How to become an independent game developer

Original author: Paul Taylor
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Note from the translator: if knowledge of the English language allows you, then I highly recommend that you read the original . Its author is one of the founders of Mode 7 studio, who released Frozen Synapse . The article is very large in volume of text, therefore, if you can’t overcome it in 1 approach, I would suggest postponing it for later, and continue on another day.

As a game developer who has been trying to “dig” in this direction for probably 5 years or more, and who could not achieve any significant financial success, the article seemed insanely useful, because straightens the brains and shares a sober look at how the team or individual developer should function in this cruel (but fairly honest) world of game development.

Below is a translation of the article.

Once, quite a while ago, I received a letter asking me “How do I become an indie game developer?”

I tried to answer the letter as best as possible, but I was not completely sure what was expected of me as advice. After that, we received similar questions quite often, so I thought that I’d better write a post that I can link to in the future, a collection of tips that can be useful to those who decide to become an indie game developer.

Who are we

As someone commented on my previous article for Gamesbrief:

“The value of these tips will depend entirely on the success of your games. And let the game begin. ” (Original: the future success of the guest poster will solely affect the validity of these 'tips'. let the games begin.)

Mode 7 is an independent game development studio based in Oxford, UK. Formally, we started our activities in the 2005 area and in 2007 released the not-so-successful multiplayer sword fighting game: “Determinance”.

After that, we switched to the development of Frozen Synapse , which we released in 2011.


Every time I talk about Frozen Synapse (FS), I feel like “my apartment smells of rich mahogany” in my apartment ...

A few facts about FS:
- Over 400,000 sales
- Average score 85 on Metacritic
- 9/10 on Edge, Eurogamer, Destructoid (and many high marks from other reviewers)
- FP led his own Humble Bundle
- Spectator Award at IGF; PC Gamer Best Strategy Game Award of the Year; RockPaperShotgun's Best Luminous Lines Award Award (seriously)

We are currently working on a version of the game for the iPad, which will be released later this year.

Together with Ian Hardingham(Lead designer and developer) we founded the company as co-owners and managing directors. At the moment, in addition to us, 4 more people are working in the office, 2 of which are full time. We also work with various specialists remotely.

Who am i

I am Paul Taylor. I do business development, marketing, sound, music, texts, a little art directing, a little UI design, a little game design for singles ... and a few other things!


To make the topic under discussion more specific, suppose that by asking “How to become an indie game developer,” you mean the following:

“I want to stop doing what I'm doing now and become a full-time indie developer”

Also, I’d like to say that if you play indie games solely for the sake of creativity or pleasure, I do not write you off. In contrast, some of the most amazing games I've seen in the last few years have been developed by people who have no commercial vein. Some even managed to earn decent money, although this was not their main goal.

Also, perhaps you would like to engage in the development of interactive stories in Twineor apps that let you have an amazing physical experience like Johann Sebastian Joust . If you would like to engage in the development of such projects, rather than ordinary computer games, which I will talk about, please do not think that I will cross you out, despite the fact that I will focus not on you, but on ordinary games.

This is the end of this never-ending preamble. (That's the end of this apparently interminable preamble: on with the show ...)

The basics

The process of creating and releasing computer games includes the following disciplines:
- Game design;
- The code;
- Level design (or something else, more tactical, or “micro” forms of game design, if you do not have levels);
- Graphics and animation;
- Sounds and music;
- Texts;
- Business (legal issues, marketing, PR, some web-development and other things).

All these skills are necessary and important, as well as extremely difficult to master, and one person can spend his whole life improving them.

The first difficulty arises from this: you need to cover all the basic areas yourself, find a responsible partner or pay others to do the work for you.

In my opinion, at the beginning of the journey, you need to be prepared to pay professionals to deal with areas that you cannot manage yourself. This is the fastest, easiest and often (paradoxically) cheapest way to get the job done.

If you have never outsourced work before, I recommend reading Tim Ferris ' Four Hour Work Week . The thoughts and ideas expressed in this book will be quite unusual for understanding, but, I guarantee, the book will make you think.

If you are fortunate enough to know people with whom you can establish a company as partners, then first make sure that they are really interested in such a business and plan to work in it for a long time. Be sure that you can unconditionally trust them, and that you pursue the same goals with them. It’s very difficult to find such people, so hold on to them.

