Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Getting bigger?

GSB, and positech could be bigger than they are. I only have so much time, and frankly I’m knackered :D. I have no time to work on anything but the campaign game now. Ideally, there would be an ipad port of the game, idally there would be a game for the iphone, designed as a mini-game version. I just can’t do this stuff. Ideally the game would have a version that works on netbooks properly…

Maybe the solution is to find a few more ‘strategic’ partners like I have with redmarblegames, who do the mainstream mac port. There is also the possibility in the longer term of doing a GSB 2, or also maybe doing a spinoff game. A naval or land battle version, for example. This is all separate from my vague ever-changing plans for ‘Game 4’.

Gratuitous Space Battles is my most succesful game to date. It represents the clearest opportunity since I quit mainstream game dev, to increase the size of the company, and actually employ or strike deals with people to work alongside me. Do I want to do that?

I really don’t know. I wouldn’t be doing it for the money. I’m not convinced it would be more profitable anyway, but more because it’s taking me years to make a game, and I’d like to make a lot more. Maybe one day I’ll find the exact right people to make games on a fixed contract, or to even employ. I can’t help thinking that I’m being a bit too timid. You can only grow a company so much by increasing your ad budget and sticking with one employee.

I have a little sideline project that’s an experiment which will start in a few days. Not a big deal though. Not a revenue earner, either…


16 thoughts on Getting bigger?

  1. Gratuitous Space Battles doesn’t seem like the kind of game that would warrant a sequel. The reason I usually want a sequel to a game is for a continuation of the story, not silly gameplay changes developers seem to insist on making. I think a land battle expansion for GSB would be pretty cool though.

    Also when you said GSB spinoff I immediately thought about the countless Mario spinoffs.
    Gratuitous Space Tennis anyone?

  2. Good interns are not very expensive (in some countries their whole salary is deducible), passionate, and hardworking.

    They do require a certain amount of direction at the beginning.

    I’d say, finish the campaign stuff, and then hire one (or two, if you feel adventurous).

  3. The way I see it, you make games for the love of making games.
    There are countless examples in the games industry of companies that make games for the love of money rather than for the love of making games. Hiring someone to help you means that you’ll have to worry more about finances than you are at the moment which will mean you’ll have less time to spend on doing what you love. Also, it means you’d have to sell more games to make the same personal profit.
    The intern idea sounds interesting, though.

    As for a GSB sequal, I’m not sure what you could really do to warrent a sequal without departing somewhat from the uniqness of GSB. Adding new ships and modules is something that you can release as DLC and I think modders have already started on land and sea based total conversions.
    To really warrent a sequal I think you would need to change the engine considerably.
    Maybe a spinoff would be better than doing a direct sequal because that would give you more freedom to experiement with ideas instead of being stuck with expectations from the original.

  4. IMO look at how much it would cost to contract someone to do the port to iPhone, rather than hiring someone to be your employee for life! If it works out, you can extend the contract.

  5. The way I see it, you can think of this either in terms of making yourself more profitable, or more sustainable. Finding parters/employees sounds like a good way to improve your sustainability: it would help you to make more games, or better games, or both. As long as you can make enough money to pay all bills and salaries, I say go ahead and give it a try.

    In every job I’ve had, no matter how shitty, I met a lot of fantastic co-workers. Cooperation does bring the risk of meeting an immature, nasty control freak once in a while, but the benefits are totally worth the risk (at least as long as you’re ready to quit the job, if the freak in question is your boss). On the other hand, I’ve also taken part in several informal partnerships, and all of them failed (the fact that none of them involved actual money may have had something to do with it). Finding reliable partners is probably going to be a fairly diasppointing process. But it can be rewarding, too.

    I would suggest that you start by finding people who specialize in whatever it is that you feel least self-confident with, and giving them tasks that won’t ruin your process if they miss their deadlines. You don’t have to have permanent contractors. You could hire Ann to do concept art for a (hypothetical) fantasy RPG, because she draws really pretty dragons and stuff, and then ask Betty to do a bunch of starship sketches for GSB 2, because that’s what she does best.

