Recent posts by damijin on Kongregate

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Topic: Kongregate / Say Hello to Your New CEO

Congratulations Jim and Emily!

Kongregate changed my life, and both of you gave me my first break in the industry. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you guys and this site. Hope to see you around at GDC!

Proud Former Kongployee,
Michael Gribbin

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by Belain:

I keep getting told that if I really want to succeed in Game Design, I need to earn the CCNA. Where will the CCNA help me with Game Design?

No, those people are lying to you. You need to make games to succeed in game design. An education in art or computer science is the best place to start.

Originally posted by Tower43:

I am interested, but I was wondering if you are familiar with batch coding? I require some help on the topic: http://www.kongregate.com/forums/4-game-programming/topics/342117-help-batch-programming-issues

I am not at all. I am not even sure what that means. To be fair, I don’t program. I took comp sci in high school, but I write zero code in my current job.

Originally posted by HatchetGames:

Is their more money in working for a big game company, or is it just more consistent? Would you stay Indie if money was not an issue?

This is an awesome one. Uh, right now it depends on where you are. There are a few really high profile indies who got crazy rich in the past several years. There are plenty more who earned more than I am currently earning.

Yet there’s a lot who are earning much much much less. Being indie is really an inconsistent, passion, and stubborn-ness fueled endeavor. For me personally, I knew I always wanted to be in the game industry. When I became indie, I fell in love with it, but I never made enough money to survive in the long term. I made enough to build a little portfolio of games which proved I understood the concepts of video game design. I used that like an art portfolio to get a job in the industry.

I would not have survived if I stayed indie. I enjoy my consistent paycheck, I like working on the high profile titles that I work on. For me this is a really ideal place to be in my career. For others…. they will just never be happy unless they are fully in control. I have many of them as friends. I like to say that later on when they’re in their 30s and they want to settle down we can start a company using all the indie design experience they’ve gathered and the business experience I’ve gathered :)

 
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Topic: Kongregate / August - Greg Month!

You have a great white space in the top right corner that is begging for a red G.

Also, I’ll leave this here since its the more official Greg Month thread.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Developer Appreciation Thread

This looks like a good opportunity to spread love for my dev friends like 2dArray, MaTX222 (Mattia Traverso), Ben Olding, and Raitendo :D

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Happeh Greg Month!

Nintendo Greg Cube!

 
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Topic: Game Design / Making an MMORPG

The biggest pitfall isnt the technical difficulties, its the time investment. Keep your idea VERY small. Think of the smallest idea you can, and then trim 75% of that away. You can always build onto it, but if you dont release anything at all… then any work you spend will be wasted.

 
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Topic: Game Design / Developers: How to manipulate high ratings out of the flash gaming community.

I love this thread, it’s fueled by such a huge amount of hatorade :D

Eli’s my boy — CoM for life! :)

 
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Topic: Kongregate / 2008 minus members group together

Member Since
Nov. 09, 2006

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by qwerber:

I have not killed anyone yet

soon.

lol.

Do you have any regrets about being a game designer at all (anything).

If anything I regret that I don’t enjoy playing games as much as I used to. It’s hard to not deconstruct them into their base principles. Always looking to figure out why some games are successful and what you can do to distill some of that essence. I suspect the same thing happens to authors and not enjoying reading books or directors and not being able to enjoy movies.

It’s just part of making it into your work that you don’t really realize until it happens.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by fdsasdf:

whats your favorite kind of game to make? ever kill a man?

I have not killed anyone yet. I really like physics games. For me, physics is the ultimate universal fun machine. Almost every game that humans play on Earth starts with physics. Bowling, pool, football, baseball, basketball, etc. The only few I can think of that aren’t physics driven are card and board games, which are cool too, but physics is my cup of tea.

I really want to make more platformers in Stencyl, and I’m hoping to do my first online game. So I’m not sure that I have a favorite kind to make. I always want to do something new.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by speedz12:

Are game designers expensive to higher? If for instance someone approached you with an idea for a game only, would it cost a ton of money to develop?

Game designers make between 40k and 70k at a salaried job depending on their experience, the company, and the type of work they do. In independent work… its… pretty varied. However, a designer isn’t really someone you would go to to make a game idea real. Designers also have ideas, and the unfortunate part is that most of us will never get the chance to make most of them into reality — so there’s always too many ideas and too little time.

