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  • Three Tips to help you Break Into the Game Industry

    Three Tips to help you Break Into the Game Industry

    How do you break into the video game industry?

    Greetings! If you’re reading this article, you are surely wondering how to make your way into the wonderful industry that is games. You also have no doubt seen and heard and perhaps experienced what a challenging place it is to break into.

    Well! Never fear! My name is Willem Delventhal and I’m here to help you out. I’m a veteran game developer and designer and I also happen to run the Indie Game Academy, a gamified online school for game developers. Through our work there we have now helped over 3,000 students build games, many of them starting their own studios or joining existing ones. In addition, we’ve now interviewed over 100 industry experts on our podcast, including designers, recruiters and hiring managers, and we’ve noticed some trends in the advice they have to give.

    What are those tips? Well! You’ve probably heard them all before! But we have some fresh perspectives and resources for you. We hope they act as the push you need to pave your own beautiful, gamey path.

    So! Let’s begin! Here are the top three tips we have both seen and heard will help you break into the video game industry.

    Continuously Build Your Portfolio

    A simple formula for those who do not yet have a portfolio!

    Fun fact! If you want to work in the game industry, you need to make games! (Who would have guessed?) Junior roles now expect you to to have a few released titles to your name, preferably to actual stores for actual dollars, to gain entry level jobs.

    This can be a little frustrating and I totally get why. “Entry Level” sure does seem to imply that you don’t need anything to get started. But in an age with incredibly powerful tools, game engines and tutorials at your fingertips, there really is nothing stopping you from gaining experience without a job.

    Nathan Kellman, a recent guest on our podcast, actually secured his first industry job in part because he essentially formed his own indie studio back in school. Him and a few friends started working on Mantra back in 2017. Now the project has 50+ people working on it, almost entirely on a volunteer basis, where everyone is just there to gain experience. Nathan went on to get hired at Lost Boys Interactive and contributed to friggen’ Diablo 4 of all things.

    So yeah. Make Games!

    Game jams are your friends on this one. Basically anyone can fit a quick game jam into a weekend. But of course the more time you devote, the better. CONSTANTLY work on personal projects. Try to keep them fun, but think of them too as showcases and practice exercises. Find team members you like (which is only done through trial and error) and hold them near and dear.

    Once you have these games, put them in an attractive portfolio website that focusses on released titles and outlining how you contributed to them. Portfolios alone are stupid valuable, with hover.blog putting 71% of hiring managers defining them as “very important” for a candidate.

    Here is a student of ours who has a simple, strong portfolio for you to copy from. Put up your best 3-5 games with a separate page that lists the rest, and continuously build new games and add the best to your portfolio site on a regular basis!

    Ludum Dare is the most well recognized jam

    The Global Gam Jam is beloved too

    Itch.io has a bunch of great jams

    Network Like Crazy

    You’d be surprised at how many indie studios get started over coffee

    After some frankly depressing math from Amir Satvat, the sweetheart of the game industry, it has become clear that you have a less than 1% chance to land a job from a cold application. IE an application through an automated service like the company website or LinkedIn itself where nobody at the company refers you.

    Up to 80% of game industry jobs are filled by referral. Basically, somebody who knows somebody who works at the company is vastly more likely to get the job than somebody who doesn’t. Every job I’ve ever had in games has been at least in part thanks to a referral.

    Growing and tapping into your network is absolutely PIVOTAL to landing a job in games

    Go to events, in person and online. Hand out business cards. When you meet somebody cool, ask for their contact info. Email them afterwords and offer to buy them a coffee, virtually or IRL. Ask for advice. Use LinkedIn to cold-call cool people and start a conversation. Then keep those connections alive.

    Any time you apply for a job, especially one you’re keen for, I want you to come back to LinkedIn and find at least three 2nd or 1st connections who know somebody at the company. Ask them for an intro, and work your way in.

    Meetup is great for in-person groups

    Maybe find your local IGDA chapter

    Discord Groups are A+

    Oh hey, come join IGA!

    Apply Aggressively

    Is it they that applies with no thought of failure that gets the job – Gandalf… probably

    And the last step. Assuming you now have a pretty solid looking portfolio and a strong network you can ask for help, I want you to go hard as absolute heck when actually applying for roles.

    First, let’s talk volume. If you can, I want you to apply for a minimum of 10 jobs per week. And ideally, if you can handle it and find the jobs, I want you to apply for even more.

    Track these jobs in a simple spreadsheet. Include progress, contact info, and any useful notes. Reach back out to these applications once a week until you get a definitive “yes” or “no.” When you do get a “no”, be thankful and polite, and ask for any tips or advice the recruiter may have. Ask them if you can reach back out to them in the future, and ask to be considered for future roles.

    And yes, you need cover letters

    When you do apply, always write a personalized cover letter. I have a formula where every one of my cover letters is three paragraphs long, and the first and third paragraphs are the generally same for every letter, meaning I only need to write a few sentences for the second paragraph per application.

    Join the Discord/community space of studios you really want to work for and become a valuable community member. See if you can’t get some chat time with devs. Work. Your. Way. In. Be persistent, and try to enjoy the entire process.

    Oh and one last thing, consider working outside of games first. Nobody wants to hear that, but if you can work especially in tech in the same or similar role you would work in games, this makes you a better candidate for future games jobs.

    Oftentimes it is those who are unrelenting that get the job. Here are a few places to find roles:

    Work With Indies

    Remote Game Jobs

    Amir Satvat’s Games Jobs Directory

    LinkedIn Jobs

    Tech Jobs on Blind

    And there you have it

    Well done wizard! You get 15 brownie points for making it this far!

    There you have it. Three things you can do right this instant to increase your odds of breaking into games, even during these crazy days.

    Join a game jam or two to build some high quality, portfolio games. Once you find a few people you like, pick the best and build a few long form games with them, 2-4 months each. Then put the top 3-5 finished, released games on an attractive portfolio.

