GameDev Protips: How To Survive As An Indie Developer

Remember, one of the most important things is to focus on what you know. This can be applicable in multiple ways. There are skill sets that come naturally to you: leverage them. Lean heavily on them when you are deciding what kind of a developer you want to be. This kind of focus will make you wade in familiar territory- giving you a greater chance of success. If you’re a great logician, go the programming route. If you’ve always been terrible at code, be an artist. Leverage your strengths. You need to focus on your area of specialization and experience. If you started out as a developer for the financial industry you are better off building a game revolving around numbers and business models. You will have an easier time developing and marketing it since you will already be familiar with the potential playerbase.

Secondly, keep things simple. This sounds cliché, but starting with too large of a scope is one of the most overlooked mistakes that you can find yourself entangled in. Developing a complex project with a rushed tutorial will result in a game with poor user experience and market success- if it even finishes. At every step, always remember that you are developing a product with the consumer in mind, and your job is to make it as simple as possible for players to enjoy your game.

Next, know when to give up. Now this sounds a little misleading. What I mean here is when you realize that a particular feature is consuming too much time and ultimately hurting your project, you can sidestep it. At the end of the day, game development is project management. Your resources in terms of time, skill, and money are not limitless. It is perfectly okay to put aside a potentially cool feature if it sabotages the greater goal of finishing up the product. Sacrificing ideas is something you will learn to do time and again. You can always re-implement the feature in later if you feel that it needs to be included and you have the time.

Finally, reach out. A good game might need some features that you are not particularly good at creating. The wisest move is to reach out to others who can help. Outsource or find someone who can do it well and give them the freedom to do it. There are a million and one skillsets within the game development industry- art, programming, design, writing, marketing, you name it. Focus on what you do best, and recruit talent for the rest. It doesn’t have to be one-man-show.

Important Takeaways: Focus on what you know — don’t go barking up the wrong tree or be a jack of all trades, yet master of none. Leverage your strengths. Keep things simple. Think it’s simple enough, go simpler. Know when to give up. Don’t get bogged down by details that might not matter in the long term. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.