[MUD-Dev] Evolutionary Design

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Sat Jun 15 08:16:40 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Dave Trump" <trump at trumps.net>
> At 08:10 PM 6/13/02 -0700, Raph wrote:

>>> It's been 5 years since UO proved there was real money in it, 3
>>> since EQ and AC proved it wasn't a fluke.  Sure, there's some
>>> true second generation products planned for release in the next
>>> year, but where *is* everybody?

>> Failing. Or failing to get money.

> Mostly the later.  Everyone I've talked to about making a ORPG,
> including other computer experts, says the same thing: Why would
> you want to make a game?  The vast majority of games dont make
> money.

How many entrepreneurial game designers started a project to
maximize profit?  I don't know, I'm asking.

It seems like people like to talk about design concepts and
technology issues -- these are fun and understood.  However, when it
comes down to the money side, there is this evil black box called
'business' that no one wants to open because it's full of harsh
realities like deadlines and financial constraints that limit
design.  It's OK to start a company because that's where a person's
passion lies and they have a primary goal of realizing a dream of
designing their own game.  That person just better be able to make
that passion profitable and be able to communicate and demonstrate
that ability to the VCs because profitability is where the VCs
passion lies.  The VC isn't there to fund someone else's fun and
passion unless there is an ROI attached to it.

> What's worse is when you encounter a suit and tie financial type.
> They hear "...GAME..." and they think "No chance to make money."
> Then they hear "...play it over the INTERNET..." and they think
> "Another dotbomb."  You get 2 foots in your butt as you fly out
> the door.

VCs are life's ultimate 'power gamers' in that they optimize their
decisions by the numbers.  That's their job.  They read business
plans, analyze risk, and evaluate the business acumen of people
coming to them for money.  It's a numbers game.  If they are
presented with a good, professional business plan, a game has just
as good a shot of getting money as any other venture.  Probably even
better as interactive entertainment is a growth market.

There are still a lot of NASDAQ millionaires running around with few
investment options.  The stock market is sluggish and interest rates
are down.  Getting money should be relatively easy.

> Until the day when most of the loan agents and venture capitalist
> around have played an ORPG or at least have a nefew that has, this
> industry isnt going to see the explosive growth we are all waiting
> for.

I would argue that it's the other way around.  It's not the VCs that
need to learn about ORPGs... it's the game designers that need to
learn about business.  The dot com boom/bust showed that it takes
more than advanced technology and a good idea to make a successful
business.  A compelling business plan is much more important in
getting money than a compelling game design document as the VCs are
investing in a business, not a game.

The Japanese have a principle in doing business.  'I will sell to
you in your language but will buy from you in my language.'  The
same applies when dealing with VCs.  The entrepreneurial designer is
'selling' their project to the VC and needs to learn the VC's
language.  That's the language of the 'suit and tie financial type'.

Game design is all about fun.  If a games not fun, it's not worth
making.  Game companies are all about profits.  If a company isn't
profitable, it's not worth the financial investment.  You can't have
one without the other and have a sustainable business (unless you're
very rich and can afford to run an operation as a 'charity').

Cheers,

Ron

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