How does Danlab do it?

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Post: #1
I mean, how can you put out such good games as a lone developer? Do you have another job, or is hobby development your full-time job?

Jericho
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Post: #2
http://www.insidemacgames.com/features/view.php?ID=322

Interesting article. Apparently Dan does the development thing full time.
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Post: #3
He has a slave labor camp of "liberated" garden gnomes.
He suckers them in with promises of freedom, protection from the harsh elements, and a warm bed, only to have them work endlessly on video games day and night.

Oh the Humanity.

Don't believe me?
Just look at him!
How can you doubt it?
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I guess Dan is now a model for indie mac devs. And when he will release the buggy game, that will be a real breaker, its really commercial quality, runs perfect at 1600*1200 (!!) even on G4s. And driving games appeal to an enormous share of gamers. Although I would still keep an eye on david rosen (although we havent heard from him in a while), some of his stuff is wonderful

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyup.
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igame3d Wrote:He has a slave labor camp of "liberated" garden gnomes.
He suckers them in with promises of freedom, protection from the harsh elements, and a warm bed, only to have them work endlessly on video games day and night.
But really it's a great opportunity for the garden gnomes. Heck, that's more than most game companies give employees Wink
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Post: #7
the secret is im the 100 gnomes
and yes i promises to myself some holydays and days without working
but only days, night are made for working ;-)
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igame3d Wrote:He has a slave labor camp of "liberated" garden gnomes.
He suckers them in with promises of freedom, protection from the harsh elements, and a warm bed, only to have them work endlessly on video games day and night.

still better treatment than working at EA Games!


Dan clearly works incredibly hard and puts in long hours. But it makes me think of a question I once saw posted on a game dev board. It was a thread about how open source games usually look so crummy - because programmers write the game and then they add their 'coder' art - and how to get more actual artists to contribute. But one poster said "we are hackers - we find a problem and we hack away at it until it is solved - art is like that, we just need to hack away at it more."

So is art like that? Could I create great art if I just worked and worked and worked at it? Or is there an innate genetic element to it which if you dont have then no amount of effort will bring it forth?
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codemattic Wrote:But one poster said "we are hackers - we find a problem and we hack away at it until it is solved - art is like that, we just need to hack away at it more."

So is art like that? Could I create great art if I just worked and worked and worked at it? Or is there an innate genetic element to it which if you dont have then no amount of effort will bring it forth?

Well, more or less yes, you could. Atleast in my opinion. Many things about creating are like that IMO.

Like one of my ex girlfriends, one time (when we where togheter), she was blabbing about that she couldn't paint. I said nonsence, and I made her sit with me for a couple of hours and paint a painting, and it turned out really nice(note, I'm not good at painting either), and that sparked her interest in painting(nowdays she is rather kickass at it).

"Gameplay Uber Alles. And if you can make it psychedelic too, great!" - Jeff Minter
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Post: #10
seven Wrote:I mean, how can you put out such good games as a lone developer?
No one really seemed to answer the question -- even the developer himself. Sneaky Allow me to share my two yen on this....

This analysis is my opinion (random thoughts)...

Dan is foremost an artist. He has strong abilities in 2D, and 3D. I think to create good 3D art, you need to understand 2D. He does. Building on his art ability is his ability to create characters, something which is very difficult IMHO. I think as he does his art and create various characters, he is visualizing the game playing in his head. I think this is the fundamental difference of his approach from the majority of you who come from "programming fields." You can think of this phase as game design if you wish. To me, he seems to have a good idea of the game in mind, and works towards the goal of completing it. Although he does seem to work on different concepts to see if they are workable. (ie He doesn't seem to just sit down, and start coding with no plan, or image in mind.)

Contrast that to many gamers/artists turned coders/"want to be game programmers." They have an image of some game, which 8 out of 10 times is not original, (or feasible for their level) but just based on an idea of a game they like. They jump around like Mexican jumping beans. Sometimes, they find their way and become game programmers, but more often than not, they fade away.

