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December 5, 2020
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Indie Game Dev Advice and Inspiration

by Adam Thompson on 08/18/14 10:23:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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This blog was originally posted on my studio website, which you can read here.

Having recently turned indie, one might think deciding what to do would be easy: make what you've always wanted to! (Now you have the chance!)

Is anything that simple, though? Or is it through adulthood we develop this defeatist mentality masquerading as realism and prudence?

I've developed my vision for the studio, and I've brainstormed some likely candidates for what it is I should be doingNow comes the big question: what will I choose to work on?

One might consider all of these superfluous exercises as procrastination, and perhaps you'd be right.

This article by Adriel Wallick: Make Many Games, Learn Many Things, documents her journey into the indie abyss. She details her troubles when starting out, and how she essentially hit a sort of "game developer's block".

“It’s hard to think outside of the box once you no longer have the box.”

Could the same have happened to me?

Looking at Adriel and others, I wanted to collect bits of game dev advice and inspiration that might apply to my situation, and to others in a similar boat.


Game a week / Adriel Wallick

Going off the article I linked above, and mimicking what Adriel has done, I could attempt to work on a game a week. Starting Monday, and ending on Sunday night, I would embark on the creation of a new concept, and have it deliverable in some form.  This way, I have a tangible goal to work towards each week, and allow myself the opportunity to explore multiple concepts that might intrigue me.

Adriel's story is an interesting one. You can find all of her great work, each with a small postmortem, on her website here.


Do it for the love, forget about money / Edmund McMillenn

I found this wonderful interview of Ed McMillenn (designer of Super Meat Boy & The Binding of Isaac) quite inspirational, even touching. Around the 30 minute mark and onwards, what Ed says really feels like heartfelt, tangible advice. He later goes on, and iterates multiple times, that your earlier games will suck, and how you're going to have to refine your abilities by making game after game.

You'll eventually see success through persistence, and you'll only ever persist long enough to see success if you love what you're doing.

Don't set out to make money - instead, focus on learning, and getting better, and doing what you really want to. 

I paraphrase, but those are some memorable bits of advice he passes on in the interview.

Since I see myself doing this in the long run, I've taken extra measures in starting my personal studio, beginning with this website and ending with a social media account for almost every single social network out there. I'm glad I'm taking a more strategic approach to game development. After all, I have faith in my abilities, the further development of my abilities, and to my commitment. This advice, though, is so heartwarming, it makes me just want to stop over thinking everything and just do what I truly want to at my own pace. It might take a while, but I feel like as long as I chase what my heart truly wants, I'll finally get somewhere and make something truly worthwhile.


Finishing a Game / Derek Yu

I've cited Derek (creator of Spelunky) several times on this blog already, particularly of his two blog posts: Finishing a Game, and Making it in Indie Games: Starter Guide.

These posts are fantastic reads. From his first post, I've already taken steps to figure out what projects I should most likely be doing. Some great advice he offers:

Don't skimp on art.

Build yourself a working environment that's healthy for you.

Create your own luck: Put yourself out there, make things, and actively engage with people, forums, and communities. 

You are your game - understand and develop yourself.

Great advice from a great developer.


Gunpoint / Tom Francis

I'm using Tom Francis (and his first game, Gunpoint), as this entire point. He has a great blog and some great video diaries worth checking out.

Two notable posts he's made are: What makes Games Good, and his company manifesto, the latter of which is something similar to what I tried to establish in the My Vision post (though perhaps a rewrite for clarity's sake is in order).

Tom is interesting because he created Gunpoint in his spare time over the span of about 3 years while working full-time as a journalist. When first going indie, I gave consideration to what kind of freelance or part time work I could be doing, and immediately thought of journalism. Perhaps as the content on this blog increases, and I accumulate more written (and video) work, I'll give it a decent shot. In the meantime, I'm actually working as a Unity tutor at AUT University, and so far it is an enjoyable and sustainable part time job.

It might take a while, but making your dream game in your spare time could certainly work, and Tom has demonstrated that with the charming success of his labour of love. Well done, Tom!



If I find more nuggets of advice or inspiration, I'll come back and add it here! I would love to hear from you, though. Are you in a similar boat? What did your first year or two look like as an indie? What advice do you have to share (from yourself, or from the web)?

As said by a great dev;

No more standing on the sidelines, friend: YOU ARE A GAME DEVELOPER.

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