As part of Gamasutra's latest feature, Making Games On The Side: Development In The Real World
, indie developers discuss their transition from hobbyists to fulltimers, and the pros, cons, and challenges of the approaches they have chosen.
"If I feel like I have something to say or a game that I really want to make, I'll take the steps to do it, but I'm not 20 anymore so I don't really feel like spending 24 hours of my weekend jamming on a game so much. I do have a wife, so she wouldn't be too happy with that," says Benjamin Rivers, who makes games alongside his other professional work.
However, that doesn't allow him to pursue his dream fulltime. "I sort of have reluctantly come to grips with the fact that I guess, to be fair, I should call myself a 'hobby developer'... So that's probably where I'll stay," he says.
Jim McGinley, on the other hand, built up a nest egg doing non-games related work which he has spun into money to live on while he pursues development fulltime. However, he also pursues contract work, despite the fact, he says, that "Any month you put towards this contract stuff is taking away from you getting better at building games."
On the other hand, Andy Moore, developer of Steambirds
(pictured), says that contract work he has done while gearing up for fulltime development has helped him build useful skills:
"I look at contract work as being 'paid to go to school.' I could have taken courses or bought some books on how to make a streaming video application, but being paid to sit down and actually make one? I have way more knowledge now on how to do that kind of thing.
"I'm actually thinking about how to roll those features into new games; have embedded tutorial or walkthrough video clips, things like that. Same thing with the productivity software. I learned a bunch about optimizing SQL queries, and I can use that to help drive multiplayer games in the future. I made sure each contract wouldn't last me much longer than a month though, I always had my goal in mind: games."
The full feature, Making Games On The Side: Development In The Real World
, goes into much greater depth on the three creators, who each have their own circumstances, philosophy, approach, and background to the possibilites and challenges of developing indie games.