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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessHow Do You Find Funding?
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Peevish
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« on: April 03, 2009, 11:27:45 AM »

I mean, I know the first answer is "you probably won't." But still.

When I was a film major in art school (sooooo different from being a film student, I've learned), all the teachers' eyes would glaze over when the "finding money" part of the class came up. We'd even have producer's come in and sort of dance around the subject, saying they "found some sources in San Francisco," but never mentioned, you know, HOW to call someone, WHERE to find someone, WHAT to put in your presentation, HOW to write a contract. Like they thought it was boring or something.

I know at least a few indie developers have gotten funding, but it's mostly the same story as to how. I recognize it may be boring, but seriously: do you take out a small business loan? do you apply for grants? do you talk to other businesses about investing in you? I know you Canadians are probably given half a million by the government and a weekly stipend of jellybeans and free health care. What's a Yankee to do?
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 11:39:25 AM »

I don't get funding, but I do know that Tale-of-Tales gets some grants from various art institutes. If you are creating artistic/experimental games (and not just retro 2D platformers or something) that may be something to look into.
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Chris Z
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 11:41:14 AM »

The thing is, do you really NEED funding in the traditional sense?  If you're trying to pay people or rent office space then I could understand.  In this case, having a business plan and project plan up front and going to the bank for a small business loan might be your only option.  I'm not sure how willing banks are to give out loans to small game development studios though, especially in this climate.

Other than that, a day job is probably sufficient.  If it's a group effort then they can pay for their tools (tablets, recording equipment, software, etc.) and chances are they have most of the stuff for their specialty already.  Donation pages are an option, but from what I've seen those don't generate too much revenue.  It just seems that making independent games of the scale that have been successful lately doesn't require a whole lot of funding outside of your existing discretionary spending.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 11:44:27 AM »

You still need funding for food and rent and electricity and all that. You really can't both hold a day job and run an indie game business at the same time. Well, I'm sure some rare people can, but not most.
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Peevish
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 12:44:24 PM »

Day jobs are doable, though hard to come by these days, as my state has the 2nd highest rate of unemployment in the country. I'd like a team, and I'd like to pay them, but really I'd just like to squeak together $400 a month for rent so I can make games full-time.

But this isn't totally about me, I'm sure some people with bigger projects could use info on how to get funded. Grants are an option for something really interesting, but they take a long time to come through. Any advice from someone who's done a small business loan?
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 12:55:23 PM »

Rent is only $400 a month in RI? Maybe I should move there :D -- I live in NJ, and rent around here varies between $1000-$2000 a month.
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Peevish
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2009, 01:04:01 PM »

I live in a dirt-cheap artist space. You need a portfolio to get in.
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Peevish
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2009, 06:42:53 AM »

I got some deets on small business loans, for all interested parties:

You apply at a bank, but the bank is only going to be responsible for 20% of the loan, the the Small Business Administration is fronting 80% of the loan. So banks are sometimes a bit more flexible with giving out business loans than personal loans, as they don't eat shit if you default. You have to write up a big ass business plan and fill out a ton of paperwork, and they'll be checking your personal credit. If you're credit is bad, you'll probably want more than one person attached to the project as a partner (a hired artist or coder who doesn't have a share in the company won't help your credit rating) to bring help your rating.

My dad sent me his business plan from when he opened his restaurant, been perusing it. More details if anyone wants 'em.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2009, 06:55:02 AM »

You can also try person to person loans for smaller amounts, via sites like Prosper.com
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Peevish
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2009, 12:17:13 PM »

Whoa, I'll have to remember that site.
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lithander
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2009, 04:29:46 PM »

Well the "normal" way to fund a game is to get a publishing deal where the publisher is paying the development of the game. The first hard part is to get that contract and the second tricky thing is to abide by the contract. Tongue

To get a contract you need a concept and a way to convince the publisher that the concept will work and that you're able to pull it of. Some references or a demo are usually better the a lengthy design document... when you got the publisher hooked ask some lawyer to help you with the contract if you don't have a person in your team that knows about that kind of stuff. If you're an established studio there's also a chance that a publisher is asking you to do some commissioned work for him.

