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Starting a new design studio

by Anthony Boterf on 11/28/11 12:37:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Hi, this is my introductory blog here at Gamasutra; to begin, I would simply like to say that I am humbled to be in the presence of so much incredible talent. Every blog I read on here is insightful, intelligent, and generally superb. That being said, I hope my feeble attempt to start a dialogue here at least measures up to the minimum standard presented by the other members of this site.

So, on to the real blog. I am an aspiring concept designer who has been working on and off on my game world design for over a decade, and on the computer game workings of my design for about five. I was inspired to convert what was originally my Dungeons and Dragons-style RPG world into a computer game by my first forays into the MMORPG genre via World of Warcraft. Within minutes of creating my first WoW character, I knew that this was the medium that would finally bring my designs to life.

I had test played the D&D version a few times with some old dungeon masters, but when I moved I found it increasingly difficult to find old-school gaming groups. At one point I started writing a novel based on the backstory for the world, but never got past the first couple of chapters. Once I had been introduced to the MMORPG genre, there was no turning back.

At first, I actually wanted to make my game a tie-in to the WoW universe...a separate yet parallel game world that would allow players from both games to cross over and interact in both. Alas, the reality of anything like this ever getting through to the powers-that-be at Blizzard finally hit me, and I decided I was better off just trying to re-invient the classic MMORPG.

No offense to WoW intended...that game has been more influential in the world of game design than anyone wants to admit. It is not without its flaws, however. So, I began doing alot of research into what exactly players (and designers) thought were the most glaring shortfalls of the current crop of MMORPG's, and do my best to address these concerns in a way that would not only satisfy, but impress those most vocal about said flaws. I have come up with a lot of innovative ideas, as well as incorporating variations of things currently implemented in other games, and so far I believe I have at least the skeleton of a serious game on my hands.

Now on to the fun part! Through a mutual friend, I have been in contact with an investor who may be willing to seed this project with a substantial amount of startup capital. However, it is his desire that I create a design studio of my own to work on this game, as opposed to convincing a current studio team to work on it. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect that I would be trying to find out just what I would need to build a successful video game design studio from the ground up, but here I am! The funding is not a guarantee yet, but what I DO need is to present a business plan and goals for the studio, in order to prove to the investor that I am serious about this.

So, where do I go from here? What woudl be my first steps in creating a new studio? Should I just try to emulate Curt Schilling and his 38 Studios, even though I will have nowhere near his cashflow at the outset? Or is there a more efficient way to get this ball rolling? I hope that some of you will be able to shed light on this for me...and who knows, maybe some of you will be in on the ground floor with me, creating what I hope will become the new benchmark in MMORPG's for years to come!

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