Game Making: Common Indie Dev Woes and How Best to Avoid Them!

“This is going to be easy!”

Pretty much anyone can become an Indie games developer, but the title is to be worked for, a lot of dedication and time is needed. It is easy (and good) to get excited about a project, but it is important to keep focussed and get things done accordingly. 

Kickstarter perhaps feeds studios with excitement, which is great, but I also think it encourages complacency. You see a game that has doubled it’s pledge request and is set to be a hit, it’s easy to think “I could do that!” and maybe you could, but not without putting blood, sweat and tears into your game and the Kickstarter Campaign.

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As well as admiring the success of other games, you should also take inspiration from the solid work that the developers put into it. Aspire to be like them, but don’t underestimate the task at hand.

“Lets make a massive game with dinosaurs and spaceships!”

It will be a super exciting time for your team when it comes to making a new game. Before you scream in ecstasy and dive into your dream project, it would be wise to evaluate the capabilities of your team as a whole. You need to make sure that you have the time, resources and skills to fully produce and market the game before you commit to it. 

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There is nothing shameful about producing a game that isn’t quite as “far out” as you desired, if you are taking being an Indie developer seriously you should create games that act as stepping stones towards the “final product”. Through working on smaller projects you will gain valuable experience and will learn many lessons. You want to approach your game as an Indie developer powerhouse, not an over-excited newbie.

Don’t go to the final boss battle without completing the levels before it!

“We can make it up as we go along!”

Okay, to an extent this is true. As you push forward in the development of your game, no doubt new ideas will sprout up to fill in some previously unseen cracks BUT, don’t run away with that thought.

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Organisation is essential. Plans need to be put in place, not only for the sake of your game, but for your teams performance and creativity. If you aren’t really sure what you are supposed to be doing and for when, you won’t be capable of producing your best work. It puts an unnecessary strain on the team as a whole, after all, you want the game making experience to be enjoyable right? That won’t be easy if you are worried and stressed because everything is disorganised and sporadic.

Think of it as if you were putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It’d be far more efficient if you visually laid out the pieces, instead of picking up one piece at a time and scrambling for the one that connects to it.

Don’t be a Leroy Jenkins, even if you do indeed, have chicken.

The Conclusion

The problems I have highlighted are probably the most obvious ones, but they wouldn’t be in this article at all if they weren’t still occurring. Getting things right the first time is a rare gift, perhaps only possessed by those in life who have insufferable luck, but it is possible to avoid little mistakes that can have a big impact.

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Screwing up is a part of the learning and the adventure you will go on as an Indie Developer. There will be good times, bad times, wine times and sleep-deprivation times, but what you need to remember is that if you apply yourself fully to something, the effort will pay off.

I haven’t written this article to make digs at Indie studios, quite the opposite. The problems seem simple, but they are still happening. When I noticed these problems occurring I desperately wanted to reach in and offer my advice, so I am putting out my thoughts as a journalist and as someone who genuinely wants new studios to do well!