The best advice from
#indiedev to #indiedev on #indiegames and #GameDesign and #gamedevelopment
Asking questions about challenges in making an indiegame and advice for other indies. This section will be ever changing and evolving. As Kimberly (Superwoman Researcher) has said “It sounds like an indiedev support group.” I think that’s a pretty accurate description!
Check back regularly for the most up to date tidbits, advice, and sometimes weirdness.
We asked several indie developers the following “Do you have any advice for other indie developers?” Here’s how they answered:
“Get your hands dirty and take the dive. Work full time and set aside some money. Go to an art school or a school specializing in game development. You do not need university to do video games. Its mostly a self learning process”
“I’ll say it short and simple. Always make a plan. Try to make a list with all the stuff that needs to be done. Know and measure your resources properly, don’t try to eat more than you can chew, and try to estimate time you will need for the project. So, even if your timing is not accurate, you’ll still get a good picture of how you are doing, and if you keep yourself on the right track. It will also give you some opportunity for corrections later.”
From – Jan
“A single piece of advice of other indie devs? I think the most important thing is to always have the target audience in mind when you come up with an idea for a game. I mean that’s at least if you want your game to be profitable. When I started Exotic Matter back in 2011 I didn’t think of any target audience – I created the game for myself, because I wanted to play it. And sometimes this works as well (we’ll see about how well that works with Exotic Matter when it is released) – but you have to be lucky that there are more players like yourself out there. It’s much better to plan that ahead of time – it makes things so much easier in the long run.”
From – Florian
“Wow, there’s really so much advice that we could share. We’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of things through trial and error. Mostly error. If I could narrow it down to one or two things, it would be these:
Find balance between the skills to make a game and skills to release a game. The act of making a game is an act of engineering and artistry. The act of releasing a game is an act of entrepreneurship and community building. You have to find a balance of those things within yourself or your team. There’s not much worse than to have a great game sitting unloved and unplayed in a Steam graveyard because you have no community to celebrate it. So, try to understand who is going to really love your game and try to build a community for and around them.
Break the rules. One of the benefits of being an indie and not a AAA studio is that you have a lot less financial risk. You’re not working with $100M budgets. So take a page from French New Wave cinema and break the rules. Explore. Take what works for you and trash the rest. Indie game developers are the Avant Garde of the game industry, rejecting the Academy of AAA studios.
From – Stuart
Understand your players and build your community. I know this is what Stuart said, but it’s the most important thing you need to do if you want wide adoption of your masterpiece. If you don’t have a huge marketing budget, the only way you can raise your visibility in a sea of content is by having people in your corner that can tell the world about your awesome game. If your serve your community, they will serve you in return, and that’s the best way to build a fanbase.
Start small. VPR is the 4th (or maybe even the 5th) game that we’ve worked on as a team. It’s really important to make the first game smaller than you want it to be, and then either expand on the concept, or take on something a little bit bigger the next time around. If you take on everything that you want to do all at once, you’ll easily get burned out trying to solve your harder problems.
Keep moving forward. This can be a long process, and it’s important to not lose focus on the end goal despite all of the things that are happening everywhere else. I follow a general rule where I get at least one thing done a day. That can be as complex as knocking out a piece of functionality, or as simple as throwing some ideas at Stuart.
From – Thomas
“Iterate! Build the simplest version of your game that you can, and then iterate on it as rapidly as possible. Because often that’s how you discover what is actually fun in what you’re building.”
From – Ed
“Just Do It!
I know it’s meme, but it’s a truth that I kinda learned by accident. I didn’t know how to do any sort of 3D modeling or any sort of scripting until I just did it. Learn by example, but make your own stuff as you go! You might suck at it at first, but don’t let that stop you. Just do it, and with more and more practice and completed works under your belt you will learn how to become better and better at it.”
From – Dan
“Ask for feedback. Show your game everywhere you can. Don’t believe everything that is told to you, but if you show the game to ten people and all of them think they think something needs to be changed they may be onto something. Also, as a shameless bit of self-promotion, I wrote an article on starting and finishing projects last year, which is all stuff that applies to game development too.”
From – Leevi
“Yeah for sure, probably an obvious one but beware of performance and engine limitations. Unreal are addressing bugs with console development very well but switching to newer versions of UE4 mid or late development is not always an option. Also the new Xbox one X and the Playstation Pro run incredibly well, but the standard Xbox one and Playstation 4 are not quite as powerful as the PC’s we develop on and it’s worthwhile to address optimization early on.”
From – Simon
“We have a LOT of advice for other indie developers! If you go to our blog, you can even read some of that advice! If I had to give some quick elevator-advice, I guess my best pieces of advice would be to always be honest with yourself (How good is my game? Can I finish this feature in time?), and, if you’re going to work on a game, commit to it, and be willing to put in the work and make the sacrifices to make your dream game a (virtual) reality.”
From – Jack
“Jack is right. I also have to thank him for diligently shilling for our blog this whole time XD. I already mentioned the thing about feedback, so that advice is important. That’s one of my strengths. If I had to give advice for one of my weaknesses, I would say that you need to take your daily routine seriously. Especially if you are going indie full-time. There’s always this temptation that you have more time than you have because “you don’t have a 9-5 job”. That’s true, but you’re still a person who does useless things like sleeping, showering, and eating. Also people really only have a few solid “focus hours” every day, so don’t waste them! My daily routine is terrible and so all I can say is that you shouldn’t make my mistakes. I need a life coach or something, seriously.”
From – Frank
“Watch your scope! This was our problem with Mike Dies and we had the same problem with our previous title Dark Scavenger. Don’t make something you can’t finish! We did manage to complete both of these titles, but it was by the skin of our teeth. The longer that a project goes on, the less likely your team is going to stick around to see it through!
And do whatever it takes to finish your game. If people quit, find new people. If you can’t find new people, learn to do it yourself. If you don’t have time to learn a skill, compromise until you have a product you can complete.
Finishing a game takes dedication, hard work and creativity. Don’t give up if you can’t see a product through to its original vision – adjust it! Adapt to your new constraints instead of abandoning the project. Intimidating constraints often birth the most interesting design decisions and innovations!”
From – Alex
Who’s the next Dev to Dev advice coming from?
Stay tuned to find out!