Volunteers who are not paid money often drop out when difficulties arise. They may not even inform you of this, and you will lose a lot of time until you understand what happened.

Let's discuss each of the main disciplines and try to understand what exactly is meant by them ...

Game design

This , from Derek Yu, who created Spelunky, is one of the best things you can ever read about game design or any creative work. Read it and come back!

Game design is a creative discipline, for which the presence of strong analytical thinking at a high level is important. This explains why most of the game designers I know are a little nuts (in a good way)!

Game designers are responsible for game mechanics. Yes, they often participate in the creation of high-level plot concepts, but their main task remains the direct creation of the game. To be honest, I am surprised how many people with whom I communicate do not know this.

There are 3 ways to learn game design, I arranged them in decreasing order of effectiveness:

1) Creation of games and subsequent observation of people who play these games.


2) Play other people's games by analyzing them.

3) Studying the theory of game design.

I do not want to say that 2 and 3 methods are useless, they just are less effective. (original interesting puns worthless / worth less: I'm not saying that 2 and 3 are worthless by any means; they are just worth less.)

It will be much easier for you to engage in game design if you are also a competent developer: successful game designers that you could read about, who have no development skills, usually work in tandem with large teams of highly skilled programmers. In the first stages, you will not work in this way if you do not have a huge amount of money and you do not like to take risks.

Of course, it is possible to be an indie game designer who does not know how to program at all. In this case, you must have outstanding communication skills to compensate for the lack of development experience.

If you use game creation software such as Adventure Game Studio , RPG Maker, or RenPY, you will reduce the amount of knowledge needed to write code in the early stages of development. But, be prepared for the fact that you will be very limited in terms of game design solutions that you can use if you do not delve into the study of these programs.

Game design is the cornerstone, but it is not the only important component of the game. If you try to give games design ratings from 1 to 10, it turns out that there are a fairly large number of successful indie games, the rating of which will be 7-8 points.

There is no reason to try to implement a "mediocre" game design. Players come into the game due to presentations, graphics, genre and hype around, but remain due to game design. Also, if you can get an unattainable score of 10 out of 10, then a lot of other moments in the development of the game will suddenly become much easier.

Here are a few points that I would like designers to think more often:
- Try to build the gameplay so that players can make interesting and important decisions as quickly as possible.
- Try to reduce the total amount of time that players must spend on the boring elements of the game.
- Try to include at least 1 completely new element in the game, even if this is just a small part of the game.

There is nothing wrong with using a popular genre in game development. But people who buy indie games usually prefer these games for their innovation and originality. Get ready to fail if you have developed a boring game!

A small warning: there is something in game design that makes people believe that they can do it, even if they had never done anything like it before. I do not fully understand what makes people think so, but be prepared for the fact that game design is an incredibly complex discipline.

In conclusion, I can say that in game design you need to find your own path and try to express yourself. Define your goals, and perhaps even write them down, as recently done by Tom Francis, the creator of Gunpoint.


Note from the translator: I think, by “concept” I meant “genre”

Game concepts occupy a mysterious place between the aesthetic aspect of the game and its mechanics. They add atmosphere and emotions, as well as the main reason why people try to play or buy a game.

The more general the concept for the game (for example, “fantasy MMO”), the higher the requirements for other aspects of the game and the more “oddities” and deviations from the genre are needed (for example, “fantasy MMO, in which battles are played using backgammon in 4 dimensions ").

I wrote a little about concepts in my article on Gamasutra .

Excerpt from the article:

“Scott Steinberg advises making games aimed at the mass consumer market. “Music, animals, sports, family values ​​... The basics of the game are to use references to the real world whenever possible.” - Scott Steinberg, Sell More Video Games.

Jeff Tunnell, on the other hand, believes that you should focus on what you are interested in:

“I make games that I would like to do, and I think about whether there is a demand for them later. Trying to predict is not art or science, it is an exercise in futility. In the past, after Dynamix was taken over by Sierra, we needed to work with the marketing department and conduct ritual rituals, but all this very rarely turned out to be reliable, and the games that I believed most, such as The Incredible Machine, got terrible forecasts. “- Jeff Tunnell, What is My Game's Sales Potential?

