Building Your Own Indie Game Studio
Indie game development has become a popular and profitable industry in recent years. With the rise of digital distribution platforms and a growing interest in unique and creative games, more developers are starting their own indie game studios. If you’re interested in doing the same, keep reading to learn the challenges of building your own indie game studio and our pro tips for doing it the right way.
Challenges of having your own indie game studio.
Being an indie game studio owner is not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges faced by indie game studios is limited resources. Unlike big game development studios, indie game studios don’t have the luxury of a large budget, a team of hundreds, or state-of-the-art technology. This means that indie game studios have to be creative in their approach to game development, and they often have to wear multiple hats in order to get things done. For example, the lead developer might also be responsible for game design, art, and sound effects.
Now on, marketing and promotion is another major challenge for indie game studios. With thousands of games being released every day, it can be hard to get noticed in the crowded market. Indie game studios have to work hard to create a buzz around their games and build a community of fans. This can be done through social media, email marketing, and content marketing, but it requires a lot of time and effort.
Also keep in mind indie game studios rely on game sales for revenue, which means that they have to create games that are not only fun and engaging, but also commercially viable.
How to build your own indie game studio
Before you start your indie game studio, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. What kind of games do you want to create? What’s your target audience? What’s your business model? Answering these questions will help you develop a roadmap for your studio.
Build a Team
Building a team is essential to the success of your indie game studio. You’ll need developers, artists, designers, and possibly writers. Look for people who share your vision and have the skills to bring your ideas to life. Consider partnering with other developers or freelancers to start, and as your studio grows, you can hire full-time employees.
Choose the Right Tools
Choosing the right tools can make a big difference in your game development process. You’ll need game engines, development software, graphic tools and more. Do your research and choose tools that are easy to use and cost-effective. There are many free and open-source tools available that can help you get started without breaking the bank.
Establish a Business Entity
To establish your indie game studio as a legitimate business, you’ll need to establish a business entity. This can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC). Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, so make sure to do your research and choose the one that’s right for you.
Securing funding is essential to the success of your indie game studio. You’ll need money to cover the costs of development, marketing, and distribution. There are several ways to secure funding, including crowdfunding, investors, and grants. Make sure to create a detailed business plan and pitch your ideas to potential investors.
Create a Marketing Plan
Creating a marketing plan is crucial to the success of your indie game studio. You’ll need to build a community around your games and create a buzz before they’re released. Social media, email marketing, and content marketing can all be effective ways to promote your games.
In conclusion, establishing your own indie game studio can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success and create unique and engaging games that stand out in a crowded market. Good luck!
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Marketing Strategies for your Indie Game
Maybe you’re building your very first game all by yourself, or maybe you already finished it and you are ready to show it to the world. Congrats!
Now to the big question, how do I market my game?
indie game developers often face a difficult challenge when it comes to marketing their games. With limited budgets and resources, it can be tough to get the word out about a new game and attract a large audience.
However, with careful planning and execution, indie game marketing strategies can be effective in attracting players and driving attention.
Quality Over Quantity: A Crucial Aspect of Indie Game Development
Indie game developers often feel the pressure to reach a wide audience, but it’s essential to prioritize the creation of quality marketing materials that highlight the distinctive features and mechanics of their game. Focusing on quantity over quality may lead to generic marketing materials that fail to make a lasting impression in a highly competitive market.
The Significance of Establishing a Strong Online Presence for Indie Game Developers
In today’s digitally-driven world, it is imperative for indie game developers to have a robust online presence. This includes creating a website, social media accounts, and an active presence on gaming forums and communities. Neglecting the importance of a strong online presence can significantly hinder a game’s reach and make it less likely for potential customers to discover it.
Identifying a Target Audience is Crucial for Indie Game Developers
Indie game developers must determine their target audience and focus their marketing campaigns around them. Neglecting to do so may lead to marketing materials that don’t connect with potential customers, ultimately restricting the game’s exposure.
The Importance of User Feedback in Gaming
User feedback is a crucial metric for gauging players’ experiences with a game, as well as assessing the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Neglecting user feedback can result in a game that fails to meet expectations, which can, in turn, limit its reach and potential success.
Marketing Strategies you should consider when marketing your game:
Create a trailer
An excellent trailer can become a potent marketing tool for indie game developers. To make the most out of it, it should be brief, and exciting, and highlight the game’s unique features and mechanics. Make sure that the trailer is optimized for sharing on social media platforms and gaming websites. Additionally, partnering with famous YouTubers or Twitch streamers to showcase the game in action can also be a smart move.
