By Matt Garrett, Writer for LaptopNinja
The indie video gaming market is booming today, but although times have never been better for indie developers, it can still be tough for new indie developers to get things off the ground. If you are an aspiring indie developer and you need just a little help getting that first game released, keep reading. Below you will find five tips to help you become the next successful indie game developer.
Budget for Failure and Success
Developing a rock solid budget for your game before starting production will often be one of the biggest factors between failure and success. Until you land your first big hit, chances are you will be struggling to keep the lights on, nevermind the costs associated with programming and testing, just staying alive can be a challenge. Learn to live and work on as little as possible. Sure, you want to make a good game and you want it to be the best it can be, but don’t over extend yourself on developers or other resources just to create your game.
Try to do as much as you can yourself and do your best to live and work as efficiently as possible. In the end this will give you more resources to throw at your game so you can create the very best end product you can. If you do that, you can prep yourself for the success, or failure of your game and still live to develop another day.
Build a Community Before Release
So many gaming developers forget how important it is to create a community before your game ever hits the market. If you want your game to have a shot at getting notice in today’s market, you have to take the necessary steps beforehand to create a community that will get behind the game and help you develop it along the way. This may include an early access release or an open beta. These types of releases have become increasingly popular on platforms such as Steam allowing indie game studios to get critical feedback on their work during development.
Engage the community you are creating on a regular basis and ask for their feedback as you develop the game. You could even invite some of your community to help you test the game so you can get their feedback before the release. Who knows, they could find a fatal flaw that you haven’t found with the game or they could give you an idea that will propel your game to the top of the charts.
Decide On Your System Requirements
Although it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest eye popping 3D engines, the bulk majority of gamers worldwide run on mid to low ranging gaming PC’s and laptops. Going for a next-gen game engine might open up avenues to a more high-end market, but you could end up leaving a significant portion of your potential market out in the cold.
Wildly popular indie games such as Braid and Owlboy provide a visually rich and entertaining game without being a performance hog. Many indie platformers released built in the past year are playable on high-end PC’s as old as a decade ago. The rise of performance in the integrated graphics on modern everyday CPU’s have also spawned a whole new sub-set of budget gaming laptops and PC’s powered by integrated graphics. With the huge growth of online gaming in recent years, it’s no wonder that smart game developers are focusing on original game content rather than raw graphics when competing with much larger studios.
So many indie developers feel the financial pressure to release the final version of their game as quickly as possible. It’s understandable. After all, the money they have will only last so long and no money will be coming in until that new game is on the market.
Just because your game works, doesn’t mean it is the best it can me. Remember, your little indie studio will be going against gaming giants. As such, your game needs to be as polished as it possibly can be before it hits the market. Most reviewers aren’t going to change their scores after their first impressions after all, and it’s abundantly clear how scores at sites such as Metacritic can affect a games chances of success.
Take a look at every aspect of your game before you release. That includes the gameplay, menus, monetary features and even the artwork itself. Every single piece of your game needs to run fluidly and look and function perfectly if you hope to compete in the video game marketplace of today.
Consider Adding Online Gameplay
While adding online gameplay to your game may make the game more complicated and drive up development costs, it can make the difference if your game lacks in other areas. It will also add another level of complexity to your game that may keep your community engaged for longer. Today’s gamers love competing against one another, so by adding this type of play to the game you can set your newly developed indie title apart from all the rest. Runaway successes such as Terraria are testament to the power of an additional multiplayer component to engage an audience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change
After your game has been released, your game will be put through the ringer of players, especially if you have managed to create a decent community before you release the game. These players will tell you exactly what they think and they won’t hold anything back. Use this feedback to your advantage.
Sure, some of what they say will be of no help, but many will tell you about the problems they have or the features they wish the game would implement. Take this feedback and don’t be afraid to alter your game and make any changes to improve the overall gameplay. This will impress your players and give you a leg up on those developers that release and then move on to the next project without a second thought.
While the video gaming market is still growing, it is becoming harder and harder for indie developers to get noticed. But don’t give up. You have a dream and a desire to create a game you believe everyone will love. So do it. Whether you are developing the next big smartphone game or an FPS game for PC, remain passionate and give your budding community of fans the game they want, no matter how many fans you may have. If you do that, the players will come and you very well could be the next indie developer success story circulating the internet.