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Finding a gaming niche worth it to develop for

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Xaron, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. Xaron

    Xaron

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    Dear all,

    as the mobile market gets saturated more and more and it gets harder for us indies to get even noticed with our games (heck I even don't talk about making money, but even free games get rarely more than a few hundred downloads nowadays!) I just want to discuss strategies and ideas how to enter niches and how to find them.

    Personally I have now 7 games in the stores (Google Play, App Store, Windows Phone Market Place) so maybe I should just start sharing my experiences.

    So my initial thought was to create something unique. I did this with my first game, even though not completely new but very unique and well received from those who accidently downloaded it. :D
    The problem: Doing something unique makes it hard for the gamers to find as most games are found via the search function (not speaking about the top 20 charts which you simply can't enter). So how could a gamer find something he even doesn't know about and never would search for? ;)

    My second approach was to just look into the top charts and doing something similar. Mainly the way that copying something that works well should create some success. Look at games like Candy Crush and so on. Up to now I haven't done that because this casual market is totally saturated, even if you make a really nice clone there are already thousands of them.

    What finally worked for me best was to look for localized niches. My best working game so far is a card game (called Mau Mau) which is almost only known in German speaking countries. The competition is very small there so people looking for it would immediately stumble across it. I did another one which is a battle ship clone. This worked excepionally well especially in the local German markets. The same international version has only 20% downloads of the german one. The competition is just much larger there.

    I'd be interested how you would spot niches which are worth making games for?

    Cheers!
     
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  2. tiggus

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    As a parent I'd like to see more games that are fun for kids but still educational. Minecraft is great in that it starts to teach kids how to code by modding while the game itself is fun to play. I think more games following that type of model would be great(no not saying everyone should make yet more minecraft clones). Too many educational games are just pure lame either in the fun dept or the teaching dept.
     
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  3. N1warhead

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    I agree with both of you.

    It's hard to get noticed, espically when people like us usually aren't some big company to throw our games down peoples throat every day on TV and tell them it's the best game because we made it.

    Wish it were that easy.

    If you notice the way trends work, a lot of it goes by the way the Art looks to them.

    Top End Graphics - Call of Duty
    Lowest end of Graphics - Minecraft

    yet Minecraft is probably more popular than COD. It's a close one.

    People aren't really so much worried about Graphics as it appears, Top End Companies aren't realizing this.
    yeah Minecraft is fun because you can do almost what you want, but it's more to it and we as developers know this.
    But we all have in our heads that people want AAA Graphics and that's what a lot of people try to go for and completely fail.

    Because truthfully, graphics can go get kicked down the Spartan hole and never return, because Graphics SUCK.
    The WOW factor isn't any longer about Graphics, it's about what you can do in the game.

    Could you imagine cutting on COD and next thing you know you can shoot off some orb and it starts sucking things in like a black hole and makes the level look all distorted and if it catched you blows you up. That would cause a *WOW* Factor, because that is FUN.


    But I agree with Tiggus.

    Right now I'm focusing on a kids game like Banjo Kazooie. It's fun for kids and Adults, however - it will have trival puzzles that will help kids brains get better at learning things, you know what I mean if you've ever played Banjo Kazooie.

    This game is going to take me awhile to make, but it's well worth it.

    But the biggest way to get any game developed in my opinion, is to get a major organization to sponsor it and let their marketing team handle it, give them a deal by donating a pretty good percentage to every sale to them.
    That's my agenda and hopefully I'll have an answer soon by this *said* company.
     
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  4. GarBenjamin

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    Thumbs up for recognizing the issue. The old cliche "build it and they will come" doesn't apply to websites or apps, or most anything for that matter because as you stated hundreds or thousands of others have already built it, are currently building it or building something similar.

    This gets into the whole USP focus in marketing. That is a good start but hardly helps when the potential customer must first be able to find your game to even have the opportunity to learn what the USP is. You can make the greatest game ever but until someone actually finds out about it the game will be a flop.