    Network with cool people and ask for their advice and their help. Be humble and grateful, but be persistent.

    And finally, don’t wait, apply now, and apply aggressively.

    I wish you well on your journey, dear adventurer. Follow me here if you want more optimistic game dev content, and future tips.

    Your forever Gandalf,

    Willem

  • Unveiling the Power of Game Design One Pagers: A Comprehensive Guide

    Unveiling the Power of Game Design One Pagers: A Comprehensive Guide

    Hey there, future gamedev superstar! You’re about to level up your game development skills with some seriously awesome knowledge. Today, we’re diving into the untapped power of game design one-pagers.

    Understanding Game Design One Pagers

    A game design one-pager is like the cheat code of game development. It’s a concise, (usually) one-page document that captures the essence of your game design. Think of it as your game’s backstage pass, allowing you to communicate your vision with clarity and confidence.

    Why is this important, you ask? Effective communication is like the secret sauce in the game development industry. One-pagers enable you to convey your game’s vision, core features, and unique selling points to various stakeholders. Whether you’re chatting with team members, investors, or publishers, a well-crafted one-pager will be one of your most powerful tools.

    The Key Components of a Game Design One Pager

    Now, let’s break it down. Your one-pager should have all the juicy details that make your game shine. We’re talking about game concept, target audience, gameplay mechanics, story/setting, art style, and monetization strategy. Each component is like a puzzle piece that contributes to the bigger picture of your game design.

    But remember, brevity is key. You don’t want your one-pager to turn into a GDD. Keep it concise and clear, and watch those heads nod in agreement.

    The Process of Creating a Game Design One Pager

    Ready for some hands-on action? Crafting a game design one-pager takes a step-by-step approach. First things first, research and concept development. Dive deep into the gaming universe and come up with a killer idea that will make players go wild.

    But hold your horses. The process doesn’t end there. Iterations and revisions are your trusty companions on this journey. Refine your one-pager until it accurately reflects the heart and soul of your game. It’s totally normal to go through multiple versions. We’ve all been there, tweaking and twerking until we hit the sweet spot.

    Pro tip: Organize information like a pro, sprinkle visuals that pack a punch, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. After all, this is your game we’re talking about.

    Conclusion

    Embrace the power of concise and compelling one-pagers as your secret weapon. They’ll streamline your message, unite your team, and bring your game’s vision to life. Remember, every game development master started somewhere, and this is your moment to shine.

    And hey, don’t forget to grab the Game Design One Pager Template we’ve prepared for you, and its image version on Canva. Now go forth, create amazing one-pagers, and conquer the gaming world, we are cheering you on!

  • Embracing Evolution: A Deep Dive into the Latest Trends in Indie Game Development

    Embracing Evolution: A Deep Dive into the Latest Trends in Indie Game Development

    Indie game development has always been a realm of innovation, where creative minds push the boundaries of what gaming can offer. As we venture further into the 2020s, the landscape is evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements and changing player expectations. In this article, we’ll explore the latest trends in art styles, mechanics, distribution models, and monetization that are currently shaping the indie game development scene.

    Art Styles: A Canvas of Diversity

    One of the most noticeable shifts in recent years is the increasing diversity in art styles. While pixel art and retro aesthetics continue to hold a special place in the hearts of indie developers and players alike, there’s a growing embrace of unconventional and experimental art styles.

    • Hand-Drawn Masterpieces: Hand-drawn art has seen a resurgence, with developers leveraging the unique charm and personal touch it brings to games. Titles like “Hollow Knight” and “Cuphead” showcase the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into hand-drawn animations, creating a visually stunning experience that resonates with players.
    • Minimalism and Vector Graphics: On the other end of the spectrum, minimalism and vector graphics are gaining popularity. Games like “Stardew Valley” and “Alto’s Adventure” demonstrate how simplicity in design can be a powerful storytelling tool, offering a refreshing contrast to more complex visuals.
    • Mixed Media and Collage: Some indie developers are pushing the boundaries by incorporating mixed media and collage elements into their games. This approach creates a visually distinctive experience, blurring the lines between traditional art forms and interactive media.

    Implementing Art Trends:

    To implement these trends into your games, start by understanding the narrative and emotional tone you want to convey. Choose an art style that complements your game’s themes and mechanics. Experiment with different techniques and get feedback from your community to refine your vision.

    • Mechanics: Interactive Ingenuity. Indie games have always been at the forefront of experimental gameplay mechanics, challenging the status quo and introducing innovative ways for players to interact with their virtual worlds.

    • Procedural Generation: Procedural generation has become a staple in indie game development, offering limitless possibilities for dynamic and unpredictable gameplay. Games like “No Man’s Sky” showcase the vast potential of procedural generation in creating expansive and diverse game worlds.
    • Narrative-Driven Gameplay: As players crave more immersive storytelling experiences, narrative-driven gameplay has taken center stage. Indie titles like “Firewatch” and “What Remains of Edith Finch” demonstrate how a compelling story can be woven seamlessly into interactive gameplay, creating emotionally resonant experiences.
    • Emergent Gameplay: Developers are increasingly embracing emergent gameplay, allowing players to create their own stories within the game world. Games like “RimWorld” and “Factorio” empower players to shape the narrative through their choices and interactions, fostering a sense of agency and ownership.

    Implementing Mechanics Trends:

    When implementing mechanics, consider the core experience you want to deliver. Experiment with unconventional gameplay elements that align with your game’s theme. Playtest extensively to fine-tune the balance between innovation and player engagement.

    Distribution Models: Beyond Traditional Platforms

    The landscape of game distribution is undergoing a paradigm shift, with indie developers exploring alternative platforms and distribution models to reach a wider audience.

