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It Isn't Easy Being a New Indie Developer

I've wanted to be a part of developing games since I was about 13. Me and one of my best friends would always come up with game concepts in our free time, drawing covers for our games of insane ambition. As I got older, I started considering other careers, but it all came back to game development. I couldn't afford a great university (I was a ~3.6 GPA student with above average SAT scores, but I didn't do any extracurricular activities; dooming me from getting any scholarships), but my community college offered some game development courses and an associates degree and that teared it; I was going into game development.

Naturally, I have told several people about my ambitions to become an independent game developer. Unfortunately, the response is rarely positive. I've gotten confused looks and disgusted looks more frequently than I have people responding positively. I get confused looks because people don't understand how it works, even when I try to explain it. I get disgusted looks because people assume the stereotype that I'm just some loser that plays videogames 24/7 and only think I can make video games because I play them.

It's discouraging. I haven't completed my first project yet, so I can explain how the industry is so massive and lucrative, but no one can see how that can pertain to me.

I can't stomach the stereotyping. It has gotten so bad that I catch myself sometimes lying to people that I don't think will immediately understand. "I'm studying...computers [or software]" I'll say. Why am I so afraid to share that I'm working towards a career in the most lucrative entertainment industry in the world? I shouldn't be and I always regret it mere moments later. I just hate getting "that" look.

I received one of those disgusted looks from a co-worker. I have a miserable near-minimum wage job that fluctuates from being full time hours to part time. Trying to develop a game and work such an inconsistent job at the same time is rough.

Developing a game takes time. I work entirely alone on my project and that means creating art assets, programming, sound development, developing a marketing strategy...doing all of that and working on my job at the same time is torture. Most days I just want to come home and relax, but if I always did that, I would never finish my game and I would be stuck in that hellhole for the rest of my life.

I could try kickstarter or indiegogo, but I don't like the idea of owing people (even though it's clear from cancelled projects and Kickstarter's FAQ that legally, you owe no one anything for their kickstarter donations). I would use that funding to pay bills and then when the game's release came, I would need to pay for those persons' copies. But I just spent the money; how am I going to fulfill my obligations without waiting for a day that may never come when I sell enough OTHER copies to pay for it? The way I see it, I can't guarantee anything to anyone and I could ultimately end up back at square one. I don't feel comfortable putting others' and my own money at risk at the same time.

Between the time and the reactions from peers, sometimes it doesn't feel worth it. But I'm pushing forward and I'm going to finish that game. If it flops, I'm going to make another game and re-evaluate my marketing strategy and game design. It isn't easy, but come hell and high water, I'm going to do it.

NOTE: For anonymity's sake, I'm not going to share details about my game here. I appreciate that users have shown interest in the past in supporting me, but I feel that such a small time project could be derailed by petty persons that disagree with my views expressed on N4G, by means of initial negative reviews.

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coolbeans1527d ago

For what it's worth, I hope your game turns out to be something mind-blowing and brings you financial success. It's great to see you're still powering through even with the stigma of being a game designer can sometimes bring with it.

“No man ever achieved worth-while success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.” - Napoleon Hill

PopRocks3591527d ago (Edited 1527d ago )

I hope your game is successful. If it looks appealing, I'd pledge for it. Personal disagreements are irrelevant is far as I'm concerned, so long as your attitude is kept in check while addressing your crowdfunders.

Edit: As in don't have a meltdown like Phil Fish. All the respect for the guy, but he opened a lot of doors for criticism by being publicly outlandish at times.

SilentNegotiator1527d ago

When it comes to anything negative from reviews/twitter/etc, I won't even HAVE opinions. Everything I say in regards to the game will be in character of an overly appreciative indie developer.

Bad review? "Thanks for the chance to improve myself"
Negative comment? "I respectfully disagree"

I've studied how these indie folk work for some time. You need to be confident but not cocky, manipulative but not outright deceptive. A little controversy doesn't hurt, but only if you're established (and being my first game, I'm obviously not).

HonestDragon1527d ago

More power to you, dude. Hopefully your game will get it's time in the spotlight and then some. Just keep your chin up and you'll manage. Like PopRocks said, don't have a meltdown like Phil Fish. I will also add to not emulate his attitude toward peers and customers. That is what ultimately came back to kick him in the rear.

Bladesfist1527d ago

You're not alone. I am a hobbyist developer and I know there are several like me on this site and even some indie and professional devs. You seem to have the motivation down and that is worth more than anything. Good luck with your project.

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