The Economics of a 2D Adventure in Today's Market

Oct 19, 2004 ten to three pm

Someone recently submitted a question asking what it would take to build a classic 2D point-n-click adventure today and would it be a viable business?  The internet is filled with classic adventure fan sites centered around the LucasArts and Sierra games and a common thread is always how much people would like to see new ones being made, and why isn't it being done.

These are interesting questions that I've ponder a lot in the last year, but never really looked into it in any detail.

Now, before I launch into this long stream-of-consciousness, there are a couple of important things to understand.  First, this is only a thought experiment.  This is not something I am planning on doing, or even have a huge interest in doing, so please don't feed the rumor mills.  Second, this article contains gory and gruesome details about the games business and, in particular, marketing and distribution.  If you'd rather remain blissfully oblivious to the horrors of what goes on behind the scenes, this is the place to stop reading.  If you're one of those people that can't help but stare at a car accident, read on.

For this exercise, I am going to make a few assumptions.

Assumptions

1) We're building a classic 2D point-n-click adventure game.

Building the game in 3D is a much more costly endeavor that brings with it a whole slew of complications which I won't get in to in this article.  The goal here is a class point-n-click adventure.

2) We're hiring real employees to build the game.

Clearly, the game could be done cheaper with hobbyists or people passionate enough about the genre to work for free or below cost, for back-end, or with a trust-fund baby on staff, but the goal in putting together this plan is to explore it as real business, and our business model is a little screwed if we count on people working for free.  Also, given that deadlines will become important, it's necessary to have everyone's full attention and nothing says that better then a paycheck, except maybe a cattle-prod, but that might be illegal.  I'd have to check.

It's also important to hire the best people possible.  This is not a diss to the hobbyist market, there are some very talented people out there, but we'll need our team all in one place and not working at other jobs or going to school.  If you're an unemployed adventure game developer hobbyist, please contact our fictional company for a fictional job interview.

I'm also assuming we have to pay competitive wages, and most of my pay information comes from the Seattle area, so we'll use that data for now.  It's probably more expensive in the Bay Area, but cheaper in India.

3) We're going to focus on the development and product related costs only.

There are a lot of other overhead in running a company, even a small developer, we'll ignore those.  There are also huge costs associated being a publisher, like marketing, sales, distribution, graft, etc.  We'll ignore these for now, but touch on them later on the article.

4) The engine technology is not included in the costs.

There are a lot of 2D engines out there that will do what we need, so we'll just assume we're using one of those.  I realize that many of them are Open Source, which could complicate or help our situation.  I'm going to call it a wash and ignore the whole situation for now.  Trust me, It's not that hard to get your hands on a good solid 2D engine for next to nothing.

5) The game is state-of-the-art, as far as 2D goes.

Yeah, I know.  The last time you read state-of-the-art and 2D in the same sentence was back in the early 90's.  The game will be fully animated and include wall-to-wall original music and full voice.  No corners will be cut in the quality of the production.

Although some styles of art might be cheaper to produce than others, I don't think the savings is going to be dramatic.  We might want to go with a pre-rendered 3D look rather then the traditional 2D animation found in a lot of 2D adventure games.  Doing pre-rendered 3D might be a little more expensive because the tools tended to cost a lot, and 3D animators (as a rule) can be more expensive.  People argue that you end up saving because it's easier to animate once you have the models built, but I have not seen this to be true, but my experience is a little limited in this area.

6) We're going to build the game in a year.

For a classic point-n-click adventure, this is aggressive, but should be doable.  Monkey Island took less than a year.  We'll need a lot more art, but that's a production issue and can easily be made up for with more people to a certain extent.  We're also going to do a very rigorous pre-production, this will be essential in getting the game done on time and on budget.  Since we're dealing with known technology, this should be very predictable.

7) We're using an established publisher for the game, and not self-publishing.

Starting a company that will self-publish the game into retail channels is a huge undertaking and would require some significant capital.  Not impossible, but we'd need money beyond the cost of development, and that is a whole different business plan.  It's also hard to become a retail based publisher with a single game.  You need several games to have any clout with the retailers.  We could do a distribution deal, but then we're significantly cutting into our profit.  As the last two sentences suggest, we're also assuming in-store distribution, online distribution will be covered later.

8) It's a PC game

Dealing with the console manufactures on something like this would be a nightmare, plus the royalties you pay to them would kill us with a nitch game like this and it's just not the venue for these types of games.  At least not to start.

So, let's roll up our sleeves, pull out our slide-rules and get down to business.

Development costs and plan

Staffing is the main expense, and is always a hotly debated topic.  Everyone has an opinion, and I'm sure this will be no different.  Until a complete pre-production is done, it's hard to nail this cost down.  These figures are based on my experience building adventures at Humongous Entertainment and at my last company Hulabee Entertainment.  We probably built more 2D graphic adventure games than any other company in the world and we had a finely tuned production process.  Granted, these games were for kids, but that only affects the scope of the project.  If you've ever played any of those games, you will understand what I mean.

Remember, not everyone on this list would be on the project for the entire 12 months.  This creates some complications because you need to keep people around to ensure a skilled staff for the next game.  Hopefully we could get two games going in such a way that people would be moved off one project onto another.  One advantage the movie business has is an infrastructure to deal with production people coming and going from projects.  In the game business we don't have that.  But, I'm going to ignore this issue for now.  We'll assume there are other projects to keep people busy and there is no down-time.

I'm also going to assume the design and creative lead is either the lead programmer, lead artist, or both.

Lead Programmer (will also deal with engine issues)
Lead Artist
Producer

Subtotal: $220,000

3 Programmers (in the scripting language)
5 Artists (skilled in 2D animation)

Subtotal: $480,000

Testing

Subtotal: $30,000

Other expenses that will be contracted out:

Script
Music
Sound
Voice talent (non-union)
Voice recording

UPDATE: After discussing this section with some other people, I think this figure is about $30K too low unless we got lucky in finding voice talent and/or a writer.  Adjust the following results by adding more.

Subtotal: $60,000

The total cost for a 12 month project - including a standard 20% overhead for insurance, taxes, graft, paper-clips and a little rounding up - comes to:

Project Development Total: $950,000

Now, we can argue all day about how much we're paying people, whether someone is over or under payed, etc.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  My defense is that this comes from my direct experience in hiring people to do the exact same jobs.  We can certainly save some money by hiring talented people with no experience, and that often works very well, but I'm assuming that at least half the people are experienced in the business.

I've kept the team pretty lean.  It would be easy to dump the Producer, but that would be a huge mistake.  A good and talented Producer is gold.  We can also save a little money if the script or music is done by someone already on the team, but that will take them away from their other job and you have to ask yourself:  are they really the best person for the task?

This cost is also just for development.  If we're going to fully evaluate the prospects of a 2D point-n-click adventure in today's market, we need to think about marketing costs on top of development.  Even if we use an established publisher, we're going to need to include this in order to evaluate the ROI (return on investment) that a publisher is going to look at.

Marketing Costs

Let's assume marketing costs comes in at $500,000.  This figure is probably about half of what it should be.  We can't just take out full page ads in the game rags and pepper the gaming sites with banner ads.  We're going to need a good solid grass-roots campaign.  If we're really clever we could get away with a number like this.

It's not uncommon to spend as much on marketing as it cost to develop the game.  The marketing budgets for mainstream console games reach $10 million and more, but since we're not doing console, we save the drain of TV ads.  We can also be clever with our PR and get the marketing costs down as much as possible.  Lots of PR will go a long way on the initial game, but once the novelty wears off (and competition begins), we'll have to spend marketing money.   As sad as it is, the best games don't always sell just because they are good.  It takes good marketing to be successful.  Never underestimate good marketing.

One big area of concern here is if we're going through a publisher, we're going to have to rely on them being clever with marketing and PR.  That's a big risk.  Most publisher try and fit everything into a template.  We're going to need a publisher that is willing to think differently about this.  It's an important trait to be looking for as we hunt for a publisher.  But, as anyone who is pitching a 2D adventure game today will tell you, there aren't a lot of choices.

I see this as the single-most risky part of this venture.

For the first part of this evaluation, we're going to assume we're going through retail distribution.  In reality, this is the most likely scenario.  But more on that later.

Retail Distribution

I'll do that math for three different price points, $19, $29 and $39.  I don't think it's realistic to assume a $49 price.

I'm sure this is obvious to most everyone, but I'll point it out anyway.  The publisher does not get the full retail price of the game.  The stores have to make a profit as well.  The publisher sells the game to the retailer for what's called the Wholesale price.  The store can then sell the game for whatever they want, but for the most part, they use the following numbers:

Retail $19 = Wholesale $15
Retail $29 = Wholesale $22
Retail $39 = Wholesale $30

There is also MDF (Marketing Development Funds) and co-op charges that the publisher needs to pay the retailer, and those typically run 6% of the Wholesale price billed quarterly, net of returns.  These cost go to cover in-store advertising, news-paper circulars, etc.  In addition, publishers also pay to have their games on "end-caps" or have special "shelf-talkers" (they don't really talk, thank-god, but I'm sure that's coming) that helps point out the product.  General rule of thumb is: if there is anything in the store that calls any attention to the game, it was paid for by the publisher.

We'll assume we're not going to pay for anything beyond the required co-op and MDF, but it might be a wise investment to buy some better placement.

We also have the cost of the box, CD, manual, shipping, graft, etc.  This is called Cost of Goods, or COGs for short.  This will typically be $1.50 unless we want to throw some cool extra stuff in the box like we used to do in the olden-days.  Could be a good idea for the initial launch, if so, we'll bill that to marketing.

There are also fees for outside sales commissions, distribution, EDI (electronic inventory management), inventory management, field merchandising, etc.  This will add another $1 to the cost of our game.

We need to assume that we're going to get returns.  These might come from damaged product, customer returns, or games that the just don't sell.  We have to account for this, it's typically 20%.  As a side note, next time a store tells you they can't take a game back because the publisher won't take it back, call bullshit.  Of course, it's not as simple as the publisher giving the money back, it's typically done as credit, and it's often negotiated with respect to new games being bought from the publisher.  It is one of the reason that a single game publisher is going to have a hard time.

So after all this, plus a little rounding, we're down to the following profit:

Retail $19 = Profit $9
Retail $29 = Profit $18

Retail $39 = Profit $25

It's now time to calculate our break-even point.  That is the point that our publisher has made all their money back.  To do this, we divide the total cost of the project by the profit at each price-point.

Our game cost $1,400,000 to build and (minimally) market, so to break-even we need to sell the following units at each price-point:

Retail $19 = Break even units 155,000
Retail $29 = Break even units 75,000
Retail $39 = Break even units 56,000

Hmmmm....

There is quite a jump from the $19 to the $29 price point.  It will be tempting to try and sell it at $29, but with a game like this, we might need the lower price-point.  But the lower price point could leave some buyers with the feeling that the game isn't worth the full price, and that somethings wrong with it.  Game players are always screaming about wanting lower prices, but the truth is, if you lower the price too far, people stop buying it (unless it's a high profile game).

155,000 or 75,000 units doesn't sound like a lot, but our publisher is not in business to break-even, we're probably going to need to sell two or three times that.  Not every game we do is going to be a success, no matter how hard we try and how good we are.  If we're going to push some creative boundaries, we're going to need to experiment, and that's going to mean some failures.  We need to make a lot more then just break-even.  A publisher or investor is going to look at spending a dollar on this verses spending a dollar on something else.  This has to be a compelling option for them.  Break-even is not compelling.

Maniac Mansion Deluxe, the fan remake of Maniac Mansion, racked up over 200,000 downloads in a very short time, while it was free, it does show a strong interest.  How much of that was just "nostalgia" could be an important questions to answer.  How many of those people would spend $19 or $29 for a new game is another question I don't have the answer to.

Now let's look at online distribution, after all, we are living in the futuristic year of 2004.

Online Distribution

Online has one big advantage:  It cuts out the middle-man, allowing us to get the full retail price of the game.  Online also has one big disadvantage: it cuts out the middle-man.  Having the game sit on a store shelf gets it in front of people eyes, it also gives it this sense of legitimacy, like a hardcover book does in the book publishing business.  The perception of shelf presence will vanish at some point, but it is a reality today.  There is a good reason why games like EverQuest are sold in stores and not exclusively online.

If we only have an online presence, we need to do something to drive people to our website.  That's going to require more marketing, promotions, tie-ins, etc.  We can count on the buzz of our game being the first 2D point-n-click in fifty-years, but that is only in certain circles.  We need to reach beyond that.  It's also the kind of buzz that dies quickly.  If we plan on doing more than one game, we need some kind of sustainable way to get people back to our site.

