to get a messy patchwork of art of varying quality where nothing fits together. We had this problem with Hands On! Tangrams, a commercial Nintendo DS game I did a fair bit of programming on. Each artist was assigned to a group of 10 levels (though one or two artists were assigned to more) and it shows, with some levels looking beautiful, some looking butt ugly, and some being somewhere in between. For our next game, Orion's Odyssey, the art team changed their approach and got a much more consistent look. Part of that was having one artist in charge of art and figuring out herself how to best use her artists.

Also, I think you really need to have a skill of your own -- something more than design and management. You need to get your hands dirty. If you can get your hands dirty, people will like, trust, and respect you more, because they know you're down in the trenches with them, rather than being a know-nothing general giving orders from the comfort of his own desk.

MisterJones

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2013, 09:14:48 pm »
At some point, I would like to create two RPGs similar to Earthbound.  As it stands, though, I currently don't have a job, which means I can't make money fast enough.

Well, you can use something like RPGMaker, and then learn some art and start making your own assets. As for the job, well, get one, problem solved.
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Jorpho

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2013, 10:54:42 pm »
On top of everything else:
As it stands, though, I currently don't have a job, which means I can't make money fast enough.
Get a job first.  If it was easy to make money with this kind of thing, everyone would be doing it.  This is no way to make a career, any more than pretending that you're going to sell a best-selling novel or star in a blockbuster movie.  Certainly, no one is going to fund a Kickstarter campaign just because you have stuff you can offer in exchange.

If this is something you really want to do, then just sit down and do it.  Goodness knows you don't need fancy art and music to make a quality game, and you shouldn't let your inability to produce those things stop you.
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Ryusui

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2013, 12:59:09 pm »
I strongly recommend participating in a Ludum Dare or other game jam if you're not sure about your coding skills. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a hard time limit and a theme to follow. And once you're done, you'll have a tiny little indie game you can flesh out into a full-blown indie blockbuster. Just look at McPixel or Evoland.
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furrykef

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2013, 05:34:05 am »
I wouldn't recommend something like that to somebody who's new to programming. (I'm not sure the OP has any programming knowledge at all.) I'm quite an experienced programmer and even I am no good at such things.

BRPXQZME

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2013, 01:06:18 pm »
Unpopular opinion: I think the game jam obsession of late is just a passing fancy. Only some kinds of good ideas can be brought about in a limited-period blaze of glory.
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Rhys

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2013, 04:35:58 pm »
If you're new to programming, it can't hurt to give flash a go for your first game. You can make some really high quality work out of it - Binding of Isaac is a good example of a high quality modern flash game.

Talbain

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2013, 01:40:43 pm »
Unpopular opinion: I think the game jam obsession of late is just a passing fancy. Only some kinds of good ideas can be brought about in a limited-period blaze of glory.
I would argue just the opposite.  It's only rarely that a long videogame is enjoyable without relying on a cheap, addictive mechanic (usually some form of gambling).  The majority of games lasting longer than 8 hours are terrible, and most of the best games I've played can typically be finished to completion in only a few hours.

I think game jams are a great place to go and throw darts at a board, as well as meet new friends.  They are inherently social however and will require a lot of compromise.  So you have to be willing to deal with that.

BRPXQZME

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2013, 04:40:25 pm »
You should read more carefully. I’m only talking about development time.
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Talbain

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2013, 05:25:07 am »
You should read more carefully. I’m only talking about development time.
It seems odd to talk about them as a passing fancy and as a source of good ideas, but with the caveat that only certain ideas can be explored.  I've seen at least a few really interesting games made at game jams that were largely incomplete but displayed interesting ideas that needed more fleshing out.

BRPXQZME

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2013, 03:45:08 pm »
Seems odd to speak accurately of your observations? ::)
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MisterJones

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2013, 12:21:31 pm »
What I like about game jams is that it allows developers to acquire a "get shit done" mentality. Your prowess only matters if it helps in fastening the development process.
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furrykef

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2013, 06:21:49 pm »
Yeah, but trying to get something working as fast as possible above all else is also an excellent way to write messy code that just gets more and more tangled. In the real world, you need to balance "get it done fast" with "get it done right".

M-Tee

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Re: How should I go on about creating an indie game?
« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2013, 09:45:04 pm »
I've had the same conversation regarding 24-hour comic day. Both seem to be exercises, where the point is to practice working intensely while also not getting hung up on "this is perfect yet." Although occasional gems occur from both, neither seem to exist for the purpose of creating a quality product, only for exercise.

That being said, back to the OP, if you don't have something completed already to prove that your backers' money is invested wisely, kickstarter is not a viable option.

Also, there's plenty of indie developers that develop solid games in their free time without funding.