Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unplanned Indie

I have a number of friends who have unfortunately been made redundant recently - and for some of them this may be the time to try going indie.

Going indie takes some planning, you need to have a structured goal of what you want to achieve. It can be hard to make a plan and stick to it if you're unexpectedly thrust into the situation - so here are some tips for dealing with a sudden foray into indie territory.

1) Have A Clear Goal.
Plan out exactly what you want to do and stick to it. It's up to you, and you alone to make a game and get it onto market. There is no time to chop and change.

2) Don't Waste A Second.
You have limited time to make a game. The faster you get it out the sooner you can make money and hopefully keep being an indie. There's plenty of time to surf the web later. Right now your goal should be to work like your life depends on it - because if you want to be an indie it does.

3) Think Small.
Be realistic with your indie game. Develop a project that can be done by one person or a small team. Don't try and make a sprawling RPG or an FPS to compete with Halo. It's also worth noting that a possible strategy is to clone another successful game (but improve upon it). This gives you a head start by having a game that you can refer to for the basic design. Again, try and build on it and don't just copy it.

4) Do Everything Cheap or Free.
Save your money for living and maybe for some inexpensive outsourcing. There are plenty of tools that will allow you to make a game for free. You already have a computer (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this) so you shouldn't have to spend any more money on hardware or software.

5) Know Your Market.
Take some time out to research the market - be it casual, iPhone or indie/core gamers. See what's in the top 10, understand why it is selling and learn from this.

6) Network, Network, Network!
Get in touch with other indie developers, start talking with potential publishers and producers at portals. This will give you a headstart when you submit your game.

7) Be Realistic.
When you release your game and if it makes any money, it can take up to 6 months before you see a cent. Have a plan for how you will live while marketing your current game and developing your next game until the money comes in.

8) Don't Rely On Friends.
Unless its for moral support. If you need art, music or any other actual work done for your game then outsource it or do it yourself. You are making this game to change your life - your friends are involved because you asked for some help and they're nice people - but their life probably doesn't depend on getting the game out ASAP. The last thing you need is your game delayed while waiting for some music or art. Use or better still, look on the web for public domain art assets. This may mean designing a game that makes use of existing free assets, but this isn't a bad thing. A bad thing is having stuff out of your control.

10) Get To Market ASAP!
I just wanted to make this point again. This is very important. You can't sell a single copy of your game if it doesn't exist. And the sooner it exists the sooner you can make money to pay the rent. And the more games you have the more money you can earn. It's pretty simple really.

These are by no means a complete list of tips. And of course releasing a game is only one part of the equation - you need to market it - the best game in the world won't sell a single copy unless people know about it. But that's a whole other blog post.

Please let us know if you have any other sage advice!

I've blogged about this before - here some of my previous entries that you might find useful:


redwyre said...

I failed at #3, which fed back into failing #1, which fed back into failing #2 :(

But I'm ok with that. My plan is to build a framework and make a bunch of games over a few years while I work full time elsewhere, and then move over to doing it full time when I have some cash flow. Though I'm trying to figure out something a lot smaller to do :)

Passfield Games said...

If you want to get a head start you can skip making a framework and go straight to making a game.

There are a bunch of good cheap/free frameworks out there like Unity3D, PopCap, Playground SDK, etc.

Good luck and let me know how you go!

xbox 360 repair said...

This is right if we want to get head start we can stop framework.....and then go forward to making a game..