The issues surrounding marketing are not unique to online sales, just complicated by it being new and different.

Online distribution is also not free.  Bandwidth costs money.  If we plan on the game being successful, we need servers and bandwidth able to handle huge simultaneous downloads.   With all the animation, voice, music, graft, etc, we could approach 1GB.  Nothing will kill our sales faster then willing customers that are unable to download the game at a reasonable speed.  Research I did several years ago into online distribution showed that, allowing for peak usage, bandwidth cost could run $5 per download.  A lot might have changed since then.  It was at the peak of the dot.com thingy.

No doubt, someone will bring up BitTorrent and other P2P systems as a method of distribution.  Assuming that our purchasing model can deal with it, it is a good alternate way to get the game to people, but does it really hit all the people we want to be buying the game?  If we're trying to hit a broader audience, we need a fast, simple and direct way for them to download our game.

System like Steam and even custom BitTorrent clients are very real possibilities, but they are risky and untested and will cost is time and money.  Publishers and investors don't like risk.  They are already taking a big one on the game, the fewer risky parts to our plan the better.

With online distribution there are also issues with accepting credit cards, dealing with returns, unhappy customers, copy protection, unlock keys, graft, etc, etc, etc.

We will also have to overcome the "everything is free on the internet" mentality.  Many companies have - so it's far from insurmountable - but it is an issue that needs to be considered.  Piracy is also a huge problem.  When you have a main-stream product, be it a game, music or a movie, you are some-what insulated from piracy because of high volume.  When you're dealing with a nitch market - like a 2D point-n-click would be - you are much more susceptible to the negative effects of piracy due to the smaller market and lower volume.

Finding an online publisher would solve some of these problems (or shift them to someone more equipped to deal with them), but I have yet to find a online publisher willing to spend the kind of money we're needing for an online distributed game of this scale.  They are very much in the mindset of small webish games for the casual gamer.  In contrast, conventional publishers are used to spending larger sums of money on games.

Online distribution seems great until you start to really look into it.  It's rife with issues, but shouldn't be discounted.  At the end of the day, we'd probably settle on some of both.

The last issue is developer royalties.

Developer Royalties

If we go with a publisher, we are going to get a cut of the wholesale price.  We'll assume a rate of 20%.  It is also typical for the developer to recoup the development costs before any real money is paid out.  What is recoupment and how is it calculated?

As a developer, we are "loaned" the money to build the game, in our case $950,000 (most publishers do not bill the developer for marketing, some do).  We need to pay that money back to the publisher.  When the game is sold, we get our 20% of the Wholesale price, but we have to pay back our loan, so we won't get any money until our royalties have reached $950,000.

To calculate the developers break-even, we take the $950,000 we "borrowed" and divide that by 20% of the wholesale price.  So for the developer to start making money, the game needs to sell the following units at each price point:

Retail $19 = Developer break even units 320,000
Retail $29 = Developer break even units 220,000
Retail $39 = Developer break even units 160,000

Double Hmmmm....

Whether the whole developer royalty model is fair or not is not the point of this article, so let's not get side-tracked on that.  It's the way the industry works, and we'll have to live with it until the armed revolution of 2007.  As the date approaches, keep checking this site for instructions.

Some final thoughts

  • Remember, this thought-experiment was about building a modern 2D adventure game in today's market.  There are a lot of other styles of games that can be made cheaper.  Stay focused.
  • There are a lot of issues and sub-issues I have not talked about, or only briefly touch upon, so this should not be used as anything other than a conversation starter.
  • There are an endless number of cheap ways to do marketing and ways to cut development cost.  If this was a real business plan, all those would be thoroughly thought through.
  • There are a lot of alternate distribution models that we could explore beyond the traditional retail sales and emerging online.  We could do it as shareware, advertising funded, bundled with cereal, etc.  The list is endless, but they are also risky and unlikely to get us the funding to build the game.  For this thought experiment, we're trying to build a viable business likely to get funding from an investor or publisher.
  • Anyone attempting this is going to have to find a publisher (or become a publisher) that is willing to put out several games before evaluating the success of the venture.  It's going to take a few really good games before this catches on.  If our publisher (or we) gives up after an initial failure, it will never succeed.  A longer term vision is needed.
  • We need to expand the audience beyond the current 2D adventure fan base.  While this is a large and dedicated group, it needs to be larger and growing.  We need to appeal (with the game and the marketing) to a new set of people who are not exclusively interested in high-testosterone 3D gaming.  Games like Grim Fandango had a very wide appeal, but were miss-marketed and abandoned to quickly.
  • We should build a Mac and possibly a Linux version of the game.  We need every channel we can get.  Linux poses some problems (perceptionally and technically), but they are worth solving.  I have not thought a lot about the Linux issues, they might be simple.
  • We're going to need to come up with truly innovative stories and modern game play.  We can't just mimic the adventure games of the past.  We have some huge graphic perceptions to overcome, at least as a first impression.  Everyone talks about game-play being king.  We would need to prove it.
  • We should think about a licensed property, but the economics of it probably don't make any sense.  And it's not as much fun.
  • There is not going to be a lot of profit on the back-end.  While we do need to build a viable business, in the end of the day, it's got to be something we love, because it's not going to be much more than a paycheck.

Fun to think about...

Now everyone back to the salt-mines...

Other people's comments:

Posted by DuncanC on Oct 19, 2004 ten past three pm

Very fun to think about. I don't know much about the latest 3D things like shaders/normal mapping and whatever, but are any of them useful in a 2D context, I wonder? Having realistically, dynamically lit 2D characters and stuff.

Posted by jp-30 on Oct 19, 2004 ten to four pm

Thanks for that, Ron. I'm in the music industry and it's an almost identical setup with regards advances, royalties, recoupments, returns, no-sales etc.

It does make me a little nervous for the new adventure game startups like Autumn Moon & Telltale. Maybe those ex-LucasArts types can band together for the purposes of publishing / distribution to minimise some of the costs and overheads? Though I guess that presents a whole new range of issues to deal with.

Posted by SiN on Oct 19, 2004 five past four pm

bundled with cereal

I see you mention this, I recall seeing some of your games bundled with cereal. I actually asked my mum to get me a box, but when I justified it by saying "I actually want the game" she refused to get it for me :)


(back on-topic) A very interesting post though. I've been keeping tabs on the industry for years now, and I expected the numbers to be "against-the-odds" but the "Developer Royalties" numbers simply blew me away. I've always understood why it's been difficult for adventures games to be made, so this was just a massive reminder for me.

I still think there is hope though. Steam (which I think you refered to as Stream :) ) is going to be very interesting to watch, with the launch of Half-Life 2 and all. In my opinion, it's going to be a big test on whether games can be sold on the internet. So far, it seems to be going pretty well, and if it takes off, I'm sure many indi developers could benefit from it. Of course, raising capital will still remain an issue, but if Online Distribution is viable, thats one step closer to developer independence.

Anyway, thanks for such a well written article Ron, you took a dry (but very interesting) subject, and made an amusing article out of it.


SiN

Posted by Beef on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past four pm

Just a little note, Stardock's political machine costed about $200.000 in 6 months dev time, a rare, but pleasant sight.

Posted by Rodi on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past four pm

You've stolen my innocence!

But it's always interesting to read about the quips and quirks of the industry. I must say; the tone of the article certainly does live up to the name of your site. Not that it was particularly Grumpy, but there was little room for rejoicing. Let's just eat the minstrels.

Posted by Rikard on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past four pm

Duncan: If you want realistically, dynamic lit characters, you pretty much have to go 3d. (Though it is possible to make it look more or less 2d if you like it to.)

Posted by jp-30 on Oct 19, 2004 twenty past four pm

The main issue with steam & similar online distribution models is that instantly you're limiting your potential audience to those with broadband access. While hogh-speed access may be commonplace in the US and some asian countries, there are still plenty of territories where broadband uptake is extremely poor. This will improve over time, but I know I won't be downloading a gig of data on my 56kb dialup plan ever.

But I guess you'd suppliment the direct downloads with magazine coverdiscs that needed a key purchase to unlock the full game, etc.

Posted by Bacon on Oct 19, 2004 twenty five to five pm

This all sounds complicated enough to build a simulation game about. SimGameDev or something. Dynamically lit 2D characters? I like the hybridy thing that Viewtiful Joe did. The one-man development team of yore is still feasible for budget stuff, I think, and is an avenue out of which some really innovative ideas can meander.

Brilliant article.
Sign me up for the armed revolution.

Posted by Roy on Oct 19, 2004 twenty to five pm

:�(   I'm so affected that I could buy this game original! :)) Ron you're a GENIUS !

Posted by SiN on Oct 19, 2004 ten past five pm

This all sounds complicated enough to build a simulation game about. SimGameDev or something.

Heh, funny you should mention that, because that was a concept I thought of a couple of years ago. Unfortunatly, it takes more than one person to make something that complex, so while I did try to make it (a couple of times) it wasn't very successful. Its an idea I still think is quite cool, I may take another stab at it someday, but in a more watered-down version of my original "vision"


SiN

Posted by Andrej on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past five pm

I had massive de javu when i read this sentence:

"Research I did several years ago into online distribution showed that, allowing for peak usage, bandwidth cost could run $5 per download. "

Anyway, a nice read.  I know that I'm ready for a storeless approach, but being an early adopter with Half-Life 2 is nothing like real small-game distribution, sadly.  I think it would make more sense to market the hypothetical game internationally (especially europe) and then make the game available worldwide with online distribution.  

Add to this the possibility of episodes...but its seems like a huge risk anyway you cut it.  Even most non-adventure games just dissapear.

Posted by telarium on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past five pm

Very interesting article. Thanks for writing it.

I did also notice where you mentioned "bundled with cereal." I know you did try something like that yourself with Hulabee. Was it not a success?

Posted by DuncanC on Oct 19, 2004 six pm

Duncan: If you want realistically, dynamic lit characters, you pretty much have to go 3d. (Though it is possible to make it look more or less 2d if you like it to.)
Yeah, I was just wondering if there isn't some innovative use of modern accelerated 3D thingys that could be used on 2D games, though no-one's really bothered to (as far as I know). I mean "2D" only in spirit, it would obviously actually use a 3D engine etc.

Posted by Luke on Oct 19, 2004 ten to seven pm

One of my favorite non-comedy adventure games is still Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - for some reason I have a harder time getting into the newer 3D adventure games like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island 4.

Posted by speon on Oct 19, 2004 ten to seven pm

Excellent (albeit sobering) article.

I've always wondered why 2D point&click adventure games did not transition better into 3D gaming.

Take for example, Day of the Tentacle.

Imagine a fully 3D game world where the player controls Bernard via mouse+keyboard combo a-la other 3D, non grid-based, 3rd person action/shooter titles. (i.e. Max Payne / Hitman / Thief III / Jedi Knight / Morrowind). Except in this case, Bernard might default to walk, perhaps with an option to run, and any jumping (shootdodging!) interface, falling, death animations etc. would never be needed. In any case, camera movement would be completely smooth and free in all directions, and not tied to character animations or be anything like the flight-simesque Gabriel Knight III interface.

Cutscenes have worked well in 3D for quite some time now and is not much of a mental stretch to imagine what's possible - Anachronox, Half-Life, Call of Duty, GTA etc. Imagine the time traveling sequence with Bernard, Hoagie and Laverne in 3D with wacky e=mc� equations and Nurse Ednas floating all around in mind-melting perspective that would make MC Escher drool himself into a stupor.

Conversations, in typical branching adventure game style, could be handled like many newer 3D games have done - KOTOR, Ultima IX, Gothic etc. with possibly fixed or dynamic camera angles, 3D character expressions/gestures, or even the flashy/impressive/new-fangled Half-Life� way, with highly emotive 3D characters. Finally Dead Cousin Ted's iron-clad, impenetrable, personality can be unwrapped like never before!

I've always imagined the interface working as sort of a combination of Curse of Monkey Island and System Shock 2. The player moves the character about freely in the game world and when an item/person onscreen is interactive, it could frob(highlight) like in Thief or Gothic, or perhaps a text description could pop-up. This could potentially be on or near the item/character, or at the bottom of the screen, for instance. Right clicking will go into cursor mode, where the mouse movement no longer controls the player directly, but rather moves the on-screen interaction cursor about. Clicking on (perhaps clicking and holding) the item/person in question would bring up a CoMI/Full Throttle interface coin with the various possible actions. It could probably be even more simple/direct than this, where clicking and dragging an object on screen allows the player to move it around/place in inventory etc. If the item can be manipulated to some degree, the avatar maybe just "does" the action, or verbally comments to the player on why they can't. Hoagie can vehemently deny the player the power to make him try to eat Chuck the Plant.

