The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

INTRO I'm (trying) to start a new career path as a gaming business owner!

Remove ads while supporting the Unscripted philosophy...become an INSIDER.

nabitronics

New Contributor
May 25, 2020
4
4
11
CA, US
Hi All,

I'm joining Fastlane to gather advice from business experts and professionals as I'm pursing a new journey in my career that is taking me way off tangent from my current norm. I'm in hot pursuit of opening my own video game company and franchise, and would definitely appreciate what anyone can offer. I've come to the realization, at 32 years of age, that the career of my dreams is to design, develop, and produce video games. Not only that, but more so to create, own, and run a gaming business of my own, and my chosen platform is PC/mobile gaming (at least, for this first game franchise).

Interestingly, I do not have an artistic background at all; I do not have a professional CS background at all, but I can code. I have an electrical engineering background coming up on 8 years of experience in the Aerospace Industry. Video games and anime (and animation) have been a huge part of my life growing up, but it was one of those things where you think to yourself you couldn't make a career out of it because you lack the necessary skills to do so (and also your parents and relatives telling you that it's a non-sense career. However, owning a business... that's something else entirely). Although it's never too late to pickup something new and to run with it, there is certainly the aspect of time to market and getting your product to consumers in a timely fashion. I don't have the time or flexibility (anymore) to be a professional animator and illustrator, and I would seek out an art director that resonates with my vision and would want to be apart of my mission. I could also say the same regarding my CS skills, although I'd be much quicker (I can program...) to learn and apply gaming engines like Unity to develop prototypes. Again, I would seek out gaming SW architects and programmers that resonate with my vision. I don't believe my particular lack of skills in those regards hold me back anymore; it's more so I understand what I'm looking for in my product, how it should play, how it should make a player feel, how it sounds, how it looks... and I need the right people to help me get there. What I'm realizing is I have creativity and vision on my side; perhaps this is coming from the engineer in me, where I have to consider every possible angle for the development of a product (especially in the Aerospace Industry).

With playing video games for pretty much my whole life (and watching anime), I've started to take a different approach of how I view them: what could I have done better to make this game play, look, and feel how I would have wanted it to? That persistent thought, perhaps from an inception, led me down the path of creating the mechanics to a player vs player game that I believe to be highly competitive, and gameplay that has yet to be seen in the genre I'm considering for my first gaming franchise. It's to the point where I've thought about it for the past 6 months, and need to act on it, otherwise I will regret it. I have been working gameplay details and mechanics, character design, layouts, story/lore, backstories... all of that in what limited time I have left in my day after working my full-time job; there's so much to develop, consider, and balance. I can't progress at the rate that I would like to given my full-time job, and I certainly can't get a company started and hire colleagues from my own salary. Although being a life-time gamer doesn't necessarily make me an expert in video games or gameplay mechanics... but eventually, if you look through it from the right lens, you start to pick up on things, you start to realize things that work and things that don't work, you understand what brings a consumer back to it, and you pick up on aesthetic and what this wonderful piece of a digitized art form creates. I'm more analytical than just taking the game for "what it's worth", especially games that make you strategize and develop tactics. At the end of it, ultimately what's important to me is if the game is fun, challenging, and enjoyable to consumers, and I believe I have a winning formula. I also have a much grander vision for the franchise which extends beyond gaming alone, but those opportunities only exist if the game is successful...

That's my background and my goal in the smallest nutshell I could find. Could anyone make suggestions of the best places to ask questions regarding my business plan/approach; considerations regarding protection, patents, and copyrights for IP; how to successfully raise money on fundraising platforms? I don't think I'd be at the stage of going to investors, or if that is something to even consider given the options available through crowdfunding?

I greatly appreciate your time in reading this, it means a ton.

Best,
Nabs
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Dark Water

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Mar 25, 2014
442
1,056
374
Boston
I think your first step is to assess how much money it would realistically cost to develop this game and just how many people are involved. Modern video games are published by billion dollar revenue companies with thousands of employees. Their mountains of data/analytics about their players' playing and spending habits would make even Facebook and Google jealous.

