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Friday, November 8, 2013

Questions An Indie Should Consider

     Yesterday, I was doing some deep thinking about what it takes to survive as an indie developer. Especially as once with little experience and money. I kept coming across the same responses from professionals in the business and indie developers in general. It basically comes down to practicing your skill until you make a breakthrough. You need to know what you're doing and be able to improve yourself.

     If you're going to be an indie, you should be able to answer these questions easily right? So I answered them just to see if I could. See if you can do the same below the break.

What games will you make?

      Mobile games. RPGs in particular. I'll also experiment with different genres and ideas as I am inspired to do them. I have a list of over 50 games I'd like to develop. Of those 50, I'm certain about making 10 of them. I also believe I will be capable of producing at least 7 of them by myself in a few years.

What games have you made?

     I've made three as of today. Candy Shop Catch, TriGrid, and Fish Feaster. All arcade style games, and one of which is a totally unique gameplay concept with no similar examples I know of. The largest noticeable flaws in all of them are graphical quality and what I'm calling "interest factor". I've looked into it and plan to fix both with my next game.

What is your game budget?

     Next to nothing. My parents occasionally send me money, or I may get cash for my birthday. My money goes straight to gas and game development tools. Major expenses include hardware (PC, Mac, testing devices, etc.), software (Unity plugins, video capture software, etc.), and advertising (something I'll look into when I earn more money).

Who provides the cash?

     My parents and myself. Whatever money I make goes back into development until I make an income I could live off of. I get money from my parents on holidays and special occasions. I earn money from ads on my blog and my free apps. I also sell paid apps and in-app purchases for $1 - $5.

How much will they sell for?

     Most of my games will be free in order to get as popular as possible. Others will cost various amounts upfront in order to stay competitive and profitable. My free games will bring in ad revenue and downloadable content (DLC) purchases. I'll also get money for getting visitors on my website.

How will you reach your target audience?

     Social networking and popular app storefronts. My apps will be available on Google Play and the iOS App Store. I will also use social networking in order to connect with the game development community. Supportive hardcore gamers who help one another grow in order to build a thriving creative community. Establishing myself as a game developer who loves making games gives me a louder voice with which to announce my new and improved games as I create them.

     I live by my policy of being as open and honest as possible. I want to show that my games come from a human being that cares. Not a money hungry company looking for a short-term cash-in. I believe that kind of honesty will form a strong fanbase in the gaming community. Those fans, and all other smartphone gamers, are my target audience.

Who is your target audience?

     People looking for fun things to do on their smartphones. I create a wide variety of games. Some for hardcore, some for casual, and some that both can enjoy. My games are intended for nearly all ages. I avoid offensive material in order to create games entire families could get into together.

     I can make RPGs for long-time video game fans and I can make RPGs for elementary schoolers. I can make arcade games for moms and arcade games for older brothers. My target audience is anyone willing to try something new on their handheld gadget.

How big is your target audience?

     About 1.5 billion people have smartphones as of 2013 and over 400 million devices have iTunes accounts with credit cards ready to pay. The number of android device users grows by a million each day and it would be foolish to think there was no potential for growth in such a market. Getting in front of all those customers is a matter of standing out from the crowd. The very large, 2 billion apps wide, crowd.

What needs to be done to build the game?

     Here's my process in detail. It's a matter of improving that process and my techniques within it. That's what will take my apps from amateur to professional, and professional to popular.

     With the Unity engine, I can develop games much more quickly and easily for a large variety of platforms.

Who will do the artwork?

     Me. And I get better at it with every sprite, critique, and hand cramp.

Who will do the sound?

     I will continue to use public domain material until my budget allows for a personalized soundtrack.

Who will do the coding?

     Me. I can be a real genius code-wise when I'm focused on making a fun game element. I'm getting more efficient and fluent in C# with each game I produce. Coding seems to come naturally. Especially when most problems that arise can be solved with a Google search.

Who will do the design?

     I will. Design is by far my favorite part. Bringing all these ideas to life... It's my dream, and also my destiny. I have infinite faith in my talent and only need to wait for my other skills to be able to execute the ideas I develop.

Who will do the writing?

     I will also do the writing. I consider myself a great writer, fluent in language arts. I've been told I can make anything sound professional. But that all comes from decades of frequent reading and grammar correction (And a spell-check can't hurt either).

Who will do the testing?

     Myself, on multiple devices and my friends. I'll also get help from family, acquaintances, and any willing passersby. I do most of my debugging and finishing touches by having people play my games and watching chaos that inevitably ensues.

Who will give you feedback?

     My friends and family tend to give me honest and reliable feedback. I also hope to start getting feedback on my website, where I can potentially get a thousand times more feedback from a larger variety of people.

What platforms will your game run on?

     Android and iOS. I will consider other platforms in the future once I've mastered these two behemoths. unity allows me to easily port to other platforms should I ever decide to switch or try new markets.

How will you release updates?

     I will upload any patches that are necessary as soon as I create them. With Google Play, any fixes will be available within the same day I upload. With iOS I will need to wait for their review process to finish.

Who will make your games website?

     I already did. And I'm continuing to grow it now, and hopefully, forever.

Have you incorporated your game studio as a company?

     Not yet. It's a sole proprietorship while it's only me here. I hope to change that after I finish a certain game I can't stop thinking about.

What will differentiate your game(s) from competitors?

     The honesty will make my creations stand apart from cash-ins. My games' uniqueness and complexity will make them stand apart from games of the same genre. I also stick to my family friendly themes. My games shouldn't be ones parents don't want their kids playing.

Are you able to work way more than 60 hours a week for little to no pay?

     Hahahahahahaha!! I already do. And would love to do more hours. And get more pay.

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