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How to Make and Self-Publish a Game in 12 Months

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This GDC 2015 talk goes over the path SomaSim's Matthew Viglione took when he decided to make and self-publish his own game in the span of a year. GDC talks cover a range of developmental topics including game design, programming, audio, visual arts, business management, production, online games, and much more. We post a fresh GDC video every weekday. Subscribe to the channel to stay on top of regular updates, and check out GDC Vault for thousands of more in-depth talks from our archives. Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/Official_GDC Check out our Facebook page for GDC exclusives https://www.facebook.com/GameDevelopersConference Visit our site: http://ubm.io/2ctNvqZ
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Text Comments (363)
Blonde Girl Laughing (12 days ago)
Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Good one.
Your worse enemy (16 days ago)
this guy is the host of eater now
Zezzreth Vhaorik (1 month ago)
26:41 Hey! Great talk guys! Anyone have work for me? I'll be here!
maladjusted (1 month ago)
17:40 or bundle tho two platforms for $15.00 duh.
Maruha Starshaya (2 months ago)
That's what I always said about mobile games - no reason to port them, because price never equals efforts.
jackawaka (2 months ago)
"The steam community has high expectations of polish" Hoo boy how that's changed
Derek (2 months ago)
2015, when you could dump games on Greenlight.
maverickM249 (2 months ago)
Word of advice, if you're serious about this, don't listen people like this. If you haven't heard the game, nor the developer, pay no mind.
Rob A (3 months ago)
Project Highrise is mad addicting though. Sim Tower for the new generation.
Yega C (3 months ago)
Funny how the game only has 60% positive reviews on it
EddieGuitarz (3 months ago)
What a journey you have to take to become a game dev. Great talk
KRONAN GAMING (3 months ago)
Awesome Seminar, a lot of great info ......Thanks
Cyborg Bunny (3 months ago)
Great talk! Thank you, puts a lot of things in prospective
Prophetic Rants (4 months ago)
Titles:How to make and publish a game in 12 months. Proceeds to skip the first 9 months that involved the making of the game and starts at the marketing aspect. Also the first thing he says to do is the worst way to start off, most indie developers shouldn't focus on becoming incorporated before they make a game. That's just horrible advice and a costly step that's as useless as getting a patent. He talks about everything except making and publishing a game, everything he talks about is common sense (which is totally uncommon) stuff that go without saying and he really didn't need to say it. He used this time to just promo his own stupid game that is nothing new and nothing impressive. It will be 29 minutes of your life wasted.
marscaleb (4 months ago)
He mentions a site called "Indie Game Stand." Sounds cool! Go to check it out. Site is down defunct. Sad.
Nick Pateman (4 months ago)
Any idea how old Matthew Viglione is? I'm guessing mid to late 30's but could be wrong? Just trying to find out as I'm a developer myself and wanting to do something very similar.
9robin3 (4 months ago)
Have tried everything. No one even comments or likes my game posts, plays or shares it. Its ridicolous I work so hard
Natalie Kirk (5 months ago)
13:10 I finally got around to watching this video, and was saddened to learn that IndieGameStand closed down in May last year. Anyone know a good alternative?
Natalie Kirk (5 months ago)
~sorts comments by newest~ Looks like I'm not the first one to point this out lol
Michael Wais (5 months ago)
Indie Game Stand is gone, kaput, finito! Does anyone know if there are any good alternatives to Indie Game Stand for beta/greenlight distribution?
Mark Gregory (5 months ago)
Really helpful talk.
Jason Lingel (6 months ago)
I always said "Scientific Wild Ass Guess"
Taylor Gibson (6 months ago)
"Go indie from the British empire" LOL!!!!!
Arman Ohanian (6 months ago)
Great presentation! It's noteworthy to mention that Indie Game Stand has unfortunately closed it's doors since. http://indiegamestand.com
Captain Ricco (6 months ago)
lol at the composer rudely plugging herself during your conference!!! :( What a world. It's all about having a good developing crew already in place. I haven't played 1849 yet because I'm working hard to produce my own game, but I'm sure my path will not be the same. You did give out some very helpful advice and thanks for that.
