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From-Scratch Or Not? For Longterm Or Startups

Between copycat businesses that can’t make their mark and original artists struggling for a buck, a successful business lies right in between those failures with originality that is constantly improved on, defining a new standard. It’s the successful businesses that the copycats copy and that the original artists hope to become.

The following is a little exercise I did to see what two different extremes of workflows have in terms of strengths and weaknesses for the producer or the customer based on the process that will be employed. The product I am basing it on is a game, but this exercise could be implemented from its template skeleton to any other project-based business. Even within this field, what you or your team determine to be an ideal, an ordeal, simply busywork or neutral may vary to a large degree. In other words; your case even with the same components and rating system as the following, you may conclude with your own study completely different results. I’ve also included my conclusive comments for each example:

✔️ = should do

😃 = want to do

😰 = pain in the ass or don’t want to do

😡 = pisses off fans

 = not necessary or neutral

♦= ideal

∇ = ordeal (tedious and do mind LOL)

= busywork (tedious but don’t mind)

The from scratch method for a game:

create a new computing device 😃

create a programming language for said device😰∇

build a programming library😰∇

building a game engine or template

design every aspect of a game from scratch ✔️😃♦

transfer all the design aspects to the game engine ✔️😰∇

develop the game so that it works ✔️😃♦

clean out game bugs, refine features ✔️♥

test out game ✔️😃♦

market, publicize and fundraise game ✔️♥

package game ✔️♥

sell game copies/licenses ✔️♥

Process Score:

Busywork = 4

Ideal = 4

Ordeal = 3

This is a very difficult to achieve workflow, but will please fans if you happen to get any. That is the problem with the above method, it is perfect for an already established company with a large budget and a huge company of human resources, and hopefully they are employing something close to the above, but for startups this is simply too high of a risk for potentially too little reward, the above workflow would add max speed to an already momentous organization, but it would be slow to accelerate with that kind of pipeline for an indie, (though it seems they are taught to do so in established schools).

Not from scratch:

use available game engine ✔️😃♦

use stock assets compatible with game engine (so no challenge in transferring design) 😃

use available languages & libraries ✔️😃♦

base your game on a game already in the market (in order to improve or variate on formula for instance) ✔️😃♦

even a simulation demo of game can be used for getting funding

release beta version for testing for pre-orderers and fix game with feedback (a scam basically)😡

Publicize game with above controversy

Pay or blackmail media to report good ratings on game😡

Do ground work to make it available at most convenient locations ✔️😰∇

Process Score:

Ordeal = 1

Ideal = 4

Bad PR = 2

The above method thus only overall gives average results but is highly efficient. This is probably preferable to an indie, except for maybe replacing some of those bad PR sections with busywork to compensate, but it will require the proper management and design, so I’m going to suggest a hybrid method as the ultimate process next.

Hybrid Method

After listing the two methods of developing a game from scratch or not from scratch I can see that although not-from-scratch is better for the developer in the short term, in the longterm it’s everything that modern gamers hate about the industry. From scratch is a way bigger risk and way harder path for the developer and may not even be noticed by audiences without already being recognized from before, yet if it does succeed (or even if it doesn’t) those that know of it will hold it in high regard potentially forever. From scratch can be described as the developer killing himself for a potential fan, while the other is the developer killing the industry for their potential profit. Since the ideal setting has both fans and profit, being noticed and able to support yourself, the answer must be somewhere in the middle…

use available game engine ✔️😃

use available languages & libraries ✔️😃

base your game on a game already in the market (in order to improve or variate on formula for instance) ✔️😃

design every aspect of a game from scratch ✔️😃

develop the game so that it works ✔️😃

transfer all the design aspects to the game engine ✔️😰∇

test out game ✔️😃

clean out game bugs, refine features ✔️

market, publicize and fundraise game ✔️

package game ✔️

sell game copies/licenses ✔️

Do the ground work to make it available at convenient locations ✔️😰∇

Process score:

Ideal = 6

Ordeal = 2

Busywork = 4

Thus the process is half ideal, a third busywork and a sixth ordeal. This is probably, at least in theory, the best balance, being that there is less overall ordeals and busywork than the most from-scratch method to me in this case, and more ideals than the not-from-scratch method while still maintaining no bad PR from what I can tell, even if it is more work, it will have a better longterm impact while remaining more lean and manageable.

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