Indie game development is a difficult task. You have to work alone or with 2 or 3 designers and developers. You have to find the idea, design the game, draw the art, create animations, code, and market it. Here are 10 tips for those who want to make their own game and do not know where to start.
- 1 Start by learning the hardware
- 2 Emphasize the plot and idea
- 3 Feel Free to Ask Others for Help
- 4 Invest time in learning
- 5 Maintain technical documentation
- 6 Test your product
- 7 Get your game to release
- 8 Don’t try too hard to meet the standards of the top tier
- 9 Present the game beautifully
- 10 Use crowdfunding
Start by learning the hardware
It is impossible to create your own game without knowing the basics of programming, principles of building game locations, mechanisms of interaction with the player, and so on.
The first step is to delve deeper into game development theory. Specialized books will help with this:
- “Game design. How to make a game that everyone will play,” Jesse Schell.
- “Blood, sweat, and pixels. The Downside of the Video Game Industry, Jason Schreyer.
- “The reality is in question. Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, McGonigal Jane.
The threshold for entering the gaming industry is much lower today than it was a few years ago. This is greatly facilitated by game engines that do most of the work for the developer.
For example, the most popular of these is Unity. You can use this engine for free and develop 2D and 3D games based on it for various platforms (smartphones, tablets, browsers, etc.).
The second most popular game engine is Unreal Engine, developed by Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite.
The third most popular game engine is CryEngine. It is distributed free of charge, provided that your game’s income does not exceed $3,000.
Emphasize the plot and idea
Due to technical constraints, lack of experience, and lack of funding, the developer’s initial idea rarely survives until the final release.
Be prepared for the fact that you will have to give up complex mechanics, ultra-realistic graphics, and other features of AAA projects ( high-budget games from leading studios).
You must concentrate on the game’s idea and exciting presentation, which is what fans of indie games especially appreciate. Everything else can be finalized later. Your product needs to hook the consumer.
For example, take a look at Don’t Starve, which is another survival game, but simultaneously attracts players with a distinctive atmosphere and a well-thought-out game world, or the Proteus walking simulator, which draws the player into the thick of story events right from the start.
But don’t overdo it: don’t release an utterly raw game with a bunch of bugs, don’t turn players into beta testers. Or arrange formal closed or public testing. For example, on the Steam platform, there is a concept called Early Access.
Feel Free to Ask Others for Help
No matter how you would like to implement everything yourself, keep in mind that it is challenging to be a designer, a programmer, a sound engineer, and a scriptwriter all rolled into one. At best, it will take years to develop the project; at worst – it will not see the light of day.
It is better to delegate tasks that someone knows better than you. You can find like-minded people to work together on thematic forums (Indie Gamer, itch.io) or social networks (Indie Game Developers).
Invest time in learning
Take time to educate yourself regularly. You can spend it on learning about the gaming industry, new technical skills, tools & programs. There are enough materials and training courses available to do this. There are hundreds of game design colleges in the US. You can choose anyone. If you can’t afford to take admission to a school for game design there are a lot of courses available online. Below is a list of online academies and resources for game design and development.
- Game Engine Architecture, Jason Gregory;
- Game Development and Entertainment Theory by Raf Koster;
- “Game Programming Patterns” by Robert Niström.
Maintain technical documentation
If you think that an indie game is not a serious enough product to start the paperwork, then you are wrong. At a minimum, you should draw up a development plan, which will spell out all aspects of the project and its implementation stages.
Keep reports on the work done and record changes in the project – this will help you not get lost in the massive flow of information and tasks you face.
The documentation should reflect the following aspects:
- the general concept of the game;
- the genre of the project;
- for which platform the game will be developed;
- description of the design concept;
- RoadMap of the project ( game development plan and timing of its implementation etc.)
Test your product
The biggest problem in evaluating any product, including a game, is the subjectivity of the author’s opinion. If it seems that your project will be of interest to the players, this does not mean that it will be so. Therefore, it is vital to get feedback from the direct consumer (which we have already mentioned briefly in tip # 3).
Better to test your concept before you even start developing. Discuss the idea of a game with your friends or on specialized gaming forums. They can push you to something new and help you understand how viable your idea is.
Steam has a large community of players where you can discuss your idea with players. There are a large number of specialized forums and groups on social networks – we mentioned them above.
Get your game to release
Perfectionism is one of the toughest barriers to getting a game out. Some developers may spend years rendering textures for game elements, replacing game models with new ones, but never make it to the final stage.
In the process of creating your indie project, your main task is to release the product. Without this, the efficiency of all your work will be zero.
The list of expected games that never came out is impressive. Here you can find games from famous studios and little-known projects:
Don’t try too hard to meet the standards of the top tier
Many indie developers strive to meet the standards that are set in the gaming industry by cutting edge projects. This approach is initially wrong. AAA games are a product that is developed by a whole team of specialists and has a budget of millions of dollars.
For example, the development of Grand Theft Auto IV took $110 million, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 took over $270 million. And this is far from the limit.
A much more rational approach, in this case, is to create your own unique, albeit more straightforward style. For example, Minecraft is one of the most popular indie games developed by one person. It cannot boast of realistic graphics or incredible physics. Its main feature is the idea and uniqueness.
Present the game beautifully
Players come into the game because of the attractive graphics and stay in it because of the interactive gameplay. Therefore, for your project to be noticed among a wide variety of others, you must carefully work out how you present it to the audience: a trailer, screenshots for communities, an advertising campaign, viral promotion in social networks, and so on.
Be prepared for the fact that you will have to spend your own time, money, and effort on a project that may not bring income.
If you understand how much money you are lacking, and based on the previous nine tips, you can captivate future fans of your game, go to the crowdfunding platforms (funding development by the community): Kickstarter. IndieGoGo and others.
The gaming community is ready to support exciting projects. Confirmation of this is the game Pillars of Eternity, which managed to raise more than $ 3.5 million, Broken Age, which raised over $ 3.3 million, as well as This Is the Police from Weappy, which raised 35 thousand dollars at the end of the crowdfunding campaign – for 10 thousand more than requested.