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Submitted by Robin Ward, posted on August 15, 2001




Image Description, by Robin Ward



I used to be heavily into game and graphics programming back in the early nineties when it was all about mode 13h. I let it slide for a few years in order to concentrate on web programming and Java development.

It's back with a vengeance. I decided to build a simple 2-D shareware game, and this screenshot is the result of my efforts. The game engine is 95% done (I have to program a few more enemies), and I have about 10 out of 30 levels complete.

It's more of a puzzle game than anything else. Different levels have different objectives (such as eat all the pizza, flip all the switches, etc). It's a fairly standard 2-D game. I originally wrote it using DirectX 8, but after I found that it wouldn't work on NT and computers that haven't upgraded, I decided to port it to SDL. SDL is great, in that the renderer will actually use the GDI if no DirectX install is found. It's really reducing the DirectX barrier of entry.

In the end, I plan to self-publish the title. I'm going to sell it on my web site as well as by mail order.

The game is lacking a title, so I was wondering if anyone can suggest one? Also, how much do you think someone would pay for this kind of game? Bear in mind, I'm not making it for the hardcore gamer, but for children or adults or who want to play a puzzle game. I was thinking $20US.

You can e-mail me at: robin@robinward.net


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
 
James Matthews

August 15, 2001, 11:42 PM

> As a side note, don't publish anything through Xtreme LLC,
> LaMothe's company. They offer 50%, but they don't have a
> distribution network, so it's basically 50% of nothing.

Is that coming from experience? From what I've heard of Xtreme, it sounds quite good and definitely is out to benefit the programmers as much as themselves.


 
goltrpoat

August 15, 2001, 11:55 PM

Not direct experience, no, but that's basically what I've been told by people who had direct experience with them. Feel free to email LaMothe and find out for sure.

-goltrpoat

 
Bemmu Sepponen

August 16, 2001, 02:53 AM

Sorry for being repetitive, but it's true that a game does not have to be visually stunning to be popular. This happened something like five years ago. The current hot topic in the local news was how a fox farmer had shot at some animal activists. I decided to make a game about that. I tried to be quick, before it was old news. It took me a week to make the game.

http://members.nbci.com/deicca/oikeuttaelaimille.zip
(I had en english version too but was unable to locate it)

If you look at that game, you might be surprised it was played by over five thousand people and mentioned in television and in the news papers. I released it as freeware. I figure the reasons for it's success were the small download size (36k), it's topicality and the fact that it was free.

I wonder what would have happened if I had released it as shareware.

 
NeonGoon

August 16, 2001, 03:59 AM

Someone could say that "First about the price, I'd say that tops $10, I dont know people in US but here in Finland no one will pay over 50FIM (about $10) for a shareware game. Me and my firend made a game (Fuse) long time ago and it costed 20FIM ($4), that was a bit cheap maybe but we received lots of orders which compensated the low price. Mostly sw games wont make you rich, so if you want to share your program make it cheap enough. Have you sold any sw games before? It can be quite anoying when you receive orders after 4 years of game release date, have you thought payment methods and what kind of "copy protection" it has?", but not necessarely me?
-NG

 
EngineNo9

August 16, 2001, 04:25 AM

yes, the name actually does come from adrenaline. I've been a big deftones fan for a long time, and adopted this as my nickname a couple years ago (for online games and whatnot). You'd be surprised how many people ask me that when I'm playing CS. Or rather, when I used to play CS.

lame FYI: There is also a children's rhyme that goes "Engine Engine Number 9, coming down the Railroad line..." similar to "Eenie meanie mynie moe..."

 
Jan Niestadt

August 16, 2001, 05:46 AM

Looks like a cool game. Too bad there's no demo yet, I'd love to play it.

As for selling it: it looks like a quality game and it's probably worth at least $10. But I would give it away for free. A lot more people will play it and start to make levels for it and to me that would be more important than making a few extra bucks. (And yes, i have made puzzle games myself and released them for free.)

 
Bemmu Sepponen

August 16, 2001, 06:58 AM

I wonder if other countries have as established shareware scene as Finland. About the 20FIM, did you email some key codes or send disks in return to the price? I mean if you're supposed to send disks I can see how that's annoying and perhaps even unprofitable considering the time it takes to mail them. But if it's just email, I would be happy to send registered versions even 4 years after the release :).

Btw. I haven't played Fuse, even though I've played a lot of finnish games. I hope it's not a cave-flyer :).

 
jeti

August 16, 2001, 07:42 AM

Obviously you've never tried to sell anything online. The fees of
registration key providers are often min $1 per transaction. You
can lower the cost by using PayPal and sending out the keys
yourself ($0.30 + 2.75%).