Just curious, how old are you?

I’m 24. It took my life to get where I am, but really I would count the last 5 years as being “getting to where I am” professionally, so that 19 age about sums it up. My life-style on 15k a year is living at home and being broke :) I need to go get another job, but I have a bit of a legal trial snafu going on that is keeping me in New Jersey for a while. I expect to find a job for 45-50k somewhere on the west coast once my charges get dropped.

One benefit to being a game designer, being arrested doesn’t really hurt your ability to get a job. They wanted me to stay at Gameloft in spite of the arrest, but I just had too much stress on my shoulders and had to go regroup and figure things out.

Mmm… I personally can’t recommend a college education in Game Design. We had some great kids come in as interns last year from a Game Design school in Paris, but many of them were older than me, and I couldn’t help but think “what happens to the rest of their school if we got these 5 guys?”

We ended up hiring 2 or 3, but.. I dunno man. Best way to become a designer is and always will be to make games. Game Design is a really really specific degree to have. I think if I had gone to college I would have studied computer science or gone to art school. A designer with a background in writing code and doing art is extremely valuable because you have to communicate with those team members to get things created. You can’t do that if you don’t understand how their job works at a core level.

I can’t speak to how much a degree changes your income. With video games it feels like everyone who REALLY wants to work, gets a job eventually. I was making more than some people at Gameloft with degrees, and less than many others. It doesn’t seem like a very degree-centric field, but many people have degrees. The only person with a degree who I was impressed by was my engineer who had graduated MIT with a computer science degree. That’s badass.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why are many more games now sending out mass-PMs?

Unknown showed me where it’s at. I think Pyro doesn’t have enough recent/active players to get the option. It jut doesn’t show up. Interesting.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why are many more games now sending out mass-PMs?

Originally posted by BobTheCoolGuy:
Originally posted by damijin:

Where do developers have the option to send out those PMs? I’ve been looking for it t no avail, but I’m not sure if its somewhere hidden or if my games don’t have enough recent users to have that feature.

The games have to have a certain number of plays for it to appear under the game. No idea what games you have published, so not sure if they would have the option or not.

I was checking on Pyro 1 which has 1.1million plays. Maybe it’s too old? I just dont know where to look…

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why are many more games now sending out mass-PMs?

Where do developers have the option to send out those PMs? I’ve been looking for it t no avail, but I’m not sure if its somewhere hidden or if my games don’t have enough recent users to have that feature.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by SuperMarioJump:

This isn’t really design related, but would you mind expanding on how you earnt $15000+ a year from flash games? From my experience you’d have to be making a good quality game, entitely by yourself, at a rate of about once every two months (or alternatively a relatively high quality game every four months). Was it all from the sucess of pyro or do you have more projects not on your account?

Pyro and Pyro 2 did around 10k each, but that was split two ways between me and my partner — so between them both I made a LITTLE over 10k for myself. Other games tended to average around 2k for myself. But I also did some special work. I designed Tesla Death Ray, but did not release it (released by NSBrotherhood), but I got 20 or 30% of the revenue from that deal (I forget the exact number). That game did 6 million plays, so that was good.

I also got 10% from several games that I helped find a sponsor. Particularly Ge.Ne.Sis by An Lieu and the sequel Wings of Ge.Ne.Sis, both paid me 10% for helping to get him a sponsor using my contacts. Same is true of Jindo’s “Greg Can Jump!” and maybe 1 or 2 other games.

But $15k a year isnt nearly enough to live on. I won’t consider this lifestyle in the long term unless I can get that number closer to 50k a year, and that will be hard. So for now, it’s just a way to build my game portfolio as I look for formal salaried work at a studio.

Originally posted by DannyDaNinja:

What’s the best way to run a dev team or collab?

I don’t have an answer for this one. It really varies from person to person and team to team, there is no correct answer. The only advice I can give is STAY SMALL. As a team, make sure to get a game out in less than 1 month. A very small game. You need to build trust in each other and prove that you can release a product. If you start with really big 6 month projects there is a 95% chance that you will fizzle out by month 3 and the project will get cancelled. So start very small and then work your way up to big projects one step at a time.

