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Business: Software vs. Video Games

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have absolutely no programming experience. Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Actually, that's not entirely true. I did some very basic HTML stuff a few months ago just to dive into it, but then found myself at a plateau and stuck without intervention from an instructor so I stopped. I took Java in high school too and hated it, but now I wish I focused. I suck at math, but I'll be honest, I found HTML quite fun until I stalled. Anyways, this doesn't matter.

I graduated with a double major in Business Management and Human Resource Management in 2010. I began working as an IT Administrator about a year ago. I really have no specific skills except normal IT functions. Essentially, I'm that guy who has a little bit of knowledge in a lot of things, instead of a lot of knowledge in one thing. That makes my request quite complicated.

Of course everyone loves video games. I mean, who doesn't, right? You can even convince those who hate video games to play a couple that they might even enjoy. While there are certainly some "big hitters" nowadays with a lot of areas to consider (Xbox, PS3, PC, mobile), I'm thinking of getting into the industry. Chances are I won't end up doing it since I have limited funds and no knowledge, but I have a fantastic business sense, great concepts, and extreme focus on projects.

This is already longer than I wanted it to be, but here is my primary concern:

Is it possible for one without programming experience to hire a small team of employees (perhaps a programmer or two, and a graphic designer) and start off, or would this not be feasible?

Simply put, if given the opportunity would any of you consider something like this or shrug it off as just another idea. Clearly the best way to do things is meet friends who are willing to help, but I don't have many programmer buddies, yet. wink.gif

Chances are the console/PC route is too competitive, but perhaps the mobile phone industry is a great place to start and advance. It appears as if the best concepts win on the phone, not the most advanced and graphically appealing. I guess I'm more or less here to see if anyone would actually be willing to do something like that if given the opportunity.

I have a friend who is an artist and graphic designer, and is quite incredible at it to say the least. He is willing to help.

How do I get my feet wet, or will I need to start programming myself? I would love to learn...and I plan to do so, but unfortunately I feel like it would take me years to do anything with it and by that point, the industry will have moved.

Feel free to PM me for private concerns.
post #2 of 10
I recently came off a sort of internship at a gaming company that's currently developing a mobile game as well as a facebook game.

However, the employer was a 60 something year-old woman with no knowledge of anything above printing text and checking her mail, and i can tell you right now that you'll have a lot more respect as an employer if you know at least the basics of the language you'll be developing in, or at least start learning.

Of course, money will be a problem, but if you can figure that out.. Well, all you'll need is a good idea.

BTW, If you're going to develop for windows phones or possibly android as well, microsoft may send you a phone to do testing on... I know they sent one to the company i interned at.

As for learning programming, personally i would find a good website with a long line of tutorials and follow them along, while sometimes playing around with the code outside of what the tutorial tells you to do.
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post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well I certainly bring a whole slew of other qualifications to the table other than programming. For example, a keen business and management sense as well as marketing, interpersonal and leadership skills, extreme attention to detail and perfection, innovation and project management, and finally the ability to create, troubleshoot, and manage the network infrastructure, etc. I know the latter doesn't really come into play early on but it would help in the future, I would hope.

I have been debating starting a business for years. I have pondered multiple ideas that have been borderline "I'm not sure I really want to do this for the rest of my life" and therefore have done nothing as a result. This is the only for sure industry that I am dead set on making a successful organization in.

It means nothing to say this here, but I would certainly be willing and excited learn and practice programming along the way, but I would have little experience to start as I do not want to waste any time while the market is fresh.

Do you think it's a good idea to at least try while I have my friends design skills along side me (he's still in college, but damn good at what he does - another reason why I am hesitant to wait any longer) as well as a distinguished sales person and manager of over ten years whom would be willing to work for somewhat cheap? I only have a certain amount to put into the project, plus a possible private investor, and decent credit if a loan was necessary.

As a side not about being concerned of having no programming experience, the only other person I can think of who has started a video game company without this prior experience is Curt Schilling, but who wouldn't want to work alongside a professional, multimillion dollar baseball player? It must be nice to have that reputation and the capital to dedicate to something you would love to do for the rest of your life.

Thoughts?
Edited by xyeLz - 2/9/12 at 1:53pm
post #4 of 10
Bluntly... it boils down to what would you do?

keen business and management sense - Not that important with app stores
marketing - Not that important with app stores and no marketing budget
interpersonal and leadership skills - Not that important with a small team
extreme attention to detail and perfection - Not that useful if you don't know how to code. It is useful for testing... but how much software testing experience do you have?
innovation - Do you have a game design in mind already?
project management - Not that important with a small team. You don't have experience in software project management?
network infrastructure - Not important for a mobile phone game


Software development does not just happen... the devil is in the details. other than cash, what would you be doing?
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post #5 of 10
Hey peeps. Similarly bluntly:

keen business and management sense - Important for a flat hierarchy start-up w/ you a half-step above the others at your establishment, but this alone does not constitute a full-time job
marketing - Actually important w/ app stores, but again, it's no one's full-time job, and you'd do better chatting it up with an existing mobile studio to see how they handle marketing... you (and even duckie smile.gif) might be surprised at how critical well-timed marketing is!
interpersonal and leadership skills - eh. all valuable, but again: not a full-time job!
extreme attention to detail and perfection - QA & level design... but you need to learn some things first. Actually, a ton of things.
innovation - cooooool wink.gif 3 other people in your App Store of choice have had your idea already. 1 is starting work on it, 1 will release halfway into your cycle, and the 3rd will be better than your version. Sucks, but you have to combat these types of threats.
project management - mgmt in a start-up studio is like herding cats or middle schoolers. try harder! or just leave it to an awesome dev. formal training is immensely helpful, but not a requirement.
network infrastructure - unless you're making the next social mmofpsrpg, all you'll use this for is a *AMP server, a router, and some tight cabling smile.gif

I suggest talking to other start-up studios before considering this, and would steer you towards the 'content insertion' side of things (level design / layout, playtesting).

hth
-blade
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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
DuckieHo, blade19, thanks for the comments. I really appreciate the input as it helped to open my eyes to things I may have overlooked.

