The State of the Indie Business

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by inverse, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I've been happy working with artists remotely. My style tends to be to work out most of my programming/design kinks w/artwork I cobble together myself and then I get a contract price based upon a fairly fixed set of needs.

    Marketing, as an indie., is really the big one. I think that starts with making really great games which is what I'm continuing to strive to do.
     
  2. PoV

    PoV
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    Great time to be indie. Terrible time to go all in. Lesson one about the biz is everything you think before you have a product to sell is wrong. Seriously. Everything. You need to release something and watch it fail to begin to grasp the real problems.

    Most communities have a relevance lifetime. This one became heavy casual, driving many folks away. Now casual has dried up (the boom anyway), and it's poorly maintained (spam). I only visited because I hit the forum link on my iPad by accident. I'm sure my signature is years out of date.

    Mobile is a big deal. It was a big deal before phones had GPUs and Touch screens (more of a big shitty deal then, but still big and a deal). A lower barrier to entry means a higher barrier to $$$.
     
  3. inverse

    Original Member

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    Would you have any concrete examples to share? :) Personally I'm thinking about just going "full time" (as opposed to "all in" - as in, I'm not mortgaging the house, taking on debt, etc.) And the plan is to try and "fail as quickly as possible" with the first release.

    Well I hope you come back to reply. :) Where is the indie community now? TIGSource is very active, but the signal to noise (pro to amateur) ratio seems pretty low.
     
  4. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I have one for you. In case your internets been down, I managed to upset a lot of people recently by ranting away at MS about Windows RT. It went viral to the point that googling for "rubicon rt" should be enough to find some heat.

    Much of my message got lost or misinterpreted and it rapidly degenerated into personal attacks from knobheads and the usual shit, but the reason I bring it up is as a clear example of even someone with 25+ years of experience, 8 of which running a 4-7 man indie studio, making a complete and abject fuck up of everything.

    Wasted time
    Wasted money
    Made bad predictions
    I even failed to get the PR ranting right, lol

    If my company relied on what still seemed a reasonable proposition to me, I'd be typing this from a public access terminal whilst fighting off the bailiffs.
     
  5. inverse

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    Heh, I did catch a glimpse of that a while back. It looks like you got a ton of coverage out of it at least. :) I guess RT sales never really picked up? For that matter, what is the install base of RT?
     
  6. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Not really, no. MS were good enough to feature it in the UK somehow and it peaked a little bit, but we've still not grossed a grand for the first month. You have to realise that an RT owner looking at the store still doesn't see that much either, so its not competition. With Windows 8 tablets coming now or soon I stand by my rant that MS launched this thing to die.
     
  7. Bram

    Indie Author Greenlit

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    I use OpenDE, aka ODE. It is at http://opende.sf.net
    I use it mainly because I have 7 years of experience with it.
    If I had not had this extensive knowledge on OpenDE, I would probably have gone with Bullet.

    The price point was set by experiment.
    When I raised it from 0.99 to 1.99 the number of sales dropped somewhat, but revenue went up.
    Then I raised it again from 1.99 to 3.99 and the sale count dropped again, but revenue went up again.
    I could do another experiment with 7.99 but I do not want to push my luck.
    Many people give out 1 star reviews because "Free games that suddenly ask for money are scams!"
    Ugh..
     
  8. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Any tips for some black box magic to convert a "centre of gravity" into that tensor shite?

    We've found that ODE is the only one of these libraries that either "just works" or can be overidden for your own hellish corner cases (slivers, etc). Love it, but CoG is always a case of munge around until it looks right for me, which I'm never happy with.

    Regarding the one-stars, fuck em. We get plenty and some of the reasons given just about make my head explode. 2-5 stars are usable reviews but anything with just the one star I just blatantly ignore. I just don't make 1-star games and nor do you.
     
  9. inverse

    Original Member

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    I've been playing around with Bullet recently. The API is pretty nice and generally it seems to work pretty well. Some of the content pipeline stuff is a bit lacking, but it looks like it will do the job.

    Once upon a time, there was a beautiful vision that everyone online could review anything, and we would have a fully democratic way to learn how good products really were.

    Then we learned that people are ignorant, idiots, or only review things when they have a grievance (real or imagined).

    The inertia tensor basically describes how the mass is distributed around the center of mass.

    For simple shapes, you can probably get equations them from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_moments_of_inertia Most of those are just setting values on the diagonal, since the mass distribution is symmetric. Bullet has code to compute them for its basic shapes (calculateLocalInertia) if you want to go poking around in there.

