Now that I have restarted Jarrah Technology, I think it is important to set down some clear principles. Essentially a guiding philosophy on why I am a gamedev; how I want to proceed; and what sort of games I want to create. This should help when the inevitable difficult decisions need to be made, or at a minimum help prevent being side-tracked. I might as well make it public to keep me honest. This will be split into two parts: one with the fundamental ideas unlikely to change (presented here); and another post to derive the business model (which may change later).
To start - why become a gamedev? Mostly because it is something I enjoy and something I can do. I want to work for myself and create. Software development is my main skill, thus any plan will probably involve computers. There are paths other than games with similar results - I could work on startups or as an indie hacker. However, I have experience writing games. I know what is required. It is possible to do by myself if necessary. Importantly, I know I can enjoy the gamedev process. So I will start with games.
Creating a successful game studio is difficult and often results in failure - even for those with profitable games. I want my games to make money (maybe even dream about it), but it is not the primary goal. I am lucky to be in a position where I don’t need much income for a while to live acceptably. This means I will work on the games I want to work on, but at the same time will not try to work too much on a single title. I will aim to “fail-fast”. This will hopefully maximise my chance at a hit (relatively) and maintain my attention. Still, in the end I must remember I am creating games first for myself, and secondly for a potential audience. I am not opposed to working in a team and/or publishers, as long as it fits in with this mindset (which I suspect would make it difficult).
What sort of game do I want to make? Basically, the sort of game I find myself returning to repeatedly. Games that present the player with interesting choices. I want players to be leaning forward and thinking. This means they are likely to be slower games - fast reactions will not be required and actions-per-minute will not be an important statistic.
Thus the genres I will focus on are: management games; simulation games; (computer) cardgames; (computer) boardgames; and, strategy/tactical games. Maybe with a little grand strategy and rogue-like in there too. Platformers, action games, adventure games, RPGs and FPS’s will be avoided. I will also be unlikely to work on puzzle games just out of personal preference, despite them fitting my requirements. The initial target is the PC single-player audience. Other platforms or play modes may come later. Definitely no F2P. I’ll aim for 4-10 hours of gameplay, but with some replayability. I don’t want players to feel overwhelmed by the game. I would prefer to make an good impression then leave, rather than stretching the game too thinly.
I saw a video that suggested “good players create strategies, average players see paths to victory, while weak players chase luck”. On this measure, I foresee mainly developing for average players. It would be nice to move towards strategies, but I recognise the level of work to achieve this might be beyond my timeframe for each game. What does this mean? The games should have some component of luck resulting in variance of result, but the result should never be random - best is when the player can know what mistakes were made. I will try to avoid too much luck and aim for output rather than input randomness (where possible). The games are unlikely to be big in-depth simulations (war or otherwise). I will aim to simplify the complex. Some thought and strategy should be necessary to win regularly, but there should be no need to study.
Next, how I plan to make money, the Business Model.