Adventure game inventories have been done in modern 3D (and 2D) games for quite some time now and even go as far to include complex item manipulation/interaction/combination. Deus Ex / Baldur's Gate / Ultima IX / Morrowind / System Shock 1/2 / Arx Fatalis etc. etc. Flushing spaghetti noodles into the future is now a reality! We have the technology!

Sure the art production/coding begins to skyrocket, (at least in direct comparison to traditional 2D adventure games) but think of the staggering detail being put into modern 3D games - it's certainly feasible. On top of that, you get the benefit of modern video card technology and bleeding-edge appeal - pixel shaders, physics, 3D positional audio, EAX, real-time night-to-day transitions framed by a giant, gently flapping tentacle shaped flag... Best of all, the sanctimonious glory of a cat's butt no longer has to be hindered and suppressed by the limitations of a single pink pixel. Imagine, if you dare, the overwhelming splendor a normal mapped cat's butt...with parallax mapping!!

In all seriousness, I'm sure a lot of this is pie-in-the-sky, (and retarded) but it's tough to not feel betrayed by nostalgic trappings born by being weaned on the very best "ye olde" point&clicks of yesteryear, which helped fuel the notion that it's perfectly natural to assume that adventure games were always going to be this good (and were in fact, going to get better) only to find out (torturously) over the years that wasn't exactly the case. At all.

If someone could only build a Chron-o-John to go back and change it all...

Bwuahahahaha!

Er...yeah.

In any case, I'm just glad guys like Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer are still making games.

Posted by Fish on Oct 19, 2004 eight pm

"shelf-talkers" (they don't really talk, thank-god, but I'm sure that's coming)

My local supermarket (in japan) has these, some of them even have little 3inch lcd's with videos telling you how much yougurt and milk can improve your life.
After the novelty of seeing them wore off, they get annoying very quickly.  Not to mention that if you can't see them it sounds like the fruit is talking in tiny little tinny voices to anyone that walks past.

Posted by jp-30 on Oct 19, 2004 twenty past eight pm

Imagine a fully 3D game world where the player controls Bernard via mouse+keyboard combo a-la other 3D, non grid-based, 3rd person action/shooter titles.

But would the gameplay be any better / more fun than the original 2D 'cartoon' version?

I'd doubt it.

Posted by speon on Oct 19, 2004 quarter to nine pm

But would the gameplay be any better / more fun than the original 2D 'cartoon' version?

Perhaps not, but it would be more immersive and richly detailed. Immersiveness goes a long way for me in games. I would be as bold to say just as much as gameplay does. Perhaps 3D could allow for new elements to arise in adventure games that weren't quite as feasible in 2D, asset limited games...time of day transitions, radically changing environments, NPC schedules/traveling, more dramatic in-game cutscenes...plus, I think it would be more fun to explore the mansion in 3D, for example.

Posted by Curious in Columbus on Oct 19, 2004 quarter past ten pm

A good and talented Producer is gold.

Can you elaborate on that Ron?  Especially on a team that small, what does the Producer do?

Posted by Mav on Oct 19, 2004 ten past eleven pm

"Perhaps 3D could allow for new elements to arise in adventure games that weren't quite as feasible in 2D, asset limited games...time of day transitions, radically changing environments, NPC schedules/traveling"

The older Quest for Glory games incorporated all these things in 2D. And those were FANTASTIC games.

Posted by austin craig on Oct 19, 2004 twenty to midnight

just want to say i hate steam.

None of my vailid purchased cd keys will work on steam.

so i can not play HL on EITHER of my HL cd keys.

its nice to know i paid good money for Half life and not since valve is sooo nice i can no longer play..

Thank You Valve.

I am a very very pleased consumer.

Will i buy HL2?  NO WAY.

Will i buy games via direct download.. NOPE.

What happens if the company dies like cavedog, 3do, black isle, looking glass, just to name a few.

your out of luck then,

No, i want a cold cd in my hands , a pretty box, an instruction manual printed on paper, and if we were in the good old days of Nintendo games , a nice poster or something.

just my opinion,
austin

Posted by Austin Craig on Oct 19, 2004 quarter to midnight

"My local supermarket (in japan) has these, some of them even have little 3inch lcd's with videos telling you how much yougurt and milk can improve your life.
After the novelty of seeing them wore off, they get annoying very quickly.  Not to mention that if you can't see them it sounds like the fruit is talking in tiny little tinny voices to anyone that walks past."

MAN , the marketing bastards just cant leave well enough alone can they. Just do what i do...... if its marketed try your darnests NOT to buy it. I try to go out of my way not to.

but i do get a good chuckle out of marketing... take mcdondals for example.

YOU never see a 800 pound woman eating that crap... its always some thin young girls smiling.

By default i think i replace them in my mind w/ the 800 pound woman and she tells me "You eat this junk , you will look like this"

-i have not eaten fast food in about 5 months.

Posted by Dustin Sacks on Oct 20, 2004 twenty to three am

Cool article. I can totally see this becoming a publisher fad in a few years though. i.e. somebody makes one and it's a big hit, and then all the other publishers start churning them out for a while. Then people get bored/fed up with them and ... uh ... we're back here I guess.

Posted by hellomoto on Oct 20, 2004 quarter past three am

Now a VR adventure game would be cool. That would be like complete immersvity. How far is VR these days? I know there were some people working on it, they probably stll are. It was on TV a while ago, t was looking pretty good too. How much would that all end up costing?

Assuming you buy the game as a cd or something and not buy it as the sole purpose for the conole, like you do for some of the really dodgy fake VR you can get, it wouldn't cost all that much more than your average 3D game, as the movement etc could be handled in a similar way to key pressing, and the technology would already be controled by the console/headset/whatever they, are itself.

Now that would be cool

Posted by Oded Sharon on Oct 20, 2004 twenty to seven am

Hey Ron.
Thanks for the article. It was just what i was looking for.
I've been meaning to "do the math" myself  in order to set up my own gaming company and i always got bad results.
Yours are pretty similar to mine, only you took into consideration more factors in respect to marketing.
The bottom line is that you have to sell something like a bit less then half a million copies to actually make money as a developer. This is hard to relay to investors who know actual statistics, for instance, very popular games like "Warcraft3" which was produces with a HUGE budget, and resulted in something equally polished, only sold about a million copies worldwide. (obviously, not including pirated copies of the game).
A 2d adventure game will have to be SO spactacular, just to brake even. So in result i don't know if it's actually worth the risk you're taking, considering the large number of copies you need to sell.
Now, if you can find a way to make profit with something like 100k copies, you can get enough investors to invest in your game.

Posted by eloj on Oct 20, 2004 five past seven am

I have not thought a lot about the Linux issues, they might be simple.

What are they? SDL solves the technical ones (except maybe for installation, but there's a Loki-installer for that, if "unpack this archive somewhere" isn't percieved as easy-enough for the linux-crowd).

Using SDL for everything also brings the game to the Macintosh, and even handhelds.

Posted by Rich on Oct 20, 2004 twenty five to eight am

A good and talented Producer is gold.

Can you elaborate on that Ron?  Especially on a team that small, what does the Producer do?


I can elaborate from first hand knowledge:
- Deal with the publisher's producer, including detailed reports, hand holding and babysitting.
- Schedule and track art, code, sound, etc. - a big chunk of every day
- Deal with outside vendors (musician, writer, etc.), including contract negotiation and milestone creation
- Day-to-day staff management
- Liase with testing and marketing
- Script management
- Organizing voice talent and better yet, voice direction
- Manual writing/editing
- Miscellaneous production help as needed - dialog cut-up, art clean-up, etc.
- And much more I'm sure I forgot

Having gone through the process of making 2D adventure games both with and without a solid producer, Ron's words are so very true - producers are crucial.  Especially when you look at his staff plans that has the leads doing the design work too.  On a large-scale adventure this could be very time consuming itself, so having help at the producer level, organizing and tracking the chaos of the development process, frees the leads to be able to focus on the game itself.  Add to that an external publisher - they want updates, they want to be in the loop.  Again, you want the developers focused on making the game, not holding the hand of the external producer.

Posted by Marek on Oct 20, 2004 twenty five past eight am

What an insightful article! Well done. I really enjoyed reading it.

Just to reply to one of the comments here... I understand that seemingly a lot of people are having problems with Steam, and bitching about Steam all the time also seems to make you very cool with the Counter-Strike kids. Personally, I don't see what the problem is. Purchasing the Half-Life 2 package online has been one of the easiest purchases I've ever done. You just enter your credit card details, print out a receipt if you want, and you can start downloading immediately. I went to have lunch and when I got back CS: Source was ready to be played. I call that: super convenient.

I don't worry that much about Valve going out of business. If that happens someday, I'll either pick up the game(s) from a bargain bin for dirt cheap, or I'll get it off an abandonware site. A lot of people use that "one day it might not be available anymore" argument but I don't see the big deal. In fact, I think the advantages of being able to install your Valve games from the internet with the latest patches and extras without having to keep CDs anywhere (which will be full of data errors in ten years anyway) far outweigh the minor annoyance that would occur if Valve ever folds.

That said, I won't deny that online distribution isn't for everyone. However, I think it can be a great addition to retail distribution, and I hope to see more of it.

P.S. It's really really silly to be discussing a VR adventure game. VR is shit and completely irrelevant to what's being discussed, as it wouldn't be commercially viable (there's no platform for it and thus no broad market, or were you thinking of shipping expensive VR glasses with every game?) nor would it be a desirable thing from a creative standpoint, given that VR isn't actually all that exciting.

Posted by Ron Gilbert on Oct 20, 2004 quarter to ten am

Thanks Rich, that is an excellent description of what a producer would do on this type of project.

Posted by Jeroen de Cloe on Oct 20, 2004 quarter past ten am

A very good article - I hope some readers will better understand how hard it is to get a 2d adventure game done these days. I am responsible on the "production part" of Project Joe. I first started as a game programmer, but slowly moved on to production. I think a full-time "producer" is absolutely neccessary as there is a lot of directing to do.

As an addition to Rich' sum up:

- being a "filter" between disciplines. E.g when artwork needs to be implemented in the game, you don't want to confront the game programmer with completely wrong assets. I personally look at it from a more technically perspective (you don't want to see me draw, it's horrible. Not the act itself, but the results).
- writing and updating "style" and "protocol" documents for the team
- general quality assurance

Posted by Lazarus_2 on Oct 20, 2004 quarter to eleven am

At the risk of sounding like an idiot(which i always do when responding to anything online),
i'll keep it short.

Good read.
You're a brilliant game designer Ron, that deserves to be given money for nothing just to make more games for your adoring public.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 20, 2004 five to eleven am

As for Linux - build the game on SDL and you've got Windows, Linux and Mac versions all right there.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 20, 2004 five past eleven am

@speon: but adventure games do translate wonderfully into 3D...it's just not LucasArts making them any more, and they're called RPGs these days. Go play any recent Square RPG (well, not the weird SaGa ones) - they're basically 3D adventure games with a battle system thrown in. I'm playing Chrono Cross right now and it's just like playing Grim Fandango, except I get to beat people up more. They've got puzzles, snappy dialogue, long periods where you run around thinking "where the hell do I FIND a rainbow shell?", the works.

Posted by UncleJeet on Oct 20, 2004 five past noon

You forgot to mention the biggest, most show-stopping obstacle concerning creating a new 2d point and clicker....the severe and extreme lack of creative talent in the industry.

Sure, there are lots of people to code fancy 3d engines, and almost as many artists to whip up some models and textures, and some level designers to put it all together - but the rest of the creative staff is....usually the same people.

At least in today's world, programmers aren't usually very verbally minded.  While there are exceptions, they're rare and mostly feature people from the garage development days gone by.  When these people are scripting your game's storyline and dialogue....well, you got problems.

Somehow, this brings me to another point concerning current adventure games:  they're not funny - and what's worse, the non-funny games don't make up for it with lot of excitement and energy.  Instead, they just sort of sit there like some bizarre digital poison, doing their part to make sure that the genre never fully revives from its 3d-accelerated coma.

Posted by Hellomoto on Oct 20, 2004 twenty to one pm

In regards to Mareks comment, there was actually a large group of people working on developing VR, which would later, most probably, be turned into some form of console. And I didn't mean everyone would be soing round with big headsets on, but how can you say, when it is in development, that no-one could ever use it. Sure, no-one can use it at the moment, but holographic tv's are set for 2011, there has been development on it for about 10 years now. There are at the moment some dodgy attempts at VR, mostly for kids, but the technology is there.

