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The Getting Started Guide to Game Development FAQ

by Ben Sawyer

Please feel free to distribute this document electronically as much as 
possible for non-profit use only.  This document may not be printed 
and/or distributed in any fashion in any for-profit manner whether 
for a newsletter, online zine, or professional publication without the 
written permission of Benjamin G. Sawyer. 
Improvements from Version 1.3 
Fixed erratta 
New and Improved Book Section 
New and Improved Magazine Section 
New and Improved Internet Resources Section 
New and Improved Online Services Section 
Now Featuring Karen Crowther's Shareware Gamers FAQ! 
Now Featuring Ron Gilberts Design Document and Game Design 
Added Section on Rating and the RSAC 
Added Section on Macromedia Director  
Contributors:  The following people have assisted in the creation of 
this document: 
Dave Snyder/MVP Games, Bruce Lewis CyberSims, Gregg Seelhoff, 
Jim Bucher, Akiva Atwood, Chris Crawford, Kevin Gliner/CGDA, 
John Eichelberger, and Chris Newland. 
Plus anyone I forgot and thanks to all my downloaders over 2500 I 
know of with the first version. 
Coming this fall from Coriolis Group Books. 
Yours truly is teaming up with The Coriolis Group, publishers of 
PC-Techniques Magazine, Michael Abrash's Zen of Grpahics 
Programming, Diana Grubers Action Arcade Adventure Set and Lary 
Myers 3D Games Action Adventure Set among others to bring you 
the most comprehensive guide and sourcebook ever seen in the 
history of Game Development Texts. 
I have spent countless hours researching and writing about how to do 
game development, who to call, what to use, how to design, produce 
and market.  I have and still am interviewing dozens of top game 
industry producers, designers, marketers and analysts to bring out a 
book which covers the entire realm of the industry. 
Look for it this fall from The Coriolis Group. 
Keep looking for Game Devlepors FAQ updates which will 
supplement and compliment the book! 
I have recently taken on the role of Assistant Sysop in Compuserve's 
Game Developers Forum.  Please drop by for the latest release of the 
FAQ which goes through Quarterly Updates.   
Starting in August of 1995 I will be hosting regular conferences with 
industry proffessionals on Compuserve's Game Developers Forum.  
These will be regular Bi-Weekly sessions complete with a speaker or 
speakers a topic and a Q&A roundtable.  Join Compuserve and GO 
GAMDEV for more information on this program. 
In conjunction with the Ultimate Game Developers FAQ The 
Coriolis Group is publishing the WWW version of The Game 
Developers FAQ.  In addition to all the information contained here 
are live links to all the coolest sites for game developers to check out 
and much much more. 
For more information point your web browser towards 
Special Thanks: 
Everyone who frequents CompuServe's GamDev forum, especially... 
Karen Crowther 
Without Karen initially persuading, (suckering) me into this, I would 
not have thought I could be helpful. Her advice is always available 
and always good.  Anyone else wishing to thank her should purchase 
her games: Rescue the Scientists (Retail from Comptons), Pickle 
Wars (shareware from MVP), Math Rescue, and Word Rescue 
(Shareware from Apogee). 
Ron Gilbert 
Ron is the co-founder of Humongous Entertainment which produces 
Childrens games for a wide vareity of platforms.  He posted on 
Compuserve's Game Development Forum some great information 
about design documents and computer game design in general and I 
ask if I could include a revised version in this new update and he 
said sure.  Ron's advice is excellent and I am glad to make it more 
widely available as part of the ongoing GameDev FAQ Update! 
Swen Vincke 
Swen came all the way from Belgium to help me to explain some 
DOS Specifics like DOS Extenders and Midpak that programmers 
should learn.  Anyone else wishing to thank Swen should either 
contribute to his collaborative game project titled Chronicles (visit 
the CompuServe Gamdev forum for more info) or buy his upcoming 
Adventure RPG Ragnarok. 
Keith Weiskamp 
Keith is the publisher of the Coriolis Group, which has recently 
brought out such books as Visual Basic Multimedia Adventure Set, 
Arcade Action Adventure Set, and PC Game Programming Explorer, 
to name just a few.  I cannot thank him enough.  Keith spotted my 
work early on and has served as an excellent resource, editor and all 
around cheerleader.  Anyone else wishing to thank him should buy 
his books and even if you didn't initially want to thank him, you will 
probably want to do ultimately, anyway since they are among the 
best books published. 
The following developers\producers for their divine inspiration to 
me, I've never met them, but their games have always inspired me to 
become a game developer. 
Bill Budge (Pinball Construction Set) 
Danielle Bunten (Seven Cities of Gold, M.U.L.E.) 
Chris Crawford (Balance of Power, Excaliber) 
Don Daglow (Producer of many EA Hits) 
Richard Garriot (Lord British) 
Sid Meir (Pirates, F-15 Strike Eagle) 
and Bill Williams (Sinbad, Alley Cat, Necromancer) 
A lot more work than you will do once you start coding! 
1. First find a good Chinese food take-out place. You will be eating 
in a lot. 
2. Flesh Out Your Design. 
Try to really flesh out your idea as much as possible.  Put your ideas 
on paper first.  Diving in might seem like the quickest way but 
sooner or later, you are going to hit design and programming snags.  
Why? Because you have not completely thought through your idea.  
Always remember: designing and coding are two separate tasks that 
deserve equal attention. 
3. Line Up Your Resources. 
Like a cook preparing ingredients, during the design process I line 
up lists of the graphics, sounds, and music I will need. Remember, 
creating a game requires a lot of non-code items.  Make sure you 
have a good idea of what those will be and how you will acquire or 
create them. 
4. Preparing a design document 
A design document is an overall catch-phrase for a complete written 
account of what you intend your game to be.  Games require 
planning and the design document is the formal instance of your 
plans.  What follows here is an edited and revised version of a post 
Ron Gilbert of Humongous Entertainment placed in Compuserve's 
Game Developers forum.  Humongous is a fast growing children's 
entertainment company based in Woodinville, Washington and 
makes awesomely animated games like Putt Putt Joins the Parade 
and Freddi Fish! 
The most difficult part of designing and writing interactive stories is 
the form of the script.  You will find that everyone does it 
differently, so basically the choice is up to you. Over the course of 
the last 10 years, I have designed and written many interactive stories 
and adventure games and have never kept the same format.  
First, don't prototype you project.  Prototyping is for people who 
don't understand the medium.  If you (and your prospective 
company) understand the medium, you both will be able to 
understand it in a linear, written form.  I suggest you product the 
following documents: 
Story treatment. 
This is exactly like the ones for movies.  It briefly describes the story 
and major characters.  Don't worry about it being interactive and 
having branches, just write the main branch or the most important 
ending.  Other endings can be mentioned but don't spend time 
flushing them out in the treatment.  The treatment is for a quick 
This is a document the describes the interactive design of the 
products.  It includes sample descriptions of what the play will do 
such as: 
What form is the interaction is taking? 
Are they make story choices in a branch story composed on scenes, 
or are they roaming an environment as in a adventure game? 
Do they pick up items? 
How do they talk to people they meet? 
What does the interface look like? 
These are all VERY important issues that must be talked about in 
the design document.   
The best way to get this information across is by comparison to other 
products.  "It's just like Myst, but underwater".  "It's just like 
Monkey Island, but with talking cars".  Don't be afraid to draw these 
comparisons, it's not a sign of a lack of imaginations, just the 
opposite, it shows that you're well versed in what other designers 
have done successfully.  
The design document is where all the interactive design goes.  If you 
are creating a adventure game style world, make a map.  Show where 
all the charters are, and where everything can be found.  If  your 
story is branching, then make a flow chart with little boxes for each 
scene and a once sentence description of what happens.  
The script resembles a movie script, but each represents each box, or 
location or interaction in the design.  The great thing about an 
interactive script is that you can throw it up in the air, gather the 
papers up and it DOESN'T MATTER. 
Advice on submitting design documents to companies. 
If you are trying to sell this to a company, do step 1 and step 2, don't 
bother with step 3 until you get an OK (or you just don't have 
anything else to do!).  Any company that knows what it's doing 
(which are very few), won't need to see a script to understand what's 
going on.  Unlike film and TV, the script is not  early as important as 
the design.  There are thousands of people out there that can write, 
but very few who can design. 
There is also something else very important to remember when 
selling your design and/or script.  Unless you're just interested in 
just soaking someone for a bunch of up-front money, pick a 
company that has done something you like.   [editor - I would ad that 
selling a game design is very tough as I talk about later, this isn't to 
say don't try just be aware it's tough!] 
There are hundreds of multimedia companies that hove no idea what 
they're doing and you have a good chance of getting hooked up with 
one of them.  Don't sell it to "movie" studio  that happens to have an 
interactive division.  They are notorious for not knowing what there 
doing.  This is a brand new art form that is understood by very few 
people.  You may have a great story and design that get ruined by the 
implementation, and unfortunately you're reputation as a designer 
goes along with it. 
I don't know if any of this is helpful or not, and just 
remember...everyone does it different, so there is really no right or 
Good luck 
Ron Gilbert 
Humongous Entertainment 
My advice has more to do with how I organize my work as a part 
time game maker: 
For organizing my game, I got a loose leaf binder. In the binder, I 
have three sections:  To Do, Design and Resources. 
The To Do section is a running list with notes about stuff I want to 
work on to make my game.  For example I might have an entry titled 
Movement Scheme For Enemies, and below it some notes 
concerning how I might do it. 
At the beginning of the section is a running Top Ten list.  Not my 
list of the best David Letterman lists, but a list of the next ten 
features or things I am going to do when I sit down to work. I do this 
because, like you I pursue this craft in my spare time.  I find that 
good design notes and a To Do work list helps me make the most of 
that time. 
I also always carry a printout of my code so I can edit it on the road.  
By using lots of pen and paper, I turn what spare time I have away 
from my computer into productive time. 
 This is simply a running set of sketches, short essays and notes 
about the overall design like storyline and 
interface design, etc.  I am constantly adding to it until I have a 
complete picture of what the game will be, always being careful not 
to do too much. 
Just as I said before, your game will have many elements besides 
programming code.  This section is a running list of the artwork, 
sounds, data files, etc. which will need to created. 
Windows or DOS? That is the question. 
Lately, there has been a huge shift toward the Windows market for 
games.  Windows has been used mostly for applications. Recent 
developments for Windows.  The new WinG graphics library and the 
upcoming release of Windows '95, means Windows is becoming 
more and more the dominant form of PC Game development. Bill 
Gates wins again. 
On the other hand, many computers which do not use Windows still 
exist.  Some people refuse to give in to Microsoft.  These people 
remind me of people who say they can ride out hurricanes. 
In addition to this major decision come secondary decisions.  For 
example, like hardware requirements, if your game is multi-player, 
what networks will you support?  Will your game will require a 
A great deal of game development does not happen on the computer.  
It is very important to design, document and plan your program. I 
cannot stress this enough. 
Remember Not Everyone is Ray Tobey. 
Discovered by the inventor of the Apple Computer, Steve Wozniak, 
Tobey programmed his first  commercial game, SkyFox, at the age of 
16! Rumor has it, Bill Budge in his 30's at the time - author of 
Pinball Construction Kit, quit the game business when he saw 
Tobey's amazing game. 
Its Important To Finish. Always walk before you compile! 
The most important thing to consider when developing games is to 
finish them.  I must have started at least three projects which were 
beyond my means before I got smart and scaled back my ambitions. 
It may seem neat to make a DOOM style game right away. That level 
of programming takes a lot of work and experience  (Id had been 
creating games for several years prior to DOOM).  Start simple, 
learn, read, and build your skills. 
A finished game with less flash and dazzle is better than no game.  In 
short, learn to work within your skills and learn to finish. 
What you mean you don't want to slave for seven to twelve months 
and then give it away? 
Either by storyline, game dynamics, graphics or whatever, your game 
in order to have any chance at success has to have a discernible 
difference from everything else out there.  Remaking a clone of 
Asteroids is not a good way to go about making money because it 
already exists. 
Remember: not every game need be a best seller. Just understand the 
level of sophistication, polish, and uniqueness that such a product 
requires.  Even if you feel your game is not up to these standards, 
press on, and you will see that there are many outlets beyond the 
retail realm for showcasing and receiving credit for your work. 
One way to be unique that is it just simply better. Many games are 
newer versions of older ideas.  For example, NASCAR by Papyrus-
now certainly car racing simulations are nothing new-but NASCAR 
is absolutely amazing.  It is simply better, so not only will it sell 
outright, but anyone with a love for car racing simulations will want 
this game too.  
Being unique is a general code word for simply offering the 
consumer of your game a specific reason to choose that game when 
they compare it to verses other available options. 
Order that chinese food, lots of it. 
All of the steps in the design stage above apply while coding too.  I 
just want to add a few things to this. 
Even God took a day off! 
Breaks help a lot remember to rest. Try to take breaks from time to 
time.  My trick is to take regular breaks, sometimes programming a 
second project, a more mundane small application utility. This keeps 
me programming, just not in the same manner. 
Reedabilllity es gooing 2 b impertant. 
Remember to comment your code.  A typical mistake of many 
programmers, game or otherwise is not placing comments in your 
code.  Game programming requires a lot of clever work arounds, 
much more so than other forms of programming, and requires serious 
optimization many times late in the work.  This means commenting 
is even more important for games. 
