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I've failed at postponing "do what you love"

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by srodrigo, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I've read both books by MJ, and I fully agree with get rich first, do what you love later. I've spent one long year trying, but I have failed.

    As a software developer, my original plan was to build SaaS or mobile apps that would solve people's problems. But deep inside, what I wanted to do is to make video games, which actually are one of the possible fastlane products listed on the books, but at the moment the entry barrier is much lower than say 10 years ago (there are professional tools for free or peanuts) and the market is quite flooded in most platforms (getting worse every year), which is starting to seriously violate the commandment of entry. It is possible to make a hit and then f*ck money, but it's very very rare. Most indie devs make very little money with good or very good games that take many months, sometimes years, to be made. This is scary from the economical point of view. But even given all these problems, I still want to go for it.

    Also, games need decent art and music. I can make music, and I'm learning how to make art (which, for the style of games I want to make, it's not as difficult as creating realistic art, so I don't need to be Leonardo's second coming), but an MVP for a game takes months to make, usually. Even trying the landing page approach would be very tricky, as you still need decent art to catch people's attention, and even that doesn't describe how much value (entertainment) the game would offer (you need something playable), compared to a landing page for a web/mobile app (which can basically be a few screenshots and a list of problems that will solve). So the "validate the idea, then make an MVP in 1-2 weeks, release, and iterate" doesn't really apply here, as the first iteration is much slower (you need at least something playable with close-to-final art, even if it's just a vertical slice - e.g. one level of the game, which takes a non-trivial amount of time).

    But there are also ways to make money around making video games (not only actually making them), such as courses, books, tools, etc. And freelancing is an option (although I would make far less money to start with than building other kind of software where I have more experience, but it would be good practice) in the meantime while keeping trying to make a game that sales well.

    As a road to freedom, I feel sort of guilty for choosing a kind of business that it's only in the edge of being fastlane, instead of a more common/predictable one, as games are actually considered closer to art than to normal software products. This doesn't mean that I can't prototype and validate other ideas while making a game that will take months though.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. Envision
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    Envision Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    What do you need advice on? Sounds like a bunch of whining and back and forth with yourself.

    1.Find a need.
    2.Build a product for said need.
    3.Market product.
    4a.Failure? Try Again
    4b.Success? Repeat step 3.
     
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  3. garyfritz
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    garyfritz Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Summit Attendee

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    I think you're being overly harsh. He stated a problem and asked for advice.

    Your simplistic 4-step process isn't a very good answer for the situation he described. The "build a product" step, as he said, is very long and expensive, and the market is pretty saturated. Your process only helps if the "find a need" step includes research to determine if the need represents a viable market.

    And, on that point: @srodrigo, I'd say your description of the game market suggests pretty strongly that it's not a viable market for a beginner. As you said, success is "very very rare." You can do it for fun if you want ("do what you love") but don't expect to make any money at it. You might love buying lottery tickets, but your chances of winning are minuscule, so you can't consider it a business. Decide if you want to spend your time doing something for fun, or if you want to do something that actually has a chance of making a profit.
     
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  4. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for your reply.

    Some numbers about why the market looks quite saturated: close to 8000 games released last year on the most popular PC store, and over 6.000 this year so far. At least it doesn't look like it's going to double again (4.500 in 2016 and 3.000 in 2015), so it's sort of stabilising, but it's still an average of 20-22 games a day, which is a lot, taking into account that people have limited time and money to spend on entertainment.

    I just made some more research, and found that the sales numbers vary depending on what people consider games with a minimum amount of quality, but the average sales per game are around $2.000 (it goes up to $30.000 filtering out the amateur ones). So it doesn't look great at all.

    There is one other platform (a video games console) that it's less saturated, and actually a good opportunity at the moment (this was my initial plan), but I discovered recently that they don't allow everyone to publish there; you need to be either a well stablished studio, or release a successful game somewhere else so they get interested in a port, which is not my case yet.

    I agree that I should take it as something for fun and not expect to make any money. I will probably take the "risk" at least to make a vertical slice that could be made available to players and see what's the real interest. It shouldn't take longer than 2-3 months, and I can survive in the meantime and think of something else.
     
  5. Fotis
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    You probably don't know them, but Agora is a billion dollar company selling information products. There's nothing with a smaller barrier to entry than information products (unless someone monetizes breathing) Yet, they rake in tons of benjamins every year.

    How?

    Well, they're great marketers. They find out what people want/need and give it to them. That's fastlane 101

    Yes, you can become rich even if your business endeavor violates some of the commandments. So don't worry about it for now, and get started. The skills you'll gain along the way are worth their metaphorical weight in gold.

