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Video Games Take a Long Time to Make

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Video Games Take a Long Time to Make

Development Info - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 3 August 2010, 11:51:55

Tags: Brian Mitsoda; DoubleBear Productions

A new week, a new Zombie RPG design topic.

Pt.1 - The Chorus of Doubt

You see it here and there, especially in the case of indie games, where you can’t have an article or discussion about your game without someone posting that the game will never come out. So, this by itself is not all that confusing – games get cancelled all the time, modders lose enthusiasm, and teams break up or abandon projects for steady work.  I find it annoying that the faith in indie projects seems to be at an all time low. Not sure why indie projects are seen as “iffy” or as vaporware when there are so many projects at game companies that you don’t hear about that get canceled.  And then there are the many announced titles that never ever make it to the market or come out years later after their tech has become dated or their features (sometimes the ones that made them follow-worthy) have been cut or scaled back. Yes, it’s disappointing when an indie team isn’t able to follow-through on a promise, but usually we’re talking about a handful of people self-funding or running on fumes. I’m actually more disappointed when I hear that fifty or more people have burned through several million dollars with nothing to show for it – which is not to say it’s always their fault, but the fact that a project costing several million dollars and multiple man-years can “not work out” seems to be awfully wasteful or inefficient.

As a comparison, you generally don’t hear about movies shutting down production, and I think that’s because their development process has been honed to a science. They may spend multiple years developing a property, but when the cameras start to roll, that project is coming out, no matter what. And the Hollywood system has multiple ways to capitalize on that movie, whether it ends up a good product or not. If it doesn’t perform domestically, they’ll see if they can’t find an audience in another country. If it didn’t do well in the theatres, they can release on video, negotiate cable rights, negotiate TV and foreign TV rights, etc – all to squeeze out an extra buck from it.  Nowadays, they are attracting an audience before the script is even done – example, the upcoming Avengers movie – and a lot of people have already made up their mind to see a movie years before the reviews are out. Hollywood does not leave much up to chance when it comes to making money on their products.

And to me, for the time necessary for a project to come together – the time to get the engine and systems programmed, the many model and 2D art and sound assets done, and all the design and writing that steers the project – that’s something you dedicate yourself to. I can understand the “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality – hey, I’m a skeptic about most things too. Of course, we announced this title pretty early and I’ve been keeping a tight lid on showing off work in progress, because the same people who “believe it when they see it” might also be the types that see one work in progress shot and pronounce the game “looks like ass” and decide not to follow it anymore. We kind of need people to follow the game and tell others about it, because we just aren’t going to have the marketing power of a major studio. We only want to show off our best work for first impressions. That said, we will have new game material out there sooner than you think... 
If you need more exposure, you'll have to make some efforts at promoting/marketing your game. Don't rely on viral marketing alone. KotC, to name but one, could have used a bit more marketing for instance, to get more well deserved sales.
Eagerly awaiting the new game material though.

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