Starting an Indie Company...

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by dypaul, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. dypaul

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    A legitimate indie game company needs at least 2 people: a programmer (to handle the game) and a business guy (who does everything else). The hardest part of starting an indie business would be finding the right people to partner with. For those of you here who have set up a 2+ men shop, I'm curious to know how you met your partners. Was it at a convention? Friend? Thanks.
     
  2. Emmanuel

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    I can tell you about my previous company: I'm a programmer, and I met with two people: a really sharp marketing guy, and a really sharp operations guy (you know, someone who pays the bills, harasses customers to get their orders actually paid for -- our customers were businesses themselves with shrewd CFOs and all the time in the world to pay a small company like us, etc.).

    The company has been in existence for 7 years, and, in all modesty, is a great success, but I can tell you two things I learned:

    1. Never delegate your marketing to someone else !
    and
    2. Don't start a company dividing the equity in equal shares (or worse, less for you than the others) !!!!!

    Reason for 1. : you can hide behind the marketing guy, think it's his fault your game that you programmed doesn't sell, etc. I did that mistake, it cost us months or years to recognize some of the problems that I would have seen right away in my current mind set (I don't just write code -- I think from the beginning about how I'm going to sell it !)

    Reason for 2: you will end up doing more than your equal share of work. I did. I worked probably 3 times as much as the other guys, right from the beginning. That breeds frustration, distrust, and a lot of time lost.

    Take my word for it: start it by yourself. Take a contractor for stuff that's easily found on the market, like music. You will be much better off.

    That's what I'm doing with my new company, and it's starting a lot better than my previous experience.

    Good luck, and enjoy every minute !

    Emmanuel
     
  3. gamemaker

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    We got our team together while at university.
     
  4. Ricardo C

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    I'm ilegitimate now? Thanks for letting me know.
     
  5. Armsfeld

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    Damn, I'm suddenly illegitimate too. They keep changing the rules on us.

    In my experience, involving other people in your business can be a lot of work. You need a pretty big project to justify that kind of time investment.
     
  6. Coyote

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    Yeah, you'd think a programmer and an artist might be kinda important...

    Or an artist plus a biz guy. Contract out for programming... :)

    Sounds like the marketing spiel from the tons of out-of-work MBA's has gotten to you. You need someone to handle business affairs, true... but there just ain't gonna be enough work to keep one guy busy at first. Now, when you have formed your company as a limited partnership or something, you are doing lots of contract work and have real employees that have real salaries that the nation and state demand are handled in a nice legal manner --- then you may need a business / marketing / financial guy to handle all these tasks so you can do your job.

    Until that time, either learn to do it yourself, or contract out to have someone help you out with it. I have a friend who simply contracted an accountant to handle his books once a month and during tax season, which he says was very cheap and took a huge burden off of his shoulders.

    Contract out for marketing. Check out VGSmart to help on that angle.

    In other words, don't make the foolish dot-com-boom assumption that having a nice mass of people (with our without prestigious pedegrees) makes you legitimate and worthwhile. It is about being able to produce and sell product.
     
  7. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think I saw this quote in another thread, but it just seemed appropraite for this one.

    "Remember, you can't spell 'DUMBASS' without MBA" :D
     
  8. dypaul

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    Ricardo...

    I didn't mean to (indirectly) offend you, Ricardo, but if you want a company with serious growth prospects and not a side job, you can't do everything alone. Nobody can. I would dearly love to hear stories from anyone in this forum who started his/her company with an initial stranger/partner and made it work. How did you bridge the initial suspicions? Did you have any bad experiences? Etc. Thanks in advance.
     
  9. Mithril Studios

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    ROFL!

    Gotta love it!


    Anthony
     
  10. Mark Fassett

    Moderator Indie Author

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    There is a limit to the amount of work one person can do, but with the right companies as partners (accountants, artists, lawyers, etc...) a one person company can be very successful for a single person. Look at Retro 64 or Phelios or Goodsol or the Snood guy. Of course, if your definition of success is hiring lots of people and trying to be a retail developer eventually, then it's a given that you can't do it with one person. But if you want to make 6 digits plus, it's certainly within the realm of a single persons ability.
     