Who would have thought ten years ago, that the games company would be the way it s now. And so, who can say that in ten years from now, t wont be completely different. Yes the article was about 2D adventure, but people brought up 3D adventures and the next step from that (infact ts the same step really, there isn't that much of a difference) is VR. So whats so 'really really silly' about it?

Posted by Robert Lacey on Oct 20, 2004 five past one pm

This is the kind of article that makes Grumpy Gamer worth reading, so thank you very much, Ron.

Admittedly, this isn't a helpful comment (I don't know nearly enough about commercial game production to say anything insightful), but I thought I'd state my appreciation anyway. How long did it take you to write this???

Posted by speon on Oct 20, 2004 twenty to two pm

Go play any recent Square RPG (well, not the weird SaGa ones) - they're basically 3D adventure games with a battle system thrown in. I'm playing Chrono Cross right now and it's just like playing Grim Fandango, except I get to beat people up more.

I'm sorry, I respect your opinion and all, but I must disagree. RPGs have indeed taken a few elements from adventure games, but not really to the extent where I'm thinking to myself "Hey...who put their adventure game in my RPG?!"

I was alluding earlier to a true balls-to-the-wall adventure game that was an adventure game form the first keystroke in MSWord to the last closed beta bug to the boxed copy on the shelves. A title that just wants to be a pure adventure game all along, not a cross platform, genre splitting hybrid. No combat...no time constraints...no boss battles...no leveling...no dying...no jumping puzzles, etc..

Certainly no super-deformed, gargantuan-eyed, Japanese, insular misconceptions of American pop-culture with absurd story arcs and dialogue written by grade school students on LSD, who fantasize about falling in love while saving the world, hot dogs, and "...", (For some reason they go on about "..." a lot.) all the while being drop-dead serious about it.

Shudder. No thanks. I decided several years ago that I'd had enough and will probably never play another Square RPG again. (Well, except for my old GB titles, perhaps.)

This was a big reason why I gravitated strongly towards the PC in the late eighties and haven't looked back since. Sure I try things out on the console side every once and awhile that I really enjoy (GTA, Fable) but the platform really doesn't speak to me, excite me, inspire me, entertain me, or even motivate me the way computer games do. There are many other reasons as well.

In all honesty, I'm just scared because I'd be lying if I said I didn't see the writing on the wall. Each year that goes by since the PS1 came out in '95 or so, I see PC gamers becoming ever increasingly in the minority. I walk into my local EB and Gamestop and am horrifically hurt and saddened to see the PC games carelessly crammed away in the furthest, back corner of the store, huge, gooey bar-code stickers slapped over 50% of the sides (the only visible portion of the box) of unshrink-wrapped, dog-eared boxes. Contrast this with a local Walden Software 10 years ago that had over half of the store space dedicated to PC games.

Since the arrival of the XBOX, I see many (at one time) die-hard PC companies fold or jump ship to (at best) cross platform, lowest common denominator detritus. I see 1.5 million people splooging over mainstream titles like Halo 2 and wonder "Do that many people not know that Half-Life did it better, smarter, and cooler back in '98? Are there that many people out there in console land who have never played an engrossing (and dare I say "better") FPS before Halo on the PC?"

Maybe I'm just bitter and unyielding - fearing change. Maybe I know all too well what I like and see that it's no longer matching up with the mass market. Either way, I'm pretty upset and I want desperately something to be done about it. I certainly don't know what to do, and even feel that I'm actively trying. Frankly, I'm terrified. The day they stop making engrossing, mature, dark, funny, deep, detailed, immersive, atmospheric, complex PC titles, be them adventure, RPG, action, FPS, is probably the day I stop being a gamer...and that's too horrible for me to even think about.

Now I'm thoroughly depressed. :-(

Posted by Jake on Oct 20, 2004 quarter to two pm

"but adventure games do translate wonderfully into 3D [...] they're called RPGs these days."

I disagree, and this being the Internet, I will go on at length about it :)

They may have some adventurey elements, but they're not adventure games. And no I'm not some crazy 2D point and click purist, I'm pretty open minded with my definition of adventure games. But, in my book, inclusion of inventory puzzles and dialogue trees does not an adventure game make. RPG's, and Zelda-esque action/adventure/rpg games have been getting heavier on the story, and heavier on the puzzles that aren't combat-based, but they're still sprinkles on top of the main reason for the game - the wandering around to find people to fight - and that's not going to change.

I don't know if this is a true fact or not, but I recently read online somewhere that often when developing a movie, Jackie Chan comes up with new awesome stunts and set pieces, and then goes and writes a movie around them. Whether or not that's actually the case, that is a good analogy for how the story and puzzle bits are integrated into RPGs, at least in my mind. In a proper adventure game, you'd go about it the other way around.

Posted by Jake on Oct 20, 2004 quarter to two pm

I will go on at length about it

Or rather, what I thought was at length, until speon snuck that tome in ahead of my post. Woof.

Posted by Chris on Oct 20, 2004 three pm

Great and interesting article, but I gotta check your math on the developer royalties:

Retail $19 = Wholesale $15 = Royalty $3 = Developer break even units 317,000
Retail $29 = Wholesale $22 = Royalty $4.4 = Developer break even units 216,000
Retail $39 = Wholesale $30 = Royalty $6 = Developer break even units 159,000

Still pretty terrible, but better.  :)

As a former game developer and current hobbyist, this makes me glad I have a day job.  But sad because there are probably a lot of us out here who could bring more fun into people's lives if the economics of the game industry weren't so dismal.

Posted by Chris on Oct 20, 2004 four pm

One way to solve the problem, by raising the profile, is to get GOOD old games into bargain bins. Bargain bins are one way to entice new users who don't want to risk serious money on a gamble.

Go to www.quandaryland.com - there are new 2D adventure games released every month. Of course, most never reach the average store because the profile is so low. But there are always people who will risk a couple of dollars ona  cheap game, just in case. Yet the only adventure gamnes I see in bargain bins are really bad (like the Famous Five), or really hard for new users (like Myst).

If someone could release the really good old games really cheap - the ones that are easy and fun for new users - the word would get around. I don't mean these multi-game compilations, I mean single games at a bargain price.  The potential market is there, but we have to show them the good stuff.

Posted by Hullabaloo on Oct 20, 2004 ten past five pm

And just to add to this fun but sad exercise, many publishers don't begin to pay their developers royalties until they make double, even triple their development costs back. This is an increasingly common practice, and it makes for even more brutal economics when it comes to realizing any royalty bucks. It basically means that many game developers are chattel, existing on milestone payments and little else, utterly beholden to the publisher. Not completely bad if the money keeps rolling in from Mr. Publisher Guy, but a recipe for doom if a game "underperforms." This is one factor that drives the trend to make lowest common denominator games... so called "low risk" products and why fun, cool, funny games are so rare these days.

Posted by Billy on Oct 20, 2004 twenty to six pm

Is 4 programmers on a 2d adventure title with a pre-existing engine really a realistic number?  That kind of surprises me!  After SCUMM was fleshed out, were you looking at team sizes like this? Or do these numbers assume that the programmers are going to implement a game engine from scratch, and only inherit a rendering engine?

It seems like adventure titles are very suited to a data driven architecture. I would have thought that the artist to programmer ratio would have been greater.

With adventure games as well, it seems that once the core data driven game engine, and support tools were written, successive games could be produced with a smaller staff (at least on the programming side).

Do you think that successive titles could be released with a greater profit margin? What if someone took their hard work developing a succesful 2d adventure game engine, and tools, and licensed it (ala renderware), do you think that it could open up the plausibility of making a profit?

Posted by jp-30 on Oct 20, 2004 six pm

Do you think that successive titles could be released with a greater profit margin? What if someone took their hard work developing a succesful 2d adventure game engine, and tools, and licensed it (ala renderware), do you think that it could open up the plausibility of making a profit?

That's what baffled me with the cancellation of Sam & Max 2. While that particular game may have struggled to break even "in the current marketplace", their new point & click 3D engine was fully built - meaning future LucasArts 3D adventure titles could have been made at a much cheaper cost.

It seemed like a short-sighted decision to me.

Posted by Ron Gilbert on Oct 20, 2004 quarter past six pm

Is 4 programmers on a 2d adventure title with a pre-existing engine really a realistic number?

Yes, I do think it is.  First, in my example, the lead programmer is also (one of) the creative leads.  Half of this person's time is going to be spent dealing with design and management issues, even with a good producer.  I am also assuming that some work will need to be done on the engine, and that would fall on this person.

Despite what some people think, adventure game programming is not just a bunch of if-else conditions.  While you can make an adventure game like that, it's pretty flat and shallow.  A lot of time is spent on all the conditions that surround the "correct" one.  Think about how boring games are that respond with "I can't do that" for everything you try that isn't the correct solution.

To make a successful game, you need to breathe life into the world.  It has to seem like a working place, not just a bunch of conditions.  If I could make one criticism of independent adventures, that would be it.  

Throw dialog puzzles into that and it turns into a lot of work.  Think about the dialog puzzle with Stan.  That was very complex and not just a choice tree.

If you had some people that knew what they were doing, you could trim my programmer count by one.

Posted by Can't find on Oct 20, 2004 seven pm

Hi, I walked into the game shop and asked them if they had the game available, but they hadn't heard of it.  Is it sold out or something?

Posted by jp-30 on Oct 20, 2004 ten past seven pm

Hi, I walked into the game shop and asked them if they had the game available, but they hadn't heard of it.  Is it sold out or something?

After careful evaluation of current market place realities and underlying economic considerations, we've decided that this was not the appropriate time to stock a graphic adventure on the PC.

Posted by Jake on Oct 20, 2004 twenty past nine pm

This is similar to how the toy industry works too. Toy inventors sell their ideas to big toy companies (Mattel and Hasbro) and make a smallish royalty.  But, they have to pay off the advance first before they actually see anything.  For a toy invention company any bigger than one person in a garage, you need to sell roughly half a million toys to make it worthwhile.  Almost all toys are sold through Walmart in December, so if you aren't ready for christmas or if Walmart doesnt pick up your item, your out of luck.

Posted by Fish on Oct 20, 2004 five past ten pm

UncleJeet says:
You forgot to mention the biggest, most show-stopping obstacle concerning creating a new 2d point and clicker....the severe and extreme lack of creative talent in the industry.

I say:
I disagree; there's an abundance of creative talent in the industry.
Unfortunately, there's an extreme lack of publishers willing to take risks with them.  I think Ron's article goes some way to explaining why that is.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 20, 2004 twenty five to eleven pm

speon - I was very confused while reading your post...right up until I hit the "several years ago" bit. Yes, that would explain it - up until relatively recently, Square's Americanisation efforts involved hiring one (one) random American who could speak Japanese and throwing a game at them.

this, as you can imagine, does not lead to optimal results. :)

recent ones have much better translations; comparing Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross is a good example - they both have really neat time-travelling storylines similar to DotT, but CT's is completely mangled in translation and localisation while CC's isn't.

As for your general comments, I think they do console gaming a disservice; both PC and console platforms have tons of mindless garbage, and both have some fantastic and original games. (No, I'm not talking about Halo, here). Being a PC gamer you naturally recognise the good PC games and probably mentally discount the crap (for every Half Life, there's a Daikatana...) and console gamers do the same for their platforms. I'd say both sides of the industry are just following the old adage that 95% of everything is garbage.

Posted by JohnBaez on Oct 20, 2004 quarter to midnight

Thanks, that was a hell of an article. Although we didn't do an adventure game, we did make a multiple SKU 2D console title which will be released next month on PS2 and GameCube. (http://www.alienhominid.com)

It took us 18 months and cost a bit more than you've penciled in, but it's worked out pretty much exactly as you've outlined it. We funded it all ourselves and waited until it was finished before shopping it to publishers. Along the road we even thought of self publishing retail, but we didn't go that route for the reasons you mentioned.

