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Sad News
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Fost
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734



PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 1:18 pm    Post subject: Sad News Reply with quote

Pyrogon founders Rosie Cosgrove and Brian Hook are stopping development on any new titles. Brian was ex id software, and worked on the both Quake 2 and 3. Rosie was original art director on Everquest. Pyrogon was an early 'indie' company and has been influential to many others (not to mention writing many a helpful article). They are both moving on from Pyrogon, but will continue to support all the existing titles. Moonpod wishes them good luck in their future endeavours.

Brian writes more in his online weblog here:
http://www.bookofhook.com/Article/GameDevelopment/APyrogonPostmortem.html
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, an article like that must give you guys cold chills. Still, you're succeeding for the moment. (glad I chipped my coin in for the game).

Do you think you're avoiding the pitfalls that slew his company? Do you see any others he didn't mention that you feel you're managing to avoid?
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now I'm really wishing I had experience as a bar-tender or office-monkey. Sad
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Fost
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jollyreaper wrote:
Man, an article like that must give you guys cold chills. Still, you're succeeding for the moment. (glad I chipped my coin in for the game).

Thanks! we appreciate it! Yeah, it's really disheartening, especially in this case, because we always read any articles they wrote and they really did seem to be living the dream.
jollyreaper wrote:
Do you think you're avoiding the pitfalls that slew his company? Do you see any others he didn't mention that you feel you're managing to avoid?

I think we are doing so, but not through any savvy on our part - it's just blind luck. I think at one time, the puzzle game market was pretty good and could sustain people, but now I think it's been saturated. There's now a problem that you have to sell so low it's not beneficial to advertise. There are people making money from these games, but I think it's become much harder really quickly.

We could so easily have gone down that route - we have lots of puzzle game ideas, and we'd still like to make some of them. I could be wrong though as I have spoken to other indie developers who aren't making a penny out of some really good arcade games. The only thing that struck me about them is they hated their own games, and I wondered if having that love for your product is noticable to your customers? We love Starscape - we wouldn't have made it if we didn't; it's even been a pain - because we keep wanting to add new things to it Very Happy

Hmm, it's all so hit and miss - so many new indie developers mail us asking for advice, and I'm a little stuck for things to say to them other than 'don't do it!'
Weeble wrote:
Right now I'm really wishing I had experience as a bar-tender or office-monkey. Sad

If I wasn't doing what I am now, I'd not go back to the mainstream industry - at least not in the UK - it's going down the toilet. Every week another company seems to fold. I think the only sensible options for UK games development staff are:
  • Move to the another country - the US, or Japan if you are feeling adventurous (and are prepared to work hard).
  • Be prepared to be a nomad - keep an eye on the share prices of the company you work for, and have an up to date CV!
  • Look into other industries. Wink


Sorry, I hate to be the harbringer of doom - on the plus side - it's one of the most fun jobs you will ever have!
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it does seem like lowered expectations would help a lot. Hook kept mentioning company and personal burn rates. To put it another way, if you don't have a huge cash outflow, you don't need a huge inflow to match.

The going rate for a game is $40 to $50 (mainstream). Now you could pump out 9 month dev cycle game for that money (Deer Hunter or something like that) or you could do one with a three or four year dev cycle, the kind that involves so much more work and takes so much more out of you but at the end of the day, doesn't earn you more.

It's funny when you think about it. A movie like Blair Witch cost $20k to film, $1 million for the distribution rights. Something like Titanic cost $250 million but tickets to go see it cost the same as for Blair Witch. Titanic was a lucky break, it could have just as easily been a big-budget flop like Waterworld.

It makes sense for smaller indie developers to follow the film world's model of arthouse films, the kind that make just enough money to keep the filmmakers in beer and kibbles. If you're looking to make a modest living for four people, say $40k/yr, that's $160k. If all your corporate overhead, server costs and the like were double that, that's still $320k. I know sandwitch shops that make more than that per year.

It just seems logical that if you have the modest expectation of making a modest living off the gaming industry and scale your expenses appropriately, it should be sustainable. You only need rockstar-level success and income when you're spending like a drunken rock star, i.e. Ion Storm.

I think the not-quite-answer to the puzzle game problem is this: if you're doing what everyone else is doing, you're not going to stand out. The best successes are the ones that did the idea first. The corporate world is loathe to greenlight those types of games because of the cost of failure. Making a FPS clone guarrantees a pathetic but visible profit; making a whole new game is a gamble that could crater. Corporate types will never take that risk. What it takes is someone so passionate about his idea, he's not even aware of how badly he could fall and bloody himself.


Last edited by jollyreaper on Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Fost
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a lot of truth in what you say: I always see Moonpod so far as being a successful company: because we have achieved so far what we have set out to do - essentially pay our bills and keep the three of us working together on games we really love. I suspect if the average games company exec looked at our business he would laugh (or cry Smile ) - but those are the kind of people that really wouldn't want to be in this industry anyway.

Long term - our goal is really to earn more so we can splash out on the odd luxury - I'm not talking about Ferraris all round (although that would be nice Very Happy ) but just being able to go on holiday to some of the places I'm dying to visit / spend more time with family etc would be enough. I think Po Bear would be especially happy to have more free time, as he's missed out on a lot of his daughter growing up over the past year. The problem with some people is the pursuit of wealth is an end in itself, so they are never satisfied. Currently, I feel I am extremely wealthy: not many people go to work and get the chance to design space robots, explosions and cool characters, I really am in my own artistic heaven right now. If this was backed up with a little more monetary stability then I think we'd be pretty happy all round.

I don't really claim to know what the key to this business is, I just think we hit it lucky with Starscape as people seemed to really take it to heart. You are right - you certainly can sell puzzle games, and there are some great ones out there ( altitudes is still my favourite). The only advice I really could give someone is don't get into indie games if you want to earn money - I'm not saying you won't, but I think the only reason to do it is because you like making certain types of games that mainstream publishers don't.


Last edited by Fost on Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Darth Dallas



Joined: 18 Oct 2003
Posts: 411



PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think one important thing a developer ought to keep in the back of their minds is why they got into it in the first place. If its for a love of what they're doing, getting to be creative etc, I think as long as they can continue to pursue that in what they do, they'll be happy whether or not consumers are with what they're doing ;D

If that makes sense hehe

Deep Incomprehensible Thoughts - by Darth Dallas Smile

Anyway I think we've spoken a bit about this before back when we were discussing retailers an such or before that. Somewhere along the line I lost interest in what I had been doing artistically and didn't know what to do next. I think I was happiest when I was just spending the odd bit of dough on an art class just to be around similar people. I think I was just as much addicted to the creative atmosphere of the classroom as I was when I had a good idea or two for a project in it. So when I couldn't manage to find that kind of atmosphere for a career, well I don't know, maybe that was part of that too. Ideas for things just don't come to me all that naturally when you don't have someone to bounce things off of.

In any case, if you three are doing what you love doing, I think your probably three of the luckier game developers out there.

/ends shameless praise of Moonpod Smile
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