GameDev Protips: My Personal Take On How To Overcome The Odds And Succeed

If you have an amazing game that you’d like to make or something you want to work towards, it’s easy to have grandiose visions of your eventual success. Such self-confidence is a highly important part of the entire process of discovering your passions — working towards your goals and eventually achieving success. But self-confidence in the absence of other supporting traits is not enough to get ahead. In addition to passion, confidence and a strong sense of self-awareness, you need to learn how to plan and execute your ideas.

There are many hardworking, highly driven people who are strongly passionate about their ideas. However, once they set off on their journey, a lack of proper execution means that good ideas suddenly become bad ones, or factors beyond anyone’s control could derail their plans. For example, you are an exceptional game designer and create a game that could easily be game of the year. However, this critically acclaimed game is a financial failure and receives almost no attention. You think to yourself “Why did this happen? Did I just get unlucky?”

Despite your lofty goals, you might not sell as many copies as you had hoped. You start recalling your development cycle and realize that you didn’t make room anywhere in that cycle to advertise your game, and because of this, nobody knew the game existed despite its excellence. You think even harder and realize that finding team members to help develop the game was also difficult for the same reason… you were completely unknown. Turning your ideas into reality can be compared to creating a game. You might have a flawless outline but if you can’t find team members and consumers, it’s basically meaningless. Proper execution can be the difference between a dream and a career, or a hobby and a business. Without proper execution, it is difficult to get things done in an orderly manner, much less recover from mistakes or keep your options flexible. Therefore, it is important that you learn how to get things done and to do them right.

Remember to start with the end in mind. Think about your vision and plans for your future. What do they entail? Are you thinking about what will happen far into the future? Are your plans sweeping and grand? If not, then they should be. You should think big because doing otherwise is selling yourself short. You need to have some confidence in yourself that you can make all your dreams come true. Even if things don’t exactly go your way, you can at least do part of something grand. If you limit the scope of your vision, even if you get everything you want, you might not get as much as someone who had wilder dreams but fell just a bit short. You might not develop the next classic game or build the next Steam but you could still make a comfortable living through game sales.

When working, think small. It is important to consider every little detail when you work. I’m not saying that every little detail is necessarily important, but rather just that everything has to be considered. If not, then unexpected difficulties could occur. Additionally, you should break your work into small, manageable chunks. This way, you will make progress towards your goals slowly and steadily. If you only have large tasks, then your situation will seem insurmountable and giving up becomes more and more tempting.

If you wish to get things done efficiently and effectively, try to concentrate on only one goal at a time. If you feel that this is impossible, just try to keep your efforts as focused as possible. Not dividing your efforts doesn’t mean simply focusing when you work but also developing a strong core for your skillset or business before branching out. For example, while Facebook and Google are large companies which do business in numerous fields, they each have a core competency; Facebook specializes in connecting people with one another, while Google specializes in searching for information. Without these core competencies, companies would not be able to branch out in the ways that they do. So instead of trying to dabble in numerous areas at once, try to develop a strong core skillset. Otherwise, you have a bit of skill in numerous areas without having enough ability to be professionally competitive in any one of them.

When presented with an opportunity to expand your skillsets, business, or your personal brand, it is important that you seize them. You never know when something else might come up. A good example of what not to do would be what happened to Kodak. Despite inventing digital photography, Kodak did not see any value in the new technology and refused to invest in it or change its business model to accommodate it. Thus, more forward thinking competitors such as Canon and Nikon were able to take advantage of the market later on, forcing Kodak into bankruptcy. Because they didn’t seize the opportunity to further develop their technologies and innovate, other, potentially more agile competitors did.

If it doesn’t look like there are many opportunities out there, then create them for yourself. Try out new ideas that have never been done before (when it comes to games, try fusing genres that other developers may have overlooked). Try to work with different people, or work on your own for a period of time. Help and teach others if you can. You will inevitably discover new chances and new opportunities, but this will only happen if you constantly push beyond the limitations set by your environment and circumstances. By creating opportunities for yourself at every step, you will able to grow and develop as a person as well as a game developer.

Others may declare your dreams to be nonsense or tell you to simply accept your place in life — I personally have experienced a lot of this. Do not allow your dreams to die. Only by going against the grain can you truly achieve your dreams. At points, you may feel lonely and isolated, knowing that it can be difficult to get people to support you, but remember that only by going against the grain and doing something that nobody has done before can you achieve greatness. Despite the fact that nobody is entitled to anything, it’s highly possible to achieve personal success, should you choose to work for it. If you work harder and smarter than everyone else, you can defy the odds and succeed when everyone else expects you to fail. Especially in the world of indie game development.

Important Takeaways: While you might have groundbreaking ideas, these ideas will not matter if they are not executed properly. This doesn’t mean that your ideas should be small, however; actually, the opposite is true. Having grand plans but falling short is often more satisfying than just having small plans. Consider every little detail in your work so that unexpected, undetectable problems don’t arise later in your work; this can greatly relieve the potential stress of having to troubleshoot or proofread every little piece of your work and realizing that there’s a critical error that can only be fixed by starting over. Always break your work up into smaller pieces so that you aren’t tempted to give up from the sheer weight of a huge task. Focus on a core competency, not because you shouldn’t expand but rather so that you have the opportunity to expand in the future.

Always seize the aforementioned opportunities to expand whenever possible or you risk being outpaced by competition. If these aren’t available to you, then create them for yourself. Push beyond your limitations and you might just find something perfect for you that allows you to grow and develop. Don’t let others push your dreams around because you are capable of independent thought and know what is best for yourself. You can obtain anything that you wish, should you choose to work for it. If you’re working harder and smarter than everyone else, you’ll have a much greater chance to succeed even if everyone else expects you to fail.