Are there other ways that you could channel this creativity and passion? For example, writing a fiction book or creating a board game (or a combination of both). These could be individual works or you could then sell or license your alternate universe to video game companies. Or, even better, you could create the B2B platform for others like yourself who have this passion but don't know what to do - let them sell the rights to use their work directly while you're the middle man.

You also mentioned that you are adept at finding ways to improve existing games. Could there be a problem to solve here on a large scale - like creating a company that tests games before they are released? And can advise on all things from in-game experience to revenue generation.
 
OP
OP
N

nabitronics

New Contributor
May 25, 2020
4
4
11
CA, US
I think your first step is to assess how much money it would realistically cost to develop this game and just how many people are involved. Modern video games are published by billion dollar revenue companies with thousands of employees. Their mountains of data/analytics about their players' playing and spending habits would make even Facebook and Google jealous.

Are there other ways that you could channel this creativity and passion? For example, writing a fiction book or creating a board game (or a combination of both). These could be individual works or you could then sell or license your alternate universe to video game companies. Or, even better, you could create the B2B platform for others like yourself who have this passion but don't know what to do - let them sell the rights to use their work directly while you're the middle man.

You also mentioned that you are adept at finding ways to improve existing games. Could there be a problem to solve here on a large scale - like creating a company that tests games before they are released? And can advise on all things from in-game experience to revenue generation.
Glad to know I'm taking the right steps. Yes, the dev cost was one of the first things I considered when trying to assess whether or not I could make this work. I understand your perspective regarding multi-billion dollar revenue dev houses, and that's precisely why I walk cautiously; myself and future colleagues could perhaps produce this in 6-7 years, where as tycoons such as Activision/Blizzard, Microsoft and Nintendo, with their limitless resources and player data, could crank it out in 2-3 years, or less.

However, my game is actually not very complicated, but rather fairly unique. It is a digital-based (aiming for PC/Mac/mobile platforms) competitive trading card game, like Pokemon TCG Online, Hearthstone, amongst others. The main source of income would be to sell in-game card "booster" packs so players can expand their library of cards, which I've seen to be the most common (perhaps even standard way) of revenue for these kinds of games; other sources of income I have not considered strictly from the game itself, but of course with a successful franchise you consider other products to sell (stuffed animals, keychains, manga, etc). It could be crafted as a board game, but as I mentioned, there is a certain look, feel, and sound I've managed to layer on top of this to make it an attractive competitive gaming experience, hence my desire, perhaps need, to make it digital. I believe, if done correctly, this product would truly compete at the level of the card games I mentioned. Maybe it won't catch on as fast as something that would come out from Nintendo or Activision/Blizzard, but there's only one way to find out (and with proper marketing).

