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INTRO 20 y/o high school dropout starting out

vadotic

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May 13, 2018
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Scroll to the TL;DR to skip the sob story.

I dropped out of high school due to "existential depression." At the time I didn't even know what it was, I just felt like life was incredibly pointless. We go to school(suffer), college(suffer), work(suffer), retire(still suffer), death. Seems ridiculous. I kept thinking about how stupid this is, I couldn't find the motivation to do anything and just wanted to end my life.

Then I found about entrepreneurship. I thought this is my way out. It's the solution to the ridiculous system. But it was incredibly difficult. I didn't think it was possible for me, so much to learn, didn't even know where to start, so much competition. I gave up. Followed two years of depression and gaming addiction, had a job but didn't save anything.

Now that I reflected on things, it was because I'm incredibly afraid of failure due to my upbringing (parents won't accept anything less than top 3 in class, at one point I was TOP 1 in my entire school and somehow they still weren't satisfied). If I didn't know for 100% certain I would succeed, I don't do it. After a lot of self reflection, I realized I've got to do it. A guaranteed path to success doesn't exist, but there's no other way to live my life. If I don't pursue entrepreneurship, I've failed my life. Therefore any action is better than failure.

TL;DR:
20 y/o, what I really want is start a gaming company and develop a competitive multi-player game. I've been an pretty good gamer my whole life. I know the types of players in a game (i.e., average vs good vs elites), what each type wants, what they would pay for, etc. Most importantly I know how to make players happy and I will be filthy rich. Now I have only a little bit of coding experience, how the heck am I going to:
1. Design a functional and competitive game
2. Build the infrastructure to handle player accounts, buying in game items, handle a massive player base
2. Secure the system to mitigate hacks

I'm aware this is not easy task. My plan is to spend massive amounts of hours learning computer science and software engineering, while working part time to save up so I can later hire developers and graphic designer to help the task. The hardest part about this is the fear: what if I can't learn enough computer science on my own? What if I realize I'm learning too slow and will not get there even in 15 years? Any advice appreciated, thanks.
 

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OP
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vadotic

vadotic

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May 13, 2018
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I also want to add that the reason I want to learn software engineering myself is so that I know how to structure, manage and monitor such a huge entity, and then I can hire developers to do the programming, or I can do some programming myself if funds aren't available, hire designers to do the design, etc. I really don't see any better way than this.
 

Rabby

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I'm going to recommend getting comfortable with failing. This will help you, or anyone who has a fear of failure, a lot. First exercise, stand flat-footed and jump as high as you can. Try to jump from the ground, and land on the roof of your house. Seriously, I'll wait.

You failed to jump high enough to land on the roof, right?

Did you die from failing? Did anyone pass permanent judgement over you, other than looking bemused at the guy jumping up and down next to the eaves? I'm guessing (hoping) no.

When you "fail" something, it just gives you information you can use to set more attainable goals, or change your daily practices so that they push you toward your goals.

Keep that in mind, and treat entrepreneurship as a string of experiments, followed by refinements.

Welcome :)
 

GoGetter24

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parents won't accept anything less than top 3 in class, at one point I was TOP 1 in my entire school and somehow they still weren't satisfied
Diagnosis: shit parents. A common diagnosis for millennials.

You felt life was pointless because school wasn't related to you actually succeeding in life. Get good grades -> profit? get laid? be happy? be respected by society? Lazy a$$ parents. "We'll do one thing: demand good grades, and then be real tyrants about it. Job done!". Let's not check the school is doing the right thing. That'd be effort and require us to think and give a shit about our kids.

Cure: first, put down the entrepreneur ideas for now. You have no skills, no capital, no knowledge. You need to focus on a marketable skill. If it must be game-related (reconsider that, what you find fun isn't as important as unmet market needs, and gaming is always lambasted as the worst place for developers to go) contact people who develop games or run game development companies, and ask them what kind of person they have difficulty getting. That'll indicate what skill you should learn.

In the real world, the only people who care about school are the kind of people you should ignore. Businessmen only care about your ability to deliver. Find out what they need, get very good at it, show them your portfolio pieces, get work from them, save your money.

When you're skilled, knowledgeable, and have money in the bank, you can consider starting a company like you described. This could be accomplished in 3 years if you work as hard at it as you did at getting good grades.
 

SteveO

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We have some things in common. I left school at the age of 16. Did not even have enough credits for 10th grade. Like you, I was an achiever for a while. Always in the advanced classes. Won the 6th grade academics award for the highest gpa. Ran track/cross country in jr. high and high school. First in San Diego county in the jr olympics for the half mile. Varsity letter in my freshman year for cross country. Set some records on courses.