    One thing Indies could do a lot better is work together. Cross promoting each others games seems to be rarely done. Very simple to implement and a proven method for increasing awareness. If 3 people are building "runner" games all they need to do is at the end of their app place a "if you liked this game you may also like these games from my partners:" and then link to the other two developers' games. They do the same thing and in this way every time any one of your games is downloaded the customer gets a direct referral to the other games.

    A lot of this stuff was already figured out back in the shareware days and again in the hot time of the "make money online with a website or writing an ebook" days. Of course, there are new things available such as Kickstarter but I think soon that will become so overcrowded its effectiveness will also dwindle.

    Focusing on tiny niche markets is a very sound strategy and the path I took when I was building websites to make money online many years ago. These micro niches are too small to be catered to by the giant developers / publishers but are excellent for Indy developers.

    The key is figuring out how to locate your target market. They probably hang out in certain forums online for example. By joining and participating in those forums you can find out what they want, what they like about existing games in the micro niche, what they don't like and then build a better game for them.

    One thing is for certain, any dev wanting to do this to make money needs to be focusing more time on marketing than on developing the game. Yes, people will likely give me flak over that but it is the way it is. If you have marketing connections or services that are handling that for you then you can focus on your game development exclusively. But someone needs to be focusing on the marketing.
     
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  5. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    There someone goes again mentioning minecraft which is a one in a million exception. You really shouldn't mention minecraft, guys. Unless of course, you're making minecraft clones. Hint: you're probably not.

    It's fair to say that graphics are high on the list of priorities for most gamers.
     
  6. Ryiah

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    I'm surprised there aren't more games focused around learning programming. Ceebot, and its older variation Colobot, are the only two games I know off-hand that attempted to teach coding and I actually enjoyed playing.

    Which if you're making a minecraft clone, do us all a favor. Design in modding from day one.
     
  7. tiggus

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    I mentioned it because it is a good example of a game that is fun and can teach a skill at the same time, and I would do it again! Why derail the thread when the intent was clear?
     
  8. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    In my case I was referring to:
    ..Which is wrong IMHO.
     
  9. tiggus

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    Ah my misunderstanding...internet contexts :eek:
     
  10. N1warhead

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    I don't exactly see how I am wrong, yeah it's a one in a million, but that one in a million can happen to anybody if they know what they are doing.

    I don't exactly see how it's wrong though, Minecraft has the crappiest graphics I've ever seen sense the NES.
    COD has the best graphics I've seen, except for Xbox One and stuff.

    People obviously don't care much about graphics if they play Minecraft.
     
  11. hippocoder

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    Sounds like gambling to me, but each to their own :)
     
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  12. Xaron

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    Well Minecraft has just this "Lego Look and Feel". That's why you don't need good graphics for THIS game but I think you can't generalize it.
     
  13. N1warhead

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    Hippo - I wasn't trying to do a debate or anything, I was just trying to generalize out that you can still make a good game people will play even without the best of graphics if your game is kick starting something new off, as that person did.

    Which is hard, how did he know millions of people would like a Blocky game outside of his friends and associates.
    he took the risk and look how rewarding it became.
     
  14. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    He made a clone of a game and didn't expect it to be successful at all. The modding community got wind of it. But that ship has sailed.
     
  15. N1warhead

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    Really? What game was he trying to clone?
     
  16. Ryiah

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    Infiniminer. Which a fair amount of Minecraft's initial state was really Infiniminer with the choice of making gameplay centered around what the community of Infiniminer was already doing. Minecraft wasn't as risky as you'd think.
     
  17. N1warhead

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    Hmm. Never heard of it to be honest lol.

    Well anyways lets keep this on topic now lol.
     
  18. Ryiah

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    Most people never heard of it until Minecraft came out. Talk about finding a niche though. Only catch was the source code was leaked and the author got discouraged enough to stop development.

