05 February 2015

5 Prospects For My Game Company In 2015

Although 2015 already started a month ago, its never too late to talk about new years resolutions. I had some interesting outcomes on last year's resolutions. Hopefully this year will do the same, I have described 5 new year's resolutions for 2015 and I have described a few hard lessons learned.



Finish A Game
Yes, its really hard to finish a game, I think its even the hardest part of the process. Last year our work mainly consisted out of research and lessons learned rather than actual progress to a finished a game. We actually learned more about our preferences and ambition with engines, development tools and process frameworks. November 2014 we decided to use Scrum more effectively and tested this with a new project made in Unreal Engine 4. Development has been very prosperous!

One of the lessons we've learned is that if you start a game company and just commit yourself to one project without developing different types of prototypes, it might be you get caught up in a game concept that will not become a great game. This was one of my fears, that is why we decided to stall our Horrinth, our horror game. Horrinth has been in development since the start of the company and greatly needs a redesign. Al long the way we have also created a few small  prototypes, where some of them proof to be more realistic to finish and have shorter development cycles. I can greatly recommend to 'explore' what you can create by developing several prototypes and make a choice which has the most potential.

Besides that, we all heavily required a break from project Horrinth. Problem is that if you already announced a game, it can be very confusing if you announce a new game all of a sudden. That is why we want to have our first prototype running and do the announcement directly with gameplay footage. 

One thing stands above all, this game will be our debut and everything points to a release this year. I think a release is necessary, because I want to show everyone what KeokeN Interactive is capable of.




Bring Focus And Sustainability
Starting a game company can be very stressful and does not directly lean on sustainability. Mostly on a financial aspect, as well as project size, amount of projects and employees. Creating our own game wasn't possible if we did not do some work for hire projects besides our own development. 

There is however one problem. You have to make a large enough profit from those 'work for hire' projects to be able to re-invest this in your own productions. Trust me, you will not or barely pull this off correctly right away. Most projects will always take longer than expected, and the estimated costs will exceed eventually. You will end up with a product sold to a client way too cheap. However, this has nothing to do with your own games, this is a process of learning how to deal with "work for hire" projects. If you do this long enough, you will find your business shifting to work for hire, and your dream to create your own productions will slowly drift away, because with those projects come great responsibilities and take time.

After a few work for hire projects, some of them really cool, some of them quite hard, I questioned myself, "Do I want to keep doing this?" Well, a clear "NO" was projected in my mind. I want to go back and put my energy into my own entertainment productions.

During client projects, we didn't stop working on our own games, however, I had to split myself in half to give my team and clients equally enough of my energy. The problem is that I couldn't focus myself when projects kept piling up. All of these projects were going pretty great, except our own games. I always strive for the best possible result for my clients. Everything besides that will suffer from it, in this case our own IP's.

What I am actually saying is that 'focus' and 'sustainability' are very important, although they don't go hand in hand automatically. It all depends on your choice. I experienced it's very hard to combine work for hire and your own product in terms of focus. Work for hire can acquire sustainability on short term, where your own IP will have to proof sustainability in the end when you can earn the royalties.

I have therefore chosen to reset my game company and focus only on our own entertainment productions. Luckily I am shareholder of more companies which can take over clients over time.



Broadcast Online

The internet has been busy these past years, and broadcasting has become very accessible to all of us. Traditional TV is slowly losing ground and the YouTubers, Twitchers and Netflixes are bursting out everywhere, armed with a large user-base. Its crazy to see how much time people spend 'watching' videos or live broadcasts online. This can't be ignored and I am already aware this is a medium I have to do something with.

Last year I had a great plan to execute on Twitch, however this will take to much time off my hands, as I said, I need to focus myself again. However I think I will start to broadcast videos of our development every two weeks and try to create a community that can help us finish our game. I start with pre-recorded videos on YouTube and eventually when people like to see 'live' performances I will prepare Twitch broadcasts. I think these platforms are a great way to interact with your audience, community and fan base.



Reinvent My Blog
I have been very busy with a lot of projects as you have noticed. The last blog post I did was 14th of December. I completely skipped January. So I have not really sustained my monthly posting. I do think posting is very important and I like to take a second look at my blog and re-invent some parts of it. 

I will start sharing development videos of our games. I will also redesign my blog, so that everything is easier to find. Some of the articles are still useful today, but you have to dive deep in my history. I need to make them more accessible. The overall design is outdated and I'd like to freshen it up with some new visuals and improve readability. Any suggestions are more than welcome!





Help The Industry

Last year I have done everything in my power to help others progress. I have helped many interns to experience great improvements in their skills. I have tried to discuss certain problems within the game development communities, and shared many interesting games from other developers to give them access to our modest 'reach'. 

I really love to do this. I have experienced only good has come from these actions. You can't imagine how many people I have seen with a smile on their face. If its helping someone, offering someone an internship, a job, or post about their game as a small gesture of appreciation. Helping someone to feel good about themselves is one of the greatest things to achieve. The game industry is a large community and of course we compete with each other, however it seems we rather help than fight each other generally speaking. I think we should be proud of that. It sounds like an industry I like to be and keep involved in for many years to come.

I know, I know, there are also problems, and there is always sort of a fight somewhere, but it doesn't pollute the industry directly. Most of these problems are because we all participate in here with our heart. And when you do something with your heart, it means you fight with passion instead of hate. 



What are your prospects for 2015?

/Koen

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