Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 24, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 24, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Happy 1st year of Indie/Freelancing life.
by Daniel Marcoux on 02/11/13 09:07:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.



Will I last another year as an Indie/Freelance dude?On February 8th a year ago I was getting fired from my last job for “Financial” reasons.  Happy 1 year of Indie/Freelancing life for me!! :)

If you’re in the corporate world you’re used to yearly evaluation, at least I was. Now having no boss to report to aside from my wife, I thought it would be a good idea to have a quick look back at 2012, see what I did and what I learned during that first year as Freelance Game designer /Indie developer.

What I did.
Looking back at it I did a bunch…some would even say I was involved in too many things this year. I guess I could have done less and focus more on certain things, but quite frankly I think most thing I was involved in needed to be worked on. Here’s the list.

  • Freelance contracts: Got to pay the bills
  • Taking care of the family: This is priority for me. What’s the use of successful if you have no love in your life?
  • Taking care of the house: Somehow working from home equal doing more cleaning up. You take the Bad with the Good :P
  • Taking a business class: Not sure at this point if that one was necessary…the future will tell. Good thing its finished.
  • Shape Invaders development: My pride and Joy, and after 1.5 years invested in it I want to finish this game.
  • Tiebreaker Studio community management: I’m not the best at it but, PR has to be started way before the game launched in our case we’re ok. :p
  • Other personal project development: It’s a personal project I feel can help me bring some money in later. This one had to be worked on. More on that later.
  • Training: At 41, I’m not getting any younger. I have to stay in shape to be able to keep up at that speed. It also helped me get my mind of the job.
  • Having a social life: Seeing “real” people and having none Skype discussion is good.
  • Give Game design class: That one came up late in the year. At this point it takes me a lot more time that expect to prepare all the class material. But I’m investing in the future as next year will be easier once all the class material is done.

Looking at the list only the business class and the game design class is kinda not necessary. Sure I could have stopped training, having a social life, or taking care of the family and house, but I strongly believe that doing these things kept me happy and in good health, which is the most important thing to me. Doing all this, I learned/Realized/Re-learned a couple of new things.

What I learned 

Have not drawn in's good to be doing it again.
  • Charging a lower fee, to get a new client is ok, but at some point you have to charge what you think your worth. So try to charge as close to that amount as soon as possible.
  • Help people as much as you can. Someday they will help you back.
  • You can’t expect everyone to share your dream/plan. You have to accept that and move on.
  • Having an awesome wife that believes in you is invaluable.
  • I have great In-laws! Thanks Jacques and Denise for all the food.
  • It’s surprising how going somewhere to work is expensive. If you count gas, the time you go out for lunch, the snacks you buy it adds up to lot and helps balance the budget.
  • Construct 2Unity and ASE sprites are awesome software.
  • I still got some drawing skills.
  • Completing a game part-time takes a loooong time.
  • Doing PR is not that easy.
  • Making a business plan takes a long time…
  • …but nothing sells more than the actual product.
  • Preparing class materials also takes a long time.
  • Sometime helps come from unexpected person.
  • Site blocking plugins like StayFocusd are life saver.
  • Writing Blog takes time. (How can people work and Blog at the same time?)

That’s how 2012 went.
The plan for the 2013 stays the same, complete Shape Invaders, launch this new product, continue Freelancing and giving class. Hopefully all this will allow me to generate enough money to stay independent. Otherwise, I’ll have to go get a job…It could be worse, but I’d like to keep it that way. :P

Thanks everyone for the help and the support.

Related Jobs

Magic Leap, Inc.
Magic Leap, Inc. — Wellington, New Zealand

Level Designer
DeNA Studios Canada
DeNA Studios Canada — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Analytical Game Designer
University of Texas at Dallas
University of Texas at Dallas — Richardson, Texas, United States

Assistant/Associate Prof of Game Studies
Avalanche Studios
Avalanche Studios — New York, New York, United States

UI Artist/Designer


Steve Fulton
profile image
My experience has been almost identical. Freelance, teaching, writing, family: it all needs to be balanced. I'm still not there yet.

Brian Bartram
profile image
Thanks for the article, I love to read about personal experiences.

Can you give more details about your freelancing contracts? Was this freelance game design, or game art, or something else? Who was it for (what type of business)? Also, curious how you connected with a teaching position. If you can provide details that is, totally understand if you're being intentionally sparse on the specifics.

Daniel Marcoux
profile image
My pleasure Brian

Most of my contracts were game design contract, that were sent to me by friends I met when I worked in the industry. I can never thank them enough. Most of companies I worked for were/are start-up game companies. From my experience most of the time big company have their own staff and don't hire Freelancer. For the teaching position, again I got it through a friend of mine that teach at the said college.

When they say business is all about the people you know, they were not kidding :)

Jonathan Jennings
profile image
Hi Daniel I hope this isn't a terrible question to ask , but a good friend of mine is a tester, graduated with a degree in game programming and has developed a few titles as a student. However he became a tester and wants something more . I have been trying my best to work on projects on the side with him so that we can boost his portfolio and get him a design position in the industry even as an intern if necessary but it's been hard for him to break in ( and I hear design is the hardest of all the fields to break in only equal to art in difficulty) .

anyhow my question is do you have any advice I can pass over to my friend? from an experienced and more established designer to someone simply trying to break into the industry? any avenues that he should attempt to research?

again I apologize it's just I think this friend can be a valuable designer( and that's not something i can say about many people at all) and if I can gain any advice or help to pass his way I would love to. Thanks so much!

Jorge Garcia Celorio
profile image
Daniel! I really want to thank you for this blog post. It is incredibly inspiring! I've also decided since last October to become an Indie Developer. It has HUGE advantages in terms of life quality, and happiness. Sure, you still have to pay the bills, and your income arrives at a slower rate. However, dedicating one year of your life, regardless of how you define success, to the art of developing games is already a groundbreaking endeavor in one's life. I salute your courage and wearmfelt message! Your words have encouraged me to keep doing what I love the most.

Daniel Marcoux
profile image
Thanks Jorge :)
Don't give up.

Daniel Marcoux
profile image
Hi Jonathan,

The best advice I can give your friend is not give up. If he is already working as QA in a game company he's got one step done. Usually QA is a good entry point to become a game designer since both job are closely related. He must let the management knows he is interested in a Design job and he has to demonstrate he can do it. The best way to do that is to come up with good solutions to design problem he finds while in QA. He can write a design doc for a game and build that game. It does not need to be Big, it just need to be fun. If all fails he can also take Game design class.

Hope this help. :)

Jonathan Jennings
profile image
Thanks so much Daniel Again sorry to go off-topic in your post but I will definitely pass on this info to my friend, thanks again !!!!