    • Subscription Services: With the rise of platforms like Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade, subscription-based models are gaining traction. Indie developers can benefit from these services by reaching a large and diverse player base while receiving steady revenue.
    • Cross-Platform Play: Cross-platform play is becoming the norm, breaking down barriers between different gaming ecosystems. Indie developers can leverage this trend to ensure their games are accessible to players on various devices, fostering a more inclusive and interconnected gaming community.
    • Self-Publishing and Crowdfunding: The democratization of game development continues, with more developers opting for self-publishing and crowdfunding platforms. This not only provides creative freedom but also establishes a direct connection between developers and their community, fostering a sense of collaboration.

    Implementing Distribution Trends:

    Consider the unique strengths and limitations of each distribution model. Tailor your approach based on your target audience and the nature of your game. Building a strong online presence and engaging with your community can also enhance the success of your chosen distribution strategy.

    Monetization: Balancing Passion and Profit

    Monetization strategies in indie games are evolving, with developers seeking ways to generate revenue without compromising the integrity of their creations.

    • Diverse Revenue Streams: Beyond traditional one-time purchases, indie developers are exploring diverse revenue streams. In-game cosmetics, season passes, and expansion packs allow developers to generate continuous revenue while keeping the core game accessible.
    • Free-to-Play with In-App Purchases: The free-to-play model, combined with in-app purchases, has become a popular choice for indie developers. Games like “Fortnite” and “Genshin Impact” demonstrate how this model can provide widespread accessibility while offering optional purchases for players looking to enhance their experience.
    • Community Support and Patronage: Some indie developers are turning to platforms like Patreon to build a direct relationship with their audience. Offering exclusive content, early access, and behind-the-scenes insights can incentivize players to support their favorite developers on an ongoing basis.

    Conclusion

    The indie game development scene is a dynamic and ever-evolving space where creativity knows no bounds. By staying attuned to the latest trends in art styles, mechanics, distribution models, and monetization, developers can navigate this landscape with confidence. Remember, the key is not just to follow trends blindly but to adapt them to your unique vision, creating games that resonate with players and stand the test of time. As we move forward, let’s continue to embrace the spirit of innovation and push the boundaries of what indie games can achieve.

  • Cultivating a Creative Environment for Your Indie Game Development Studio

    Cultivating a Creative Environment for Your Indie Game Development Studio

    In the fast-paced world of indie game development, where innovation and creativity are the lifeblood of success, creating a nurturing and inspiring environment for your studio is paramount. It’s all about creating the right atmosphere and culture that allows these talents to flourish. In this article, we will explore the key elements and strategies to cultivate a creative environment for your indie studio.

    Hiring for Creativity

       The foundation of a creative studio begins with the people you bring on board. Hiring individuals with a passion for gaming and a deep well of creativity is essential. While technical skills are undoubtedly important, they should not overshadow the value of creative thinkers who can bring fresh ideas to the table. 

       When conducting interviews, focus on questions that reveal a candidate’s creative thinking process. Ask about their favorite games and what aspects of those games they found most inspiring. Look for candidates who demonstrate an eagerness to push boundaries and a willingness to explore new ideas.

       Remember, diversity in your team can also be a significant source of creativity. Diverse backgrounds and experiences can lead to unique perspectives and innovative solutions. Encourage inclusivity in your studio and celebrate different viewpoints.

    Flexible Workspaces

       The physical workspace plays a crucial role in cultivating creativity. Gone are the days when creativity was confined to a cubicle. Providing a flexible and comfortable workspace can greatly enhance the creative process.

       Consider creating spaces that cater to different work styles. Some team members may thrive in quiet, isolated areas, while others may prefer collaborative, open spaces. Encourage customization of workspaces to foster a sense of ownership and comfort among your team members.

       Additionally, the studio should be a place that inspires creativity. Decorate it with game posters, artwork, and references to your favorite games. Surrounding your team with reminders of the medium’s potential can ignite their imagination.

    Encourage Experimentation

    Creative freedom is one of the most potent tools in your arsenal for fostering innovation. Encourage your team to experiment, take risks, and pursue their wildest ideas. Some of the most groundbreaking games have emerged from these moments of experimentation.

       Create a culture where failure is not stigmatized but seen as a valuable learning experience. This will give your team the confidence to take bold steps and push the boundaries of game development. Provide dedicated time and resources for “creative projects” that allow your team to explore their ideas outside of their regular tasks.

       You can also organize regular brainstorming sessions, hackathons, or game jams where team members can come together to collaborate on new concepts. These events not only promote creativity but also foster camaraderie and team spirit.

    Embrace a Growth Mindset

      A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort and learning. Encouraging a growth mindset within your studio can be a game-changer for creativity. 

       When your team believes that they can improve their skills and overcome challenges, they are more likely to take on ambitious projects and persevere in the face of obstacles. Foster a culture of continuous learning and development by providing opportunities for training, workshops, and skill-sharing.

       Celebrate the process of learning and the journey of improvement, not just the end results. Acknowledge and reward effort and determination, as these are the qualities that will drive your team to explore new frontiers in game development.

    Effective Communication and Collaboration

    Creativity often flourishes when different perspectives and ideas collide. Effective communication and collaboration are essential to harness the collective creative power of your team.

       Implement communication tools and practices that encourage open dialogue and idea sharing. Regular team meetings, project retrospectives, and one-on-one check-ins can help team members feel heard and valued.

       Foster an environment of constructive feedback where team members can offer suggestions and critique each other’s work without fear of judgment. Encourage cross-functional collaboration, where artists, programmers, designers, and writers work closely together to bring diverse ideas into your games.

    Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Creativity can be stifled by burnout and excessive stress. As a studio leader, it’s crucial to prioritize the well-being of your team members. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting reasonable working hours and respecting personal boundaries.

       Offer flexible scheduling options, such as remote work or flexible hours, to accommodate the diverse needs of your team. Encourage breaks and downtime to recharge creative energies. Remember that creativity often strikes when least expected, and a well-rested mind is more likely to produce innovative ideas.

