Starting as an indie? Tips and advice

Robert Madsen discusses the good the bad and the ugly when looking to start out as an Indie developer.

Part 1

Welcome to part one of a new series on starting an indie game studio. I get a lot of questions about what it takes to start a game studio. I also hear a lot of people, espeically students, expressing a desire to go it on their own. I'll try to be fair but realistic, and share my own journey along the way.

My Journey

I have been programming all of my life. I started when I was 18 in 1980. Yep! Dark ages stuff. Around the turn of the century (that's old folk talk for "Man I've been alive for a long time!") I decided that I wanted to change things up. Game programming was something I had always wanted to do but didn't have a chance to pursue. So, I started learning more and more about the specifics of game programming and in 2008 got my first job at a game studio as a game programmer. I worked for MumboJumbo in Dallas, TX for about a year, then Other Ocean Interactive in Prince Edward Island, PEI for another year.

After Other Ocean, I decided that I wanted to start my own studio. There were several reasons that this made sense:

I had a family and I didn't want to have to move all around the country to be able to work.
My family lived in Colorado which consists entirely of small, indie studios
I was tired of working for a year and being laid off!
So, what gave me the audacity to think that, after only two years in the indusry, I could succeed at founding my own game studio?


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  • dimsdaledimsdale Member Posts: 385
    edited November 2014

    its pretty tough out there. i've been in the games industry for 15yrs and our game did nothing. but follow your heart, there is a lot of luck to make it anywhere these days even if you have something good.

  • jsorr2jsorr2 Member Posts: 279

    Personally I think its about 3 things.
    Hype, graphics and Competitiveness.
    1. Somehow fake hype for your game to get the downloads ("fake it till you make it") until it reaches higher in the charts. There are ALWAYS people looking at games that have come out recently and have no downloads. Make your game look like it's going to be something huge. Do something like Have a countdown on a website till it's launched. Say beta testing is limited to 1000 people, and theres now only 20 spots left. Make people crave to play the game. (i'm assuming it's not a 10 second game that you play once and never play again)
    2. Having good graphics. The Icon of your game determines the outcome of your game in the beginning. If it looks like ass and has your logo covering up half the game, no one's even going to click it. The pictures you choose in the preview are so important as well. It really comes down to the icon and preview pictures, and the hype you make up in your description.
    3. Competitiveness in your game is a must. Why do you think people play games on their iphone when they have a computer? Because they want to spend as much time on the game and get ahead of everyone else. Why was flappy bird popular? because you wanted to beat your friends score. Impossible to beat game (2048) and your friend beats it? You play the game till you get tile 2048 and gloat to your other friends. And lets not forget clash of clans. It has hype, graphics and its solely based around competitiveness.

    That's my 2 cents. I'm going to apply these 3 things to my game, and if i'm successful I guess you'll hear about it.

  • BigDaveBigDave Member Posts: 2,239

    start off with money for a year.

    Expect to make no money, hope and aim for the best.

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