The budget I'm estimating to support front-end initial development is around $3-5 million; with this amount, my initial 2-3 year plan is:
- hire an art director, several illustrators/artists, a SW architect, an audio/sound guru specializing in the game's environment, someone to help with IP (perhaps a lawyer specializing in video game IP).
- I would be the product developer for the franchise and CEO for the company, handling HR relating things, game mechanics and design, infrastructure, etc. I don't expect to burn through $5 million on a handful of people, but with my experience as an engineer in product development... there are always unforeseen roadblocks/issues that could incur add'l costs (maybe in this context: costs to establish a formal company, costs associated with patents/copyrights/trademarking, needing consultants or specialists, renting a building, SW/HW needs, infrastructure... these might exceed past the $5 million mark), almost always, especially with doing this for the first time.
- Nail down the artwork for the whole game (again, aesthetic/feel is key): this includes characters, environments, layouts, card design... a lot to conceptualize and to have the right "fit" for 400-500 cards.
- Nail down a working prototype for the game's logic, functionality and layout in a gaming engine such as Unity (or even Flash if my architect was savvy enough) which can be done in parallel to artwork; In this manner, many bugs and gameplay inconsistencies can be discovered, and overall feel can be assessed. I believe the artwork would have the longest lead time in the game's development.
- Somewhere along this timeline (1-2 year mark), I would make an assessment with colleagues (and perhaps industry advisors/consultants) of when it is appropriate to hire a business/marketing specialist (perhaps this should be considered as one of the first hires), game designers/animators, network engineers, and other back-end resources to get the product together; I suspect another 2-3 years from that point, and would estimate an add'l budget of $3-5 million, perhaps more due to advertising needs or other critical needs I may be omitting. I don't undermine what it would take for integration, debugging, testing, and re-balancing gameplay/mechanics, but at that point I would have something tangible and constructed nearly to the intended product... and I don't want to underplay this, but I feel it would be easier to acquire additional funding with having everything conceptualized out, something concrete, vs what seems to me like climbing a vertical wall in the rain with trying to initially (right now) raise $3-5 million. I don't suspect I could raise that much on crowdfunding platforms, I mean who would fund someone that has 30-40 documents pertaining to content that I'd be reluctant to share? Maybe I'd raise enough to support myself and an art director for a few years to complete the artwork ($500k-$750k, if even that). The problem there is if I expose too much of what I'm doing in order to raise money, i.e. try to get people to believe in my product and vision, I could run into the problem that I mentioned above regarding a gaming giant, or even someone who is a game developer trying to find the next big thing, running off and developing something of their own as mechanics, processes and "how things work" are not protected by copyright, and I don't think they can be patented. I lose my edge and momentum for everything.

So, a team of 10-25 (maybe upwards to 30) with a budget of $6-10 million, not including potential overhead (+$2-3 million, call it $15 million), in a 5-6 year timespan, for the baseline game. When it releases, I would need a team dedicated to player feedback regarding game quality and resolving issues, perhaps the need to expanding the network infrastructure to support user loads... just some thoughts for further down the road, but I don't have a comprehensive list. I have ideas and plans of how to incorporate add'l content for several years after an initial release, and of course would want to keep the team that hustled with me to develop the product, if they desired to stay. If all goes well, I hope they would continue to pursue their passions of creating video games (and perhaps anime...) with me.

I have considered other ways of putting my idea in another media, but my goal is always going to be to make this game/franchise, that's really where my vision is and that's where it fits. I'm considering whether a webtoon/manga relating to the game's story would benefit in getting the community familiar with the franchise first. That however would drastically slow down my planned progression.

I do apologize, I'm not very familiar with the B2B model you mentioned or what that entails, I would need to do additional research. However, if it means not owning what I've created, I would have say I wouldn't be interested in that avenue. As far as licensing the franchise and selling it to third parties... I have not considered that option and would need to understand what that really means.

Regarding your last mention... Although I do agree there is probably a need for debugging/testing experts (perhaps that's already taken care of via contractors and consultants?), it's not so much of a debugging thing or improving the game's product development per se, but rather I have a keen eye for how to "improve" how the game is played, i.e. player experience, by incorporating different elements, mechanics, and features. For example, if I managed to find a way of how to make Pokemon TCG play in a different way that is much more attractive and perhaps even more fun to players than it is now, and perhaps not even something Nintendo considered, why should I provide that insight to a future competitor when I could incorporate that into my own game (again, mechanics are not protected by copyright)? Counter to that of course is I could potentially get paid by Nintendo for improving their product... or not!
 

Dark Water

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Mar 25, 2014
442
1,056
374
Boston
As you mentioned strategizing and tactics, the first thing that came to my mind when reading your initial post was CCGs as well - seemingly lower cost, niche market, life long fan base, appeal to players of all ages - it definitely makes sense now and I think a game of this nature is realistic to make for someone without experience in the gaming industry.

I actually ran a small content website as a side hobby for one of these games - you know, the Vicious Syndicate type, but it was for another game that wasn't Hearthstone. During my time doing that, I ran into someone who was interested in doing exactly what you want to do - creating his own CCG. I think he took to Tabletop Simulator and was wanting me to help him test things for a while but I got busy... I'll check in to see if he is still pursuing the idea. I'm not too familiar with TTS but it might be something to look into for initial prototyping or testing of your cards.

