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Some thoughts about indie dev
by David Amador on 02/23/12 06:10:00 pm   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.


1 - You either are, or you aren't.

People can go and , "I'm an aspiring indie game developer". You are either doing games or not, period. If you are starting in development with your own money then you are one. People tend to think they are indie developers when money starts rolling in, well think again, cause money may never come.

2 - It's a jungle out there

There's not a safe path on becoming a successful indie developer. It's not like following another's path will get you there. That's why giving advices is just that, it might work or not.

3 - There's a minefield being left behind 

We see it everywhere, indie bundles, pay what you want, fremium games, games at $1, the ones who made money with those models are leaving behind a bad legacy and an audience that doesn't want to pay much.

4 - Finish you stuff

You should actually be working instead of reading this.

5 - You need to learn the rules

  ... to know when they must be broken

6 - You need to break the rules

... to know why they matter.

7 - Playing games does NOT make you a developer

Yet many think it's all it takes, I'm good at playing thus I must be good at making them. You should however play critically, that is the key.

8 - Working alone

..can be like rowing a boat with just one paddle.

9 - Working with a team

...can be like two people on a bike, one steering and another one pedaling.

10 - Overnight success

Out of nothing this indie developer! Overnight success! Million-dollar! And you think, "I can do that". Yeah, except, those who are “overnight successes,” rarely appear out of nowhere. Minecraft? That dude's been working in games for years. Super Meat Boy? I bet Edmund made over 30 games till now. They just stayed in obscurity for years. Work matters.

11 - Learn to fall

This one's hard especially if you think your game is great and the first comment is "This is s***". Learn from mistakes and do it again, but better.

12 - Making games is hard work

...and you will shoot fire from your eyes to whoever says otherwise.

13 - People who tell you to keep trying

...are mostly lying, they think you're lazy and can't get a real job.

14 - Your parents will keep the hope

...that you get your act together and apply for IBM or Microsoft, cause that's where the money is.

15 - You will think twice

...when someone asks you what you do for a living. It would be the first thing said if you were a Doctor.  

This is a repost from my personal blog at You can follow me via twitter if you want @DJ_Link

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Adam P
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Ahhh number four :) good advice.... Must stay away from the RSS Reader...

Jonathan Jennings
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I don't understand number 15 maybe because I am young but I have heard people who get offended that others don't take game dev jobs serious and yet I personally feel like I do and would gladly share my decision to be a game programmer/ game developer. I didn't choose this profession because it seemed like the popularly cool job and if someone looks down on my job then who needs them ? unfortunately sure our jobs aren't critical to society like doctors or other professions but I know plenty of game developers who began going in a " serious job" direction and ultimately decided that it wasn't right for them . Sorry I just get a little annoyed that so many seem to care about the perception of their profession .why do we care as mature adults how we earn our income if it doesn't harm anybody else and if it is an in-demand profession ?

Michael O'Hair
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Games these days require a certain level of polish to be appreciated. As do all things.

Spellcheck is a must.

Addendum: Spell check has informed me that the word "spellcheck" is not spelled correctly. Accursed red underline... must you foil all of my plans?

Additionally, on #12; experience counts, and everything gets easier with practice. A 14-year-old may struggle in making a Tetris clone in which things work perfectly, but an experienced coder in his late 20s who built his first Q-Bert clone at the age of 11 and has been coding more advanced games since then can build the same program with less frustration and in less time. The difficulty level is really tied to the ambitions of the developer, and frustration occurs when that ambition become greater than the developer's current ability.


12 - Making games is easy

... if you never challenge yourself.

David Amador
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:) I agree

Evan Combs
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If you never challenge yourself, your never learn. I started to learn how to program games (well and program in general) about 7 or 8 months ago. I dabbled a little before, but I was always too busy to really dive in head first. You know if I decided to go the normal route of pong, then blockbreaker, etc. I wouldn't know half the stuff I know now. Yeah it is hard, and can be very frustrating, but if you are serious about what you do the sooner you challenge yourself the better.

Maurício Gomes
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Totally awesome :)