In the previous blogpost: “How to make the best possible game” I shared some thoughts into running a “most likely successful game studio”. Of course, there is no perfect recipe for that, but there sure are some things which you should take into consideration when making your first games either alone or as a team.
I’m going to list a couple of things, which I’ve found important so far in my career:
Especially if you are working with a project on your spare time, you need to have milestones and timelines to stick into. Without proper milestones, you will most certainly think of “something better to do” when you were supposed to work with your project. This may feel like an unnecessary thing to do at the start since you are all pumped up with working with your fresh design. But once you go forward with the development, you start to reconsider your game design, maybe even think of starting it from the beginning or starting a new project from scratch.
This is when the milestones and timelines step in. You need to have milestones. Just making endless task lists, or a plan for the rest of the year does not help you. The plans need to be realistic and short, that you are actually able to succeed in these plans. By “biting too much”, you may end up losing the motivation since it feels like an eternity to succeed.
Two to four-week plans would be my suggestion, but of course, you need to find the best possible fit for yourself. At the start, you could go for a weekly plan, or maybe even less. The point is, you need to be able to succeed in these plans. And the plans need to fit to your other life-activities schedules.
When working alone, it’s always only about you. Only about your self-discipline to keep on the track. But when a team steps in, it’s a whole another story. To not only keep yourself motivated, but you also need to make sure that rest of the team is. Of course, a perfect team helps each other to keep on doing, when the lack of motivation strikes. I would say that helping each other during the hard times is the most crucial part of game development as a team. The second most important thing is to make milestones together, in which all of the team members can dedicate in and say “I can do that”.
When you are able to succeed in your set deadlines, remember to celebrate. Because in the end, it’s not so obvious that it happens. So when it does, you need to embrace it. I’ve personally forgotten to do it way too rarely.
You now have your team and it really seems, that all of you are dedicated to the plan and pumped enough of motivation to keep on going. That’s great! Making games is fun and it’s supposed to be that way. While having fun, it’s easy to forget the business side of everything and just ditch it, because, well. It’s not fun.
One thing which I encourage everyone to make sure when going forward with your project is to make some sort of contracts with your team. In these contracts, you should determine who owns the project, how working with the project until the end is mandatory to have any ownership and how much of your time, everything dedicates to use time.
By failing to do so, you may end up in awkward situations, in which someone drops out from the project, but still demands to have ownership for the game in the future. Or stops working with the project because “he is not interested anymore” and/or if someone drops from the beginning, and the game starts to get actual sales, he/she appears again demanding a share from the sales.
This may sound silly ‘business talk’, but unfortunately, it happens very often. To tackle this, you need to form a contract to make it less possible. Of course, making contracts doesn’t solve every problem, but it sure helps you to take a massive leap in the right direction.
It would always be rather easier if you had funding for your project. In best cases, you could actually have enough funding it pays the salary for everyone. This, of course, is a little trickier part to do, but totally possible for everyone.
At the start, you should focus your funding into trying to get a small amount of buffer, to help you get all the necessary tools for your work. Having the computers, software, licenses, plugins and so forth makes the actual development more pleasant, but also makes it a lot faster. If you are unable to get the small funding for the tools, fortunately, everything is also available free nowadays. The paid tools tend to be a bit better and efficient, in most of the cases.
Once you get on the road with your project, you should start contacting possible publishers as soon as possible. But also start spreading the word of your game from day one. Getting a publisher is not that you meet the publisher once, sign the contracts and open up the champagne. No, most definitely not. Continuous talk with publishers is mandatory. Sharing the whole story with them from the beginning. They need to see your progress and get excited while following it. Seeing the progress also convinces the publisher, that you are serious with this. Not just being like most of the indie developers, who start a project and ditch it after a month or two. No, you guys are going forward each month!
Don’t just contact any publisher, find the ones who have a similar type of games in their portfolio. Games which they’ve published already and those have something in common with yours. Start with casual email by introducing yourself, team and the project. Continue with monthly updates, showing how you’ve progressed. Always remember to mention, that you would love to do co-work with them. And remember, these guys are humans too! Keep the updates going and try to arrange a face-to-face meeting in some event, which you both are attending. Just keep talking!
Publisher is one of the ways to get your game funded, but of course, there are multiple other ways to do it. In some countries, government funds game projects, you could find an investor, or do some contract work to gather some savings for your upcoming game. What’s your cup of tea?
WHY DO YOU MAKE GAMES?
The fact is, that even when following these steps there is a great possibility that your games won’t get sales, funding, visibility or even a dedicated team. Or to be exact, it, unfortunately, is the most obvious case when making your first games. So because of this, it’s crucial that you have a clear sense of ‘Why you are doing this’. Because in the end, it most likely isn’t about money and also not because you don’t have anything else to do. You are making games for a reason. The keep up the motivation, even when failing miserably, the best tool is to know why you are doing this.
The core of ‘Why am I doing this’ isn’t easy to discover and most likely at first it’s just “because I want to make awesome games” and that’s totally ok. But what you will find, is that there is a deeper meaning for you to continue making game after game, without quitting. Even the games may contain something very similar to each other, something which mirrors down your ‘why’ for making games.
It’s easy to forget all this, forget the reason why you started making games in the first place and jump into ‘business-oriented’ game development. Just remember, you should try to stop now and then and remember, why you started making games. And also why are you still making them.
Listen to my recent podcasts here
“How to keep motivated podcast” – https://youtu.be/Wujywrimpoc