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25 Nov 2014

Indie Dev Tip: Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Advice

Yesterday, I wrote a post detailing the importance of listening to your customers without using every piece of advice they give you. Certainly, some of your customers may have good ideas regarding how to improve your indie game, certain services you may offer, etc., but the majority of the time? The advice they give is bad – or rather, it doesn’t fit in with your current situation.

It isn’t their fault – and it doesn’t mean the people giving the advice aren’t smart, they’re incompetent, etc. It simply means the advice they are giving isn’t relative to your situation. They don’t see the big picture, and why would they? You’re an indie developer and they are not.

That guy that wants you to add a certain power-up to your indie game because he, “thinks it would be so rad!” has no idea that implementing the power-up could break the game in a million different ways.

The player that thinks your DLC on Steam should be free has no idea that you have bills to pay, you have a staff to compensate, and so on. Everyone’s a critic and has a tool for voicing their opinions and giving advice. Just because they do doesn’t mean you should take it all seriously.

The question then becomes what makes good advice? I tried seeking out the question and found a few solid answers by way of an article written by Heidi Grant Halvorson and published in Psychology Today. The advice she gives can help you to differentiate between great advice and poor advice – no matter if you’re getting it from a random player on Twitter or a seasoned indie dev at a conference. Below are a few of them.


The best advice is proven

Advice worth taking seriously has already been proven. It’s like writing an essay for history class: you can’t just describe what Abraham Lincoln’s life was like without any sources and expect anyone to believe you. Instead, you have to include sources that prove that what you are saying in the essay is true. Good advice is the same way: if someone can prove that the advice is worth considering by pointing to real-world examples, you probably need to be listening to it.

In other words: it pays to be skeptical of all advice.


Solid advice isn’t instant

How many times have you been given advice that tells you only what to do? It’s the most annoying advice in the world, isn’t it? We’ve all been in the situation where we go to someone hoping to hear some words of wisdom from them, only for them to tell us something empty like, “keep your chin up,” or “use your money carefully.”

How infuriating is that? Of course you know that you need to stay positive and spend wisely: the answer you are looking for is how to do that in your current situation!

The best advice tells you what to do, how to do it, and proof that the advice works. Anything less isn’t worth listening to.


Advice given based on a personal experience isn’t always the best

We’ve all been given advice from others that’s based solely on personal experiences. How many times have you heard advice coupled with the phrase, “this worked for me,” before? Probably too many times to count. This type of advice is worthless. Advice isn’t always ‘one size fits all,’ and just because a piece of advice worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.

Again, it goes back to finding proof of the advice being solid in the first place and knowing exactly how the advice can benefit you. Personal experiences should always be coupled with the first two points in listed above, and if it isn’t? Take it with a grain of salt.


In closing

Everyone gives advice, but advice you can truly use to benefit your indie studio is difficult to come by. Knowing how to identify the difference between the good and the bad could mean the difference between your indie studio thriving and dwindling, so practice identifying often.


Do you have any questions or comments about the difference between good and bad advice? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Psychology Today

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