Why You Should Make a Studio Before a Game

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Forming a whole game studio, and without a single game to show? What kind of advice is this? That’s a great question and one that I am excited to answer with you! I'll preface this blog post as such - at this time, I'm still developing my very first game. Marketing (i.e. community building from my perspective) is something that I'm still experimenting with, so my thoughts are simply a beginner's take. In the future, if my opinions happen to change on this I'll make updates. I do feel there is a lot of value though in discussing my initial thought process.


So, My Thought Process…

At least for me, designing the foundations of a gaming studio has a certain appeal. Coming up with the logo, mission statement, general "vibe," picking platforms, detailing target audiences, etc… are exciting to design out. With these starting elements behind a game studio, here is why I felt they needed to be defined before typing a single line of code.

  1. Label of Quality
  2. Motivation
  3. Enhance Your Planning Powers!
  4. Accountability
  5. It's Fun!

Or in a more click-baity sense, here is an in-depth look at the top 5 reasons why YOU should make a game studio before a game!


Label of Quality

I want to brand my games in a way that feels polished and professional. This doesn't constrain the style or genre of the games I want to make, but it helps ensure that what I develop fits my own standard of quality. From a daily workflow stance, this means that all features I plan to add are adding quality, not quantity. I never want to add something for the sake of having it, but because I know that the fully realized, fleshed out aspect of it will support the player's goal of entertainment.

Branding your games is important, but make sure you're branding the right things, or it'll defeat the entire purpose of it!


Motivation

I talk about motivation a lot, and that's because from the people I've already talked with and the online threads I've read, motivation is a tricky item to nail in the industry. Everyone knows motivation is key, but it's hard to actually practice it in a disciplined manner and have the end result of a finished game.

With designing a game studio, I believe it avoids the complexities of actual game design, even if it's just for a bit. Perhaps that's a fancy way of saying it's a way to actively avoid designing a game for a small chunk of time, but it's not an excuse! When you create a logo for your studio, you sink time into the vision of your future game dev career. It gives you a small push in the right direction for sticking with game dev, and a timely investment in your projects.

It can be small, such as a studio "mission statement" you draft up or planning the target platform you aim to market on. Making those initial decisions strengthens your commitment and bond with the games you plan to create, before you even start developing them!


Enhance Your Planning Powers!

I'll let you in on a secret (but not truly secret) tip in the industry - planning WILL help your game. I know, it's crazy to think about but it's true! You need to outline your ideas and goals for your game, both before, during, and after you develop a game. I won't get into the specifics under this post, but just know that planning is what makes development less daunting and more realistic.

As part of my own game studio (Sparkful Studios), I want everything I do to inspire creativity. This takes form in the games I create and the media I produce (this very blog post you're reading is a direct example). None of this happens without planning though. This may be surprising given the tone of my posts, but these are drafted, edited, prepped, and scheduled in advance. Everything I market (and aim to market) is planned ahead of time to maximize coverage.

If you struggle with planning, start by planning out a game studio, even if it's just a name, logo, and marketing outline. By going through the motions of evaluating what's important for your game studio, you exercise the same process of planning you'll experience with your games. It doesn't mean you always have the right answers (ex: you may need to revise your logo later on), but you know how to ask the right questions to yourself to narrow down your vision.

Developing the foundations for a game studio won't develop your game, but it will equip you with the valuable skills needed to plan out your games.


Accountability

You may be pursuing your dream game, and as exciting as that can be, you will hit a point of exhaustion. This is separate from motivation though, because you may still feel motivated for your game dev dream, but for one reason or another you struggle to work on the daily aspects of the game. Looking past the finer reasons like over-working, lack of ideas, struggle with complexity, etc… one reason that applies here is accountability. It comes down to the idea that you need mechanisms in place that will hold yourself to a certain standard in order to complete your game. This isn't a feeling of pressure or dread to strive for, but simply a way to keep yourself in check while developing.

When you start with creating a game studio, you set some level of expectation at an individual point. You have this unspoken understanding that you not only create games for you now, but for others and for the greater brand you have set up. Remember - the point here is not to pressure yourself under these expectations - instead, use it as a way of tracking your work and staying on top of your goals. If you need to re-evaluate your goals or take breaks too, please do!!!

As you set up a game studio, use the larger goals as a guide for what you want to achieve each day, week, month, and year, whether that's the number of features implemented initially or a specific quality to achieve with existing systems.


It's Fun!

Spoilers: I love creativity - This may just be me, but setting up a game studio is an actively creative process. I wouldn't consider myself super artistic, but designing front-facing materials for users is an engaging process. It pushes my brain in a varied way from game dev, and provides an escape as marketing becomes even more important. With the elements needed to set up a game studio, it requires a fresh perspective to produce a brand that other people can easily identify with.

Everyone is creative in their own unique way, so channel that energy into a game studio that represents you and the games you plan to create!


TL;DR

Because rehashing (hashing....hashnode...hehe) is fun, here are the 5 takeaway statements for making a game studio before a game:

  • Label of Quality - Branding your games is important, but make sure you're branding the right things, or it'll defeat the entire purpose of it!
  • Motivation - Making those initial decisions strengthens your commitment and bond with the games you plan to create, before you have even started developing them!
  • Enhance Your Planning Powers! - Developing the foundations for a game studio won't develop your game, but it will equip you with the valuable skills needed to plan out your games.
  • Accountability - As you set up a game studio, use the larger goals as a guide for what you want to achieve each day, week, month, and year, whether that's the number of features implemented initially or a specific quality to achieve with existing systems.
  • It's Fun! - Everyone is creative in their own unique way, so channel that energy into a game studio that represents you and the games you plan to create!