Some Reflections on Indie Game Development

For my first post I thought I’d start by talking about indie game dev in general and the long and sometimes tortured path I’ve taken to get to the point I’m at. I think it might be cathartic. This little segment of the industry has been like a siren’s call for me since I was a teenager in the 80s, but it is also a bit of a cruel mistress. I think to succeed in this it really has to be a labor of love. Partly because of the massive time investment required to make a game, and partly because not all of your efforts will succeed and you need to be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and dive back in again. And again…  and again…

I have in some cases spent 1 to 2 years on an indie project, only to decide it wasn’t living up to my original vision for the game, or has failed in some other way, and shelved it. The amount of work I’ve put into some of these is a bit soul crushing to think about. And yet, I continue. I think anyone who has spent any serious amount of time doing indie game dev will know what I’m talking about. And has probably been through similar things.

Of course there has been some success along the way. Otherwise I’d be insane to still be at it. I might be insane anyway.

There’s something that keeps drawing me back to it, despite the fact that I’ve worked in the games industry professionally for a long time. There’s something about coming up with your own concept, something you really love, and turning it into a reality where there was nothing like it before. Something completely new!

Chris, my partner and long time friend, has the same obsession I do. Which is why we have teamed up so many times. Our thinking in the early days was to get into the casual games market (since it seemed easier to get into), and then once we’d built up some success, we’d start on what we really wanted to do (games for serious gamers like ourselves). The problem is that success in one market doesn’t necessarily put you in a much better position to succeed in another market. My advice to other indie game developers out there is to start in the market you want to be working in, and focus your efforts there. Focus on what you’re passionate about. It’s really the whole point of indie game dev anyway.

So, here we are, a year and some change into our biggest and most ambitious project yet. The game we’ve been talking about making for years. And we feel like everything we’ve done up till now has helped this game to be better than we even expected it to be in the early planning stages.

All the lessons learned, from choosing the right market, the right genre, the right engine tech (Unity!), and so many other things are coming together. And the end result is a game that feels solid and fun every time we sit down to play it. And that is no small thing!

So, as we approach Alpha, and our first public trailer, I’m a bit tired, but still very excited to get this game done, and to make it the best, coolest, and funnest dungeon crawler. I feel like that goal is very much within our grasp now.

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