As you write your game try to make sure you create code that can be 
applied to other games later.  For example my RPG game, which 
features a tiled multiple scrolling map.  Now certainly the map can 
be used for other games, so I made sure it was wellcommented and 
very open ended to apply to future projects I have in mind. 
Everyone has ideas that need development. 
Games are perhaps on of the most creative mediums ever.  They 
require music, sound, art, storytelling, writing, programming, and 
more!  This requires a lot of brainstorming!!! 
If Leonardo or Michaelangelo were alive today, there is no doubt 
they would be game developers.  Also, if Leonardo were alive today 
he wouldn't have paid 30 million dollars for his book at auction 
which Bill Gates did. 
Every creative person needs to come up with ideas, and with games 
even more so, as this medium has perhaps the most fickle customers.  
So lets talk a little about brainstorming. 
I don't have anything special to say here, but I always think of two 
things I have read or heard from two great programmers when 
dreaming up ideas: 
Author of Ultima I-VIII and Worlds of Ultima and for trivia buffs, 
I always emulate Richard Garriot in that he constantly carries a pad 
of paper around to work ideas out immediately.  You never know 
when an idea can come to mind.  I also try to make little notes about 
books I've read and movies I've seen.  I use these notes later when 
considering actual game ideas like I described 
above.   This journal process has always served many other creative 
types as well and it works well for game design similarly well.  A 
small tip here is to avoid the massive carry of a pad, I purchase 
reporters notebooks which fit perfectly into a jacket pocket or pants 
pocket as well.  
I would add only the following comments of my own: 
The Worlds Best Excuse. 
Spend a lot of time reading about and playing other games.  A lot of 
great ideas exist which are merely new twists on existing themes.  
Again, remember the unique rule-attempt to differentiate! 
I'm lucky I have a few friends who play lots of games-so every once 
and a while I take a trip over to their house and play all their games. I 
spend several minutes with each, evaluating the way they play, the 
documentation etc. 
Become a Comparison Developer!!! 
I am constantly in stores reading backs of the boxes, and evaluating 
demos.  In a creative medium like this, ripping off someone else's 
ideas is how we create.  When a new game is written, it attempts to 
incorporate (read: rip off) all of the current ideas out there and then 
move beyond them (only to create 
new features which themselves are incorporated).  This is how games 
evolve.  So, being as much of a player as creator has a lot of merit. 
And did I say Read? 
Spend a lot of time reading non-technical materialsbecause I enjoy 
Adventure/RPG games, I draw a lot of my ideas from mythology, 
science fiction, etc.  You have to read.  A programmer of games is a 
new-age Renaissance person.  They must have an understanding of 
many different elements of the arts, technology, 
and the general world around them.  How are you going to write a 
game about geopolitics if you haven't read about the world around 
you?  What are you going to do-just make it up?  Read Read Read. 
Never brainstorm on your computer. Use paper and a pen or pencil. 
Always brainstorm in a relaxed atmosphere, and set aside time to do 
so every week. 
If you can't seem to generate what you feel is an original idea, 
consider what many writers simply do, write what you know.  I am 
an RPG nut, so I am writing what else, an RPG!  Of course, I have 
some innovative ideas for that RPG, but starting with an idea based 
on what I know got me going initially. 
For other reading on creative brainstorming, check out the writing 
section of your favorite bookstore. There are usually several good 
books about creative idea development to be found there. 
"The answer my friends is blowing in the wind." Bob Dylan 
The answer is infinity.  Well, sort of, game design is an endless 
process which we could talk about forever, but you and I don't have 
forever, so here is a "Reader's Digest" essay about game design to 
help you understand the thought process about creating games. 
Game design concerns one thing tantamount to all else and that is 
Interaction.  What separates games from similar creative mediums 
like, art, movies, music, and books, is that the player interacts with 
the medium. 
You don't stare at, or just listen to a game-YOU CONTROL IT!  So 
as designers, we have to create a product which entices people to 
play, and at the same time, provide the storyline, the emotional feel, 
the realistic tone, and the other qualities all other creative mediums 
give us.  A tall order, but this is what makes creating games so much 
Playing means making decisions.  Therefore our games need to 
create situations where the player has to decide what to do, and then 
to perform that action, which our game then reacts to.  This can be as 
simple as PAC MAN where the player has to decide whether to go 
UP, DOWN, LEFT, or RIGHT, or as complex as Balance of Power; 
should I or shouldn't I arm the rebels in this country? 
This is what makes games appealing:  A set of decisions which the 
player controls and, based on their skill and intelligence, by which 
they ultimately decide the outcome of their game. 
So when sitting down to design a game, attempt to create 
entertaining interaction, try to provide an easy way for the player to 
make decisions about the situation you put them in, then return 
interesting outcomes which in turn lead to new situations and the 
whole process starts over until there is a 
final outcome. 
As you sit down to design your games try to keep the following 
things in mind as you decide on what it will be: 
Am I creating Interaction?  Does my design create a decision 
dilemma for the player or not? 
Are clear situations provided to the player?  Is there enough 
information in the game  (graphical/sound/text) to illustrate to the 
player what situation they are in. 
Am I providing them with the proper information to make decisions? 
Is the interface by which the player commands the game clear and 
easy to use? Does it provide the proper information to them to help 
them input desured actions? 
Do the outcomes of the player's decisions end or continue the game? 
Does skill and intelligence of the player produce the outcome? 
Random outcomes not based on the skills of the players decisions 
are not games. Players must know they are controlling the outcome. 
Is it entertaining?  If it isn't fun, they won't play it. 
In short, concentrate on providing interaction, creating player control 
of their outcomes based on their skills and intelligence, and make it 
Good ones. 
The are many types of games which do well.  Game players come in 
many shapes and sizes. Here is a list of game categories which seem 
to dominate the shelves.  Remember that GOOD GAMES will do 
well regardless of the category, but by evaluating these categories 
you can find a niche to write a GOOD GAME in.  The following not 
in any order of importance. 
3D Games - Now commonly referred to as "Doom Style" games, 
these games feature texture mapped 3D environments and usually a 
lot of action and shooting.  Already several books have come out 
show you how to write games like this. 
RPG - Role-Playing-Games are like Dungeons and Dragons, though 
they might be about space, postapocalyptic, sci-fi oriented, they still 
share the statistical characteristics and strategic features of games 
like D&D. 
Adventure - Not to be confused with RPG's these programs, such as 
Sierra's King/Police/Space Quest series or Lucas Arts Indiana Jones 
games, are more puzzle based games, and are not based on building 
up a character, or statistics like an RPG. 
Edutainment - This is a hot hot category right now. Games like 
Carmen Sandiego and Rescue the Scientists are traditional 
educational games with exciting game elements melded in.  Games 
which become "learning experiences" so to speak, rather than the 
first generation of "flash card" like products. 
Retro Games - This is a relativly new category of games.  What the 
term refers to is the recreation for a new platform of an old classic 
like say Microsofts Arcade Pack which features 4 original coin-op 
Atari classics. 
Simulation - Computer Simulations like Flight Simulator, F-15 
Strike Eagle, and Comanche have been excellent sellers.  There is 
nothing like a detailed simulation to entertain gamers.  However, be 
careful, trying to put together a complex simulation game can take a 
lot of work.  Gamers in this category are extremely picky. 
Sports Games - EA probably tripled the size of their company on its 
sports titles alone.  Prior to the release of their first classic, Earl 
Weaver Baseball, sports games tended to be simplistic arcadish 
games or dry statistical models.  Earl Weaver brought both of those 
approaches together and gave birth to the 
statistical/simulation model.  One note here:  Check out FIFA 
Soccer for the 3DO an amazing look at the where this type of game 
is going. 
God Games - God games refer to those simulations where you 
essentially simulate an environment and give the player control over 
factors which affect it.  SimCity and Sim Earth as well as Populus by 
Bull Frog/EA are great examples of this game type. 
Shooters:  Usually viewed from above, the screen scrolls as the 
player -you guessed it- shoots everything.  Examples might be 
Raptor from Cygnus/Apogee or  Space Invaders and Asteroids. 
Fighting games:  Fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Virtua 
Fighter have become so popular they really do warrent their own 
category.  Most of these game involve heavy arcade action as players 
either vs. the computer or their friend duke it out in some for of 
hand-to-hand combat with special moves and sometimes hand 
weapons like swords or flails.  Other games in this category are 
things like Street Fighter, and One Must Fall. 
Platform games:  Ever since the original Donkey Kong, 2D 
side/verticle scrolling screen, jump n' shoot games have been 
amongst the most popular form or arcade games made.  In the PC 
world the role of shareware alone has brought side scrolling games 
like Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, and Duke Nukem to much 
Overall, though many games tend to have 80% of themselves firmly 
rooted in one of these categories, great games always tend to overlap 
into other game types as well.  Magic Carpet, a huge hit right now 
(Bull Frog/EA) is both a flight simulation, an adventure game. 
It's always good to keep track of new and interesting gaming types, 
there are more than what I've touched on, and new hybrids emerging 
every day. Keep track and you might just create a game that is either 
a benchmark for its category, or the newest game for the next great 
game type! 
Oh and did I say GOOD GAMES sell well? 
Jobs are tough write your own game! 
As for an actual job, a good article appeared in the February 95 issue 
of Computer Gaming World.  Without going into detail I will 
summarize the key points. 
1. Getting hired is tough.  There is a lot of competition, programming 
and/or art skills are a must. 
2. Having a good demo or a good game already completed is a big, 
big plus. 
3. College graduates are the choice of company recruiters, and a non 
game specific background is also important. 
In short, go to college-this isn't a simple job-and write something on 
your own.  It will give you at a big advantage. 
As the game industry evolves from single designers who did 
everything to team oriented multimedia megagames, there are many 
other job types which have opened up. 
Artists 2D & 3D.  Musicians, Writers, Level Designers, Marketing 
If you feel you have a special talent - like Art for instance - and you 
feel you understand Game development as it relates to art (or writing 
or ...) then you might want to put together examples 
of your work and send them to the human resources departments of 
Remember, though: As with any creative medium - or any job for 
that matter, getting one will be tough. It won't happen overnight.  
Also, if you are approaching the Game Development field for a job 
in one of these support positions, it is important to really understand 
the process and the difference that the notion of interactivity 
presents to the product.  Writing your own game might develop that! 
If you're really interested in the industry, check out: 
The Computer Game Developers Association. 
What is the CGDA? 
The CGDA is an association of interactive entertainment 
professionals dedicated to serving the careers  and interests of its 
members. It's not a trade association or a union. The purposes of the 
CGDA are: 
To foster information exchange among professionals in the industry 
To represent the community of interactive entertainment developers 
when policy issues arise in industry or government 
To increase artistic and financial recognition for developers 
To enhance the quality of interactive entertainment and educational 
Why should I join the CGDA? 
The most important reason for joining the CGDA is that it lets you 
participate in a community of people with similar interests and 
concerns. The CGDA will take an active role in helping to set 
government and industry policy on important issues such as software 
ratings. In addition, the CGDA will offer a variety of services to its 
members, designed to assist them in their careers. 
They also have a newsletter which has all kinds of good info too. 
What does it cost? 
Membership will cost $75 for 1995. (Foreign memberships will be 
somewhat more!) 
How do I get in touch with them? 
Computer Game Developers' Association 
555 Bryant Street Suite 330 
Palo Alto, CA 
voice:	+1 415 948-CGDA  
fax:	+1 415 948-2744 
Please note: In order to keep costs down, this phone line is not 
staffed by a live person. Leave a message and someone from the 
CGDA will return your call as soon as possible. 
All right Deductible Junkets!!!!! 
Several conferences exist.  The major one to attend is: 
The Computer Game Developers Conference (What else did you 
expect it to be named,) 
This is held every year in the spring.  In 1995 it is being held at the 
Westin Hotel in Santa Clara, CA, April 22-24. Contact the CGDA, 
an affiliate of the producer of the conference for more information. 
There is also an East Coast Developers Conference. 
This is held in the fall. 
Call Alexander Associates in New York +1 212-684-2333 for more 
What About The Consumer Electronics Show? 
CES is a good place to go too, but it is mainly a show for retailers 
and vendors to hook up, so while you'll have fun playing all the 
games and looking at the latest gadgets, the amount of networking 
you can do isn't as good as the Computer Game Developers 
What About Comdex/Windows World? 
These are business-oriented shows, I've never seen much in the way 
of games at either show. 
Write your own game, everybody has ideas. 
The fact is, just like in any other creative medium, ideas are 
plentiful.  This means it is unlikely a publisher would be interested 
in your idea alone. In fact, the way copyright laws work, they 
probably won't even look at it because it could open them up to a 
lawsuit if you later claim they 'took' your idea. 
In order to attract the talent to make the game you will need to have 
capital, or some very friendly developers.  However, if you're reading 
this, you probably now know that you need to develop your ideas 
yourself and that is probably what you had in mind to begin with.  
So, read on! 
OK! Enough talk about ideas and getting employed, lets find out 
how to turn our ideas into finished games and our finished games 
into products!!!! 
The dominant language of game development is C/C++ for both 
Windows and DOS. 
Almost every game you see is written in this language originally 
developed at AT&T Bell Labs.  C is the original version of the 
language and C++ is a newer version, geared toward a system of 
programming known as object oriented programming (OOP for 
short).  C++ programming is not much different from C, so I use the 
two together since even most C compilers you can buy will allow for 
both flavors of C programming. C is also a great language to write in 
because it is easy to move a hit games C/C++ code from one 
platform to the other - more so than any other language. Even though 
"easier" hybrid languages exist for Windows (which we will discuss 
below) C/C++ is the dominant Windows development 
language too. 