       Provide resources for mental health support, and be vigilant about signs of burnout. A healthy and happy team is more likely to generate innovative and inspired game concepts.

    Celebrate Achievements and Milestones

     Recognizing and celebrating achievements is a powerful motivator for creativity. When your team reaches a milestone, whether it’s completing a challenging level or launching a game, take the time to celebrate their hard work and dedication.

       Celebrations can come in various forms, from small gatherings to big parties. Additionally, consider establishing a system of rewards or incentives to acknowledge exceptional creativity and contributions. Recognizing and rewarding innovation reinforces the importance of creativity within your studio culture.

    Staying Inspired

     To foster creativity within your indie game development studio, you must also nourish your own creativity as a leader. Stay inspired by playing games, attending industry events, and keeping up with the latest developments in technology and design.

       Share your own creative pursuits and passions with your team. Whether it’s art, music, or literature, your interests outside of game development can spark new ideas and conversations within the studio.

       Lastly, don’t forget to seek feedback and insights from your team regularly. Your team members may have their own ideas and strategies for fostering creativity that can benefit the studio as a whole.

    Final Thoughts

    Cultivating a creative environment for your indie game development studio is an ongoing process that requires dedication, open-mindedness, and a commitment to nurturing your team’s potential. By hiring for creativity, providing flexible workspaces, encouraging experimentation, embracing a growth mindset, fostering effective communication, maintaining work-life balance, celebrating achievements, and staying inspired, you can create a studio culture where innovation thrives.

    Remember that creativity is not a finite resource but a wellspring of limitless possibilities. With the right environment and mindset, your indie studio can produce groundbreaking games that captivate players and leave a lasting mark on the industry. Keep nurturing your studio’s creative spirit, and watch as your games continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of gaming.

  • Developing for Next-Gen Platforms: Unleashing the Potential

    The gaming industry is amid an exciting transformation with the advent of next-generation platforms like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and gaming PCs equipped with powerful GPUs. As senior game designers, it’s crucial to grasp these platforms’ unique opportunities and challenges. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore key considerations for developing games on next-gen platforms, providing clear examples.

    Understanding the Hardware

    CPU and GPU Power

    Next-gen platforms boast remarkable processing capabilities. For instance, the PlayStation 5’s custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU offers ray tracing, enabling realistic lighting and reflections. The Xbox Series X features a custom AMD Zen 2 CPU for fast processing.

    Example: In an action-adventure game, harness the GPU’s ray tracing to create stunning water reflections and intricate lighting in a dynamic, rain-soaked jungle environment.

    SSD Speed

    The lightning-fast SSDs in these consoles allow near-instant loading times and seamless asset streaming, revolutionizing gameplay.

    Example: In an open-world game, eliminate loading screens when transitioning between regions, ensuring a fluid, immersive experience.

    Innovative Controllers

    Next-gen controllers offer unique features. The PlayStation 5’s DualSense, for instance, features haptic feedback and adaptive triggers for heightened immersion.

    Example: In a first-person shooter, utilize adaptive triggers to simulate the resistance of different firearms, enhancing the sense of realism and immersion.

    Graphics and Visuals

    Ray Tracing

    Ray tracing technology creates lifelike lighting, shadows, and reflections, elevating visual quality.

    Example: In a survival horror game, employ ray tracing to craft eerie, realistic shadows in a haunted mansion, intensifying the atmosphere.

    High-Resolution Textures

    Leverage powerful GPUs to incorporate high-resolution textures for intricate detail.

    Example: In a racing game, apply high-res textures to vehicle models for realistic paint finishes and wear-and-tear effects.

    Dynamic Environments

    Next-gen hardware allows for dynamic, interactive worlds that react to player actions.

    Example: In an open-world RPG, implement a day-night cycle, where characters’ behavior changes, and wildlife appears or disappears depending on the time of day.

    Gameplay Mechanics

    Advanced AI and NPC Behavior

    Increased CPU power enables more realistic AI and NPC interactions.Example: In a stealth game, design guards with advanced AI that adapts to the player’s tactics, making each encounter unique and challenging.

    Physics Simulations

    Realistic physics can enhance gameplay through destructible environments and dynamic reactions. Example: In a physics-based puzzle game, use complex physics simulations to create intricate contraptions that players must navigate.

    Advanced Animation

    Next-gen consoles allow for smoother character animations, improving the overall game feel.

    Example: In an action game, create fluid combat animations that respond to player inputs, making combat more intuitive and satisfying.

    Audio and Immersive Soundscapes

    3D Audio

    Next-gen platforms support 3D audio, enhancing spatial sound accuracy.

    Example: In a horror game, use 3D audio to create chilling whispers that seem to emanate from different directions, intensifying the fear factor.

    Realistic Sound Effects

    High-quality sound effects add depth to immersion.

    Example: In a sports simulation, include realistic crowd reactions, player grunts, and ball impacts to immerse players in the game.

    Cross-Platform Development

    Consistency in Design

    Maintain a consistent experience across different platforms.

    Example: In a cross-platform multiplayer game, ensure that gameplay mechanics and level design are consistent, so players on all platforms compete fairly.

    Input Variability

    Optimize controls for each platform.

    Example: In a strategy game, implement intuitive touch controls for mobile devices while providing precise mouse and keyboard input for PC players.

    Performance Optimization

    Scale games gracefully on older hardware.Example: In a mobile game with console adaptations, optimize graphics settings automatically based on the device’s capabilities, ensuring smooth performance.

    Online Features and Social Integration

    Cross-Platform Multiplayer

    Enable cross-platform play to broaden the player base.

    Example: In a battle royale game, allow players on different platforms to squad up, creating a diverse and dynamic player pool.

    Live Services

    Support ongoing content updates and events.

