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11 Aug 2014

How to Make an Indie Game Part I: The Beginning

Part II: Game Design Fundamentals

Are you interested in making your first indie game? Are you unsure where to start first? Then this week’s series is for you. In the first installment of this week’s five-part series, we’re going to cover almost every facet of how to make an indie game. From concept to practice to the final, finishing touches, we’re going to cover as much as possible this week so you can learn how to make an indie game (and without any programming knowledge whatsoever).

But first, you need to know the basics; start at the very beginning, in other words. There’s no better place to begin than by pinpointing the process of developing indie games, and what you’re going to need to know:

  • Game design.
    • At the micro level, level design.
  • Game development
    • Again, we’re not going to cover programming in this series. If you want to make indie games without programming, the software provided by Game Academy is a solid place to start.
  • Art, animation, audio, music
    • Assets, sound effects, soundtracks, etc.
  • Writing
    • Dialogue, menus, in-game text.
    • Because localization is more important than ever, we’re going to cover this in-depth this week.
  • The business side of developing games.
    • Press releases, covering yourself legally, marketing, etc.

This almost reads like a table of contents for the week ahead (in fact, it may be in this exact order). Furthermore, while there is a lot of content to cover, we’re probably not going to be able to cover everything. If you have any questions or comments, continue the discussion via the comments below to keep the information flowing.

Without all of that out of the way, I want you to take another look at the list above. That’s a lot of disciplines to learn! Every one of the disciplines above takes a considerable amount of skill and knowledge to implement into your indie game appropriately.

 

What can you do?

The good news is you don’t have to learn everything before you start developing your indie game. That’s the beauty of outsourcing the game development process: what you don’t know can be outsourced to someone that knows.

For instance, if I decide to develop an indie game, I know I’m terrible at art. Seriously, I don’t even think I can draw a perfect circle. Instead of trying to learn how to create art assets for my indie game (which would at least take a lifetime), I can outsource the process to someone who creates assets for a living.

The same goes for creating music (another skill I lack), marketing your indie game, writing/editing content in the game itself, and much, much more. You may think that by outsourcing part of the development process that this isn’t what developing indie games is all about; that by outsourcing some parts of the process that you’re really not ‘doing it all yourself.’ If you want my opinion, it’s a bogus argument. Besides, look at what you are truly doing:

You are taking an idea and turning it into a reality.

If you get a little help along the way? Big whoop! It’s called working smart. Besides, quality labor isn’t as expensive as you would think. And if you find outsourced workers that can deliver quality results every time? You may want decide to return to them if you decide to develop a second game!

In truth, you are creating your own little indie studio by hiring outsourced workers. Nothing wrong with that, right?

 

The first step

You know what encompasses an indie game, so where do you start? It’s simple: with an idea. We have written a ton of topics on generating new ideas for indie games, knowing when to kill new ideas/when to keep them, and more. Here are a few posts that are sure to help:

Once you have a solid idea, it’s time to prototype the idea. In other words, you need to figure out if your idea(s) will actually work in a video game. In (more) other words: is your idea fun?

 

We’ve discussed prototyping recently, so refer to these articles to guide you:

  • The Value of Starting Small (a post detailing why it’s important for your first indie game to be small. Prototyping is also discussed).

 

This is where outsourcing part of the development process comes into play. Prototype, figure out if your ideas are fun, and once you answer this for yourself? Then you will be ready to start on the path to actually developing your indie game!

 

Any questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below!

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