    Finally, from what I see, there's not quality marketing being used in video games. I think that has to do with most guys in the niche being programmers, who consider marketing/selling the equivalent of a virus. Who knows, perhaps you can have a big slice of the pie if you focus on marketing along with the creation of your games.
     
  6. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    You are right, I didn't know about Agora, I've had a look just now. It looks like one of many possible companies doing the same thing, so it's a good example of what you mention.

    I totally agree with what you say about marketing. It's true that is not very well used in video games, and, even being a highly tech oriented guy, I'm fully aware and convinced that marketing is the key piece (apart from making a good game, of course) in a quite saturated market. I've been learning about marketing (both general and more specific to games), and made sure I understand what I would need to market a game. I don't have the practice, but that will come as I do it and I will learn from my mistakes.

    I've actually got started already with one of the ideas, I've got some basic prototype with the core mechanic and some squares and circles (this is probably the closest to "quick validation" you can do in this industry..) for one of the games I think could be in demand. I'll test it with as many people I can to see if they consider it fun to play, otherwise I'll look for something else. I've been researching more about how to guess what's a good game to make, from existing games data (sales, genres, trends, etc.), to brainstorm other ideas as well in case this one doesn't probe worth moving forward.

    I remember MJ mentioned in one of his books that when the commandment of entry is violated, you need to be prepared to be among the best. That's fine, and I'll work hard to get there over time. I don't expect making a lot of money (or any money at all) with my first game, but the skills boost will be invaluable.
     
  7. luniac
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    do it, in a few years u either make it big with a game hit or u wise up and start looking for app needs.
     
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  8. daru
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    You know what would be cool?
    • Take a Raspberry Pi
    • Research 3-5 really old (1995-2005) then smash hit games that are open source or have open source alternatives today
    • Fix bugs, create now levels for those games etc. Improve them!
    • Package that shit so it's stupidly easy to get started with those "nostalgia" games on a TV (hook up the RPi). I mean really put effort into making it really really good and easy.
    Sell the package (RPi preloaded with cool games) to dudes like me born in the 80's and just want to play those old games without the hassle.

    Then you expand to your own High Quality Nostalgia RPi gaming platform App store where I can buy more titles.

    Great business right there!? The price for this marvelous idea I just gave you: include QuakeWorld. :cool:
     
  9. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Hi @daru,

    Thanks for the suggestion, that's indeed a cool idea. I was actually thinking about revisiting old classics, but re-invent them (not exactly improve them as they are, but more like making new games based on the original ideas/mechanics), as a starting point for commercial games. Some classics are not so easy to "clone" due to companies issuing you (actually, some people like the guy behind Tetris was quite aggressive with this), but I'm sure there are some others that are fine to "copy", improve and redistribute. I also like the idea about the online platform, specially given that Steam is flooded, and most portals sell a bit of everything, so it's hard to find your loved retro games.

    I'm currently considering some games to make in the next few months. I'm quite focused on improving my drawing and pixel art skills at the moment (I'd like to avoid reusing assets, or buying cheap assets that other people have used already, so I'll make them myself), but have made a prototype of one of the games. I'm planning to go ahead and make a vertical slice (it's a multi-player game, so just the basic game mechanics and a single arena with 80-90% final polish) in a few weeks/months. I will release it as a free demo to see what's people's reaction, as a way to "validate" the idea (not easy in video games, as you know, compared to other kinds of digital products - web/mobile apps with a landing page and fake screens that don't take as long as art game or trailer to make), and get a sense of whether it's worth making the full game (would be a matter of adding content at that point, really) or move to another project.

    I'll add your suggestion to the pool, and I'll make sure to give you a shout if I pick it up. Your game would fit there well ;)
     
  10. sparechange
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    So simple but so complicated at the same time :D

    Really like this
     
  11. MHP368
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    Woupdnt it be simpler to hire out on upwork to get some basic graphics and a hype video , figure out the core gameplay and genre and then throw up a kickstarter?

    If it works you develop it and maybe even profit before a launch , if people dont like it youd probably have failed at launch anyway
     
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  12. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Kickstarter is definitely a good way of getting money and validation. It must be handled carefully though, people say it's very time-consuming to run a campaign. But for medium to large games, it's a solid possibility that I'm considering.
     
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  13. Flybye
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    Flybye Bronze Contributor

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    I was in the same boat. I started learning Unity, make basic art, and learning how to code. Using what I learned I created one very simple free game with banner ads at the bottom. I got 20+ friends to download it, but it was enough to get almost 1000 downloads from the Apple store. My point is when you get enough people to download it, the rest will follow because of the store algorithms that like to share popular downloads.


    Life shifted, and I stopped learning how to make them. For decades I had always wanted to make games. I made Doom maps in the 90s, modified maps for Unreal Tournament 2004, and made a few maps for Unreal Tournament 3.