    Example: In a live-service RPG, introduce seasonal events with new quests, gear, and cosmetics, ensuring players stay engaged long-term.

    Social Integration

    Leverage social features to encourage player interaction.

    Example: In a city-building game, implement in-game chat and leaderboards to foster a sense of community among players.

    Accessibility and Inclusivity

    Customizable Controls

    Allow players to remap controls for diverse needs.

    Example: In an action game, let players customize button layouts to accommodate different playstyles or physical limitations.

    Subtitle Options

    Provide robust subtitle options for hearing-impaired players.

    Example: In an adventure game, offer adjustable font sizes and colors for subtitles, ensuring readability for all players.

    Cognitive Accessibility

    Implement features like clear tutorials and adjustable difficulty levels.

    Example: In an educational game, offer hints and tutorials with varying levels of detail to accommodate different learning styles.

    Future-Proofing Your Game

    Scalability

    Plan for updates to take advantage of future hardware innovations.

    Example: In an MMORPG, design systems that can accommodate larger player populations and more complex content in future expansions.

    Longevity

    Support your game’s long-term success with post-launch content.

    Example: In a competitive shooter, release regular balance updates and introduce new maps and modes to keep the player base engaged over time.

    Conclusion

    Developing for next-gen platforms demands a deep understanding of hardware capabilities, innovative gameplay mechanics, and a commitment to accessibility and long-term support. By embracing these considerations and applying practical examples, senior game designers can create captivating gaming experiences that harness the full potential of next-gen platforms, delighting players and setting new industry standards.

  • The Mobile Gaming Revolution: 10 Reasons to Dive into Mobile Game Development

    The Mobile Gaming Revolution: 10 Reasons to Dive into Mobile Game Development

    In the fast-paced world of game development, mobile gaming has emerged as a dominant force. With the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets, the mobile gaming industry has become a lucrative playground for developers of all sizes. While traditional PC and console gaming still hold their ground, mobile gaming has carved out its own niche, offering unique opportunities and challenges. In this article, we’ll explore ten compelling reasons to focus on mobile game development and why it’s a field worth diving into.

    1. The Ubiquity of Mobile Devices

    The most obvious reason to venture into mobile game development is the sheer ubiquity of mobile devices. Nearly everyone owns a smartphone or tablet, and these devices have become an integral part of our daily lives. This widespread adoption means that your potential player base is enormous, giving you the opportunity to reach a diverse and global audience.

    Whether you’re targeting casual gamers, hardcore enthusiasts, or something in between, there’s a niche waiting to be tapped into within the mobile gaming space. The accessibility of mobile devices allows you to reach players in various age groups and demographics, making it a versatile platform for developers to explore.

    2. Low Entry Barriers

    Compared to developing games for consoles or PC, mobile game development has relatively low entry barriers. You don’t need specialized hardware or expensive development kits. All you require is a computer, the right software tools, and a dose of creativity. This accessibility makes it easier for indie developers and small studios to compete and thrive in the mobile gaming market.

    Furthermore, mobile platforms like iOS and Android have well-documented development environments, ample resources, and strong developer communities. These factors contribute to a smoother development process and lower initial investment, making mobile game development an attractive proposition for newcomers to the industry.

    3. Rapid Development and Iteration

    Mobile game development offers the advantage of rapid development and iteration cycles. The shorter development timelines on mobile platforms allow you to experiment with new ideas and mechanics more frequently. This agility can lead to quicker learning experiences and a better understanding of player preferences.

    With tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, developers can create high-quality mobile games with relative ease. Moreover, frequent updates and patches can be rolled out seamlessly, enabling you to respond to player feedback and fix issues promptly. This iterative approach not only improves the quality of your games but also keeps players engaged over the long term.

    4. Diverse Monetization Options

    Monetization is a crucial aspect of game development, and mobile gaming offers a plethora of monetization options to choose from. While some players may prefer to purchase games upfront, others are more receptive to free-to-play models with in-app purchases or advertisements. This diversity allows developers to experiment with various monetization strategies and find the one that suits their game and target audience best.

    Additionally, the mobile gaming market has seen the rise of subscription-based services, such as Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass. These services provide a steady stream of revenue to developers while offering players access to a library of premium games without ads or microtransactions. The flexibility to adapt your monetization strategy to changing market trends is a significant advantage in mobile game development.

    5. Social Integration and Virality

    Mobile devices are inherently social tools, and mobile games can leverage this social connectivity to great effect. Many successful mobile games incorporate social features like leaderboards, multiplayer modes, and social sharing options. These features encourage players to compete with friends, collaborate, and share their achievements, leading to increased engagement and organic growth through word-of-mouth.

    The virality of mobile games is another powerful factor. Players can easily share their experiences with friends and family, whether through social media, messaging apps, or simply by showing their devices. This organic sharing can lead to exponential growth in your player base, as players recruit others to join in on the fun. Mobile games that create a sense of community and competition often thrive in this environment.

    6. Accessibility and Convenience

    Mobile gaming’s accessibility and convenience are unparalleled. Players can enjoy mobile games on the go, during short breaks, or while waiting in line. This flexibility caters to the modern lifestyle, where time is often limited and fragmented. By offering bite-sized gaming experiences, you can capture the attention of players who might not have the luxury of extended gaming sessions.

    Moreover, mobile games don’t require players to invest in dedicated gaming hardware or set aside a specific gaming area. This accessibility makes mobile gaming an attractive option for a broader audience, including those who may not identify as traditional gamers.

    7. Expanding Technologies

    As mobile devices continue to advance technologically, so do the opportunities for mobile game developers. Modern smartphones and tablets boast impressive hardware capabilities, including powerful processors, high-quality displays, and advanced sensors. These features enable developers to create visually stunning and immersive gaming experiences that rival those on traditional gaming platforms.

