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This topic contains 21 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  obscure 11 years, 2 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #2767

    Grifmike
    Participant

    Hi all,

    First off congratulations to Aphra and her team for providing a valuable resource to the embrionic games industry in Ireland.

    There are a number of reasons why the Irish games industry has not taken flight.

    First of all there is as yet no clear ‘success’ case study for the government to point to and take ‘lessons’ from. So making EI etc. aware of the upside of the industry is difficult (but not impossible as Kapooki can demonstrate).

    Secondly Irish game ‘start-ups’ have failed (to date) to attract publisher investment/funding for projects…. in my opinion there are a few reasons for this:

    1) Publishers are risk adverse
    2) Publishers are risk adverse
    3) Publishers are risk adverse

    The consequence of this simple fact means that the bar has been raised for Irish companies to do business with publishers. This means there must be certain check boxes that YOUR company must be able to tick before you have a realistic chance of a publisher paying you much attention. a) Your concept had better be very good – well thought out and supported with concept documentation which deals with substantive issues like – WHO WILL PLAY THIS GAME – WHY? – HOW THE GAME MECHANIC WORKS – WHAT ITS COMPETITIVE SET IS – HOW MANY UNITS DID OTHER ‘SIMILAR’ GAMES SELL – WHAT TECHNOLOGY ARE YOU USING – YOUR TIMELINE – YOUR BUDGET – YOUR ABILITY TO SURVIVE WITHOUT PUBLISHER FUNDING – HIGHLIGHTED PROJECT RISKS -TEAM EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS (to name just a few)

    This raises another key problem / barrier for a ‘start up’ to be taken seriously – THE TEAM!! Publishers want track record – there is no real way around it – There is only two ways of getting that a) Work in the UK for 3-5 years and get a team together who are willing to move to Ireland or b) raise enough funds to build at least an ‘Alpha’ (one full level with all game play enabled within the technology you are planning to release with). Now this gives your team some credibility and makes dealing with the publishers easier (but not easy).

    Finally realistic Finance and project management are critical to an Irish game developer being taken seriously by a publisher…. This takes careful planning and consideration, and in many cases (unless you have industry experience) it is a lesson only learned through doing, and redoing, and redoing it again…

    To have ‘the best game idea in the world – but it runs similar to ‘Quake’ is just not enough – passion can carry you through the late nights, and the schedule slippage, but you also must be able to show a credible financial plan, a great game idea, a reliable team and a realistic plan that allows your company to stay alive when confronted with things going wrong (they ALWAYS DO!!!)

    I do not want to put anyone off from this business (as anyone who knows me well knows) but I thought that Kapooki may be in a position to help out by giving some of the lessons learned by us over the past 3 years.

    Cheers.

  • #9106

    Paul Conway
    Participant

    Thanx for the sound advice man, will take it into account.

    Nice one,

    Paul

  • #9177

    Clevercelt
    Participant

    Hows it going there Mike.
    You’ve pretty much explained everyone’s catch 22 of trying to get published without having been published before. And while (as we both know all too well) Alpha development is expensive, it is also thee established quality bar any Irish start-up must now attain.

    However there is also then that dilemma which my old company Taintech encountered with the Danger Magee title for PS2. Whereby following our pitches we did actually attract very substantial offers from UK & US publishers (time-bombed) which required matching VC finance to enable us to reach EOC. Our timing completely sucked though as we were pitching to VCs in 1999, when we were competing with: tootbrush.com, loopaper.com, freshfeckingair.com and all those other lunatic .com enterprises that promised better ROI than a winning Quickpick ticket. $1+ mio for an Irish PS2 eco-warrior goose possibly seemed the more insane.

    As I’m sure you can & will attest, like instinct, the 1st compulsion for any Irish Start-up is survival. And how you survive is all important. While Taintech may have appeared naive to some in this regard, we simply decided we would take a punt and if we gambled and lost then that was it, and disappointingly…that was it.

    We focused entirely on developing our own exclusive IP. Kev Taintech’s lead artist looks back at our brazen brass neck to think and beleive we could do this. He offers the alternative model of Climax in the UK (where he’s now lead) which spent seven or eight years developing other people’s IP, before considering attempting to develop their own.

    So ultimately what I’m trying to say is, there are also many alternative models available to enable the establishment of individual companies but really only one for an industry – and that’s the establishment of those companies. I’m sure this may now have eventually sunk into IE, forfas, IDA and other state agencies so perhaps their risk registers may accommodate more than before. However the conventional and conservative finance community now needs to be educated in relation to the potential of having an Industry – not just two companies.

