Category Archives: Games

Announcing Indienamic & being realistic about earning money of your games

TLDR; I started a new company called Indienamic to build awareness for that brand so that I can build a community around the games I’m building. And, if you want to earn money from your games you have to cultivate that community, make high quality games, make people happy and do the number game. 15K visitors a month is not enough.

A while ago I said I decided to kickstart my dream to become an independent game developer (indie game developer).

In the incubator week I took a step back and reflected on how I wanted to achieve this seriously. I figured that in order to achieve this it would require me to build the game (of course) but also start with marketing right now.

So I introduce you Indienamic – a new identity where I’ll sell my games and blog about the journey building these games. A place where I hope to build a nice community of people who like the journey I am on and also like the games I’m selling. I strongly believe in a good and vibrant community in order to make anything you build successful.

The number game, how much do you need to earn a few bucks with selling games?

So lets get into a number game for a bit. Suppose you have a dream to build games and live from them. You’d need to earn money from your games. How much would that be? Well lets suppose you sell games from your website. A safe assumption is that 1% of your visitors will buy your product. Given that you can calculate how much traffic you would need in order to sell an amount of games. (this is excluding things like In App Purchases, this example is simply buying the game from your website)

Concretely…

Lets say, you earn 5 bucks a game and you get 15.000 visitors a month. This would result into (0.01X15.000) = 150 sold copies times 5 bucks == 750 bucks a month. 15K visitors may yield into 150 copies sold. You might want to ask more money, but I wager you equally need more visitors and even better a vibrant community.

Oh btw, 5 bucks is excluding any taxes. This alone would not cover all the bills to do full time game development.

Of course you also need good games, in fact you also need multiple games. And there might be other ways to get financially things in such a way you can make a living out of it.

Like I said before: My dream is build my own games and live from them. I want to do full time coding, making game music, graphics (learn, or buy), game design, blogging. On my own terms, creating cool games and making people happy!

And yes, this will take time, dedication, effort. The first step, Indienamic, is taken. I have a plan and I intent to stick with it. Part of that ‘plan’ is to let you know how it goes, and to be very transparent about it.

With that out of the way…

What is next?

What about the incubator week? Don’t worry, I’ll blog about that within a week – on Indienamic of course. There are still a few blog posts in the pipeline to share you the progress so far!

It would not make sense to set up a website if there was nothing to blog about right? 😉

If you are interested in my journey in game development – keep an eye out for Indienamic!

Compiling Stratagus on Mac OS X (10.8.2)

I loved playing Warcraft 2. I played it on DOSBox recently, but the fact that 640×480 is just plain ugly on my MPB these days made me look for alternatives.

And so I found Stratagus and Wargus.

With Stratagus as engine, Wargus as “MOD” and with the original Warcraft 2 CD you can re-live Warcraft 2 again on your machine.

On Windows you should be able to install this without any problems, installers are provided and these work just fine. However, on a Mac you might be in some hassle to get this working. In fact, there is no official support as none of the authors run a Mac. Basically this means people with Macs had to figure out how to do this. After some time of googling I got Stratagus compiling and working with a Wargus game I already created on Windows.

Fortunately someone at github already made a version that should work on Mac OS X. Combined with a tutorial I found elsewhere I got it to compile. I can play Wargus now on my Mac!

For completeness sake I have combined the steps I have taken (and also forked Stratagus) so you can use that version. Don’t credit me for making Stratagus compile on the Mac though, as I did not make the nescesary changes in the makefile or code.

Install Xcode (from App store) & Install command line tools from Xcode

in Xcode, go to preferences, tab "Downloads" -> " Components" -> Command Line Tools
  • – The command line tools should have installed git and svn for you, try them out:
hit "svn --version", and "git --version" in your terminal.
If they are not installed, you could install them via homebrew (brew install git && brew install svn) (after you installed Homebrew of course)

Install homebrew

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSkL raw.github.com/mxcl/homebrew/go

