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  1. #1
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    'Tis a tough time for hobbyist game dev

    Honestly, when I first came to this forum I had the intention of showing off my hobby game project, but I quickly dismissed the idea when I saw the game promotion subforum. I was like man! There are so many projects out there and mine has no comparison in terms of polish, graphics and scale.

    I'm not even considered an "indie dev" because indie devs spend way more time than me on their projects. I have a day time job that's pretty well paid (well paid = you gotta work hard) and a family to tend to in the evening. I spend maybe two hours a day here and there. Sometimes I just wish I could take week off work and still come to office, but work on the game instead, lol.

    What does a hobbyist game devs want? We don't want to get rich from the game project, and nor do we rely on it to make a living. It is what is is - hobby. We are looking for personal achievement and fulfilling, recognition for our work from player base, and maybe some pocket money just to compensate the family for what they had to put up with while we act all careless while trying to figure out a bug.

    But oh boy there are so many games out there! They are popping out like bamboo shoots after a soaking rain. And I'm talking about just the finished ones. And then there are maybe ten times more projects that are in progress, and fifty times more "Yo I'm gonna make g@mez!!! oh wait I'm bored/stuck/moving on, bai." kind of projects. We all know that in any industry, excellence is always in shortage, and making the game innovative and fun is the only way to success, but the noise is deafening. Two years ago when I started my project, and when I show off to people the early infancy stage of the game people were all impressed. Two years later, there are so many "check out my game!" things going on and people are getting numb about it, my project that is a lot more presentable than two years ago receive very little attention from online communities. I can't blame anyone, because I myself don't pay much attention to indie games, which is nowadays filled with wannabe survival and platformers. As a game consumer both my time and attention are saturated already.

    Maybe I'm just too craving for attention, but after spending two years on the same project, thinking about it day in and day out, attention and support from online communities is the only thing that can drive you on. There's no pay for your work, the initial excitement wears off, you have been play-testing the same thing a thousand times, new game ideas are luring you to move on to a different project... Every "good job!" or "keep it up!" means so much to you. And you need people's feedback on the mechanics you have implemented, you wish people would actually download the build and play it, even if the feedback is purely negative. But the fact is, there are so many games out there, nobody has the extra time for you.

    Well this is the end of rant :) I'd love to hear your opinion on this mess of a game industry we have today :)

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Yes, we're up to our collective ears in games and yes, you're likely to get drowned out in the noise, especially on game journalism sites since most people here are more into playing games than looking for stuff in development. I know I rarely even look at the promo forum here on RPS despite visiting the site daily and being interested in games development, because I simply don't have time to trawl forums in search of interesting games. I still see and appreciate lots of indie games in development, but that mainly comes from getting direct links to them from articles or social media.

    There are forums specifically for hobbyist/indie game devs/programmers/artists out there, that may be a better place to start if you want to just chat and get feedback on your game in progress. It also seems a bit of an odd complaint as a hobbyist to complain about your hobby getting too popular, frankly. If it's a hobby you should be able to derive some pleasure and satisfaction from it even if a bazillion other people are doing the same thing and people aren't constantly showering you with praise.

    And if you really do crave attention it's not impossible even if you can't get something polished to a mirror shine, as long as your game has something interesting to offer. Have a look at RPS's Freeware Garden, for example.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    I have been thinking of going to some more real-life gatherings in my area. There's a group in my city that meets once monthly to sit around coding games and drinking coffees, and does some jams and other socializing-type stuff. I think I will drop in soon, once my current game is presentable enough that I'd want to answer questions about it. ;) I also drove a couple hours to a game dev conference last fall and it was good fun even though I went just as a curious spectator.