    Analyze the communities surrounding a game. Sometimes the game is designed for a certain playstyle, but the community decides to do it differently.

    Another thing to consider are games that may be seem unrealistic to develop. Dwarf Fortress, for example, has been in development for over a decade. Some find the mechanics too much, some find the visuals too primitive, some find the UI to be a nightmare.

    Yet it still manages to bring in enough donations to keep the main developer and his brother working on it full time. Donations fluctuate but they've held pretty steady in the thousands with July, when a major release occurred, hitting over $15,000.

    http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=144359.0
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014
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  19. N1warhead

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    Oh wow, that would be a great bummer, that would probably make me want to quit too, all that hard work just to get leaked out to the public for them to do it.

    There's still niches out there that haven't been discovered, it's just putting use to our brains to figure out what it is, thinking out of the box brings great ideas, but it's hard to truly think out of the box because were all used to what we play, and it's always the same thing over and over and over again lol.
     
  20. Deleted User

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    Grfx doesn't have to be OMG amazing, but I even personally have shunned games due to poor graphical immersion. In short it has to look good and that doesn't automatically mean realistic..

    To some degree I agree with Hippo, minecraft is the exception not the rule. Do the best you can, on finding a game niche it's hard to hit a formula that hasn't already done. So to start with I'd pick something successful and make sure you can twist it as much as possible.
     
  21. BeefSupreme

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    One thing I see a lot lately are indies falling over themselves to develop for the same niche. Every kickstarter I've seen lately seems to be a metroidvania with roguelike elements. Throw in a few more big name title drops like Dark Souls for maximum effect. And on mobile there's like 5 different games with 10,000 clones each.

    However, there are a ton of different types of games that I'd love to play that nobody is making anymore: side scrolling rpg beat 'em ups, unlicensed sports games, futuristic racers, SRPGs, etc. So that's what I'm focusing on, and I probably won't make any money...but at least I'll have something fun to play.
     
  22. N1warhead

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    Well yeah I agree, all I'm saying is I can deal with having games that don't focus on nothing but realism, as I've stated int he past, if I wanted as close to realism on killing someone I'll go load my Airsoft gun and Airsoft Grenades and go play out in the woods, that's as close as you can get to real without killing anyone, and hey guess what, the graphics are AMAZING! You should see the Shaders on the Aligators, man that Parralax Mapping is the best I've seen, even the bark on the trees, you an smell them! lol.

    Nothing wrong with looking realistic, just keep the fun factor in it. If something is fun, that's all that should technically matter.

    But yeah I agree, most nicches are found, but if there were no more that couldn't be created that would mean that Gaming is one big monopoly and will die out, because you can't create anything better whatsoever other than what we have now.
     
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  23. Xaron

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    I think there are still plenty of opportunities when you mix genres. Puzzle&Dragon comes into my mind, mixing match 3 with rpg.

    OK, might be not the best example, as this is already saturated as well but I think you know what I'm talking about?
     
  24. N1warhead

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    Yeah I completely agree.

    But I still also believe there is just something out there that just hasn't been done.
    I'm sure it's been voiced by someone before, but no big company ever listened.
    As we all know, they don't. lol.
     
  25. Gigiwoo

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    @OP - What games do YOU like? Rather than looking for random niches, pick one you already enjoy. Whether's that an internet meme, or game genre, or both. I made Tap Happy because I LOVE clicker games like Cookie Clicker. I built Gratitude Habit and Good Sex, Great Marriage, because I felt the life experiences from raising a Make-A-Wish and staying married, against all odds, were worth sharing. I've considered making a game like Coin Dozer or match-3, or a runner, or Left-Right Timberman, and yet, I haven't ... because I'm not passionate about those products. Life is short and I want to enjoy the product I'm building, while I'm building it.

    All my products are niche products. Niches that I enjoy, before, during, and after development.

