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How To Start Your Own Games Studio, Pt 1

Introduction

By Joe Martin

There’s one thing you should know about me and that is that I’m a grumpy sod. Like all grumpy sods, I pine for the good ol’ days and the times of yore. I miss the time when the UK was known as the capital of indie game design and when stories of teenage bedroom coders making it rich through ingenuity were commonplace.

Nowadays the UK isn’t like that and the world of the bedroom game designer has kind of collapsed on itself. It was inevitable, but also tragic. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have been permanent either and Introversion Software is proof that some of that British brilliance remains.

Now we’ve invited Mark Morris of Introversion to share some of the experience he’s built up over the years and pass on a few lessons to the next generation. If you’ve got an idea for a game you’d like to make or if you’re looking to crack into the business of game design then you’ll definitely find his advice helpful – and remember that this is only the first of many lessons Mark is ready to lecture on.

But I Don’t Want A Real Job

By Mark Morris

There are many fantastic things about my job, but there are also many frustrations. Perhaps one of the most trying of these is when I get emails that read:

Hey Mark, I really loved DEFCON, Darwinia and the other one and I admire what Introversion has achieved. In fact I have my own game idea and I wonder if you had any advice on how to start my own games company?

How To Start Your Own Games Studio, Pt 1 How To Start Your Own Games Studio
Introversion has developed games like DEFCON and Darwinia

I mean, how am I supposed to answer that? It’s not that I’m unwilling to help, or don’t have the time - quite the opposite in fact, I’d love to see more independent studios set up. The problem is that I can’t possibly dump all of the experience we have built up into one readable email.

In my more mischievous moments I’m tempted to reply with something like, “Don’t eat yellow snow”, “Check your paper supplies before you begin” or “Put a coversheet on all your TPS reports”, but more often than not I go back and just ask them what exactly they would like to know more about.

Very rarely do I get a response to this and even when I do it is hardly ever specific or directed in a way that I can actually answer.

I can’t help these people and that is what frustrates me. I’ve got visions of developers hooking up at GDC and asking “Did you talk with Mark from Introversion?” only to be told; “Yeah he was about as useful as a pair of boobs on a fish”.

How To Start Your Own Games Studio, Pt 1 How To Start Your Own Games Studio
Games like Darwinia proved very successful, but didn't interest publishers

So I’ve decided to do something about the problem. I’ve decided to write a guide to building a video games company.

I’m not an industry analyst so I’m not going to compare different business models or analyse case studies, but I’m going to dig into my mind, and the minds of my pals in the industry, and try to build a guide to ‘doing it the Introversion way’. That’s not because I think we are a perfect company or that we’ve ‘cracked it’, but because I know everything about Introversion and I think we’ve done well for three guys who started out with a small stash of left-over beer money and one potential game idea.

So let’s start at the beginning, which in our business is finding the idea for your first game.