(my part of the article)

There are commercially successful indie games about clumsy rabbits - kung fu fighters, about abstract computer landscapes populated by tiny green creaky creatures and small dodgy droplets of mucus. These games will never be as big as, say, The Sims, but they will never try to be so. By “commercial success,” I mean here “make enough money to continue making games.” After all, this is your goal, is not it?

Take on a “popular” concept only if you have a passion for it, because you definitely need passion to go through the entire process of creating a game. If you plan to use something “silly” as a concept, then be prepared for the fact that you have to work harder to find your audience. And you should think about how you will do this before you even begin development. ”

The code

Enough talk about game design and concept. Both of these disciplines mean nothing if you cannot program the game! There are tons of resources on how to learn how to program, so getting basic programming knowledge should be a trivial task. Despite this, I plan to convey the word Ian so that he gives his advice on the development of indie games ...

"I will assume that you are working with the existing game engine, because you read the part “how to program games”. If you are developing your own, then my advice is unlikely to be useful to you.

Learning programming requires some focus and effort, which most programmers don't have.

I will advise the same approach both for those who have never programmed before, and for those (including me) who have experience writing code, but who suddenly encounter a huge game engine with 500,000 lines of code and have no idea about what to do next. Do not worry that it is better to start small, it is better to immediately start doing what is interesting to you. Nevertheless, you should wisely choose that part of this huge engine with which you would like to start your acquaintance. Find the self-contained part of a large project, something that you can figure out in a month, and let this be your first goal.

Immerse yourself in writing code, be persistent until you can make some changes. Change the color of some object and celebrate it! Get your questions to everyone within the community dedicated to your engine. At first, your questions will be stupid, but, little by little, they will become less stupid until one day you find that you are already helping others. If your engine has books, then buy them and read them from cover to cover, without writing code or doing exercises. Start exercises only after reading the book.

I assume that you have some innate predisposition to programming (if not, then perhaps you would be better off dealing with the more creative part of creating games), if so, then the only real enemy you will encounter is indecision. NEVER start work on a problem in terms of “I don’t know how to do this,” or, worse, “I’m not sure if this is possible.” All that you will try to do is possible. And, if you are sure of this, it will be much easier for you to achieve your goal.

Learning game programming is just as difficult as learning anything else. Be prepared that it takes 6 months of hard work to get the most basic knowledge. ”

You need to choose a game engine that suits your project. If you don't know what to choose at all, then turn your attention to Torque, Unity, or something based on HTML5. Alternatively, you can try something very powerful, but aimed at beginners, such as GameMaker .

Level Design

Game design and level design are two different things. The goal of the first is to develop a gaming system, the goal of the second is to figure out how best to use this system.

Level design is a very specific element of each individual game, working with it takes a lot of time and requires a large number of repetitions and improvements. I included this element here, just to remind future independent developers that they might need to do the level design themselves or need to find someone who would like to do it.

Recently, we can observe a fairly popular trend in the use of procedural generation. This approach requires very serious skills in terms of programming, as well as an accurate understanding of what will work in your game and what will not. Do not think of procedural generation as an easy way to solve all your problems! Of course, you can get an excellent result from the point of view of your efforts, but be prepared for the fact that you may spend almost as much time setting up the generation process as it would take to manually create levels.

Graphics and animation

I really respect the indie developers who design the graphics themselves. Now I play Ben There Dan That from Size Five and I want to say that the graphics in this game (especially the character’s walk) are very funny and ideally suits the general atmosphere of the game.

If you are not the greatest artist in the world, then you can either use this as your advantage and make the graphics in a very simple style (you can even use free tools like GIMP and Blender ), or you can hire other people to develop the graphics .

Graphics is perhaps the simplest element of the game, for the development of which you can hire remote employees. If your game engine adheres to reasonable standards, then usually you can just pass the specification to the artist, negotiate the price and leave him alone with the work.

I recommend working with those artists who have good experience in our industry, with those who have completed a large number of projects. Such people are able to ask the right questions and, working with them, you will be much more likely to complete the work on time. By the way, this advice applies to working with all remote employees, not just artists.

