Tips for a first timer

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Tips for a first timer

#1 Post by sinum » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:47 pm

Sorry if I am in the wrong board here, but I am currently trying to build a dev team for my first ever experience game directing, and so I thought it might be good if there was a topic where people would share some tips/past experiences?
For instance, how did you find your team members (assuming you weren't solo), common mistakes, tips & tricks for first timers, etc.

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Re: Tips for a first timer

#2 Post by SundownKid » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:11 pm

Here are some of the most common mistakes probably:

1) Too big scope - People try to make a very long game and fail to market it when done. Keep the scope small (without being disappointingly so) so you can have experience releasing your game.

2) Quitting your day job - Full time indie is kind of a myth. It's possible, but very unlikely save for the very high profile successes like Markus Petersson and Toby Fox. So don't count on any of your game's releases to suddenly start providing for you for years to come.

3) Getting free work - Dont ask for free work for a commercial project, period. It devalues people's work. At the very least, you should find enough of a budget to hire people to make a demo and put it on Kickstarter. If it's a short non commercial collaboration, then it is a valid option.

When I was a young'in I assumed that the best way to make games was to make a team in person and share in the profits, due to the relatively unlimited time you could invest into it. And it is true that stuff like husband and wife dev teams can crank out tremendously large games. But this usually won't happen unless you are very, very good friends or relatives. And eventually people might drift away due to the stress of game dev, making hiring people a better option.

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Re: Tips for a first timer

#3 Post by RotGtIE » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:53 pm

I would advise against a focus on team building. Focus instead on defining objectives, then set about accomplishing those objectives. People come and go, especially in indie development. Your production method should account for that in order to withstand the going.

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Re: Tips for a first timer

#4 Post by Laniessa » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:54 am

Just going to list some things that come to mind. All my releases are with teams of different member composition, so my advice is team-oriented. I haven't worked on anything large except as a hire.

- Work on tiny games with lots of teams to find who you work with and who you can trust, and then discuss a bigger project. (Even then, I wouldn't launch into something with a 2+ year scope - a 2+ year scope game can easily turn into 4+ years, so imagine what a 5 year+ scope can turn into.)

- Constant attention in the team chat really helps continued productivity. (On that note, patience is good, but if it's not working out with a member, see if they're okay with being replaced with someone else/taken out of the team. Chances are that they are struggling with the workload and will find it a nice reprieve.)

- Be nice, be considerate, be eager and be determined. If enthusiasm dies with one member of a team, it will spread like a disease. It can happen to anyone in your team, so try your best that it won't be you.

- Be prepared to see your hard work to never see the light of day, but work as if it will. It's tough, but anything can happen. (This is why I recommend short games with a tight scope at first before you find people you trust.)

- Have something to bring to the table, with experience. It'll be easier for people to approach you if you have any finished projects, whether it's a webstory or an illustration series or an album. As an artist, I'm always looking for writers who have a history of finished projects since I don't have the patience to work with a first-time writer. You want to direct games, which is great, but small indie game teams won't look on someone who just directs and manages. (I know that it's not easy or simple to manage a team; everyone just has things they want to do, and it won't be worth it to make something that someone else wants if they won't actually contribute to the game in terms of assets. If you can't write, draw, or compose, learn to program and direct scenes with an artistry that will convince people to work with you, or have the funds to hire people.)

This got a little rambly but I hope it helps! Good luck ^0^

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Re: Tips for a first timer

#5 Post by Mammon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:26 am

Haven't seen it recommended yet so despite not having experience with it myself yet; try joining a jam. F.e. you'll see a lot of recruitment threads for something called NanoReno show up next month; a challenge for people to make a VN within one month (namely March). And there are plenty of others too. Not only will being in the list of such a gathering of games give you more publicity, it will offer you the chance to find a group to work with easier and work according to a set date and deadline more reliably.

Based upon your first post you're probably a programmer (might want to add that little detail to your recruitment OP if I'm right) and you might not be interested in taking a detour of your current project to join a jam, but depending on how aware you are of the developing process of a ren'py game, this time investment of a month might spare you much more time in the future by working with/for more experienced developers and getting accustomed with all the parts of a game's development before tackling your own project. And maybe you'll get to know some people who'll be interested in working with you.

And like mentioned before, it might be better to either make your first project noncommercial if you can't pay your crew. Asking people to work for your project without pay but asking money for it once it's released doesn't exactly sound like proper conduct, whether you're splitting the profit or not. (And don't expect tons of money to flow in for your first, non-budget game either.)

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Re: Tips for a first timer

#6 Post by gas » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:12 pm

-Focus on a strong premise. No one will want to work on "let's do a whatever visual novel". Your premise must be compelling enough to be resumed in one sentence and create hype in people - teammate too. If not, discard the premise and search again. It's not the game you want to play, it's the game the world want to love.

-Study the market. There are games that sell more. Find them and focus on what people enjoy - "innovation" it's usually just a mistake that people enjoy, nothing more. A girl dating sim or otome are setting the trend? Follow the trend, and offer an element other games just lack.

- Be sure for the artist to work on extra imageries. You need them for all the promotion inside and outside the web. Images for the site, promotion, gifts for vacancies. Have extra material to show like making of, sketches and stuff.

-Be the owner of your project. That's mean you need to have a very clear idea of the finished product, from beginning to end, THEN find people that adhere to your idea. Don't think like "I'll take a coder an artist and that's all, they will work". They will NOT work as you want, never, if you don't have a clear vision to tell.

-Be realistic on your budget of time and money. You can create a very nice game with HALF the minimum effort you're thinking now, if you strictly focus on elements like really engage people. Concept, Gui, extras and writing engage far more than videos, 10.000 choices and dubs.

-...but don't invest in ignorance. Spend your time to look how games give feedbacks to players, how intro and ending are done, how things always prompt player for interaction. As the grey matter behind the game, it's you that give orders to the team - if you miss something, that thing will not be done. So study game ergonomics.

-as a final note: I found that people really like more to see ASAP results of their efforts. So, instead of asking for 10 tracks, ask the theme one, put it in a demo and have the musician see the result. He will be excited enough to give you 2 extra tracks in no time!! Ask for basic sprites, show the result, move them around, then ask for variations. Artists are crazy people that love their creations to live! That way you get a motivated team, and also get a rock solid basic game you can unleash as a demo or even beta - with no stress attached!

(Note that these hints come to my failure in that given field, but success in others)
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