    I appreciate that You and your guys at Kapooki are actually doing this, I also believe that Havok’s preeminence in the middleware market also showcases an associated success. Perhaps more importantly it clearly displays survival and the ability to continue to survive.

    I think the advent of this website can and will allow us to share opinions and experiences we have all suffered/enjoyed on the journey so far, also Mike I commend you for being a realist in that regard, if anyone is ‘put off’ then I think they should possibly thank you in advance for the cash, pressure and trauma we’ve just saved them.

    whatever.

  • #11525

    Grifmike
    Participant

    I just noticed that my original post to this thread was just over a year ago.

    My first comment would be that with the growing community of actual game centric business in the Irish space – surely there are more than just me and Mick to throw some fat into this fire?

    This area could be very beneficial to people trying to gain entry into or an understanding of the business – no?

    Anyway for my part – I am going to update it shortly – with further lessons which life has decided to beat into me over the last year! :)

    I will be back – I just need to mull over a few things before I write!

    In the mean time I would encourage anyone else in the business (or out of it – but who was in it) who feels they can help out in this thread to post their thoughts on their experiences… good and bad.

    Mike.

  • #11548

    kyotokid
    Keymaster

    a) Work in the UK for 3-5 years and get a team together who are willing to move to Ireland[/quote:3861b4b8cb]

    Jaaysus we’re working on it, give us a few more years :)

    Great thread btw!

  • #21402

    Sofa
    Participant

    What about the Modification side of games doesn’t that count as well if the mod was released, it shows publishers that your team or part of your team has worked together, finished and released a product that is playable etc etc.

    http://www.phookaentertainment.com

  • #21409

    Idora
    Participant

    What about the Modification side of games doesn’t that count as well if the mod was released, it shows publishers that your team or part of your team has worked together, finished and released a product that is playable etc etc. [/quote:11dd9a5019]it counts in the sense that it shows you can do the work (and to a certain quality) and that you can work as a team.

    What it doesn’t show is your facility with technology, as most likely you’re using someone else’s SDK – but most importantly these days it doesn’t show you can run a business as to the best of my knowledge most mods are freeware and are not charged for.

    If you are trying to convince a publisher to give you hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars, you will need to demonstrate business acumen and financial stability as much as creativity and technicial prowess.

    That financial stability bit is really, really important, btw. You and your mates working from your bedroom in your spare time (i.e. no rent or salary overheads) is NOT financial stability!! You will need working capital behind you and must be able to demonstrate that you can both bring in and manage a cashflow. Banal, I know – but important.

    However, there are other ways to break in…

    – Teaming up with existing developers who already have dev deals and offering to work with them creating assets, porting, testing, etc. is one way to build up a rep for yourself. At the GameConnection event in Lyon last year the head of third party dev for Ubisoft said that he had 2 – 3 years work for anyone who could help his developers create next gen art assets (normal mapped textures and models, etc.)

    – Doing ports from one platform to another is a second way

    – creating small, shareware games and self-publishing on the Web, either free or for a fee and maybe entering them for the Indie awards at GDC. The Behemoth, who developed Alien Hominid (GDC award-winning indie game, now with a PS2 distribution deal) started life as a free Flash game, and was so popular the developers started a company, raised funding and did a port

  • #21412

    maniacrobot
    Participant

    You and your mates working from your bedroom in your spare room (i.e. no rent or salary overheads) is NOT financial stability!![/quote:53703974d3]

    But what if you get regular pocket money!!! :D

  • #21824

    boadle
    Participant

    – creating small, shareware games and self-publishing on the Web, , either free or for a feeand maybe entering them for the Indie awards at GDC[/quote:48bc77fc4d]

    Hmmmn. I wonder how strict the GDC are about ‘Intellectual Property’? Might it be worth entering my Star Wars game (*), or would I be inviting Lucasfilm / Arts et al to sue the proverbials off me?

    Lewis

    * this

  • #21833

    Nooptical
    Participant

    How about renaming it:
    “Cosmic Wars” where the player tries to destroy the “Deceaser Star” in their “Cross-Wing”, with a little help from “Dan Dolo” in his “Centurian Eagle”

    …could work… :P

  • #21835

    boadle
    Participant

    Yes, I like it.

    And the hero would be guided by the voice of the spirit of Padraig Bonobi.