    There are many people who are really good at really obscure (but useful) things. For instance, I know a guy who has spent the last five years honing his AI skills. He has a very narrow specialty, but he’s the best AI programmer I’ve met. I can make my own AI, actually, but I would still try to hire that guy if I needed some really advanced stuff. It could mean a difference between making an innovative, novel game and not making it at all.

  6. I think if your just taking your IP and porting it then find a suitable technology company and outsource.

    But if your starting thinking of starting a Studio then that’s a totally seperate and I would say more challenging undertaking.

    You could be up to it but how well do you work with others who may not approach things your way, work, technical, deadlines, priorities?

    If you go for it good luck but make sure you have the right people and that is probably the key to growing, you probably want to grow slowly as well ;o)!

  7. Interns can be good, at least it is cheap and low-risk as you can more easily get rid of them.

    Another first step is asking a professor of your local university if there are elective courses for almost-finished students looking for real-life projects. There can be courses of a semester with everybody supposed to do a minor thingie. Or perhaps even have somebody write a thesis work for a topic you specify.

  8. I may be a minority here but I’d be interested in seeing your games get ported to linux. In past posts you’ve made references to the fact that your graphics engine is DircetX9 (I believe without looking it up), and while it behaves well on windows, I would assume that red marble games had to port that to an OpenGL or a software renderer. (Unless they took a WINE like approach and translated DircetX instructions to OpenGL on the fly) In any event if they have a OpenGL or software renderer already done I believe it wouldn’t be to complicated to finish bringing GSB over to linux. I’d very interested in a linux release even if I had to buy GSB and the expansion packs all over again (which I would casue I got em on steam orginally (sorry :) ).

    Although I don’t know how much economic sense it would make to do the port. Heck if the OpenGL portion was already done (and available from Red Marble Games) I’d do the rest of the port for free. (Credit is good enough/Not the most qualified) All though if you have a OpenGL version of your engine that would run on windows, linux, mac, and probably not require to much editing to get down to OpenGL ES which brings handheld devices (android & iphone) into the fold.) Which would allow you to hit more platforms at closer intervals instead of people having to port code after initial relase. I mention this as you have previously mentioned bringing your engine along from game to game while constantly improving it.

    Anywho good luck with what ever you go with, and I look foward to seeing the results.

  9. Just wanted to say that I live the game, although I’m hoping for a few more passes on the UI to remove some of the extra clunkiness. I’d happily pay some bucks for an iPad version. There’s got to be a way to form a partnership with some talented iOS indies and have them go to town on it for a share.

    Keep coming up with the good stuff!

  10. Since there are so many platforms (each with their own audience), it sounds like a great idea to find some talented partners to do ports to other systems. If you do it on a rev-share and still release it under the Positech banner, that seems helpful to everyone.

    Great for you because you can reach a bunch of platforms without having to spend any more time or invest capital up front.

    Great for the teams that make ports because they have a great starting place (code, art, design decisions) to crank out a game quickly & then the promise of an already established following and a game that has shown itself to be successful in the wild.

    Heck, I’d port it ;)

    Best of luck!

  11. Experience with:

    – Employees: Big headache, and makes a company top-heavy financially. (Going from 1 to 2 means having to double your income. Can 1 employee do that? Can the next employee after that increase revenue by 50%?)

    (Anyone else working on a project means expertise for whatever they are working on is centered around them. This can also cause big headaches down the line.)

    – New Comp. Sci. grads (probably similar to internships): took more of my time and created more bugs than added to the value of the products

    Instead, I recommend strategic consultants and third-party companies.

  12. Well if it comforts you in any way, there’re people of small teams who’ve turned small games into big. Imo the current Natural Selection 2 would be a nice example of how a small team of people can turn a game into HUGE, granted it took them like forever to do so, but it’s progressing very nicely right now! But when it comes down to NS, the community played a HUGE part in making the mod / upcoming game a huge success that it is. If it weren’t for the community maps, the mod / game wouldn’t be as successful as it is today. Its good to have some sort of team thou, working alone can be very timetaking indeed.

  13. I came to this blog to see if you were going to release an iPad version, rather than buy the Mac Store version. It doesn’t look like that’s imminent, so I’m happy to fork over for the Mac Store (or Steam) version if that in any way encourages more great game development, iPad or no.

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