The "indie" way to fund a game is to self-fund the development. Usually indies do smaller projects or work part time on it - the "dont quit your daytime job" advice!^^

Having released one or more decent indie games might serve as a good reference to get funding, btw...

hope that helps...
« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 04:33:07 PM by lithander » Logged

ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2009, 04:32:59 PM »

Yes: if you create a game for pay, they usually own the IP, not you. That's one big difference between indie games and mainstream games; I presume he wasn't looking to give away his ownership of the game for some funding.
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lithander
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2009, 04:42:03 PM »

That's totally up to the contract. Sometimes the publisher tells _you_ what game to develop and you just do it for a fixed price and that's it. Some times the only thing the publisher is paying for is the right to market the game - but it remains your your baby. You decide how it will look and play like and at the end you still own the IP.
 
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2009, 05:11:19 PM »

You could always finance a business venture the old fashioned way by running up a shitload of credit card debt and hoping to hell that you make enough money to pay it back.  It worked for Kevin Smith when he filmed Clerks.
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Peevish
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2009, 09:09:32 PM »

You could always finance a business venture the old fashioned way by running up a shitload of credit card debt and hoping to hell that you make enough money to pay it back.  It worked for Kevin Smith when he filmed Clerks.

The Kevin Smith Method hasn't worked for many non-Kevin Smiths. I had a Cinematography teacher who was still paying off a debt for a movie no one saw 10 years later.

And while most things are about me, as well they should be, this isn't just about me making my game. I'm hoping to get a list of options for anyone who wants to quit their dayjob, or at least scale back their hours, or afford to pay a member of their team, yada yada yada.

Looked up some grants, and that's definitely a long-term plan. Usually the entry deadline is up to 9 months before the money comes in. Prospero.com's interest rates are generally much higher than a banks, sometimes 3x or more, but you can have piss credit and still get 10 grand if you need it.

Google turned up GCube Ventures. Weren't there a few other game-specific funding groups?
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2009, 09:32:32 PM »

I begged/borrowed from friends and family on top of what savings I could put together to get enough cash to make 6 months of basic living possible (rent, bills, basic foodstuffs, few quid for a pint now and again to unwind and keep contact with friends). Working with free/open source tools keeps working costs down and living in cramped accommodation is another big plus (although if people start down this path early enough they might get some very good rates renting a room from parents - something I wish I'd considered 5-10 years ago).  Work out how much it takes to survive for your team (if you're all dedicated to the plan) or how much you need to live on and how much it'll cost to buy in talent in areas you lack and see how long you could last on low savings.

The scope of a project is naturally limited if you don't have money for a year or two of development time but once the first product is out of the door you can build on that experience to work faster and better on the next game and with a proven track record to leverage for a real loan.  Hopefully sales will provide an ongoing income to minimise your loan exposure.


For me that bet will only pay off if I can keep roughly to schedule (and as this is the first project I've been lead on I may have miscalculated the work required at my skill level to get some things done) with 1000 sales over the product lifetime at a reasonable price.  It's a risk, but if it works and sales come in then that can fund the more experimental ideas I have and this work should help boost my skills to the level where I could pull those ideas off competently.
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Cymon
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2009, 05:41:15 AM »

Looked up some grants, and that's definitely a long-term plan. Usually the entry deadline is up to 9 months before the money comes in.
9 months to pay off? I can live with that. Got links?
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Peevish
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2009, 04:28:54 PM »

National Endowment For The Arts
(bunches there)

It's also good to search in your specific area, I found a lot of Rhode Island grants specifically aimed at Rhode Islanders. Just Google your state and then "grants."

Shivoa, that sounds like roughly what I'm trying to do, but my whole family's broke. Thinking I can squeeze a bank for a SBL, though.
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Aik
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2009, 05:45:07 PM »

Here's a detailed article on how Zero Sum did it: http://web.archive.org/web/20071024195944/www.zero-sum.com/press.html

That I have to use the archive.org to show you that should tell you something about how it all turned out - still, they did have funding...
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Lynx
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2009, 06:47:36 PM »

http://www.zero-sum.com/press.html

They appear to at least still have forums and a website.  It's not clear that it was a major success though.
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