  • #21837

    Idora
    Participant

    – creating small, shareware games and self-publishing on the Web, , either free or for a feeand maybe entering them for the Indie awards at GDC[/quote:2cef00b327]

    Hmmmn. I wonder how strict the GDC are about ‘Intellectual Property’? Might it be worth entering my Star Wars game (*), or would I be inviting Lucasfilm / Arts et al to sue the proverbials off me?[/quote:2cef00b327]as a member of the Awards advisory board I’d have to say very strict!! And Noopticals’ suggestion below wouldn’t cut it either, I’m afraid, as the work is still derivative

  • #21838

    boadle
    Participant

    Right. Back to the drawing board it is.

    Trek Wars…

    Star Warriors…

    Lord of the Stars…

    Stars in their Wars…

    Star… erm… Wars 90210

  • #21839

    Nooptical
    Participant

    How did “Spaceballs” get away with it then?

  • #21841

    boadle
    Participant

    I’m no expert in this area, but my understanding is that ‘parody’ is tolerated as long it is accepted there is no danger of consumers confusing the IP, which is how ‘Starballz’ survived (adult anime* that managed to fend off a Lucasfilm lawsuit). I presume ‘homage’ is slightly greyer.

    In my case, there is a real danger it could be assumed it were an official release (and that’s no reflection on the quality – although I would argue it’s better than some of the recent LucasArts tripe :P ) so, I accept it might not be tolerated…

    Lewis

    (* Before you start googling, don’t bother. It’s lame**)

    (** Or so NoOptical tells me!)

  • #21842

    Idora
    Participant

    How did “Spaceballs” get away with it then?[/quote:e12bd0f551]like all copyright issues the rule of thumb is “you can’t copyright the idea, only the expression of the idea”

    it’s not that Lewis’ game (which is great, btw) is using the same ideas as SW, but that it looks near identical and uses the same characters in the SW IP

    keep the mechanics, but change the names and look and feel and you’re grand

  • #21843

    Nooptical
    Participant

    Got ya! :)

    (* Before you start googling, don’t bother. It’s lame**)

    (** Or so NoOptical tells me!)[/quote:d3f5bf4cfe]

    :twisted:

  • #21844

    boadle
    Participant

    Good point Tony.

    Of course, the advantage with someone else’s IP (shameful to admit) is that you have a ready-community to tap into.

    I don’t kid myself that this game would have been a fraction as successful had it not been based on something so special to so many of us.

    Thankyou for your kind words.

    Lewis

  • #21847

    boadle
    Participant

    Apologies to Grifmike et al, I didn’t mean to hijack this thread!

    Me Me Me Me

  • #21872

    DeeK
    Participant

    How did “Spaceballs” get away with it then?[/quote:ca5020ff7b]like all copyright issues the rule of thumb is “you can’t copyright the idea, only the expression of the idea”

    it’s not that Lewis’ game (which is great, btw) is using the same ideas as SW, but that it looks near identical and uses the same characters in the SW IP

    keep the mechanics, but change the names and look and feel and you’re grand[/quote:ca5020ff7b]

    That is certainly right on the copyright front, and therefore in relation to software code. But you can also have copyright, trademarks and design rights in artistic works which form part of the game so great care would have to be taken to wipe the traces of IP away and to ensure that you were not “passing off” the game as appearing to emanate from, or have the approval of, Lucas Inc.

    Irish law does not recognise parody as a defence to a copyright claim, AFAIK, but I seem to remember that the US does allow it – part of their free speech tradition most likely.

  • #21878

    Idora
    Participant
  • #33805

    obscure
    Participant

    The main problem new devs (as in people with no industry experience) suffer is that they all contracted Grand Theft Auto Syndrome (doubtless caught by visiting some infected game web site). They all want their first game to be GTA or WOW of DOOM 8. They ignore the fact that the developers of those games all started out making much simpler games and worked their way up over the years. Now obviously if you have just won the lottery you can do what you like (that is how Valve started out – Microsoft millionaires) but if you don’t have millions you need to find a way to start small and work your way up.

    Four choices:
    1. Be a millionaire
    2. Have a proven industry track record (plus great industry contracts and a great demo)
    3. Start off small like Introversion
    4. Go the Splash Damage route… do a great mod (start to finish self funded in spare time) and off the back of that success get a deal with a publisher.

    Got to say that even with experience it is really tough. I have just spent over a year and a half working with clients who founded a start up. All of them had multiple high profile products to their name and it still took over a year to secure a publishing deal.

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