I completely understand that some of my qualifications do not quite "apply" to this type of industry - at least not initially. I suppose that I more or less listed them in order to prove that I am serious and not someone who is just throwing around an idea and asking "is this a good idea!?" even though in reality that is exactly what I am doing. In the future and in any business I own I would absolutely plan for growth. I would love to become a multi-billion dollar organization that can donate millions to charity and provide communities with entertainment and interactivity, but it's just not possible early on. I would hope that the qualifications I listed would help to aid in this growth. All I really meant is that I have an overall grasp on the business functions and I certainly know that a professional marketing or project management firm would do better than me if needed.

You can rest assured knowing that I am well aware of the risks of such a business, but I do not want to look back in life and wonder what could have been if I never took the risk. I would prefer to bankrupt myself earlier in life than later in life and at least say that I tried. However, this doesn't mean I would approach anything I do in a careless manner. Absolutely not. A good business needs a business plan. I also cannot go through life doing something I don't want to do - and this seems to be my calling.

I think one of my major issues at this point is whether or not it would be possible to attempt this while I am still working, or if I would need to quit my current position and immediately dedicate all of my resources to the cause. My current plan is to seek out programmers who may be interested without discouraging them by not having a set plan. Most people hear "would you like to try this with me" and expect that everything is all ready. Clearly that is not the case.

As for the idea, I have designed multiple concepts that are yet to be reviewed by anyone. They are simply pen to paper. When I was 10 years old I used to do the same thing. I would bring a notepad with me to friends and relatives houses, jot down levels, concepts, screens, icons, anything you can think of. It has progressed from there (although my artistic skill has not) but I would consider myself someone with some great and innovative ideas (as well as some bad ones) who definitely benefits from constructive criticism.

I have done some market research, particularly on high-grossing mobile applications such as Angry Birds, and they had an entire team (10 people) working on the project. Granted it's a fantastic game, but would this really be necessary? What would be the expected amount of employees for such a start-up organization?a

Sorry for the long posts, but do you have any guidance as to how I should start seeking out individuals? As a programmer or even an objective individual, would you even consider something like this or just overlook it as if it was an incredibly dumb idea?

I am open to all constructive criticism, so please bash me or let me know if you think this has potential.
post #7 of 10
On the subject of Angry Birds(Which is Finnish BTW, so me b proud of me country!), there are lots of games similar to Angry Birds on the internet, and none of they have earned their creator company as much as angry birds did.

I guess they just timed and marketed the game so well, that it got popular.

What i meant by mentioning the web being full of similar games is that even a single programmer could make it fairly quickly as far as game development goes.

That is assuming they're doing it as a first job or at least a couple of hours per day.

Of course, graphics and other designing will take longer or at least as long as the programming part.

And then there's whatever paperwork is included with these things...
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post #8 of 10
Not sure if you are into reading books, but this on has been the basis for a web development venture I started with some extra cash and time last year, it really helped my team get through many of the mental hurdles you seem to be stuck on.

The Lean Start-Up

This book talks about the bringing keen management and brilliant coding together and allowing your "unsuspecting" customer base be the unwilling R&D department. Great concepts and our customers so far love to be a part of the "finding problems" side of development.


Like some of the others have said, its would be a lot better if you knew a thing or few about what you are going to do, but there are tons of free software and tutorials out there to help you get your feet wet. Also, you will need at-least one friend that is pretty sufficient at whatever type of programming you chose to do. I found a kid fresh out of high school who knew just about everything smartphone programming, He was willing to work for very little for me while he is in college.
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post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
@pepejovi: I agree with you here. There are many previous "Angry Bird-like" games out there. There are also many imitators. I completely understand that this is part of the industry. It's all business and should be treated as such. There are many aspects to consider, and marketing is certainly one of them.

It is also reassuring to hear that a single programmer can go quite far. I am lucky to have resources by my side. Unfortunately, these resources are temporary and I would like to take advantage of them before they are no longer available.

Myself being a huge visionary, I am always pondering new ideas. I sit on them for a while and play Devil's advocate with myself until I can convince myself of problems. If I cannot, I run it by friends and family. I have a few ideas right now, one of which I think would be a fantastic hit. The most demotivating part is the fact that I cannot put it together myself. It is in my head and on a piece of paper, for no one to enjoy but myself, and that in itself is extremely frustrating.

The business side of things is no problem for me. I will dedicate the necessary funding (provided that it fits into the budget) and time required to make this work. I am not one to quit once I get started. Thanks for your input.

@cook: I do enjoy reading. I appreciate that. I will take a drive over to Barnes and see if they have it in stock, it definitely looks worth it.

All I know at this point is that I would like to get my feet wet with this. I am working on concepts and ideas so nothing is lost time, yet. I just don't know how to get started.
post #10 of 10
It would actually be a good idea to start on one of your ideas on your own, even if only to get practice in coding, you might even finish something worthwhile.
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