Milan Tique (6 months ago)
indie game stand is dead =(
I seem to keep looping back around and end up watching this talk about every 6 months. Which I'm okay with, good talk.
Jiri Kaminsky (6 months ago)
12 months is too long , too long
Chillbot17 (7 months ago)
RIP Indie Game Stand
arch entity (7 months ago)
Lol, he looks like George Weidman from SuperBunnyHop.
Jonah Dominguez (7 months ago)
lmao i love the puns.
2 Idiots Play (7 months ago)
at 25:03 is when I 100% knew to trust these guys cause I already had project highrise and I love it!
Le Lam (8 months ago)
Not until the end... Project Highrise that I was playing!? Wow! To me, those are really great (and seem the sales are good too). Congratulations!
TheParallellinial (8 months ago)
Thanks for putting this up. Learned a lot. Hope I can project it to my own process.
moofymoo (8 months ago)
o, new year resolution!
Fox D (9 months ago)
There was just one problem with 1849. It was way too simplified, to the point where I bought the game, loaded it up, played 1.8 hours of freeplay, saw everything the game had to show me, then refunded it because I couldn't see any replay value in it. The first rule of making a game is that a half-decent player shouldn't be able to blaze through it within the refund period.
Connor McHarney (9 months ago)
The SWAG bit reminds me of game dev tycoon.
Advection (9 months ago)
So this is why Steam is being flooded by garbage games...
Sammyv17 (9 months ago)
The 1849 game isn't compatible with Android 8.0 for some reason.
Ray Clemenes (9 months ago)
CoD
jane doe (9 months ago)
FTL needs to be on the Switch!!!
Colin Wiens (10 months ago)
Don't spend a year on your actual first game, and don't expect it to succeed. I highly doubt it'll be worth charging money for it. Anyone who succeeds is a lucky outlier, especially in a team.
Chris Anderson (10 months ago)
I'm gonna go buy his game just to pay him for this great talk - plus it looks fun.
Chris Anderson (10 months ago)
Amazingly helpful talk. Love this!!
Joe Shanahan (10 months ago)
"We knew how to use Flash with our eyes closed, blindfolded, in the dark" Triple redundancy eye closing.
GameWorld3D (10 months ago)
http://www.gameworld3d.co.uk
GameWorld3D (10 months ago)
check it out kidda beans
Ricky (10 months ago)
I have about 9 months. And I'm alone. And I have no experience with either a game engine or coding. I have a vague idea for a game. Gon be fun.
Fearful Pineapple (4 months ago)
Ricky hey
AndiTheMudkip (4 months ago)
Ricky how's it goin, 5 months later?
Diche Bach (10 months ago)
Congratulations on your successful #1!
Etienne Andlau (10 months ago)
I built my game in Starbucks and it took 2 years. Jobs? Whats that? https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/793117293/escape-from-mill-station/description
Bob Bobson (10 months ago)
You should just focus on fun and simplicity. Sounds like you were going too big.
Bob Bobson (10 months ago)
I dont understand why you need money to develop a game.
Fearful Pineapple (4 months ago)
Bob Bobson cause people need to live, so if you’re under 18 you don’t rlly need money.
Jim Giant (10 months ago)
26:40 Seriously?
Piece Digital Games (8 days ago)
Jim Giant IKR
George R (11 months ago)
1 year? sure. I can make 20 games in one year. Of course they are going to be terrible "games". And some people wonder why the videogaming industry is to terribly broken lol.
Kombiice (11 months ago)
26:56 -- funny!
nightmistful (11 months ago)
Interesting video :)
waki (11 months ago)
Title should be ''Make a plan to create another fucking retarded FPS game for retarded idiots with expensive PC''.
The Kingslayer (11 months ago)
Or you could just use Kickstarter and lie to people and WHY INAFUNE WHY!?
Croatz (11 months ago)
Do us all a favor and don't self publish your shitty games to steam. I'm tired of the garbage developers thinking they're the next minecraft. If I had a dollar for every game i see with purchased assets from the unity store, gamemaker or rpg maker...
Mr Brewed (1 year ago)
You know what also helps? Opinions! And I.... Need a ton. Help a dev out by shouting at these 9 survey questions for an rpg game! https://goo.gl/forms/L2PqDAOpsSnSchwA2
SPTX (1 year ago)
About reddit, my advice is simply DON'T. This place is a braindead circle jerk of retardation.