Again, amazing article and I'm glad I didn't read it 18 months ago : )

john

Posted by cliffski on Oct 21, 2004 half past midnight

Interesting read, but I'm not at all convinced by the dismissal of the economies of online sales. There is one big obvious problem with the math and that is that you are assuming a 1 gig game.
I have to ask...
WTF???
Making games small has become a lost art. I remember squeezing a game into the 1k you got on a sinclair zx81. These days both coders and artists act like RAM and disk space are infinite. there is ZERO optimisation size wise. everything is sacrificed for good looks and fps. Some of the texture sizes used in modern games are hilarious. texture reuse rare, high quality one-off sounds get attached to everything,and the games are made far too long for 90% of the gamers to finish.
HL2 is an exception, its so popular people will tolerate a 1 gig download. But making a downloadable game that size is insane. Games journalists may be fickle fools who mark down a game because it installs on less than 200 CDs, but apart from the tragic FPS fans, most people dont care.
Put together a game thats under 100MB and the economies change dramatically. I've even shipped a 32bit color arcade shooter with sound effects in 900k. it CAN be done.
1 gigabyte of data for a computer game is just insane (and I speak from experience, I work in my dayjob on a AAA title for a UK developer. Its probably a 1.5gig install...)

Posted by Ron Gilbert on Oct 21, 2004 ten past one am

There is one big obvious problem with the math and that is that you are assuming a 1 gig game.

Remember, for this thought experiment, we're making a 2D adventure.  We don't have the advantage of textures.  We're hand drawing (or rendering) everything.  Trust me, there is a hell of a lot of art in one of these things.   You could save some time and space by reusing animations, doing generic walk-cycles, etc, but you loose that sense of a immersive experience.  It starts to look more like a video game than a movie.  

Plus, there could be 8000 lines of recorded dialog.  That is not unreasonable for this type of game.  You could save some space with lots of generic lines, but you need dialog to build characters.  A lot of games try to skip this and everyone seems like a bad caricature.

The games I did at Humongous came in at 300M each, including dialog and music.  Granted, those were not highly compressed because they didn't have to be, so we could have saved some room.  The 1G figure was rounded up, but even at half that, it's still significant.

Posted by Guest on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to three am

I strongly disagree there is zero optimization size wise, nowadays.  PC games can be particularly bad, but to get a good quality experience on a console, you'll want to cram as much in there as possible.  Granted you'd probably want to go a lot further on a speccy game, but given the size and complexity of modern games it's not really feasable to pack in every last bit (nor desirable, size and speed are often at a trade off).

I do however agree that if you're going to distribute stuff online it should be as small as possible.  Cartoony graphics compress quite well (you could get DOTT on floppies) which leaves the sound, however since the advent of mp3 and subsequently ogg, that is much less of a problem (you can fit the full talkie version of DOTT on a 128 MB pocket PC card now).

Dling a 128 MB game should take just over half an hour on a 512kbit connection which isn't unreasonable at all really.

Posted by Surge on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to three am

'i want a cold cd in my hands , a pretty box, an instruction manual printed on paper, and if we were in the good old days of Nintendo games , a nice poster or something'
Very true, and a lot of people like that, check out the polls on http://www.mobygames.com

What do you think about Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure (http://www.mobygames.com/game/sheet/p,3/gameId,11729/) ? It's a pretty interesting hybrid, the game being fully 3d rendered, but using the classic point & click controls...

Posted by speling pulice on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five past five am

It's a "niche" market, not "nitch". Though your pronunciation is good... :)

Posted by eloj on Oct 21, 2004 twenty past six am

>subsequently ogg

Vorbis is especially nice, because the artifacts aren't as horrible as mp3 at low-mid:ish bitrates (if anyone disagree, chime up. That would be amazing). You could encode dialogue at 44.1KHz @ ~64kbit/s and only spend ~25MB/hour. If you really want to cram things in there you could go even lower and almost cut the size in half by resampling to 22KHz -- which you could probably getaway with for pure speech. (vorbis vs mp3)

I love the vorbis.

Posted by Someone on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to eight am

As for your general comments, I think they do console gaming a disservice; both PC and console platforms have tons of mindless garbage, and both have some fantastic and original games.

Very true. I'll be the first to admit that I probably haven't played enough new console games to accurately portray a modern take on them. That said, in general, I'm a lot less "drawn in" when playing console games - partly due to things like the interface, general console conventions, and partly due to the setting in your homes where console games are generally played.

I like to really "get into" my games when I play them, and let reality melt away for awhile. I find PC games offer a more powerful and satisfying way to achieve these goals, personally.

$0.02

Posted by Rich on Oct 21, 2004 ten to eight am

There are of course many technique on shaving space with this thought exercise.  The dialog/sound compression with MP3/OGG is a no-brainer.  The art, though, is by far the trickiest.

Sure, there are ways to construct your art that could result in huge savings - stylized cartoon shading indeed compresses nicely.  But does this style push the product deeper into the niche?

Remember in the old days when Myst was fresh and new and selling to every first-time home computer buyer - the reason most often cited was that it was a beautiful game.

I would assume a slow-moving staring-at-the-screen-while-mulling-over-a-problem-type game like this fictional 2D adventure would probably be best served by the highest quality art (backgrounds) as possible, to be as "beautiful" as possible.  Expectations about the art style would be very high for this game, and an overly cartoon style would probably not cut it.

The Humongous game backgrounds were predominantly done by fine artists using either air-brush or Photoshop to its full potential.  Of course, we also ended up reducing to 8bit indexed but that was really only because of our engine and our low system specs.  They looked spectacular, but did not compress well at all.  At Hulabee we went up to 16 bit, which freed up some palette constraints we had in indexed, but also caused that damn banding effect, so dithering had to be done in many cases.  Again, not very great compression.  We had some luck with JPG but still, there are just simply a lot of pixels in a background.  Plus for a modern title, we would probably want to go up to 800x600 resolution (the Humongous stuff was all 640x480).

With an adult title, we are talking about adding at least 4x as many locations as we were doing for our kids games.  That also means 4x as many props in the world (assume hand animated/rendered) and at least 1/4 more characters (again hand animated/rendered).  

Think of a camera close-up on our hero at a point in the story - every frame of that character animation could be 1/2 the screen.  And what frame rate are we using?  10 like Humongous?  20 for more fluid animations?  Even with compression that adds up.  And this is only a single camera cut in a single scene.  Sure we could avoid camera cuts, or reuse all close-ups but this goes back to visual expectation.

The shear quantity of assets in a game like this gets overwhelming.  And plus, because of this quantity, you really don't have time to optimize every last piece.

Anyway, long story short - Ron's estimates are not unreasonable given the artistic assumptions I believe he is making.

Posted by billy on Oct 21, 2004 twenty to ten am

Despite what some people think, adventure game programming is not just a bunch of if-else conditions.  While you can make an adventure game like that, it's pretty flat and shallow.  A lot of time is spent on all the conditions that surround the "correct" one.  Think about how boring games are that respond with "I can't do that" for everything you try that isn't the correct solution.

I certainly wasn't implying that it was as simple as that!  Out of anyone probably in the world, you have the keenest insight into the development of these games. I was just throwing out the idea that perhaps if the tools were better, that more could be accomplished with people who were less technically adept.  For example, building dialog puzzles (and puzzles in general) using Finite State Machines - something more advance than simple if-then scripts.  Spend time developing a really good tool that allows you to design the states and transitions/conditions in Visio or or something more graphically intuitive, and export them into a format the game engine can read in. If the tool was sufficiently good, you could cover a lot of ground.  Not to say there wouldn't still be a great deal of programming going on, but perhaps some programmers could be exchanged for junior level designers (which I assume would be cheaper?)

It seems to me, that in the game industry, companies are constantly re-writing their core tech from scratch, and a lot gets thrown away.  Too many games aren't designed with a reusable engine in mind, and so much money gets wasted on starting over every game.  So many start-ups (or even well established companies) are going under, because the cost of developing games is just way too much, and even if you develop a game worthy of being a hit, it's random chance whether or not it will succeed (I use "Prince of Persia: Sands of time", and "Beyond Good and Evil" as examples here.)

The picture that's painted of the 2d adventure ever coming back is very bleak.  Personally, that is hard to hear. It's my favorite genre, and I hate to see it go by the wayside.  Perhaps I'm just grasping at straws, but I cant help but try to figure out some way to make it profitable.

I never really thought about it before, but you are absolutely right when you say it's the scenarios surrounding the puzzles that make the game. Litle nuances really to bring it to life.  I was playing "Syberia" the other day.  Although it was beautiful, it felt very linear and cold.  There was no interaction aside from that which was written as part of the plot. Plus,  the character was not able to stuff unusually large objects down their pants.  Which I think anyone would agree, separates the great games from the filler.

Posted by eloj on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to ten am

>The dialog/sound compression with MP3/OGG is a no-brainer.

Not using mpeg1-layer3 is one, anyway.

>  Expectations about the art style would be very high for this game, and an overly cartoon style would probably not cut it.

The best adventure ever produced (IMHO), DoTT, was very "cartoony". I don't think going with a "cartoony" art style would be a problem. I love the style used in DoTT.

But you'd probably decide art style based on story, characters and puzzles, and not the other way around?

> every frame of that character animation could be 1/2 the screen.  And what frame rate are we using?  10 like Humongous?  20 for more fluid animations?

Since about 1998 (when BG1 came out, which used complex sprites in enormous quantities) I've been of the opinion that 2D cell animation in games - for all intents and purposes - is dead.

Assuming we're targeting real computers, I'd use 3D models and OpenGL instead. Use 2D orthogonal projection for that "2D feeling" if you want, yet still have access to things like hierarcial skeletal animation, hardware accelerated scaling & alpha-blits, hardware antialiasing, etc. Good thing for an adventure game, there's not going to be that many objects on screen at once (driving up specs), but you probably want (this being a commercial game and all) the few there are to have complex animation patterns ("hero reaching for thing on the ground|table|cupboard|under the table|mat|etc") which is where 3D resources really shine (well, duh)

As you start adding more and more animations (and special-effects), 3D looks better and better in both time and space.

Just to be clear, you'd still use 2D backdrops, so it's a "best of both worlds" thing; Beautiful pre-rendered backdrops with fluid animation on top.

Now, is this breaking with the "We're building a classic 2D point-n-click adventure game." assumption? Maybe, but I'd put that up to whether or not "classic" is talking about "tech" or "feel". It's not classic tech, but I'm reasonably sure it could deliver classic feel.

Posted by tankko on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to ten am

the character was not able to stuff unusually large objects down their pants.  Which I think anyone would agree, separates the great games from the filler.

HAHAHAHAHA!  The the best advice I've ever heard for making a great adventure game!!!!

Posted by curst on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five to eleven am

Concerning modern 3D games that may or may not do a good job of incorporating adventure-game elements: one reason I like the Silent Hill series a lot, despite the mostly crappy combat, is that they do the best job I've seen of including classic adventure gameplay in the context of a different genre (survival-horror).  The only problem with saying "all old-school Sierra/Lucasarts fans, check them out!" is that they don't have too many puzzles.  The ones that are offered are very good (at least in SH1 through 3 - unfortunately SH4 sort of sticks to the Tomb Raider style of puzzle), but there's just not as many as most classic adventures.  On the other hand, old adventure games did a lot of things that I now dislike (completely illogical puzzles, being able to screw yourself out of winning early on while still being allowed to progress almost all the way to the end, spiral freakin' staircases), and SH avoids all that crap.

The fact that the stories in the SH games are some of the best I've seen in all of videogaming, the sound is staggeringly great, and with SH2 through 4 the graphics/animation are superb... all that's just icing on the cake for a (well, former) fan of adventure games like me.

SH4, again, does a much worse job of being an adventure game then the others (although a better job at having enjoyable combat), so you might want to skip it entirely unless you become an addict of the series.  However, SH1 and 2 are bargain-bin buys these days (plus I think SH3 is down to no more than $20), so unless you have absolutely NO gaming time to spare on a series you aren't sure about, I'd say why not give one of them a whirl?  Bear in mind SH1 is for the Playstation One only, so you PC-only gamers are out of luck there.

Oh yeah, I should say that old-school adventure gamers who don't like the idea of horror games will probably not like SH either.  While no game has ever really scared me (I'm not bragging here, in fact I'm a little envious of those who can get scared by games), SH is easily more "disturbing" than any other game I've played because of the brutally bizarre environments, strange monsters and sometimes-sickening bits and pieces of the overall story that underlies the town of Silent Hill.  If Alone In The Dark scared you way back when, then you're gonna need extra underwear when you turn off the lights, crank up the surround-sound, wait until midnight, and give SH3 a try.

And after playing it, imagine how well something like Space Quest or Maniac Mansion would translate to something like the SH engine.  I think it'd work wonders, personally.

Posted by scooter on Oct 21, 2004 five to eleven am

Fish:
Unfortunately, there's an extreme lack of publishers willing to take risks with them.  I think Ron's article goes some way to explaining why that is.

