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  Can one man write a good game anymore?  (Read 14870 times)
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Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder

Medals: 1

« Reply #30 - Posted 2004-01-21 22:56:12 »

I don't think one man can write a good game anymore...
But perhaps one woman can...

Old habits die hard huh? ;-)

Depends; how many man-months are there in a woman-month? According to the women in *my* life, the answer's quite a few Roll Eyes but I reckon that's cheating.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline DanK

Junior Devvie

Javver games rock yawel!

« Reply #31 - Posted 2004-02-03 01:55:24 »

I still think one man can create a commercially successful game, I'm banking on it and I'm about set to find out if I'm right. I don't think a single person is going to be able to compete with some of the major commercial games, but tetris, one of the most successful games of all time, couldn't possibly have been more than a few people involved in the game itself... sometimes simple is perfection.

Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 319
Projects: 25
Exp: 22 years

Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer

« Reply #32 - Posted 2004-02-03 04:45:51 »

Isn't the point that games market has changed since tetris was released, the market as a whole didn't expect much then. Now, there is a whole bunch of demanding punters out there who want more. more. more. Should you release tetris now (or similar simple game) the moola it would bring it probably wouldn't make it a "commercial success".

Not that I think one man can't do it, just that Tetris isn't a great example.


Although I suppose it all depends on what you consider a success. Most business folks would say..

good profit = success

so if you do produce a game that does sell (a fair number) and its only one person producing the game I guess your initial costs were lower (only one salary for one) so the success is going to be easier to obtain.

Strange.. we seem to have had a few posts like this where it all depends on defining clearly what the question is Smiley


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Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder

Medals: 1

« Reply #33 - Posted 2004-02-03 11:16:44 »

FWIW, one man can still write a good MMOG and make hundreds of thousands out of it (I believe, also, millions, but I don't know of any that have managed to go *that* high).

The key is really that an MMOG can be (and, if you know about the industry models, must be ) upgraded continuously over time. One man gets it going, makes enough money to hire more staff, it continues to grow, etc. Eventually he owns probably 90-95% of a multi-million-dollar business (assuming 5-10% goes to employee stock program, which is roughly normal).

For a more detailed look at individuals building MMOG's in particular, see:

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 1075
Projects: 3
Exp: 20 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #34 - Posted 2004-02-03 12:39:53 »

The key is really that an MMOG can be (and, if you know about the industry models, must be ) upgraded continuously over time.

This is actually a key best practice for success as an indie developer. Using my own development as an example, I've spent about 6 months continuously tweaking Alien Flux in order to maximise its potential over the long run. At its release, Alien Flux had a conversion rate of less than 0.1% - ie. for every 1,000 people who downloaded it, we got 1 sale. Alien Flux will remain on sale for several more years - 4 or 5 maybe - and in that time it might expect to get 100,000 downloads. At 0.1% conversion rate we'd have had a mere 100 sales in all that time, for our 6 months development effort.

By tweaking and measuring (the measuring part is critical), we've managed to deduce what makes things sell better. We now have a conversion rate of around 1%, which will in turn net us around 1,000 sales over the lifetime of the product. I admit that's pretty poor really but one of the lessons we've learned is that if you aim for a niche market you get niche sales Smiley (We're instead going to hike the price a bit and see how that does)

There is further tweaking we'd still like to do to Alien Flux. My ultimate aim is to get it converting at around 3% - a tiny increase in percentages but a tripling in sales.

We can take the lessons we've learned with Alien Flux and incorporate them directly into the next game, saving us months of tweaking and experimentation. The main lessons we've learned are:

1. Aim for broader appeal straight away. Defender is a niche game design in the first place.

2. The whole game buying process is targeted directly at impulse buying. We've removed every barrier we could to just buying the game immediately. These barriers are:

  • Having to leave the application and surf somewhere
  • Having to pay too much money
  • Having to pay too little money ("not worth getting my credit card out for")
  • Having to download the full game separately to the demo
  • Being able to play the game indefinitely - why bother paying if you can still play the demo?
  • Not being confronted with the opportunity to buy the game wherever possible - if your application isn't going to remind the user to buy it, who is?

