The Pitfalls of Indie Development

by: Markus Young | Oct 25th, 2018

When we first started out, we had somewhere around 15 people working on our original project. That was problematic from the start as everyone had a specific vision of what we were making and none of them lined up. As the art director, I struggled to keep design and concepts consistent while still churning out usable concepts. As time went on the project became a bit of a slog. Eventually Ian and myself kind of just shut everything down.

We moved on to a new project, one I'm sure you'd recognize, and found that just the pair of us were doing alright. By alright I mean not alright at all. We were juggling full time Art School and jobs. And development was more experimentation than anything. Eventually, we made sort of what we set out to and got it on Kickstarter. It didn't make it. We were small fish asking for a relatively large amount of money in the midst of a veteran game developer pushing their big project.

So what did we learn from all this? Well firstly you have to vet people. I don't mean to say that the people we have worked with over the years weren't and aren't fantastic and talented people, but you have to work with people who can align with your vision, but that you respect enough to bend when they make a good point. That's a tight rope that doesn't have a manual.

Secondly, learn to market. It's not easy being a developer of any sort in today's gaming economy, and largely the most successful are the people that yell about their products the loudest. We went into this for the fun of exploring our abilities and to create something that people would love. That usually doesn't involve social media campaigns and targeted marketing. But with games, it has to.

Finally, get used to, and good at, not sleeping. Game development is grueling when you've hit your stride. There are one million tasks and never enough people to handle them in a realistic amount of time. So make peace with your bed and learn to take power naps on your keyboard. Also, game development is not a family persons game but its possible to work it in. And do. You must . Your family is your lifeline to reality, and if you are making a horror as we did, reality is something you desperately need.

So in conclusion, I'm not trying to tell you not to become an indie dev. I think that game design is important and rewarding. What I am saying is be cautious and pursue your dream with an open (wide open) mind. And you really need to love what you are doing, cause it is not for the faint of heart.

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