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Old 03-22-2008, 11:53 AM   #1
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Default Going independent?

First off, I should note that I'm not a game developer/designer/artist. My talent for art and mental capacity for math didn't quite support that route. I went for law, which is something I notice doesn't really pop up on the "game career" meter. I'm actually a little amazed at how little advice/discussion there is on business matters generally when it comes to jobs, etc.

I'd like to get an idea on how people feel about working independently? Getting a job with an established development firm or company is difficult in EVERY industry, and I doubt the gaming industry is any different. With internet distribution and the possibilities presented by mobile technology I would think that at least a few people right out of school would consider doing independent work, if only to get some experience so they can move on to the big leagues.

Who here has experience with independent work, and what would your advice be to those looking to start their own or work for an existing indie? What are some of the CYA suggestions you'd give a student interested in going out on their own? What are some of the risks involved?
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Old 03-23-2008, 06:32 AM   #2
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OT: Your URL in your signature has Legal spelt incorrectly.

I read Indie Game Development Survival Guide and honestly I would say that it is 'easier' to get a job with an established company then it is to go the Indie route given some of the horror stories I have heard.

The platform everyone seems to recommend to really go Indie on is the PC because the entry to development is very low, plenty of license free engines are available and there are many routes to distribution (self publish, Steam, PopCap etc). The problem is standing out enough to break even or a profit.

However this seems to be changing now with more digital distribution choices for Console and Handhelds. The ones that come to mind are WiiWare, Apple iPhone SDK and to an extent XNA on PC/360.

Going with independent work is not something people recommend doing without prior experience in the industry, although it is entirely possible, how long would it be until you see your first profit after you finish development?
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:07 AM   #3

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I 100% agree with yaustar on this one. Yes digital distribution is making it easier for indies to sell their games, but selling the games is not the largest hurdle you're going to face. Gone are the days where one guy could make a game in his basement. You need a team - a good team that's going to work for free or even negative income for an indeterminable amount of time. You need people knowledgeable about the industry and the market, not just their respective disciplines.

Honestly I would recommend building a team around a mod first. Visit the forums for some of the games that come packaged with engines. Check out teams that are recruiting, or if you insist, recruit your own. If you all can work together and release a fully-functional module, then you might be able to release a fully-functional game.

The most important thing about indie work though, above everything else, is scope. So many people want to make the next Bioshock or Mass Effect not realizing that those games are created by a studio with hundreds of employees in very specialized disciplines and funded by big-name publishers who can offer them enough resources to make such a game. Shoot for a great game in a small package. Target a niche. Make board game prototypes first. Test the integrity of your team before you invest in indie development.

But don't let what I've said discourage you too much. Research and educate yourself to the bursting point, and if you still feel very passionate about the pros and even the cons of indie development, then go for it. Just be prepared for all the work (and then some) without any of the glory.
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