What more can I say - it's the dominant language of game 
The Road Runner of languages. 
Since it is the fastest language, some Assembly Language is used.  
Assembly is usually used to create subroutines to call from C/C++ 
for sections requiring intensive speed.  Assembly language is the 
most difficult to understand.  The general law of computer languages 
states: The lower level the language, the faster it is, and the harder it 
is to program in it.  Don't be discouraged though, learning Assembly 
is a great tool; DOOM would not have had it's blazing speed without 
some programming in Assembly, and people who know it can 
accomplish amazing things. 
With its portability and easier learning curve, C/C++ is much easier 
than Assembly.  C/C++ like assembly "compiles" to standalone 
executable files. 
However no one said programming in C/C++ was easy either, just 
easier than Assembly, and many people are a little intimidated by all 
of the coding required and such.  First, with a little work and some 
good books, programming in C/C++ is not as hard as it seems. Hell - 
even I know how to program a little in C!  There are, however, some 
alternatives to programming in C. 
You mean I can create great Windows products and actually get 
some sleep too? 
Visual Basic from Microsoft is a hybrid form of Basic written 
especially for Windows. VB works in the Windows environment so 
you can create neat interfaces and professional looking products. 
Visual Basic also has a much easier learning curve. In addition by 
learning how to access the Windows API, a special slew of calls to 
the Windows Operating System, you can do some nifty animation 
and sound effects! 
There are also third-party add-on products that extend its VB's 
features which are referred to as VBX's.  VB skills can eventually be 
used in C/C++, especially concerning API calls.  This makes your 
skills here transferable to the next level of Windows programming 
with C/C++. 
However, you should know that VB has its drawbacks. C/C++ is 
much faster, and speed in games can be crucial. 
I don't think you'll see Doom being created with VB any time soon. 
VB also does not create stand-alone executables like C/C++.  VB is 
what we call an interpretive language it doesn't actually compile.  
While you can create "executable stand-alone" versions of your VB 
programs (royalty free), your user must also have the 
VBRUN300.DLL file in order to use the program. While you can 
distribute this DLL (and many users already have it on their systems) 
this is an extra burden for VB to carry.  More and more, though I am 
amazed at the stuff possible with VB.  I wholeheartedly recommend 
it to beginners, and even pro's, to create games.   If you find it too 
limited or slow, than just move on to C/C++ 
Yeah! DELPHI! 
The other language is Delphi, a recently released hybrid Windows 
programming language, from Borland. Delphi is a hybrid Windows 
version of Pascal.  It allows you to create full .exe files with no 
additional files needed (as opposed to VB) and its very fast. 
Delphi allows you to do a lot of things VB can't like write your own 
DLLs and .VBXs and of course it compiles.  A tip here is check out 
The Coriolis Groups web page at http://www.coriolis.com they've 
constructed a complete index to Internet resources for Delphi 
One note it does require 6mb of memory. 
And Don't forget Director... 
Many multimedia developers have been using this product for quite a 
while and some have even shipped games with it.  I believe Journey 
Project (the original not Turbo) was done in Director as was Myst on 
the Mac and HellCab. 
With the current release, Director is true cross platform. It's amazing 
how a product of this kind can create binary compatible files for 
both Mac and Windows. Basically, you take your multimedia app, 
create it all on a Mac, copy everything to Windows, and it runs 
without a hitch, identical to the Mac version. OR THE OTHER 
WAY ROUND. There are some exceptions, but they are mostly 
minor, like remembering (on the Mac) to stick to the stupid 8.3 file 
name conventions, etc. 
Creating things in Director is really fast feedback is immediate. I've 
seen several programmers who have problems adapting to the 
Director paradigm, but I myself didn't experience this. It's fun, 
powerful, easy, and you (almost) automatically get both a Mac and a 
Windows final product. A 3DO player is in beta. A Director player 
engine is also being integrated into Netscape Navigator. 
The programming language, Lingo, is a complete language, and fully 
OO. You can even switch ancestors on the fly!  Tech support here on 
CompuServe is grrrrrrrreat (they won an award for it). So is the user 
community, both here and on Internet. 
On the downside. Director has to move a lot of stuff around. It's too 
slow for arcade games. Lingo is an interpreted language, which 
means that it's in the Visual Basic performance class. Definitely not 
C. But if your goal is to develop something than can convey an 
aesthetic experience, and you expect your audience to have time to 
enjoy a development of character and narrative quality, it seems to 
me that Director is a good choice.  
If you're not intending to produce arcade games, I think Director 
warrents a look.  Understand also that the package is somewhat pricy 
by beginners standards but still you get a lot for your money and 
Macromedia often sells bundle deals with Director and ton of other 
cool multimedia products like Premiere from Adobe or sound 
editors, so shop around. 
C/C++ is the leading development language of game creation, Visual 
Basic by Microsoft has some merit, especially for non- action 
intensive products, and Delphi, a new language for Windows, by 
Borland shows promise.  For beginners I recommend Visual Basic, 
perhaps Delphi if they know some programming already.  For people 
already familiar with VB or other flavors of Basic or Pascal, go for 
C/C++ and some Assembly. 
It pays to be multilingual. 
While you may have chosen one language to become proficient in, 
take the time to learn about some of the other languages I've 
While you may not want to program in C or Assembly, having a 
basic knowledge can help you look at code examples, and gain ideas 
for whatever language you're using.  I'm drawing on my rudimentary 
knowledge of C to read books about Windows programming to learn 
more about controlling Windows from Visual Basic.  While I can't 
write a program in C, I can dissect code, understand so I can learn 
from it. 
Concentrate on one, but pay attention to the others. 
If you're absolutely brand new to programming, you have a lot of 
work to do.  Order some more Chinese food and maybe a lot of Jolt 
One trick: Build your game-developing skills by designing new 
levels\scenarios with games that have built-in editors.  For example, 
learn about wargame design by developing neat scenarios with 
Empire Deluxe's scenario editor, or how about a new level for Doom, 
using many of the public domain and shareware WAD file editors?  
A list of some of the better 'Designable Games' can be found in the 
Resources Section. 
Learning The Ropes. 
What I've provided here is a list of basics specific to game 
development that assumes you know programming basics.  If you 
don't know basics, like variables, looping conditions, etc. skip this 
and come back when you do.  If you've already mastered some of the 
basics, here is a rundown of the type of game specific programming 
abilities you will want to learn about.  Not all will be needed 
depending on your game, but that is for you to determine. 
Graphics files can come in many shapes and sizes. You should be 
somewhat familiar (if not thoroughly familiar) with the various 
formats and how to load them into your program for later use in 
animation and such. the new PNG, PCX and BMP are Examples of 
these formats. 
Another point to be made about graphics is that 320 * 200 used to be 
the dominant form of games, but with most things progress has 
raised that level. Right now the dominant resolution is 640*480 
which is also the default Windows resolution. 
Animation in games involves copying sections of the screen to and 
from sections of memory that contain the graphics information.  
Widely referred to as a BitBlit, it is one of the most basic graphics 
programming skills you will need to master. 
AI or Artificial Intelligence concerns the creation of intelligent 
reactions by the game's of the situation and the player's decisions.  
Most commonly used to create computer opponents assessment.  It is 
not an arcane art and many established methods have seen their most 
useful twists and applications by game programmers.  Bullfrog the 
makers of such games as Populas and Magic Carpet has especially 
embarked on a mission to bring more innovative AI to computer 
games, check out their newer titles for the results as they develop. 
Here is a list of the specific items you need to understand which 
concern are involved in games for DOS. 
In DOS, programmers mainly use MidPak and DigPak to create 
music and data files and to control their playback.  These programs 
allow a developer to write sound routines for multiple sound board 
types with one set of code, saving an extensive amount of 
Mode_X is a special VGA graphics mode which displays 256 colors 
on the screen at once.  Every game programmer for DOS, needs to be 
familiar with working in this special graphics mode. 
Much has been written about it in the books listed in the Book 
Section of this FAQ. 
FastGraph from Ted Gruber Software is a library of graphics routines 
and software which helps with displaying graphics on the screen in 
Mode_X, as well as many other useful game-oriented tools, like 
joystick reading.  Many programmers use it and the company offers 
excellent support.  While it is not necessary to have this product to 
make games, many hours will be saved by using it.   A shareware 
version of the program, called FastGraph Lite, is available on the 
GamDev forum on CompuServe, as well as 
on a disk included with Action Arcade Adventure Set, by Diana 
Gruber, from Coriolis Books (See Book Section). 
Without going into a dissertation on how DOS memory works, let 
me explain what this is.  A DOS Extender allows you to program 
your DOS based game without the memory restrictions placed on 
traditional DOS programs.  Before DOS extenders came along, 
games were limited how much memory, they could use to store 
graphics, sound, etc. in the computers RAM. Today's games require 
256 color graphics and sound; this means you will need to use as 
much of the computers memory as possible, and thus you will 
probably need a DOS Extender.  So, investigate these programs and 
choose one to 
use.  One of the more popular is a product called DOS4GW. 
Here are specific Windows items you should familiarize yourself 
The main component that Windows programmers need to learn about 
is the Windows API or Application Programmers Interface.  The API 
is a pre-defined set of routines that the programmer can use to do 
many things in Windows, from the basic displaying of text in a 
window, to the more complex playback of full motion video.  Several 
good books exist which detail the multitude of API calls. Even if you 
plan on using a much higher level language like VB, you can still 
make use of the Windows API.  In fact for VB game development it 
is absolutely necessary! 
Of special interest to Windows programmers are three special new 
products that were created specifically to help with the construction 
of games in Windows. 
The Windows Game Developer SDK 
I really can't comment much on this but if you're serious about 
Windows 95 game development either get in on the Beta and Beta 
Forum or wait for the bugs and final version to ship and get in on the 
developers program then.  Understand for beginners that you don't 
have to have this kit to do the development.   
WinG And WaveMix 
Even though Microsoft is readying the new Windows SDK these 
may still be useful in that they are available now (the SDK as I said 
is still in BETA) and for Win 16 3.1 development the still are useful. 
WinG (Win-Gee) is a new version of the Windows API which 
includes many new and redesigned API calls specifically geared 
toward the intensive graphic and sound requirements of games. Game 
programmers for Windows are especially advised to familiarize 
themselves with this new API. 
This special additional API for Windows allows you to manipulate 
multiple .WAV files in real-time for your games.  Windows as it is 
does not allow for simultaneous playback of multiple .WAV files.  
With WaveMix this problem is solved.  However, be warned: 
WAVEMIX has started life as a non-supported program from within 
the ranks of Microsoft.  Recently, problems and bugs have cropped 
up.  Microsoft has announced new support for the product, but it is 
uncertain at this time when the bugs will be fixed. Investigate 
thoroughly if WAVEMIX can work in your program--it might, it 
might not. 
While not as necessary for Game Development as other products, 
WinToon can be a great tool for animationintensive products.  
WinToon is a utility whereby you can create animated cartoons 
which are stored in the Video For Windows format, making later 
playback very easy because of Video For Windows wide acceptance 
and extensive existing API. 
All three of these items can be found in the WINMM forum on 
CompuServe and Via Anonymous FTP at ftp.microsoft.com. 
Level II CD-ROM 
If you're even somewhat serious about Windows Development save 
up the $500 and join as a level II developer with Microsoft.  It'll be 
the best $500 you ever spent and will get you  a number of tools, 
operating system updates, documentation and much much more.  For 
those on a little more of a budget there's a $200 jumpstart 
development but, it's not nearly as extensive still there are some 
useful things like Video for Windows stuff here you might find 
As we have already said, creating a game is far more than knowing 
how to program.  Games include music, sound, and of course, 
graphics.  Therefore there are many other tools and products you will 
need to collect before creating your game.  Let's briefly discuss some 
of these. 
Let's take a brief moment to discuss 'C/C++' compilers.  You'll 
remember C/C++ is the dominant language of game development.  C 
however, unlike VB and Delphi, has many different implementations 
to choose from.  Here is a run down with the pro's and cons of the 
major packages. 
Everyone has their favorites, but the most popular version of C/C++ 
seems to be Watcom, followed by Borland, and then Microsoft. 
All of the products above have a Linker option which will let you 
produce DOS EXEs even while developing in Windows. 
Here is a more specific rundown contributed by Chris Newland (so 
blame him if you disagree -- actually I think its overall well done) 
Borland C++ 4.5    $495 Retail 
If you can afford it ($495 retail, probably more if you are ordering 
from another country) this is a really good package. 
Some things to be aware of are: 
The size of the box is huge!...some people have expressed difficulty 
installing it...a resident DPMI extender is used instead of 
DOS4GW....However, 6070% of the libraries out there are Borland 
Turbo C++ 3.0 DOS    $99 Retail 
This is the last great compiler.  From what I hear, Borland will no 
longer be supporting their DOS package any longer.  It's got 
powerful tools and just about every library on the market supports it. 
And once you get a feel for using it, you can easily zip up a file that 
has the command line compiler, basic library files for all memory 
models, all include files and even one or two 3rd party libraries in it 
and still be able to fit it on a single disk to take with you when you 
program on another machine. 
Be aware of the following: 
You don't get a library reference so you will probably have to buy a 
TurboC++ specific one....The BGI is slow and limited.... It comes 
with NO Windows tools, so if you ever decide to write Windows 
games, you will have to get another compiler. 
