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Offline General Chaos

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Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« on: 23 March 2012, 03:20:38 »
These questions are directed to any developers (of Kontor or otherwise) lurking around.  My brother and I are thinking about starting an indie publishing company and offering funding for small development projects (in the range of 10-20 thousand each).  We're trying to get a feel for what indie developers want out of a publishing deal, so I'm asking around on different forums.  Anyway, here it goes:

1.  Would you be interested in publishing with a publisher who took 20% royalties (letting you take 80% as the developer)?
2.  Would you be comfortable with an arrangement whereby the publisher retained 20% of the rights to the IP but granted you the right to buy out that 20% at any time, and also allowed you complete freedom to develop the IP according to your own vision?
3.  Would you be comfortable if the publisher worked strongly to distribute your product on either Steam or Desura, but not with any digital distributors with unreasonable DRM?
4.  What would attract you to a publisher in the first place (e.g. adds on an indie news website, direct contact through e-mail)?
5.  Would you be attracted to a publisher that offered a completion bonus for your project (e.g. a 5k bonus once you delivered the final sellable version)?

Thanks for your replies (if indeed this applies to anyone here).  We plan to start this in the next year or two so all feedback is much appreciated.

Offline Kinabalu

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #1 on: 23 March 2012, 10:21:44 »

3.  Would you be comfortable if the publisher worked strongly to distribute your product on either Steam or Desura, but not with any digital distributors with unreasonable DRM?

Wouldn't you consider Steam a form of DRM itself? Steamworks games can only be played via Steam, ergo you need a working internet connection to play those games, at least to DL them. Furthermore, some of the games might occasionally not work because of "busy Steam servers". In addition, Steam can shut down your account, causing you to lose all your games, and as it stands, there is no international law that covers this area (at least none that I know of). Last, but certainly not least, I have heard people talking about Steam being taken down as a result of the "antitrust laws" in the US.
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Offline General Chaos

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #2 on: 23 March 2012, 12:13:50 »

3.  Would you be comfortable if the publisher worked strongly to distribute your product on either Steam or Desura, but not with any digital distributors with unreasonable DRM?

Wouldn't you consider Steam a form of DRM itself? Steamworks games can only be played via Steam, ergo you need a working internet connection to play those games, at least to DL them. Furthermore, some of the games might occasionally not work because of "busy Steam servers". In addition, Steam can shut down your account, causing you to lose all your games, and as it stands, there is no international law that covers this area (at least none that I know of). Last, but certainly not least, I have heard people talking about Steam being taken down as a result of the "antitrust laws" in the US.

I definitely agree with everything you're saying.  I take it then that you would be comfortable with a publisher using a different distribution method?  Any suggestions, and how do you feel about Desura?

Offline Kinabalu

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #3 on: 25 March 2012, 04:24:52 »
The topic of digital distribution as a whole is a bit sensitive. What I would really like is if you didn't HAVE to play the game via a third party client. Instead, it would be nice that if I buy a game, I could have the physical copy of it, so I always have access to the CD, but maybe am also able to register it somewhere for a virtual copy, allowing me to DL it wherever and whenever.

I don't mind Steam itself, I just don't like the fact that my games are worthless outside Steam, since they are bound to the account and client. The issue here is that it can probbably get very messy and expensive for publishers - after all, the whole reason for releasing a game virtually is to not have to deal with all the logistical and financial problems of transporting copies of the game all over the world. Thats a line every publisher has to draw for himself.

I haven't really used Desura to much, but from what I can tell it looks like a solid model, since it isn't obligatorry in 90% of the cases, but merely offers an organised alternative to manually DL mods. If I don't like it, I can simply not use it, and that makes all the difference.
« Last Edit: 26 March 2012, 10:07:12 by Kinabalu »
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Offline General Chaos

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #4 on: 25 March 2012, 16:03:00 »
As a retro game collector I do understand the desire for physical media.  On the other hand digital distribution can be a great thing, especially for indie developers/publishers.  Perhaps one solution is to give buyers an option to purchase a physical copy and/or download a copy of the install file that they will always have access to without having to connect to any distributor online.  We'll definitely explore all options, and hopefully be able to offer customers a good deal of choice.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback so far.