    True anyone can make a cheesy game these days. You have to either make something extremely addictive (Flappy Bird) or something extremely artistic (Cup Head) to really stand out. Then there are horror games that people love the sensation you get from a jump scare like from Five Nights at Freddie’s. Really the main things are addictiveness and ease of play.


    Sometimes it is a matter of luck. Did you know Five Nights at Freddie’s was an accident? The author made a children’s game, but everyone considered the character to be too creepy. He jumped on that opportunity and made Five Nights at Freddie’s. And now he is a multi millionaire. Flappy Bird took over 6 months to start pulling in over $50,000 a DAY. Big developer games like Clash of Titans bring in about 3 million a day.


    You can’t just build one game and hope for the best. You need a family of games that progressively get better and better. Each game will help your skills progress to the next. I do not look at games like singers having their one hit wonder. You need to make an album or two.


    And keep in mind the 4 ways of making an income off them:

    1. One time purchase
    2. One time purchase with purchasable in-game upgrades
    3. Free game with ads
    4. Free game with purchasable in-game upgrades

    I have seen 2 and 4 get heavily abused by children. I was at the barber shop waiting my turn. Next to me where a son and daughter probably a little younger than 10. Both were playing games on their iPads while mom was on the phone. Son asks mom for an “upgrade” he needs to buy in a game. She enters her Apple ID for the purchase. I few minutes later the daughter asks the same. And mother buys the same. You have to take advantage of the fact that many parents use these devices to shut their kids up.
     
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  14. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I'm really surprised, I thought there were far less game devs around, but there are quite a few ;)

    It looks like a lot of people believe in making more games vs. one or two games. I'm going for the first approach, although struggling to postpone some games I have in mind. But this is how it should be for now, I need a portfolio and get more experience, so more smaller games are better.

    What you describe at the barber's is one of the things that I don't really like about free-to-play games. That example is sort-of ok, but there are people with serious addictions (the well-known "whales") and the business model there is to milk them. Games are actually designed with this in mind. This is something I'd rather avoid. 1, 2 and 3 are good. I'm not into mobile games at the moment, so I'm more focused on 1, but I don't discard it entirely. The thing is, in order to make 3 + 4 generate decent revenue, you need 1-2 million downloads, as a very tinny percentage of users spend money. On extremely over-saturated stores like Google Play and Apple Store (the "over-crowded" Steam looks empty compared to these two), you need to spend lots of money in use acquisition. That's why the big slice of the money is made by big companies using this model, they have a lot of cash to spend.
     
  15. NMdad
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    NMdad Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    So what's the need?
     
  16. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I wouldn't even call it a "need", but a "want". Same case as per books, music, etc. People who want a particular kind of entertainment. In this case, people fed up with big publishers and lack of innovation. This is quite generic though.
     
  17. Flybye
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    Think about Enzo Ferrari for a moment. He was selling cars to finance his racing career. I very much hate the pay-to-play/pay-to-win models, but you know what? It works and it makes money. I would never tell you to not create the game you want. But what I would tell you is make sure you have several games making money before making that game that you really want because the game you really want may not be what the consumer wants.

    And this is the problem starting out devs have. They fail to realize video games is a commodity like anything else. You either create something people never realized they wanted or create something you know they want now. And what do people want now? They want pleasure. Pleasure IS the need/want. Adults can differentiate between a need and want, but kids can't. There are plenty of articles explaining how video games can raise dopamine levels and create that addiction that they need to spend money on to keep the pleasure going. Think about those annoying kids basically yelling "I want pleasure I want pleasure!" Mommy gives in and pays a few bucks to get them to shut up until next time when the new pleasure purchased thing wears out. Mommy recognized her need to shut the kids up by giving them their need. An adult without an addiction problem would either keep playing for free or close the game down.

    Again, I HATE the pay-to-play/pay-to-win models, but it works. And sometimes you need to finance the product you really want by first following the rest of the industry.
     
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  18. Fastlane Liam
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    Fastlane Liam Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    On the back of this, Rovio the creators of Angry Birds created 51 failed games before making angry birds
     
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  19. NMdad
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    NMdad Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    If you really want to focus on the video gaming industry, what about selling shovels instead of digging for gold?
     
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  20. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I completely agree about this, we need to have some revenue before taking the biggest risks.

    Even if that model works, which obviously does, that doesn't mean a small indie or team can really compete with deep pocket (a.k.a. big companies) that spend insane amounts of money on user acquisition, specially on mobile. I haven't checked in a while, but last time there were like 20 games on the top 30 by the same publisher. Then, the typical Clash of Clans and similar ones. And there was a single game that looked made by some random guy and had over 1M downloads, which is enough to get some income from micro-transactions. I might give it a try, but I don't think that's a market for small teams anymore.
     