Turbo C++ 3.1 WIN    $89 
Hmmm, this is cheaper than the DOS package and it comes with 
many more tools...I wonder what Borland is trying to tell us?  This is 
a good solid package with lot's of features.  It comes with an 
application wizard, written by a 3rd party outfit, that will develop the 
shell for your applications totally...leaving you to do the boring 
tedium of actual programming. 
For your consideration: 
This compiler will not link to a DOS EXE....If you develop in it, 
make sure you run Windows in High Res SVGA Mode or you'll be 
ALT-TABing back and forth. 
Microsoft Visual C++ PRO    $229 Retail 
Forget the Standard Edition if you want to program games, it doesn't 
allow you to compile to a DOS EXE, but the Pro version does. 
As a general Game compiler, I can't say I would recommend this one 
and from what I hear, no one uses it for DOS Game programming 
either, however, on the Window's game programming front, WING 
and the latest CARTOON graphics packages work seamlessly with 
it. And of course, they are both by Microsoft. 
Symantec C++ 6.1 Standard  $99 Retail/ Pro  $199 Retail 
The interface is great.  You have a TAB type interface where each 
note tab is a seperate programming function, i.e. EDIT, DEBUG, 
etc.. Either version will compile a DOS EXE in Windows, but the 
Pro version comes with a DOS Command Line version that allows 
you to develop solely in DOS if you want. 
Most stores are selling the 6.0 version.  If you buy it, immediately 
upgrade to 6.1.  If you don't you will find that Windows will start 
crashing in your house and I know you don't want to step on all of 
that glass ...On the same note, I have WFWG and if you run 6.0 
or 6.1 in it and you have 32bit File Access turned on, you will 
TRASH your system.  I had to reinstall WFWG twice before I 
figured out what it was. My system ran slower, but it ran happier. 
Watcom C++ 9.0     $199 Retail 
This is a good package and most of the games you see that bring up 
the DOS\4GW message are using this compiler for development. I 
only had 1 oppurtunity to use the compiler and I found that it was 
different but still excellent for developing games. 
Inline assembly is declared differently in Watcom....DOS Extender 
programming requires you to access memory differently as well...a 
reference to the screen at address A000 will have to be extended out 
to 00A000 to account for the extended memory addressing. This 
probably will be changed once in a #DEFINE statement in your code 
and you will never think about it again......From what I hear, Borland 
libraries won't work with it. 
Be careful to make sure that the package you buy has everything you 
need, including Windows support. Windows is, as we have said, the 
emerging dominant game platform, so you will need Windows 
You will definitely need a paint program to create or edit graphics 
for your game.  Behind every good programmer even ones who aren't 
artists is a good paint program.  My personal recommendation is: 
Deluxe Paint IIe 
This program, from Electronic Arts, allows for editing images in 256 
colors in many different resolutions.  Also included is a good 
conversion program to output your graphics in many different 
variations of size and graphic formats.  It also is fairly cheap, costing 
less than $100. 
Whatever paint program you use, make sure it can output to different 
sizes and formats, and additionally be able to paint in 256 colors in 
multiple resolutions (especially 320*200 and 640*400).  
As I write this update EA has officially discontinued Deluxe Paint -- 
however if you act fast you may still locate a copy at some of the 
larger mail-order places.  There is also a chance EA may sell the 
product to people who want to continue updating it. Stay tuned. 
You may also wish to use a scanner or digital camera to incorporate 
drawings on paper.  Just remember: If this is your desired process, 
scanned artwork looks like scanned artwork.  Many artists sketch 
out their artwork in line drawings, then scan it in and from there add 
color and other embellishments. 
Any developer worth their salt may scan, but they always touch it up 
in a paint program to clear up color distortions and imperfect scans. 
Just an additional note here, I was visiting a friend who is an 
excellent critic of games -- in fact he is called upon by distributors 
when he returns from CES to get his opinion which they use to 
decide how much of which games to order.  Anyways we were 
talking about game art and looking at his SONY 
PSX/PLAYSTATION!!! - the new gamebox from Japan.  He made a 
point that I thought is very relevant here -- GAMERS LIKE 
ARTWORK --scanned pictures may look more real or whatever but, 
the fact is people enjoy art and animation created by artists its part of 
the enjoyment factor.  It may seem obvious but it really hits home 
when you actually state it.  I'll say it again people like art. 
You will also need to get a conversion utility to convert a graphic 
file to different formats.  As I said, Dpaint comes with a very good 
Debabbelizer, a commercial product is a very powerful and popular 
stand-alone graphic conversion utility. 
Many programmers create animation by programming it directly with 
individual frames of animation they've drawn.  However-there are, 
some programs which help you create stand alone animated files 
which can be used for more intensive animation. 
We've already discussed this above. 
Autodesk Animator is an excellent 2-D program for creating 
animation, Autodesk has published several Windows and DOS 
programming tools for people interested in creating products which 
use these animation programs.  
This product uses the Dpaint engine, but only works in 320x200 
mode and creates animation.  Go to the GamePubA forum and 
download EA's C source code for controlling playback with your 
own routines. 
In addition there are several Video Capture Cards and Programs on 
the market which allow you to create digitized video.  The two major 
formats for these video files are QuickTime, which was created by 
Apple but exists for Windows (and possibly DOS, but not yet), and 
VFW (Video For Windows), which was created by Microsoft and 
Intel.  Also, look for the book How To Digitize Video for more 
information about creating animation of this kind. 
Looking to create neat 3-D scenes or programs like 7th Guest? Then 
you will need a 3-D modeler. 
Two of the better DOS-based 3-D programs are: 
This program was originally created for the Amiga PC more than 5 
years ago and is now steadily finding users among DOS-based 
This was the main 3-D modeling program used by many program 
houses before they could afford Silicon Graphics Workstations. 
Several programming aids are available to help you with creating 
graphics from the programmer standpoint, as opposed to the creator.  
We have discussed two of these: FastGraph, from Ted Gruber 
Software, and WinG.DLL from Microsoft. 
For VB, there is one really popular package called MediaKnife.VBX 
It helps VB programmers create really wild graphics by bypassing 
VB's internally slow routines.  $349 from Media Architects, (503) 
The most important feature of doing your own sounds is having a 
good sound board and a GREAT MICROPHONE!!!  A key fact, 
sound recording, is no matter what the format is, is a good 
Any sound engineer will tell you the same. 
This is a great shareware sound editor I have recently found. It's 
available in the WinFun Forum, among other places on CompuServe. 
Music is the hardest thing to get if you're going it alone and don't 
have a lot of money. 
A tip here is to use public domain MIDI files, though always check 
with the author of the Midi file before including it to make sure the 
song is actually public domain.  While a song may be public domain, 
the actual arrangement created by the author may not be. 
As for professional composition, post messages on the MIDI or 
GAMDEV forums on CompuServe but be prepared to provide proper 
compensation: Just like any other worker,  musicians expect to be 
This is an excellent shareware MIDI program I have used a couple of 
times.  You can find it in the WinFun forum among other places. 
Music Programming 
We've already talked about MidPak and DigPak a little. 
DigPak/Midpak costs a one time $1000 fee for use in commercial 
programming and free for noncommercial programs.  You can 
contact the creators of DigPak/MidPak at there BBS: 
The Audio Solution 
747 Napa Lane 
St. Charles, MO 63304 
BBS: (314) 939-0200 
DiamondWares Sound Tool Kit 
+1 914 638 4615 
This package has been out for several months now in a real mode 
version and has been getting good reviews.  Called Diamondwares 
Soundkit, it  offers the same functionality of the stalwart 
MidPak/DigPak, and, according to the company, has a much cheaper 
and better royalty arrangement.  In addition a protected mode version 
is just about shipping check with Diamondware for more info.   
On the high, high end there are pacakges like HMIs Sound Operating 
System, but I suspect most of the readers of the FAQ will find all 
they need in the above two solutions or will be using Windows API 
or Direct Sound libraries. 
At this point I'll take some time to discuss some issues and tools 
concerning game-developing for platforms other than MS-
Much of what we've talked about conceptually applies to any 
conceivable platform. Since we've now discussed some of the 
specifics concerning MSDOS/Windows development, I will discuss 
specifics for Video Game machines, like 3DO, Sony PlayStation and 
SEGA, as well as the Mac. 
While it has never achieved the success of the IBM\Clone world, 
Apple's Macintosh still has a sizable installed base of users who 
want to play games.  Indeed, some major products saw their first 
version created for the Mac, (Myst, Balance of Power and SimCity, 
to name a few.)  However, the Mac, in all seriousness, is best viewed 
as a good platform to port wildly successful games from the 
IBM/Clone world. 
As for languages to use, Mac game development doesn't feature some 
of the Hybrid languages like Delphi and Visual Basic.  The two 
major development languages on the Macintosh are 'C/C++' and 
Pascal. Think C and Zortech C seem to be the most popular brands 
of C/C++ and Think Pascal seems to be the dominant brand of 
Pascal used. 
As for tools, the Mac perhaps has better graphic, and music tools 
than the IBM/Clone world. 
Without going into much detail, let's talk about developing games for 
such platforms like 3DO and SEGA.  These systems were 
traditionally, cartridge based and are now becoming solely CD-ROM 
based. These platforms are developed to play only interactive 
entertainment, and are not computers. Yet now, many are even more 
powerful than computers you and I are using, especially concerning 
graphical output and sound, which is of course the basis for games. 
Video Game development is accomplished using what is commonly 
known as a cross-development-system. A cross-development-system 
is one in which a game is programmed on one machine but written 
for another one.  For example, I might use a Mac-based cross 
development system to create a game for the SEGA. These systems 
are sold as "Development Kits" and sometimes are available not only 
from the Company but other sources as well.  They can be very 
The best way to find out more is to write directly to the particular 
company about what the contents of their development kits and what 
hardware they work with.  
Keep in mind though that writing a game for a Video Game machine 
is expensive; if you can't find a publisher, chances are you won't be 
able to publish the game, given the methods of distribution 
associated with Video Game systems and the royalties the 
manufacturers collect in licensing fees. 
If you are successful at creating a computer game, you might, 
however--like in Id's case--want to move it to other platforms to 
reach a wider audience. Chances are though, if you are in this 
situation, You're already working as or with an established 
Non MS-DOS/Windows development consists of Macintosh and 
Video Game System platforms.  Macintosh is a viable, yet less-
developed option because of a smaller installed base, and while 
Video Game Systems have a large installed base, development via 
Cross Development-Systems can be costly and generally is not 
recommended to beginners as an initial foray. 
Well, say no more. I've compiled below one of the best lists around 
(if you find a better one, send it to me!!!).  If you can't learn game 
development after reading this stuff, then I don't think anyone can 
help you. 
For beginners and pros alike, designing scenarios/variations for 
existing games with level/scenario/environmental editors is, as said 
above, a great way to build skills.  Many of the online services 
maintain sections where you can upload your creations for others to 
play and enjoy. Now what follows is not a complete list by any 
means, look through your existing software collection and through 
new products on the shelves for other interesting editable games. 
DOOM 1.666 Registered and Doom II - Id Software 
In order to edit and experiment with levels in Doom, you might want 
to check out CyTech CodeHouses, DOOMWARE developers 
network CD.  This is packed with WADS, Editors, Sounds, and 
Graphics.Sold for $34.95 Call 1-800-382-5656 
These products are available at your local reseller or favorite mail 
order resource.  All include builtin editors. 
Klik and Play: Maxis 
This is a game construction kit which helps you make neat arcadish 
products, which can be distributed free-of-charge when you're done.  
Example creations exist on CompuServe GamDev forum. 
SimCity/SimCity 2000 - Maxis 
Another great product from Maxis contains excellent scenarios 
Empire Deluxe - New World Computing 
Empire is one of the all-time greatest computer wargames.  It 
includes an excellent scenario editor and many examples already 
exist on the Net. 
Flight Sim Toolkit - DoMark 
This product allows you to create your own 3D flight simulators. 
Lode Runner - Sierra-OnLine 
This is a remake of an all-time great platform game which includes 
an excellent editor that can be used to create your own puzzling 
Game Industry/Reviews 
	Computer Gaming World 
	PC Gamer 
	Computer Strategy+ 
	Next Generation\The Edge 
	New Type Gaming 
General Programming 
	Dr. Dobbs Journal 
	CD-ROM Developer 
	Visual Basic Programmers Journal 
	Software Development 
	PC Techniques 
	New Media 
	Morphs Outpost on The Digital Frontier 
	Multimedia World 
	Computer Artist 
	Computer Graphics World 
Game Dev Specific 
	The Journal of Interactive Entertainment      
	Game Developer 
	CGDA Newsletter 
	Ziffnet Threads (For Ziffnet Subscribers) 
	Zshare (Available On-line GO SHAREWARE) Lots of 
Shareware Development Coverage 
Note: The Journal of Interactive Entertainment Design, published by 
Chris Crawford is not available in stores or on line:  Send a check 
for $36 to: 
Journal of Interactive Entertainment 
5251 Sierra Road 
San Jose, CA 95132 
I've tried to provide as much information as possible to locate these 
books at your local bookstore.  I've also tried to give a brief synopsis 
of what the book covers and what language you need to know to 
understand the source code.  If you can't find them, or you live far 
from a bookstore, call the Coriolis Group 1-800-410-0192.  They not 
only publish their own books but they also carry the majority of 
titles listed here from other publishers. 
Building a 3D Game Engine in C++ by Brian Hook (J. Wiley and 
Sons, 1995, New York, NY) 
The book discusses interactive 3D graphics.  It touches on a lot of 
subjects, but it also ignores some fairly important ones which were 
too complicated to go into well.  Specifically, 2D and 3D clipping 
are not really discussed, and various forms of perspective correct 
texture mapping weren't included. 
