The ultimate question: Will you be successful? I don’t know. Your success depends on if you are looking for financial success or just knowledge and completion success. I’m sure most of you are looking for financial success.
There is No 100% Confirmed Way to Be Successful in Game Development
There is no 100% confirmed way or method to indie video game success. What worked for one game, may not work for you. Maybe you can’t speak on a podcast due to stage freight. Who knows. All you can do is try your best and stay dedicated. Make sure to respond to your fans and keep people informed about what you are doing.
Launch a crowdfund campaign like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to help you finance your project. Get to know people, and maybe you will be introduced to the editor of Kotaku, become best friends and always get featured with your games. Who knows who will meet by leaving your house/apartment/basement dungeon.
Get lucky. It happens. There’s no rhyme or reason. Take Flappy Bird. That guy freaked out so much over how lucky he got, that he removed the game from the Play store. Some people can’t handle their luck, I guess. Either way, don’t be sad if you’re not a lucky one. I’m not either.
I don’t advise this one, but maybe it’s your cup of tea. Do something crazy and record and post it on YouTube. Go viral. Make money from the viral video to support your game development and you’re instantly moderately famous.
You won’t know what will work for you and your game unless you try. So, go on and try.
Just Do It
Don’t wait for something to happen, because it won’t. You make it happen. Jump right it, get to work and just do it. Don’t let fear hold you back because you think you’re not good enough. With everything that’s available for you to use to make a game and publish it, there is bound to be something available for you at your skill level.
And let’s face it, to get started and publish your first game, whether it’s successful or not, won’t cost you more than $500, and that’s on the high side if you need to buy license or software.
And remember, indie for love of making games, not the money. Indie developers on average make about $15,000 per year. That is horrible money. Some do well and make significantly more than that, and other make nothing. Maybe you want to start out indie to build a portfolio so you can work for someone else, or maybe you worked for someone else and didn’t like it, so you’re going indie. Whatever your story is, be prepared to be broke for a while. Learn how to budget with groceries, expenses, and taxes, and even you can live semi comfortably off of $15k a year. Or maybe you can’t so you’ll need another part-time job. Do whatever you need to do.
Take Advice Willingly and With a Grain of Salt
Ask for help and advice and take it willingly, but with a grain of salt. Like I wrote above, what worked for one person, may not work for you. Try something out and see if it works, or maybe you can’t because you don’t have the tools for that type of marketing or game development available to you. Your game developer experience will be with a lot of trial and error.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. But, when you are asking, be specific. Don’t ask “how do i make a video game?” on a forum. They hate that. Be specific. Try and focus your questions down ad maybe ask something like “I’m looking to get into Android game development using the Unity 5 game engine. I have a college education and would like to learn more on my own. Are there any books or websites that you would suggest for tutorials? Thanks in advance.” Also, while in the forums, make sure you are asking your question in the right section. Don’t ask about Android development in the iOS section. People will figuratively yell at you.
Be Dedicated an Patient
Be dedicated and patient with yourself and everyone else. Indie game development, especially if you have another job, will take up a lot of your time from researching, marketing and actually creating your game. Your friends may stop asking you to hang out, because you always have to say no since you have lots of work to get done and probably no money. Just explain what you are doing and I’m sure your friends will understand. But don’t work too hard, or you will burn out. Every once in a while, take a day to yourself. Have a movie day, go visit you parents, take your dog to the lake to go swimming. You’re human, not a robot. At least, not yet. Once your game is released, take a vacation to celebrate the release. If you didn’t make any money with your release, take a stay-cation and play some video games that I know you fell behind on. Or maybe you missed out on seeing a few great movies. Just enjoy a few days to yourself and pat yourself on the back for completing your project.
Success won’t happen overnight. It takes time, experience, practice, and lots of work. Just work on building your fan base via social networks, writing press releases about your game, and posting in your own blog and you will become successful naturally.
You will make mistakes. I can’t stress this enough. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t freak out. Deal with it. Mistakes happen, no matter how big or small. But, just as an FYI, always keep a backup of your project on a separate hard drive.
Don’t go too big, especially with your first game. You will become stressed because it’s taking too long or overwhelmed because you are trying to do twelve things you have never done before. Stick to what you know, and expand into new things a little at a time. Maybe you’re not ready to make your first big game, so make a quick small one for mobile or PC and do it in a new game engine, or a new programming language.
Expect nothing and Be Grateful for What You Get
If your first game makes you any money, you are among the lucky ones. You probably won’t make much, if any money on your first game. Everything is new to you, so you are learning how to do things. Just be happy you published a game, and move on to the next project.
Don’t lie to your fans. That means, don’t promise them something you can’t deliver. For instance, as a one person game developer, you probably will not be able to make that MMORPG and publish it in your lifetime. MMORPGs are huge, and require a lot of things that would be very improbable for one person to do within a reasonable amount of time. So don’t tell your fans that you’re making an MMORPG for them, at least not until you have figured out how you are going to do it and have gotten your dev team situated.
Earning your fans’ trust is not just about not lying to them. It’s also about responding and chatting with them. You should dedicate at least 20 minutes of your day to go over your social networks and respond to any messages or comments you may have received. This will show your fans you are prompt, you will interact with them and that you exist.
Be proud with what you are doing. You may be broke, but you are happy that you are one of the few people in the working nation that actually get to enjoy what they do for a job.
You should also be proud to be part of the growing game development industry. This industry is still in its infancy, so everything is new, and really no one knows what they are doing 100% of the time, even the triple a publishers are struggling. Barely 100 years ago, the movie industry went through its infancy. Be proud that you are a part of the process that goes into defining a new industry.
Be Prepared to Not Make a Profit for at Least 3 Years
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Your first game will probably not make you much money. But that’s okay. By now, you should already be prepared for it to not make any money and are looking into getting a full or part time job.
Make sure you have an EIN, or Tax ID #. This is useful for when you do your taxes. This will allow you to claim all expenses related to your game development on your taxes, which will help you keep what money you do have.
• Your Internet Bill (if you work from home %50 of it) • Your phone bill (the $ you use for Game Development)
• Any devices/equipment/software you buy
• Research purchases
• Marketing costs
• Convention trips (hotels, food, gas, flights, etc.)
• Office supplies
• And plenty of other things you need in order to run your indie game studio
Apply for grants. With a tax ID #, you can more easily apply for government grants, or so I’m told. I have yet to find a grant in the U.S. that I can apply for. Applying for grants is something I have never done, but would like to do, so I honestly have no experience with it. But I’m told that your tax ID # will help you in this area.
However you run your indie game studio, make sure you enjoy what you are doing, have fun, and learn a lot.
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Business and Marketing for Your Indie Game Studio
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