The side-scroller: Outdated or underused?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by unreason, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. soniCron

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    Normally, I would flame you for some of those comments ("...why abandon something just because you don't think there's a market for it?"), but I won't, because you're right. (Although, Space War was more of a technical experiment than a passion for gaming.)

    Frankly, there's a huge market for many things that haven't even been thought up before, and an equally large market for things that have since been abandoned. Somewhere along the line (likely caused by the real-time 3D explosion), people decided there were too many platformers and quit making them. This sends the message that it's not possible at all to market a platformer, even though many of the past variables were only temporary. (Over-population, 3D infatuation, etc.)

    On the other hand, it's somewhat like the FPS connundrum. Why bother making one if you can't go all the way: 100 levels, 4 secrets in each level, multiple goals in each level, non-linear gameplay, etc. The truth is, it takes a lot of effort to make a solid platformer, and unless you're doing it posterity's sake, it's financially very risky. Sure, Gish did alright, but it also had a hugely unique catch -- and frankly, I don't think it measures up to be one hundredth what Donkey Kong Country was.

    Anyone can make anything they want in their spare time, but since these are business oriented forums, I think the real question is: Can I make money if I make a platformer? And the answer: It's risky, because there are a huge number of unknowns and the development time will be long, but it's certainly possible. If you're just wanting to do it as a hobby (as Dan seems to be suggesting), then try out Lunar Magic, a level editor for Super Mario World. You won't even have to write your own engine! :)
     
  2. Ricardo C

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    Incidentally, I do believe there's a market for side scrollers. Those thirty somethings that don't buy games? Maybe they don't buy them because no one's making something that appeals to them anymore. Maybe, just maybe, just as there are film fans who ocus on films from a certain genre or time period, there's a huge untapped market of nostalgic 80s and early 90s gamers who would love to get back the feel of the golden age of gaming. Niches are everywhere, it's stumbling upon them that's hard.
     
  3. Reanimated

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    Ive been working on a side scroller too. It is a lot of hard work, but it's a lot of fun at the same time. I also believe theres a market, because if you can still sell arkanoid clones, then Im sure there are people willing to buy side scrollers.
     
  4. soniCron

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    I don't follow your logic.
     
  5. Reanimated

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    Well, the market your aiming at with arkanoid clones are certainly the older generation, which I believe is the same as side-scrollers. Although side-scrollers may be a bit more "involved", there must be people still out there willing to purchase them especially since its not a saturated market.

    edit: In this day and age, if you were to tell a non-indie that you were planning to sell an arkanoid clone, they probably wouldnt think it would sell. However, this had been disproved, so surely the same case could be applied to side scrollers. Its not 100% concrete evidence, but I think that there is a high chance.
     
  6. soniCron

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    I think you're lumping things together. The "older generation" as a market is an imagined reality. Just as there are different markets now, there were different markets then. Somebody who likes Halo now may not like Bejewelled; somebody who liked Pac Man then may not have liked Donkey Kong. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that's not logic I'd put my money on -- you have no quantifiable evidence that those markets largely overlap.
     
  7. Reanimated

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    Fair enough, I agree that I dont have evidence that I could just show and say "see", but I just have a feeling that there is still a market out there. As long as the game is good, and gets the right exposure, it could start more side-scrolling games to follow. I guess at the moment its just a case of seeing by creating a game and see how it goes. Games like alien hominid did the same, and although it didnt make as much money as AAA games, it still did quite well considering their budget.
     
  8. Dan MacDonald

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    In the old days I wouldn't respond to direct conflicts of opinion. In most cases it just validates the opposing opinion. I guess I've gotten a little more pragmatic as of late. It's not as important to me as it once was to have popular opinion on my side.

    The majority of indies who start out work a 9 to 5 and then give up all their free time to make a game that will be profitable enough to free them from their 9 to 5 for all of your above reasons. I don't have any problem with this, I think game development in the casual space can be a profitable venture.

    Notice, I say casual space because this is invariably where the would be full time indie ends up. The casual downloadable industry is clearly the low hanging fruit for profitable downloadable games. Short development cycles, simple mechanics and a consumer base with a pr oven record of buying the same game over and over in different colors. It appeals to the would be full time indie in the same way it appeals to the large industry type companies targeting the casual downloadable space.

    The would be indie takes his desire for freedom from "the man" and the promise of self employment and leverages it for motivation to work on a game he really wouldn't play if given the choice. But make no mistake this is the passion of entrepenurialism or profit is not the same as the passion for game development. It can be harnessed and channeled into motivation to finish games but it isn't the same experience.

    So what is the result of the would be fulltime indie who knocks off a profitable casual clone? well not only did they blow all their post 9-5 free time working on on a game that really isn't worth talking about other then as a product they've no locked themselves into doing it full time. At first the novelty of working out of your dining room or extra bedroom wears off. You'll realize that you are spending all your time performing a function that really doesn't interest you. I know from personal experience, I worked from home full time making over six figures a year on games that really didn't inspire me. The conclusion? you can only kid yourself so long eventually not even the money is motivation enough to work on games that initially you are apathetic about and eventually you disgust.

    So what is the alternative? instead of spending you free time on a game product that may or may not be profitable. Work at a slower pace, enjoy your work, pick a game that you know you can complete and that inspires you to work on it. Those who are full time indies no longer really have this luxury, the MUST have an ROI on their time invested so they have to pick games that have the highest probability of being profitable. If they don't, they lose their livelyhood and fail to make their mortgages. But for those with a fulll time job that pays the bills, there's another option. Make something your passionate about, sure the risks are higher. Sometimes there's no pre-exsisting market justification for the game. Sometimes these games are released and then flop, but every now and then there are break out successes. Runescape was founded by one guy working along to make a browser based MMORPG now has 50 employees and makes 2M a month.