Airsoft FNGs (1 year ago)
i love this guy.
Gamers Chef (1 year ago)
you can see my game: Impression in one day 2 Lakh + https://itunes.apple.com/app/apple-store/id1266453832?pt=10666243&ct=lufandar&mt=8
Diloman64 (1 year ago)
the game better call ''California Gold Rush or Age of Gold Rush'' probably the game sale better.
Jarrett Vance (1 year ago)
i wish iOS had that "annoying" back button
ehook (1 year ago)
50 seconds in and "making money" is mentioned... I'm tempted to stop watching, because that's the wrong mindset to go with into game development. But I'll listen to the end, just to see what the fool has to offer.
DaimonTrilogy (9 months ago)
Yeah, making retarded games to trick or addict the consumer! Thats the goal!
_LiNKx (9 months ago)
Yeah, so they can keep making games you ignorant fuckwit. What they don't need to live on goes back into the company, he clearly said this is about how to make it so that your first game isn't your last game. Also, a mindset is 'wrong' if and only if it''ll lead to a shit game, no one needs to satisfy your childish philosophy. So long as you steer clear of creating freemium garbage, making money does NOT necessarily fall into that category.
DaimonTrilogy (10 months ago)
There you go! https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Dcubed_studios.bowrunner&hl=en Our game, no money involved, made purely for fun without any marketing, nor having any ads ;)
TheBilly (1 year ago)
It's the right mindset if you're a grown-ass adult with bills to pay. You only get to spend all day making a game out of the goodness of your heart if you're a basement dweller.
K (1 year ago)
12 months?!
LtVax27 (1 year ago)
Almost 4 years later and I'm still working on my game, but it is a 100% solo endeavor. Thought about hiring an artist due to the amount of animations but I'm in no rush and I do enjoy it. Good talk but most of this has been covered in other talks I've watched.
Little1Cave (5 months ago)
What kind of artists? I actually would love to help out with environment/character/prop concept designs if you’re still looking for people. Lol
DaimonTrilogy (10 months ago)
Anything to show me so far? We are doing a similar thing, and I know some good ways to get sustainable artists for your work ;)
The Merquet (1 year ago)
so detailed! thank you oh and Im a composer.. lol no jkjk hahaha and I thought "wow finally a girl is asking a quest, wait, wtf"
MakBadGam (1 year ago)
I fookin' love Tigsource!
Graby Jones (1 year ago)
Half an hour? Ha! I got games to play.
Connor Force (1 year ago)
This guy's so flamboyant.
capzombie (1 year ago)
We love tycoon games and simulations in Germany and the market is big compared to other countries in Europe. So an early localization is always a good idea. imho
Colin Wiens (10 months ago)
Yeah you can outsource translations to fans too, Matt Roszak does that and gets like 10 translations for free on his games (just gives them a free copy)
DarkPhoenix Gaming (1 year ago)
"Go Indie from the British Empire." LOL! I don't know why but I find that comment to be absolutely hilarious.
Anonamix (1 year ago)
I hadn't even considered cross platform pricing.. fuuuuuuu...
Jakub Keller (1 year ago)
Pffft, more like make and publish a game in 1 month.
Throttle Kitty (1 year ago)
As someone who is developing a game totally unfunded, this is helpful, thanks! I'm convinced keeping the actual game secret until it's really ready to show is the best way to go about it, so I'm sadly stuck working with no one to talk to, or about my game with. @_@ I thinks channel may be one of my new best friends!
Igor Nowicki (1 year ago)
"steam community has high expectations of polish" - that's probably why so many garbage games passes greenlight, huh?
No1Survivalist (1 year ago)
About to release a VR game and this has some stuff i didnt know that i wish i did when i released my last mobile game. Cheers for this gdc
Jelte (1 year ago)
his jokes are fing cringey, holy shit
Ed Dorvil (9 months ago)
He's a nerd. The fuck do you expect?
John Vasgird (1 year ago)
I dont usually rate videos, but this one was fantastic.
