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.

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).

My thinking is as long as the project is small, I can’t lose very much money on it. If stuff isn’t done right or on time, I’ll just pull the plug before I lose much money.  I think the best way to approach this will be an ultra-super-structured approach, where the game is broken down into chunks with time estimates for each.  Programmers in India can work while I’m sleeping because they’re on the other side of the world, which means I can wake up, check the newest build and a list of art that they need, spend the day doing that and send them a checklist of bugs or tweaks I want them to fix and the art they need, and then go to sleep and wake up to a new build with those changes. That seems pretty efficient to me.  I think if I approached them with a vague “Make me a puzzle game involving dinosaurs” concept, who knows what I’d get.  But the GDD I’m writing is pretty much the whole game pseudo-coded haha  I just need them to turn it into iPhone usable stuff.

 

Game Flowchart - Bulletproof Outlaws

Above was the first version of the main flowchart. It made sense in my head, from Gameplay if you hit Pause you can choose Options/Give Up?/Resume.  But I realized there’s no real indication that on the Pause menu are those 3 options. Or that SFX/Music Volume are not sub-pages of Options, they’re actually on the Options screen.  So I did some revamping and got:

Game Flowchart - Bulletproof Outlaws

This one’s much better. Any screen with blue options, those are actual selectable options on the screen, and the arrows show where each one leads to.  And in the top-right corner, some of them have red Back arrows or a red Pause button and those screens will have those things.  This flowchart could actually probably be cut & pasted for a few games since everything on it is pretty universal haha  So I think writing my second GDD will go a lot faster/smoother.

That’s it for today!  I’m off to home for the holidays but I’m bringing my laptop so I can get some more work done.  It’s hard to really call it work when it’s fun.  :)  Merry Christmas, all!  Hope Santa doesn’t bring ya coal haha

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