    I've also found a couple of pretty good world wide webforums that aren't overrun by kickstarter drive-bys but I am definitely starting to think that a real advantage to the current boom is that I no longer feel like I need to move to California or Boston if I want to talk about game development IRL. ^_^

    (Also most of the little things I've made have been browser games, which does help because even when I didn't have a community to talk to, I'd probably get at least a handful of Kongregate comments to partially quench the thirst for acknowledgement. :D)

    P.S. lol, rotorist, your assessment of the situation and general mood rings even more truly to me because several hours ago when you were at 9 posts I was making a mental note to keep an eye out for your first created thread in case it needed to be moved to the Promo forum. ;D

    P.P.S. What engine/language/tech are you using to create your game? I imagine you've discovered already but I will mention for posterity that one place at least where posting your work is always welcome (or at least not unwelcome) is on the showcase forum for whatever your game is built on. Not sure if this applies to Unity or other very populous communities though.
    Last edited by Berzee; 14-03-2015 at 02:28 AM.
    Support for my all-pepperjack-cheese food bank charity drive has been lukewarm at best.

  4. #4
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    I kinda know how you feel. Despite being mainly one of those "i'm gonna make a game someday" guys.
    I guess, no matter how hobby-ish our game development, maybe we all secretly harbour the dream that our game will be a big hit and we'll become a successful professional developer.

    That might have been likely 5-6 years ago when the indie bubble was just starting to grow, but it's much harder now with all the other people with the same idea.

    The other way to look at it is this is the best time to be a hobbyist game developer. There are dozens of free engines, free technology, free middleware, free resources, tutorials, etc.. Whereas 10 years ago you'd probably have had to code everything from scratch or pay for an engine.
    Of course those tools are available to everyone else too... hence the crowd.

    One day I'll get around to doing my own game...

  5. #5
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    Game dev is a little different from other hobbies:) for a hobby to be hobby, the performer gets rewarded with good feeling after doing some work. But game devs don't get rewarded right away - it takes years of work for a game to be playable and fun even for the creator him or herself. Before that day comes, the dev relies on encouragement from supporters (aside from the will power and vision of the completed game within the dev), so game dev as a hobby is extremely hard to keep going for a long time, which is why so many hobbyist gamers give up. But do you guys think hobbyist dev is a phenomenon that worth supporting? To me, to support a hobbyist game dev is almost like a charity, something involving giving away time and attention for free and for most likely no eventual outcome. Would you do that for another game dev:)

  6. #6
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    I've been gorging on interactive fiction over the last few weeks. That community grooms newcomer developers by hosting competitions several times yearly, which often have first-time writers entering them. They're judged and get feedback from community members and their games are discussed by critics who put considerable thought into how the game works and contributes to the genre. (There's actually a ongoing competition on right now, ParserComp, which ends at midnight tomorrow.) The main IF aggregation site, IFDB, is a wiki, where any user can post ratings and reviews and feedback. There are forums dedicated to story creation and people who've been involved in the scene for decades regularly (daily) show up to offer tips and give advice. And there are local meetups, and sub-meetings at larger game conferences. Strikes me that's how you nurture new developers. It must be the case that there are similar places and functions for non-IF devs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berzee View Post
    P.P.S. What engine/language/tech are you using to create your game? I imagine you've discovered already but I will mention for posterity that one place at least where posting your work is always welcome (or at least not unwelcome) is on the showcase forum for whatever your game is built on. Not sure if this applies to Unity or other very populous communities though.
    I use unity, just because I was introduced to it when I was involved in another game project. It's not that great but I just get around the limitations with engineering and game design. I was going to post there later, after I figure out how things go in this forum:)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_W View Post
    I've been gorging on interactive fiction over the last few weeks. That community grooms newcomer developers by hosting competitions several times yearly, which often have first-time writers entering them. They're judged and get feedback from community members and their games are discussed by critics who put considerable thought into how the game works and contributes to the genre. (There's actually a ongoing competition on right now, ParserComp, which ends at midnight tomorrow.) The main IF aggregation site, IFDB, is a wiki, where any user can post ratings and reviews and feedback. There are forums dedicated to story creation and people who've been involved in the scene for decades regularly (daily) show up to offer tips and give advice. And there are local meetups, and sub-meetings at larger game conferences. Strikes me that's how you nurture new developers. It must be the case that there are similar places and functions for non-IF devs.
    One thing about non-if game is that there is a lot of propriety going on, for example I spent a long time writing a new shader for ocean and terrain which looks awesome. But I wouldn't share it because its my intellectual property:) but I do share my technique. So because of this proprietary nature the dev community is not as closely knit as IF community.