Attend gaming conventions
Attending gaming conventions can be a great way to showcase an indie game and generate buzz. Developers can network with industry professionals and potential customers, and showcase their game to a large audience. Indie game developers should bring business cards, flyers, and other promotional materials to distribute at the convention.
Offer a demo
Providing a demo of your game can be an effective strategy for capturing the attention of potential customers and generating excitement. Ensure that the demo highlights the game’s mechanics and features, and is designed for easy sharing on social media and gaming websites. Indie game developers can boost sales by offering a timed discount for customers who purchase the game after playing the demo.
Influencer marketing can be a game-changer for indie game developers. By collaborating with influencers, developers can showcase their games to a wider audience and gain valuable exposure. To establish a partnership, developers can provide influencers with complimentary copies of their games in exchange for coverage on their social media accounts or YouTube channels.
Participate in game jams
Participating in game jams is an excellent opportunity to showcase your indie game and generate interest in your work. These events bring developers together to create games within a short timeframe, typically over a weekend. As an indie game developer, you can use game jams to showcase your creativity, skills and upcoming releases.
In conclusion, indie game marketing strategies require careful planning and execution. Building a strong online presence, creating a trailer, attending gaming conventions, offering a demo, leveraging influencers, and participating in game jams can all be effective ways to market an indie game. By using these strategies, indie game developers can generate buzz, attract new customers, and drive sales.
Make sure to comment any other strategies you believe work for new indie games and join our Discord to join a our indie game developers community!
How Roblox is Revolutionizing Indie Game Development
Roblox is more than just a game – it’s a game creation platform that enables users to create their own games and share them with millions of other players worldwide. With over 200 million active users each month and revenue of over $2 billion in 2020, Roblox is among the most profitable gaming platforms globally. But what sets Roblox apart? And why should you be interested? This article delves into how Roblox is revolutionizing indie game development and how you can reap the benefits of joining this vibrant community.
Roblox has revolutionized the gaming industry by allowing users to create and share their games with millions of players worldwide. Here are some reasons why you should consider joining this vibrant community:
- Roblox offers a unique platform that enables users to create their own games without any coding knowledge. The platform provides a variety of tools and assets that users can use to create their games, ranging from simple puzzle games to complex multiplayer games.
- Roblox has a massive user base of over 200 million active users each month. This means that your game has the potential to reach a vast audience and become a hit.
- Roblox also provides a way for developers to monetize their games. Developers can earn revenue from in-game purchases, game passes, and advertisements. In 2020, Roblox generated over $2 billion in revenue, making it one of the most profitable gaming platforms globally.
- By joining the Roblox community, you have access to a network of developers and players who can provide feedback and support on your game. This can be invaluable in improving your game and making it more successful.
The Ultimate Indie Game Development Platform
Indie game development has been around for decades, with developers working tirelessly to create games with limited resources. Tools like GameMaker Studio, Unity, and Godot Engine have made this process easier by allowing developers to build games without writing much code, utilizing drag-and-drop interfaces and visual features. Yet, indie developers still face many challenges, including marketing, distribution, and user feedback. Additionally, they must compete with thousands of other indie games released each year, leaving many unnoticed and unplayed.
However, Roblox provides an all-in-one solution, offering a platform that combines game creation and distribution. With Roblox, developers can upload their game to the website or app and let millions of players discover and play it, without worrying about hosting, publishing, or promoting the game.
Roblox Studio, a powerful game engine, allows developers to create games using Lua, a scripting language that is easy to learn and provides flexibility and control over game logic and behavior. Designing game worlds with 3D models, textures, sounds, and effects is also easy with Roblox Studio.
In addition, Roblox’s asset store offers thousands of ready-made assets such as models, animations, sounds, effects, and scripts. Developers can purchase or sell assets to help enhance their games. There are also numerous tutorials and courses available online to help developers learn Roblox from scratch or improve their skills. With all of these features, Roblox provides an accessible and efficient solution for indie game developers.
A Platform That Lets You Earn Money Through Gaming
One of the most appealing aspects of Roblox is its ability to provide monetary benefits to players. Roblox has its own virtual currency, Robux, which can be used to purchase premium features and items in games. As a game developer, you have the opportunity to earn Robux by selling game items or features, or by receiving tips from players who enjoy your game.
