One might say that in order to survive as an indie developer (or anyone that makes a living being creative) doesn’t have a choice but to be humble. At least in the beginning, you’re going to find yourself doubting as to whether or not you can make this entire indie thing worth your while. Working for days, weeks, and months on a project without being paid for it? It’s enough to make you worried – even if you think you have a critical hit on your hands.
Yet, when success comes your way, it can be easy to find yourself getting a little cocky and thinking to yourself, “damn, I’m awesome at developing games.” Giving yourself a “thaddaboy,” is always a good thing from time-to-time, but you can never let it go to your head.
In short, never stop being humble. You’re only as good as your last game. Below are a few examples as to why being humble as an indie developer is valuable.
Humility = room to improve
Never be content. Those that are content with their professional lives have essentially said to themselves that, “this moment, this position I’m in right now? This is as good as it gets.”
And that’s sad. When we get content with where we’re at, we have no room to grow and improve our craft. As an indie developer, you truly cannot afford to ever be content! You need to continue trying to be one step ahead of the competition, guessing what your customers really want and providing it to them, and always (I repeat, always) striving to make a better game than last time.
We see this happen all the time in various fields. People finally get to a point in their professional life where they’re comfortable, and they decide to stay there until retirement or they’re laid off. Where’s the room for improvement? It has been filled with the individual’s comfortability. Don’t let this happen to you!
Be humble. Embrace humility, and you will always have room to improve.
Always look ahead
Remember that guy in high school that always bragged about setting a new record in a school sporting event? That guy may still be talking about it to this day, but you know what? His record has probably already been broken. Sure, the record was probably impressive in the moment, but today? It’s old news.
His accomplishment isn’t as good as he believes, and you need to constantly keep this in mind. Your indie studio recently acquired its 20,000th download? That’s great! You should be proud! But you know what’s even more awesome than 20,000 downloads?
What’s more impressive than that?
There’s a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi that perfectly demonstrates the power of being humble. Starring Jiro, arguably the greatest sushi chef in the world, Jiro knows that he’s good. He knows that many people proclaim that he’s the best. But what makes Jiro a real winner? He knows that although he’s accomplished great things in the world of sushi, he knows that his best accomplishments are ahead of him.
It goes back to the first point: using humility to continue growing. Jiro is never content with where he’s at in his career. He’s always looking forward, and he knows that if he gets content, someday soon, another sushi chef is going to take his place as the world’s greatest sushi master. He’s always looking forward, always finding ways to improve, always working outside of his comfort zone, and because of this? The art of sushi moves forward.
Recognize your accomplishments and be proud of yourself. But don’t still too long. Don’t be the high school athlete in the example above, always reminding yourself that you did something impressive a long time ago. Rather, always keep telling yourself that your best accomplishments are ahead of you.
If you are good, you won’t have to make anyone believe it
Those that are the absolute best at their craft do not have to keep reminding everyone around them that they’re awesome. Going back to Jiro for a moment, he knows he’s good – heck, people are making reservations months in advance just to eat an expensive meal at the restaurant! Nobody has to tell him he’s good at what he does – there’s proof around him.
The same applies to your indie studio. If you’re good, you don’t have to explain why you’re good at what you do. The evidence will be around you, and that’s all the clarification you’ll need.
It’s easy to get caught up in meeting your goals and patting yourself on the back for a job well done. Do it, you deserve it. But don’t sit still too long. Remember: you’re only as good as your last indie game. Keep looking forward, give yourself room to constantly improve, and never, ever be content with where you’re at in your career as a developer.
Do this, and you’ll be on the right path to having a solid career as an indie developer.