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!

I’m still doing the grunt-work of making animation files out of all my art, so there’s nothing exciting to show today. But I realized when I looked at my site that I actually have a list of links to developers on the side-bar… I threw some in there when I first started the site and then just completely forgot it existed haha I’ve met a handful of developers in the last while so I’ve updated the links on the side to include some more of ‘em:

So I’m going to be outsourcing the programming for this game. I’m getting closer to finally looking for a programmer, and I’ve had a lot of suggestions from people on how to go about it and what to be careful of, etc. Originally my plan was to just outsource cheaply to an India-esque place where they have big groups of 50+ programmers working under an agency that takes projects and assigns them. My ideal way of working is in-house with a programmer in the same room as myself, but because I don’t have access to that right now I’m going to give outsourcing a try.

A lot of people are nervous about outsourcing to places like India, Russia, Lithuania, etc. (I’m going to just refer to them all as “India” from here on) They think it’s automatically sketchy and the contractors are going to take the money and run or the quality of the work will be terrible quality.  A lot of companies even try to hide that they outsource, like they’re ashamed of it, which is understandable given the whole “sweat shop full of children making shoes” stereotype everyone’s heard and the rough economic times we’ve had lately.  I think part of this is just a bias of “it’s different so it’s scary” or “it’s not how it’s SUPPOSED to be done, so it’s wrong and will result in doom”. I’m attempting to approach this pretty logically. So let’s take a look at the main pros and cons.

My game is a continuous game where everything gets faster and faster over time, until you can’t keep up and get hit by 3 objects and then it’s Game Over. From a gameplay perspective if all you do is move left and right and dodge the same type of object that increases speed at the same rate, there’s only going to be so much variation in your results…you’re going to learn to know “when I get to about a minute in, it’s impossible for me” and all the fun is taken out of it because it’s now predictable.

One way I’m mixing that predictability up is by having mutliple types of objects…each of them comes at you in a different way or damages a different sized area. There are also objects that heal you. So now it’s a little less predictable…you don’t know if a throwing-star is going to come out, or dynamite, or some healing sushi.

So I’ve posted the job up at oDesk and eLance, two of the large freelance sites. I went through the Game Design Doc and summarized it into just one page of blabbing and I picked out the key things the game requires that may take special skills or attention from the developer. Like I need someone that knows how to use Cocos2D, and how to integrate Twitter into the game for posting scores, etc. so I made sure to mention this in the posting.

Wow, talk about a gongshow haha In one day I received probably 20 responses to the job postings. Some of them were spam (clearly not at all qualified for my project and sent a form-letter E-Mail), and probably just send a message to every job posting that goes up. A few were legit, but from people who’s portfolios didn’t have any games in them. I learned working in the industry that there’s a difference between application/tool programmers and game programmers and I made sure to specify I needed someone who’s made games before.

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Bulletproof Outlaws Diary