Jeff Hangartner – Revealing the Path Less Travelled in Video Game Industry

Jeff HangartnerJeff Hangartner, the founder of the gaming start-up, Bulletproof Outlaws has been a professional developer of games over the last half a decade. Creator of Pixelation, the 1st Pixel Art Forum and also originator of the Pixel tutorials which have been published in the form of a book. Jeff has always been a pioneer of the gaming industry.

CG Today is proud to present Jeff’s exploration as he shares the whole process of creating a start-up right from day 1. With the belief that gaming development is coming back to its original “one programmer in the basement roots” idea, Bulletproof Outlaws is chronicling every step of its start-up process from strategies, to marketing, setting goals and outsourcing, successes and failures. The aim is to help other developers who have ideas but are intimidated by the whole start-up process and are not sure how to go about it.

You can visit his website Bulletproof Outlaws to know more about him or send an email to get connected.

Today consisted of the last bit of filling out forms (Apple has some marketing agreements so you can use their “this App is in the App Store” icons and junk), which is super boring.  I’m an artist first and foremost, and I want to spend my time actually making the game… all the business stuff on the side is a little daunting.  But it turns out a lot of business stuff is “fill out all these forms once and then don’t worry about this for a year”. So once I get it all over with, it’s smooth sailing.  The sad part is I think that initial overwhelming workload of forms and paying business licenses and registering trademarks and stuff is the thing that scares people off from starting their own company. I know it was a deterrent for myself and the primary reason I signed up for a business course.

The Game Design Document for my first game is pretty much done (I just tweak bits here and there as I think of some nuances).  To land myself a programmer, I’m going to have to post the job up on freelance sites, and generally it looks like those involve throwing out a quick summary of the GDD that gives the jist of the project, then people bid, then you choose someone and give them the full GDD.  So I summarized mine up for this first game so that I’ll be good to go.  It summarizes the key features that the programmer will need to know how to do, stuff like:

- I require 2 versions of the App: a version for the iPhone that allows retina support for iPhone 4s, and a version for the iPad. Art sized appropriately for each screen resolution will be provided.

- The game will need a timer that counts how long the player has survived and when the player’s game is over, the score is recorded in a leader board in Apple Game Center and the player can choose to send their score to Facebook and Twitter.

That way if the programmer has never done Twitter score support, or integrated the Apple Game Center, I won’t get stuck wasting a few days worth of money while they figure it out.  The game is planned out pretty much down to the last detail, so for this first game all I need is a programmer to stitch together the separate pieces into something the iPhone can understand.  Should be short and sweet!

I think in the future this could be outsourced to an extent… I was thinking of using a program like Freemind that lets me quickly makes stuff like:

Bulletproof Outlaws - Freemind

And then sending that to someone and saying “I’ll pay you X amount of money to arrange this into a pretty document everyone can follow.”  I read Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week and it covers a lot of stuff about outsourcing and automating as much of running a business as possible.  An interesting part of the concept is that a lot of it is about outsourcing little mundane repetitive tasks, VS the really big huge workloads. Checking and responding to your E-Mail daily if you’re a big corporation?  That’s a pain in the ass… just outsource to someone a list of answers to frequently asked questions and have them handle the E-Mail and only send you the E-Mails that are of a certain level of importance/uniqueness.  So ya, I could type up a GDD myself, and it’ll be great, but it might be worth giving someone a few bucks to do it for me so I can use that time to work on the actual game.

Anyway, so there you go.  At the end of the project I’ll post up the whole GDD probably, as part of a post-mortem (see how close I came to the initial GDD and all).  Fun stuff!

Got a few more hits today from that Press Release. PRWeb is the one that I paid $80 to and they actually sent me back “release is on editorial hold, please fix XYZ” messages a few times saying they wouldn’t be able to send it out to everyone as-is.  At first I was like “wtf guys, is this some scam where I have to pay for consulting??” but I just tweaked the stuff they said (making sure the quotation was noticeably a quotation and not part of the release text, etc.) and boom it went through nice and clean.  Now I figure if I’m paying $80 for the service then it’s GREAT if they’ll tell me how to make my Press Release better, so it’s all good!  Now to see how wide my Press Release gets spread through them, since that’ s the important thing haha

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