    The integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies into mobile devices further expands the possibilities for mobile game development. AR games like Pokémon GO have demonstrated the potential for blending the virtual and real worlds seamlessly. As AR and VR technology continues to evolve, it opens up new avenues for innovative and immersive mobile gaming experiences.

    8. Global Distribution Platforms

    The major app stores, such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, provide developers with a global distribution platform for their mobile games. These platforms offer unparalleled reach, making it easy to publish and distribute your games to a worldwide audience. With localization and translation, you can reach players in different languages and regions, further increasing your game’s potential reach.

    Furthermore, app stores provide robust tools for discoverability, user reviews, and analytics. This data-driven approach allows you to refine your game’s performance and marketing strategies over time, ensuring that your game remains competitive and appealing to players around the world.

    9. Cross-Platform Play

    Cross-platform play is gaining traction in the gaming industry, and mobile gaming is no exception. Many mobile games now support cross-platform play, allowing players on different devices to join the same gaming sessions. This inclusivity fosters a sense of community and expands the player base, as friends can play together regardless of their preferred gaming platform.

    The ability to play with friends on consoles, PCs, and other mobile devices creates a more engaging and dynamic multiplayer experience. As cross-platform play becomes more prevalent, mobile games that embrace this trend can tap into a larger player pool and provide a more social and enjoyable gaming experience.

    10. Innovation and Creativity

    Lastly, mobile game development encourages innovation and creativity. The constraints of mobile hardware and screen size compel developers to think outside the box and come up with unique gameplay mechanics and design solutions. This creative challenge can lead to groundbreaking games that stand out in a crowded marketplace.

    Additionally, mobile games often experiment with new genres and gameplay styles, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in gaming. The mobile gaming landscape is rich with opportunities to create innovative and experimental games that captivate players and challenge industry norms.

    Final Thoughts

    In conclusion, mobile game development offers a compelling array of reasons to dive into this thriving industry. From the ubiquity of mobile devices and low entry barriers to rapid development cycles and diverse monetization options, the mobile gaming space is ripe with opportunities for developers of all backgrounds. The social integration, accessibility, and convenience of mobile gaming make it a platform that resonates with a broad audience.

    As technology continues to advance, mobile game developers have the chance to create increasingly immersive and innovative gaming experiences. The global distribution platforms and cross-platform play options ensure that your

  • How to Design an RPG Progression System that Keeps Players Engaged

    How to Design an RPG Progression System that Keeps Players Engaged

    Creating a captivating RPG (Role-Playing Game) experience goes beyond stunning graphics and a gripping storyline. A crucial element that keeps players invested is the progression system. A well-designed RPG progression system not only offers a sense of accomplishment but also encourages players to explore, strategize, and immerse themselves in the game world. In this article, we will delve into the key components of crafting a compelling RPG progression system that keeps players engaged throughout their journey.

    1. Clear Goals and Milestones

    A successful RPG progression system starts with setting clear and achievable goals for players. These goals give players a sense of direction and purpose, motivating them to progress further. Milestones act as markers of achievement, breaking down the journey into manageable segments. For example, in “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” players embark on a quest to defeat the mighty dragon Alduin, providing a clear overarching goal. Along the way, they complete smaller quests, join factions, and improve skills, each contributing to their overall advancement.

    2. Diverse Skill and Ability System

    A robust RPG progression system offers players a variety of skills and abilities to develop. This diversity allows players to tailor their characters to fit their preferred playstyle. Take “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” as an example. Geralt, the protagonist, can learn combat techniques, alchemical concoctions, and magical spells. This rich array of options ensures that players can experiment and create unique character builds, enhancing replayability.

    3. Meaningful Choices and Trade-offs

    Engagement flourishes when players must make meaningful decisions that have consequences. Introduce trade-offs to your RPG progression system to encourage thoughtful strategy. In “Divinity: Original Sin 2,” players must select from a range of character origins, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses. These choices impact the narrative and gameplay, prompting players to weigh their options carefully.

    4. Dynamic Difficulty Scaling

    Maintaining a sense of challenge is pivotal in retaining player interest. A dynamic difficulty scaling mechanism ensures that the game remains engaging without becoming frustrating. “Dark Souls” exemplifies this approach with its intricate level design and enemy encounters. As players improve their skills, the game adapts, providing increasingly formidable adversaries. This not only prevents monotony but also offers a gratifying sense of progression.

    5. Loot and Equipment Variety

    Rewarding players with a diverse array of loot and equipment fuels their desire to explore and conquer. The thrill of discovering powerful weapons or rare armor pieces can be a powerful motivator. Games like “Diablo 3” excel at this by offering a plethora of loot, each with unique attributes that can drastically impact gameplay. The constant pursuit of better gear becomes a driving force in the player’s journey.

    6. Character Customization and Cosmetics

    A sense of ownership over characters enhances player attachment. Incorporate customization options that allow players to visually personalize their avatars. Beyond stats and abilities, “Mass Effect” lets players modify their character’s appearance, fostering a deeper connection. Additionally, offering cosmetic items, such as outfits or skins, provides a non-gameplay avenue for progression, appealing to a broader audience.

    7. Engaging Storytelling

    A well-crafted RPG progression system should be intertwined with an engaging narrative. Progression milestones should align with story events, creating a seamless blend of character development and plot advancement. “Dragon Age: Inquisition” excels at this by integrating character growth with pivotal story decisions. As players make choices, their characters evolve, and the narrative branches, resulting in a personalized experience.

    8. Community and Social Features

    Harness the power of community to enhance player engagement. Implement features that encourage interaction and collaboration. Multiplayer RPGs like “World of Warcraft” thrive on cooperative gameplay, fostering social bonds. By including guilds, group quests, or shared world events, players are more likely to remain engaged due to the sense of camaraderie and shared accomplishments.