    I don't have any numbers for soldat a multiplayer sidescroller that borrows a lot from games like counter strike, but they have a critical mass around that game with hunders of servers and games going on at any time of the day. The risks to passionate development are higher when you approach it from a monetary standpoint, although the payoff can be huge. The risks are also mitigated by the fact that if you fail to achieve profitability from your time invested making a game, it's not the end of the world. You still have a game you love and with any luck a small community of people who love it too.

    I doubt the creators of alien shooter considered the downloadable market too seriously before embarking on development of that game. But they now make bankers wages from a game they enjoy. Subsequently they tried to make a casual game that flopped and returned to make a sequel to alien shooter which I'm sure will fare much better for them.

    Can you make a business plan around passionate game development? no not really, but there are almost no downsides to spend your time doing something you love and working on something that inspires you and if traditional wisdom has any weight following your passion is the best way to be successful.
     
  9. svero

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    I wouldn't characterize casual games as an easy-out for getting money money though. The dev cycles aren't really that short for most of the better titles, and it's highly competitive, and even the most successful companies targeting this audience have their share of misses. We tend to focus on the few clones that were developed quickly and succeeded and ignore the huge mass of me-too games that fell by the wayside.
     
  10. soniCron

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    Dan, you are an administrator. Please make a good example of your authority: Stop derailing threads to talk about the indie ideal. The original post was fine, but you're not talking about platformers anymore. Please try to stay on track.
     
  11. Ricardo C

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    So according to you, there's only romanticized starving artists and predatory casual cloners?
     
  12. Dan MacDonald

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    Steve you and I both know that to create an origional hit casual game is actually and impressive accomplishment. Unfortunatly that's not the pattern I observe. The pattern I observe is that there are a handful of developers on these forums that invest themselves in making origional casual games and then a slew of developers who rip off (or aspire to) their origional ideas, re-skin them and make a profit. Sure it's not the revenue that the origional title brings in, but it's enough to fund them onto their next game.
     
  13. Dan MacDonald

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    I don't paint the world in absolutes, I also do not have any problem with people pursuing game development as a business. I would consider myself friends with a number of the full time independent developers in this community. I have gobs of respect for what they do, especially because the ones I know value game design and still make an effort to do their own. Casual downloadable games are a competitive space and like retail only the top fractional % really make money. I realize that when your business is games you have an imperative to make games that sell.

    When the question comes up, are sidescrollers underused or outdated? The implication is that the answer to the question is a purely monetary one. Maybe that's what the original poster wanted to know, the question that so many people ask (and the reason why people so often end up in casual games) "will I make money if I do this?"

    I posted to suggest that the question doesn't have to be that simple, it's obvious that the OP has an interest in sidescrollers and was looking to justify making one. I submit that the justification be his own enjoyment of the genre and not just a market justification.

    I'm not sure why when I advocate my opinion I feel like a pro life advocate speaking to a pro choice convention or visa versa. People need to lighten up accept that other people will have opinions that contradict their own. It's not the end of the world, it's just life on planet earth.
     
  14. Ricardo C

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    The paragraph I quoted sounds pretty absolutist to me. You present a false dichotomy: You are either doing it for the love of the art, or you're doing it for the money.
     
  15. Dan MacDonald

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    I don't see how that presents a false dichotomy, it's merely differentiating between two types of passion. I don't claim that the two are mutually exclusive. As I said full time indies pay homage to both types of passion both for their businesses and for games by developing games that actually involve some design work of their own.

    I had one full time developer say to me "I want to make gobs of money and I want to create original games". I think he has it right, but I also think there are a lot of people drinking their own kool aid. Going out trying to find the quickest and easiest way to make money in casual games and confusing their passion for starting a business with passion for game development.
     
  16. soniCron

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    Is this, or is this not, a business oriented website?
     
  17. Ricardo C

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    You're using your personal biases to establish the alleged differences between those two "passions" (also defined by you and you alone), and then you proceed pass a blanket judgement on every so-called indie out there.

    Actually, what you said was a lot less kind than that.

    That sword cuts both ways, I hope you know.

    But see, this discussion didn't start out as being about casual games. You created a strawman scenario in which the "enteprenurial" indie invariably ends up knocking out clone after clone of this or that casual hit, and there's no other path to take ("I say casual space because this is invariably where the would be full time indie ends up").

    Further, you go on to imply that anyone working on such a game is doing so against his creative instincts and would never work or even play that type of game were he not in it for the money ("The would be indie takes his desire for freedom from "the man" and the promise of self employment and leverages it for motivation to work on a game he really wouldn't play if given the choice").

    I think you've drank the Kool-aid too, Dan. That's why you have such a hard-on for marking your territory and constantly reminding the rest of us who is a true indie and who is not ("But make no mistake this is the passion of entrepenurialism or profit is not the same as the passion for game development. It can be harnessed and channeled into motivation to finish games but it isn't the same experience.")
     
  18. svero

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    I'd include the simplest reskins in my list of games that aren't necessarily an easy buck. I wasn't talking only about original titles. There are plenty of clones that are pretty blatent copies that fail sales wise and were probably still a lot of hard work to make.
     
  19. jankoM

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    Is now really any thread about anything going to be about indie and passion and enterpreteur? Can you guys open your thread and fight there endlesly (and i might join from time to time)? I have some free space so I can open entire forum for you (and that bad Retro64 won't lock you down again and again).. I am not joking.
     
  20. Teq

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    Hmmm, think that every genre has its place and its our job as indies to throw caution to the wind and make them more than just a fading memory, its not like the big money factory's are going too :)
     

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