Moreover, you can convert your Robux into real money through the Developer Exchange program (DevEx), allowing you to cash out your earnings via PayPal. The exchange rate, based on your membership level and Robux balance, is subject to variation. For instance, as of January 2021, if you have a Premium membership and at least 100000 Robux in your account, you can exchange 1000 Robux for $3.50 USD.
In summary, Roblox is more than just a game; it’s a platform that allows users to create their games and reach a massive audience. With the potential for monetization and a supportive community, joining Roblox can be a game-changer for indie game developer.
You’re welcome to join our Discord community to learn and meet new people in the indie game dev world!
How People are Sharing Free Tools to Help Newcomers into the Game Industry
Breaking into the gaming industry can be tough, particularly for those without any prior experience or contacts. Thankfully, many game development experts are committed to assisting aspiring developers in getting their foot in the door. In this blog post, we will examine three free tools that are accessible to assist newcomers in beginning their journey in the gaming industry.
As a newcomer in the gaming industry, it’s important to have the right resources to get started.
The “Game Development Advice Contacts List” by 3D artist Joe Hobbs
This invaluable database comprises a list of game developers who have generously provided their contact information, eager to offer guidance to students and individuals seeking to enter the industry. Each developer is happy to discuss their area of expertise and share advice on how to break into the field. This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring game developers to connect with industry professionals who can help them along their path.
Portfolio Advice by Jean Leggett Career Coach
If you’re looking to break into the gaming industry, having a strong portfolio is essential. In Jean Leggett’s guide, you’ll find valuable tips and advice for creating a portfolio that stands out to potential employers. But building a portfolio is just one piece of the puzzle. The gaming industry is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. That’s why Leggett’s guide also includes tips for ongoing learning and career growth, such as mentorship programs and resources for developing essential skills. Whether you’re an artist, game designer, programmer, or sound designer, this guide can help you take your career to the next level. With Leggett’s expertise and insights, you’ll be well on your way to success in the exciting and fast-paced world of gaming.
Amir Satvat’s Reach Out Anytime Database
Amir Satvat is dedicated to assisting individuals in entering the gaming industry through a variety of tools and resources. One of his most valuable resources is the Reach Out Anytime database, which comprises over 200 gaming industry professionals who offer free advice. This database is an excellent chance for aspiring game developers to arrange calls with experts in the field and gain valuable insights and tips to give them an advantage in their job search. If you are serious about breaking into the gaming industry, don’t miss out on this opportunity to receive expert advice for free.
Amir Satvat’s commitment to helping aspiring game developers does not end with the Reach Out Anytime database. He also provides a range of other tools and resources that can be incredibly beneficial to anyone trying to break into the gaming industry. These resources can help you gain a competitive edge and ensure that you are well-prepared for interviews and job applications.
Here are some additional resources that Amir offers:
- A comprehensive list of job openings in the gaming industry
- A guide to building a standout portfolio that showcases your skills and experience
- Tips for networking and making connections in the gaming industry
- Regular webinars and workshops hosted by industry experts.
By taking advantage of these resources in addition to the Reach Out Anytime database, you can increase your chances of success in the gaming industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Amir and start your journey toward a career in gaming today!
The game industry is known for its competitiveness and creativity, making it a challenging field to enter. However, don’t let that discourage you from pursuing your dream career. There are various free online tools and resources available to you that can help you learn, improve, and showcase your skills as a game developer. By connecting with knowledgeable mentors, accessing high-quality tutorials and courses, and utilizing powerful software, you can create impressive games and advance your career. Additionally, the Indie Game Lunch Hour Podcast provides even more valuable advice from experts in the gaming industry.
Join our discord community of like-minded game enthusiasts today!
Listen to our Podcast IGA Lunch Hour every Wednesday at 12pm EST LIVE!
Overcoming Obstacles in Career Switch to Game Development
Thinking of Switching to Game Development as a Career?
If you’ve been working in a stable job for years and are now considering a career change to game development, it can be both exhilarating and daunting. Pursuing your passion can be exciting, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. In this post, we’ll explore the obstacles people face when trying to switch their already established careers to pursue game development as a career.
1. Lack of Experience
One of the biggest challenges that most people face when trying to switch careers to game development is the lack of experience. Game development requires a unique set of skills and knowledge, so if you’re coming from a different field, you may not have the technical expertise needed to succeed. You may need to spend some time learning programming languages, game engines, and other tools of the trade.
