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<  Management  ~  Cheaper games

Michael
Posted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 9:32 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
The much needed alternative circuit for games that fall outside of things that commercial games publishers are willing (or capable) to bring to market, will require a drastic lowering of producting costs. The lower the cost, the lower the number of copies that you need to sell. The lower that number of copies needs to be, the more creative the developer can be. The more creative the developer is, the more satisfied the niche gamer will be.

Multi-million Euro budgets simply won't work here. So let's try and figure out what makes commercial games so expensive to produce. And let's find alternatives.
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rinku
Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:40 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Sep 2005 Posts: 128 Location: Paterson, NJ
What I can think of:

- License fees: Games use costly engines, the Unreal Engine costs 300,000$ to license per game I believe. Some of the bigger engines are even more. Many dlls and other tools also have large licenses fees.

- Costly software: 3D Studio Max is around 3000$ instead of the free Blender which is almost as good, same deal goes for Photoshop vs free drawing programs. These often have to be installed on every computer that will be involved in the creation of the game, which multiplies the costs, and it adds up.

- Salaries: most independent games don't have them, whereas big-budget games do. The people who make games have large salaries, 50,000$-100,000$ a year. If a game has 30 people working on it for 1 year, that's a few million dollars just for salaries.

- Waste: this is just money that goes to waste, like plane trip fees, parties, office supplies that they can do without, food, it all also adds up.

The alternatives in most of those cases are obvious: just use free or cheap alternatives to costly engines and software, don't pay people salaries (only the promise of royalties), and don't waste money.

I don't really think anything that those millions are spent on actually makes a game better. The possible exception is salaries: they don't themselves make games better, but often you can get better talent and more competent people to make a game if you pay them than if you just promise them something.
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Michael
Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:58 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
I agree that salaries or fees are not something we should skip. Definitely not in favour of royalities (if only because it would dilute your IP).

Instead, I would suggest to design games that can be built with smaller teams.

And also, to let everybody work at home and communicate via the internet. Then you save on office space.

And, given that retail distribution swallows up half of the wholesale price, to seriously work on digital distribution.
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rinku
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:38 am Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Sep 2005 Posts: 128 Location: Paterson, NJ
I'm not against royalties, but I think people should be very careful about who they make games with, and only do so with friends who they know share their vision of the game and will be able to maintain interest in it through its development.

What do you mean by dilute your IP? I can't think up a situation in which that would be a problem, but I don't know much about it.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:39 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
I mean that ownership of the IP gets spread over lots of people. Which means that everyone will want to have a say on it. Which means that you get boardroom decision making.

I think it's a bit idealistic to require (or assume) that your collaborators share your vision. I don't think they need to. Each has their own specialty. Only the designers need to have a vision.
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rinku
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:03 am Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Sep 2005 Posts: 128 Location: Paterson, NJ
I don't think it's idealistic. It's what you two at tales-of-tales do, correct? I'd find it surprising if you believe that both of you have a very different vision of what you want to create.

I'm just saying that that can be extended beyond two people, you can do it with three or even four or five, provided the people are very close to each other and have known each other for a long time.

Also, of course you want to keep team size small so as to avoid boardroom decision making, but I'm not talking about 20 people all getting 5% of the royalties, I'm talking about systems like the game I'm working on now (75% royalties for me, 25% divided up between three other people); I value the input of those three other people but I make the final decisions and the game is still very much my vision. Giving away 25% of the royalty share hasn't diluted that vision.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:28 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
rinku wrote:
I don't think it's idealistic. It's what you two at tales-of-tales do, correct? I'd find it surprising if you believe that both of you have a very different vision of what you want to create

We don't. Auriea and I develop our designs together. But I think this is a very rare situation and other game designers can't really expect their collaborators to marry them.
I was referring to other people we work with (for animation, music, sound and programming). While some affinity with our aesthetic and goals is pleasant and makes the collaboration more efficient, we do not require them to share or even be aware of our vision.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:30 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
rinku wrote:
75% royalties for me, 25% divided up between three other people); I value the input of those three other people but I make the final decisions and the game is still very much my vision. Giving away 25% of the royalty share hasn't diluted that vision.

That makes sense. I mistakingly assumed you were sharing royalty equally.

So how are your collaborators feeding their kids and paying the rent while they work on the game?
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rinku
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:49 am Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Sep 2005 Posts: 128 Location: Paterson, NJ
The amount of work that they do for the game isn't that much that they'd need to work full-time at it, particularly because it's a small-scale game. For instance, these enemy graphics were done by one of them and took about a week or two, a few hours each day. But it's funny that you should ask it in that way because one of them (the one who is doing the music for the game) is my father and "supporting his kids" would include me.

I don't think group marriage arrangements are impossible either. Osamu Tezuka for instance bought an apartment building and he and all the artists who worked with him lived together in it, shared costs, and created manga. I believe these types of close personal relationships strengthen the game.
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TheGee
Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:21 am Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2007 Posts: 165 Location: A dump, Germany
Michael wrote:
While some affinity with our aesthetic and goals is pleasant and makes the collaboration more efficient, we do not require them to share or even be aware of our vision.
It is a good thing that you don't expect them to do/be this. As I'm nor that deep in the game creation scene jet, I can only talk about a similiar thing: writing. I like to write poems and started a fantasy novel and several other books, too. There it is the same thing. From time to time I give some excerpts to close friends cuz I wanna hear their opinion. When they disagree with my story or the plot sumtimes, I'm very thankful for that.

Sumtimes a paragraph or chapter may seem completely right while it is actually not. But you are too "close" to it to see this and your friends give the deciding hint.

If all of them would agree with me all the time, it'd be boring and it would certainly be Very (with a capital V) bad for my novels... I think without the inspiration and the critisism I wouldn't have got that far.
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BeHappy
Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:43 am Reply with quote
Joined: 07 Mar 2008 Posts: 12
TheGee wrote:
If all of them would agree with me all the time, it'd be boring and it would certainly be Very (with a capital V) bad for my novels... I think without the inspiration and the critisism I wouldn't have got that far.


Yes, I agree with this fully. As I have no one close really nearby where I live, I've turned very skeptical; a mediocre idea will get churned and grounded against until it seems 'right'. I've made myself my own critic so my ideas can get some feedback and improve.
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