    Gigi
     
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  26. Aiursrage2k

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    I guess there are 2 ways of doing it -- you can either do hard work look at something like assault android cactus, a mostly 1 man team -- where the guy spent a year working on it -- it looks and is very fun already.


    Or you look at something like 6180 the moon a really simple game with a unique mechanic, both games are on steam
     
  27. Gigiwoo

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    What's the 2nd way?
    Gigi
     
  28. Aiursrage2k

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    I wasnt finished writing my comment at the time. Put you wrap your game around a unique concept, or maybe you do both like braid with the good art and unique mechanics.
     
  29. Nanako

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    I just want to throw in my 2 cents as a longtime gamer.

    I think every single niche and genre. EVERY SINGLE ONE is still full of massive amounts of untapped potential.
    People need to concentrate on making games the way they used to be made. put your heart and soul into it, create a magnum opus that will stand the test of time. When a game is truly a labour of love, it shows.

    We need less, better games.
    And remember that ultimately games are consumable. gamers will finish them and want more. Even if what you want to do has apparently been done perfectly before, sometimes there's value in repeating it. but i don;'t believe anything is perfect yet, there's always room for improvement.

    You don't even need a unique concept. You can take the most boring, literal, generic concept, and make something great out of it. Concept and setting are just wrapping paper around the core mechanics
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014
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  30. Gigiwoo

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    I agree there is lots of potential in almost every genre. And, I'm not sure about the 2nd part. I put my heart and soul into Tap Happy (plus lots of blood, sweat, and tears). In my opinion, it is the best clicker game on iOS or Android, and yet, that doesn't guarantee anything, which isn't so bad, since it was a modest 13 week investment. Turning it into a Magnum Opus might have taken me 2 years without any additional gaurantee that people would play it.

    Gigi
     
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  31. BeefSupreme

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    That's true. Trying to make every game you work on a masterpiece is a great way to never get anything done. I really hope that the first game I publish isn't my best.
     
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  32. ShilohGames

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    Make a game that you enjoy playing. There is a good chance that others will enjoy it as well.
     
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  33. Lypheus

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    I don't think finding a niche or gimmick is the key at all, frankly every genre out there has so many opportunities ... even the zombie survival genre hasn't scratched the surface yet - games like DayZ are nothing more than a PoC imo, L4D* and Dead Island are complete rubbish. I think games like Fortnite will start pushing this genre in the right direction, we can only hope anyhow. Frankly, if you can look at any genre out there and not see some opportunities to make it your own, then you'll be unlikely to find any niche at all.
     
  34. Aiursrage2k

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    Just take a game genre you actually like playing, maybe you know the ins and outs of it, make sure it has something unique about it (or the production values are better than anything else on the market -- good luck with that as an indie).
     
  35. casimps1

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    Well, I'd say cross promotion is essentially what typical mobile ad networks do these days.
     
  36. GarBenjamin

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    Yes they often do show similar apps but what I was getting at is just networking with other Indys in general. That was one concrete example. And there is still great value in doing it. When a person has played a game they like and then in that game sees a "screen" suggesting games by their partners you should check out that will likely have greater weight than being one of 7 random similar games shown on the network app page. Also, with marketing you want to get your message (your game) in front of people as much as possible. The general rule is most people won't buy / try something until they have seen it 5 to 7 times or more. If the Indys all have websites they can cross promote on there as well.

    Maybe some of them know other sites to list your game on. Maybe someone else has a connection with a popular app review site. Basically I am just suggesting Indys work together as much as possible.
     
  37. MrBrainMelter

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    discoverability ... damn it's a bitch.
     
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  38. Xaron

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    Very interesting thoughts, thanks for that!

    What about PC market vs mobile market? As mobile games often are just time killers for some minutes in between, how about PC games? I mean I have no experience in that segment, do you?
     
  39. 3agle

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    Definition of niche: "a specialized but profitable segment of the market."