 
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Topic: Stencyl / Stencyl... in multiplayer!

Poking into this thread to say that I’m working on this multiplayer concept. I have gotten a server to run online that a client created in Stencyl can connect to and communicate with. It works pretty well, so I expect to create a full game with it in some time.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Right, but I am, so. :D

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by truefire:

As a designer, we must keep our eyes on the money while understanding that appearing “greedy” to the players is a sure-fire way to lose their respect and their dollars.

I resent this! People who think like that are no better then those who appear greedy. You’re basically saying “People don’t like an evil developer. So don’t let them know that you’re evil.” No! Bad! The proper solution is to not be evil. My redacted version of this statement:

‘As a designer, we must keep our eyes on making the game good while understanding that money is something we need to not die, so we might have to sacrifice for that.’

No, you read my post correctly. I believe design is about obfuscation. Often for me, it is about obfuscating to the point where I can’t remember if I was being evil or not myself, let alone you having any idea! But I mean, obviously everyone is going to feel differently about this, and I consider myself an occasionally evil person. :)

The reason I believe obfuscation is key to design is because at it’s core, games are math. Design is the art of converting math into abstract ideas. We take the math and combine it with art and iconography to make something less… mathy out of it. You know what I mean? Its all about the player not being able to see what makes the magic trick work. What turns math and code into Super Mario Bros.

I really do think obfuscation is the key to that. Not appearing greedy is another thing where obfuscation can help us to generate revenue without the players hating or being jealous of our situation. I mean, maybe I think about it in a crude way, but it’s how I view it.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by craksy:

I’m a decent programmer, but i do not have the slightest bit of talent with art. i guess i just don’t have the creative gene or something.
i actually quite enjoy drawing, but when it turns out bad (which it will do roughly 10 out of 10 times), i hate everything and i wont pick up a pencil again for months. (bonus question: how is it possible to practice art, when I literally get sad and mad every time i look at my creations? or rather, how do i overcome this?)

anyway. game development, or game programming to be more specific, has also been my long-life dream. my only problem is: i can’t make a decent games with no art. Often i lose motivation half-way through a project as it, despite of well written code, looks like ****.
Should i just focus less on results, and more on the process? i do very much enjoy coding, yet I would like to see my code appear awesome on the screen when it’s done.

and lastly: English. how important is it? Or rather, how well would you have to speak it, in order to be hired into a game studio?
I know my English is somewhat understandable. Yet i also know that i sometimes cause misunderstandings.
This will of cause improve (hopefully), but how much would i actually have to improve?

Thanks in advance.

Your issue is a common one that results from over-thinking is the issues. As game developers, we are prone to over-thinking. It seems a common flaw in the type of person who’s mind leads them to this profession.

Here’s the thing. If you are meant to do this, you will find a way. No matter what, you will find a way. You have many options that can help someone in your position complete a project.

1.) You can look at your previous projects and ask honestly “was this too ambitious?”, its a common issue for starting developers to start an overly ambitious project and to fizzle out in the middle of it. Keep your projects painfully small until you release a few. Get those releases out no matter what. They could be the worst game ever made, just make sure you release them.

2.) Find a partner. If you make the game work with “programmer art” you can always find an artist later in the project to re-do the art for you. Most artists prefer to work on a game that is already functioning and fun because they know the game will get released. Artists are less inclined to work on a game that has no code written for it yet… so you may be in a good position for that.

3.) Get over yourself and work toward your own strengths. This is the hardest route of the three. Swallowing my pride is damn near impossible for me. I put my heart and my soul into my work, and it can be so damn hard just to accept it for what it is. It feels like it’s my whole life, so it drives me nuts if it isn’t perfect. But it never will be. Once you learn that it’s okay for your art to suck and that the only way it will improve is through practice and failure, you will be on the road to success.

Regarding English, it’s not super necessary. Your English seems perfectly adequate. about 1/5th of the people in the NY Gameloft are not native English speakers, and a few of them can barely speak it at all. If you are good at your work, that is all that really matters. For a designer though, English is more important because your job will rely heavily on communication. It sounds to me that you are more interested in an engineering role though, so you’ll be fine.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by lSWATLLAMA:

What does a game designer really do?