The built-in online payment screens were a great success, leading directly to a doubling in conversion rate.

3. Time limit your demo. Always. But don't feature limit it if you can help it.

4. The Mac market is enormous and lucrative. The Linux market is still a total waste of time.

So what I'm saying is - writing a game and then just throwing it at and waiting for the sales to roll in is a sure recipe for financial failure. Without constant tweaking and subsequent measuring of success to check that the tweaks worked, you'll get nowhere - in any game. But as you learn the repertoire of tweaks that work you can make any game sell - even a niche weirdass game like AF - and become more and more successful at it. (The trick is, uh, unlike me, not to run out of money before you start making a profit Wink )

Hm, big ramble - am I making sense?

Cas Smiley

Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder

Medals: 1

« Reply #35 - Posted 2004-02-03 12:49:47 »


This is actually a key best practice for success as an indie developer.
(The trick is, uh, unlike me, not to run out of money before you start making a profit Wink )

Hm, big ramble - am I making sense?

Thanks, Cas. I was being lazy when I said "the trick is..." above Smiley. I should really have also said "...and MMOG's, being a service, can earn money from the first day of inception, rather than waiting for a product to be complete".

Services have sellable value when immature - it's less value, sure, but it's still significan. Products need to be completed before they have value Smiley.

It's a gross generalization, sure, but any one skilled developer can make enough money from an MMOG to live off after 6 months work *if they pursue the right business model*; at the moment, not enough people are using that business model in the MMOG market (the article I cited touches on this...). As Damion Schubert put it, the secret is not to "think big" but to "think small", and see how much profit you can make - and how easily - from an MMOG whilst it's still small.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder

Exp: 12 years

Where's the Kaboom?

« Reply #36 - Posted 2004-02-06 12:13:14 »

4. The Mac market is enormous and lucrative. The Linux market is still a total waste of time.

It's what I speculated several months ago, I'm glad to see it confirmed.  As a recent Mac "switcher" I can't find ANY Mac games on the shelf of the local stores.. (Of course now even PC games make up only a tiny section in the local chain store for video games -EB)
Even if you go to an Apple dealer the pickings are slim.  I've always wanted to try 'The Sims' since it seemed to get decent reviews and i figured the price would have come down a bit now...  I know it is out there for the Mac, but it is hard to find in a store... all I see are expansion packs, never the main game.  Other titles are old (Tomb Raider).  There are a few select titles available, mainly online directly from the publisher or Apple.  

I don't actually buy many games, but I've grabbed Bugdom II - purchased online/downloaded. (Which is very nice and my nieces and nephews love it.  Many wished they could get it for PC - if only it was developed with Java Smiley ).  I'm thinking about getting Ottomatic.  I bought 'Enigmo' online/download as well - it's a nice puzzle game similar in concept to "The Incredible Machine"..   Alien Flux of course (but I got that on PC before the Mac verision was available). But these account for a large percentage of the (decent looking) games I've even seen available for the Mac.  The pickings are slim but there are some gems among them.  And they seem to be made by relatively small companies.  All of them could be done today using Java (like AF) & they would have the PC market to sell to as well. I know I could sell a few PC versions just to the people that watched me play them on my Mac.  Maybe Tribal Trouble will be my next purchase... It looks interesting and I really can't wait to try it out.  Being able to play it on my Mac laptop, or my Windows desktops is a plus.

Overall I think it is very interesting that with Mac having such a low market share it accounts for such a large percentage of the Alien Flux sales.  For indies it seems that doing a Mac version is worth it - which is not what you would first expect at all given the market size.  The key factor is that the Mac is mostly ignored by the big guys, leaving a void for the indies to fill.

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