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  Mid-life crisis move into Game Development anyone?  (Read 2870 times)
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Offline walkerr

Junior Newbie




If it's not worth doing, it's not worth doing well


« Posted 2004-01-16 08:29:28 »

Anyone ever actually done this successfully and lived to share the tale?

I've been coding for something like 20 years. I love coding, and I'd say I'm pretty solid at it. I've cut code commercially in probably a dozen languages - from assembler, through C/C++, and up to Java (which I personally love, although I'd be hard pressed to say exactly why).

For some odd reason - I feel drawn to a desire to get into games development. Is it the lure of eye-catching graphics? Am I an aging frustrated skateboarder? Or is it just the idea that it might be more fun than another message based, enterprise app. development project.

I'd love to hear experiences, or just plain "don't do it", "you're too old", "you'll hate it" views
Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 339
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-01-16 10:23:26 »

Dexterity is where you want to be Smiley (And here, of course, for your Java gaming interests)

I tried it (still am, but not full time any more). Let me just say that releasing my first game was probably my single proudest achievement of my professional life, and I'll remember it always.

<edit> Ah yes, and expect poverty, disillusionment, lots of stress, few sales, and vast amounts of hard graft. But it all feels so much more worthwhile, you know?

Cas Smiley

Offline walkerr

Junior Newbie




If it's not worth doing, it's not worth doing well


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-01-16 10:45:46 »

Thanks for your honesty!

It's the last part that hits the nail on the head  - the need for something that "feels worthwhile"
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-01-16 21:10:03 »

Are you thinking of going it on your own, like Cas, or going to work for a game company.

Both are hard and not for the timid.  Going it alone is like any small business and the sad fact is that most small business fail in their first 5 years. Make sure you really udnerstand all the issue sof amrketing yoru product and colelctign income before you try it, there's a lot more to being a successful independant game publisher then just engineering.

If you go to work for a game company as either an employee or a contarctor you can expect all of the following:
Overload of work (60 hr weeks normal, 80-100+ on deadlines).  

Frustrating development cycle (publishers liek to see "viewable/playable" milestoens which means you CANNOT gnberally engineer in an efficeint way but must build at least semi-molotihic and code-redundant apps.)

Lousy Pay.  (When I was doing it, 85K was a high end alery, just for comparison.)

Little security.  (A game project can go south for any numerb fo reasons thata rent your fault. it at least used to be commo npractice at game companies to respond by firing the entire team.  Even if you are secure at your company, game companies themselves go out of business all the time.)

Its a dirty, nasty business frankly. The compensations are mostly internal.  If you are going to do it, it better be for love.

Sorry to thow cold water, but these are the reasons I got out of game development itself.

If all you want is to do 'somethign worth while' you *might* consider keeping your day job and working on a small game nights/evenings....

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
Offline duncanIdaho

Junior Member




invert mouse


« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-01-16 22:06:42 »

I don't have much to add except that aging frustrated skateboarders rule!   Wink

And also that worthwhile and fufilling jobs are out there.  The medical community, for instance, has lots of opportunities that give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping - especially in the research community.  Just imagine how cool you'll seem when you show off all the skills you learned at java-gaming.org!
Offline elias4444

Junior Member





« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-01-17 01:38:58 »

I know everyone seems to be down on the concept of being successful at making and marketing games...but what about the ones that actually seem to be doing well? I noticed that www.popcap.com (PopCap Games) seems to have been successful enough to expand over the past couple of years (although they're not strictly Java...but I love some of their games).

What set's them apart I wonder?

Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-01-17 02:08:23 »

I started to answer this and then realized I was talking abotu the wrong acquiantance.  Corrected, this is what I know about PopCap.

PopCap was started by Jason Kapalka.  Jason has  long hsitory in the game industry including being an editor for a major game magazine and a content person for Total Entertainment Network where I knew him.

Jason has a very good "feel" for the main-stream game player.  he was, in many ways, the 'voice' of TEN when we were new.

TEN became Pogo, which was a key contact for Jason as it gave him easy entre to what was the hottest spot on the net for casual games and many of their first games were published through Pogo.  Pogo became EA Online and though i havent checked lately I wouldnt be surpised if they still have content thre.

Jasons contacts and experience in the industry also gave him a body of talent he knew to pull content from and his press contacts Im sure helped him promote.
He's the kind of guy who probably works tirelessly at the promotion of his company.

Finally, I don't know how well they are really doing.  Clearly they've survived, but many many game companies exist for a long time on the edge of survival.

I'm sure he isn't getting rich off it.

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 339
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-01-17 13:03:51 »

According to various sources, PopCap struggled along in a sort of wraithlike form, not quite ready to die, for quite a long time, and then Alchemy and Diamond Mine came along and saved them with hundreds of thousands of sales. Since that they've expanded into doing more of that sort of thing. Rocket Mania and Zuma are the latest and they're doing well as well. Zuma is particularly addictive and has stunning production values.

Now thanks to their couple of hit games they're completely established as a publisher of "that sort of game" and they've thoroughly clobbered that bit of the market. They'll be around for a good long time to come.

Cas Smiley

Offline Bombadil

Senior Member





« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-01-17 15:01:51 »

Quote
Zuma are the latest and they're doing well as well. Zuma is particularly addictive and has stunning production values.