But that isn't the real problem. Usually the customers have to fill
out relatively complex forms (including unnecessary shipment
addresses etc.) to register. And they're very likely to think: Why
should I go through all this trouble for a crappy $1 game?

 
Dodger_

August 16, 2001, 07:42 AM

You know what pisses me off? Professionals and hobbiests like Elixir that are trying to
grind the "lone wolf" method of game development into the ground. What someone
chooses to do in their spare time and if they intend to charge money for it is their business.
I find it insulting that Elixir can state "I see people attempting to sell their hobby projects
and it just pisses me off." with a straight face. How are people, trying to get into the
business supposed to put food on the table and work towards their goal at the same
time? If he states this purely out of the quality of the work, look at some of the
"professionally" developed games out there that were terrible, Trespasser, World War II
Online, Return to Zork(or whatever it was called) to name a few. I say go for Robin, for
only 30 levels, I'd say $10 is worth it. Above all, have fun, make a bit of money and learn
something from what you're doing.

Dodger_

 
Punchey

August 16, 2001, 09:19 AM

I don't know about Elixir but I think most idiots who say this kind of thing don't even think of putting food on anyone's table because many of them are still a bunch of kids in school (either highschool or uni.). These kind of people don't even know what it means to have a real job yet. Much less try to become a proffessional game programmer whilst juggling a full-time job and a family all at once! Marriage adds alot to the equation as well. So, if you're not married, don't have kids, are unemployed (at least in a game-related job), still in school, and not wealthy, the KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! If you don't fit these criteria than you will never understand until you do!

I agree totally that the idea "if just because you love something then you don't have a right to charge for it" is completely idiotic and implies that you must hate your job and that the only thing you should get paid to do are the things you hate. What kind of world would that be!?!?!?

And if you accept this idea that love of what you do means you have no right to proffit from doing it, then what difference does it make if the game was made by a single person who loved doing it or by a whole team of people who loved doing it!?!? Morally, shouldn't both be the same since each individually loved doing it and is therefore not entitled to any compensation? Besides, as I implied above, when you're married and have a job to juggle with things, sometimes you DON'T love it! Or rather, you don't love the difficulty trying to do game programming sometimes creates by conflicting with those other things in your life. But if you're a truly dedicated game developer, then you'll get past all those problems and ACTUALLY FINNISH you game (which is something most have difficulty doing) and if for no other reason, you are entitled to compensation just because of that!

 
dom

August 16, 2001, 09:20 AM

Ignoring all the crap about marketing and money and greed in general, for a moment:

The graphics are simply beatiful. I'm surprised more people haven't commented on that. Just looking at the graphics gives me a *very* strong indicatation that the gameplay could also be of a similarly high standard.

Robin: I was/am in a similar position to yourself with regard to not being certain about whether/how to sell my software. After attending Milia this year I can say that, IMO, those people who are suggesting trying to get a publisher, are the most on the ball. By all means, sell it shareware, give it away, do whatever you want, but I think that having met dozens of these B-title publishers and the big players alike, your greatest chance of making ca$h comes from a publisher. Good luck.

 
Punchey

August 16, 2001, 09:28 AM

Man, I *TOTALLY* agree with you! First, if it wasn't for individuals like today's IOTD poster, than computer games would never have come about. And, using your analogy of the desert island and the coconut tree, I also think people like Elixir would climb the tree to get the coconut and then slide back down realizing that he enjoyed climbing the tree to get the coconut and therefore realizes that he must now starve to death becaus he is no longer entitled to eat the fruits of his labors. This is a TOTALLY SCREWED UP philosophy!

And as for the people who think they're being cheated because they can't have something that you worked hard on for absolutely nothing in return, they're simply morons! If the world worked their way, it would utterly collapse. I firmly believe that if the world was completely devoid of capitalism that all civilization as we know it would crumble around our ears and productivity would come to a screeching halt.

And if you're the sort who doesn't like big corporations taking everything over (and who is?), than you should be encouraging these self-employed, lone-wolf developers! They're helping bring things back down from large, centralized business to smaller, independent business.

Oh, and IMHO, Serious Sam sucks. The world of 3D action games is in dire need of some new ideas!

 
Punchey

August 16, 2001, 09:35 AM

I say we need MORE lone-wolf developers who actually finnish games. This brings things down to a level where it's easier for people to jump in the biz. If you aren't allowed to make any money until you're employed full-time at Valve/Ripcord/wherever, then only the students and other people who actually HAVE free time are the only ones who'll ever end up in the games industry. For the rest of us who have jobs and families, we have to monitarily justify doing what we do in the hopes of eventually moving into full-time games developement. So come off it! All these "free values" that people have aren't worth a crap because if everyone had them, just think what the world would be like! How would anyone actually be able to provide for themselves and their family and subsist? Unless, ofcourse it's okay to make money doing the things you hate. But I don't want to have to hate what I do just to be able to get by!