Installing required dependencies

I have installed the following dependencies with homebrew like this:

brew install cmake libogg libvorbis theora libpng zlib libmikmod sqlite3 doxygen

Compile and build tolua

Go to your projects dir

git clone https://github.com/LuaDist/toluapp.git

cd toluapp

cmake -G "Unix Makefiles"

make && sudo make install

Git clone stratagus

Determine where you want to checkout stratagus, ie in your ~/projects, then:

git clone https://github.com/stefanhendriks/stratagus

Compile it

cd stratagus
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -G "Unix Makefiles" ..
make

Now you should be able to run a stratagus game. Since I already created Wargus by using Windows, I copied this over to my mac (and put it in ~/projects/Wargus). Then I ran stratagus as:

./stratagus -d ~/projects/wargus/

A known issue I have is that on startup the screen looks as if it is drawing with a weird offset (ie too much out of screen at the upper left). By simply changing resolution this goes away. Don’t know why yet, but since we have the code now and we can compile, we might as well try to fix it some day! 🙂

Personally I’d like to see a better AI for wargus, especially since I like to play Skirmish games.

I hope this guide helped you get it to work on your mac. Please share your experiences in the comments section.

Game Programming (Experience)

Recently I saw at Youtube someone telling about his view on game programming. His targetted audience was for those who want to create games, but have no clue how to start. He began with something along the line of “I’ve been programming games for 5 years, so I guess I could say I’m experienced“.

That got me thinking. How long have I been programming (for) games?

I’ve been working on Arrakis since I was around 14/15 years old. I’ve finished it when I was 18. Arrakis is written in Basic (using Quick Basic 4.5). I realized in order to get further I had to learn a new programming language. One that did not had the limitations as Basic. Thats when I had decided to learn C. My first attempt was writing a new Dune II clone, this time really using the Dune II graphics.

After a short period of learning C I began playing around with the Half-Life SDK; I’ve been toying around with a bot framework (Botman’s bot) and before I knew it, RealBot was born. RealBot has been developed for around 4 years.

And, to complete the circle; while RealBot was fading away I picked up again my Dune mania and recreated Dune II – The Maker from scratch. 

Today, I am 26 years old. I haven’t worked on Dune II – The Maker seriously since 2006. This would mean I would have rougly around 7 to 8 years “experience”.  So considering that, I might also say that I have experience in game programming.

When you look at my LinkedIn, you see none of those projects counted as experience. Sure, they are mentioned
under “websites”. But I would prefer to put them in a more suited spot. Perhaps somebody has a suggestion for that.

Although ~ 8 years might sound like a lot. I do think it has to taken with a grain of salt.

First, I did not work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Secondly, I did not have any sparring partners,  so quality wise I did not write superb code.

However, there are concepts that I’ve learned; and you only learn those when you write games. Concepts like:

  • sprite/bitmap management
  • drawing maps / tile engine
  • A*
  • parsing files (from original game)
  • little AI, 
  • state machines, 
  • double buffering
  • blending techniques
  • team colouring (in RTS)
  • using colorkey’s
  • transparancy
  • palette manipulation

And probably a few other things I can’t recall at this moment.

So yeah, perhaps I could say I do have experience in Game programming…

C&C 3 : Increase shader details prevent crashing

I have 2 computers, one is a laptop which I carry everywhere. But, also a desktop system for playing games. It has an ok video card and an old CPU, but it does the job for now.

Recently I am playing Command and Conquer 3 : Tiberium Wars. Although I own this game for quite some time, only recently I began playing it more often.

For fun I tried it to run on my laptop, which has only an onboard video card (Intel, GMA 450). The graphical performance of this laptop is anything but good, but I gave it a shot.

The game needed to be updated first of course, but after that it actually ran fine… for 5 minutes. 

After 5 minutes it crashed horribly, just showing my Windows (XP) desktop with the known message that the program encountered a problem/error.

It took a while to figure out what was going wrong: The GMA 450 does not support C&C 3 (see Compatibility List)!

I did a search with google and figured that someone at TechGuy found a solution. The solution is easy. First make sure all your graphical settings are on “low”. Then, increase the Shaders setting to “medium”. Thats it!

It sounds weird, but it actually works! The game did not crash after 5, 10, or more minutes. 

Although this does fix the crashing problem, it did not fix my problem of getting owned by the AI.