3 Benefits of Having a Newsletter

There are several reasons why every indie developer out there should get a newsletter. They are relatively inexpensive (from free to little money) tools for promotion.

#1 – Newsletters are good reminders
You can remind people to visit your site. That’s one of the greatest benefits of newsletters. Somebody goes to your site – even for the first time – and if he subscribers to your newsletter you can easily remind him to get back. Use newsletters to remind your subscribers about your product, new website or game updates – anything useful for them. In my case I announce people about sales stats, interviews and other special stuff that might not be available anywhere else.

#2 – Use newsletters as the extension of your product
You can provide additional information – anything from announcing tips and hints to discounts. This will give additional reason for people to come back to your website. Use newsletters to provide additional value and give additional benefits for those who subscribe. For example, I’m giving a free game production ebook for those who subscribe to my newsletter. This type of free gifts are great way to get subscribers.

#3 – Newsletters are good sales tools
Newsletters can be an effective sales tool. I have used newsletters mostly to remind people to visit my site, but one can easily use newsletters to sell stuff. If you have a list of players you can tell your subscribers about other games. There are plenty of portals that can provide you tools to sell other people’s games. You can use newsletters to announce sequels or expansion packs of your games – something your players will definitely want to see.

For those interested, I now use Aweber to send my newsletter. I’ve been happy with Awebers performance.

How Do You Measure Success

It’s quite interesting how differently people can measure success. I believe many people would say that making loads of money must be a sign of success. Others might think making a famous game must be a sign of success.

I personally think that success should be measured like belt ranks in martial arts. If somebody has a black belt, it doesn’t mean that he is a better fighter than somebody with a green belt. Having a black belt means this guy has finished certain steps and trained so long that he now carries a black belt. Black belt cannot be compared with another guy. It’s only compared to person’s own past.

When I produced very simple puzzle game Highpiled in 21 hours, I was really pleased with it. For me that was a success. Somebody might think that’s not a big deal, and somebody else might think that’s a great thing. For me other’s opinions on whether it’s a success or not really doesn’t matter: for me it’s success and period. Seeing the game featured in PCZone strengthened this feeling.

It’s okay to compare your results with others – that’s one part of the fun. It’s good to check out how well others are doing and get inspired by them. That’s perfectly fine. Comparison to others is good when it inspires you and makes you reach your own goals. But even then, you should measure success from your point-of-view alone.

It’s like in martial arts. If you see a black belt guy doing a nice kick, take that as an inspiration and make your goal to do a similar (or better) kick. Whether the black belt guy can do the kick or not shouldn’t say anything about your success. Only by comparing what you do today with what you’ve done past you can tell about success. When you’ve expanded your own limits and reached your own goals – you can say you are successful.

I’ve Seen It All Now – Here’s People Shooter

Just when you think you’ve seen everything in games you encounter something like People Shooter. Here’s a game with “disturbing mix of mindlessness and violence”.

People Shooter distinguishing features:

  • Fun and crazy gameplay
  • Vast quantities of blood
  • Teaches good Christian morals
  • Quirky music
  • Even quirkier sound effects
  • Substandard 3D graphics
  • A great anger release after a stressful day.

Well, I admit that there sure was vast quantities of blood.

Differences Between 2D and 3D Game Art Production

There are some major differences for 2D and 3D game art. Some people consider 2D games simpler to produce, and think 3D creates extra complexity. While that might be true to some extend, it’s good to remember that having 3rd dimension only adds one element to the game. In art production 3D can actually be a good thing as it separates different areas.

Also, bear in mind that 3D can still be used like 2D. You can use 3D models to render 2D images. You can also use certain camera views to make 3D game look pretty much the same as a 2D game.

Here are some differences between 2D and 3D games (when 3D is not used to render 2D images etc.). Please bear in mind that these are simplifications and in terms of production.

  • 2D games use simply images (or animated images). So if you want to get some guy smiling, you have to draw each facial expression to see that smile. In terms of production it can be time consuming to make changes if you need to re-draw lots of images.
  • 3D models are created by programs where you have a mesh and can use bones. This makes it quite easy to create different facial expressions when everything is set up: you simply create bit different positions for bones and you are done.
  • 3D comes with camera angles. In 2D you are stuck with the images you see, but in 3D you can rotate and pan the camera freely. That’s a pretty big difference. You can also use different angles to create rear views or even 3D maps (simply move the camera very high and you can see a nice map of the level).
  • 2D artists draw pixels (and concepts) while for 3D you need to prepare concept, create mesh, texture, rig and animate the character. Basically: you might need one artist to create a 2D character, but you might need 3 artists to create a moving 3D character.

Creating art for 2D games might sound less complex. It’s possibly true that 2D art requires less artists than 3D, but creating 3D art assets might actually require less time in a long run. If you have a very detailed 2D character, and you need to change the animation there’s no other option than to re-draw the animation. If on the other hand you need to do changes for 3D character animation – you don’t have to touch the mesh or the texture or the bones – only to the animation.

I’m fan of 3D art and somehow I like how you can separate different areas in the art production. That helps in the production, and if you still want to use 2D – you can always change the camera view.

Selecting the Game Producer Forums Moderating Team

Earlier I announced that I would be after forum moderators. I’ve got plenty of contacts from different people and will pick the moderators in the beginning of August.

Thanks everyone who have shown your interest. I’ve got enough submissions and will be emailing you and announcing the moderator team in the nearly future.

