GameCareerGuide Feature: Truly Independent Game Development
"What is a truly independent developer?" asks Grace. "One person designing and building a game."
"What I call the 'independent independent' development approach is, at least, a design and development approach for affecting the creative production of games. If paper prototyping can help shape a design, independent independent development offers a few advantages in the innovative development of new games."
Grace talks about audience desire to equate work with people -- i.e. American McGee's Alice. Says Grace, "Just as cities are sometimes named after their founders, there is something intrinsically attractive in the idea of a product developed under the direction of a single person, even if we know Madden NFL never required the football coach to debug a troublesome null pointer. We like the idea of ones, even if we secretly know that nothing is ever done truly independently."
While acknowledging that Jonathan Blow's Braid would not have been Braid without the art contribution of David Hellman, Grace encourages developers to be as self-reliant as they can be.
"Despite your own feelings about the advantages of truly independent development, it is in itself, clearly educational. Every time you go exploring you learn something. If your goal is education, nothing beats the breadth of education afforded by developing all the aspects of your game.
"A single developer certainly must trade depth of knowledge for breadth of knowledge, but if you are training to manage deep knowledge specialists or working toward the liberal arts education of game making, solo development is an exceptional trainer. Talk to the people who sail the open seas in a one person boat or go orienteering in the wilderness by themselves. They rarely say, 'I don't know how to use a compass. We have someone do that that for us.'"
To find out more, you can read the entire article, Truly Independent Game Development: A Case For Making Games By Yourself, which is live on Gamasutra's education-focused sister site GameCareerGuide.com.