Game development sucks

The furry community and students in my old university course are both obsessed with the same idea: making their own video games.

And it’s not too surprising as to why this is, plenty of people adore video games, see indie titles and figure that they too can make something like that, after all it has been done before. This tends to turn out terribly, as we can compare the small number of indie successes against the unfathomably large swarm of people who make the attempt.

So many times people are ill-equipped to make it happen, if you have a team of just one person then that one person needs to already be the following to make a 2D game:

  • Artist
  • Animator
  • Composer
  • Programmer
  • UX designer
  • Marketer
  • Writer

This is actually a tremendous list of skills, with each individual element containing bottomless depth to fall into, and many people may only specialize in one or two for their entire lives. Attempting to master many of these can quickly become a steep cliff of difficulty.

So then people decide to form a team and get one person for each role they want to fulfill. This then ultimately adds “Manager” to the list of roles above and this should not be understated. A team comes nowhere near 100% efficient at any point, and before you know it a manager may be taking on duplicates in each of the roles in order to have a team that can meet tasks.

This tends to result in teams that bloat well beyond any sort of reasonable size, where you have 10 or 20 people “working” on a game that seems to be in perpetual gridlock and stagnation. Eventually the team disbands and you are left with nothing.

Smaller teams with more skilled people tend to fare better, but many underestimate the level of labor that is involved in building a game that has any degree of complexity and doesn’t cut plenty of corners. If you have a planned realistic development time of two years, remember that these projects tend to go overtime and over-budget. This can lead to a cascade of disappointment even in games that manage to scrape over the finishing line:

  1. A team is formed and begins work on a game.
  2. Assuming the team is able to start in the first place, fund-raising will start, usually with Patreon to fund the game.
  3. Patreon earnings are likely to be meager on long projects that don’t play on short-term gimmicks, plus these earnings are split between team members.
  4. Team members now make well below minimal wage, and may sometimes be lucky to even be making $1 an hour for their work.
  5. This continues on for years, and goes overtime, resulting in more time spent working for poverty income.
  6. De-motivation settles in, resulting in more delays and cutting corners.
  7. Accepting that they have to reduce quality to finish the project, the end result just scrapes over the finish line, often with minimal QA testing or serious review of the merits.
  8. Coinflip to see whether it will flop or not. If it does not flop, the vast probability for income of a one-person game is going to be below minimum wage for the time spent. For a team, this is divided even further down.
  9. Game is almost always forgotten at this point, the team members lament the fact that they could have made tens of thousands of dollars more had they done anything with their time but build the game.

Now, there are some exceptions to this, and we all know the smash indie game hits, but for every indie game hit that succeeds, a thousand more collapse under the weight of the process, or simply have bad luck in marketing.

When we point to successful profiles of furry game creators we can see how they succeeded and by how much:

  • Fek, builds a furry porn game that rakes in vast amounts of money each month. The game is okay, but Fek is clearly learning in many of the aspects of development, and the success trends from lucky popularity of his flash games and the fact that furry porn is easy to sell.
  • Klace, builds furry visual novels. The quality of them is awful, and corner-cutting is visible in terms of stealing storylines from other places, very little polish and sticking to an easy medium to create from. His success trends from selling copies of his games to Gen Z furries and the extent of his success is limited, with two games in 5 years and bad habits of flagging negative reviews and re-releasing his game to hide them.

You’re probably much more likely to end up in the realm of Klace if you are lucky enough to succeed, mitigating your time spent through using easy methodology and doing what’s needed to make money rather than put out a memorable game.

And I mean, really, the only furries able to exclusively and comfortably live off of the income for their game development projects are almost entirely those who were famous for other things beforehand. Fame brings money, effort and video-games do not.

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