    9. Regular Content Updates

    To maintain long-term engagement, deliver regular content updates that expand the game world and progression options. “The Elder Scrolls Online” demonstrates this approach by introducing expansions that introduce new regions, quests, and abilities. These updates rejuvenate player interest and ensure that there’s always something fresh to explore and achieve.

    10. Feedback and Iteration

    Lastly, a successful RPG progression system is a result of continuous refinement based on player feedback and data analysis. Monitor player behavior, listen to their suggestions, and be prepared to make adjustments. The “Final Fantasy XIV” team turned a disastrous launch into a success story by revamping the game based on player input, leading to a resurgence in engagement and popularity.

    Conclusion

    Designing an RPG progression system that captivates players requires a delicate balance of goals, choices, challenges, and rewards. By incorporating clear objectives, diverse skill systems, meaningful choices, and engaging storytelling, you can create an immersive experience that keeps players invested for the long haul. Remember that player feedback and iteration are key to ensuring that your progression system evolves with your audience’s needs and desires. Craft a world where each achievement feels earned and every milestone leads to new adventures.

    Join our vibrant Discord community and follow us on social media to stay updated on our latest RPG developments. Together, we can continue to create unforgettable gaming experiences that resonate with players around the world. Your journey awaits!

  • Embracing Evolution: Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Indie Game Design Trends

    Embracing Evolution: Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Indie Game Design Trends

    In the ever-evolving realm of indie game development, staying ahead of the curve is essential to capture players’ hearts and stand out in a sea of creative offerings. As senior game developers, we have witnessed a myriad of trends come and go, each leaving a unique mark on the indie gaming landscape. In this article, we will delve into the latest trends that are shaping the indie game design scene. From art styles and mechanics to distribution models and monetization strategies, we’ll explore how these trends can be seamlessly integrated into your own projects.

    Part 1: Art Styles that Captivate

    1.1 Handcrafted Pixel Artistry

    Pixel art, the classic darling of indie game design, has taken on a new life through intricate detailing and innovative animations. Titles like “Hollow Knight” and “Celeste” have shown us that pixel art can be both nostalgic and breathtakingly modern. To implement this trend effectively, focus on meticulous attention to detail, experiment with dynamic lighting effects, and let the pixels tell an immersive visual story.

    1.2 Surrealism and Abstract Aesthetics

    Indie games are increasingly exploring the realms of surrealism and abstract art, offering players an otherworldly experience. Games like “Kentucky Route Zero” and “Gris” embrace dreamlike visuals that evoke powerful emotions. To infuse this trend into your game, play with unconventional color palettes, experiment with non-traditional shapes, and craft environments that blur the lines between reality and imagination.

    Part 2: Mechanics that Innovate

    2.1 Procedural Generation with Purpose

    Procedural generation is no longer a mere tool for generating random levels. Modern indie games are leveraging procedural techniques to create purposeful and narrative-driven experiences. “Noita” and “Slay the Spire” showcase how procedural generation can enhance replayability and narrative depth. To incorporate this trend, define clear design goals for your procedural systems, ensuring they align with your game’s core experience.

    2.2 Interactive Narratives and Player Agency

    Indies are pushing the boundaries of interactive storytelling, giving players agency to shape the narrative. Games like “Undertale” and “Disco Elysium” offer branching narratives influenced by player choices. Embrace this trend by designing meaningful decisions, consequences, and character interactions, allowing players to become co-authors of their in-game stories.

    Part 3: Distribution Models and Monetization

    3.1 Embracing Early Access

    The concept of Early Access has evolved from a risky proposition to a strategic advantage. Indies now leverage Early Access not only for funding but also for iterative design and community engagement. Games like “Factorio” have demonstrated how this model can lead to incredible success. To implement Early Access effectively, ensure your game has a strong core experience, maintain transparent communication with your community, and regularly update based on player feedback.

    3.2 Navigating Free-to-Play Wisely

    While free-to-play (F2P) was once synonymous with exploitative monetization, indie developers are finding ethical ways to embrace this model. “Genshin Impact” and “Hades” exemplify F2P done right, offering fair monetization and high-quality experiences. To incorporate F2P into your game, focus on providing genuine value through in-game purchases, avoid pay-to-win mechanics, and prioritize player enjoyment over short-term profits.

    Part 4: Implementation Strategies

    4.1 Balancing Innovation and Familiarity

    Implementing these trends requires a delicate balance between innovation and familiarity. While pushing creative boundaries is essential, ensure that your game maintains a level of familiarity that resonates with your target audience. Blend innovative mechanics with tried-and-true gameplay elements to create a harmonious experience.

    4.2 Iterative Design and Player Feedback

    Indie game development is a journey of constant refinement. Embrace iterative design by releasing playable prototypes or demos to gather player feedback early on. Incorporate player insights to shape your game’s mechanics, narrative, and overall experience. Engaging with your community fosters a sense of ownership and can lead to a more polished final product.

    4.3 Staying Agile in a Changing Landscape

    The indie game design scene is a dynamic ecosystem, with trends evolving rapidly. To stay relevant, adopt an agile mindset. Be willing to pivot your design based on market shifts, player preferences, and technological advancements. An adaptable approach ensures your game remains current and appealing throughout its development cycle.

    Conclusion

    In the ever-evolving realm of indie game design, embracing trends is not about blindly following fads, but rather about leveraging the spirit of innovation to create captivating experiences. By integrating the latest art styles, mechanics, distribution models, and monetization strategies, you can navigate the indie scene’s changing landscape and craft games that resonate deeply with players. As senior game developers, let us remember that while trends may come and go, a passion for crafting remarkable games will always remain at the heart of our craft.

  • Releasing Your First Indie Game: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

    Releasing Your First Indie Game: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

    As an aspiring indie game developer, bringing your creation to the gaming world is an exhilarating journey. However, launching an indie game successfully requires more than just developing a fantastic product. It demands a strategic approach, thoughtful planning, and meticulous execution. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential aspects of releasing your first indie game, covering key factors like marketing, distribution, customer support, updates, and building buzz.