You can spend a lot of money on the schedule, so try to apply the 80/20 rule here. Keep in mind that you should focus on the most important points for the players. Having beautiful videos is cool, but if the main character in your game has crappy animation, then people will say that your game looks awful.

Take a closer look at the artists, do not hire the first one you get. You really should think about the price-performance ratio.

When developing Frozen Synapse, we made a few conclusions for ourselves, which, I think, can be really useful:

Keep it simple

We almost did not have a budget for graphics, so instead of honest and complex 2D graphics, we decided to use more abstract, but aesthetic graphics, which can look good with a small amount of detail. I think simple graphics are very well suited for complex PC strategies (like AI War with nice 2D graphics).

Understand what you are striving for

Concept art is a very useful tool that gives you the opportunity to see your goal, but do not overdo it. As an independent developer, you should try to use your limited resources to create graphics that you can use in your game.

Focus on aesthetic rewards

When players kill someone, they get a reward in the form of a cool animation of death and blood spatter. We spent a lot of time and some money to make both of these things look as good as possible in our conditions.

First impression is the most important (original: Front-load the awesome)

I saw a large number of games with ugly screensavers and menus, and I never understood why developers do this. After all, these elements of the game are not difficult to do in the right way, after all, usually, these are just static pictures!

If the store has a beautiful interior, but the sign and window are decorated as if they were made by a 4-year-old child, deprived of a sense of taste, no one wants to go inside to find out how the store looks from the inside.

Animated menus may not seem like the most important detail, but if I need to show the game to critics, referees at the IGF or a sophisticated player, it helps to keep their attention until something interesting happens on the screen.

Modify, modify, modify, modify ...

The atmosphere and presentation depend on the mood that you can create around them. You need to pay attention to all the small details that will help form an unconscious understanding of the game in others.

Apple is a well-known master of this genre in terms of the design of their products and UI. Take a look at the iPad - a combination of the smallest details that form a flawless user experience.

Think about how you would like others to feel when playing your game. When you have this understanding, try to fit all the details of your game to this goal, absolutely everything, from the buttons in the menu to the sound when you click the mouse.

It is not necessary that these details be expensive, they can be as simple as possible, provided that the correct overall impression is formed. But be sure: these details are important. Keeping track of all the details and doing absolutely everything right is hard, but by paying attention to the little things, you will minimize random errors.

Music and sounds

Sound design is the least important of the creative disciplines when creating indie games. I can recall a lot of successful games that use absolutely terrible sounds and music. It's hard for me to talk about it, because I myself am very sensitive to the sound design of the games. But, unfortunately, this is true: sound design is not so important.

Until now, when developing a game, you can simply buy a set of pretty lousy sound effects on one of the stocks , for example SoundDogs , adjust their volume level and start using these sounds in your game.

However, when it comes to high-budget indie games, things get a lot more complicated. I really recommend hiring third-party specialists to work with the sound design of the game. But, of course, you can do it yourself if you are a drop dead musician like Hasper Byrne .

Even if your game does not use so many sounds, paying attention to the sound design, you make a big leap in quality, compared to other independent games, because most of them, so far, do not pay attention to this development detail.

Creating a good voice acting can be an incredibly difficult process, and, because this is not the first necessity to create a game, it may be better to avoid voice acting if you are not sure that it is critical to your game. If you really need to add voice acting to the game, then try to find someone who works in the theater or on television, so that they advise you on how best to approach this issue. And again, if you know the right people, many things can be solved much easier and faster.

If you have a desire to learn how to make music yourself, then I would advise you to buy several issues of Computer Music magazine (I recommend it, not only because I sometimes write for them!) And do the exercises that can be found in them.

I really like Ableton Live. As soon as you have this program and several free synthesizers, you can quickly “bang” the composition in the style of “musical horror”. You can also use Live to edit and process effects.

If you have enough money (or skills) to create a good soundtrack, you can get additional benefits from this, and not only by selling soundtracks and making money on such things as Indie Game Music Bundle . You will also have the opportunity to reach out to players using a new way of communicating with them.


Typically, the availability of texts is optional or very limited in games. But using a narrative can change a lot, for example, it can be an opportunity to give personality to a game that would seem “dry” without lyrics. Again, if you have no experience, then I would recommend hiring remote employees for this work, or at least discussing texts with others to make sure that they make sense!