But,

JohnBaez:
Although we didn't do an adventure game, we did make a multiple SKU 2D console title which will be released next month on PS2 and GameCube. (http://www.alienhominid.com)

So it is at least still possible to get an indie 2D game published - on consoles no less. :)

Posted by cheesybagel on Oct 21, 2004 ten past eleven am

I agree with what was said here by others before. 1GB is way too much for a 2D adventure game. Compress music and speech in OGG format, compress the graphics in PNG or MNG, compress the text using gzip compression, you will fit a great game in 128 MB with minimum effort. At worst you can make a lush game which will fit in a CD-ROM with lots of video animations (compressed in Ogg Theora or Xvid format) with around 512 MB. Still leaves some room to spare.

I also agree with others that you are dismissing online distribution too easily. Think of it like a business leader. You are possibly surrendering 66% of your profits to the publisher and retail stores without even putting up a fight. The fact is online retail does work, look at Amazon or Dell as proofs. Regarding distribution, it also does work, you just need to look at P2P networks for that. For your business model, you would want a special download program, using a protocol similar to Bittorrent to keep your distribution costs low. Maybe you will have to roll on your own custom program for this, but the money you will save can certainly pay a couple of developers to work on this? It can also be reused for other games you eventually make.

Network bandwidth prices keep going down and will keep doing so for decades to come. This will only make the online distribution model more and more alluring as time passes.

To promote your games, there is nothing cheaper or more efficient than using your own product as the promotion vehicle. Make sure you make free demos, distributed in places like download.com, to ratchet up pre-orders for your product. Give copies of your game for free to online game review sites.

Your description of the business model reflects why most games developers are in such a poor financial shape and historically games software houses go bankrupt so easily. It seems people are just content to get their salaries paid and don't worry about profit at all. They want that sure salary, even if someone else will eat most of their profit. At least companies like Stardock and Valve are starting to see the light.

I still think SOE (the Everquest people) have the better business model with their paid subscription services. But this business model wouldn't fit a classic adventure game with static world very well...

Posted by cheesybagel on Oct 21, 2004 quarter past eleven am

Regarding recent adventure games:
Syberia 2 and Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon come across as two superb examples of how to make a good 3D adventure game.

Regarding genres:
If I was going to make an adventure game today, in the time of Lord of the Rings and Marvel superheroes movies, I know which plot line I would pick...

Posted by tankko on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five past noon

Cheesybagel:

It's great that you have enough money to fund your own game.  Most developers don't.  They need a publisher to pay the millions it to make it.  I think what Ron was writing about were the realities of the business, not what we'd all like it to be like.  And the reality is it takes money and the people with money don't like to take risks.

Posted by astro on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five to three pm

It is mentioned in the article that "there are a lot of 2D engines out there." Does anyone know of any that could actually be used in a real production? I've seen a lot, but they are almost always unsupported.

Posted by Someone on Oct 21, 2004 five to five pm

I agree with what was said here by others before. 1GB is way too much for a 2D adventure game. Compress music and speech in OGG format, compress the graphics in PNG or MNG, compress the text using gzip compression, you will fit a great game in 128 MB with minimum effort. At worst you can make a lush game which will fit in a CD-ROM with lots of video animations (compressed in Ogg Theora or Xvid format) with around 512 MB.

I know the technology is dated at this point, but Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango were both lush games with lots of cutscenes yadda yadda and each took up two CD's, not 512 MB.

Arguably yes with newer compression stuff you could get the size down a bit, but you would also probably want to make the games' visuals larger and cleaner than CMI and Grim's 640x480x8bit art and 22khz sound. 1 Gig seems like a very honest size for a proper-length adventure game using properly modern resolution and bit depth artwork and sound, given the size of games the same length from 7 years ago.

Posted by Jake on Oct 21, 2004 five to five pm

Oops that last "Someone" was me. Sorry!

Posted by Roy on Oct 21, 2004 quarter past five pm

God Bless Internet !

Posted by SiN on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five to six pm

i think a rather neat idea would be to use vector art, a la Out of this World. I have a 2d game concept in my head that i may work on early next year, so if i want people to download it, its gonna have to be small ... drawing 2d triangles (or vector art) would not only give the game a unique look, but also a small download size. What you lose though, are the little details that make most adventure games so special.


SiN

Posted by Ryan Barrett on Oct 21, 2004 quarter to seven pm

The classic LucasArts, Sierra, etc. 2D adventure games were (and still are) some of my favorite games. Unfortunately, I worked at LucasArts a while ago, just before they started their meteoric decline, and...well, let's just say they were pretty far from thinking about what actual gamers want.

But no matter. Someone please do this!

Posted by AdamW on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five to eight pm

"Bear in mind SH1 is for the Playstation One only, so you PC-only gamers are out of luck there."

But no, they're not!

http://www.epsxe.com/

I play all my Playstation 1 games (legally purchased, mind) on my PC, despite the fact that there's a perfectly good PS2 sitting right next to it. epsxe renders them all at 640x480 with filtering and anti-aliasing and they look a damn sight better for it. (you can pick up a cheap USB gamepad which copies...er...is inspired by the Playstation pad layout for 15 bucks or so).

Posted by AdamW on Oct 21, 2004 twenty to eight pm

cheeseybagel - but amazon and Dell still sell physical products. They're more like a mail order store than an online game retailer. People like boxes and discs and manuals; it's hard to get around that. (Heck, I sure do. I don't feel like I've bought something till I can stick it on a shelf.)

Posted by Impossible on Oct 21, 2004 ten past nine pm

In response to a early post about using newer graphics card features in 2D games, yes it's fully possible, and it's done with a few projects.  For example, ragdoll kung fu (http://www.ragdollkungfu.com) uses normal maps to light characters. And Face Wound (http://www.facewound.com/) has pretty complex pixel shader based post-processing. It's not done very often because commercially its considered overkill to require pixel shaders for a "simple" 2D game. It could be done in an XBox game, but most of the 2D games on XBox are arcade ports that originally ran on the Neo Geo or something of that nature. I'd love to see a 2D game like the Rumble Fish developed on arcade hardware with good pixel shaders (XBox 2 based?) but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Posted by Adewade on Oct 21, 2004 ten past eleven pm

Are you guys aware of www.theinventory.org ?

It's a monthly .pdf webzine all about adventure games. True, most of them are smaller productions coming out of Europe, but it seems the business of adventure games is picking up a bit, for this year, at least. Sign up for their email list, and they'll tell you when a new issue's in.

Definitely worth a look.

Posted by Someone on Oct 21, 2004 quarter past eleven pm

Posted by Someone on Oct 21, 2004 twenty five past eleven pm

It is mentioned in the article that "there are a lot of 2D engines out there." Does anyone know of any that could actually be used in a real production? I've seen a lot, but they are almost always unsupported

Check this list. There are various adventure game engines suitable for various needs: http://www.trumgottist.com/crowsnest/engines.php

Posted by Hellomoto on Oct 22, 2004 twenty past five am

This has a fairly long list too

(http://www.ambrosine.com/resources)

Posted by goldstone on Oct 22, 2004 quarter to eight am

Interesting.

Just wanted to add that the bandwidth costs quoted are extremely out of date. You're talking much less than a $ a download nowadays.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct 22, 2004 five to nine am

> I know the technology is dated at this point, but Curse of Monkey Island and
> Grim Fandango were both lush games with lots of cutscenes yadda yadda and
> each took up two CD's, not 512 MB.
> Arguably yes with newer compression stuff you could get the size down a bit,
> but you would also probably want to make the games' visuals larger and
> cleaner than CMI and Grim's 640x480x8bit art and 22khz sound. 1 Gig seems
> like a very honest size for a proper-length adventure game using properly
> modern resolution and bit depth artwork and sound, given the size of games
> the same length from 7 years ago.

But presumably space was not a priority for those two games, it's easy for a game to bloat if you don't specifically aim to be efficient with your memory usage.  The amount you can save is substantially more than 'a bit', in terms of sound OGG will compress cd quality sound by 12 times without a noticeable loss in quality.  106 MB would give you 2 CDs worth of continuous music, how much do you really need?

Posted by JM Ackley on Oct 22, 2004 twenty five past nine am

I think your estimates may be a bit low, my friend.  Particularly the leads which you have adding up to around $220,000.  20% overhead is also mighty low in the age of towering medical costs.  I would definitely bump up the testing as well.

Also, I would suggest that you can't just have 5 art generalists anymore.  You'd probably want a break down between animation and ink-and-paint.  I suppose you could save money by having the animators do their own tweening, but I'd argue that you'd actually be losing money.  This is based on the assumption that you don't want to pixel paint (which I submit would not be competitive in the market outside of kids games).

You'd probably have seperate BG artists and perhaps have colorists to paint the number of high-res backgrounds drawn and scanned by the lead BG artist.

I would estimate the size of the game (to be state of the art OLD SCHOOL '90's style) would be about 60-75 interactive rooms and perhaps 30-to-40 close-ups and cutaways.  

Adult gamers would expect some heavy-duty cutscnes, so let's say there's 8 minutes of animated video.  Can't do that and the 200 or so one-off interactive animations in a single year, so you'll either need to farm out the animation or beef up on animation and ink-and-paint.

Also I'd say that art-tech's are worth their weight in gold, so let's add one of them in as well.

Whaddya think?

Posted by cheesybagel on Oct 22, 2004 twenty five to four pm

tankko:
It's great that you have enough money to fund your own game.  Most developers don't.  They need a publisher to pay the millions it to make it.  I think what Ron was writing about were the realities of the business, not what we'd all like it to be like.  And the reality is it takes money and the people with money don't like to take risks.

No pain no gain. In the old days, people made games in their bedroom. Now the ever increasing push for better visuals and sound demanded by the market forces you to spend most of your budget on art. Consider starting small first without trying to hit the big time right away. Be creative. It didn't take fancy graphics for Tetris to be a smash hit. Or Deer Hunter ;-). Stardock started programming games for OS/2 (how many customers could they have had anyway?) and they are still around kicking. Microprose on the other hand is not.

I agree with SiN that 2D vector would be a nice idea. It work make the game's graphics sharp at any resolution while also adding it a bit of an unique look to help it stand out from the crowd. As a bonus it would cut down on diskspace.

AdamW:
but amazon and Dell still sell physical products. They're more like a mail order store than an online game retailer. People like boxes and discs and manuals; it's hard to get around that. (Heck, I sure do. I don't feel like I've bought something till I can stick it on a shelf.)

No reason why you cannot do the same. From what Ron said in his article, the cost of the box is absolutely tiny ($1.50) in comparison with the margins the distributor and retailer get (~$13 for the cheapest $19 price). If you push up the price, the media will still cost the same. In fact, this would be a viable approach until you get your online distribution process working. The user would pay post and packaging, just like in Amazon. I still think users can prefer online distribution if it enables them to get their game and fixes, as well as support, faster.

Ok, you want a real world example of a paid online distribution system that manages to get money out of its users. Here are a couple: Apple's iTunes, Elsevier's sciencedirect.com.

Posted by exploreRPG on Oct 22, 2004 quarter to seven pm

Sorry for the shameless self promotion but let me add my two cents.. Within any software design the areas that can cut costs are dynamics, portability, and interoperability. The ability to re-use information is a major factor in every commercial piece of software available today. You can export documents from MSWord to WordPerfect; from DB2 to Access; from 3D Studio Max, to Bryce. 3D games have the luxury of sharing maps, 3D objects because they use a text based format for their objects.

What if there were a 2D based engine that offered re-usable objects? What if there were ways to create re-usable "scenarios" instead of static maps? Couple these ideas with a database A.I. core and you have a pretty decent engine that could possibly pull off some commercial production.

That was/is the focus of Explorations RPG.. There are NO standards for 2D game object/data sharing so I established a foundation for a standard. Explorations is designed to cut game production time with each game being created. Its been in development and supported for over 8 years. Pay me a visit and share your ideas.. http://www.explore-rpg.com

Tye

Posted by The Adventurer on Oct 22, 2004 ten to seven pm

I don't know if you'll respond, but Mr. Gilbert, do you have any plans to head up a New Traditional Point and Click Adventure Game?  I know you have some things cooking in the background, and as cool as they all will end up being,  In the end, a New Adventure Game from you, one of the  great Masters, would be, well, the GREATEST thing in the universe.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 22, 2004 seven pm

the adventurer: if you actually paid some attention to the post, you would have noticed that Ron explicitly said it's a thought experiment designed to illustrate the economics of making games and should expressly not be taken as indication that he's considering making any such game.

cheeseybagel: interesting idea (though on a factual note, Amazon offer free shipping with virtually anything these days). I think retail presence counts for an awful lot when it comes to sales, though. it's a hard point to judge.

btw, itunes makes a very marginal profit, most of which goes to the record companies. it's more valuable to Apple as a way to shift more iPods than it is for the actual profit it creates.

