Obviously, I cannot tell you what you personally wish you knew before you started doing this indie developer thing. Every indie developer certainly differs from one to another, yet I can’t help but thing that some of the items below are probably universal to every indie developer on the planet. Whether you are starting out as an indie developer or you are a seasoned indie developer, it doesn’t matter: these are the things you (probably) wished you knew before you started developing indie games for a living.
The worst game is better than the best unfinished game
Why? Because unfinished games really are not games at all. It’s easy to go on and on about how awesome your game is shaping up to be, how much fun players will have if you release it, and hype yourself up in such a way that you begin falling in love with your unfinished game.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of the progress you’ve made so far: that’s not what I’m saying. Be proud of what you have accomplished, but have the wisdom to know that your game truly isn’t a game until it’s finished. The worst game you’ve ever played? It’s still better than your game because it’s at least a game!
While it’s a black-and-white approach to indie development, it’s that simple. Your game isn’t truly a good game until it’s released.
Don’t be afraid of mediocrity
Is your game going to be bad? Nobody truly knows unless you start developing your indie game. In indie development – and in almost every facet of life for that matter – we try to go out of our way to avoid mediocrity. That idea that sounds too crazy to implement? It could be mediocre, it could be terrible, or it could be legendary. Instead of being afraid that your game could be mediocre, just develop a game and strives for greatness!
And if it ends up being not as awesome as you wanted it to be? Learn from your mistakes, update the game, make it better, and apply your learned lessons to your next game.
It’s good to strive for perfection – I get that. Yet being afraid of releasing a game could result in never releasing a game to begin with. The old saying of, “you’ll never know until you try certainly applies here.”
You know what’s worse than developing a mediocre game? Never developing one in the first place! Developing indie games is a learning experience, and as long as you are willing to learn to avoid mediocrity, you have nothing to fear at all!
Ideas are worthless until you do something about them
We all know that person that spouts off a new idea for a product, business, game, etc. every week, yet the person never does anything about it. The person is just sitting on the ideas, and chances are they are never going to make any of them realized. Thus, their ideas are simply sitting in the back of their mind with no purpose and no place to go.
Ideas, by themselves, are nothing more than just that: ideas. They’re worthless. What makes an idea truly priceless is acting on the idea, creating a plan of action for making the idea realized, and actually transforming the idea from concept to reality. Ideas are just a jumping-off point, and by themselves? They’re glorified daydreams.
Anyone can come up with an idea, but to act on those ideas and make something truly remarkable? That’s priceless.
Don’t design your dream game right away
Work up to it. And when you finally develop your dream game? You’ll have another dream game waiting for you in the back of your mind. I guarantee it…