Last time I wrote about why I want to make games. The key takeaway being that I will make games first for myself and secondly for an audience. That will greatly inform my initial business model, which is detailed here. I should mention that this is not necessarily a forever plan - I may tweak, change or completely abandon it as time and circumstances change.
I believe the main reason my first attempt at gamedev failed financially is that the game took too long to develop. Concealed Intent, was not a hit, so did not make enough money to cover its costs and my living expenses during its over 4 years of development. If I was able to finish it in under a year, then the situation would have been much closer to sustainable. Now I know more about gamedev, and what a solo dev can reasonably achieve. My next games will be smaller and simpler. If I can make two games per year with each making on average about half (or a little less) than Concealed Intent, then I should be fine.
So how do I manage this? The reason why I suggest two per year, and not one per year is because I want to maximise the chances for a hit. I plan to produce decent small games stripped down to the gameplay basics. The problem is limited resources. As a solo dev creating a fully featured game will still likely take well over a year with all the usual extras expected by customers and marketing time. If it is not a hit, then it will not recover is expenses. Smaller, simpler games can be turned out much faster, and if they do badly, well there is another coming soon after. A fail-fast system. If they do well then more time and effort can be applied with a greater chance of success. I’ll throw up lots of ideas and see which get traction.
The games will be kept small by: keeping them 2D or fixed camera; singleplayer only (no online play); PC only; minimising story (but some storylets are ok); using proc-gen over handcrafted levels; and reusing old assets. I will aim for an “interesting” graphical style - ideas will be prioritised over graphics. If further development is warranted then all of the above can be revisited. Plus extras that may include better AI, daily challenges/scoreboards, better graphics/UI/SFX, more configuration options, modding support, wider platform support, more content, accessibility, internationalisation/localisation, DLC, etc. If the smaller game does not sell well enough to become a larger game (which I expect most will not) then no extra effort will be applied and I’ll move onto the next one.
With time, the speed of developing these smaller games will improve as better, reusable tools are created and my skills increase. I should also hopefully learn more about what is desired by the community, so just make better designed and marketable games from the start.
Time to keep going until I find something …
Next, what comes next, the Roadmap (coming soon).