Elixir, tell me, what do you do for a living? Are you a student?

 
ThomW

August 16, 2001, 09:48 AM

The topic of independent game distribution would make a brilliant future Flipcode article -- it's definitely on my mind as well. Any takers?

 
Mike Howell

August 16, 2001, 10:52 AM

I don't really see why someone trying to sell their hobby project should make you upset. If I wanted to sell handfulls of gravel from my driveway, should a quarry worker get mad?

Granted, $20 seems a little steep for that sort of game, considering one can buy a budget CD of The Incredible Machine for $10 at Best Buy. Heck, even Space Tripper (a fine, fine game) only cost me $12. Robin might want to price a little more aggresively (like in the $5-10 range) but I wouldn't get all bunchy over anybody's plan to sell something they create.

 
Sephozzy

August 16, 2001, 11:18 AM

I personally think that anyone should have the choice wether to sell their game or not. Having worked in the game business for some time, not as programmer but as a reporter/reviewer for a magazine, I would give you the advice to check out a b-title publisher and go with them. In the end it really saves you ALOT of trouble. I can only speak about the European market but I think most of this is also true for the rest of the world.
Keep the following in mind:
1)Try to get a fair return (in your opinion) for the time you spend on it. Most publishers give you around 5%-15% of the net profit (mind the word profit!!) Don't just accept that without knowing how many copies they're planning to distribute, is it a stand-alone or part of a game bundle, where and when they will sell it (store only, online, special sales...) and obviously what price they're asking for it.

2)Make sure that the contract you have with the company is clear about spreading the demo. Most of the times you're not allowed to do it yourself and if you still want a demo available you receive a smaller part of the profit.

3)Have everything on paper! A simple e-mail from publisher X stating that they will take it from here is NOT enough!! Before you sign anything have a couple of friends over and let them read the contract.

Anyway, good luck with your first steps in the publishing world and always watch your back because it's a world full of sharks (or morons as MC_BAXTON would say).

 
Rectilinear Cat

August 16, 2001, 11:19 AM

Release a demo! Even if it's a 30 second demo! Just so we can play it just a leeeeetle bit :)

 
Endymio

August 16, 2001, 11:36 AM

Well we actually did make a cave flyer called Turbis and our registry fees (40 fmk ie ~6$) for sending a key code through email, more for a CD copy, were about the same as every other sw author had at the time.

As with other posters who have had experience distributing sw games the biggest problem is how to get noticed. Luckily the largest computer hobbyist magazine in finland called Mikrobitti published every month reviews of finnish sw games and gave an award for the best new shareware game, which we did win, giving as much needed publicity. The other lucky break was that we got an excellent review in a Mikrobitti's sister magazine called Pelit (Games) with a full article. We also got in yearly cover cd:s meaning that even more people could access our game without the need to download it. If my memory does serve me right all of these things greatly increased the number of registered users. Unfortunately we didn't get more than a couple of registration out of finland, probably because of the difficulty in sending money to foreign countries. This was also our fault since we didn't really even try to get exposure in other countries. And in this a publisher would have been a god sent gift IMHO.

As with so many other people trying to sell your game to a publisher is probably the best method of distributing the game. Exposure to the general audience is the hardest thing to achieve and hopefully a good publisher will make it a lot easier.

Still all in all the amount of registered users compared to the time and effort needed for making the game was low, but I quess all shareware authors make games for the sheer fun of it, as we did. Note that I didn't actually work on that project since I was in finnish army while it was developed, except for two crappy pieces of music that were used in the game :)

http://www.tdt-soft.com/turbis/

 
MC BAXTON

August 16, 2001, 01:21 PM

"I see people attempting to sell their hobby projects and it just pisses me off. "

What a nonsense
if programming is my hobby and I work as programmer, I should work for free ?

Seems that u hate your work, and thing everyone should do like you.


LOL, even more nonsense coming... look at this:

"If you attempt to sell something for a professional price without a professional team, it looks like you're trying to rip people off and/or make easy money."

If u are able to do all work yourselves, you do all the work alone. Your payout should be higher. What relation is here with easy money ?

Seems that you completely do not understand what are u talking about
Thats all folks

 
AfTeRmAtH

August 16, 2001, 01:28 PM

i wold buy that for $.25 =>



ps: what do i do to the aftermath thing to make it look cool or somthing....

 
MC BAXTON

August 16, 2001, 01:34 PM

I wouldn't buy it

But I would try it .. once

Im not sure your game looks "professional" enough. Background is quite strange, maybe u are going to sell it in China ?

