[The rise of the independent gaming movement is a vital one, and in this in-depth article, game development veteran Marsh showcases nine methods that indies are using to develop games with fewer resources.]
I am a game developer. I have shipped multiple titles across the PC, console, and mobile platforms. After six years of working in the industry I began questioning my desire to continue developing games, and left the industry to try my luck with other endeavors. After leaving, I re-discovered my passion for creating games through the burgeoning independent games community.
My introduction to game development started with a level editor that came bundled with a copy of Quake. From the moment I got my first level to compile and was running around in something I had created, my desire to learn how to develop games was set in stone.
The power to create these interactive worlds, limited only by what I could imagine and my technical ability was exhilarating.
Eventually, I contributed to a few mods that later ended up being commercially developed, and which acted as the key for my entry into the world of commercial games.
More than a few defunct game studios later, it had sunk in that commercial game development requires a wide multitude of forces and considerations to be taken into account over the actual development of the game (and many times at the expense of it).
The more I came to understand this, the further I felt I was drifting from the roots of what had excited me initially about game development. I wondered if there was any place left to create games in the same spirit of the mods that I had started with. It was through this question that I discovered the growing movement of independent games.
What are the practical differences between commercial and independent developers? When a commercial company starts a new project, more often than not it is asking: "Who will give us the resources we need to make payroll?"
If the studio is
fortunate enough to have some kind of existing leverage, it can ask
"who will give us the resources we need to make the game we want?"
When an independent developer starts a new project, they usually ask: "How do I make the game I want with the resources readily available?" That is, if they even spend the time to think about the resources they are going to need ahead of time at all.
Some less experienced with the process of development will forge blindly ahead without giving this much thought at all. But the most successful independent developers work around the set of resources available, without treating it as an obstacle to be overcome -- but rather, a box to operate within.