How to finish your first professional game? [Part II - Development]

In the previous part of this post we’ve examined important things to be considered before starting a game development itself. Let’s list them just as a reminder:

  • right sizing a game, so it is possible to finish it
  • creating a rough game project schedule (including GUI development and bugfixing time)
  • accepting the plan and following it

Actually following the plan may seem simple, but it isn’t – there are still a lot of problems that you may encounter. I’m going to give you some tips however, that might make it easier for you to stick to the plan, thus successfully driving your project to a completed game.

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How to finish your first professional game? [Part I - Preparations]

There are a lot of people trying to make creating games their primary and only source of income, but only a few succeeds. Why is this happening? There are really numerous factors, for example quality of their games, good marketing, brilliant ideas, pure luck and many more. But the most important thing to be considered at first is the ability to actually create a game.

Finishing a game on a professional level is much harder than a starting game developer can even imagine. There are lots of difficulties that can stop you from finishing what you’ve planned. Let’s see what can be done to overcome some of them and thus increase a chance of succeeding as a game developer.

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How well can good casual games sell?

One thing that I was missing before deciding to start independent games development, was some solid data describing what to expect from this business in terms of income. There are a lot of posts on this topic, but none of them is answering the question thoroughly. Please do not understand me wrong – I am not trying to create games purely for money, but I wanted to know if it can be profitable enough to support myself, so I can create games full-time, not sacrificing my family life on the altar of a hobby.

Most indie developers state, that a statistical game will earn nothing at all. Jeff Tunnell has written, that you should expect anything between no income at all and what a best selling hit game can give. Koen Witters’ short article explains that with a hard work you may expect to earn at least a few thousand dollars from the first game.

I agree with them – you have to put a lot of effort in developing your game first, so it is fun and it looks nice, and next even more effort in marketing and distribution to let the world find out about it. But let’s assume that you already have a fine game and you do your work regarding distribution part. What to expect then? You may find specific games sales stats, be it hit games or those that don’t sell well. Grey Alien Games has listed some of them in his article, if you are interested.

Example sales is not enough

Such data might be helpful, but there’s one problem with it. They are all case studies only. Case studies won’t give you an overview of the market. I have however found out several informations apart from listed above. They might seem just minor tidbits at a glance, but combined together can become a basis to estimate expected income from the Big Fish Games casual games portal.

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Hello everyone!

I’d like to welcome anyone visiting this blog and to introduce myself. I am a C++ programmer working at Google Poland, but apart from my regular job, after hours of work, I am a programmer at Magic-Ars – a small independent game development studio from Poland. It has been created by me and my wife, who is an artist in our team. At the moment we are developing our first casual game – 3D Puzzle Venture – a jigsaw puzzle game for the PC market. I will not advertise it here any longer, but if you are interested, please feel encouraged to visit its web page. I will just mention that we expect to release a beta trial version in around 2 months.

What will you find on this blog?

The main purpose of this blog is to provide informations that could be helpful for starting and future independent game developers, based on my own experience as a programmer, as well as a further analysis of data that can be found in the Internet. Topics will cover a wide range of aspects, like programming, team and project management, distributing and marketing games, or independent games market analysis.

Apart from that you will find some generic posts here, that will come to my mind, but only if they are somehow related to the game development.

Just to be clear – this blog is not intended to be a developer’s diary. I don’t think it would be interesting for anyone, I will however post here info about major updates of our projects from time to time, like releasing beta or final version and similar stuff.

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