How do I make games? A Path to Game Development
Be proud of your games!
You don't hear people in college embarrassed about being in college because they don't have a job yet. You are learning, and making even a simple game is hard, especially if you want it done WELL. This is shown clearly by all the people who have NOT made even simple games but talk about it constantly. Once you have finished a game, consider yourself to have more of a track record than anyone who has not finished a game even if their idea sounds phenomenal and like it's up there with the latest cutting edge games. If you can't play it, it's not a game.
When you have a finished product you can show, you need to accept that for what it is, not what it isn't or compare it to people with 5+ years of experience and million dollar budgets who work on games full time.
I made my game, now where's my Ferrari?
Sorry, one game, two games, five games probably won't cut it. Last year there were 3,500 games released on the PC, and only a few handfuls made back a large portion of cash. Most of those that did weren't made by small groups who were self-funded, they were funded by large publishers and probably had multi-million dollar budgets, and definitely near or well over million dollar advertising campaigns. This isn't a world you can't join though, it just takes a good deal of time and experience and track record of making quality games, that hopefully sell well, to give publishers confidence in your team, so that they will entrust you with this kind of financial responsibility.
However, there is more to making a living of games than the multi-million dollar budgets and I strongly suggest you take a look at the other things as well. There is nothing bad or embarrassing about making budget games, they can be just as or more fun than the high budget commercial games, and it is a lot easier to get publisher to trust you with smaller budgets. On top of that, you don't have to spend years working on the same project, and if it doesn't go over well, you don't have to feel as much loss with it.
Just have an understanding of what you really want out of making games and then concentrate on making that come true.
Geoff Howland is the owner of Lupine Games as well as being the lead programmer, business manager and handling coordination of development for all projects. He has successfully brought his company from a single person operation to ten people and negotiated two signed games within a year. In addition to developing games he has also been an active member in the game developer community writing a number of articles discussing game design and business issues, as well as being on the Advisory Board for the Independent Games Festival. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments on his article.