    Pinpointing a profitable portion of the market is impossible in this context, so you can ignore that bit.
    Developing a specialised game only limits the potential audience.

    The best thing to do, as has already been mentioned, is make the game you want to make, and put your soul into it.
    Gamers appreciate a project that has obviously had passion put into it, design by committee works for the big boys, but look how much money they have to plough into marketing to get it to work, and is anyone really satisfied with getting the same Call of Duty game every year?

    Make something that you'll be happy with, that's the best way to keep your sanity and stop you from over thinking issues you can't control.

    This is speaking as a developer and gamer of PC games, the situation may be more dire on mobile, so my advice may not apply...
     
  40. Nanako

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    i have to say, i think mobile games are trash. As a gamer i never really touched them. It's an inherently limited platform, and will continue to be for a while.

    in the long run, phones and computers (and consoles) will be irrelevant, we'll all just download data into our brain and play things in a semi-hallucinatory state or somesuch. But until then, i will always and only develop for the platform with the most possibility, and least restrictions.
     
  41. keithsoulasa

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    I'd like super realistic learn to drive games. With simulated test for gettting your license , and a voice that warns you when you're doing something wrong.
     
  42. ShilohGames

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    Which platform do you prefer to play games on? Develop for the platform you enjoy gaming on. For me, it is definitely PC. I love PC games. Mobile games don't excite me. However, some people are the opposite of that. Some people love mobile and could not care less about PC gaming.

    The same logic largely applies to picking a genre to develop for. Don't waste your time developing something unless it is something you are really interested in playing. Developing software is a lot of work, and it will feel like a lot more work if you pick platforms and genre that you are not passionate about just in hopes of making money.

    As for selecting a niche, try to make a new niche. For practice, develop some ideas that are the exact opposite of some already popular games. Be very detailed when you write the ideas up. Make a small simple prototype of the idea that sounds the most fun to you to play as a gamer. Then show the earliest (somewhat) working prototype to a few people for feedback. If people think your new game is fun, incorporate their feedback into the design. If they don't think it is fun, then try building a small prototype of your next favorite idea.
     
  43. MD_Reptile

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    I think "heart and soul" is a good way to develop, thinking of how metal gear games show polish in mechanics, art, storytelling, and graphics haven't always been super! Mgs on PS was nice at the time, but it's killer feature was the depth, the story and solid (pun intended) gameplay. But on the flip side, these games with the heart and soul(s) poured in still need to fill a hole for somebody, have uniqueness and freshness too. I'll stop rambling now haha.
     
  44. Marble

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    The only good niche to develop for is "people like you." If you're making a game that you don't want to play, that "soul" is already damned; if you're making a game that you would want to play, but that you already can elsewhere, then why?
     
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  45. Xaron

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    Thanks guys for all your comments, I really appreciate it!
     
  46. CaoMengde777

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    i wonder if notch ever donated to infiniminer?

    i, personally, in that position, would feel morally obligated to do so...

    in fact, i feel even morally obligated to donate to ALL unity youtube tutorial people that helped me soo much, if i even get a LITTLE BIT of success, eventually..
     
  47. Aiursrage2k

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    Never heard of it, was infiniminer the game notch ripped off? It was the same thing for portal or
    Narbacular Drop, i bet those guys made nothing pennies on the dollar and valve scooped up the idea and laughed all the way to bank. I think it shows you that your better off taking your game to the finish line trying to make some cash -- ala super hot
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  48. 3agle

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    "Good artists copy, great artists steal." - Pablo Picasso
     
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  49. lmbarns

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    I've noticed I'm more critical than the typical user. I've been disappointed with how something turned out due to having to make a deadline and scrapping parts of the game that I liked to the point I didn't want to release it, yet everyone who used it thought it was great with no complaints.
     
  50. GarBenjamin

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    That article says the developers of Narbacular Drop were immediately hired by Valve and created Portal. So... they likely made some cash as well as breaking into the industry.
     
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