Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Considering Making An Indie Game? READ ME!

So I've yet to do an official "post-mortem" piece on Neofeud, mostly because I'm too busy running on 52 cylinders trying to get it on Steam, get visibility and sales up as high as they can be, and everything else that goes along with releasing your first official commercial game.  And RL.

But, I just read this article from Indiewatch, a horror story from a first-time developer who suffered setback after setback after setback for several years, and I felt total sympathy and absolutely had to comment.  If nothing else, to help others avoid some of the of the pitfalls who are thinking about plunging into the adventure, or as I term it, "The Odyssey" of making an indie commercial game.  Without further ado:


For me, making a game seemed like a brilliant idea!  I’ve wanted to make one as far back as when the Atari 2600 was considered the most powerful console.  So why not give it a try?  It would be a good life experience and I also would be doing something I enjoy.  What could possibly go wrong?

My response:

"A great read, and a wild trip man. Good to hear that you came out of it. As an indie dev who blew 2 1/2 years on a game with a different set of trials and tribulations, I can only say, I empathize. You're making the best decision of your gamedev career at this point to do something small, and the second best decision of your career to work on your game solo. I'm going to badly paraphrase Doom's creator, John Romero now: "You don't just make Doom. First, make Pong. Then, make Space Invaders. Then make Mario. Then, eventually, you make Doom." Which is to say, it sounds really great to want to just make that giant MMO right off the bat, and it seems like a waste of time to work on these smaller projects that probably won't net much revenue at all, but this mindset is truly the biggest pitfall.

Gamedev is in many ways more complex than film-making, which is one of the most complex and risky endeavors you can take on. You are going to make mistakes, just like the first time you ride a bike, or the first time you buy a house. Making the mistakes early, on a small project, before things can get painful, expensive, and full of drama and potentially lawsuits, is the way to go. I always plan for everything to go 4x as bad and take 4x as long as I think, and I calculate into the schedule all of these Black Swan disasters, like my computer exploding and two of my backup drives being lost or stolen simultaneously. So I have 6 backups. I have literally had multiple backups go out simultaneously, so I have not regretted the decision.

Plan to have anyone that you bring into a project abandon that project at some point unless they are making enough money to pay all their bills *during the project*. This is why I brought zero people onto my project when I made my first official commercial game. It took me over a decade to get enough experience to do the writing, art, programming, music, and half the voice acting for my game, and I realize that is not a price that everyone is willing to pay. But then you could also spend ten thousand dollars, and years of your life trying to skip ahead, only to wind up with nothing, also. Again, Romero made 300-something games over the course of more than a decade before he made Doom.

At any rate, good luck with your next game, and I truly hope that it succeeds for you this time!"

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