2. Financial Instability
Transitioning to a career in game development can be an expensive journey. Given that most game developers are self-taught, they often have to invest significant amounts of money to learn the necessary skills through courses, books, and software. Furthermore, entering the highly competitive gaming industry can take several months or even years before securing a job, which can result in financial instability. This can be a significant barrier, especially for individuals who have already established their careers.
Keep in mind Game development can be a feast or famine industry, with many projects failing to turn a profit. If you’re working as a freelancer or starting your own game studio, there’s a risk that you may not make enough money to sustain yourself financially.
3. Personal Commitments
Switching careers to game development is a big step that demands a significant investment of time and effort. For individuals who have personal commitments, like family or children, acquiring the necessary skills can be challenging. Additionally, game development is a time-intensive process that can make it difficult to balance other responsibilities.
4. Limited Networking
Like any industry, game development is all about who you know. If you’re new to the field, you may not have an established network of contacts to turn to for advice, mentorship, or job leads. You’ll need to make an effort to attend industry events, join online communities, and build relationships with other developers.
5. High Competition
The game development industry is highly competitive, with many talented individuals vying for a limited number of jobs. You’ll need to be persistent, patient, and willing to put in the hard work to stand out from the crowd.
Overcoming Obstacles: Pursuing a Career in Game Development
Despite the challenges, there are several ways to pursue your passion for game development. Here are some tips to get started:
- Education: Take online courses, read books and learn as much as you can about game development. There are many resources available to help you acquire the skills you need.
- Portfolio: Develop a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills to potential employers. This can help you stand out in a competitive job market.
- Networking: Attend game development conferences and events to meet people in the industry. Building connections and finding job opportunities can be easier when you network with like-minded individuals.
- Patience: Switching careers to game development is a long-term goal. It takes time and effort to acquire the necessary skills and build a portfolio. Be patient and persistent, and you will eventually achieve your goal.
In conclusion, while switching careers to game development can be challenging, it is also very rewarding. By overcoming obstacles and following the tips outlined in this post, you can pursue your passion and build a successful career in game development.
Are up-and-coming game devs being excluded from GDC?
As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) has become an exciting event for developers, publishers, and gamers alike. However, some people are worried that GDC only focuses on established developers and their projects, leaving up-and-coming game devs in the shadows away from the spotlight.
GDC is a major annual event in the gaming industry that brings together developers, publishers, and enthusiasts from around the world. Attendees have the opportunity to hear talks and panels, network with industry professionals, and showcase their projects. However, some people think that GDC is becoming too exclusive, and may not give up-and-coming developers enough opportunities to showcase their work.
One of the main criticisms of GDC is that it can be expensive to attend. Attendees have to pay a fee to attend the conference, which includes access to talks, panels, and networking events. For up-and-coming developers who are just starting out, this cost can be difficult to manage, which may limit their ability to attend GDC and showcase their projects. This may make it harder for indie developers to get noticed and could limit their chances of success.
Additionally, exhibiting at GDC can be expensive, which can make it difficult for smaller studios to have a presence at the conference. This means that established developers and their projects may get more attention at the conference, leaving little room for new voices and ideas to be heard.
Accessibility to the spotlight
Another issue with GDC is that it can be focused on established developers and their projects. The conference often features talks and panels from well-known developers and studios, which can overshadow smaller studios and their projects. Additionally, GDC’s awards program tends to favor established developers and their projects, which may make it hard for up-and-coming developers to get recognized. This lack of recognition can be a problem for smaller studios, since awards and recognition can help them get noticed and attract investors.
A diversity issue
Diversity is an important issue in the gaming industry, and some people have criticized GDC for not being diverse enough. This lack of diversity could make up-and-coming developers from marginalized communities feel excluded from the industry and its events. Additionally, the lack of diversity at GDC could limit the range of perspectives and ideas presented at the conference, which could hurt the industry as a whole.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it’s important for conferences like GDC to become more inclusive and supportive of up-and-coming game developers. This could mean making it easier for them to attend the conference, focusing more on new voices and ideas, and promoting diversity among speakers and attendees.
What GDC can do better
GDC could also create programs specifically designed to support up-and-coming developers, like mentorship programs, funding opportunities, and awards programs that target smaller studios. By doing so, GDC could become a more inclusive and supportive space for all developers, regardless of their size or level of experience.
