Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ideas are Worthless

It's interesting that game companies guard their features. Even after a game is released, it's still rare to get a copy of the Design Document for it. I have close to a gig of concept art from games I've worked on that I legally can't show anyone even though that art got turned into 3d assets that have since been released.

I watched an interesting video the other day about game marketing. Game publications, specifically for MMOs, are hungry for anything they can cover. The other MMO I'm working on right now--we get about 1 article on our project a week. I don't even read them anymore unless it's a bigger one like Massively. We keep everything so tight lipped. Why? Because we're(and by "we," I don't mean "me") afraid someone will steal our ideas.

Considering how many people out there work in the games industry and how many of them are highly creative, chances are good, what ever you can think up, there's a whole lot of people that have those same exact ideas but, for what ever reason, they're not implementing them at the time. You know how many ideas I've had that later ended up in a game because someone else had the same idea? In either case, I vote that we post our concept art, our screen shots, our programming milestones and progress, and our game play features... ok, within reason.

It will do two things. One, we'll be able to give credit to people on the team. Like, "programmer so and so has got the chat system working," or "after whatshisname got the human female model rigged, animator so and so completed this awesome run animation and here's the video." Would this make us look less professional? Yeah, it would. But two, it would give followers of this blog and of the project a real inside look into the process. Is it more important for us to look like a cold, polished, well funded enterprise or more important for us to connect with people?

But like I'm saying here, it's not the ideas that have value. It's the skills required to turn those ideas into a game. I will say though, I'm really, really happy about the game play and story ideas we've put together for Dawnshine. And yeah, I'll start sharing them... soon.

For now, I've been able to recruit a couple people, but I'm going to do a big recruiting push soon. It will be interesting to see what Sacramento has to offer. We're a decent sized city with not nearly enough game development going on. That means more talent than opportunities. Let's see if we can change that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Start of a Movement

It's not a visionary that starts a movement. A movement starts with the first follower. Tonight, I met with my first potential recruit. He's an AI Programmer. Much of what he does might not work for the project, and most of what he wants to do on a game project is content design, which isn't going to be needed until much later in the project. But it's a start. The goal here is to recruit programmers and test some mechanics. We're using the HeroEngine and that gives us a lot of finished game art to experiment with, so I'm going to hold off on recruiting artists, but I won't say no to a good one that's interested in the project.

I have another friend that said she might help with getting us grant money since she does funding strategy research for start ups. As strange as this sounds, I'm a little leery about pushing for grant money or any kind of funding right now. Funding is really hard to get either way, but even if someone gave us a million dollars to start hiring people, we'd run out of money way before the project was finished and would have to put out a feature poor game. Once you start paying people, they pretty much want you to keep paying them. It might make sense to look for funding once we get closer to having a playable game. We'll need money for a strong marketing campaign at some point as well.

In either case, I'm working on a couple other games right now. I need to do the best job on those that I can for now. The updates for Dawnshine will be slow going until then.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The beginning

Creating an MMO is one of the hardest things a game developer can possibly do. Conventional wisdom says you should start small, get a couple friends, and test the waters with that. If things go well, get a small studio and take it up a notch and repeat from there. Blizzard had over a decade of experience before they took a stab at World of Warcraft.

MMOs are extremely labor intensive and require a huge amount of technical programming knowledge and artistic talent from a team of hundreds. People don't make MMOs in their basements and start the next big thing.

There's a million reasons why I can't start from scratch, assemble a team out of nothing, and make an MMO. But there's one reason why I should try: I want to. I really want to. It's just me right now. I will need to recruit several dozen more, highly skilled programmers and artists. They will need to believe in the project pretty strongly since I don't have a dime to my name to pay them until the game sells if it ever gets that far. Even if I could recruit a dream team by tomorrow, the game will still take a few years to complete. That's a long time to hold a team of volunteers together.

This blog will be the beginning of a successful venture or a frustrating failure. It doesn't get any more "Ground Zero" than this.