Looking For Advice

Posted by
March 15th, 2017 11:01 pm

Hey everyone,

I’ve been making games for about 3-4 years now with GameMaker Studio (version 2 how recently come out 😀 ) and one of my projects for IT at school was to make a game. My teacher was very impressed with the quality of my game and told me that I could probably make indie games in my spare time and make some money off them. I’ve been thinking hard about this for a few hours and I thought I’d ask a community of indie game developers what their thoughts are on the best approach.

After thinking for a while I think the best approach for me would be to use patreon and having a “pay $x every month” system. I know it’s not the conventional way of doing it, I know that when most people start a gamedev project they set up a one-time campaign, advertise and hope they get all the money they need to mae the game. But I want to take a different approach.

What I was going to do is make a $5 or $10 per month subscription and for that price you get behind the scenes videos of my journey designing and developing the game, your name in the credits, closed beta access to the game, access to a closed facebook group where I can directly interact with my patrons and probably more and then release the game free and open source for people to play and learn from.

One of my friends was saying “why would anyone pay money and end up playing a free game?”, my response is that the money they’re paying isn’t for the game, it’s for behind the scenes videos which can act as tutorials and/or a blog on the process I would take to produce a ‘professional’ grade game (since it’s a free game and only made by one person don’t expect Call of Duty quality) and being able to beta test and directly interact with me to be able to give input and feedback on the game.

I could make the games paid and polish up the game a little more but I like the idea of being able to make my games open source and giving back to the community.

What do you think of my idea?

7 Responses to “Looking For Advice”

  1. I think it would be difficult to get people to pay for something without knowing exactly what they get.

    Do you have previous work that you can show off that will show the level of the content people will be getting? I wouldn’t pay for a game or course/tutorials without knowing what I will get from it before hand.

    Kind of like you wouldn’t pledge to crowd sourcing without seeing a fantastic presentation about what you will get.

    • DatCodingGuy says:

      I’m currently working on a game right now, it’s going to take another couple months to complete. The main problem is that I suck at art and music (sound effects I can do) and a lot of that money would go towards finding someone to do art and music. Because of my lack of artistic ability all of my past games have been pretty much just squares and circles, I make conscious decisions about making simplistic games because I know I suck at art.

      • Stuntddude says:

        Learning to draw and animate at a basic level isn’t as hard as you’d think, if you do it right. If you expect to be working solo for the foreseeable future, I highly recommend it.

  2. bml says:

    I’ll assume your game development, game design, marketing, teaching and customer service skills are strong. And that you’re driven, productive and focused enough to stick with this. The videos you create will have reasonable production value, not make me cringe and have some entertainment value. You will also need to post high quality content on a regular basis.

    Your value proposition: videos of you with the Game Studio editor talking about what you’re doing, my name in the credits of a game also no one will ever play, access to a buggy and incomplete beta at some future date, an empty Facebook group and the privilege of giving you feedback on the game you’re making.

    Your customer: someone interested in game development, they don’t really care what kind of game you make, they value tutorials, GameMaker purchaser, interesting in seeing a “professional grade” game being created, believe that you’re are making a “professional grade” game, committed enough to subscribe, committed enough to stick their game development interest, not interested in all the free tutorials and videos that already exist, not willing to spend $10 for one of the well made udemy GameMaker courses (money back guarantee). They think paying for beta access and the privilege of providing feedback makes sense.

    Your basic model is how Patreon works. Bay 12 Games (Dwarf Fortress) and YandereDev (Yandere Simulator) have monthly revenue just over $5,000/month. Oneiric Game Development makes $0/month. The guy that has three udemy courses on GM with 27,434 students, 5,134 reviews, a GM book, 86k YouTube followers, a large collection of content behind his Patreon pay wall that includes a 39 part series on RPG Basics and access to his private Discord channel, and can make decent game art: this guy according to Patreon makes less than $500/month from subscriptions.

    If this is truly what you want to do it could happen, but it’s not easy. You will have to work hard, be exceptional and stick with it among a lot of other requirements. If you’re doing this for money, then find something else. Any serious money, if it even happens, would be years away.