Offline Kinabalu

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #5 on: 26 March 2012, 10:18:31 »
As a retro game collector I do understand the desire for physical media.

Its not so much the idea of being an "old school retro gamer", but simply the expectation to ACTUALLY own the game I buy, and not have it made accesible on some digital platform to which I have no access beyond that granted to me by the host. It gives the impression that buying a game is like making use of a service, rather than buying a physical product.

Digital distribution can be a great thing, especially for indie developers/publishers.  Perhaps one solution is to give buyers an option to purchase a physical copy and/or download a copy of the install file that they will always have access to without having to connect to any distributor online.

One issue I'm thinking of here: if an indie developer has to hold back money to distribute physical copies of their game, that will probbably affect the game. Thus, it would probbably be more beneficial to release it digitally, as this allows them to utilize the majority of their funds for actually making the game. I think the issue of digital vs phyiscal distribution applies more to big publishers/developers. At the end of the day, what matters is the game, and not how it is distributed - if a game is damn good, people will adjust to the situation so they can play that game.

Also, you've probbably figured this out, but I'm NOT a developer. I'm just voicing some ideas related to digital distribution I have.
« Last Edit: 26 March 2012, 10:27:20 by Kinabalu »
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Offline Sir Rogers

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #6 on: 11 April 2012, 13:40:28 »
As a retro game collector I do understand the desire for physical media.

Its not so much the idea of being an "old school retro gamer", but simply the expectation to ACTUALLY own the game I buy, and not have it made accesible on some digital platform to which I have no access beyond that granted to me by the host. It gives the impression that buying a game is like making use of a service, rather than buying a physical product.

Digital distribution can be a great thing, especially for indie developers/publishers.  Perhaps one solution is to give buyers an option to purchase a physical copy and/or download a copy of the install file that they will always have access to without having to connect to any distributor online.

One issue I'm thinking of here: if an indie developer has to hold back money to distribute physical copies of their game, that will probbably affect the game. Thus, it would probbably be more beneficial to release it digitally, as this allows them to utilize the majority of their funds for actually making the game. I think the issue of digital vs phyiscal distribution applies more to big publishers/developers. At the end of the day, what matters is the game, and not how it is distributed - if a game is damn good, people will adjust to the situation so they can play that game.

Also, you've probbably figured this out, but I'm NOT a developer. I'm just voicing some ideas related to digital distribution I have.

The whole point of digital distribution is that you are paying for a service, not for a product. You are not buying a game, you are not paying for Steam to give you access to that game. No, the service you are paying for is not having to move out of your comfort zone, to go find and buy a game you want to play. That's the service you're paying for, making your life easier.

But you do have a nice point about Steam being a DRM, but then would something that's not a DRM work? Then we'd get the whole piracy issue about one person downloading the game from the service and torrenting it to everyone else.


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Sir Rogers

Offline Kinabalu

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #7 on: 13 April 2012, 10:04:54 »
But you do have a nice point about Steam being a DRM, but then would something that's not a DRM work? Then we'd get the whole piracy issue about one person downloading the game from the service and torrenting it to everyone else.

Well, thats what makes the F2P model so attractive.
Besides, the idea of "one person torrenting it to everyone else" is completely unrealistic. Its much easier to simply purchase the game and install it, instead of messing around with torrents that might not work, that might contain viruses etc.
Of course there will always be some torrenting, but in that case the dev and publisher need to ask themselves: do we get more revenue from adding DRM or from simply releasing it DRM free? I can certainly imagine people not buying a game because of its extensive DRM.
« Last Edit: 13 April 2012, 12:06:16 by Kinabalu »
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Offline Sir Rogers

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #8 on: 13 April 2012, 14:56:31 »
But you do have a nice point about Steam being a DRM, but then would something that's not a DRM work? Then we'd get the whole piracy issue about one person downloading the game from the service and torrenting it to everyone else.

Well, thats what makes the F2P model so attractive.
Besides, the idea of "one person torrenting it to everyone else" is completely unrealistic. Its much easier to simply purchase the game and install it, instead of messing around with torrents that might not work, that might contain viruses etc.
Of course there will always be some torrenting, but in that case the dev and publisher need to ask themselves: do we get more revenue from adding DRM or from simply releasing it DRM free? I can certainly imagine people not buying a game because of its extensive DRM.