Are you going to continue to use stencyl? (I HOPEE OH HOPEE SO! :D)

How much does making indie games really pay? For games of your quality?(Rather high quality)

What should I focus more on? I am good with sounds, code, and have the worst art.

And lastly, would it be worth it if I tried to pay a friend with some of the profit if they were to do art instead of me?

1) Game designers do different things at every company. Most “AAA” studio designers these days do map building, level content, quest scripting, and that sort of thing. The lead designer on a team often makes final gameplay decisions, but the entire team is often involved in meetings to make those decisions.

2) Yes I am going to continue to use Stencyl, but I am also working with other developers (programmers) on non-stencyl projects.

3) Games of my quality don’t pay a whole lot. The range can be between 2,000 and 11,000 dollars. Higher is possible, but I have not yet attained it. If you can pump out one of those games every month or two you can make a decent living, but that can be hard. If you work with a partner (as I used to do more often), cut each of those numbers in half for your cut and you can start to see why I live with my mom. In countries outside the US however, like my partners in Russia and Indonesia, flash games pay more than enough to live off of.

4) As a designer, focus the most on fun. As an indie… you unfortuntely have to focus on everything. But pick your projects toward your strengths if you’re in it for the money as a career. If you are looking to get hired like I am, play toward your weaknesses to improve them. You will notice that I try to do a lot of different genres, this is to improve my chances of getting hired. A good designer should be able to make good games in lots of different categories.

5) Having partners is a double edged sword. On the one hand, if it works, you get a better product. On the other hand, if it doesn’t work — you get no product at all. When I worked with partners on all of my games my income was highly erratic and stressful. These days I work with partners on side projects but my MAIN project is always 100% solo so I can guarantee that it will get done and released.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by UnknownGuardian:

How are you surviving on an indie budget (both presently and in the past)?

What is the best way to make contacts in the game design world that you have experienced?

This is going to be an unpopular answer for the adults in the audience. I survived both past and present by living with my mom (age 20 on the first go around, age 24 now). When I first quit Kongregate I had about 20k in the bank, but that wasn’t enough for me to be comfortable to move out and rely solely on flash games to make rent. I live in New Jersey, the cheapest apartments in my area are $850 a month. My worst year as an indie dev I made only around $15,000. To me, being indie is a lot like my alternative to college experience. I dont make much money, but I build a portfolio that has already gotten me 1 job, and will hopefully get me some more.

I feel much more competent in my skills now than I was before Gameloft so I am hoping that this attempt will yield much better cash results than last time, but ultimately I expect to go back to work in the industry to survive. I’m just making indie games while I’m between jobs and HOPING that they will make enough money to live, but not really expecting them to.

While I was at Gameloft however, my 45k a year salary was enough for me to have my ow apartment around here. I do not expect to make 45k this year as an indie, but it would be nice :)

Regarding networking — I don’t network very much with other designers, but I network a ton with programmers and artists. Before getting my foot in the door at Gameloft I networked almost exclusively with other flash developers, but once I got to GL I started to mingle with everyone who would listen to me talk. I made around 45 great contacts at that office. Unfortunately though, I dont have any great answers for this. If you make games that garner attention, people will come looking to network with you. So I guess just try to make great games (pretty unhelpful answer, eh? )

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by truefire:

Kong doesn’t really make games internally

Why not? Surely they could do it. I mean, if anything at all, they have a player-base that would make any other flash dev happy. And I like to think that the people at Kong are pretty competent.

Kong is plenty competent to make games, but from a business standpoint they make more money by hosting other people’s games than by making their own. Kongregate is fairly small, so, I dunno. Kongai was a serious challenge because back then we only had a few programmers and the site was still missing a lot of functions, but we were splitting our programmer time between Kongai and site features which was slowing everything down. It became a choice of “are we game development company or a web company?” and at the end of the day we agreed that we were a web company.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Originally posted by Danishdragon:

Do you find yourself using more time, creativity and etc. on designing games when working as an independent game maker, rather than working in one of the ‘big’ companies?

Roughly the same amount of time spent “working” at both. However, as an independent my work is more productive and there is less work that gets thrown away or endlessly revised. As an independent of course more time is spent doing art and code, where as at Gameloft more time was spent keeping documents up to date, arguing with producers, and writing pitches to try and convince people up the chain that an idea was worthy of development.