You don’t need to add huge texts to the game (actually, this can become a drawback for the game), but make sure that the texts meet reasonable standards, especially if you are preparing replicas for voice acting.

One thing that I learned while working with texts for Frozen Synapse is that the vast majority of players prefer a quick and clear description of what is happening. They want to know exactly what they are doing, and for what. And at the same time, so that the amount of text is as minimal as possible.

When working with texts, first, make sure that they convey the necessary information about the situation, and only after that, add all sorts of funny creative things that you planned ...

Be prepared for the fact that many people will understand the texts from your game verbatim, regardless from context .

Remote Employee Note

You can ask me: “And where should I find all these mythical remote employees?” In fact, it is just as easy to do as it is simple to search for something in search engines, forums or, simply, ask people around you. If you plan to connect such specialists quite often, then you should develop the ability to find the right people.

Here are some tips:
- A large list of forums you can start with:
- Sites like Polycount and DevianArt can be useful for finding artists .
- I always find programmers through GamesIndustry.bizor other sites from our industry. But, in general, finding a programmer for remote work is not so difficult.

But, remember, search engines are your friends.

Business and Marketing

Creating a game is about half the battle! Here is some information about other aspects ...

Base points

Being a professional independent developer (maybe even a human orchestra) means that you will need to manage a small business.

To do this effectively you should pay attention to several aspects:

Snacks for managing a small company

You will need:
- An organization like BusinessLink .
- A good accountant who knows what the Internet is and, ideally, who already does the bookkeeping of other small game companies.
- A lawyer, especially if other people will work in your company.

BusinessLink, or an equivalent in your area, will provide you with all the information you need to create a company. Most likely, the best choice for the organizational structure of the company would be the analogue of a “Limited Liability Company” (if such exists in your country).

The accountant will do the work of tax return at the end of the year (they are also known as the “Satanic Trash Administrative Armpit”), and will also tell you how to save money.

The lawyer will stop you from making big mistakes at the moment when you are “just trying to bring the game to the end” and decide to unintentionally transfer your entire company to the publisher. They should not take money from you just for communication, while you are just a start-up. If they behave in this way, then you can safely tell them where they can go.

Understand all of the above literally, word-for-word. It is not difficult, but boring.

A little advice on how to find specialists for a good long-term cooperation: they are ready to travel the road (for no particular reason!) To see you during your first communication, and they also give you sincere and useful tips for free. Anyone who does both of these things will immediately attract my attention.

What size and structure of the company suit me?

As for me, I am not a designer or programmer, so I work in 50/50 partnerships with a person who has excellent skills in these areas. This allows him to engage in design, programming and management, and for me to spend time on a bunch of little things in other areas.

Also, we have as many as 2 heads to solve strategic tasks, as well as 2 very different personalities to evaluate our products. It certainly helps us a lot.

Therefore, I really think that developers in the style of "man-orchestra" should think about attracting at least 1 more person to the company (I just suggest thinking about it!). I don’t think that you will be able to reach your full potential by working alone all the time, for this you will need someone with a different outlook on things.

What goals should be set in the long run?

If you have never made a game before, then please just make one and release it, at least for free. Do not let planning distract you from creating games. You should think about development in the first place, and about everything else after.

Once you understand that you are capable of making games, there will come a time when you can plan for the future.

If you want to develop independent games throughout your career, then you should come up with a way to identify a niche that will allow you to be different from other game developers, as well as create outstanding games.

This is an area in which having a strong creative leader will help you. If you have great ideas and the ability to present them, then you can find a market for what you are doing.

Be prepared to create your next game and move on as soon as you finish it. The idea of ​​sitting still and reaping the benefits of one project (especially if this project has become a hit) may seem tempting, but you just have to move on.

You may want to grow your business or, conversely, decide to remain a small company. Both options are equally good, despite the fact that people will criticize you, whatever you choose. Most of these decisions come down to personal motivation. If you are not interested in managing a large company with a large number of employees - do not do this!


In my opinion, there are 4 possible ways for an independent studio to exist in the long run. Of course, what I will tell you is just a rough outline, and there are a huge number of other possible ways of acting, but pay attention to the following:

1) Permanent release (at least 1 time in 2 years) of good-quality games (but not necessarily hits) that you need to buy to play.