Zuma is very nice. By chance the original Arcade game named "Puzz Loop" (1998) is one of my favourites. Its two player mode actually.
If Zuma had a two player mode and was more platform neutral, I would have bought it.

Off-topic I'm afraid...
Offline nonnus29

Senior Member




Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco


« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-01-17 16:16:25 »

I'm a decade away from a mid life crises (hopefully) but I'm perfectly happy at my job programming business/finance systems on mainframes.  I'm a superstar in that gig because I self taught myself os/390 assembler.  I've never been interested in working for a commercial game developer.  My personal goal in gamedev is to produce one great oldschool game, with a twist.  I might go shareware with it, but thats a couple of years in the future at any rate.  After that I'll probably pursue a different hobby.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-01-17 20:10:38 »

Quote
Now thanks to their couple of hit games they're completely established as a publisher of "that sort of game" and they've thoroughly clobbered that bit of the market. They'll be around for a good long time to come.

Cas Smiley


Its cnei to hear they finally "made it".  Luck, skill, and awhole lot of effort and tries before you "get it right". Its a typical success formula though not everyone who follows it is sucessful by a  long shot.  (Just that fewer of thsoe who DON'T are.)

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #11 - Posted 2004-01-18 01:21:28 »

Quote
Zuma is particularly addictive and has stunning production values


According to their support people it is an Active X control, not Java.

Offline Herkules

Senior Member




Friendly fire isn't friendly!


« Reply #12 - Posted 2004-01-18 10:04:31 »

Quote
Lousy Pay.  (When I was doing it, 85K was a high end alery, just for comparison.)


Wow, you are in luck not having to live in Europe!

85k - as a developer you will hardly reach that. Not inside nor outside games business. In Germany at least, 40k EURO is a good salary for a games coder, 55k for the aces.

Someone has a US job for me? PLEASE?



HARDCODE    --     DRTS/FlyingGuns/JPilot/JXInput  --    skype me: joerg.plewe
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #13 - Posted 2004-01-18 20:38:12 »

Quote


Wow, you are in luck not having to live in Europe!

85k - as a developer you will hardly reach that. Not inside nor outside games business. In Germany at least, 40k EURO is a good salary for a games coder, 55k for the aces.

Someone has a US job for me? PLEASE?


Its not as much as  it sounds like.  I had to pay for college myself, and recently pay for my wife's college degree at $4,000 a semester(and that was a good deal.)

A single bedroom apartment here will run you $1500 to $2000 a month.  And while Sun pays my health insurance, shoudl I ever lose that job i will have to pay for it msyelf til I find another one.

In most developed european countires your basic needs are provided for by the state. Here in the US the lucky make more but we have to pay for *everything* ourselves.

And the poor are just screwed.

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #14 - Posted 2004-01-18 23:02:25 »

*nod*, although in the UK we're rather working backwards at the moment.  Wages are increasing very slowly, taxes are more-or-less stable, but public services are getting much worse, such that many people pay for private care anyway.  All the good work done in the wake of the second world war has been completely undone over the last few decades, with governments that honestly believe that public services should be turned over to private companies, and that they can then be trusted to provide quality of service over stockholder value. Roll Eyes

I personally like the look of Sweden, which has famously high tax rates, but excellent public services.

(Don't mind me, just spent ages standing on a cold, cold platform trying to get out of London.  Some muppet maintenance company using poorly-trained staff on minimum wage managed to drop a crane onto the Waterloo to Clapham Junction line, buckling two of the four tracks and crippling the south-west of London...)

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
Offline walkerr

Junior Newbie




If it's not worth doing, it's not worth doing well


« Reply #15 - Posted 2004-01-26 14:25:19 »

Interesting reading - thanks to all of you who took the time to share their views.

I guess it pretty much confirms my worst (and best) thoughts. I have to say that Cas's efforts on Alien Flux are an inspiration in their own right., proving that an Indie developer can produce a high quality and well received game in Java.
Offline erikd

JGO Ninja


Medals: 16
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


Maximumisness


« Reply #16 - Posted 2004-01-26 15:28:08 »

Quote
Its not as much as  it sounds like.  I had to pay for college myself, and recently pay for my wife's college degree at $4,000 a semester(and that was a good deal.)

A single bedroom apartment here will run you $1500 to $2000 a month.  And while Sun pays my health insurance, shoudl I ever lose that job i will have to pay for it msyelf til I find another one.

In most developed european countires your basic needs are provided for by the state. Here in the US the lucky make more but we have to pay for *everything* ourselves.

And the poor are just screwed.


Hmmm... it still doesn't sound so bad (if you're not poor that is).
Here in holland a developer like myself gets something like ~40k (more if you're a senior), of which >16k go to taxes, an appartment with 2 bedrooms is ~750 Euros a month, I have to pay my own health insurance which doesn't cover dental and I'll be paying off my loan for collage to the gov for the next 1000 years or something  Roll Eyes. OTOH, my employer pays my car and gas, although he happily did that because trains suck here (3 out of 5 days I was late at work and arrived late at home due to delays).
The only thing is that college seems cheaper here (although that's changing too) and nobody really needs to be homeless or really poverish here even if you're out of job which is a Good Thing (but which is also gradually changing).

Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #17 - Posted 2004-01-26 20:00:51 »

Whelp, at 50K a year total income I understand we had families that were homeless....






Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
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