Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Brand New Start

My name is Mark Barazzuol.

So for the last 4 years I had been working at my dream job. BioWare. And ever since being a kid I wanted to grow up and make video games, specifically RPGs if I could. I worked hard to get into BioWare. Completing a game design course at VFS as one of the best in the class. And then landing a job as a game designer at the perfect company, doing the exact type of games I always wanted to do. I worked on and completed Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age 2, and even the Dragon Age Expansion, and lots of DLC. It was a real life fairytale ending.

Yesterday I was laid off.

Hearing this you might imagine I would be bereft, distraught, inconsolable. Or perhaps angry, spiteful.. worried? The truth is, I was none of these.

Instead I just asked myself a simple question:
"What if this was the best thing ever?"

I had wanted to do more for a long time. In fact I've wanted to make my own games before I went to work at BioWare. I wanted to be my own boss. And honestly whenever someone asked me how to get into the industry, my honest answer, had to be:
"Try indie games, they are booming right now."

And well they are. You have companies like Zygna going from nothing to a valuation of over 7 billion dollars in just a few short years. You have one person developer teams like Notch making a sandbox game like minecraft and earning over $250,000 a day. And finally you have games like Angry birds selling over 100 million units. Thats over 100x most $60 games you see on shelves.

People in the industry will tell you that despite the success the market is very saturated. That its very hard to make even a cheap successful product right now. And even for most normal games you won't even break even. Never mind an indie game. Something has to set you appart to even have a chance.

So what makes me different from all the rest?

Well a lot of things actually. I have the experience that few Indy developers do, I've worked at a triple A game company. I can't even begin with the wealth of knowledge that comes from that. I handle money very well. And I'm very good at scoping out what needs to be done for how much. I understand and know how to manage projects well. Finally I'm honored and humbled to know a wealth of great people who have worked along side or mentored me. Their experience, knowledge and assistance cannot be overstated enough.

I have all the tools I need.

And though there will be problems, even failures, considering how I tend to turn failures into success. I'm confident about the opportunities to be found in any "failures" I encounter.

My goal isn't a billion dollar a year company. My goal is simply building games that people enjoy enough, that some will be willing to help pay for. And then fiercely and constantly improving on that success.

For now it's scoping things out, seeing what I can do, being respectful of my previous employer, I may have to move from Edmonton, but we'll see in short time what happens.

This is a brand new start for an independent game developer.

This is an Indy Alpha.

6 comments:

  1. Onwards and upwards Mark, the sky is the limit. And if you need some art to get you started, just poke me! Being an entrepreneur is demanding, but it can be pretty awesome too! :)

    <3
    Apis

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  2. Sorry to hear you were laid off and wish you all the best as an indie. What genre are you looking at? What platform?
    Take care

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  3. Thanks for the warm wishes! Platform genre etc covering in later blogs. Platform will be flash. Genre isn't worked out yet.

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  4. How often will you update this with your progress? Also, are you allowed to post about your time on DA:O and DA2? In particular what the ideas / debate behind the stark redesign from 1 to 2. It's surprising that you left, though. I would have thought that now would be the time to get all hands on deck for DA3/DLC etc?

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  5. Discussion on DA:O and DA2 I'll keep limited for now. DA:O a little less so. There's legalities behind it, but more than anything it's out of respect for my previous employer.

    As for whats beyond DA2? Well what I do know I can't talk about at all unfortunately. I know that probably sucks for you.

    But like I said any short questions about DA:O I may be able to fill in. You can email me at gd05mark at gmail dot com.

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  6. I found your blog through Brent, who posted it on his Facebook page. I worked at BioWare for a number of years but I think I left right around the time you started. I love your posts so far, and as someone who is teaching in a game design program similar to VFS', I find your posts both useful and relevant in sharing additional real-world experiences with students -- particularly as many of them do want to go the indy route. I hope you keep posting with as much frequency and detail as you've been doing so far! :)

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