 
Toby Jones

August 16, 2001, 01:41 PM

> If you distribute the game yourself, you won't be able to reach a
> very wide audience,

I wouldn't exactly consider the Internet a small audience. Your distribution costs are nothing (if electronic), or the cost of media (if mail order).

 
Union-N8DaWg

August 16, 2001, 02:08 PM

This goes out to all you bashers and losers who have to respond with negative comments. THIS IS A FORUM TO SHOW OFF WORK AND GIVE POSITIVE COMMENTS.

All you losers who comment on the IOTD in question isn't worth anything or talking about backgrounds from China. Go get a life. I, for one, like the game. Who cares what you think about potential marketing of this game? To be honest, none of us. Who cares if you think that a chair silhouette looks like a chinese character? You obviously need glasses and perhaps some brain tissue behind those glasses would help as well. I have been working hard day in and day out on my companys' flagship product, I think twice about showing the flipcode community my work, because after 10 hours of managing a development group, and writing code day in and day out, I don't need a punk like MC Baxton who probably doesn't even code himself telling me to go throw my work in the toilet.

Moral of the story: IF U DONT HAVE ANYTHING GOOD TO SAY, STFU.

 
L.e.Denninger

August 16, 2001, 02:15 PM

This goes out to all dukes of hazard :

this is not a "I only want to hear how cool I am" section.
Constructive criticism is probably even better than just a couple of people saying "hey that's great".

Moral of the story :
If you want to be a hero, go play an adventure game.

 
MC BAXTON

August 16, 2001, 02:24 PM

If you would listen to my comments you would make ten times more money ...
BTW I can easily see why game is popular and why it isn't. And I agree that not every aspect is so important, but Baxton shows you EXPLICITLY your bugs and you dont want to see it.
Who cares ? Surely, not BAXTON. He just find the bugs ...

So if you want to blame BAXTON, u better blame yourself and do better.
If you work with 10 people or you work with 100 people it doesnt matter at all. The main difference is what u make.

THE WATCHER
MC



 
L.e.Denninger

August 16, 2001, 02:30 PM

Muhahaha :)

Great comeback, MC :)

I usually don't agree with you, but this time I do - sort of :)
I really didn't think you were just pissing people off, this time you were just expressing your thoughts - in your first post you even defended the creator of the IOTD :)

About the fact that you know what makes a great game - I'm not so sure about that :)

But all these politically correct posters here sometimes get on my nerves - if you find a bug in someone's matrix-class, you tell'em.
So, same thing, if you think there's something that could be done better about the entire game/program/engine - just tell'em.
As long as it's not an "This totally sucks!" kinda remark - just state what's wrong with it in your opinion and explain *why* - and how it could be improved.

 
Jules

August 16, 2001, 02:44 PM

I once sold a turn based strategy game once. It had a sort of isometric viewpoint, with a whole range of pre-rendered units and historical scenarios. It took me two months, and a demo went in about 3 or 4 UK magazines (one even ran half a page on it!). The selling price was equiverlent to $15, and there was even a mission editor, two player mode and customizable computer AI.

Even though several hundred people sold it and it was quite nice to play - I only sold 11 copies!

:)

An interesting lesson, but I think which all game developers should go through at least once. Remember, Peter Molyneux's first title sold 2 copies. If that doesn't put you off, but makes you more determined - then you're in the right biz.

It also gave me a valuable insight into seeing a whole game go from concept, to design, programming, graphics, getting a demo out and shipping. When I eventually got involved in a 4 game contract 4 years later I was perfectly placed to get the job done without feeling as if I was going into the unknown.

 
Punchey

August 16, 2001, 02:48 PM

I gotta say, Baxton, you nailed it!

 
Machin Shin

August 16, 2001, 03:55 PM

it's a small audience if you consider how many ppl will actually *BUY* your gaem..
1) interested in spending money on games that no one knows about..
2) find your website..
3) interested in your game
4) willing to *BUY* your game..

the odds of finding large audience to buy the game is prolly a bit slim :)

--vat

 
Adam Hoult

August 16, 2001, 06:12 PM

Just chipping in on the subject of the price.

I once heard from various customers (non-technical end-user consumers), that they would work out if a game is worth purchasing , for X dollars, based on the "Expected hours of playability or replayability". Basically what they said was, you divide the price of the game by the number of hours "entertainment" you think you will get out of it. Then compare this to the price you pay to get into a movie, divided by the number of hours the film runs for.

If the cost of your game per hour is more than a movie per hour, then it's WAY too pricy. Of course this was based on AAA titles so derive from this what you will for a non triple A game :)

They may have been totally insane, but I'm just sharing with you an insight from the world of consumers which I found interesting ;)

 
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