Indie Game Development, Part 1

We, as a gaming body, have played them all; and naturally, being gamers, our eyes have seen the best and worst of everything.  Zombies, respawns, achievements, loadouts, trolls- you name ‘em.  The question is on the table- are you tired of playing a game that is under the rule of the people who created it?  Now’s the chance to get a grasp of making your first indie video game.  To this you might be wondering, which- sooner or later, will be covered: what is an indie game?  Do I have the skills required to make a game like Grand Theft Auto or Fallout?  Most importantly, will other people buy the game(s) that I make?

With that said, an indie game stands for an independent game, meaning any kind of game that has been created by an individual or a small group of the sorts.  It doesn’t take a massive amount of people to make an amazing, standalone game.  Take Risk of Rain, Unravel, and Cuphead for example.  Still, do be sure to take note that indie games aren’t generally designed to be graphically amazing.  They are designed to allow for an optimal amount of creativity without overdoing the amount of work that the creators and employees need to put into it.

Furthermore, in terms of relying on the internet for help, I know you.  And- if I knew you as if I knew myself- you might have wondered how to start up this idea you had- this immense, innovative, game changing idea of the perfect game that would change the entire course of the history of gaming.  So, you turn to Google for the extra help.  Or Yahoo.  Or even Bing.  The results come in, and voices of people give you answers that you have been hearing ever since the time you have been wondering about how to go about making an indie game in the first place.

Thus, the question may have come up sooner or later for any gamer out there: I have the perfect idea for a game- how do I make my idea come to life?  Look no further, because the solution is here.  Spanning over the course of many weeks, these are the essential parts required to put your first indie game together: starting out, idealizing, art, animation, sound effects, programming, music, time management, and marketing.

For this week’s topic- where to get started on your indie game- think about the type of game you want to create.  In this case, pick a genre that you love playing in terms of video games.  Horror?  Fantasy?  Roguelike?  Determining a single genre or the mixture of genres that your game is going to contain will allow you to pinpoint your focus on how the game is going to run.  Now, don’t just limit yourself to a single genre.  The game could be horror, fantasy, and roguelike all in one.  Or it could be a racing, turn-based shoot ‘em up.  The amount of combinations are endless with different techniques of game making coming out.

After you’ve established the type of genre(s) you wish to work on, consider writing up a game plan for yourself.  Think of how coaches write up game plans- without that, the players in the game would not know where to go.  By no means is writing a game plan actually making the game itself, but it would be pretty hard to manage your time without the time invested in a written guide.  You can write up a well-balanced game plan by thinking about these categories:  the title, your company name, and the general strongpoint of your current skills.  Let’s go over these.  You don’t have to make up a title on the fly, but you do need to have at least a placeholder name.  This is because you don’t want to be be opening up the filename  “game.exe” every time you get to work on your project.  

The next item you want to work on is a company name.  It doesn’t matter if your company turns out to be something like “Naughty Dog” or “2K Games”.  Believe it or not, these company names are legitimate.  Or, you could go for something original like “Delta Pro Shooter Game Creation Studios.”  DPSGCS for short.  That one isn’t real, but hey.  It would be a good start.  The reason you need a company name is to make yourself feel official- or, to some extent, professional.  You’d be surprised at how different the feeling is when your company name doesn’t yet exist and when you have a company name of “DPSGCS.”   One thing you’re also going to need is a website.  Try looking to wordpress or any other site publisher for help.  Even Tumblr and Facebook works.

Overall the most important thing to consider is not to tell yourself that “you can’t do anything because you aren’t good at it.”  Know that you have the capability of learning anything at any given time.  As an independent game maker, you’re going to have to know how to do it all, or at least how to do enough so that you don’t wind up having to depend on other people.  To be fair, keep the word independent in mind and you’ll do fine, but with that said, don’t be too independent.  The stress that can come through from game making, especially alone, can cause some serious depression for you.  Or, if you’re like me, you’d have a whole new emotional aspect of the world that you never would have known actually existed, and it would feel as if the world were crumbling like like a soggy muffin.  By that saying, take another human being with you or find someone you can trust to help you out and, in the meanwhile, set up what you need in order to start working on your first indie game.  

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