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Chris! Xenonauts Original Development and Funding

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This is mainly directly at Chris, but I'll welcome other comments.

So I want to make an indie game, and I'd really love to get some tips from the development of Xenonauts. I've followed development of Xenonauts, played it, loved it, but most of all, been surprised that it succeeded as much as it did.

To cut to the point, I'll divide this into 3 sections: my resources, my plans, and a series of questions for Chris (but open for everyone else to discuss as well). I welcome any criticism.


  • [27,000 pounds in savings (converted from about 40,000 USD]
    [been exposed to coding (not saying I am an experienced coder, just that I know the basic concepts]
    [3 months to learn any kind of skill]
    [Friend in the UK who's a relatively experienced coder]
    [Worked on the Company of Heroes mod, Operation Market Garden, along with above friend (so we have good team chemistry)]
    [Friend has a basic turn base strategy game as his dissertation project. We are considering monetizing it as our first project for seed money, but we need to develop it further.]
    [Can do some basic statistics and numerical type mathematics]


  • [Acquire a Visa via my friend in the UK; his university might be able to sponsor me for a 5 year Visa]
    [Move to the UK (to work in person with my friend & possibly take advantage of a cost production subsidy (~25% of production cost refunded)]
    [Develop a simple game before trying a more complex game]
    [use the Unity engine (engine choice is important and Xenonauts was pretty constraint by its engine)]
    [Find people who can do art, music, and sound]


  • [How much funding did Xenonauts have initially? How did subsequent funding phases go?]
    [How important is working in proximity with people? I have no attachments in the US that will prevent me from flying over to the UK.]
    [is it better to "test the water" with a simple game or dive into a more complex idea you have in mind?]
    [should I consider part time employment, or is it better to concentrate on developing the game?]
    [Where can I go about recruiting people to work on other aspects of the game?]

Any other tips or comments are welcomed. Thanks!

Edited by Snarks

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I have a few suggestions:

Do lots of planning, play testing, story boarding, requirement documentation, get independent reviews of your game concept before you even start coding anything. This is critical and will save you a ton of time and money down the road. Building software is like building a house. The further along you are when you decide to change something that isn't working out, the more time and money it will cost to fix it and the greater the chance for even more problems later. Imagine being halfway done building your new house and then deciding you want to move the location of the kitchen. It's a BIG deal.

Try to find someone that knows how to design and code game software to mentor you. If you try to learn this by just doing it you're bound to fail unless you have many years of time to learn everything necessary. There are books about writing game software you can read too.

Unless you have a lot of artistic talent you'll want to find someone that can do the graphics and music/sound work. I can code fine, but any game I did would still look like crap without a lot of help from someone that can draw more than stick figures. Most of the development staff in big game companies are artists not coders.

Make sure there is actually a market for your game concept. A very nichey game about an obscure topic that you enjoy isn't going to sell many copies no matter how good it is. SimParticleAccelerator might sound great to you, but only 1% of the rest of population is probably going to even be interested in it.

Finally, keep in mind that getting the game coded is only about 1/2 of the battle. You still have to market it, create user documentation, set up a sales channel of some kind, have fulfillment system, accounting, have some type of user support and post-release patches. Your not just creating a game you're setting up a business.

Make sure to read Chris's write-up about his experiences developing Xenonauts.

Edited by StellarRat

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Yup, most of those points are covered in the writeup that Dranak linked. It's harder to break into the industry now then it is when I started Goldhawk five or six years back, but it's still possible.

If you're moving over the UK, look into the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme - if you're not a UK national it might not be that useful to you, but if you can find UK investors then it protects most of the investment they make in your company even if you lose everything. Definitely worth reading up on.

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