  21. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I keep that in mind, indeed. I mentioned it in some comments. I didn't find any "obvious" unsolved need at the moment. And do you know why? Because I haven't made full games apart from prototypes.

    I'm sure there's still some room on the Unity Assets Store, but again, I have barely used Unity to know what's a need to solve there. Maybe I should spend a good week looking at uncovered needs and users complains on forums/social media.

    Game engines are more than covered, no one is going to gather 3 friends and write a new Unity anymore.

    There was a great idea called Pico8, a virtual console with good popularity, which is obviously already done and there are like 10 imitations. I recall reading it took the author over a year and a half to implement a first version. Isn't that as risky as making games? As far as I know, no one knew that could be such a cool thing (a mix of retro emulator an game engine) until he made it.

    I'm pretty sure there are things to be made. If I see an opportunity making shovels, I'll stop making games and make the shovels. In the meantime, I'll make games, which should help me find uncovered needs.
     
  22. Flybye
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    That would certainly be insane. Take a look at Scott Cawthon who made Five Nights at Freddy's. He is worth 60 million, and he is a one man band. Granted it has taken him decades, but who wouldn't be happy with being worth 60 million? I always thought of him while doing my Unity tutorials. There are lots of 1 or 2 man bands doing well into the millions.

    Scott Cawthon Net Worth 2018, Bio, Age, Height

    You are a software developer. You are already decades beyond where I wish I could be. Artwork and music can always be sourced. But the source code? That is where the real magic is IMHO. If artwork is defective you either swap it out or touch it up. Writing the formula to get that perfect liquid effect from something or making sure you are almost perfectly compatible with as many devices as possible is where the real meat is. And as a dev remember you can always source yourself out to any person/team needing temporary help.

    I used to attend a local gaming meeting up group with aspiring devs. People of all sorts were there. Lawyers, engineers, and commercial graphic artists all tired with their professions wanting to make games along with people straight out of high school and developing classes. The one thing they kept pushing forward is get a game out there, and the steam rolling afterwards will come sooner than you expect. Everyone was impressed I completed a game and actually had it in the store. And I showed the download figures to everyone. Hey I got 100 now. Next meetup I am up to 300! Next meet up over 900! Their mantra was "Release something. Anything."

    Yes, the gaming market is very saturated, but this is how I looked at it: There are about 7.5 billion people on Earth. There are about 2.5 billion smart phone users. I see that as an untapped market. I know making apps or games is on the edge of Fast Lane, but there is still a market that will keep growing.

    I never lost interest. What happened to me was I was slow lane laid off, and I was very fortunate to get a severance package large enough to start a business I had wanted for years but could not have due to the high start up costs. Eventually, I will have a small team produce and publish my game ideas.
     
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  23. Fastlane Liam
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    Fastlane Liam Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Why don't you focus on making VR games?
     
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  24. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for the link, I'll take a look. The guy who made Crossy Road made lots of millions too. I know you can make money, the tricky part is with free-to-play, I'd say there are more chances of success on PC or consoles for small indies than on mobile. Maybe 5-8 years ago the situation was different on mobile, but now it sounds like a very unlikely place to try.

    I used to think like that, but I'm not sure anymore. I know artists and musicians who learnt how to code. Sure, it was hard work, but they did. But having been a musician, I think it's easier to learn programming than get a good taste for art. Both programming and art/music can be learnt, but making things correct in art/music is not enough, as it is in programming. The only real advantage I see is being able to prototype faster than an artist, although with things like Game Maker, Unity, etc., the bridge has gotten shorter.

    There are success stories on both sides though. Cup Head and Hollow Knight were made mainly by artists who eventually hired a team. Stardew Valley was made by a CS graduate who was also a musician, but as far as I know he wasn't an artist, he just spent thousands of hours on pixel art until he got great at it. I'm happy with being a software developer, I enjoy coding and I know that if this doesn't work out, my escape routes are more fastlane than for artists/musicians.

    Definitely, there is market. In about two years, there will be a good opportunity for indies when new consoles ship.

    That sounds great. Looking forward to seeing your games in the future.
     
  25. srodrigo
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    srodrigo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    People say VR is the next big thing, maybe it is. I don't like it at all though. I don't even like most 3D adventures, I just get bored after the "holy cow, look at these graphics" first 10 minutes. I can't even wear VR glasses for a short period without feeling physically sick, I guess that contributed to my aversion.

    I went for a different niche instead. VR is definitely one, but there are niches that are too small for big companies to bother making games for. VR might become the next focus of big companies eventually, so my bet is on indies having some success in the first years, and then being unable to compete, as they are now when they try to make the next Final Fantasy and give up when they realise it requires +200 people and +4 years of work. Anything that is in 3D takes much longer to make. A good amount of indie developers stay at 2D for these reason.
     

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