Dear Apathy Games,
Let’s say I’m an eager young man with a head full of ideas and a passion for game design. How do I join the ranks of the elite and start a game company? I have a list of things I know that I need including: Product, art, a website, a layout editor, a copy editor, a means of distribution, and capital, and it would be within the realm of possibility for me to find these things, but how do I combine all those elements to actually create a company?
The biggest question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I want to make games, or do I want to run my own business?” While I have gotten the awesome opportunity to be a part of TPA from conception to release there has been much time devoted to running the day-to-day business of Apathy Games. So the first piece of advice I’ll give you is thus, if you just want to make games, look into freelance work. This will free you up to focus on the creation of your game, relieving the burden of running your own business. There are a number of licensees that do freelance work and will help you put out a fantastic product. If you’re more like us and think you have a head for business I will offer this piece of advice, bribe your friends to help you. This will fill two needs; it’ll get people that have more of a passion for things you don’t (layout, drawing, copy editing etc.) and most of the time you can get friends to work for IOUs and promises of baked goods.
As most readers know my casual writing style and poor understanding of the English language makes grammar Nazis cry; trust me there is a reason my wife doesn’t read my articles. In fact re-reading the one of the adventures I wrote for Act III of To Predict and Serve caused me to crawl into a corner and weep softly, and this was after a first draft edit of the adventure. I am better because of the people I surround myself with, and the product shows it. If it wasn’t for Paul’s red pen, Jeff’s insane attention to layout, and Hillary’s artistic skills TPA wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day. Surrounding yourself with good people is what’s helped us get to where we are.
Distribution and capital heavily depends on the type of game you are making. Apathy started out with a budget of whatever change we found in our couches and free domains, and hosting that my then employer provided. Doing a print run, for us, was not in the cards. Slowly money was saved and a copy of InDesign was purchased, which allowed Jeff to design the critically acclaimed layout. So for Apathy Games getting all of the elements together to create a game company was done by moxie and sheer force of will.
This brings me to my last piece of advice for any budding game designer, do this for the love of the game. Most game companies will release one product and then seep back into obscurity having never made much money from their hard work. For me TPA has always been a game I wanted to share with friends, and was released because of we enjoyed making it. We consider ourselves successful because we’ve sold copies of our game, I’m sure if we were all in the same state there would have been high fives and martinis in celebration. Celebrate the small things, and love what you do, the rest will come from all of the hard work you put into it.
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