However, the book explores a plethora of topics that I have not 
found in print anywhere else.  These include things like object space 
culling and shading, various transformation, lighting, and projection 
optimizations, how to calculate a REAL projection equation, using 
callbacks to make autonomous objects, programming the PC joystick 
correctly, programming the Thrustmaster cockpit, basic bounding 
sphere collision detection, = 
Gouraud shading, linear texture mapping, Z-buffering, etc. 
The most important aspect of the book,  is that it ties everything 
together into a single executable, a pseudo-Asteroids type game in 
3D.  It does texture mapping (linear) and flat shading and it shows 
how all the pieces are put together.  The code is heavily commented 
and supports Borland C++ 3.1, 4.x, and Watcom C/C++ 10.0a.  
Interesting datapoint - the Watcom executable is twice as fast as the 
Borland one. 
Game Programming Starter Kit by Andre Lamothe and SAMS 
(SAMS, 1995, New York, NY, ISBN - 0-672-30825-8) 
This package is a great deal at $49.95 it includes "Teach Yourself 
Game Programming in 21 Days", The professional version of MS 
VC++ 1.0 and an electronic CD version of "Teach Yourself of 
Visual C++ 1.0 in 21 Days".   Ideal for beginners and students. 
The Black Art of 3D Game Programming by Andre Lamother (The 
Waite Group Press, Corte Madera, CA, ISBN 1-57169-004-2)  
A complete tutorial on polygon 3D graphics and Game programming 
to date. Included in its 1400 pages is: 2D graphics, mode x, parallax 
scrolling, artificial intelligence, collision detection, efficient object 
representations and data structures for 3D games, multitasking, 2D 
clipping, input devices, modem to modem commmunications and 
games, on-line games, sound fx and music, 3D sound, voice 
recognition, remote sound fx, algorithmic sound, 3D math and 
fundamentals, 3D clipping, level of detail, shading algorithms, flat 
shading, gouraud shading, texture mapping,  hidden surface removal 
techniques, Z-buffers, depth sorting, painters algorithm, BSP tree's, 
voxel graphics, advanced optimization, 3D collision detection, two 
complete working games using the books libraries, dozens of demos, 
both Borland and Microsoft versions of the source code, a CD full 
of tools, a sound editor, 3D modeler and shareware games. 
Action Arcade Set by Diana Gruber (The Coriolis Group, Scottsdale, 
AZ, 1994, ISBN 1-883577-06-3) 
This book covers the basics of arcade game creation, specifically 
side scrolling games similar to classics like Duke Nukem, or Rolling 
Thunder.  It includes information about the FastGraph graphics API, 
Mode_X, collision detection, sprites and much more.  The 
accompanying disk includes FastGraph Lite, the shareware version 
of FastGraph.  The book requires a basic knowledge of C.  Of 
special note is a chapter on marketing your game using shareware 
and LCR marketing. 
Flights of Fantasy by Christopher Lampton (Waite Group Press, 
Corte Madera, CA, 1994, ISBN 1-878739-18-2)  
Flights of Fantasy, covers the basics of creating 3D flight sims.  
While it is a little dated the fundamentals here are well explained.  It 
starts with some of the most basic 2d graphics programming routines 
and ends up with the basics of 3D programming.  The accompanying 
disk includes all the source code. A basic knowledge of C is 
needed to understand this book. 
Gardens of Imagination by Christopher Lampton (Waite Group 
Press, Corte Madera, CA, 1994, ISBN 1-878739-59-X) 
Gardens of Imagination is Chris Lamptons (Flights of Fantasy) 
second book and shows you how to create 3-D games like 
Wolfenstein and Doom.  Chris Lampton's wonderful writing gives 
you a lot of good help in creating your own raycasting engine.7  It 
comes with a disk full of source code and requires a good knowledge 
of C. 
Tricks of the Game Programming Gurus by Andre LaMothe, 
Matthew Ratcliff, 
Seinatore and Denise Tyler (Sams Publishing, ISBN 0-672-30507-0) 
There is a lot of different information covered in this large book.  It's 
main coverage is devoted to the creation of a raycasting engine, but 
there are also chapters on the creation of sound and music, game AI, 
Artwork Creation and more.  This book requires an intermediate 
understand of C.  All of the source code and resources are included 
on an accompanying CD-ROM. 
Visual C++ Multimedia Adventure Set by Peter Aiken and Scott 
Jarol (The Coriolis Group, Scottsdale, AZ, ISBN 1-883577-19-5) 
This new book covers WinG and WinToon and other Windows 
programming tenants for gamers and multimedia developers.  Topics 
covered are full-motion video, animation, music, image 
manifpulation and special effects.  All of the source and resources 
are included on an accompanying CD-ROM. 
PC Game Programming Explorer by Dave Roberts (The Coriolis 
Group, Scottsdale, AZ, ISBN 1-883577-07-1) 
Dave Roberts has created an excellent introductory book on using 
C/C++ to create DOS based arcade games.  Dave explains in great 
clarity all of the fundamentals in using ModeX, MidPAK, Keyboard 
and Joystick handlers.  The book also goes step by step through the 
creation of a shoot'em up game including collision detection, 
scrolling screens, memory management and design.  A full disk of 
source code is included with the book. 
Teach Yourself Game Programming In 21 Days by Andre LaMothe 
(Sams Publishing, ISBN 0-671-30562-3) 
The game programming version of the venerable "21 Days" series 
from Sam's is written by the same person who did their "Tricks of the 
Game Programming Gurus".  While tricks concerntrated on 3D 
raycasting principles this book is more a broad based range of 
fundamental procedures, code and tools that should bring beginners 
a solid background in a number of areas game developers have been 
proficient at for years.  The book includes a CD-ROM full of 
shareware and code from the book. 
Creating Turbo C++ Games by Clayton Walnum (Que Publishing, 
New York, NY, 1994) 
This book which is tailored to the inexpensive Borland C++ 
compiler (but which isn't exclusively in need of it) contains over 400 
pages of fundamental information on topics like 256 Color VGA 
Graphics, Object Oriented Programm and Class and simple complete 
games like a dungeon program, a card game and a life simulator.  
Certainly not real time 3D graphics but a for beginners a good solid 
fundamental book. 
Programming Games In C Robert B. Marmelstein (M&T Books, 
New York, NY 1994) 
This book covers a pretty simple level of game construction in C.  In 
fact it's so simple that nothing concerning VGA graphics is included!  
The book covers mostly simple arcade games and comes with a disk 
of source code.   
Graphics Programming and Animation - Ultra Fast Assembly 
Routines for EGA/VGA Graphics Animation by Peter Jungck (R&D 
Technical Books) 
This book and disk combination covers how to directly access the 
VGA hardware for fast graphical routines with over 170 programs 
and an example game.  Included is Jungck's ProGraphx Toolbox 
which he has used to develop various shareware products.  The main 
languages used are Assembly and C with some Pascal examples as 
Dungeons of Discovery:Writing Dazzling Windows Games with 
WinG by Clayton Walnum (Macmillan Computer Publications, New 
York, NY 1995, ISBN 078-970-0603) 
This is a really nicely done book which covers the WinG 
programming extension for Windows.  Walnum who has been 
writing for years (some may remember him from the old Atari 
magazine ANALOG) explains WinG very well and shows it in a C++ 
MFC format.  Not only does the CD-ROM come with complete 
source code and the WinG library but as covered in the book is a 
complete 3D dungeon (not a raycaster!) program to disect and 
Amazing 3D Adventure Set by Lary Myers (The Coriolis Group, 
Scottsdale, AZ ISBN 1-883577-15-2) 
This book offers the latest and greatest version of Lary Myers ACK 
3D raycasting engine including graphics, source code and map 
editors.  Covers both DOS and WinG versions.  Just a note here if 
you've seen versions of ACK before they may be derivatives of the 
original 2 year old version this book is the official source code guide 
to the latest version. 
Netwarriors In C: Programming 3-D Multiplayer Games in C by Joe 
Gradecki (John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, ISBN 0-471-11064-
This book and CD-ROM combination is takes an older version of 
Lary Myers infamous ACK-3D gaming engine and marries it with 
some fundamental network protocols like IPX to create multiplayer 
versions of 3D games like DOOM.  The CD-ROM in addition to 
carrying a the source code and demonstration games includes a 
number of files from the super x2ftp.oulu.fi Internet site. 
How to Create Computer Games & How To Create Adventure 
Games, Franklin Watts, New York, 1986. 
Chris Lampton has written many books and while his Flights of 
Fantasy and Gardens of Imagination contain information useful to 
many game programmers today.  For absolute beginners and 
especially young children interested in programming, in 1986 he 
created two small titles on game programming which might still be 
found in your local library.  Both of the texts cover creation of 
games in generic Microsoft Basic.  Definatly out of date but I told 
you I was going to get every last book I could find!  
MAC Oriented books 
Tricks of the Mac Game Programming Gurus (SAMS) 
Don't know too much about this but SAMS is doing a MAC oriented 
Tricks book 
Sex, Lies, and Video Games - How to write a Macintosh Arcade 
Game by Bill Hensler (Addison-Wesley, Reading MA, ISBN 0-201-
Don't know too much about it but it does include an 800k disk. 
Visual Basic Books of Note 
Visual Basic Multimedia Adventure Set by Scott Jarol (The Coriolis 
Group, Scottsdale, AZ, ISBN 1-883577-01) 
For those of you using VB in your development process this is a 
must have book.  It Covers many aspects of VB useful for game 
development like Sprite Animation, WaveMix, Video For Windows, 
Hypertext, Midi and more!  The CD-ROM contains a suite of 
interesting tools and code samples. 
The Visual Basic Guide To The Windows API by Daniel Appleman 
(Ziff Davis Press) 
Another must have for VB users this is an extensive book, covers 
how to call the Windows API with VB code.  VB is a little different 
in the way it handles calls to the Windows API and no other book 
will show you better how to do it than this extensive book.  Includes 
a disk of code samples and other useful information. 
Programming Games for Beginners: Visual Basic for Fun and Profit 
by Chris Howard (SAMS, New York, NY, 1993, ISBN: 0-672-
This book is a nice introductory level book for people new to both 
VB and game programming.  It includes source code for many 
different types of games VB is well suited for like card games and 
other less real-time-graphics oriented products.  Chris rights very 
well and all in all this book makes for a good first stop. 
Build Your Own PC Game in Seven Easy Steps, Using Visual Basic 
by Scott Palmer (Addison-Wesley, 0-201-48911-2) 
This book due out in September 95, covers both VB4 and VB3 game 
design.  It covers three specific games, a text adventure, a graphics 
adventure and an arcade game.  The accompanying CD-ROM has all 
the source and ready-to-use games, art and sounds. 
Encyclopedia of Graphic File Formats by James D. Murray and 
William VanRyper (O'Reily and Associates, Sebastopol, CA, 1994, 
ISBN 1-56592-058-9). 
There have been guides to graphics file formats and then there is 
this.  All others pale in comparison. Just some of the formats 
included are BMP, TIFF, GIF, Kodak Photo CD, Dore raster file, 
Pixar and Rayshade to name a few.  The CD-ROM includes all kinds 
of source code and vendor tech documents. 
Zen of Graphics Programming by Michael Abrash (The Coriolis 
Group, Scottsdale, AZ, 1994, ISBN 1-883577-08-X) 
The Zen master himself Michael Abrash weighs in with all his 
ModeX expertise and then some.  Over 1000 pages of awesome 
graphics programming power.  An Included disk provides the latest 
version of his Xsharp graphics programming routines.  
Bitmapped Graphics by Steve Rimmer Windcrest: ISBN 0-8306-
Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice, Foley and Vandam 
(Addison-Wesley, 1990) 
This is probably the single most referenced and used book in the 
entire history of computer graphics.  It is the one programmers turn 
to over and over, for fundamental and theorectical discussion of high 
performance computer graphics and animation programming.  If 
you're doing anything polygon based or even a good raycaster this is 
a book that probably should be open and in your lap much less on 
your shelf. 
Digital Image Warping by George Wolberg (IEEE Computer Society 
Press Monograph, Los Alamitos, CA ISBN 0-8186-8944-7) 
This book covers a wide range of advance digital alogorithims and 
code.  It's definatly not for the introductory programmer, but if you 
want the goods on texture mapping, morphing and other realtime 3D 
graphics this along with Foley and Van  Damns text is a must have.   
Learn 3D Graphics Programming on the PC by Richard F. Ferraro 
(Addison-Wesley, 1995, Reading MA, ISBN 0-201-48332-7) 
An incredibly interesting book due out in September of 95 this book 
covers creating 3D graphics especially in relation to Criterions 
Renderware which is included in some form with the book!!!   
Applied Graphics Algorithims for C++ Programmers by Marv Luse 
(Addison-Wesley, 1995, Reading MA, ISBN 0-201-40845)   
This book slated for Sept. 95 is billed as an all-in-one resource to 
the real-world application of the most powerful graphics algorithms.  