Here is a good example, "Member Newbie" comes to this site, posts this and that. Maybe gets a "bit flamed." Questions on C,C++, Cocoa follow. One week later, they are asking about 3D and OpenGL.

The "progress" just isn't there. Progress means their education. Back to Dan. As I said, he is an artist first, though he did have an idea of programming through AMOS. This gave him an appreciation of the difficulties of game dev. Contrast this with a person who doesn't have any idea of coding, who might expect that Doom 3 can be made in a month. Anyways, Dan has progressed as a coder, which is important as well.

Also, contrast Dan with "advanced" developers who seem to get caught up too much on "their tools." Wink I feel that since I have known Dan, he seems to put the game first, and pick the tool/technology that best works for his game. (Not sure if I explained that well, but you get the idea.)

When Dan "appeared" in our mysts, he was working with TNT. Something close to what he knew -- AMOS. His games were very polished, small, and fun. Next he moved away from TNT into C/C++ (??) as well as partnered with talented people -- not the first guy who said, "He, I will work with anyone."

Another thing that sets him a part is his marketing. Look at his site. It compares with sites from companies, like Freeverse and Ambrosia. Easy to navigate, easy to get the games, compeling reasons to get the games, easy process to pay for the games. If you are doing shareware, take a strong look at your website. How does it compare? He also keeps his site "fresh." The point here is that Dan wears many hats, and "continues" after the game is done with marketing and sales.

I should also mention that Dan has a special eye for "attention to detail." I recall a game (mini golf?), where little stars spun around. This is the kind of polish we see in console games. It is obvious that he excels at polish. Some advanced coders here lack this crucial ability. (ie They make a game that is good, but with a bit more polish could be very good.) Though uDG 04 gave us a good hint that more and more members here are understanding an implementing "presentation/polish."

Speaking of console games. Dan's games give me the feeling that I am indeed playing on a console. Big colorful menus. Feedback on the menus, etc. I don't think his games show much if any of the Mac GUI. I think for his kind of games, and target market, which is close to Pangea's, this approach works well. (And it is one that I recommend.) Also, it is worth noting that many of his games are multi-language.

Last observation is that Dan is always working. He still has a life though, and seems to come in contact with other humans. His life seems to be devoid of stress which I see some of us go through, so perhaps he is a natural positive person. Which I think counts for a lot as a game developer (ie motivation.)

My observations are a bit un-ordered. I hope perhaps we can clean it up, and get other input, and turn this into an article for our future dev spotlight section. I think it is important to look at what makes him successful so that newcomers can follow in his path. Of course I could have simply said, "If he doesn't pump out good games, it doesn't eat -- an empty stomach is a strong motivator."

Cheers,

Carlos A. Camacho,
Founder
iDevGames
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Post: #11
I agree on the polish thing: its really true, a designer knows "what fits" and what does not, while some people (like me) dont have a clue. This is a big advantage, you avoid making stuff that you discover is horrible after you did it.

Also, I think Dan is between the few here that have had the courage to start developing full time. These two things, along with evident talent, have made the difference.

Oh, and of course what makes the biggest difference is that he's completely crazy Rasp

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Post: #12
Yeah, and not to mention the fact that he does all this while often working with, and selling to people that don't even speak his native language! I don't know what he's smoking but I want some too! Go Danlab!
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Post: #13
Three cheers for Danlab!!
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Post: #14
Yes, I must admit that the games from DanLabs truly inspire me. These privately developed games hold lovely presentation and character. If iDevGames started a yearly commemoration for acknowledging and recognizing those far and few Mac game shareware developers, I nominate DanLabGames.

ProRattaFactor
(Retro-infused games for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac)
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Post: #15
I think that Polish really is the key. no matter how good the gameplay, if the polish is crappy, no one's gonna want to play it. (there are a few exceptions, but I won't name them here).

It's not magic, it's Ruby.
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