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Author Topic: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?  (Read 3276 times)

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Nipples

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Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« on: September 30, 2013, 03:48:27 AM »

How are you guys able to make complex, full-length games with a fraction of the budget of what other developers say is insufficient for them to make an adventure game?

I know you can't speak for others, but I am really curious about how you guys do it. I have seen other developers say even 500k-1M is not enough for a full, new game. Where is all that money going? Is it all about the difference in graphics quality? What is your secret?
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GameDevChris

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Re: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2013, 09:03:47 AM »

Ironically, the graphics cost more time and money-wise than any other aspect of our games!

I think working on the non-commercial King's Quest and Quest for Glory remakes forced us to become very resourceful. In order to get the job done, we had to find work-arounds for issues that would normally cost a lot of money. We were also able to get a lot of free help because people liked what we were doing and wanted to pitch in. We even got two Hollywood-based actors, of some fame, to voice roles in our King's Quest III remake. Of course, it's a completely different ball game with a commercial title, because now every aspect has to be paid for. Only a fraction of the Kickstarter funds goes to development of the game - the majority goes toward reward fulfillment.

I'd love to have $500k to play with for a project! I know there are some projects that Kickstarted in excess of this amount, and were extremely wasteful with large portions of their backers' money - and then had the gall to complain that $500k+ was scraps and limited the quality of their product. As someone who's made several of these types of games on extremely low budgets, this attitude really annoys me.  $500k is not scraps for an adventure game - not with the tools and resources available today. It's just that certain people have no money management skills and little in the way of business sense.

One of the largest expense wildcards we've faced (and I know this has been the case for other Kickstarter successes, too), is workers who flake out. We've certainly had our share of them, and they've cost us a hell of a lot. At one point, Rachel was even thinking of writing up an article for Gamasutra on the financial impact of paid workers reneging on indie projects. This is one major area that I see as a big risk because it seems that flakes are more prevalent on paid projects than on free ones.

Aside from that, though, being versed in more than one thing (e.g. AGS scripting, art, animation, management, voice acting/direction etc.) allows me to pool a lot of those talents and handle them myself. This, of course, means we save money by not needing to hire so many others. It's even more effective when you've got a relatively small team, consisting of multi-talented members who each fill the voids that the other project members lack. Throw in some passion and the only other thing needed is a solid work ethic. Seeing the end result as a fun and enjoyable project coming to life, rather than solely a means to an end in making money also helps. :)
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Intendant S

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Re: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 09:26:05 AM »

I was just gonna say that the reason they can do it is because Himalaya's badass.
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FamousAdventurer77

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Re: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 07:16:23 PM »

And don't forget, we are one of very few software corporations-- probably even the only one-- who has a Chief Amphibian Officer. (see my profile picture!) We get to spend far less on QA because she eats all the bugs. *drum crash*

But actually, I had planned on doing a writeup accompanying the Mages postmortem discussing the financial aspects of Kickstarter, and giving the opinion and experience of someone who is both a financial professional and a game developer side-by-side with facts about different funding types, and why Kickstarter was the right path for us and other gaming projects but definitely isn't for others.

Like I remember reading some of the comments on Kotaku when they covered us at the beginning of the campaign. And I was laughing at them as an accountant more than as a game developer because I could tell that clearly these were folks who never tried to start a business, let alone run one. Especially all the cries of "Why don't these devs on Kickstarter just get bank loans?" (Spoiler: Because IP-based businesses are NOT bank-friendly unless you're cushioned by many, many assets, ie, you can take out a home equity loan or borrow against a 401k that's got at least six figures in it. Let's face it, most hardcore indies have neither of those! Also, banks don't like businesses like game development where they don't get the revenue until the end of development which can and does get dragged out, and making loan payments is difficult if not impossible if there's little to no cash coming in for a protracted timeframe.)

It's also that our business and personal experiences are ones of making do with little and being resourceful. It also helps that Himalaya's management doesn't live and spend like AIG execs. :P (Except Yael, the Chief Amphibian Officer. She bathes in Icelandic spring water and has designer terrarium wallpaper!) As you can see by both the pixelized loveliness we've been posting (and sending to the Evoker tier!) and the physical rewards we've been producing, we can do quite a bit with 1/8 of a million bucks. We'd love the chance to really go the extra mile with half a mil. Maybe we'll even get that chance soon enough.

But flakeage has been a serious problem for us. When a team member flakes/doesn't do what they've been paid to do, we not only lose the time and money but it hurts us a lot more than it hurts a AAA dev because they can always afford to pay someone or pay an existing member more money to pick up the slack. With indies, it can rip major holes in the timeline. Ironically it happens more with paid projects than unpaid probably because the responsibility and treating a passion like it's work (which it is for all intents and purposes) screws with the psyche and upends the creative process.

Still, we've persevered and made it this far with a big thanks to our fans!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 07:41:21 PM by FamousAdventurer77 »
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GameDevChris

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Re: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 10:41:09 PM »

I'm curious - where did you hear that?
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FamousAdventurer77

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Re: Himalaya, how do you guys do it?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 03:15:15 AM »

We had problems with flakes looooong before Kickstarter was even a household name.
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