Posted by Someone on Oct 22, 2004 ten past seven pm

Posted by  AdamW
the adventurer: if you actually paid some attention to the post, you would have noticed that Ron explicitly said it's a thought experiment designed to illustrate the economics of making games and should expressly not be taken as indication that he's considering making any such game.


Oh I know what he said about that.  I'm not talking about following his outlined "Thought Plan".  I'm asking if he ever consitered going back to his roots and knocking a new one out of the park for the new generation and all of us who want to see him fly again.

Posted by Guest on Oct 23, 2004 half past four am

> I think your estimates may be a bit low, my friend.

I work in the UK and salaries over here are significantly lower :).  Even with the weak dollar at the moment it'd still work out about 33% cheaper, plus there are plenty of people looking for jobs atm esp with the recent collapse of Argo.

Posted by Rich on Oct 23, 2004 five past eight am

There are a lot of good ideas about alternate development techniques, tools, formats, etc. but at the end of the day, going by Ron's parameters, the game would have to be sold first and foremost to a publisher.  Of course, in most cases, this means trying to sell it to MBAs who know nothing about technology, style, innovation, or really gaming itself.

I think an interesting follow up topic would be "assuming we could develop this for that cost, how would we pitch it to a publisher?"  Because that's where I think some of the problems with some of the ideas above would rear their ugly head.

It's going to be a hard-sell to convince anyone to publish what they consider a niche product.  Getting as far out the niche as possible is imperative - which means the game has to look and sound awesome.   I think the day will come when the marketplace can bear some more stylized alternative art direction, and I do see some products out there currently that give me hope (props to Alien Hominid), but until then, we are, by and large, held to a Doom3/Halo2/GTA et al visual standard.

Posted by cliffski on Oct 23, 2004 twenty to noon

i just do not agree. i would rather play a new fun unhyped original game with old school 2d art than a 4 cd install high system req behemoth that ive been bored with reading about for the last 5 years.
there is a huge untapped market for smaller cheaper games. not just casual puzzle games, but all genres.
do you think 90% of the gamers can even tell the difference between the latest video card 'shader' effects? the few thousand who blather on about video card benchmarks all day fool everyone into thinking this is the target market.
it isnt.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 23, 2004 ten to noon

cliffski - it's not untapped at all, it's more than adequately tapped by the literally hundreds of small studios pumping out simple little puzzle games in Java and Flash. or did you think people with nice fast computers and broadband internet connections in their offices are really working all day?! :)

Posted by Nevermind the diskspace on Oct 24, 2004 quarter past four am

Just that you know: Myst 4 eats 7 GB of disk, which is nice for the hard disk industry at least. I dont mind installing it on disk, since its such a splendid game. Heck, I'd install it at 20GB. Cyan was always wise in making their games huge, thats one way to stop piracy, you think twice before burning 2 9GB DVD's or buing the box. Again, thanks Cyan for a great game! (-and Ubi too!) :^)

Posted by Spaceship789 on Oct 24, 2004 twenty to seven am

Why not get your distribution deal using the advantages of living in the states - then fly off to a country with much lower cost of living, and eat porridge/rice for a year.

Movies do it to achieve their budgets, why not games industry?

Posted by Rich on Oct 24, 2004 half past seven am

cliffski - I don't doubt a lot of gamers would rather play a game like this.  But are there 200k of you out there?  Without the hype, can they find out about it?  Can you get someone to pay $29 when they normally just satisfy their gaming needs on Pogo.com?

Again, my main point, though, is that the publisher is step #1.  Unless we have sales data that supports making this type of a game, which of course we wouldn't have, it would be almost impossible to sell to a big publisher.

Spaceship789 - it's being done.  In some cases, it works great - but it's scary for the industry here, especially now that we're cranking out college graduates in game development from dozens of schools around the country.   Lots of people chasing after few jobs.  Maybe they should start teach foreign languages in the games departments at these schools.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 24, 2004 twenty to two pm

hey, you don't even need to fly. Just pop up north and visit Vancouver - it's still right by the Pacific and sunny, and we all speak English. Tons of "Hollywood" movies are shot up here, why not your next big game? :)

Posted by JohnBaez on Oct 24, 2004 ten past ten pm

From our recent experience, getting a publisher, big or small, on board was one of the last things we did and it served us well. By the time we had actually finished our 2D console title we had a number of offers. But no top twenty publisher was among them, their bar is a million projected units for an independent developer, otherwise they funnel all riskier projects to interal teams. We purposely didn't look for a publisher early on because we knew until the game was finished every minute we spent on them was wasted because they could not see beyond the risk involved. And even once we had the game ready to pitch, on 50% understood what we were trying to do. Not 3D, no half naked women, not photorealistic, not a sequel, not a movie property, new IP and trying to a retro 2D shooter on the consoles = risk. Nobody wanted to put their head on the chopping block for us.

I think in a few years the key for indie developers will be a combination of building a fan base (we've had 7.5 million views of the prototype and had about 4 million before starting production) and selling direct to the consumer with a physical product. As has been mentioned elsewhere in this stream of consciousness, people really do want a nice box and manual, especially if you are designing a niche product. If something costs $30 bucks, it is so nice to hold a physical representation of it in your hands, especially if the packaging is nice. (Hell, we even made figurines since we have an online store anyway...) By going direct from the developer to the consumer the developer realize much higher profitablility as long as the fan base is there to support it.

If the game was priced at $29.99 and COGs are $2.00 then the number of units need to crawl back into the black is only 50k units. (Assuming $1.4 million dev and marketing costs, PC not console and that means everyone has gotten paid. YAY! )

Technology is making very high production values attainable for a niche product made by a small team. The question now really isn't IF it is possible to make a 2D adventure game and make it profitably in today's market. The question is WHO will do it.

johnb

Posted by JM Ackley on Oct 24, 2004 five past eleven pm

Was your game an adventure game?

Posted by spaceship789 on Oct 24, 2004 five to midnight

Hi John - There is quite an active hobbyist adventure game creation community at http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/ which is similar to what Newgrounds is to flash. And there are also sites like www.adventuregamers.com/underground which showcases adventure games created in all manner of methods, including flash.

The talent is there, churning out games, it may be just a matter of waiting for the "big one" that gets people downloading.

(PS goodluck. you are all awesome. you should make a documentary, tom and yourself are quite charismatic)

Posted by piratebd on Oct 25, 2004 twenty past five am

You know...i bet Ron is sitting at his PC right now wating for his latest masterpiece to rake 100 comments!!

And the reason im posting is that i wanted the satisfaction of making it possible for Mr.Gilbert!!

P.S-I will accept cheques, cash and virgin sacrifices for my contributions on making such a milestone on Grumpy Gamers possible!

Posted by JohnBaez on Oct 25, 2004 five past ten am

Quote: "Posted by JM Ackley on Oct 24, 2004 five past eleven pm
Was your game an adventure game?"

No, we made a 2D sidescrolling shooter and in doing so try to evolve the genre a bit since it all but dried up when 3D showed up on the scene.

I guess if we had all been adventure gamers we would have made an adventure game because our process (and now the technology we've developed) is really genre independent. Our focus was really to try to find out if a multi SKU console title could be made by a very small team and if so what are the ramifications of doing so. This is why Ron's post was so incredibly wierd...everything he started this topic with we did and experienced and now 18 months later we have finished products to show for it. What he was writing about was not a paper exercise, at least if you allow yourself to look to other genre's and platforms.

Gamers cannot live from GTA alone, so there will always be room for niche products, a catagory we proudly place ourselves in. If small teams can make games which make a profit selling only tens of thousands of units then it will benefit the entire gaming community because there will be more to choose from. Shareware has been doing it for years; we are trying to take it the next step into console gaming.

Now, time for me to start playing some adventure games again....  : )

Posted by Someone on Oct 25, 2004 ten to eleven am

I think the testing budget on this is too low.  I imagine that part of the assumption is that you're relying on publisher QA support, but that is a very risky path - you never know what commitment you're going to get as far as test resurces go from a publisher, even if they commit to a certain number.  

30K in the budget gets you one tester for 12 months, or 2 testers for 6 months, neither of which would necessarily be lead-quality.   Remember, test is responsible for making sure that something that the developer claims to be a milestone really is - and that means a full pass on all milestone candidates.  

This is an attitude that I find worrisome in the gaming industry.  Too often, QA is viewed as unimportant.  Producers and publishers generally see QA as something which costs money for no actual return.  Designers generally see QA as valuable in general, but can get prickly when it is their work being critiqued.  These two factors result in a great deal of resentment towards QA.

In my opinion, there should probably be one QA lead (at 40K at least) throughout the project, responsible for build verification, test planning, and review of project specifications for logic bugs and general quality.  Then you hire on two or three testers at the 6 month mark.  At $10/hour, a half year of three testers is about 30K more.  You probably want to keep the QA team at about a 1 QA to 3 developer ratio at worst (1 QA to 2 developer is ideal, in my opinion) after the project hits Alpha, if you end up hiring more developers (after all, more developers means more content to be tested).

Posted by AdamW on Oct 25, 2004 quarter past eleven am

I'm completely with Someone here; it feels like he has inside experience which I don't, but from the outside, lack of QA is painfully obvious when it crops up in released games, and it has a huge negative effect in the player's mind ("If the publisher couldn't even be bothered to playtest its own game, why should I have to PAY for the privilege?!")

@johnbaez: If you meant "console not PC" and were referring to lack of piracy, well, go look at the modchip sites then come back :). If I misread you, what did you actually mean? I'd like to know.

Posted by 2D Fan on Oct 25, 2004 three pm

I dont know alot about the technical/business side of things, but as a fan I do have to say that I definately think the market for good, witty, intelligent 2D games is out there!
I know an awful lot of people who specifically avoid the 3D genre and would pay good money for a really good 2D adventure, not all of us want a game for racing, shooting, fighting etc!!
Look at the upset over the cancellation of Lucasarts Sam & Max, and the interest in the possibility of a fifth installment of Monkey Island. The market is there, I think that this has not been fully appreciated as the main focus seems primarily on 3D.
Obviously this is a total laymans view, but at the end of the day its people like me who would pay for the games so I figured I'd pass on my opinion.
Thanks!

Posted by JohnBaez on Oct 25, 2004 ten to four pm

johnBaezQuote If the game was priced at $29.99 and COGs are $2.00 then the number of units need to crawl back into the black is only 50k units. (Assuming $1.4 million dev and marketing costs, PC not console and that means everyone has gotten paid. YAY! )

AdamW Quote @johnbaez: If you meant "console not PC" and were referring to lack of piracy, well, go look at the modchip sites then come back :). If I misread you, what did you actually mean? I'd like to know.

Adam - although we did a console title, the numbers I was referring to above were for a PC title, since there is no adjustment for first party royalties. We made our 2D game for the consoles because that is what the game felt like it should be on. Piracy is and was still a huge issue for us, though that is somewhat mitigated by being on consoles. Mod chips are out there, but it is still not quite as much of an issue as PC games.

As for the testing question, I'd stick with Ron's numbers since in reality a small team wouldn't bring on QA until they are close to finishing it, so the 30k wouldn't need to span the whole project. Internally we did a lot of testing throughout the year before hiring a QA lead and they were responsible for coordination of TRC's (Sony) and Lot Check (Nintendo) as well as interfacing with our publisher's small QA team.

to 2D Fan: yes, we were suprised how many people came up to us at Comic Con 2003 and 2004 with words of support. Not everyone wants 3D, we found out. Many people don't want the immersion, they want to feel they are playing a game, not living in another reality. I guess they probably have lives!

j

Posted by AdamW on Oct 25, 2004 quarter past four pm

well, I agree up to a point, but identifying 3D as a 'genre' is going too far. You can make any type of game in 3D; please try Katamari Damashi, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and Sly 2...

Posted by David Thomsen on Oct 25, 2004 ten to seven pm

I haven't read any of the article or the 100 or so comments, but I have read the previous comment and I'm going to reply to that to try and look like I've been paying attention.

What about Lemmings? Lemmings is a great 2D game that is absolutely impossible to translate into 3D.

And now I'm going to go away and try to make myself believe I've made a valuable contribution.