I completely agree, and I believe that F2P is by far the best choice for everyone. It's a much better business model and it'll keep everyone else happy, but you have to get it right, the hardest part is striking the right balance between making money and keeping the game enjoyable for the paying and the non-paying users whilst providing more than just vanity items.

And you can't just say ... ok we'll switch our traditional game to a F2P model, you gotta think about it when you start the game, that'll yield the best results. The best western example for this would be League of Legends, the model has been successful in Asia for many years now, and we're just catching up around here :-)


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Sir Rogers

Offline Kinabalu

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #9 on: 16 April 2012, 10:06:18 »
The problem with F2P is that it only works with multiplayer games. It just dosen't work with single player - how are you going to make money on it? By selling each piece of content separately? You might aswell slap it on a disk and sell it as a whole.
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Offline Alcofribas Nasier

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #10 on: 06 June 2012, 00:26:36 »
The example of League of Legends cannot be taken on projects like The Guild or Kontor, LoL makes alot of money on selling extra multiplayer content (The unique skins, and champs can be bought easily via Phone, Paypal etc), The Guild is mostly a single player game and this isn't a good platform to sell extra content, every "big" F2P games includes an indirect money making source, otherwise you can't run a team, F2P is just another way of publishing that couldn't work with The Guild series type of games or w/e which isn't based on Multiplayer and player long-time progression.

Anyways, i'm interested in your project Chaos. I'm only 18 years old by now, but i'm a kind of "meddler" as I can work on many different aspects of a game (Guess you've seen that in my mod), which gives a good perspective in Game designing, although this position has a disadvantage as I'm not an expert in a specific domain, I can only work on alot of different things, this is a choice that I totally assume because I truly love making my own ideas come true by my own means. As it goes on Indie Publishing becomes way more attractive as many game developping platforms are being free to use, like the CryEngine 3 SDK (Crysis Engine) or UDK which is older but still good at the moment. Working in the game industry remains a good old child dream that I hope to see come true myself if I don't have any true other jobs perspective in a year or two, atleast modding brought me two things: I learned English, and I enhanced my own creativity.

I'm not what I would call a "Game Developper" as I always work from an existing platform. Though I developped many SA-MP (San Andreas Multiplayer platform) servers & MTA (which also has a LUA scripting platform, like the Guild), I can mess around and make a simple game from the CryEngine SDK. I can design a HUD, I can design models and work on general concepts, I can make a map, I can make an original Soundtrack (my room is more like a studio to be honest), I can make a trailer, I can design a gamebox, but in the end, developping a full game alone would be a whole life project. From this perspective and if I was a so-called "Game Developper" I would say yes to all of your propositions.
« Last Edit: 06 June 2012, 01:00:52 by Alcofribas Nasier »

Offline General Chaos

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #11 on: 06 June 2012, 01:00:37 »
Only 18 huh?  You already demonstrate an impressive set of skills so I'm sure you'll manage to find a job in the games industry if you can pump out a good portfolio.  Developing some major mods for various games is probably a good way to get your feet wet.  In any case, if you ever want to start thinking about developing a small project of your own let me know and we can talk.  Sometimes the smallest projects can be the best, especially if they represent a very unique idea.


Offline Alcofribas Nasier

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Re: Indie publishing (questions for developers out there)
« Reply #12 on: 06 June 2012, 01:07:31 »
(Added things in my last post) Thanks :) . Yes I guess you are right, the single example of Runeforge game really goes with that statement, as many members of the team are initially modders, ofcourse i'd be interested in a project, I'm having exams soon and then i'm starting philosophic studies (which are letting me alot of time to "think" you know, which also means game designing hehe ;D) so I guess that could be an idea, I'm from France btw but I guess I have what you'd call a "decent" english (I guess) which is a great ability for gathering a multinational team, and in many cases diversity is such a power.

EDIT: Well actually i'm writing a whole demonstration based around the Guild series and its concepts, this is about 50 pages long and this is a kind of game designing portfolio.
« Last Edit: 06 June 2012, 14:35:03 by Alcofribas Nasier »