Gosh… What have I gotten myself into? Struggling to make money as a game developer sucks. Flash is probably the easiest game development platform to make money with, but the general audience who plays Flash games prefers ‘casual’ games, as opposed to the hardcore style that I enjoy. Sure, you can sell a zombie shooter platformer physics game, but the only thing that’s really attracting sponsors are match 3 gem swappers, puzzle games, and apparently physics games are still doing well, even if they’re all the same thing.
Now here comes Unity3D, which boasts it’s superior development tools, full 3D acceleration (the only thing that made me glance at it), and it probably has some other qualities that I don’t really care to look into. Long story short, Unity has a pretty low adoption rate, meaning that most people will have to download a plugin just to play your game (but you can make desktop executables of course). Flash is getting 3D support sometime in 2011, so theres something else that will end up giving Flash the advantages. And until yesterday, there wasn’t a real good way to sell Unity games. FGL just posted some site updates in the past day or so that allow you to upload your Unity games to the site for bidding, so it’s possible that it will take off, but I doubt it. And again, most people who play browser games are more casual gamers, so I don’t really fit.
EDIT: I’ve downloaded the Unity trial version and I was surprised by the ease of use and all of the features. Honestly, if Flash doesn’t take off for me, Unity will probably end up being my favorite development platform. The UI is rock solid and it’s really easy to get a simple project going. There’s plenty of tutorials around, but I’m not sure what would be the best way to actually make MONEY with Unity. Flash has sponsorships, and Unity could too, if it takes off on FGL, but at the time of writing this, no Unity games have sold there.
And then there’s XNA. Developing games with XNA looks very appealing to me. There’s plenty of tutorials out there to get me started, and the games generated can be played on the PC, XBox360, and possibly some other hardware. XNA is simply a framework though. It’s not an engine like Unity3D. There’s a bit of work you must do before you have things up and running. Unity runs out of the box. Again, I haven’t really researched much into any of this. I know that Microsoft takes part of the money gained from selling your games on the 360 marketplace, but I still need to do a lot more reading before I abandon Flash. I’m going to continue working with Flash as long as I can. I’ll get my papervision game out before molehill arrives, and I’ll work hard on making some amazing games with Molehill, but XNA sure is tempting…
Oh, and I suppose I should look into what platforms can publish to iphone and droid, seeing as mobile games are doing pretty well. Basically I want to develop games that fit my style, and casual isn’t really what I have in mind when I think of my dream game. Who knows where I’ll end up!
EDIT: Thought I’d mention that I installed XNA game studio and got a basic hello world going. Again, making money seems like it would be much harder this way. Browser games get sponsors, and Unity isn’t adopted by enough users/portals yet. I’ll stick with Flash until I can be sure that money can be made with a different system. In a follow up post, I’ll look into the Unreal Dev Kit (UDK).