Monday, March 16, 2009

A Game Development Project

For game development hobbyist, how could we start building a game during our free time, get some small funding to cover some cost and eventually be able to sell or market it (even for just USD 0.99 per pop).

Today, there are more visible paths and opportunies, although a great deal of effort is still required and no guarantee of money coming in. What the heck! We do these things for fun and satisfaction (that's why we are called hobbyist), as long as our main job still can afford to pay the bills.

What to do?
  1. Have an Idea and Design the game
  2. Choosing the Platform and Develop the game
  3. Secure some Funding based on out prototype
  4. Market and Sell the game
  5. How to Start?

Idea and Game Design
I want to develop a simple and fun game, addictive but not too time consuming (not another MMORPG which make you fat and louse touch with the real world). I like fun strategy game, not too much useless micro-management (have to be simple) and more automation (let’s focus on the fun stuff). It need to look good (nice simple 2D art, no fancy 3D) and fun to play (targeting casual gamers).

Game Platform and Development
There are quite a number of popular choices if you are developing simple 2D games, such as XNA, Silverlight, Flash, Android, iPhone and etc. We need a good platform for game development, also taking in consideration of the platform’s market size and opportunity to deploy and market it. Flash is the best for web distribution, followed by Silverlight. For online marketplace with paying customer, we have Xbox LIVE Marketplace, Android Market and Apple Store.

Personally I would like to start with XNA, which allowed the game to be played on PC and Xbox. I can tap into the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Distribution and Sales. XNA is a more complete and powerful game development platform, which should save some development time with less restriction. There is a possibility of porting XNA application to Silverlight, thus able to able to tap into Brower’s Game market.

Perhaps after we get some funding, we would port the game to Android and iPhone to more distribution and sales opportunity.

Secure Funding
Life is really tough for game hobbyist if we want to go far or make a few bucks, so perhaps it’s wise to try to secure some funding with a prototype, and showing the number of downloads and players we got so far.

Perhaps we could try CIP Catalyst (RM 50K x 3) or MSC Technopreneur Pre-Seed Fund (RM 150K) to keep us motivated and go further. I think I came across some funding for multimedia creative development.

Market and Sell
There are a few avenues to market the game by providing the game as free downloads on popular game portal, and package is as Silverlight Game to be played in browser.

In order to make money, we would need to tap into online marketplace such as Xbox Live Marketplace, Android Market or Apple Store.

How to start?
We probably need around 3 persons (too much is a havoc in communication) with dedicated role (avoid too much debate on how to do things in minor details, so that we can focus on the big picture) to develop the game on free-time basis, with commitment of at least 6 months.
  1. Game Designer
  2. Developer
  3. Artist / Music
Everyone would be a Beta Tester and Blogger. We find the right person (everyone must like the game) and have dinner-meeting biweekly to keep the ball rolling, setup a website or blog and create awareness and serves as PR tool. Let’s see what happened after 6 months.

There is a Way, but is there a Will?

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