Twisted Pixel (1 year ago)
Never really cared for most indie games. I'm more into the hardcore competitive thing . the setting and storyline just isn't that important.
therealcraqerjaq (1 year ago)
so this is how Steam gets filled with complete shit all the time
Fearful Pineapple (4 months ago)
Generic User yea, cause the console is shit the moment you unbox it
Generic User (6 months ago)
The game doesn't look that bad, but I agree that Steam is shitlogged. Say what you want about mainstream, but consoles (PS4 and Switch, I don't know about Microsoft) aren't saturated with bad games.
Sidney Boo (9 months ago)
Steam isnt full.
Northychen (11 months ago)
Move to a console then mainstream boi
waki (11 months ago)
haha, totally. Didn't know they call shit a ''project''
huntdog777 (1 year ago)
Nice Video, I realized at the end of your presentation I met you at Pax West 2016 and played project Highrise. Bought the game after and loved it. It was a little odd to do a simulation game demo at pax, but loved the idea of scheduling a time to play that you did.
Zunnfix (1 year ago)
This guy is a terrible game designer. 1849 has bad reviews on steam because it lacks the classic complexity of good city building games, and the mechanics are less than adequate. Not a good idea to listen to a speech from someone who sucks at making games...
Kyle Martin (3 months ago)
Zunnfix I mean there is still something you can take away from a lecture.
Peter Tremblay (1 year ago)
The game suck and the info is not that relevant since there is many other ways to get a successful game out! Please stop making game and start a marketing business!
Jerstah phucku (1 year ago)
I have 5 dollars and can type "hello world" to command prompt. How long will it take me to make a game?
trallaton (2 months ago)
That's very true man
trallaton (2 months ago)
In Notepad: @echo off echo Hello world! pause Save as a .bat file
metasprite (1 year ago)
a few weeks for a text adventure :)
Anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 decades.. start cracking
Alex Noir (1 year ago)
Honestly you can make your own game in a week if you find a game engine that best suits you, though that would be a "first game" and not something you'd sell just yet.
文亭 (1 year ago)
Concise and informative ;)!
DustyLynx (1 year ago)
That composer should not have been doing some shameless self promoting. The guys is like "if you have any questions about my game you can ask them and ill try my best to answer them" and shes like" so im a composer and if any of you want some music for your game ill be staying in this room" you can also see how the whole crowd looks back at her like wtf are you doing XD
BlackTop (1 year ago)
for total beginners this really helpful insight
Michael Lochlann (1 year ago)
don't bite off more than you can chew.
Nes Nej (1 year ago)
yeah mobile games are a joke until they create a successful gaming hardware based smartphone. and it sells well
Brian McComas (1 year ago)
Is this guy trolling the gaming community?????
Brian McComas (1 year ago)
This entire talk is basically "WHAT NOT TO DO!" First off he starts by saying "We wanted to make a game to our hearts desire in about a year, but then we realized it would take years, so we said "What game can we build in a year!" Ummmm Is there any business out there that does this? "Hey let's build a house, it's gonna take 5 months to build this house, but oops we need one in 2 months. So what kind of house can we build in 2 months? L O L. Then he says later that part of Butchery was taking out the Multiplayer!!!!!! L O L NOT HAVING MULTIPLAYER is the biggest mistake in any game. NOT BUILDING A GAME TO IT"S EPICNESS YOU ENVISION IS A MISTAKE IN ANY GAME!~!!!!!! This speaker is off his ass. NO wonder i haven't heard of 1958.
DaimonTrilogy (10 months ago)
And thats why most of the software development make only copycats with tincy wincy difference to just stay in the market and crashgrabbing the consumer for a little bit of money. Good Products need time, if you dont have it, then you will make mediocre at best. Finding a solution for time is the key.
TheBilly (1 year ago)
>Ummmm Is there any business out there that does this? Are you kidding me? This is how EVERY. SINGLE. PROJECT works in software development. Tons of corner-cutting to deliver what the client really needs without dropping way behind schedule. Did you not pay attention where he said this was a method adapted from Microsoft? That wasn't a joke. Huge software companies have to think this way.
BoboTheEpic (1 year ago)
While there was a lot of shit he got wrong you mentioned pretty much the only two parts of this talk that were actually helpful.