It covers everything from a line graph to 3D rendering and animation 
The Art of Computer Game Design by Chris Crawford 
Every time I see someone ask Chris Crawford himself for a copy of 
this book he says its quite outdated.  Of course the optimist in me 
says it's not, the fundamentals contained in this book are essential to 
people who need a course in the early axioms created in the 
industrys begginnings.  Originally published by McGraw Hill. This 
is available in unbound form.  To order send a $25 check made 
payable to "Chris Crawford Games", PO Box 360872, Milpitas, CA 
Balance of Power - International Politics as the Ultimate Global 
Game by Chris Crawford (Microsoft Press, Redmond, WA, 1986, 
ISBN 0-914845-97-7) 
In 1985 Chris Crawford wrote not just a game but an acompanying 
book about its development.  The game Balance of Power was an 
amazing work of art, its focus on geopolitical concerns of the 
superpowers was not only enlightening for its lessons and 
programming prowess  
This book covers the design concerns, strategies and thoughts about 
this classic game of international diplomacy.  
Entertainment in the Cyber Zone - Exploring the Interactive Universe 
of Multimedia by Chris McGowan and Jim McCullaugh. (Random 
House. New York, NY, 1994,  ISBN 0-679-75804-6) 
A very interesting book that covers a broad range of games and 
interactive multimedia titles.  It includes interviews with designers, 
writers and producers of products, a look at various hot games, 
coverage of the hardware you can use to play games and more.  
While this book is written for players, developers will find the 
discussions of the products and the interviews and opinions of 
developers here useful. 
Computer Gamesmanship, Elements of Intelligent Game Design by 
Levy. (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY  ISBN  0-67149-532-1) 
This textbook style book focuses on the basics with AI and 
fundamental game design issues discussed and showcased.  The 
basics include programs for chess, checkers, and poker. again mostly 
featuring various associated algorithms. 
The Complete Wargame Handbook by James Dunnigan. William 
and Co., (ISBN 0-688-10368-5) 
This is a really interesting, albeit dated book on wargame design.  It 
doesn't cover any programmign issues with code, instead it focuses 
on games out at the time of it's writing and discusses general issues 
concerning design wargames. 
Multimedia Production/Techniques Oriented Texts 
Multimedia Demystified a guide to the world of Mutlimedia from 
Apple Computer, Inc. by Apple Computer and New Media Magazine 
(Random House, New York, NY ISBN 0-679-75603-5) 
This is simply an amazing resource.  While it's produced by Apple 
Computer it doesn't really concentrate on MAC multimedia but 
multimedia in general including games.  There is a wealth of 
information here about financing, art production, sound production 
and much more.  It's got information for both pros and beginners. 
CD-ROM Buyer's Guide & Handbook by Paul T. Nicholls, Ph. D. 
(Pemberton Press Inc., Wilton. CT) 
From the publisher of CD-ROM Proffesional magazine comes this 
useful book on CD-ROM Production Issue, such as mastering, 
duplication, indexes and much more. 
Business and Marketing Books 
Zap! - The Rise and Fall of Atari By Scott Cohen (McGraw Hill 
Press, New York, NY 1984. ISBN) 
One can't but wonder what might have been if Atari hadn't blown it?  
Would we even have heard of companies like Nintendo, Sega or even 
Microsoft?   The fact is for a breif moment Atari was everything 
there was in the consumer marketplace.  However blow it big they 
did and if you want a hardcore look at the people, problems and 
mistakes that caused it check out this book.  Hopefully others will 
learn from Atari's mistakes. 
Phoenix - The Fall and Rise of Home Videogames by Leonard 
Herman (Rolenta Press) 
Did just Atari blow it?  Well yes and no others were there trying to 
stake out turf and still others today have revived the entire industry 
to a new era.   This book is about as complete of a history of the 
Videogame industry past and present as one could possibly get.  It 
covers all the major machines and their associated stories Magnavox, 
Nintendo, Sony, Sega,  
Software People by Doug Carlston. (Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-671-
This a great book, albeit a little dated, about the early days of the 
computer biz and the computer game biz specifically.  Doug Carlston 
is president and one of the original founders of Broderbund 
Software, makers of such hits as Karateka, Print Shop, 
Lode Runner, Living Books and of course Myst! 
The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawaski. (Scott Foresman ISBN 0-673-
Guy was one of Apple's first Evangelists and was just recently named 
as an Apple fellow putting him in prestigous company with people 
like Alan Kay.  No not Apples answer to Jimmy Swaggert. He spent 
time trying to get companies to produce products for the Macintosh 
when it first shipped.  He later went on to become president of Acius 
which makes 4th Dimension, a powerful database product for the 
Mac. This book is sort of a neat hybrid of marketing advice and 
anecdotes from the computer business.  It is also a laugh riot, Guy is 
somewhat of a comic. 
Managing Software Maniacs by Ken Whitiker 
If your a manager, team leader, or producer in the games business 
you've got to deal with a lot of different people and technical 
problems.  This book is really a common sense guide about pulling 
together and motivating a software development team.  With over 
200 pages of topics like dealing with engineers, managing risk and 
scheduling this is a guide well worth some attention by people who 
need to manage game projects. 
Building a Successful Software Business (O'Reily and Associates, 
New York, NY ISBN) 
This book is really about setting up a business with a tayloring of 
specific advice about selling software.  If you need information about 
selling, pricing, positioning, dealing with bankers, staff this is a 
great resource for you.  Being a lone-wolf developer is one thing 
running a development house or successful publisher is a completely 
different set of circumstances that this book can help you with. 
How To Sell Your Software by Bob Schenot. (John Wiley & Sons: 
ISBN 0-471-06399-1) 
This book from the author of the online document The Shareware 
Book covers a wide range of issues about selling software including 
Shareware, Catalogs, Retail Channels and Bundling. 
These haven't yet been published but keep an eye out for them. 
New Game/Multimedia Development titles coming from Coriolis 
Visual Basic X Multimedia Adventure Set--A new edition that 
features Windows 95 (and a version of a product I can't mention 
yet!). Learn how to build an HTML-driven hypermedia engine that 
you can also use as a Web browser. Also, learn how to push VB and 
Windows 95 to the max to perform fast animation and all the other 
trimmings. This should be a hot remake of a real classic. Pub date: 
end of summer/early fall.  
Windows 95 Game Programming Adventure Set--You guessed it, 
this book will get you on the road to developing great games for 
Windows. Pub date: early fall (As soon as I can get the authors tied 
down to finish the book.) Watch for covergae of the new MS Game 
Development thingy! 
Ultimate Game Developer's Sourcebook--If you have zillions of 
questions on game development, design, marketing, legal stuff, and 
so on, then we'll have lots of answers for you (at least we'll try to 
answer them as best we can). Lots of best game developer pals are 
contributing to this book so it should be a classic.  
Network Gaming Adventure Set--This technology is the future of 
game development--game servers, game networks, message passing, 
and so on. This book shows you how to use VB, Windows 95, and 
some really hot custom controls to create games that can be played 
with your favorite pals across local area networks and the Internet. Is 
this stuff cool or what? Pub date: As soon as Microsoft tells us its 
okay to publish this book and give away all these secrets. (early fall). 
Software People by Doug Carlston. Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-671-
This a great book, albeit a little dated, about the early days of the 
computer biz and the computer game biz specifically.  Doug Carlston 
is president and one of the original founders of Broderbund 
Software, makers of such hits as Karateka, Print Shop, Lode Runner, 
Living Books and of course Myst! 
The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawaski. Scott Foresman ISBN 0-673-
Guy was one of Apple's first Evangelists. No not Apples answer to 
Jimmy Swaggert. He spent time trying to get companies to produce 
products for the Macintosh when it first shipped.  He later went on 
to become president of Acius which makes 4th Dimension, a 
powerful database product for the Mac. This book is sort of a neat 
hybrid of marketing advice and anecdotes from the computer 
business.  It is also a laugh riot, Guy is somewhat of a comic. 
Building a successful software buinesss by David Radin (O'Reilly 
and Associates, 1994, New York, NY, ISBN 1-56592-064-3) 
This book covers how to be a software entrepenuer or how to 
improve your existing software business.   
Managing Software Maniacs by Ken Whitiker 
Covers lots of stuff concerning managing software development and 
marketing, including some stuff about shareware. 
Making Money Selling Your Shareware by Steven C. Hudgik. 
Windcrest/McGraw Hill: ISBN 0-07-030865-9 
How To Sell Your Software by Bob Schenot. 
John Wiley & Sons: ISBN 0-471-06399-1 
PCGPE.Txt and PCGPE.HLP - The Game Programmers 
This is a document compiled together by a group of regulars from the 
Rec.Games.Programmer newsgroup on the Internet and is available 
in DOS based (.TXT) and Windows based (.HLP) flavors. It is a 
hodgepodge of many different game-oriented programming articles, 
like starfield creations, reading joysticks, graphics, etc. 
You can find this on the CompuServe GAMDEV forum among other 
Define.Zip - A general glossary of game programming terms 
available in the CompuServe GameDev forum. 
Design Theory Thread - The ongoing discussion on Design Theory 
in the GamDev forum which is sort of moderated by game 
development master Chris Crawford is now being archived for all of 
you who aren't daily visitors to the forum. 
America On-Line 
AoL has several good things for game programmers. 
It is an excellent site for uploads for shareware authors. 
In addition AoL has a lot of content stuff like newspapers and 
magazines, plus an extensive search engine for wire feeds. 
I use this to search for news on Game Development to see press 
releases and stories about the industry its an excellent place to keep 
up on the business until I start a weekly or find one that covers it 
CompuServe has perhaps the best single service for Game 
Developers and that is the GAMDEV forum which if you have read 
this far is a personal favorite hangout. 
In addition here are some other interesting places on CompuServe to 
go to. 
Go GAMDEV  - The Game Dev Forum 
Go Multimedia - Using any multimedia resources like Director or 
Video files?  Go Here. 
Go GAMERS - Good place to read about what people are playing 
and what they like 
Go SDFORUM - The sdforum is the hangout for all the major 
programming journals including Game Developer 
Go SHAREWARE - The official forum of the Association of 
Shareware Proffessionals. 
Go VBPJ/MSBASIC - These two forums are useful for VB 
Go WinMM - The official Microsoft forum for multimedia/game 
development with Windows. 
Finnally you might want to GO ZIFFNET.  Ziffnet is a section of 
CompuServe which is extra -- $2.95 a month I believe.  It offers 
access to many Ziff magazine forums including Computer Gaming 
World and you also receive ZiffNet Threads every quarter which has 
lots of Shareware entertainment coverage. 
These are sites on the Internet from which you can download various 
development oriented stuff from via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  
For more about USENET NewsGroups and FTP in conjunction with 
CompuServe GO INTERNET. 
USENET NewsGroups 
I would reference a lot of other game sites that are coming on but if 
you just go here there will be an index waiting for you. 
Bulletin Board Systems 
Software Creations BBS--The Home of the Authors. 
A Division of Linton Enterprises 
26 Harris Street, Clinton, MA 01510 
Telephone: (508) 368-8654 
Fax: (508)-365-7214 
Trying to keep track of Japanese Based Consoles and Games? A look at the Import 
Business can help.

Many companies both in the games business and outside looking in are trying to 
keep constant tabs of gaming development around the world.  In addition rabid 
game players crave not just the latest releases here, but anywhere they can get 
them.  With the Saturn only recently released, and the SONY PSX not out in the US 
yet as well as the imminent release of the Ultra 64 next spring many game players 
and watchers who refuse to wait turn to importers.  

Japanese consoles like Saturn and PSX have been out in Japan for quite some time 
and much of the software for those machines is released first by a factor of several 
months at times over there as well.  This time lag and the ability for most games to 
be playable without any knowledge of Japanese or instructions coupled with deep pocketed 
gamers has given rise to a small niche group of importers who deal with Hong Kong and 
Japanese trading companies to import in the hardware and software.   Prices can be 
sometimes double what they will be here when the US version debuts

One company specializing in serving this market is NY based Tronix Multimedia 
(+1 212 447 5980).  Tronix President Joe Catuadella says, "We'll there are a few factors
behind this, number one are rabid game fans who want games as soon as they're available,
or want games they hear may never be shipped in the US,  number two, we get some companies 
who want to evaluate new products as well and find it easier to deal with us than tracking 
down Japanese contacts of their own."  

Either way it's an interesting trend, to combat this there may be changes in hardware to 
cause incompatibility (which are overridden by adapters and hardware fixes).  Mostly this 
is to create roadblocks for Pirating, and to ensure worldwide licensing compliance with games
based on licenses.  For the most part prices keep importers business to just a small number of
gamers.  Adds Catuadella, "It's interesting, companies should understand  that due to the 
prices and obstacles to get them, these game are only played by diehard fans.  As a benefit
these people alert all their friends to upcoming hot games, it's the best word of mouth 
you can get!  I don't think it's going to grow beyond that."

You aren't done yet, its time to order some more Chinese food! 
You're far from done. 
Before you start showing the world your game, you might want to 
make sure there are no bugs or problems. 
Even with many promised solutions with Windows 95, there are 
many slight differences among machines out there.  Even moderate 
Beta Testing will let you know if there are any problems.  Beginners: 
don't make the mistake of not asking some friends, online or across 
the street, to check out your game prior to releasing it, to make sure 
it runs properly. 
Posting a solicitation on CompuServe for Beta Testers always seems 
to bring a response. 
If you're really concerned about problems with unknown beta testers, 
and if you plan on using use the shareware method contact the ASP, 
The Association of Shareware Professionals.  They have a Mentor 
program setup to help with things like beta testing. 
In rushing to create games, many beginners fail to understand it is 
important to create documentation for your game. 
Either by good Help Files, via a Readme.Doc, or a full fledged 
printed manual, at some point your player will have questions.  
