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Re: Anyone on this list?

On Tue, 29 Oct 2002, Chris wrote:

> This is going to sound a bit harsh, it isn't meant to be but I don't
> have the time for long post to soften it up - if you're developing for
> a community, for money, for fame or for some lofty ideal then you're
> doing it for the wrong reason.

If for money - then you are definitely in it for the wrong reason.
               I have gotten some reasonably good (closed source)
               consultancy work from people who found me from my
               games - and I think that the things I've learned
               while writing games have helped me at work - which
               has led to more money...but these are very indirect
               and hard to measure.  I got a couple of free graphics
               cards and a cute book about Penguins once too.

If for community - then use game libraries with good user groups
               and find interesting people to chat with there.
               You'll find a community of developers who are working
               on the libraries who'll really appreciate what you
               are doing.  Split your work between contributing to
               the game library and working on your game.  Neither
               of my games every had a 'community' worth talking

If for fame - then maybe - if you are good - people will come up
               to you at geek fests and say "Are you the {your name}
               who wrote {your game} ?" - and you'll feel good about
               it.  But it doesn't happen often (or maybe I'm just not
               good enough).  My 11 year old son gets a LOT of fame
               for being a game developer though.  At his school, he's
               a celebrity.

If for a loft ideal - then forget it.  If you are that altruistic then
               do something that Linux desperately needs but nobody
               wants to do (printer drivers for example).

> If a game isn't worth writing because you enjoy writing it and because
> you thing you'll enjoy playing it then it isn't worth developing.

I don't think "because you'll enjoy playing it" is a likely motive
either.  You spend so much time running through the levels during
testing when everything is broken, it'll be a while before you can
stand to look at it again - much less play it!

You *have* to enjoy writing it - or go get a job for a game company
and work insanely long hours with a good chance of the company
folding when the game fails.

I have a passion for writing games - the idea that I can build a little
world where I get to make all the rules - that's kinda cool.  The
programming challenges are fascinating in the same way that all
puzzle solving is fascinating.  Anything else I get out of it is
a fringe benefit.

> You won't make money of it (10%, if that, of commercial games make money).

I thought the figure was 1-in-35 games that broke even or better - but
whichever it is, it's certainly an alarmingly low probability.  It
would be foolish to sink your life savings into writing and publishing
your own game.  "Don't Give Up Your Day Job."

> You probably won't get much fame for it. You certainly won't change the
> world with it (unless it is spectacularly novel - something on a par
> with the first FPS ever written).

Yes - if you have something incredibly clever (like inventing Castle
Wolfenstein's novel renderer) - or something strangely addictive
(like Tetris) - then you'll get famous...and if you don't get screwed
by the games companies (like the Tetris guy did) then you'll get rich.

Don't bank on it though.  New game genres appear maybe every 10 years,
the odds of you being the person to start one is essentially zero.

There was no way to predict or plan for the success of Tetris - it
was just one of those phenomena.  There are a hundred original
'puzzle/arcade' games out there - and for reasons that nobody
understands, none of them have the widespread popularity of Tetris.

Clever rendering tricks are less and less relevent as hardware
rendering becomes the norm and graphics are sufficiently close
to reality that making them better does nothing for game play.
I don't think there can ever be another great graphical breakthrough
that actually spawns a new genre.

Maybe a new breakthrough in physics simulation or AI could
have an effect.  These are heavy problems that require serious
understanding of the field.  I'd be suprised if an amateur
game writer makes the next breakthrough here - but we live
in hope!

Clever game play is what it takes.  Coming up with something that's
comes out of nowhere like "The Sims" is possible for a lone developer.
It wasn't a new idea (anyone remember "Little Computer People" on
the Apple][ and Atari ST?) - but it was nicely done - and that was
enough to propel a simple idea into a best seller.

> If you have some friends who like
> similar genres you may get some help and encouragement from them, but
> don't bank on it.


> Remember, games are supposed to be fun. Developing them should be too
> (unless you're getting paid for it of course, then its an added
> bonus if its fun....)


Steve Baker                      (817)619-2657 (Vox/Vox-Mail)
L3Com/Link Simulation & Training (817)619-2466 (Fax)
Work: sjbaker@link.com           http://www.link.com
Home: sjbaker1@airmail.net       http://www.sjbaker.org