In conclusion, GDC is an important event for the gaming industry, but it needs to become more inclusive and supportive of up-and-coming game developers. By making it easier for them to attend, focusing more on new voices and ideas, and promoting diversity, GDC can become a more inclusive and supportive space for all developers. It’s time for GDC to adapt and evolve with the industry, and provide opportunities for all developers to showcase their work and contribute to the growth and evolution of the gaming industry.
What Do You Think?
As the gaming industry continues to grow, it’s important to consider the role that events like GDC play in shaping the industry. Do you think GDC is becoming a gatekeeper for up-and-coming game developers? What do you think can be done to make GDC more inclusive and supportive of smaller studios? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Diary of a Game Developer: Reflections of a Jammer Newb
For the last ten years my brother and a group of our college friends have been participating in our local 48 hour film festival. Which means that for the last 10 years I have been wanting to do something super creative and awesome in only 48 hours. But I had struggled to find my niche, until now!
While participating in the Indie Game Academy Level 2 Workshop this fall I learned of these magical events called “Game Jams.” Game Jams are competitions in which participants work in teams to create a game in a designated amount of time. At the start of the competition participants are given a theme and then must work with their team to create a game from scratch. The moment I heard about them, I knew that this was the creative outlet I had been looking for! Keep reading to hear about the highlights of my experience as a first time jammer and why joining a Game Jam will help you level up as a game designer.
Building a team
The thing I was the most worried about when I decided I would join the IGA Jelly Jam was creating a team. I only started learning about game design about four months ago, so I knew I would need to lean heavily on my team if I wanted to participate with any hope of completing a game in the given time. Luckily a fellow member of my IGA Level 2 cohort was super excited to form a team with me and with their connections we ended up with a novice but mighty team. We set up a discord and got to know each other in the week leading up to the Jam and set times we could all meet for live discussions during the Jam.
Friday Night: Jam Launch and Theme Announcement
Designing the Game
We met for our first live meeting as a team just as the theme was announced so we could be excited together! This was a really fun time and hearing the theme together for the first time was helpful in building comradery.
As soon as we received the theme: “sun up to sun down” with a bonus theme of “just a little bit of magic” we utilized Miro to brainstormed ideas as a group.
After a productive brainstorming session, everyone was onboard with a theme of burnout with the idea that we should use day and night as a metaphor for conscious and unconscious mind. Before ending our Friday night session, we decided to split the weekend into sprints so we set goals for the first one and then the artist and programmers called it a night and the Narrative Design Team got to work.
The two of us on the Narrative Design Team spent about five hours hashing out ideas and scoping things down to something that seemed manageable.
The Game Design Document
While working with the other Narrative Designer, I realized why Game Design Documents (link to post about the GDD if there is one) are so valuable to Game Design. Basically the Game Design Document is what keeps everyone on the same page about everything during the development process and gives you the information you need to explain, or pitch your game to others. I had been skeptical about a game design document being necessary for a project with such a short turnaround time, but as I thought about how we were going to explain the ideas the Narrative Design team had come up with I realized it would really make things easier to just create a GDD. This would allow our team to have a common written foundation to review before we started our second sprint meeting, and would also help keep our ideas aligned during development, not to mention it seemed like a great opportunity to practice a really important skill.
As predicted the Game Design Document was vital in setting the stage for success with our first team meeting on Saturday. After we met to discuss the design plans it was a huge workday for the programmers, level designers, and artists. They worked so hard getting assets ready and working out exactly how to technically bring the narrative vision to life.
Sunday morning we realized exactly how much work we really had left to do to get the game to a playable state. Everyone worked over time and then some to get all the pieces completed! Late Sunday evening, we realized there were some issues that wouldn’t be able to be resolved before submission so we ended up cutting some planned aspects of the game, and reworking others.
The wee hours of Monday
In true game-jam-fashion, much of the team was up from sundown to sunup battling GitHub frustration, bugs, and the unknown.
At last, in the early hour of Monday morning, after a few more bugs and some compiling and building errors, the game was player ready and successfully submitted! This was a huge win for our little team as most of us were first time jammers, and most of those who jammed before had never finished a game before the deadline. Our game still has some bugs (like having to play in full screen), and quite a few things we want to add and update to really bring our dream to fruition. But it is beautiful and playable as is! Definitely worthy of celebration!
This game jam was a huge personal win for me, my first game jam, my first collaborative game project, and my first time really collaborating on a complex project virtually. I learned so much I could probably make a more detailed post about my takeaways. But here are the 5 big ones!