  9. #9
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    The trick in an over-saturated market is to do stuff better than the others. So your game would need to stand out in some way (or be plain lucky, 'Flappy Birds' etc) to help people discover it, and want to spend money on it. Not an easy task at all, but it is possible.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I can only comfort you that polished games are not what I am looking for, I'm looking for the startling and the nuanced. Games that show me things I didn't know I wanted or were possible.

    Edit: Prose.
    Last edited by Heliocentric; 14-03-2015 at 11:26 AM.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wenz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZakG View Post
    The trick in an over-saturated market is to do stuff better than the others. So your game would need to stand out in some way (or be plain lucky, 'Flappy Birds' etc) to help people discover it, and want to spend money on it. Not an easy task at all, but it is possible.

    cod4 isn't better than anything, what it did was:
    -be released after a wave of hype trains of casual gamers near a new console release (wii or something)
    -set the cod in "modern warfare" days after a long time of WW shooters for more wordmouth

    titanfall did the same, with a no ps4 twist to get traffic/attention. And failed. Not because most people thought of it as shit but because of loading/matchmaking issues

    bf lives off nostalgia and for being the "anti cod" with a cool multiplayer.

    hatred goes for shocker bullshit

    hotline miami goes for shockers bs

    hard reset/serious sam/etc go for graphics and pcmasterrace stuff

    ut4 goes for f2p and as ue4 showcase (just like ut99)

    It only goes for shooters and the list is much longer but there are interesting strategies to look at
    Last edited by Wenz; 14-03-2015 at 01:21 PM.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wenz View Post
    hotline miami goes for shockers bs
    2 did, but my discovery of Hotline Miami was not marketing but gameplay videos and testimonials of the balletic combat.

    I guess that's what happens when the marketing budget is increased too quickly and with too little professional direction.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wenz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    2 did, but my discovery of Hotline Miami was not marketing but gameplay videos and testimonials of the balletic combat.

    I guess that's what happens when the marketing budget is increased too quickly and with too little professional direction.

    I mentioned gameplay in the first post version but still new players or whatever watch trailers or read about that post on kids wondering about violence, which are kind of baits since hl could live without gore etc *breathes*

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    The gore serves simply to remind you how horrific the violence was, if all that fell out of opponents were score notifications then I think the game would be lesser for it.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wenz's Avatar
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    I'd need to know how things were at the time the game was released to see how they played on it though

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by rotorist View Post
    Would you do that for another game dev:)
    It depends on many factors actually. First of all, I need to have the same field of interest as the dev himself has regarding the final project. Also he has to show up motivation that he'll finish the actual game, and not just leaving it thrown away one day, in the furthest and darkest place on his hard disk, where the search indexers never reach, never to be found again for all of eternity.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotorist View Post
    But game devs don't get rewarded right away - it takes years of work for a game to be playable and fun even for the creator him or herself.
    That's one of the reasons game jams enjoy such huge popularity.
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
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    I don't see why you can't just do it for the fun of doing it, like other people fix motorbikes or bake cakes it build furniture or whatever. Probably helps not to bite off more than you can chew too.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    I don't see why you can't just do it for the fun of doing it, like other people fix motorbikes or bake cakes it build furniture or whatever. Probably helps not to bite off more than you can chew too.
    the initial fun wears off after about a month lol, after that it's all will power to keep it going. unless you can churn out a game that everyone likes in a month...

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Malawi Frontier Guard's Avatar
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    Please just post your game and get it over with.

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