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.

Bulletproof Outlaws - Game 1 - A Diary of a video game studio!

Almost done the Game Design Document for the first game. I’m going with a nice simple game that I’ve actually done a simple version of in Flash before, so some of the art is already done.  I’ll be adding more to the game, of course…gotta’ make it worth $0.99 haha  You’re the ninja below and you dodge shurikens, explosives, fire-arrows, etc. that come flying at you faster and faster:

Ninja - Bulletproof Outlaws

A lot of stuff came up while I was writing the GDD.  I’m planning to try outsourcing the programming to India or something because I don’t have an in-house programmer yet, so I want to make sure my GDD is detailed enough to explain all the details and make it fool-proof, but also short enough that someone won’t look at it and go “A 40 page GDD??  I haven’t even read it but this is gonna’ cost ya $10,000 for me to make!” haha  A few people have advised against outsourcing to these big “thousand programmers in India” places, and I’m a bit nervous about it because who knows what you’re gonna’ get.  I figure the safest bet is to use a site like Elance or oDesk and go by the reviews of the programmers (seeing if the jobs they’ve done before are actual iPhone games and not like, a calculator App).

Well, Christmas holidays are over and a new year is upon us! By the end of 2011 I’ll either have been a rare massive success story swimming in a vault full of coins like Scrooge McDuck, a standard middle of the road average success story where I manage to pay my bills each month and fund the next game, or a complete and total failure living in a cardboard box begging for change on the streets.  Hmm, I wonder if that’d make a good game.  Like Diner Dash but your a bum on the streets and you work your way up from a soggy cardboard box to a shiny new dumpster.  Brilliant!

Our business course is down to just one class a week now, as we work on our actual business-stuff the rest of the week.  It’s going to be mighty hard to wake up at 7am, half the fun of working on your own is being able to sleep in till noon haha Realistically though, down the road I’ll probably try to get myself into a regular work schedule just for the sake of developing a consistent work ethic. Guess I gotta’ learn to be “responsible” and all that jazz!

Game1 - Bulletproof Outlaws

…MAN I can’t wait to get cutscene stuff in my games. No idea if I’ll be able to do it for this first game, I don’t want to bite off too much more than I can chew…but here’s hoping!

To start Bulletproof Outlaws I took a very compact but in-depth business course to get a handle on the business side of things. We’re near the end of the course and currently have one class a week and a business coaching session. I dig these because I always come out pumped to get to work, haha

Today’s class covered setting goals and how most of us are terrible at it.  We’re never really taught how to set a proper goal. We make really vague goals that we can’t measure… like take New Years.  “I’m going to lose weight this year.”  Well how much is that?  If you lose 1lbs, is that succeeding?  How are you going to lose that weight? Are you going to lose it in a month, or can you just do it in December and still count it? “I’m going to make a game company.” What kind of game company? How many games are you going to put out? What kind of games? When will you put out the first game?

I have a little programming skill. I’ve wanted to make videogames since I was a kid, but back then there was no Internet to collaborate with a programmer… so if I wanted to make games, I had to teach myself to program. My dad had a TRS-80 Color Computer I was playing games on when I was 4. I learned you could type right into the OS and start making a game and was fascinated. When we got our first PC, I found QBasic on it and made a few cool little demos.

In High School I was nerdy enough that I knew everything we were learning in our computer class so I asked the teacher if I could just make a game instead of doing the units. He was awesome enough to let me, and so I started figuring out C++ using DJGPP/Allegro (which I LOVED, it was so easy to make stuff).

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Bulletproof Outlaws Diary