Here is where we differ. I grew up poor. None of us kids had much attention. I don't think my parents knew anything about my accomplishments. I had to have coaches take me to some big events because I could not get a ride from home.

I did my stuff for ME!!!

When I dropped out of school, I left the house. Never asked them for anything. We did not have a bad relationship. It was just not really existent. I was not seeking one either. I had nothing more than minimum wage jobs for years and was content with that for a start.

It seems that you feel to be some sort of a victim. Which is likely why you bury yourself into depression and games. Turn your attention to you and own up to where you are in life. You can have little and still be happy as long as you are moving forward.
 

Tanishqandmac

New Contributor
Aug 12, 2018
1
1
13
Scroll to the TL;DR to skip the sob story.

I dropped out of high school due to "existential depression." At the time I didn't even know what it was, I just felt like life was incredibly pointless. We go to school(suffer), college(suffer), work(suffer), retire(still suffer), death. Seems ridiculous. I kept thinking about how stupid this is, I couldn't find the motivation to do anything and just wanted to end my life.

Then I found about entrepreneurship. I thought this is my way out. It's the solution to the ridiculous system. But it was incredibly difficult. I didn't think it was possible for me, so much to learn, didn't even know where to start, so much competition. I gave up. Followed two years of depression and gaming addiction, had a job but didn't save anything.

Now that I reflected on things, it was because I'm incredibly afraid of failure due to my upbringing (parents won't accept anything less than top 3 in class, at one point I was TOP 1 in my entire school and somehow they still weren't satisfied). If I didn't know for 100% certain I would succeed, I don't do it. After a lot of self reflection, I realized I've got to do it. A guaranteed path to success doesn't exist, but there's no other way to live my life. If I don't pursue entrepreneurship, I've failed my life. Therefore any action is better than failure.

TL;DR:
20 y/o, what I really want is start a gaming company and develop a competitive multi-player game. I've been an pretty good gamer my whole life. I know the types of players in a game (i.e., average vs good vs elites), what each type wants, what they would pay for, etc. Most importantly I know how to make players happy and I will be filthy rich. Now I have only a little bit of coding experience, how the heck am I going to:
1. Design a functional and competitive game
2. Build the infrastructure to handle player accounts, buying in game items, handle a massive player base
2. Secure the system to mitigate hacks

I'm aware this is not easy task. My plan is to spend massive amounts of hours learning computer science and software engineering, while working part time to save up so I can later hire developers and graphic designer to help the task. The hardest part about this is the fear: what if I can't learn enough computer science on my own? What if I realize I'm learning too slow and will not get there even in 15 years? Any advice appreciated, thanks.
I don’t think you need to be REALLY good at computer science or need coding experience just to start making games. The main thing is START TAKING ACTIONS NOW. There are gaming engines like Unreal engine / Unity that makes it really easy to get you started with making games .

Though I don’t have much knowledge about the multi player part but having said that I literally made a basic FPS game with a zombie kind of theme in like 2 weeks.
 
OP
OP
vadotic

vadotic

New Contributor
May 13, 2018
6
4
11
I'm going to recommend getting comfortable with failing. This will help you, or anyone who has a fear of failure, a lot. First exercise, stand flat-footed and jump as high as you can. Try to jump from the ground, and land on the roof of your house. Seriously, I'll wait.

You failed to jump high enough to land on the roof, right?

Did you die from failing? Did anyone pass permanent judgement over you, other than looking bemused at the guy jumping up and down next to the eaves? I'm guessing (hoping) no.

When you "fail" something, it just gives you information you can use to set more attainable goals, or change your daily practices so that they push you toward your goals.

Keep that in mind, and treat entrepreneurship as a string of experiments, followed by refinements.

Welcome :)
Thank you Rabby. I have a lot of work to do about failing. I'm interested to know how you think about this, something I'm thinking: you fail a lot along the way, but you improved each time you try, but ultimately it still wasn't enough, and you've run out of time to keep trying (say like after 20 years), you failed ultimately. What now?

Diagnosis: sh*t parents. A common diagnosis for millennials.

You felt life was pointless because school wasn't related to you actually succeeding in life. Get good grades -> profit? get laid? be happy? be respected by society? Lazy a$$ parents. "We'll do one thing: demand good grades, and then be real tyrants about it. Job done!". Let's not check the school is doing the right thing. That'd be effort and require us to think and give a sh*t about our kids.