    I have considered (but haven't tried) methods for more complex objects using these equations: http://www.kwon3d.com/theory/moi/iten.html#ten If you can break your model up into a bunch of point masses, you should just need to sum up the masses at their particular position relative to the center of mass for each component of the matrix.

    One option that might work: You could probably voxelize your model (if it has a clear "inside" and "outside") and use each voxel as a point mass, distributing the total mass evenly over the voxels. The average of all voxel center positions should be your center of mass.
     
  10. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think you're complicating this as much as the ODE docs guys did. ;)

    When I worked at Stainless we had our own physics engine, and to set the centre of gravity you just gave it a vector offset from its graphics origin. Not sure what else is needed or why this other stuff exists at all tbh. (Nope, not a mathematician)
     
  11. inverse

    Original Member

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    :D Sorry, wasn't quite sure how detailed an answer you were expecting.

    The other stuff is there mostly because... well, think of a long board/stick/ruler. Grab one end and twist it along the length, it's pretty easy to spin. Grab it in the middle and spin it like a propeller and it's more difficult, even though the total mass is the same. The inertia tensor makes the object act like that, instead of just like a ball.

    If all you want to do is have the rigid body's center of mass not be at the render model origin, you'll just need to compensate for that offset when you get the transform out of the rigid body. That doesn't involve the inertia tensor at all.

    And for most purposes, just computing the inertia tensor from the model's bounding box is probably sufficient.
     
  12. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Right, thanks for the explanation on why the tensor exists. That single paragraph was far more intuitive that anything I've read so far! :)

    Regarding the CoG, is this going to work? If I have a box lying on the ground with it's CoG a lot below the ground, and apply a torque to it, it wants to rock on the ground but according to the pendulum action it would have from the CoG, not from the ground.

    Bascially, the centre of mass needs to be set at an arbitrary point outside of its "visible mass". It's not so much the graphics, but the position relative to the bounding object. The tensor seems to be the only way to add this extra parameter but I can't work out how.

    And I really don't get how I seem to be the only guy thinking this is a bit odd so I hope I'm missing something. Couldn't find anything online. Am assuming my question has the same effect it does when a layman asks a mathematician anything - that look on their face as if you just shit in their mouth. Or is that just the two experts I used to know?! :)
     
  13. inverse

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    Yes, that will probably work to make the box rock, though it might look kind of odd. I've done the same thing with vehicles to make them feel more stable, though that's usually just pushing the CoG low, not right outside the collision volume. That can get weird.

    Think of it this way: If the box is just floating in space with no gravity, when you push on the box, it's going to spin around its center of mass regardless of the inertia tensor. The inertia tensor defines how fast it will be spinning after a given force.

    Basically:
    Center of gravity = Center of spin
    Inertia tensor = How fast it spins

    If the center of mass is outside the visible box, it will look like you're spinning a box around on the end of a string, without the string. When you put a floor in the way, you end up with something maybe more like a boat floating on water - there's a bunch of mass pulling things around below the surface.

    Now, if the box with the CoG at the visible center isn't acting like you expect, it might be because the inertia tensor isn't set up quite right, so you're seeing the box behave as though it has a different shape or mass (i.e. what looks like a large heavy box, acting like a small light box).

    You might want to play with the friction/restitution values as well, making the collision more or less bouncy might help give the effect you're looking for.
     
  14. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Sorry for being dumb, but I'm just not getting this. If the graphics for the car and the collision geometry for the car are both running along the ground, what bit of magic do you do to push the CoG lower please?

    I'm hoping this is gonna snap shortly, I'm not that stupid but this just isn't going in. Thanks!
     
  15. inverse

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    Moving the CoG is basically the same thing as moving the origin of the collision geometry.

    It looks like dGeomSetOffsetPosition(...) is what you would use in ODE to do that.

    To get the render geometry to match, you need to move the origin of the render model to match the new CoG:

    render_transform = rigid_body_transform * inverse(CoG_offset)
    (assuming you multiply your vertex on the right, otherwise reverse the multiplication order)

    I hope that does what you're looking for...
     
  16. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think that's exactly the monkey, thanks very much indeed! :)
     
  17. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    "Free games that suddenly ask for money are scams!"

    That stuff just drives me nuts and, frankly, I agree with Applewood that you just can't look at the 1's because the lowest common denominator review info. is just noise.
     
  18. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    "iOS 5 update take too long" --> 1 star
    This is one is pissing me so much that I just delay the iOS5 update a bit more.

    JC
     
  19. Son of Bryce

    Son of Bryce New Member

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    Applewood, is there any difference between publishing on Windows RT and Windows Phone?
     
  20. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Nothing substantive, but it doesn't "just work" either.
     

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