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What to consider when 'going indie'

Industry veteran Don Daglow today challenged developers to consider whether going indie and building your own small team is actually the best move for your own individual experience and situation.
Industry veteran Don Daglow today challenged developers to consider whether going indie and building your own small team is actually the best move for your own individual experience and situation. In a talk at GDC Europe, he posed a series of questions that devs who are planning to build their own team should consider before moving forward. Gaining experience as part of a larger team can be a good step before you go it alone, he reasons. "When you set out to do it on your own, typically the more experience you have, the better you'll do," he notes. "You'll have seen it all before. Any problem you encounter a second time is an easier problem." Let's say you do have the experience -- Daglow then asks, "Do you have a paying job you're giving up, or can you pursue your project in your spare time?" "I would suggest taking time to think, 'OK, could we spend three months before we go full time?'" he says, suggesting that you keep your full time job and work part time on your dream project before you go full pelt at it. "How much does our team need for every person to be OK and how long can we do this?" he says should be another question. "If your life starts to unravel, it's hard to make a good game." Being able to pay rent, keep your car running and keep your family afloat is essential to remaining focused on your work, he reasons, and your money situation is always going to be the big one that could end up killing a project. "The one thing that will kill you if you run out of it is cash," he says. "If you run out of ideas, have a sleep and something good will happen. If the design's not working, you'll come up with an answer. Almost every problem is solvable, but running out of cash is very hard to solve. If that's your only problem, it means you should be very careful with your cash." Assuming you've ticked all he appropriate boxes at this point, Daglow has more words of warning for those planning to start up a game business with others. "If you're leading a team, the bigger the team gets, the less time you will spend practicing your craft," he explains. "Being the leader becomes a full time job. Thinking about that before you start is a good idea." He subsequently showed a picture of two skydivers -- one on top controlling the fall, and the other at the mercy of the professional, mouth open in panic. "There are days running a company where I've felt like the guy in the top of the picture," he laughs. "It can be dangerous and unpredictable, but you're usually in control. Other times you're the bottom guy, and I find myself thinking 'Why did I do this?'" "If you're looking to be in control, [remember that] being in charge and having control are two different things."

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