GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 14 (What Cats Can Teach Us About Marketing)

Here’s a witty cat behind door 14.

That cat has figured out a thing. Conquering such a small niche that no other big dudes care to come there. It might sit bit uncomfortable, but he is the king. I think Cliff Harris has managed to get in such position. Cliff does simulation games one after another. His games use complex neural networks to build a map of causes and effects, and there’s always tons of content in his games. In fact… I think he is pretty much a king in that jungle. I don’t know if other (indie) devs have succeeded in that genre Cliff enjoys.

Another king in the somewhat bigger rpg jungle is Jeff Vogel. This dude has been making games since 1994 (it’s bloody 2009 now) and is wearing a big indie crown in those deep rpg games. I can spot more competition in this genre (talk about games from Diablo to Fallout), but Jeff has found such a niche that he can cater for his audience. And if a company is still alive after 15 years it can’t be that bad.

What have you planned for yourself? You want to become a king some day?

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 8 (The Indie Secret)

I’ve touched the subject of “why do games” in the past. I’ve written about what reasons I have, and pondered reasons what others might have. I happened to trespass in the fine site of gapingvoid and saw a cartoon pic that kind of summarized why some (hopefully many) indies make their games.

Check here to open Door 8.

(The thing is expressed quite strongly in that pic I must say, but I can think of all that in a very positive way. Being totally in control and deciding what you do.)

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 5 (One of The Most Expensive Thing In Game Dev)

Animations. Custom made animations are expensive.

Earlier I was thinking that 2D versus 3D means cheaper expenses (Which probably is true) but after re-thinking this I believe that animated versus non-animated has much more dramatic expense increase.

If you have a 3D game without animations, it will (quite likely) be much less expensive to produce than a 3D game with animations. Doing a 3D game that relies on physics for example cuts expenses pretty nicely in the art department. Same thing with 2D games: a physics based non-animated game (or with little animations) will require much less work than a 2D game that requires animations.

This might sounds obvious thing (or “not a big deal”) to some people, but I really think that game developers – especially beginners – should think of this when starting their new game projects or when adding new features. The more animations it needs, the more work it means.

I’ve done Dead Wake for couple of years, and I’ve done my best trying to avoid creating animations (or art) for the game… and even then it has required a pretty good amount of hours to get all the pieces together. I tried having animations and even hired couple of guys at some point but it took quite a bit of time (and money) to get things moving. That approach wasn’t a good (to make things from scratch) so I focused on getting ready made art packs (and then customizing some animations). I’m not complaining – this has been a long dream (like since when I was 15 years old or something) to create a 3D game and I I’m really close to the release.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about costs, it’s the thing that animations can be expensive and take loads of time & effort to get done.

Are they worth the effort?

That’s for you developers to decide when you are working on your games. I’m doing the same.

Game Producer Christmas Calendar 2009 – Door 4 (Good Place to Buy Xmas Games)

And I mean board games.

I just ordered Nostra City board game from the British shoppe behind Door 4. Paul – the owner – replied to my email in like 35 seconds and the packet was sent in the same day of the order. Prices are good (so good that Finnish guys should order things from there rather than from Finland).

Warmly recommend it.

Good place. Good service. Good prices.

(That’s a marketing recipe for indie game devs as well.)