Cure: first, put down the entrepreneur ideas for now. You have no skills, no capital, no knowledge. You need to focus on a marketable skill. If it must be game-related (reconsider that, what you find fun isn't as important as unmet market needs, and gaming is always lambasted as the worst place for developers to go) contact people who develop games or run game development companies, and ask them what kind of person they have difficulty getting. That'll indicate what skill you should learn.

In the real world, the only people who care about school are the kind of people you should ignore. Businessmen only care about your ability to deliver. Find out what they need, get very good at it, show them your portfolio pieces, get work from them, save your money.

When you're skilled, knowledgeable, and have money in the bank, you can consider starting a company like you described. This could be accomplished in 3 years if you work as hard at it as you did at getting good grades.
Thank you, I'll keep everything in mind. Do I need a marketable skill so I can get a job to earn capital? As far as what I need for my goal, I think I just need to know how a game is properly built and maintained, and the capital to hire people to build it for me.

We have some things in common. I left school at the age of 16. Did not even have enough credits for 10th grade. Like you, I was an achiever for a while. Always in the advanced classes. Won the 6th grade academics award for the highest gpa. Ran track/cross country in jr. high and high school. First in San Diego county in the jr olympics for the half mile. Varsity letter in my freshman year for cross country. Set some records on courses.

Here is where we differ. I grew up poor. None of us kids had much attention. I don't think my parents knew anything about my accomplishments. I had to have coaches take me to some big events because I could not get a ride from home.

I did my stuff for ME!!!

When I dropped out of school, I left the house. Never asked them for anything. We did not have a bad relationship. It was just not really existent. I was not seeking one either. I had nothing more than minimum wage jobs for years and was content with that for a start.

It seems that you feel to be some sort of a victim. Which is likely why you bury yourself into depression and games. Turn your attention to you and own up to where you are in life. You can have little and still be happy as long as you are moving forward.
Hey, sounds like we're the same :) We are also poor and my parents works pretty much all day. Our relationship is literally non-existent. I got good grades hoping to get into a good college until I realized how pointless that is. I don't really feel like a victim tho, I know it's ultimate up to me to make something happen. I just feel really weak against the challenges and doubting if I can do it at all. My subconsciously mind honestly can't imagine me succeeding. I need to change that tho.
 

Rabby

Gold Contributor
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Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
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Thank you Rabby. I have a lot of work to do about failing. I'm interested to know how you think about this, something I'm thinking: you fail a lot along the way, but you improved each time you try, but ultimately it still wasn't enough, and you've run out of time to keep trying (say like after 20 years), you failed ultimately. What now?
There is no failed ultimately. "Ultimate" failure is a mental construct, and it's a form of negativity. Ultimate means finished, as far as it goes. If you look at life as an adventure and a process, the only ultimate is when you're dead. Why rush to call things ultimate? Keep going, and be self aware enough to figure out when your going in circles, or in a dumb direction.

I spent a lot of time in college that, if I did it over again, I would spend going straight into business. But at the time, I assumed college was where I would learn the valuable things I needed to make it. I did learn valuable things, too. But I didn't learn them as quickly as I now learn, using books + direct experience.

Experience is the accelerator. You have to do things to really learn. And every time you act, at least some little part will go wrong. You can look at that as "failure" in the existential sense, OR you can look at it as an opportunity to make progress. I see it as the latter. If I try to make a sale and my prospect ignores me, I "successfully" got information about something I need to improve. What is it I need to improve? Ah, they don't want to tell me. Ok, I'll think about it, ask a really good sales person, consult a sales book, etc. I have an action that I can compare with a result, and I can compare it to other people's experience. When I "fail" to make 100 sales, I have even more data and I should be even more certain that I need to change my technique somehow.

Don't take each failure as a judgement on yourself. Your inner critic is the worst enemy you can have. If it's eating away at your confidence, get a book like Self-Esteem by McKay and Fanning (sunflower on the cover) and do the exercises. You need to be on your own team, not playing against yourself. If that's relevant to you, take it for what it is.

Do I need a marketable skill so I can get a job to earn capital? As far as what I need for my goal, I think I just need to know how a game is properly built and maintained, and the capital to hire people to build it for me.
I'll jump in here and say you need a valuable / useful skill. USually those are directly marketable, ie: you can get a job or freelance with them. Everyone in business has some of these skills. We accumulate them like ace cards and hide them in our back pockets. ;) The reasons we need them are several.