Remember before you ship, via shareware or even send out a demo to 
a company create some good documentation concerning installation, 
how to play, storyline etc.  I have seen many games where the 
documentation really helps, (e.g. the superb documentation for 
Ultima) Poor documentation even if written by a professional writer 
can be traced back to the programmer/designer many times.  Keep 
notes and include docs.  It is that simple. 
(Editors Note: Some of this was edited and outright lifted from a 
nice earlier piece on game design by Travis S. Casey titled 
Design.153, last updated in Nov. 94.  It is available on the 
Internet and may be referred to as the Rec.Games.Design FAQ) 
If you're in the U.S., England, any Western European Country, 
Canada, or Australia, anything you write is considered to be 
copyrighted under the terms of the Berne convention that all these 
countries adhere to. 
A copyright does NOT protect your ideas.   All a copyright does is 
protect the expression of an idea. Thus, it's perfectly legal for 
someone to take all the rules of, say, Advanced Dungeons & 
Dragons, paraphrase them, and eliminate references to Dungeon 
Master and a few other terms TSR has trademarked, and sell the 
resulting product. 
That said, including a copyright notice in your work does give you 
one benefit:  it makes it easier to collect damages if someone does 
copy your material. If there is no copyright notice, the copier can 
claim "innocent infringement" (that is, "I didn't know I couldn't copy 
it") and get off with a slap on the wrist. 
In addition, you may want to look into registering your copyright.  In 
the U.S., at least, this provides definite proof that you wrote your 
material first, and allows you to collect money from copiers beyond 
simple damages. 
If you only create games for your own play, then stop reading.  I 
suspect, however, you want some tips on how to let others enjoy 
your work and maybe even make some $$$. 
You can pursue two routes.  The first is submitting it to a publisher 
who will then distribute the game. Or you can consider or self 
First off, before you do, you need to realistically ask yourself: Do I 
think this is a game a publisher will want.  If not, see self publishing. 
If it is, then here are some tips: 
Do some research, think about which publishers might be best for 
your product.  For example, Microprose is well-known as a leading 
publisher of Simulation software.  Picking a logical match will help. 
When you have decided on the company, contact them either by 
letter or phone, and ask them to send you information about their 
guidelines for unsolicited submissions.  Read this and give it to your 
lawyer to read it over. 
Most likely, the guidelines will include a nondisclosure agreement 
which bars you and them from discussing the product publicly and 
requires that you submit a demo version for evaluation. 
I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV.  If you plan to submit a 
game professionally to a publisher, get a lawyer first-- preferably one 
with a good background in contract law and copyright law and, if 
you can, find one in the computer games industry. 
Now before you go getting the wrong idea, let me explain.  I refer 
you to a lawyer not to have you march in a bunch of suits to do your 
negoiating for you.  That's a fast way to nowheresville. 
I refer you to them for use as a personal resource, on your end.a  
lawyer may never be needed for a face-to-face meeting with your 
publisher, but always run contracts and legal documents of any kind 
by an attorney.  I had a friend who was once burned in the GamDev 
biz becuase he had failed to understand a clause which held his 
company responsible for conversion costs and sales. This actually 
reduced his overall compensation for their product which went from 
good to poor because they were required to port 
it to poor selling machines. 
Most game companies are on the up and up.  That, however, is no 
excuse not to have a lawyer handy to check things out.  Lawyers, 
fortunately or unfortunately are a necessary part of the business. 
"Ma'am, we're professionals" - Jake Ellwood 
Just remember that submitting your product to a publisher requires a 
professional outlook on your part.  Always remind yourself that this 
is a serious business.  At times fun, at times serious. 
Type all correspondence. 
Send multiple disks, in case of damage.  In some cases send a long a 
videotape of your game as well, it's easier to show off and it's harder 
to screw up. 
Make sure you include all background details, manuals and other 
necessary materials and be patient-if your game is truly good, a 
publisher will eventually take interest. 
Self publishing is either Shareware or the commercial creation of 
your own company to publish it.  (I won't go into much depth about 
this.  If you've got the money to create a retail software company you 
don't need my advice!)  Mostly though, self publishing is 
Shareware is the hottest software marketing concept since the album 
Shareware is the process of giving away a portion of your game, say 
1/3 and from within the product, soliciting, a purchase of the final 
2/3 or full version of the game. 
Note:  Some people--including the ASP--hold that the shareware 
version can be no different than the full version.  There is no 1/3-2/3 
This is derived from the practive of some Shareware authors who 
were shipping products with essential features disabled from their 
products.  The technique, known as crippling, is outlawed by the 
ASP because it hurts the notion of a full-workingversion and 
discourages people from using shareware to begin with. 
I would say that this is a very plausible view. However, much 
research has shown that without strong incentives, registrations 
suffer.  This is a debate that will rage for a long time. 
My general rule is that your game should offer a complete experience 
in the Shareware version: That it have a beginning, a middle, and an 
end, and all the features required for it are available.  For the 
registered version, offer an enhanced version.  Just be careful not to 
offer an unplayable shareware version, you will be doing yourself 
and every other shareware author a great disservice. 
Shareware authors write their game, then after deciding on what 
features/levels etc. of the product they will include in their 
"shareware" version, give away that portion.  Via uploading to online 
networks, BBS's, and the Internet shareware authors make their game 
available to millions of computer users (who 
subsequently may copy versions and give them to their non-online 
friends) for next-tonothing.  Then users download or acquire the 
shareware version and if they like it, and feel enough incentive to 
upgrade, will usually send a check or credit card order(if you can 
accept them), directly purchasing the full version from the author. 
Shareware has been noted recently with the success of DOOM and 
other products from companies like APOGEE, EPIC and MVP 
which have used the Shareware method. 
Shareware's main attraction is the low cost for marketing and the 
high margins of direct orders (cutting out the publisher, the 
distributor and the retailer means more money per copy for the 
creator). It's other attraction is the ability to publish special interest 
stuff for example: a sailing, simulator--that otherwise might not sell 
in a crowded retail environment. 
However, there are downsides to Shareware.  Selfpublishing is a lot 
of work, and not every consumer has the means to acquire shareware 
versions, and recently it is getting crowded with tough competition.  
On the bright side, the business is still growing by leaps and bounds. 
There is too much to be said about Shareware beyond the simple 
stuff I've touched on. 
Now a breif interuption to bring you even more information on 
Shareware.  Since many of you reading this document are going to be 
hobbyists/beginners shareware is an execellent avenue for you to use 
to publish your game therefore I have asked Karen Crowther, author 
of several shareware hits to reprint the contents of here Gamers 
Shareware FAQ in its entirety with in the GamDev.FAQ.   That 
being said here it is: 
The Game Shareware FAQ by Karen Crowther 
What is shareware? 
Shareware is a marketing method that is most successfully used for  
business applications but can be used for games if done properly.   In 
Shareware, a game (or portion of a game) is released on a try  before 
you buy basis.  The expectation is that the customer will send  in a 
registration if s/he likes the game.  The reality is that the  customer 
will only send in a registration if you, the author, have  convinced 
him that he absolutely MUST have the rest of the game.  The  tools 
you use to convince your customer to register are called  incentives. 
What are some good incentives? 
The most successful incentives were pioneered by Scott Miller of  
Apogee when he invented the trilogy method.  He released the first  
episode of his Kingdom of Kroz games and reserved the next two  
episodes for those who registered (paid).   This 1/3-2/3 rule is still 
extremely important.  The customer must  perceive that they are 
getting much more than the shareware portion  when they register the 
Other incentives include:  Allowing multiplayer mode only in the  
registered version,  giving hints and cheat codes (this is not enough  
on it's own), allowing different modes of play, providing more art, 
tiles, cards, game scenarios. 
How do I present the incentives? 
Your shareware game is an advertisement.  Never lose sight of this 
primary purpose.  So you need to tell your prospective customers 
WHY  they should register and HOW they can register.  Put the 
information as an item on the menu.  Display an ordering screen on  
exit.  Be sure your customer knows all about the incentives you've  
People tell me that distribution is everything.  Is this true? 
Not for games.  The people pushing distribution are for the most part  
either vendors who stand to make far more money than you on your 
game  or well-intentioned business application authors who don't 
that shareware games are a completely different market. 
First, games are in high demand for retail.  So you have the  
opportunity to ask for and get royalties on all retail distribution of  
your game.  Second, a business program customer is looking for a  
single solution to his problem.  Once he finds it, he'll continue  
using it longterm.  He'll register it because most operations and 
government organizations require that all shareware on their 
computers be registered and because he'll want updates.  Many 
business aps such as tax programs, zipcode programs and the like, 
need to be updated on a regular basis and any way that the author 
can get a user, is going to make them money. 
Now, how many gamers do you know that are looking for the one 
perfect game which they will then play over and over again?  Not too 
many - eh?  Not only that, when the corporation MIS manager finds 
the game on their computer, do they demand that it be registered?  
Not likely! 
So we game authors need to take a look at distribution and ask 
ourselves is this distribution going to help us or interfere with other 
ways we can make money? 
What are the good and bad shareware distribution channels for 
BBS's -  Bulletin Board Systems (both private, online services and 
Internet) are the backbone of the shareware distribution.  BBS's are 
your best friends for shareware distribution.  Not only are their  
customers your best customers, but their distribution is how your 
game will be picked up by every other type of distributor. 
Catalog Disk Vendors - Catalog vendors are also great sources of  
registrations.  Their customers are used to ordering by mail  (and 
you, the shareware author, are a mail order business) and are likely 
to order from you, if they like your game, rather than taking a chance 
on ordering another unknown game from the catalog vendor. 
Shareware of the Month Clubs - These companies run boiler room 
telemarketing operations.  There have been numerous complaints that 
some do not disclose the nature of shareware to the customer.  The 
salespeople offer to send the customer monthly disks in exchange for 
a monthly fee.  My experience is that I have gotten registrations from 
these organizations. 
Retail Sales - Retail sales run the gamut from disks in sleeves sitting 
in a cardboard box on some store counter to beautifully packaged 
games indistinguishable from ordinary retail games.   
Retail sales are a poor source of registrations and allowing them 
without royalty contracts is going to cut into one of the most 
lucrative sources of income that you have.   
Retail customers are used to walking into a store, paying their money 
and then OWNING the erchandise.  Telling them that they must 
register when they are in the mindset that they already own the game 
just doesn't work.  Many retail customers do not ever shop mail 
order.  They are not your customers.  They will never be your 
But! If you are receiving royalties on these sales, they become a 
source of income that can bring in hundreds or even thousands of 
dollars per month.  Some of my games make more in retail than they 
in shareware registrations.  More on this in a later section. 
Cdrom Sales - CDROM discs are the pits as far as game registrations 
go.  Why would anyone pay you $20 or $30 for two additional 
episodes if they still have 2,999 of the 3,000 games on their cd 
So we do not allow nonroyalty cdrom distribution.  The larger 
shareware companies such as Id, Apogee and Epic also restrict the 
number of games that can be on a cd to 10 or 15. 
But there is one problem with prohibiting cdrom distribution.  
Remember when I said that BBS's are the backbone of your 
distribution system and your best friends?  BBS's are now mounting 
cd's rather than  
using up scarce disk space for their games.  So you most certainly 
DO want to be on the popular BBS-ready discs that most BBS's use. 
The bottom line is that you need to keep control of your cdrom 
distribution and use it to help you, refusing permission to cd 
publishers who are just going to make themselves money while 
decreasing your chances for retail royalty contracts. 
JukeBox Disk on Demand - The customer puts money in these 
machines which copy their chosen game from a cd onto a floppy 
disk.  This is another twist on retail sales and you want to get 
royalties for this  
for the same reasons as any other type of retail sales. 
How much money will I make? 
Most shareware games only make a few hundred dollars a month in 
registrations.  The exceptions are the top 2 or 3 games in each 
category.  These games can make thousands or even tens of 
thousands of  
dollars per month.  
How can I make more than a few hundred dollars? 
As we said earlier, shareware is a marketing method -- and it is only 
one method that you are going to use to maximize the income on 
your game. 
First, you need to ask for royalties for retail distribution.  The going 
rate seems to be 10 cents per unit although some companies require 
CDROM vendors will whine at you that they can't afford to pay 10 
cents per unit for the 3,000 games on their disk.  Your reply will be 
that  you only allow distribution that will lead to royalties or 
registrations and that unless they have a popular BBS-ready disc, 
you are not there to provide them with free product. 
Many authors prepare what is known as a Low Cost Retail (LCR) 
version of their shareware.  This game is usually identical to the 
shareware version (including advertising for subsequent episodes) 
but it omits  
the word, "shareware" and is sold as regular retail.   
LCR license sales can net you 50 cents to $1.00 in royalties per unit.  
Be careful of contracts that ask you to do tech support.  You do not  
want to do that since you may find yourself answering thousands of  
calls if your publisher makes a manufacturing mistake.  Ask for 50 
cents to $1.00 per unit MORE if you do tech support.  That is what 
most game companies budget for tech support.  Also, be sure you get 
NONexclusive contract so that you can license your game to many 
LCR publishers come and go.  The big guys of last year are this 
year's duds.  Figure that only 1 out of 10 contracts is going to make 
you much money.  And remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in 
bush.  If choosing between two vendors, choose the one who gives 
you up front money.  ALL of them will tell you they are going to sell 
100,000 units.  And all of them are to put it charitably, unduly 
How do I protect my copyright? 
Never, never, never release your shareware without a 
VENDOR.DOC file which lists the conditions under which your 
game can be distributed.  (See Vendor.doc in our library). 