Visuals are Vital
As someone with some degree of aphantasia, I often underestimate the need for visual models. However, while jamming I learned that they are essential. Many people are visual learners, especially artists, so even super rough and ugly skechers go a long way to explaining ideas of all kinds. Images, no matter how basic, also take less time to read and understand and are thus more efficient. In future jams I will take more time to wireframe and storyboard to help make ideas clearer for the team.
There was a good chunk of time on Saturday when I felt pretty worthless to our team. The programmers were programming, the level designer was designing, and the artists were drawing. I had some suspicions about what I could do, but I worried I might overstep someone else’s role. In hindsight, this is the time that I should have taken to crank out some storyboards, wire frames, and start thinking about sound effects and music which would have put us in a better position time wise on Sunday. Next time I will be prepared!
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, your right.”
This quote from Henry Ford was a favorite of my high school band director and pops into my brain from time to time when I face a challenging situation. During the last sprint of the jam, I realized I was waiting for someone else to create a couple scenes so I could add music and effects. After waiting a bit, I realized I could do it myself and just use place holders for the images that were needed. At first I worried about taking the initiative, would someone think I was stepping on their toes? But after further consideration, I realized that rather than stepping on someone else’s toes I might actually be taking a weight off their shoulders. This reframing also empowered me to take on a few other small projects I knew I could handle.
The value of experience
I am an experiential learner so the game jam was a really great opportunity for me to understand how game design and development projects really play out. It also allowed me to see how different roles interact and overlap. Having worked on my own game during IGA Levels courses I knew how games come to be, and having managed projects and productions before I had some basic understandings of how to manage them, but seeing a team bring a game together really helped me understand the specifics and flows of game design and what each role needs to be able to do their part. I was so lucky to have such an amazing first game jam team that really allowed me to see the big picture.
Trust the artists.
I am not going to lie, I was not at all sold on the color palettes the artists presented for our game. But, the rest of the team was so excited so I went with it. I am so glad I did! The game came out beautifully and the colors took me back to my childhood and the joyful land of 1990s Polly Pocket. So my takeaway is, trust the artists, they know what they are doing!
That’s a wrap!
As you can see, game jams are amazing, practical, and fun! If you are an aspiring Game Designer, do wait to join a jam, hop on over to Itch and find one and start jamming!
Game Devs: You Don’t Need Twitter for News, Marketing, or Networking
By: Jay Rooney
I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but as of October 28, 2022, Elon Musk now owns Twitter. And the second-tier social media platform’s been absolute chaos ever since. I’m not here to argue over whether or not Elon’s takeover will be ultimately better or worse for Twitter (not to mention the entire free world)—only time will tell. But even amidst all the bedlam, I know we can all agree on one thing:
Twitter SUCKS. And somehow, it sucks even more each day.
And for many, Elon seems to have been the thread that overflowed the stack. These users appear to be migrating en masse to alternatives like Mastodon, Cohost, or whatever Jack Dorsey’s supposed to unveil soon.
But I want to propose a more radical suggestion: abandon Twitter, abandon its competitors, stop feeding the attention machine, let it all crash and burn… and in the process, let us reclaim our time, our lives, our minds, and our own basic humanity from this hell of our own making.
So, that leaves the question: what to do with all the time you just freed up? The short answer is “literally anything and everything else,” but what about Game Devs who might have used Twitter, whether for personal or professional purposes? Well, there’s something for everything!
1. Network with fellow game developers
As venomous as Twitter is, I must give credit where credit is due: it really is (or was) a good way to connect with likeminded gamers and game devs. Back when Twitter was actually somewhat useful and fun, it was in large part because of this.
The good news is that gamers and game devs have never been short of online spaces in which to gather. In addition to countless subreddits, Discord servers, and LinkedIn groups that are specifically focused on game development, there are also online courses on game development that have built up robust developer communities (like IGA!).
And now with the pandemic starting to subside, I’d be remiss to not mention one tried-and-true, old-fashioned, and once-ubiquitous networking avenue: face-to-face networking. The most reliable and productive way to network, even well into the digital age, and with good reason—there’s something about meeting and seeing someone face-to-face that forums, tweets, and even Zoom just cannot replicate.
Obviously, classic mainstays like GDC are worth the time and expense, but if a conference is out of reach, finding a local game dev meetup is much more accessible but yield similar results.
Get out there, game devs!
2. Make some actual games
This one seems pretty obvious, but it bears repeating: if you’re a game developer, the best use of your time is probably going to be… developing games!
