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The Business Article - Draft 1

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Trapper Zoid

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I have written my business article up to a point where I feel I can post it on the Internet. It is not complete by a long shot, but it is enough to warrant requesting feedback.

Here is the link to the article, "The Business of Indie Games"

I am a little concerned about posting an article on business since it is an area I feel very new at myself. I feel a bit worried that I might be inadvertantly spreading bad advice. I am really writing an article to learn about business myself: posting it on the Internet is just so I can share my notes and opinions with other people.

Furthermore, at the moment the article is little more than a draft. I have only got as far as the basics and decisions to make on choosing a game type, given that is what I am presently thinking through. I will most likely extend the article once I need to think through further aspects of the indie business.

I would be grateful if anyone was to read through it and make comments, especially on points they disagree on. Part of the point of posting this here is to pick up the areas that I am weak on. If there is an interesting difference of opinion I will start a thread in the forums to thrash out the issue in more detail amongst everyone.

Thanks in advance for anyone who reads the article!
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Given my inexperience in the business side of indie game development, I can mainly offer encouragement over criticism. [smile]

I certainly agree with the points about indies needing to use their risk-taking capabilities to make unique divergences from the established commercial 'norms' for games, since we can't compete directly with their brute strength/budget. You're certainly right on the ball about small short-play action games being a feasible direction to go in, as evidenced by games like Geometry Wars and my own work. I'm also very pleased that you took the time to mention the MMORPG market, and the ludicrousness of an indie developer (in 9/10 cases) trying to take on such a massive project.

I also found the points you had under "The Basics" very helpful. These are definitely things that indie developers need to sit down and think about before touching hand-to-code. Pointless rehashes of existing games or attempts to compete directly with the mainstream genres is largely a waste of time from the standpoint of actually selling one's game. The importance of knowing your audience and thinking about the marketing of the product in advance is definitely an area that at least I know I need to work on.

Despite this being a first draft, I felt this was a very good read. I wish I had some critique other than praise to throw in your direction, but I'm sure that there's plenty of experienced indie developers that will have better luck. I look forward to reading the final version!

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Thanks for reading the article, HopeDagger! I'm not sure there's going to be a "final" version, as it's really just a collection of business thoughts that I'm putting in the one place. It will only be final when I permanently forget to update it [smile].

I feel I might have trailed off a bit on all the genres; it's pretty hard to enumerate them all, even when I've got the list in the Indie Game Development Survival Guide to help me. In fact that bit is pretty similar to the one in the book, just through my eyes. Pretty much the golden rule for all genres is "don't make your game depend on heaps of content". Unfortunately that makes some genres like RPGs tricky to do.

I'll update the article next week once I've got round to writing some more. I need to read more of my marketing and business books.

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