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I have no money. Turns out this is quite a big problem if your goal is to make a video game completely on your own. Or is it?

Luis Augsburg

March 28, 2024

3 Min Read

Hey, I’m Luis, a student from Berlin. And as every student I have one big problem: I have no money. Turns out this is quite a big problem if your goal is to make a video game completely on your own, since in todays world even small indie games can devour hundreds of thousands of euros. Or is it?

Well, not necessarily. It just depends on how you allocate your resources. And it already starts with the core idea of the game.

In my case I’ve decided to go for a game wich takes place in the inside of a lifeless moon wich is made up of an infinite maze of caves and rocks. In those caves there are hidden multiple abandoned space stations wich you can explore.

And just by that I already saved an unimaginable amount of resources. Instead of having to spend ages to create a huge open world with unique different locations, quests, events and so on, nearly the entire game world (besides the space stations) is procedurally generated. And even the space stations are not too complex to make, since their whole purpose is to feel abandoned. This means I can save endless hours on creating NPCs, items, dialogues and whatsoever and the player can really focus on the core mechanic of my game, wich is exploring the game world and experiencing the dense atmosphere it provides.

Of course one could say removing so much content from a game makes it feel empty and lifeless. And I can only agree with that. However my entire goal for this game is to make the player feel lost and alone in an empty, lifeless world. Wich basically means that in this case, saving money on development doesn’t make my game worse, it actually makes it better.

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Another aspect of saving cost is to use assets wherever possible. I see a lot of developers try to do everything from start to finish on their own, usually because otherwise they wouldn’t feel like the game is really „theirs“. I really don’t want to sound rude here, but I think this might hurt their game more then in helps. Why would I spend so much time creating the environment, character designs, sound effects and textures all on my own, if there are already people out there who do it 100 times better than I ever could?

I think people really underestimate the amount and quality of assets and resources out there, that are available for very little money if not even for free. Until now I have spent less than 100€ on my game and I think the investment has really been worth it for me. Of course I still need to spend quite some time to adapt everything to my specific needs, but that’s nothing compared to if I did everything on my own. My job is just to put peoples work together, so each part complements the others, to make the final product more than just the sum of its components.

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To be fair, of course a lot of compromises have to be made when working with such a small amount of money. To finish my game, I will try to raise some money, so im not too restricted in what assets I can buy and have more artistic freedom.

I definitely see the criticism that one could say the game is just a playable asset pack since in the end it’s at least partially true. However I think my contribution to the game in form of creating the core game idea, coding, writing the story, composing the soundtrack and the way all of those parts come together gives it a legitimate reason to exist.

In the end, the only option I have to „stitching“ my game together would be to not make it at all, and I’m pretty sure that this wouldn’t be the right decision.

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However, please let my know what you think about this topic. Also I would love to hear your feedback about my game!

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