2) A large and serious project, possibly with free-to-play monetization, and with good conversion rates and ARPU (average revenue per user - average revenue per user).


3) One single stunning Minecraft style hit!


4) Any or all of the items together described above, in various combinations among themselves and combining them with work under the contract.

Games to buy to play

Most indie developers start at # 1 (even if they don't know it). This is because they make games whose monetization comes down to a one-time purchase. They (the developers) reason as follows: “I will make my game, launch it in the Steam / App Store / Android Marketplace, pay attention to PR and make money.” The reason that we are now in the "golden age" of independent developers is that this method may work for the right games!

If you created a good enough game, got a good distribution agreement from a large distributor, and managed to organize enough PR hype around your project, then you can make money.

Nevertheless, most likely, you will have to do all these actions constantly, even despite additional ways to earn money, such as DLC and porting. And this is a serious obstacle.

An example of successful small companies or companies consisting of a “human orchestra” that follow this model are Arcen Games and Positech Games .

I still recommend novice developers to stick with model # 1, because other models suggest much more serious difficulties. Creating a successful free-to-play game is more limited in terms of creativity and, in the end, it's just harder to do (compared to model # 1), whatever the developers of free-to-play games would say.

Set a fair price that you think is appropriate for your game. Take into account the amount of content in your game and its quality. Make sure that you do not underestimate the value of what you do (you can compete with other games in different fields, not only in price).


The technical capabilities and the level of financing of many independent start-ups often exclude the possibility of using model # 2, but, of course, if you have a suitable game design, then you should consider using a free-to-play model.

This approach to making money, of course, is able to bring several times more profit than approach # 1, but at the same time, developing a game design for such games is more difficult, and supporting such games requires constant development of the game and additional resources (for example , servers and technical support teams for large multiplayer games).

Free-to-play is currently in trend, and many do not notice the drawbacks of this approach. The developers of several free-to-play games told me that they would really like for them to choose the traditional sales model for their games.

Despite the idiotic ratings on the Internet, players of all ages are pretty good at free-to-play models, and games like League Of Legends and Tribes: Ascend prove that this model is suitable for hardcore games. Also, it was recently announced that Valve's DOTA2 will be a free-to-play game, and monetization will only occur through aesthetic content. As far as I know, this is the first example of serious games that will use this approach, and this will be an amazing test of such a model.

Free-to-play involves a much longer development approach and the use of practices such as a “minimally viable product” when you develop a game based on community feedback and statistics. Also, this approach allows you to scale your company in proportion to the profit that your games bring.

In conclusion, free-to-play means that, compared to the traditional sales model, much more people will try to play your game (even if you have a demo version of the game). If you want to cover as much of the market as possible, and if you are convinced that your game is able to retain users for a long time, then think about applying this monetization approach.

As an example of small free-to-play games, take a look at Kongregate(they had a great presentation at the GDC this year). The results that single developers can achieve using the free-to-play model are simply amazing.

Contract job

After the failure of our first game, Mode 7 switched from game development to contract work, and this turned out to be the right decision, because allowed us to earn enough so that we could start developing such a game, which we really wanted to make, and build all the processes in the way we deem necessary.

After the success of Frozen Synapse, we left working on a contract for the following reasons:
- This is very unpredictable.
- The time spent is always greater than the time that is negotiated.
- Supporting large projects takes a huge amount of time.
- The potential benefit is always lower than when working on your own products.
- Lack of long-term prospects (for example, intellectual property rights (IP))

But, again, it all depends on you, and on how much you manage to find a balance.


Here is a link to my article on Gamesutra , I point it out again because I don’t like to repeat myself even though I just did it ... hmm.

I think that most of the ideas that I expressed earlier can be attributed to marketing.

The most important thing is to let the game speak for itself. As long as you do not have a single released game or an interesting game in development, the press is unlikely to pay attention to you. But, if the press pays attention to you, then just be yourself, and don’t worry.

One thing that I started thinking about most recently is the fact that frequency and constancy "decide." Regularly posting blog entries, Facebook and Twitter helps keep people interested in what you’re doing.