  11. Ricardo C

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    Mark's post sums up my attitude pretty well. Obviously a single person can't develop all aspects of a game and run the business end of things (not if you're trying to finish and market a professional quality product in less than a decade, anyway), but you can certainly run a one-person company if you have the right contacts. I have an attorney. I contract out art duties when needed. But I remain the sole member of my company. And since I have no desire to ever run a traditional studio, this m.o. suits me just fine :)
     
  12. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I'd say they can personally. Nothing stops you coding your game, doing all the art and then selling it. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing it on your own. You might be busier than normal that's all. We're not talking a Half Life 2 beater here remember.

    You'll limit how much you can grow because there's only so much one person can do but developing a game and marketing it? Sure.
     
  13. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    What, so now we have to take less than a decade to develop products in order to be legitimate? Oh man.

    Also: MBA joke = very good.
     
  14. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    There are plenty of reasonably successful indie companies making 10's of thousands or more every month that run without separate technical and business people. A company can grow and succeed with just 2 programmers or a programmer and an artist. You don't HAVE to have a dedicated business guy.

    That being said I think a lot of companies would do much better if they did have someone looking out for the business end of things. There are individuals who are good at both code/development and business and some people who aren't. This will vary from person to person.
     
  15. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Oh and I guess I forgot to answer the question... I met my partners at work in various jobs I did in the past. One of them I met at school. They were all friends.
     
  16. Evak

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    I met my Leadfoot Partner through Garage games, he wanted Aerial Antics publshed, Jeff Tunnel said that his art sucked and he grudgingly agreed to get someone to redo all the art work, ended up redoing about 70% of the game from scratch, and looking back it's probably not really been taken far enough to be a big success.

    Things get pretty crazy with the other leadfooter. I think the biggest problem we have is that we simply don't like the same games and sometimes opinions and ego's get i the way.

    The second game was supposed to be a breather after the crunch we put into Aerial antics to get it 80% done in 3 months. Thing is that we didn't agree on anything and development actually took longer and was more stressful. We just both had completely opposing ideas in regards to the direction the game should go in. In the end it became a compromise that didn't meet half of our initial expectations simply because we don't find the same things fun, and you can't please everyone.

    With our second game Market value we probably speny 3 months arguing, when the actual time spent working could have been done in 2-3 weeks in a focused effort.

    Then you have the problem of being able to find the time to work on the games. I often find myself doing 2 projects simultaniously with 2 seperate coders and I don't think I've spoken to the other half of leadfoot in 3 weeks. Prior to that he probably did about a weeks work in 2 months.


    Don't know what I'd suggest really, I've been outside of the commercial game loop for about 18 months, and these days I miss working in a focused team a lot more than I thought I would. I love making games, but I don't like the insecurity and lack of confidence in the people I usualy end up working with.

    My Ideal team would probably have a core of 4 developers, and a couple of contractors, but really needs financing to succeed as the kinds of games I want to make would be fairly ambitious. Will be interesting to see what happens with current projects.

    At the moment I have a private commercial project thats in limbo waiting to see if the contract gets signed.

    The other is pretty exciting but don't know if the other party will stay the course and see it through to a finished publishable state, so currently I'm doing it for fun with the hope that something good comes of it. Trying to do that whilst cramming as many contract jobs into my schedule in order to pay the taxes mid April.
     
    #16 Evak, Feb 5, 2005
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2005
  17. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    OK, so Mystery Studio is also illegitimate :)
    2D artist = family member, 3D artist & sound guy = university friend
     
  18. KNau

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    This business isn't nearly as complicated as people are making it out to be so in the name of all that it holy don't ever let someone else take over the "business" side!. If you can operate a calculator and understand the difference between a profit and loss then you are more than qualified to run your own studio.

    To answer your question, co-designer, playtester, general office stuff and kicking my ass when I'm lazy = girlfriend. Otherwise, I contract out art, sound and use 3rd party code libraries when possible.
     
    #18 KNau, Feb 5, 2005
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2005
  19. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I had a simmilar expirence to Evak working with partners. You spend so much time debating small details. I guess you'd hope the end result is a better game but that isn't always the case. I find it more often produces a compromised game. Working in teams is great when there is a clear decision maker and clearly defined roles. Working with "equal partners" just 10x's the overhead while only 2x'ing the productivity when work is actually being done.
     
  20. Ratboy

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    Absolutely. It's not all that complicated.

    In my case: Art production/design, contract negotiation = Me. Accounting = Quicken Home & Small Business. :cool:
     

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