One, yes, you can use them to hustle up money. A lot of people will say use them to get a job. They aren't wrong per se. But I would also argue that you can use them to build a sideline freelancing. I used to write freelance, and later I made a bit of mobile software freelance (incidentally, after publishing some small games that I showed to a local developer meetup).

Two, skills are your sword and shield in business. Everything won't be easy all the time. Being good at managing people, writing code, organizing ideas, keeping books, writing sales letters, researching and making logical arguments, etc., are all skills.

You won't have all of them, probably, but any one of them could come in handy at some point. So when you find that you need one of those skills, go ahead and develop it while you solve the problem at hand. Solve a few years worth of problems with the same skill, and you'll probably be getting pretty good at it. At that point you have something you can make into a system, train employees or hire freelancers to do.

If you have a skill you know for sure you want to develop, but don't have an immediate problem to sharpen it on, start cheap enough that you know you can provide more value than you bill, and go ahead and freelance that skill. You'll build contacts, credibility, money and skill... win win win win right?
 

GoGetter24

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Do I need a marketable skill so I can get a job to earn capital?
Yes

As far as what I need for my goal, I think I just need to know how a game is properly built and maintained, and the capital to hire people to build it for me.
Let's say those devs / designers cost $70k/year, and you hire 3 to make the game, plus 2 marketing guys. Ignore other costs. That's $350k/year. Let's say it takes a year to finish the game. So that's $350k. The chance you make it back is about 1 in 10.

Anyway, let's say it's out of your own capital. What's your current hourly rate? Nothing. What's the minimum wage if you just work in a Starbucks or something? Say it's 15/hour, and you manage to save 5/hour on average.

That's 70,000 hours, or about 36 years.

Let's say you see this is nonsense. So you're going to need capital from someone else. You're going to need to convince VCs to drop a million on your venture, and to do some kind of joint venture with those devs.

Now they're asking: what does this guy bring to the table? Why is he qualified to lead a team of game developers? What experience and track record does he have to give us hope this venture will succeed?

So best to get your head out of the clouds. Being good at games has nothing to do with being good at leading game dev teams.

Unless you're one of the guys who guys like you say "I need to hire these guys", you have no power to embark on any such venture. You're at least 5 years out from being in a position to do this.

You must select a specific, in-demand, marketable skill, and get good at it, and ideally find a mentor in it, until you can at least provide for yourself, and keep ramping it up until you're getting paid solid rates. Worry about your games in the future.
 
OP
OP
vadotic

vadotic

New Contributor
May 13, 2018
6
4
11
I don’t think you need to be REALLY good at computer science or need coding experience just to start making games. The main thing is START TAKING ACTIONS NOW. There are gaming engines like Unreal engine / Unity that makes it really easy to get you started with making games .

Though I don’t have much knowledge about the multi player part but having said that I literally made a basic FPS game with a zombie kind of theme in like 2 weeks.
I think to make a game that can handle a massive player base and databases requires some good software engineering knowledge. I mean I can make a really basic game, but then what after?

There is no failed ultimately. "Ultimate" failure is a mental construct, and it's a form of negativity. Ultimate means finished, as far as it goes. If you look at life as an adventure and a process, the only ultimate is when you're dead. Why rush to call things ultimate? Keep going, and be self aware enough to figure out when your going in circles, or in a dumb direction.

I spent a lot of time in college that, if I did it over again, I would spend going straight into business. But at the time, I assumed college was where I would learn the valuable things I needed to make it. I did learn valuable things, too. But I didn't learn them as quickly as I now learn, using books + direct experience.

Experience is the accelerator. You have to do things to really learn. And every time you act, at least some little part will go wrong. You can look at that as "failure" in the existential sense, OR you can look at it as an opportunity to make progress. I see it as the latter. If I try to make a sale and my prospect ignores me, I "successfully" got information about something I need to improve. What is it I need to improve? Ah, they don't want to tell me. Ok, I'll think about it, ask a really good sales person, consult a sales book, etc. I have an action that I can compare with a result, and I can compare it to other people's experience. When I "fail" to make 100 sales, I have even more data and I should be even more certain that I need to change my technique somehow.

Don't take each failure as a judgement on yourself. Your inner critic is the worst enemy you can have. If it's eating away at your confidence, get a book like Self-Esteem by McKay and Fanning (sunflower on the cover) and do the exercises. You need to be on your own team, not playing against yourself. If that's relevant to you, take it for what it is.



I'll jump in here and say you need a valuable / useful skill. USually those are directly marketable, ie: you can get a job or freelance with them. Everyone in business has some of these skills. We accumulate them like ace cards and hide them in our back pockets. ;) The reasons we need them are several.

