Why do you need a Publisher?

Publishers are important in many respects, but that was back in the 90s when the government started to crack down on the game industry and dealing with retailers became a nightmare, right?

There are 3 things that a Publisher can do for you:

1) Make tons of copies of your game
2) Distribute those copies at retail outlets
3) Make your game known to the world

These are all very important things but since the dawn of the internet and digital distribution, you have a fighting chance if you go on your own. You have to be willing to spend the time to contact hundreds of people telling them about your game. This means that you’ll lose possibly months of development time on your next project unless you hire a third party.

If you don’t want to worry about all of this hand your game over to a Publisher. There’s no shame in it. As long as your game is good and creative it is likely that your Publisher will actually push your title more so than its other projects. That’s the worst part about a Publisher is that they have at least 50 on going projects at once so your game might not get the spotlight that you think it deserves. Oh and of course you’ll probably get a 60/40 cut, in favor of the publisher…

Design Documents

Design documents are a pain to create but are the best references that designers can create for the team. I’d recommend to take at least a month and write down every little design aspect. The best documents are hundreds of pages long!

During this phase you should be able to tell whether or not your game is too ambitious for your team. If it is try to cut out gameplay features. There’s always room to add those in for a sequel. 😉

With The Divine, we built the engine before the game itself was fully designed. We knew that we wanted a space shooting game but we didn’t plan to put in special effects and the sort. Inadvertantly the coding is a little messy and locating a bug is becoming rather difficult. Now if we knew ahead of time every little aspect that we would need in-game we would have been able to write a more efficient engine that would suit our needs. But oh well we’ve learned from our mistake. Make sure that you do too.