David Menlo (1 year ago)
Brian McComas You clearly have no experience developing any sort of project like this.
kairon156 (1 year ago)
excellent video. But wasn't Fallout Shelter on Mobile first than PC?
Angel Segarra (1 year ago)
Yeah, but it was a 'Hey, you like the Fallout series?' Here's a mobile game for an on the go fix. It initially wasn't as good as it is now. The wasteland quests are the best addition, IMO at least. Since it wasn't that great in the beginning, why would someone waste time playing it in PC or console when that meant not playing Fallout 4 (New Vegas for me)? Once it got good, it only made to offer it on Windows as an App. You have to keep in mind now Touch Screen laptops and desktop monitors are common and it is much easier to port from Mobile to PC because you don't have to take away features, so why not port when you can and have another revenue stream.
The Tech Lover (1 year ago)
For facebook there's one trick to go ''viral'' give away a few copy with the entry condition being share like comment
TheBilly (1 year ago)
Not true. Facebook changed their algorithms to largely suppress visibility of pages liked organically.
J-Bo Moore (1 year ago)
I'm a music composer willing to work for free and just be a part of great project so if any ones interested comment back
J-Bo Moore can you make any age of empires type sounds.. I am thinking of making a RTS game that or can you compose anything heroes of might and magic esque?
J-Bo Moore (1 year ago)
city lights yes if you can some give me an idea of what you are looking for(genres perhaps) and an email I can send you some samples fast
city lights (1 year ago)
interesting, do you have any samples of your work please?
UTOMIK (1 year ago)
Awesome, we will share it on our social media if you won't mind!
Munteanu Catalin (1 year ago)
As a marketing specialist the pricing and advertising parts made me cringe. SO damn clueless. No wonder the entire industry is going downhill.
Nub93 (5 months ago)
As someone who has actually worked in marketing. He's not wrong, but he's also not right. They way they went about it was poor, they made a lot of basic mistakes. As a result they weren't very successful. Take the ads for example. Way too much noise and you don't really get a sense of what the game is. However they learned from it and by the end they managed a decent low budget marketing campaign. But if you must here are some problems: They used several different platforms to reach customers, but they misused them a lot. They reached out to Vlogers, but I doubt they got anyone major, in the sim world. They reached out to news outlets, but they completely failed to understand the markets they were in. They thought it would be cool to tell PC gamers that their game was made for mobile and mobile customers that their game was made for PC. Did they even do a basic marketing assessment? Like for example Germany is a huge market for Sim games. Yet they didn't even know that until after the game was already out. Another fine example was mobile pricing. Had they not gotten featured they would have lost about 40% of their revenue. That's crazy. But had they priced the game at .99p they probably would have gotten 10-20 times the number of sales(That would have made up 80-90% of sales). And don't even get me started on their marketing strategy. I am almost certain it was, we will just wing it. This is how you market. Find out what customers want and how to reach them -> Make what they want -> tell them about it. I am fairly sure they did: We will make what we want -> Make what we want -> O shit how are we going to tell people about our game. We only have 4 months before release, and no one even knows about it.
TheGnurgen (7 months ago)
Lol riiiiight, im a marketing specialist too then, and I think the pricing and advertising parts were decent.
Angel Segarra (1 year ago)
Munteanu Catalin, Please elaborate. How was what he said clueless? What would you do better? I figure most who watch this video will be gamers wanting break into development, all we can go off of is, "What would we pay and why?"
Steve Fairness (1 year ago)
How so stranger? What should they have done?
Alexandre Lake (1 year ago)
I don't get the reddit "not now" response. What was happening??
maverickM249 (2 months ago)
It's a weak point. ignore it. Asshole is coming up with shit that isn't coherent.
jderoc (7 months ago)
I also thought this was poorly communicated. It sounds like they tried to plug their game in a general subreddit and a mod kept deleting their stuff and was too busy to tell them why. My best guess is the speaker honestly doesn't understand how reddit works and didn't want to go deeper.
Hoijof (7 months ago)
Not now.
Blue Boy (1 year ago)
Exactly.
Jeffrey Stephens (1 year ago)
Boring, but very valuable information.
Don't Stop Driftin (1 year ago)
*Your first browser game*

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