    What concerns me the most if that you’re talking about the business model. You need to have a long term high-level vision for your business model, but more importantly you need a product. What are you going to make that people will actually care about? Simplistic abstract art games are not going to get people excited. It’s great that you posted here for feedback, but hopefully you have posted other places as well and places that reach your potential customers. I’m thinking the GameMaker forums/reddit might be a good start. Ask them what they want to learn, what needs aren’t being met, what games they would like to see you make, what they will pay for, etc… you won’t like the answers. And if this isn’t the right demographic, then where are your potential customers and how will you reach them?

    I don’t want to crush your dreams. I don’t know you. I don’t know your potential customers. I don’t a lot. So what I tell people: If you feel strongly about doing something then ignore everything everyone else says and find a quick way to test your premise. The quicker you can fail the better because you can stop wasting resources and move on to the next idea. If the test is successful, then keep going and apply more tests as needed. For example, a friend of mine owns a game company. One of the problems he faces is figuring out what game to make next. He has limited resources and doesn’t want to waste them on a game that fails. So one of the things he did was put a coming soon section on the company website that highlights several of the games that are in development. You could click on each to get more details on the game. Except those games weren’t in development, they were just concepts. Whatever game concept got the most interest was the game they would work on next.

    • DatCodingGuy says:

      Thanks for the reply, I somehow managed to get through all of it. I’ve decided to put this on hold for now and spend some time first creating a few games for my portfolio and make them available to people to play (probably through porting them to HTML5 and hosting them on my own website). If people start to like my games and I have enough of an audience then I’ll start considering financial aspects of this again and asking what is in demand. Maybe there’s some people who want game dev videos, maybe some people would prefer to pay money for better artwork and music in future games. I now think it’s better to wait for a bit until I have an audience.

      • I think that is the right choice, keep it on the back burner for now.

        Indie devving is super hard, you’ll often run in to deadends and difficulties and who will you turn to? You’re essentially on your own, if you don’t know the answers then you might find them hard to come by.

        Keep working hard at school, get good grades, work on a portfolio in your own time and your initial goal should be getting a job. The ideal is to get a job in game development but you need to get on the ladder so any programming job will do. See if you can do work experience during school breaks, ring round everyone you can to secure this, be relentless (but polite) in getting extra experience, it’ll be invaluable and you’ll find many developers who would love to help someone on the rung (if they can, thats the tricky part). The industry really is fantastic so keep trying with this.

        At this stage you need to soak up as much learning as you can, if you can find a job that gives you a wage (even a crap one in the early stage, learning is key) while you learn about the industry and how to code then that is the way.

        I’ve reviewed a number of programming courses and I’ll tell you that whilst some of these courses are superb, none of them truly prep you for a professional job, the only way is to do it. It takes a looooong time to get good at programming.

        Once you are good, you’ll find you’re in demand, you’ll command a better wage, only then _might_ you be prepared to go it alone as a contractor or indie dev. These steps require more than _just_ top-notch coding skill, you need to be multi-disciplined, you need to have a bit of a head for business, communication, selling, marketing etc etc Traditionally these things don’t come easy for great coders so it can be a steep learning curve for some.

        Also, I’ve heard GM is a great tool for creating products but I’m pretty sure it shields you from many important programming concepts. My advice here is to learn a programming language inside and out, by all means carry on with GM, but learn how to code things from scratch. It’s hard to learn all the ins-and-outs if you’re always shielded by tooling and frameworks, but, conversely, its easy to learn frameworks/tooling/etc if you already know all the nuts and bolts.

  3. Stuntddude says:

    I would say you might be thinking too far ahead. Patreon could make you money, and it’s free to use, so there’s no particular reason not to give it a try, but it could also go nowhere. The outcome depends on a lot of factors including a huge amount of luck. The bottom line, though, is to have something people want to give money to. People don’t usually give money for the reward tiers on Patreon. They pledge because they want to see a project succeed. If you don’t believe me, just look at the reward tiers of successful projects. They usually aren’t that substantial. Consider the two that bml mentioned, for example. Bay 12’s only reward tier is at $1, and it gives you essentially nothing. Yandere Dev’s $1 tier gives you literally nothing, and his only other tier is a $100 tier to get your company’s logo on the splash screen, which makes a minority of the project’s total income.

    You should also consider what you’re competing against. There are a lot of free programming and game development tutorials out there, especially for GameMaker. Producing high quality learning resources is hard work, and being able to make good games doesn’t necessarily mean you can make good tutorials. If making games is what you’re good at, and you want to monetize something, then I would suggest that the games are what you should monetize, one way or another.

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