If you don't explicitly say what can and cannot be done, you run the 
risk of losing control of your work.  You'll publishers getting rich 
off of your game while you don't see a penny.  You worked hard.  
deserve to be paid for your work.   
In general you want to consider the following for your license.  
(Here's where I have to put in the obligatory disclaimer about seeing 
your lawyer because I am not giving you legal advice.  I'm just  
telling you what I did ) 
1. Users can give away copies of your shareware provided it is 
complete and unmodified. 
2. BBS's may distribute your game provided it is complete and 
3. Your shareware may not be included on a cd without a written 
4. Your shareware may not be sold in stores or to distributors 
without a written contract. 
5. Your shareware may be sold by catalog sales for a small fee to 
cover media and duplicating costs, provided the vendor discloses that 
it is shareware requiring additional payment to the author. 
6. You reserve the right to withdraw permission to distribute your 
shareware from anyone with 30 days notice. 
7. The distributor agrees only to distribute the most up to date 
version of your shareware. 
8. Any permissions not explicitly given in this license are reserved. 
What other files do I need with my shareware? 
You need a FILE_ID.DIZ.  This is a plain ASCII file with 10 lines of 
45 characters.  The first line should be able to stand alone and 
include the game name and the most important information.  Some 
only list this first line.  Some will list all 10 lines.  Most BBS's have 
automatic software that unzips your FILE_ID.DIZ and uses it for the 
What are some optional things I should do? 
Rudy Ramsey's VENDINFO standard allows you to brand your 
executable with information about your distribution requirements.  
Some vendors use an automatic VENDINFO reader to quickly scan 
games to determine whether they will be included in their lineup. 
Vendinfo also allows you to brand your program with the RSAC 
game ratings, if you so choose. 
You may want to include a game ratings symbol.  At this time, only 
Walmart requires that games be rated.  RSAC is the organization of  
choice for shareware authors since we had a hand in it's design and  
have a shareware member on its board of directors -- not to mention 
it is cheaper than Nintendo's ESRB rating organization. 
How do I get started? 
OK.  You put incentives in your game.  You TOLD your customer 
about the incentives and how to register.  You wrote your 
Ideally, you should write a short install program.  Use LHARC to 
compress your program (NOT your FILE_ID.DIZ and 
VENDOR.DOC).  Then use LHARC to create a self-extracting file.  
Your installation program should just uncompress your game to the 
user's chosen drive and directory.  For Windows games, you'll use 
the standard Windows install. 
Now, take your install program, your game program files 
(compressed), your VENDOR.DOC, and your FILE_ID.DIZ and 
compress the bunch with PKZIP.  This time you are going to leave 
them as a ZIP file.  Do NOT turn it into a self-extracting file. 
Where do I send it? 
Upload your game to Compuserve (GAMERS or ACTION).  Upload 
to AOL, Delphi and GENIE. 
Upload to Software Creations, Exec PC and Planet Connect. 
Send it to Reasonable Solutions, The Software Labs and MicroStar. 
If you are a member of The Association of Shareware Professionals, 
submit it to the catalog and to the ASP cd. 
Now what do I do? 
Contact the known royalty-paying LCR vendors. 
Be patient.  It will take 6 months until your registrations get up to 
speed.  It will take 9-12 months until your retail contracts start 
This Shareware FAQ is under construction.  Send your questions,  
feedback and additions to Karen Crowther 71501,3553. 
Copyright Karen Crowther 1995.  This FAQ may not be distributed 
unless it is distributed complete and unmodified and this copyright 
notice is included.  It may not be reproduced in any periodical 
(online or  
written) without permission.  It may not be sold for any fee  
whatsoever without written permission. 
If you are truly interested in the Shareware method, I implore you to 
do the following two things: 
The Association of Shareware Professionals.  This organization, 
accessible on CompuServe (GO SHAREWARE), is the best resource 
for budding Shareware authors.  There is a ton of information 
available about Shareware marketing in their libraries, so fire up 
your modem and check them out. 
There has been a lot written about Shareware recently, much 
concerning its viability, tips on how to be successful at it, etc.  Most 
of this is available from the ASP but there are articles showing up in 
traditional business publications, mainstream computer magazines 
and books.  Shareware is more than just simply labeling your 
software SHAREWARE and waiting for thechecks to arrive, so a 
few days reading about it will go a long, long way towards being a 
successful shareware publisher. 
As I mentioned before, there are also several successful shareware 
publishers, many of whom you can find in both the GamDev forum 
and the Shareware forum.  They can offer tips and perhaps even aid 
you in publishing your product.  While you will split your profit, the 
shareware method they use still provides 
higher margins and many will tell you that their established expertise 
and distribution networks will result in more sales of the full version 
then going it alone.  In addition, they may help with the development 
by finding you artists and musicians and other resources.  However, 
that is not for me to corroborate and 
if you are interested in what these companies have to offer, you need 
to contact them directly. 
There is no easy answer. 
Shareware is all the rage right now, because Id hit it big time with 
Doom and Wolfenstein and MVP, Epic and Apogee have created 
excellent businesses and the margins are higher.  Remember, though: 
Successes of any kind are exceptions to the rule.  The fact is most 
shareware products don't make the millions that Id 
made.  Don't get discouraged, you may be the next exception, just be 
prepared to be happy for a mere trickle of orders.  Shareware success 
is about good products and great effort--read the stuff about 
shareware I referred you to, and you'll see. 
Self-publishing requires a lot leg work.  Processing orders, technical 
support, and so on are going to be big requirements on your time.  
Even if you sell only 10 to 20 copies a month after 2 years, you may 
have some 500 users.  That is why many people submit to publishers.  
In addition to helping with programming, publishers can market your 
game much better than you yourself. 
In short: Just as in many things in life, there are tradeoffs. My advice 
is to follow these rules: 
Self-publish via freeware if: (That is, simply give the complete 
product away for free). Remember to maintain that it still 
1.You don't think your product will generate enough sales to be 
2. You don't have a desire for the money you might make. 
Self-Publish via shareware if: 
1. Your product is good--not good enough for a publisher--but you 
still think people will pay for it. 
2. If you really are someone who enjoys the idea of creating the next 
successful publisher, not just the next great game, and you're seeking 
a potentially higher profit margin. 
Use a Retail-oriented publisher if: 
	1. Your product is good enough. 
	2. You want to concentrate on nothing other than making 
	3. You want a traditional Retail distribution of your 
Use a Shareware-oriented Publisher if: 
	1. Your product is good enough. 
	2. You want to concentrate on nothing other than making 
	3. You want to still use the Shareware method. 
All political and freedom of speech stuff aside what are the facts 
about game ratings. 
Well the fact is game rating is a major need now for publishers, 
many retail outlets like Wal-mart are requiring ratings.  There are 
two main ratings agencies the ERSB (Entertainment Ratings Service 
Board) which is a secretive panel (a la the MPRA, motion picture 
ratings agency) and was formed by the major software publishers 
with the cooperation of SEGA and Nintendo.   
In response to the fees and process that the ESRB used a group of 
PC oriented small publishers formed the RSAC or (recreational 
software advisory council) which has a much cheaper process which 
includes a program you run that generates a filled in questionaire to 
submit for a rating from the RSAC. 
Right now the RSAC is trying to push for it's ratings process to be 
acceptable as well as the ESRB, citing the need for the RSAC for 
smaller publishers.   In a cooperative move the CGDA (The 
Computer Game Developers Association) has endorsed the RSAC 
If you haven't been on CompuServe's Game Developers forum you 
might not know that the CGDA Endorsed the RSAC ratings process 
for software.  The RSAC is a more PC based and independent based 
rating process and costs much much less than the ESRB.  However, 
so far Toys R Us has said it will only carry ESRB rated software.  Of 
course Toy's until recently hadn't carried PC based software.   
In making the endorsement the CGDA wished to through it's weight 
behind the RSAC in hopes of persuading large merchants like Toys 
R Us to adopt the standard.  In a post on GamDev Ernest Adams, 
CGDA president summed up the endorsement this way.  "The CGDA 
does not oppose ESRB, nor do we wish to discourage its use. We 
encourage the use of RSAC labels, and we hope all parties 
concerned (Congress, the publishers, the retailers, the developers, 
and the consumers) will give RSAC at least as much credit as they 
do to ESRB."  For more information about the RSAC call +1 202 
293 3055.  
You can find their ratings program in Compuserve's Game 
Developers Forum among other places. 
We've talked a lot from the developers prespective but the other side 
of the equation is equally if not more important.  I asked Dave 
Snyder of MVP GAMES to write up a little something about what 
goes through his mind as a publisher when he approaches game 
development and submissions.  Here's what he had to say: 
I cannot give you any general rules on submitting products to other 
publishers.  Nor can I give you any general rules on what publishers 
look for or what they expect in a submission. 
The only general rule is to contact the publisher directly before 
submitting a product to find out what is of interest. 
Moreover, while every publisher will tell you that they will consider 
any type of game, the fact is that most publishers specialize in 
certain types of games.  Familiarize yourself with what types of 
games a publisher has done well before submitting anything. 
Here's another thing not to expect from publishers these days: an 
advance, unless you are an established developer with at least one hit 
under your belt. 
Advances are big risks for publishers.  All of us, MVP included, 
have paid advances at some point in the past and have not gotten a 
product in return. Since these days there are more good games than 
can possibly sell or even be published, you are selling in a buyer's 
market.  Consider that lots of publishers, including major ones, have 
faced recent financial difficulties, with more to come, and you will 
see that publishers must be very careful how they spend their money. 
Having said what I cannot tell you, I will say what MVP expects. 
First, we want to see at least a demo.  While we don't care whether 
the artwork, music or sound effects are polished (we have 
professionals to do that), we do want to see a good implementation 
of an interesting idea. 
And we want to see enough of it to be in a position to make a decent 
evaluation.  We are not interested in seeing mere ideas, generally 
speaking, because everyone has ideas.  We want to see some sort of 
implementation of that idea. 
Frankly, we are much more concerned about your commitment to the 
project, your ability to pull it off, and your ability to take direction 
and criticism, than we are interested in seeing a polished product.  
When a publisher invests in a product, even without paying an 
advance, that represents a substantial commitment of resources.  A 
publisher is buying you, not just your product. 
You have to convince the publisher that the investment is worth it.  
You should have ideas on how to complete a cool game, but you had 
better be willing to listen to direction.  MVP, and, I suspect, most 
other publishers, are not interested in prima donnas. 
The world of computer games is as competitive a business as there is 
these days.  Unless you are committed to working 80-hour weeks, for 
as long as two years or more, don't kid yourself about trying to break 
into it.  Most of those who are developing games full-time have done 
that.  Lots of others are willing to do that. That is the norm in any 
extremely competitive business.  Since getting an advance will be 
tough to do, you must be committed to working your day job, and 
putting in at least 4 hours a day, every day, on your game. 
No taking Saturdays off.  No parties, no social life-no kidding. Just a 
few years ago, people could make it in this business without making 
that kind of sacrifice, but that is not possible any longer. 
Finally, consider a small publisher for your first game.  Usually a 
small publisher will give you more attention and help than a large 
publisher can. Consider shareware, but work with a shareware 
Even if you hope someday to release shareware games on your own, 
work with an established publisher first.  Your game will be better, 
you will learn from their experience, and you may find that you don't 
especially want to run a business, you want to just write games.  If 
you do find that, working with a publisher will spare you from 
getting into something you later discover prevents you from doing 
what you want. 
Yes and no. Dave certainly conveys the seriousness of the business 
and the time it takes and the competition. 
The life of a Game Designer is brutal for beginners, just as any 
similar competitive industry is. However as Chris Crawford pointed 
out in an Email to me while discussing finishing touches, 
approaching it as a hobby much like  photography can be fun!  If you 
do something and you think it's really good or you find your skills 
are developing to a professional level then maybe the next step takes 
you to that level. 
Overall, have fun.  Just don't get stary-eyed ideas that your work will 
make you a millionaire.  Work hard, regardless of your goals.  
Well, I hope you've found the above informing.  I've found Game 
Developing to be a big trial-and-error process. 
Why?  Because not enough of the know-how has been disseminated 
and that makes it difficult to learn, let alone even start. 
Game development, unlike a lot of other programming, is at the 
forefront of the technology curve.  That is why you see games 
pushing the hardware limits of your machine more so than, say, a 
Wordprocessor.  So much of what you see done today was figured 
out by someone only yesterday.  Thus, it takes time to filter out. 
It is frustrating to have all these ideas in your head and no way of 
knowing how to accomplish them. If that is your case, I hope I have 
enlightened you enough to motivate you to go out and learn. 
Only now have enough books, experts, and tools come together that 
give people the power to create their own products.  There are not 
too many businesses like that left--surely no one can go out and 
make a hit movie with a camcorder.  But even with a 4 meg 386 that, 
maybe even millions will want to play. Hopefully, with some 
devotion, hard work, skill and a little help from (this FAQ) above, it 
will be your game.   GOOD LUCK!!! 
Any one wishing to correct, object or update information in this file 
E-mail Corrections to:  Ben Sawyer@AOL.Com or at my 
CompuServe Address: 73522,1470 This FAQ will be updated once 
every two three months. 
Please be sure to include non-email contact information and your 
full real name if you are using a screen name and, how you would 
like to be named in the donors column. 
Submitters remember that this FAQ is a general purpose FAQ aimed 
at general game development issues.  Please stick to the basics. 
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