I still don’t have exact date for when the forums will be open, but I expect it to be within the following months. Remember to subscribe to the Game Producer Newsletter to get informed about the forum launch.

Please notice that this post was auto-scheduled. I’m on holiday now and will get back by the end of the month.

How Much Money Can You Make Selling Video Games Online

It is possible to make games and make a decent income online. For those who wonder how much money can they make selling video games online, the short answer is: anything from zero to hundred thousand dollars and more.

Look at the Xmas Bonus sales statistics: a non-serious attempt to earn money by selling game online got over $3000 in sales. Adventure and RPG fusion Morning’s Wrath sold few thousand. So did Titan Attacks as well.

Memorable multiplayer indie game Tribal Trouble made $60,000 in sales. Another indie game Cactus Bruce and the Corporate Monkeys sold tens of thousands. The game was completed in just a few months, so those are really nice results. GL Golf also reached tens of thousands in sales.

Six figure earnings from games isn’t that uncommon either. $113,160.53 indie games sales were reached from sales of several games. IGF awarded Gish made $121,000 – that’s pretty good for a game that was developed in about 6 months by three guys.

For those who wonder if it’s possible to make any money selling games online the answer is definitely yes. If you are eager to see more sales numbers, remember to check out the video game sales statistics. There’s plenty of inspiration and lessons to learn from these games.

There’s Not a Single Realistic War Game Made Yet

Sure, there’s lots of war games that have some of the following features:

  • Nice graphics.
  • Personalized units with skills and motivation system.
  • Realistic combat.
  • Lots of units.
  • Strategic formations.
  • Good A.I.

And you name it.

But these games concentrate on combat. That’s only half of the battle. One essential element these games fail to simulate is what happens after war? Constructing destroyed buildings and humanitarian aid are missing from these games.

What else is missing? Besides constructing the destroyed buildings and aiding civilians, there are many things that could be used. Here are some of ideas:

  • There are no “good side” and “bad side” in real wars. There are only “bad guys” and “worse guys”. Of course if you look at the war from one side – the other side is the “attacker” and you are only “defensing your country/god/democracy/you-name-it”, but that’s most likely propaganda talking. How about making a war game where you both sides are filled with bad guys?
  • There’s also no “victory” or “winners” in war – there are only losers. And usually both sides pay a heavy price.
  • Then, what about the first victim in wars: truth. It would be interesting to see battle over “public opinion”.
  • Recruiting people would also be nice see in real light: it’s quite amazing that there are young boys and criminals who can get to play with guns.
  • Then of course there are many, many other things you can consider – ranging from innocent prisoners to war veterans with mental problems.

I suppose giving a realistic picture of war would be simply too cruel. We wait and see if there’s ever going to be a realistic simulation of war. So far there’s not a single war game that would give a realistic picture about wars.

I have some doubts that we ever going to see one that would.

How to Lose Weight

It’s important to have proper tools, work with the right people, but it’s equally important for producers to think about themselves. Here’s how I gained and lost some weight. Before army, I was a skinny long guy. I weighted less than 70 kilos yet was like 190 cm tall. (That’s about 150 lbs and 6’3″ I think). After army I found a magical piece of food that helped me to gain additional kilos: eating sausage got me those 20 new kilos.

Okay, I might have eaten something else too – but I think one of the biggest differences compared to my earlier diet was that I started eating sausage. I’m not saying I ate a lot of sausage, but I used some now and then, and ate more meat than earlier. At some point I weighted 90 kilograms and felt that this weight wasn’t so good as I had imagined earlier (when I was skinny I kind of hoped that I could weight 90 kilos). I decided to lose some weight and used another simple trick: stopped eating sausage and lost 10 kilos. Sure, I exercised bit more and added lots of vegetables to my menu. I also jog and avoid eating lots of meat (at summer you can’t avoid barbecue, can you) to keep this weight.

Don’t believe what the press says: not all game developers survive only with pizza and coke… and you sure can lose weight by simply changing your diet a bit. Add more vegetables. Eat less pizza and avoid sugar. Very simple tricks that worked for me.

How to Get a Big Discount On Anything

Here’s a practical tip for anyone wanting to get a discount on purchases: ask for a discount and give something in return. While I don’t think it’s so practical to be a bargain hunter (and make false savings), I think sometimes it can be worth asking for a discount. If you have something to offer (it can be anything from publicity, links, referrals – anything) then you might as well ask to trade.

If you want discount on your favorite indie game, then how about asking if you could help translating (parts of) that game to different language?

If you want discount for a some game engine or development kit, then how about trading the kit to some software you have?

The key is to find something that the other party values, and then make the deal. If you don’t happen to own anything that the other party wants, you can still find some 3rd party and use his services to close the deal. For example, if company A sells computers and needs consulting on leadership but not marketing. You need a new computer and know marketing, but cannot consult on leadership training. You then realize that company B does leadership consulting, but desperately needs help in marketing. Since you can do marketing, you can tell company B to give leadership consulting to company A and in exchange you give marketing aid to company B. Now company A gets what they want, so they can give you a computer.

But a word of warning: don’t get too fixed on getting discounts. Sure… you can get them if you try, but I wouldn’t spend too much time on doing the deals. Simply get to the point fast and if the other party doesn’t want to make the deal, then stop wasting your time.

Everything can be negotiated. It’s another question if it’s worth it.