Posted by fsflaquer on Oct 25, 2004 nine pm

I think you're missing the point here. To 3d or not to 3d is irrelevant. The Strong factor on the games we played and loved was the story and POINT AND CLICK! What gone wrong with Monkey Island 4 and the only weak spot of Grim Fandango was the interface.

The PC games, as I see it, works best with something I call "the sandwich factor". What is it? Most of the big selling games for the PC have it (not counting the First person action games, which also have a state of the art INTERFACE, the keyboard + mouse for walk and act).

The sandwich factor is when I can play the game with a sandwich with my hand. No time limit, no skill involved besides my brain. It includes turn based games (Civilization, Kotor, Final Fantasy, Fallout) to no skill required games (The Sims, Most the adventures out there). It means no head-turning, I-can't-find-the-right-spot, click-faster-here, type of game


As for the budget issue, I think it is a question of maturity. Of the market.

Take hollywood for example. A few years ago, no producer was willing to take risks whatever, comics movies, indie movies or anything that wouldn't make a blockbuster. But then the market got big enough so it could take risks, like Magnolia, bringing Eastern Movies and other low budget scripts to the public.

Other factor is that technology will grow, so that it will be cheaper to make games or to hire specialized staff (easier tech, more people that work well with it). Blair Witch and El Mariachi can prove it.

So relax, and sit back,

It will come back.

Posted by JM Ackley on Oct 25, 2004 five past ten pm

That's what they said at Infocom.

Posted by eloj on Oct 25, 2004 quarter to eleven pm

> Lemmings is a great 2D game that is absolutely impossible to translate into 3D.

Not impossible, but yeah, pretty pointless.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 26, 2004 five past one pm

Thanks, eloj. Yep, they did indeed make Lemmings in 3D. I don't see the problem, either - done right it would actually add to what you could do with the game. It'd be hard to make it simple enough, but not impossible. Worms is a somewhat similar game that seems inherently 2D at a glance, but they made an excellent pass at Worms 3D when they eventually did it.

Posted by James on Oct 27, 2004 five to two pm

Man, if I had to read this many comments to my articles I would be Grumpy too ;)

Posted by evstar on Oct 28, 2004 midnight

I just bumped into "Use Really Powerful Telescope" in MM(D), first time for me, ever.  [ angry alien on superfar planet, a tree on a far hill, a gutter on a house, a spider ].  And I thought, "Myst (Riven (Exile)) !!"  So, I'm 17 years behind the times.

========

2D graphics, story games:
Monkey Island, Secret Of
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
Loom , Maniac Mansion , Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max,
Indiana Jones and Fate of Atlantis

2D plus object-oriented chaotica A.I.:
Lemmings - Baldur's Gate - Starcraft, Warcraft

2(+1)D graphics, story games:
Neverhood
Obsidian
Grim Fandango
Syberia
Myst - Riven - Exile - Revelations

=====

DOESN'T THIS LIST JUST WARM YOUR JADED HEART!!???

I really don't like games where I have to shoot/kill all the time,
and I'm alarmed that so many people do.

Posted by evstar on Oct 28, 2004 five past midnight

add:
2(+1)D --- "Longest Journey"
2D OO chaotica A.I. --- "Civ3"

Posted by Ryback on Oct 28, 2004 five past four am

Adam Williamson?!? Well, fancy meeting you here.

Anyway, it seems like all the people picking nits at the original post are saying that Ron's estimates are far too conservative. Which is a shame, and it sort of makes his point anyway. You can make an adventure game very cheaply - just look at the thriving amateur text-adventure scene, but getting people to pay for these cheaply made adventures is another matter - look at the various failed attempts to sell commercial interactive fiction a few years ago. Nowadays the base level budget for a computer game has grown so high that various genres, and now even various subject matters, are not economical to attempt.

It's impossible to imagine something like the Blair Witch project of computer games, something made for a couple thousand that goes on to reap millions. It'll never happen.

Posted by AdamW on Oct 28, 2004 quarter past eleven am

hey ryback, I get everywhere ;)

and if I'm not mistaken, we both play the Blair Witch Project of computer games. Doom was pretty cheap to make and it sold squillions.

Posted by evstar on Oct 28, 2004 twenty five to three pm

Google says:

  CNN.com accurately describes Nocturne
  as "the Blair Witch Project of computer games."

The problem is retraining the mass audience
to stop downloading their music for free,
and to expect to pay for cool little games
the same way they expect to pay $8 to see a two-hour movie.

Posted by Someone on Oct 28, 2004 five to six pm

I really don't like games where I have to shoot/kill all the time, and I'm alarmed that so many people do.

I too am surprised by the gun-centric nature of gamers (and America).

I mean, I love a good shooter as much as the next person, but that's certainly not all I want to do in a computer game. Where has the humor gone? The involved, thought-out, complex puzzles? The zany dialogue and riveting story?

I would love to play games revolving around themes like isolation, exploration, tragic love stories, ancient/fantastical discovery, humorous adventures, messianic predestination vs. inevitable effect. etc. etc. Not that these themes are completely absent in shooters, but it'd be nice if the main interface with the game world didn't involve pulling a trigger.

Posted by Xantar on Oct 29, 2004 ten to noon

The biggest thing to think about is the engine really. There are lots of plusses and minusses (???)
oh well the spelling sucks.
Newer succesful games like syberia were static 3d rendered backgrounds with realtime 3d shaded characters with particle effects, lighting, etc. and both games were a success what level of success is up for some debate.

Now if you are going for the classic gaming, I wish it was still 1994 2d Point and click gamer or worse yet the 1988 I wish that the mouse was never used and a text parser is da bomb type of psyco gamer you should be doing things in Linux.

That is not so bad if you are using OpenAL and SDL. Heck with those you could port the game to ANYTHING with very little time SDL is supported on PS2, Mac, and PDAs. Which means that everyone can use your product.

But that is the problem. There are still a handful of 2D Point and click adventures coming out. And even one or two that are not Myst clones(OMFG).

Some are clean and polished Like Syberia I & II, but others like Runaway and Journey to the center of the earth are very crude. The successful game will be the polished one. Those are the ones bringing back the genre. IT may take more RPGish elements or real puzzle solving elements(not the traditional wacky puzzle). But games like Syberia and The Longest journey have done alot to bring some marketability into the genre.

Posted by fabrizio on Nov 1, 2004 five past three am

Lucky that, if a commercial one cannot be developed, point & click adventures are created today as freeware and some of the past can still be purchased.
In any case, you aren't planning to make a game like this, but in another form you would make "Monkey Island 3a: The secret revealed or your money back"... no?  ;-)

Posted by LordJim on Nov 1, 2004 ten past three pm

Couldn't you just intentionally screw over a publisher by convincing them that this "new" point and click interface is going to revolutionize the gaming industry? Let's face it. Publishers are stupid. They can't seem to remember 5 years prior let alone what games were like over a decade ago. I think a smooth talker with a plan might be able to trick a publisher into fronting the money for an adventure game. Sure we all know that there is only a very slim chance that the game would even break even, but they sure don't need to know that. You might forever kill your credibility if you fail, but at least you could potentially make a game that could truly attain greatness and long loasting appeal.

I love that everyones' complaint about adventure games was that they had no replayability. Here I am now 15 years after a lot of these games came out attracting crowds at lunch watching, laughing along, wracking our brains, reminiscing, and thoroughly enjoying playing through all of these games.

-Jim

Posted by Dani Iborra on Nov 3, 2004 twenty five to five pm

Hi everybody,
I've liked a lot the article, and I think it's quite realistic.
I'm a videogame producer and sales manager. Recently my company has produced a 2D point&click adventure of medium quality, and I'd like to share my experience.
About the total development cost, I think it's quite correct, and there're only two ways to cut it down: lowering the quality (number of animations, length, electronic music, ...) or developing the game in a "cheap" country. Well, there are some other tricks like having special software tools to make programming easier or produce graphics faster, but that also means more programming costs.
But there's a big problem in this kind of projects: time.
From the moment you start the development you spend money. But, when will you recover it?
Before you can produce animation, you must have the design done, and before editing levels, you must have the artwork done. So those 12 months turn into 18 months.
And I'm assuming that your engine runs fine (a game engine is not only the graphics engine and anyway, nowadays you should use 3d technology to produce 2d FX like camera movements, zooms, scrolls, rain, lightnings...), and you have level editors. The problem with 2D games is that there aren't standard tools like MAX or any known 3d level editors like the HL or quake ones.
So, the game is done, but... what about the publishers? You can lose several months negotiating with them.
And when you close an agreement, you only get a small part of the royalties, and you must wait till the game has been sold (from 3 to 6 months more).
So, you invest around 0.9 million and don't see the profits till 2 or 3 years later.
And your game should be a success to recover that sum.

I think that the only way to go ahead with a AAA adventure game is having a strong publisher  behind that spends enough to ensure at least 100.000 units sold worldwide, that in my opinion, is not an unreasonable sum. And adventure games can be sold for 2 or 3 years. Nowbody today would buy a FPS made in 2002, but I'm sure people still buy Grim Fandango nowadays.

Dani

Posted by austin on Nov 15, 2004 ten past three pm

i would like to make a game free and not pay for none of the stuff or tools get free and make money and ill split the money thanks

Posted by Someone on Nov 16, 2004 ten past two pm

him name is hopkin green frog i'll find my frog who took my frog thanks

Posted by Someone on Dec 3, 2004 eleven am

NKMBB23454354654

Posted by Nexus on May 26, 2005 quarter past four pm

A very sobering and enlightening account. Thank you for writing it.

Posted by Gui reis on Jun 25, 2005 five past two am

you stupid dog

Posted by rebuyguy on Aug 18, 2005 half past one pm

During my game design research I found this article and find it to be EXTREMELY enlightening.  My son and daugthers play/played Humongous games throughout their childhood.

My frustration is that game publishers are not thinking of the children.  As an old gamer I grew up with arcades and Atari.  Games were simple, engaging and became a passion.

Pre-teen kids only have license games to wean themselves on.  They are repetitive and don't involve using their very active brains.

My question is this:  From a business perspective how much of a return do the publishers expect to make?  With your above example, at 100k units their gross profit is $1.8m and their investment cost is $1.4m.  That calculates into a 28% gross profit margin.

Nothing to write to the board of directors about but not something to sneeze at.  Are they shooting for mega-dollar sales figures?  Or the single mega-hit like the film industry?

I am in agreement with all those favoring the adventure game genre but with a twist.  I want lots of quality adventure games for kids so that they will grow up enjoying games as much as I did.

Posted by Oded Sharon - Buy A Car For Ron Gilbert on Oct 8, 2005 five am

Maniac Mansion Deluxe is no more..

So sad.

Posted by jjmon on Oct 28, 2005 ten past seven am

i'm loking for the fictional email of my fictional job interviewery,
thx for all the fun Ron.

Posted by ChrisNiemy on Mar 20, 2006 quarter to two pm

Thanks for that article!

I also wondered these days, why I think most of the 3D-Engines are crappy in someway, thinking about adventures. Well, Grim Fandango did fine in some way, it was all one athmosphere and suitable to the characters. On MI4 this did not work :( (  o  if it was only the engine,....cry)

Perhaps Telltale Games should make an astonishing 2D-Adventure. Now we could to all that in 2D of what we dreamed of in the 90s. I`m thinking of a high-end S&M 1 -engine. In 1024x786 or so. How how this one game called "Riddle of Master Lu" or something. They did an interesting and sometimes suprisingly 2D Engine with variable more layers than just one.

3D SUCKS!! (though DirectX more than Open GL of coure, uhmm last one does not suck at all :D)
Greets -Chris

Posted by wholesale on May 15, 2006 quarter to nine pm

Have a look at pinhead games, they give their games away for free and rely on donations, and cos the games are so good they make money..well they must do as they are always making new great rgp's

Posted by Someone on Jul 29, 2006 ten to three pm

jjj

Posted by Lynoure Braakman on Jun 1, 2006 twenty past ten am

I'd love to make an adventure game, as a hobby. I am hoping someone similarly minded will see this comment and contact me.

Posted by JO JO on Jul 10, 2006 ten past noon

How do i make a video game?!!!!??Im mad cuz i cant find any ways!1!

Posted by jenn on Jul 25, 2006 five past noon

Game companies would only give the games out for free if they know their gonna make money on somthing. For the donations of the game is actually quiet for publicity what a great way to advertise by giving somthing away for free.

http://www.wholesalers2u.co.uk

Posted by Gupdana Zilda on Jul 31, 2006 ten to one pm

Thats also why they give out demos, The cheapest way you can probably get a game is by buying a wholesale game, maybe superman?

The UK's Wholesale Website


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