If we talk about sales, then publications on such well-known sites as RPS and Kotaku , combined with sales or major game launches, remain the best way to increase sales. While your game is in development, you can learn more about the journalists who work in major publications and try to get to know them so that you have the opportunity to contact them when everything is ready to be launched. Believe me, the efforts spent on this will pay for themselves.

In general, if we are talking about marketing for independent games, the important point is how your game will look for other people, how you can come up with and implement a game that other people will truly love. All other processes should be based on your belief that you create an amazing product, and that you invest everything you can in it.


Video has become extremely important these days. Here is a small idiotic guide (understood as a guide written by an idiot) on video for independent game developers:

1) You can use FRAPS to record game video in high resolution . In principle, this program does not have good alternatives, and, moreover, it is rather cheap. FRAPS is awesome!

2) Sony Vegas 11 is great for video editing. True, this program has a slightly damaged reputation, and people who understand the video can laugh at you, but it is easy to master and it is not very expensive. But, of course, other video editing programs will work too!

Make sure that the project settings are set correctly (by default, most projects in Vegas are configured foolishly). I think 1080p, 30fps and non-interlaced would be a good choice.

3) Export the video in uncompressed AVI, however, as a result you will get an incredibly huge file, so you might want to have a spare hard drive on hand.

4) You can use Handbrake to encode AVI into a format suitable for YouTube . Most likely, H.264 will suit you, as this is YouTube’s native format, so your file (RELATED) will not be transcoded after downloading, which will lead to better quality. The resulting file will weigh much less.

That is all I know about the video at the moment. And that should be enough to deal with trailers.

If you want to shoot various videos with a camera to diversify your videos, then buy the Sony HX9V. It's a pretty simple point-and-shoot camera, but it can shoot video in 1080p, like real cool assholes in the movie world do. Professionals use this camera as a spare, and this is something, but that means. Also, I bought a Gorillapod (mini tripod), which turned out to be invaluable for making videos. With such a thing, you can just sit at your table and talk to the camera.


It is quite difficult to determine the only correct approach to working with advertising, and most independent developers do not bother with this. But do not write off advertising! If you have a website that uses Google.Analytics, you can link it to your Google Ads account to optimize your advertising budgets. It will take time and perseverance, but if you do everything right, it can be very useful.


I think that for a person with certain skills and strong motivation to work, who starts everything from scratch, it will take at least 2 years to get at least some significant financial result from the development of independent games, most likely even more. I conjure you to prove that I'm wrong! But I really think that most people will need 3 to 4 years. In any case, if you plan to plunge headlong into full-time development of independent games, then you should have certain savings (or external financing).

It is also possible to engage in development in your free time, but you need to be prepared for the fact that you will not have time for social life (and I am not hyperbolizing). Also, in some way you will need to figure out how to combine permanent work and the development of something serious. This is one of the hardest things to do. But, as I said, this is possible.

As soon as you immerse yourself in the development of independent games, it is a good idea to start meeting other people of the same kind. Go to some events (e.g. Bit of Alright), chat with other independent developers, tell people about what you do. First of all, you will get a little attention to your project and make friends who can help you. Secondly, it will increase the chances of completing the project. The social aspect of deciding on an action is usually the strongest driving force for completing an action.

Try to always take the place of players or customers (if you have them). Sometimes, it can be difficult, especially when you are faced with brutal reality in those areas in which you are not very experienced. But you should still do this and push yourself to improve the product. You need to think at the same time about what your product is and what kind of experience the players get. Try not to be either Borders or Amstrad! ( from the translator: I apologize for this translation, but I could not figure out what the author meant here, original: try not to be either Borders or Amstrad! )

When you receive feedback from the community, stay true to your ideals and do not deviate from the original idea that inspired you to develop the game.

Games are insanely amazing, stupid, beautiful and versatile art forms. If you really want to deal with them, then you need to learn to respect them, and then figure out how you can destroy / recreate / change / improve them.

This year, more than 570 applications were submitted to the Independent Games Festival , and this number will only increase. Your goal: to do something that will rise above this crowd in the future.

I have written quite a lot about business and money, but, in the end, there is no point in doing this if you do not like to make games. There are as many different ways to be an independent developer as there are independent developers themselves. If you think that I am an idiot and you want to prove to me that I was wrong, please do so. I will be waiting for your games.

Good luck and have a nice day, as people usually say!

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