If you’re working on a team, this means actually sitting down and coding, designing levels, creating art assets, etc. If you’re working on your own, it might mean planning out your game, writing design documents,or joining a game jam.
Either way, make sure you’re actually building and progressing, no matter how incrementally. Even if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes a day, it’s far better than nothing. And if you can do 20, 30, or 60 minutes? All the better!
3. Keep up with the game industry
So many people get their news from social media, which is… distressing, for many reasons. But before Twitter, people used to get their news just fine. There are countless game development podcasts, videos, Medium blogs, and news publications, more than enough to keep getting your industry news—perhaps even to a greater degree than you did on Twitter. And without a 280-character limit, you can actually get detailed and nuanced information from more authoritative sources.
Less trolls, too. Win!
4. Promote your game without social
Yes, it is possible to promote your game without social media! While it’s true that social media used to be a somewhat easy and cost-effective promotional vehicle for game marketers, these days it’s practically impossible to reach a large enough audience without seriously gaming the algorithms (which may involve deploying less-than-scrupulous tactics), paying for ad space, or both.
Instead, have you considered some guerilla public relations? If your game has a unique take on a genre gameplay mechanic, to the point it could be newsworthy, nothing’s stopping you from emailing game journalists (especially those who usually covers the type of game you’re making) with a quick message letting them know about your game, why their readers/viewers would find it interesting, and where they can learn more about or play it.
Don’t sleep on good, old-fashioned advertising, either! You don’t need to shell out thousands for a TV spot—search ads and mobile ads, when approached strategically, can provide a serious return on your ad expenditure.
Now that conferences are a thing again, make sure you or your studio has a presence at gaming conferences (if you have the resources for it). Rent a booth, stock it with merch, print out a bunch of business cards with QR codes, and pass them on to as many people as possible.
Finally, make sure your game has some web presence, even if it’s just a basic webpage, and start optimizing it for search visibility (the technical term for this is “Search Engine Optimization,” or “SEO”). But… how do you even do that? Well, I’ll give you a hint: you’re reading how, right now!
5. Start your own game development blog
Yes, the most reliable way to increase your search visibility is by regularly publishing content that’s relevant to your audience. In other words, start a blog! Like this one!
You can start a general game dev advice blog, or a development blog with updates on your game. Either way, get writing—you want to publish at least once a week (or, at the very least, every two weeks) to build momentum.
It’s worth noting that blogs are’t just good for traffic, but for game development skills, too. The process of coming up with a topic, conducting research, structuring a piece, constructing a coherent narrative, and (finally) writing it can be a great way to refresh and reinforce your own game dev knowledge.
Plus, a blog is also an useful portfolio that you can point to when pitching game pitches and job opportunities. So kill three birds* with one stone!
*(…Twitter birds, obviously)
Top 3 tips to get into the game industry
By Willem Delventhal.
The top 3 tips to help you break into the video game industry, developed with hundreds of graduates from the Indie Game Academy.
— # 3: Apply now, and cast a wide net —
I run into many fresh developers who stop themselves from applying for dream jobs for one reason or another. They say their resume isn’t polished enough, or that they need to revamp their portfolio website, or that they need to edit their cover letter etc etc
Those things will help you get the job, yes. But those dream jobs you aren’t applying for disappear pretty quickly. Let them decide if you’re the right person for the job. You always have a chance, however small, and you start to get better at applying the more you do it.
Additionally, apply for jobs you are underqualified for and that aren’t quite what you’re looking for. It’s not unusual for a recruiter who likes you to pass you on to another position (it happened to me!) and it’s always easier to break in with a horizontal move.
— # 2: Network like crazy, and get creative —
Something like 80% of open job positions in the game industry are filled by somebody who knows somebody at the company. While somewhat frustrating, this fact is a powerful tool for those who know how to wield it.
You’d be amazed at how many people will give you advice if you… wait for it… just ask! Use LinkedIn, Twitter and other tools to look up employees of your favorite businesses, and simply strike up conversation.
Don’t be salesy, and be eternally grateful for any help they offer. And remember, this is a numbers game. It only takes one person to respond to change your life.
— # 1: Make games, and release them —
And now for the most important, most secret piece of advice I can give. If you want to work on games, you have to build games.
I got my very first industry job in part because my hiring manager had played one of my games. Recruiters and your potential coworkers can and will play your content. So build good games, and release them somewhere to be played! Then be sure to include the best ones on your resume and portfolio.
