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GameDev Protips: How To Sustain Yourself As An Indie Game Developer

How To Sustain Yourself As An Indie Game Developer

Daniel Doan, Blogger

March 17, 2017

4 Min Read

If you plan to make a living as an indie games developer, you must focus on return on investment. Are you meeting your weekly, monthly, or even yearly annual ROI projections? Games can take years just to see any return on investment, so meeting your projections is paramount to staying afloat in this industry. Not meeting your projections, combined with a low quality of life, is not where you want to be. Always have multiple contingency plans if things don’t work out.

Get help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you have the money, invite other people to help you with your project. Someone else may have the marketing savvy or graphical skills that you lack. Sure, you may be able to get by, but by hiring someone else it will free up a lot of time for you to work on aspects of the project better suited to your strengths. If you’re short on funds may be a good idea to get in touch with friends, family members or people who owe you a favor. If you can, try to get these people to work for you pro bono, or for a nominal fee. Another option for those short on funds would be to promise to share the game’s revenues. Revenue sharing can be an effective option, but it takes careful management and negotiation to make sure that everyone is satisfied with their share.

Be open about your game. You should let others see and play your game regularly. This way, people can offer input on your project beforehand so you can adjust it during the development process. As a designer you will not be able to solve every problem on your own. Allow others to help you and provide you with insight. Also, Try to use popular tools that are already on the market. Tools like Unity and Blender help you create animations and 3D graphics. You can also save money by using open source tools, or tools offering free trials. Developing a game will never be cheap, but there are ways to make it less expensive.

Always plan for the unexpected. Do you think it will take you you one year to build your game and launch? Plan as if you needed twice the amount of time. Will you be able to survive for that that long? Make sure your finances are in order before beginning your development process in earnest. You can also do contract work to supplement your income if you have to, or just take a break from development in order to focus on your day job.

As a designer, you have to be very realistic with your goals and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve those goals. Know your weaknesses. Too many times we fail to properly assess our talents, so we spend too much time doing what makes us miserable. However, if you do not know something that potentially help you game and/or business, then do your best to try to learn it. Even if you don’t master what you’re learning, you might be able to understand enough to better discuss your needs with people who can help you.

Important Takeaways: If you want to make a living as an indie game developer, you have to focus on return on investment. What sort of returns are you getting for your time and your efforts? If you don’t know how to get something done and you’re wasting your time and money trying to figure it out, try to find help from more knowledgeable people. It’s not a good use of your time if you try to do everything yourself, since your time is valuable. Also, plan for any unexpected problems that might crop up during development, as they will almost certainly occur.



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