Monday, April 26, 2010

My five top reasons to be Indie

Image from Mobygames

I know I should stop brainstorming and run into production, but I feel the need to share those deep motivations that pushed me on the way of game creation. If that’s invigorating to me, maybe that’s invigorating to you…

1- You love games, and you want to create that cool game in your way. It's still very nice when you are your first customer, and this is a great chance to be involved in something you love, especially when you are the boss, when you move the ship in the direction you choose, when you drive.

2- The Rise of the download era and online payment.
Whether your game is for the casual market or for the gamer market, there are number 1 download service operators doing a giant business:
- If you make casual games, you can't go without Bigfish. Luckily, it's not hard to be on Bigfish. The business model is very robust, and if you bring enough value your game can generate a comfortable income. The competition on this market is very tough, but who knows...
- If you make games for gamers, being on Steam is a priority, but you will need good reviews of your game, or they won't even answer to your emails. There is less competition on this market, so if your game is really fun and attractive you can still make business on your own.

3- Some crazy dudes shown us the way.
More accurately: Jonathan Blow, Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel shown us the way. Ok, I won't go playing soccer even if Beckham shown me the way. The question is: can I play soccer as good as Beckham? Answer: Not even in my dreams. Can I create something as good as what Jonathan Blow did? Answer: Well I hope, but maybe I'm dreaming, and I will never know if I don't give it a try!
Anyway, even if they are now joining in a kind of superhero league against the villain publishers, these guys are not superheroes. They have very good ideas, they have the skills to realize them with solid computer science background. That's a huge work, and I hope that's within my reach.

4- There are some proven solutions to online marketing
This is the logic sequel from point #3: the crazy dudes didn’t have any marketing forces, but that’s not a reason to think they didn’t have a solid marketing strategy. Not only it would to be a big mistake to think so, but it would also be insulting for their brains. I can’t imagine they were that lucky. Of course luck is still a factor. They made a great game with solid and fun gameplay mechanics, all with beautiful content. They added value to the gaming panorama, definitely, but that’s not all: they knew how to tell the world about it.
Even if that’s the most interesting point here, I won’t develop it for the moment. In a next post, I will explain my views about the best "indie path" from the game prototype to its release and after. Whatever your strategy is, it should all start with the same creed: Blog early, at the very beginning of your project. That's just what I'm doing with this blog, just like every other indie game developer around. Blogging has become mandatory to get exposure. Of course, that's also a place to share views, tech advices, etc. But first of all, this is the main window between your geek-room and the rest of the world.
A side note: burry this stupid idea that ideas can be stolen, ideas are not important, while turning ideas into realworld games are.

5- if, like me, you decide to target the hardcore gamers, your potential audience may be lower but the current PC gamers is under-served (see the reasons in my previous post), so any new game in this genre will attract all those starving gamers. At least, it will attract me… That’s my “Build it and they will come” reason.

Last but not least, I forgot the obvious (number 0) reason to jump into game creation is the community of indie game developers. This is not specific to game development since any given community is usually very active on Internet (fishing, bowling, plane modeling...), but that's a good reason anyway. People around love to share their experience and skills, and this is a huge value for every newcomer!

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