    1. Crafting an Engaging Game

    Before we dive into the intricacies of releasing your indie game, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of creating a captivating and polished experience. Your game must stand out in an already crowded market. Focus on your unique vision, gameplay mechanics, and engaging story to create a memorable gaming experience for your audience.

    2. Market Research and Target Audience

    Understanding your target audience is paramount to a successful launch. Conduct thorough market research to identify potential competitors, analyze player preferences, and assess market trends. By identifying your target audience, you can tailor your marketing efforts, game features, and communication strategies to resonate with the right gamers.

    3. Building Buzz

    Building anticipation and excitement around your indie game is essential for a successful launch. Start generating buzz early on by using social media, game dev forums, and gaming conventions to showcase teasers, artwork, and development progress. Engaging with potential players and the gaming community creates a sense of ownership and fosters a loyal fanbase.

    4. Effective Marketing Strategies

    Marketing plays a critical role in reaching a broader audience and driving game sales. Consider a multi-faceted marketing approach that includes the following:

    • Press Kit: Prepare a professional press kit containing game information, screenshots, artwork, and trailers. This will make it easier for journalists and content creators to cover your game.
    • Trailer: A visually stunning and captivating game trailer is a powerful tool to entice potential players. Keep it concise, highlighting the game’s unique features and gameplay.
    • Influencer Outreach: Collaborate with influential content creators and streamers in the gaming community to showcase your game to a larger audience.
    • Social Media: Utilize various social media platforms to regularly engage with your followers, share updates, and create interactive content.
    • Community Engagement: Foster a strong community by interacting with players through forums, social media, and game-related events. Respond to feedback and listen to your players’ suggestions.
    • Press Coverage: Reach out to gaming journalists and bloggers to secure press coverage and reviews for your game.

    5. Choosing the Right Distribution Platform

    Selecting the appropriate distribution platform is a critical decision that impacts your game’s visibility and accessibility. Popular platforms for indie game distribution include Steam, GOG, Itch.io, and various console stores. Consider factors such as revenue share, audience demographics, and platform policies before making your choice.

    6. The Importance of Customer Support

    Excellent customer support can significantly impact your game’s reputation and player retention. Address player inquiries, bug reports, and feedback promptly and professionally. Engage with your community, be transparent about known issues, and communicate your plans for future updates and improvements.

    7. Post-Launch Updates

    The work doesn’t end after releasing your game. Regular updates, bug fixes, and content additions are essential to keep players engaged and satisfied. Take player feedback seriously and implement improvements based on their suggestions. Post-launch support demonstrates your commitment to the game and its community.

    8. Handling Feedback and Reviews

    Reviews and feedback, whether positive or negative, are valuable insights for your future endeavors. Embrace constructive criticism, learn from it, and use it to enhance your skills and create better games. Avoid taking negative feedback personally and focus on turning it into an opportunity for growth.

    9. Tracking Metrics and Analytics

    Utilize analytics tools to monitor player behavior, engagement metrics, and sales performance. This data-driven approach allows you to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and tailor your marketing strategies to achieve better results.

    Conclusion

    Releasing your first indie game is an adventure that requires passion, dedication, and strategic planning. By focusing on crafting a compelling game, understanding your audience, and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can build anticipation and buzz around your game. Engage with your community, offer exceptional customer support, and continually update and improve your game based on feedback. Remember, a successful launch is just the beginning; maintain your momentum and keep exploring new avenues for growth. Good luck on your indie game development journey!

  • Brainstorming? Filter Lists: how to use them + template!

    Brainstorming? Filter Lists: how to use them + template!

    One of the simplest yet most effective #gamedesign tools I’ve ever created in my 10-year career is the humble *Filter List.*

    Filter Lists are a fast and furious way to get light analytical data about potential game concepts. I created them out of a need to quickly cut down a high number of brainstormed ideas. The process is easy as heck, and I now use it *every single time* I brainstorm, without fail.

    How to Use Filter Lists

    Start by creating a Google Sheets or Excel doc and drop all of your game concepts into the doc. (See Picture 3)

    Next, work with your team to decide on 3-5 “filters” or scoring categories that matter to your development. (See Picture 4) Common ones I use are:

    Scope: How much effort/time/money it will take to build this game
    Hook: Do we expect that this concept will catch eyes
    Monetizable: Do we see a clear and understandable way to make money
    Personal Excitement: How pumped is the team is for the concept

    After that, run through every game concept as quickly as you can and drop a score from 1-6 in each filter category. (See Picture 5)

    Why 1-6? It means you have no perfect middle (when I did 1-5 I always found myself droppin’ 3s) but it has a limited enough option set that the difference between a 3 and a 4 is significant.

    Once you finish doing this, total the score for each game (See Picture 6) and viola! You have an extremely quick and dirty set of numbers for the viability of each game concept!

    WARNING: While this technique is valuable, it is *extremely biased.* You will find yourself often scoring your favorite concepts much higher than others. Do your best to be honest about each score.

    Final Tips!

    If you want to get advanced (and help avoid bias) you can create a doc that combines multiple team members’ scores together. You can also add a “weight” to each filter that implies that one category is more important to your team than another. Finally, this is a valuable exercise for features, not just entire game concepts. Trying to brainstorm a new boss for Level 2? Filter it!

    And there you have it! The simple post-brainstorm exercise known as “Filter Lists.” Give it a try!

    Homework

    Here, I’ll even give you an exercise. You have 2 minutes to brainstorm and then 3 minutes to filter down to a single idea using the following prompt: “Narrative Choice Game where the player leaves the game inspired to do *something*” Drop your top idea in the comments!

    Just remember to spread where you learned this from. Willem, the Wizard o’ Joy 😉

    Quick Links:

    Simple Filter List

    Advance Filter List