Itch.io is a phenomenal tool for releasing games with minimal effort, and it hosts many game jams to get you inspired too.
— Closing —
And that’s it! My top three tips for breaking into the game industry: Apply Now, Network and Make Games. All advice that you have probably heard before. Which is good, because that means they’re true!
What about you? What game could you build in under two weeks? Who could you reach out to that would be exciting to chat with? How many applications will you send this week?
I’d love to know what your own tips are to break in. Share them with everyone down below!
What Google Stadia’s Demise Means for Indie Developers
By: Jay Rooney
Google’s shocking-but-not-really-that-shocking decision to pull the plug on Google Stadia is like bankruptcy, or societal collapse, in that it happened two ways: gradually, and then all at once. Since the ill-fated cloud gaming service’s announcement, Google had clobbered Stadia with one self-inflicted would after another, from its baffling choice to use three of gaming’s most spectacular failures (one of which actually had potential) to its equally-baffling choice to shutter its in-house development studios barely a year into Stadia’s life.
So, was anybody really surprised when Google announced what everyone had been predicting since day one?
I don’t want to dunk on Stadia while it’s down. At least not too much. The technology powering it was genuinely impressive. It offered developers one of the most equitable payment models the industry has ever seen. The promise of cloud gaming was one of democratizing gaming, of bringing the joy of our hobby to people who couldn’t afford or couldn’t justify purchasing expensive gaming consoles, even more expensive gaming PCs, and comparatively expensive (compared to other media) $60-70 AAA games. And Google Stadia, despite a famously rocky launch, appeared poised to actually deliver on this promise. Stadia’s demise is a tragedy that will set this promise back many years.
But I will dunk on Google. And not just because of how it mismanaged such a promising product to an early and entirely avoidable grave.
No, I will dunk on Google for screwing over the developers—particularly indie developers—who had the audacity to take a chance on its ill-fated gaming foray. And at Google’s insistence, no less.
Game developers learned about Stadia’s impending death at the same time consumers did.
But unlike consumers, some of these developers had poured months (or even years) of time, effort, and resources into releasing or porting games onto Stadia—some of which were set to become Stadia exclusives, thanks to very attractive incentives on the part of Google.
And to add insult to injury, Google insisted, time and time again, that it was committed to Stadia “for the long run,” and that it had no plans to kill it. The most recent such communication went out a mere three days before Google did, in fact, kill Stadia.
Now, Google’s being (rightly) lauded for refunding consumers who purchased games that’ll soon no longer exist and hardware that’ll soon become useless. But this surprisingly (for a major tech company) consumer-friendly decision from Google makes its blindsiding of its developer partners all the more baffling and egregious.
Even as I write this, several developers are still waiting to hear from Google. Still waiting to hear what (if any) recourse they’ll get for hitching their fate to Stadia’s wagon. Still waiting to know if their contracts are going to be honored. Still waiting to hear just what the hell is going on, and what their next steps should be.
And considering Google’s chronic mishandling of Stadia so far, I doubt they’ll be getting answers anytime soon.
Which brings us to the big question…
The next time some new, shiny, flashy, but unproven platform comes along… would indie developers be as willing to take a risk (and for indie devs, it is a BIG risk) on making games for it?
I think we all know the answer. And after this whole Stadia fiasco, could you blame them?
Make no mistake, Google’s bungling LARP as a gaming company will set cloud gaming (and all its aforementioned promises), viable challengers to the Valve/Epic or Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft hegemonies (for PC and console gaming, respectively), and the industry writ large back many years.
And although indie developers are by definition risk tolerant, they still have to eat, and still want people to play their games (otherwise, what’s the point?). So after OnLive, OUYA, and now Google Stadia have come and gone… will it be worth the risk when the next would-be disruptor courts them?
And make no mistake, there will be a next time. Cloud gaming holds too much promise for even Google to kill. The entrenched mega-AAA-publishers, hardware manufacturers, and digital distributors could use a little disruption. And the industry is simply too big, too irresistible, for would-be usurpers to pass on.
So… when the day comes, should indie developers stick to what’s tried and true, or take a risk on something that could be much better… but also fail spectacularly?
I’ll be transparent here. I don’t have the answer. Nobody does—at least, nobody who’s honest with themselves. I’d imagine it’ll come down to each individual studio and developer, and how much they’d be willing to put on the line.
As with everything else in life… only time will tell.