It's obviously a massive industry - Hearthstone being #1 and now Legends of Runeterra making a run at them. What is most interesting to me was the sudden shut down of The Elder Scrolls: Legends in late 2019, having played it casually for few years. The game had a massive IP behind it, large publisher (Bethesda), and a new development team, but they decided to halt development. (Lack of) advertising seemed to be their biggest flaw but I'm not sure what else contributed to the downfall of an otherwise seemingly successful and flourishing CCG.

If you haven't, I'd definitely check out Mythgard and look at their path from concept to beta, where they are now. They seem to be doing exactly what you're talking about - founded in 2016 just from two guys that knew each other through previous companies. For an idea about card art development, I'd check out SIXMOREVODKA who is the Berlin-based art studio that works on LoR.
 
OP
OP
N

nabitronics

New Contributor
May 25, 2020
4
4
11
CA, US
As you mentioned strategizing and tactics, the first thing that came to my mind when reading your initial post was CCGs as well - seemingly lower cost, niche market, life long fan base, appeal to players of all ages - it definitely makes sense now and I think a game of this nature is realistic to make for someone without experience in the gaming industry.

I actually ran a small content website as a side hobby for one of these games - you know, the Vicious Syndicate type, but it was for another game that wasn't Hearthstone. During my time doing that, I ran into someone who was interested in doing exactly what you want to do - creating his own CCG. I think he took to Tabletop Simulator and was wanting me to help him test things for a while but I got busy... I'll check in to see if he is still pursuing the idea. I'm not too familiar with TTS but it might be something to look into for initial prototyping or testing of your cards.

It's obviously a massive industry - Hearthstone being #1 and now Legends of Runeterra making a run at them. What is most interesting to me was the sudden shut down of The Elder Scrolls: Legends in late 2019, having played it casually for few years. The game had a massive IP behind it, large publisher (Bethesda), and a new development team, but they decided to halt development. (Lack of) advertising seemed to be their biggest flaw but I'm not sure what else contributed to the downfall of an otherwise seemingly successful and flourishing CCG.

If you haven't, I'd definitely check out Mythgard and look at their path from concept to beta, where they are now. They seem to be doing exactly what you're talking about - founded in 2016 just from two guys that knew each other through previous companies. For an idea about card art development, I'd check out SIXMOREVODKA who is the Berlin-based art studio that works on LoR.
That's reassuring to hear, I appreciate your feedback. I don't think I could ever amass enough resources to do a MMORPG or MOBA-based game for the first attempt, that would definitely not happen. As you mentioned, the card game however is a much (relatively speaking) reasonable pursuit. Apologies I didn't mention that when I first posted.

Agreed, the industry is ridiculously huge and is just continuing to grow. There is so much movement with LoR considering it's from Riot and of course their player base is enormous. Mythgard I had checked out and I think they have a really cool concept, their development is very inspirational. Elder Scrolls: Legends I have never touched or even heard of, but that's unfortunate to hear, especially coming from Bethesda. I'll check into SIXMOREVODKA, I might have briefly taken a look at them before when I was looking into LoR. I do appreciate LoR's art style but I'm definitely going for a much different look. I have been running through Deviant Art and flagging artists/illustrators that are in sync with the intended art style, look/feel of the franchise. I would imagine artists that are into gaming and anime would be thrilled to take their shot at creating card art, especially if they're into card games. Having the right art director and artists... it truly makes or breaks a game.

I'll look into TTS, it might be a faster way to prototype than trying to pickup Unity. Although, it might be much more beneficial in the long run to pick up Unity considering it is a powerful gaming engine. I regularly visited VS in the days that I played Hearthstone; it's incredible how much creativity, cleverness, and strategy goes into deck building for any type of CCG, I think that's one of the most exciting parts of playing games of that nature.