Originally posted by Vexudus:

I’ve wanted to become a game designer ever since I was a wee lad. And I’m very set on the path of my life that I want to design games! More specifically, I want to: Design the game, design the characters, and be the president of my own company. I know that I will have to take classes in some kind of animation/cg/graphic design class (maybe), although i’m not sure since i’m still in highschool. This has been my life long dream job for just about ever. I know that if i’m successful, I could be potentially a billionaire (or millionaire) with 1 game (ex; COD, Halo, etc.) . So, if I could ask, what classes should I take, any tips you can give, and I’m kind of empty-headed at the moment so i’ll think of some questions later lol.

Hey Vexudus, I actually have quite a bit of feedback for you. For starters, I think we’re all caught in the illusion that we can make a boatload of scrooge mcduck money if we get our brilliant idea to market. That’s a pretty universal feeling. In my experience though, the people who’s primary motivation is money are often not the ones who make the most money. It is often a labor of love that becomes a cultural phenomena that generates cash. As a designer, we must keep our eyes on the money while understanding that appearing “greedy” to the players is a sure-fire way to lose their respect and their dollars.

Many designers move on to be the president or CEO of a company later in their career, but the unfortunate thing is that if you pursue that path — you will no longer be designing games. Being president or CEO carries so much responsibility that you will no longer have time to design characters, systems, or themes. Some studio executives who used to be designers or producers make the common mistake of trying to micromanage the designers in the company. This is because they used to be a designer too, and they still love doing that work. Unfortunately, that sort of behavior is counter-productive because it hurts the current designers ability to be autonomous and confident in their work. So if you do work your way into one of those positions, remember that your most important job will be remembering not to stick your nose in the design work anymore :)

So lets talk about school. This is going to be the hardest topic to talk about. I personally did not go to college. I believed that it would make more sense for me to spend my “college years” by making content for games (mods, maps, and later flash games) rather than attending school. The game industry needs to see your previous work as a designer. They NEED to see games you have completed. Many schools offer game development courses now, so if you can complete a game in one of those, it will be good. But even better is completing games OUTSIDE of school (such as flash games!).

Now, while I don’t exactly advocate going to college for designers — if you are planning to go, study everything. I know that isn’t helpful advice, but designers need to understand every discipline that goes into making a game. Study computer science, study art, study psychology, and study media in general (books, movies, games, comic books, television, music). You will need to understand the art of creating media as much as you can. Oh and make sure you take physics. Physics are important to a lot of games, you will want to have at least a good basic understanding of how it works.

Alright, going to slit up my next responses since this got super long.

 
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Topic: Game Design / I am a game designer. Ask me anything!

Okay, well I was a salaried game designer — now I’m a indie game design bum again. Like many of you, designing games is my life-long goal. At the age of 19, I discovered Kongregate.com and started working on my first flash game. This was way back in 2006!

Due to some luck and persistence, I actually ended up working for Kongregate for almost 2 years! However, my job with the site was as a Community Manager, not a game designer (Kong doesn’t really make games internally).

So, with my dreams to fuel me, I parted ways with my friends in San Francisco and quit my job to make Flash games! I have had success and I have had failure, but after 2 and a half years of making flash games I got myself a job at Gameloft as a salaried game designer working on mobile games in NYC!

This was pretty much the greatest thing that had ever happened. I worked at Gameloft for a year, and was the lead designer on Midnight Pool 3, which I really enjoyed working on. But unfortunately, I learned that working as a game designer in a 4,000 person company did not make me very happy. Due to some personal issues with the direction of the business and the management at HQ — I decided to leave Gameloft and return to indie games while I search for another game design job at a smaller company where I can have a bit more freedom.

If you are interested in becoming a game designer, I would love to help you learn more about pursuing the career path! I always wanted to become one, but I never actually had the opportunity to speak to any before I did! Ask me anything :)

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Speculations About the Future of Kongregate With Respect to the Community

Haha.

I agree with OP. The future looks quite bright. Also, having had the privilege to work for Jim and Emily Greer, and knowing their mentality, Kongregate will continue to thrive for a very long time. They genuinely care about this site, it’s health, the community, and the future. I can’t see it going anywhere but up as long as the key folks responsible for Kong’s early success are still on board.