One, yes, you can use them to hustle up money. A lot of people will say use them to get a job. They aren't wrong per se. But I would also argue that you can use them to build a sideline freelancing. I used to write freelance, and later I made a bit of mobile software freelance (incidentally, after publishing some small games that I showed to a local developer meetup).

Two, skills are your sword and shield in business. Everything won't be easy all the time. Being good at managing people, writing code, organizing ideas, keeping books, writing sales letters, researching and making logical arguments, etc., are all skills.

You won't have all of them, probably, but any one of them could come in handy at some point. So when you find that you need one of those skills, go ahead and develop it while you solve the problem at hand. Solve a few years worth of problems with the same skill, and you'll probably be getting pretty good at it. At that point you have something you can make into a system, train employees or hire freelancers to do.

If you have a skill you know for sure you want to develop, but don't have an immediate problem to sharpen it on, start cheap enough that you know you can provide more value than you bill, and go ahead and freelance that skill. You'll build contacts, credibility, money and skill... win win win win right?
I get your point. I just have a really hard time getting over the fear of failure. I'll work on that. Also thank you for the advice on skills. I think I'll try to become sort of a general developer. That way I can freelance while building side hustles. You sound like you learned programming on your own? If so that's amazing!

Yes


Let's say those devs / designers cost $70k/year, and you hire 3 to make the game, plus 2 marketing guys. Ignore other costs. That's $350k/year. Let's say it takes a year to finish the game. So that's $350k. The chance you make it back is about 1 in 10.

Anyway, let's say it's out of your own capital. What's your current hourly rate? Nothing. What's the minimum wage if you just work in a Starbucks or something? Say it's 15/hour, and you manage to save 5/hour on average.

That's 70,000 hours, or about 36 years.

Let's say you see this is nonsense. So you're going to need capital from someone else. You're going to need to convince VCs to drop a million on your venture, and to do some kind of joint venture with those devs.

Now they're asking: what does this guy bring to the table? Why is he qualified to lead a team of game developers? What experience and track record does he have to give us hope this venture will succeed?

So best to get your head out of the clouds. Being good at games has nothing to do with being good at leading game dev teams.

Unless you're one of the guys who guys like you say "I need to hire these guys", you have no power to embark on any such venture. You're at least 5 years out from being in a position to do this.

You must select a specific, in-demand, marketable skill, and get good at it, and ideally find a mentor in it, until you can at least provide for yourself, and keep ramping it up until you're getting paid solid rates. Worry about your games in the future.
Harsh but true. I've got to stop thinking about building my game and start thinking about what skills and values to provide to others for now indeed. Thank you for that.
 

WHY

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This decision is not an easy one, I've made the same ones. Keep your head up and get started yesterday. Only you know what path you are taking and stick to the plan.
 

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Rabby

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That way I can freelance while building side hustles. You sound like you learned programming on your own?
For the most part. As a kid and teenager I dabbled in programming. I had two actual classes in college, VB6 and Javascript. When I really learned programming was when I wanted to develop iOS games, but I couldn't hire anyone to do it. I had real problems to solve, so I was up and running pretty quickly. Then I got into linux servers and related scripting as I grew a business around online classes.

You could try making some tools that are useful for game development. Look for annoying tasks, like chopping up artwork, color correcting, checking 3D models for holes, etc. Anything that seems like humans shouldn't have to do it. If it doesn't become a sellable product, at least it's something you can use. And you can show it to people, some of whom might get excited about it and share something in return, or hire you for a gig or something.
 

Andreas Thiel

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I am with GoGetter24 ... and UNSCRIPTED also contains cautious words.

Sure, Unity and Unreal Engine make things simple, but that is not where the value is at and you give up control.
The standard advice at game development forums is: make games that get incrementally more complicated (just for practice).
For example: a card game first, then a tetris clone, then maybe a top down or side scroller ... then maybe you can move on to 3D.

People who want to start with an MMO or MOBA game are simply ignored.
I know intuition is likely to screw you over. You feel like you need to focus on the things that you will be able to apply eventually. But getting good at research, planning, improvising and similar things is a lot more important. You will face challenges that need creative solutions.

The reason behind the exercise is that the process unveils topics that you should to look into.
You might have to create a hybrid business approach, where you work on boring products that teach you skills that you are confident will be transferable.

As you pointed out yourself, "Secure the system" alone is a huge task for probably more than one person.
You need to make sure that you already have a lot of momentum going once you get to that point.
It can be through a business you own or a job, but you will probably need to find a way to do some stairstepping.
 
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