I appreciate your responses back to my posts. I wasn't quite sure if The Fastlane had any base for game entrepreneurship, or if there was really anyone on these forums that cared about such. I thought I'd give it a shot anyway, and I'm glad to have received your insight. Hope all is well with you given the state of the world.
 

Bobby_italy

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jan 19, 2016
202
354
182
Good luck man, check out clash royale it has a unique concept as a "card" game, you could learn a thing or two.

Been my favourite game since it came out, can play whenever, takes 3 minutes to play a game and it's really competitive!
 

sparechange

Platinum Contributor
Speedway Pass
Nov 11, 2016
1,881
2,547
665
Canada (Vancouver)
Video game space is interesting, looks easy... not really though. Not sure how you will come up with the cash to create a modern game (I believe Call of duty has bigger budgets than most films)

Heh, good luck with that
 
OP
OP
N

nabitronics

New Contributor
May 25, 2020
4
4
11
CA, US
Video game space is interesting, looks easy... not really though. Not sure how you will come up with the cash to create a modern game (I believe Call of duty has bigger budgets than most films)

Heh, good luck with that
Tell me about it... the budget is my number one concern.

Never for a second am I thinking it's an easy thing to pull off. I'm not aiming for something as complicated as CoD or something AAA, which is why I believe my goal is achievable, albeit difficult to get front-end support for. The thing about card games is, no matter what mechanics and gameplay are developed, I could prototype with little to no budget in Unity (i.e. do it myself or with friends). The logic/mechanics are not difficult, but they are very unique and competitive. The aesthetic layer that sits on top of that logic is what worries me: the art, animation, sound... in the sense that I truly need a budget to support that aspect. Also, I'm still doing my research on what things can, and what things should, be patented and protected, which comes with its own cost. Marketing, back-end support... there's A LOT to consider.

Thanks for responding back, appreciate it! Hope all is well with you.
 

sparechange

Platinum Contributor
Speedway Pass
Nov 11, 2016
1,881
2,547
665
Canada (Vancouver)
Tell me about it... the budget is my number one concern.

Never for a second am I thinking it's an easy thing to pull off. I'm not aiming for something as complicated as CoD or something AAA, which is why I believe my goal is achievable, albeit difficult to get front-end support for. The thing about card games is, no matter what mechanics and gameplay are developed, I could prototype with little to no budget in Unity (i.e. do it myself or with friends). The logic/mechanics are not difficult, but they are very unique and competitive. The aesthetic layer that sits on top of that logic is what worries me: the art, animation, sound... in the sense that I truly need a budget to support that aspect. Also, I'm still doing my research on what things can, and what things should, be patented and protected, which comes with its own cost. Marketing, back-end support... there's A LOT to consider.

Thanks for responding back, appreciate it! Hope all is well with you.
Im not sure if it would work, check out kickstarter, I think its more for products, but could possibly be an option for gaming? Not sure.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Sponsored Offers

  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Fox's Web Design Guide: Earn $100K this year (Yes, 2020!) and Go Fastlane
Just a quick question, is it possible to communicate only via e-mail or text messages? I am...
  • Sticky
FEATURED! Introducing... WEALTH EXPO$ED, A Short Story By MJ DeMarco
Ah, I should've checked here to find out that it was free! Although, Amazon only charged $2 for...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
Pick the one you need most. Some just buy them all. :D Loving your email sequence.
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE You Are One Call Away From Living Your Dream Life - LightHouse’s Accountability Program ⚡
Dropping a quick note in here to say... if you are on TFL, you are part of an elite group of...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Kill Bigger Incubator
I joined @Kak's business incubator in the first week of May. During our daily chats we uncovered...


Visit A Forum Sponsor
sponsor

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom
AdBlock Detected - Please Disable

Yes, ads can be annoying. But please...

...to support the Unscripted/Fastlane mission (and to respect the immense amount of time needed to manage this forum) please DISABLE your ad-block. Thank you.

I've Disabled AdBlock