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On Being an Indie

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Nyphoon Games


[font=georgia]Originally posted on http://nyphoon.com/[/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]There has to be something - a part of it which makes it so special. Some may call it passion, others label it as the creationist spirit lying within man. Whatever it is, it's working. Six years ago today, I started developing games, and since then I've never looked back.[/color][/font]


[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]There were those days when game development was the last thing on my mind, but in the end, I always came back for more. Whilst last year I talked about the hardships of game development, this past year I savoured more of the bright side of game development. As a game developer, I find myself learning new stuff almost every day. Every challenge, every problem and headache is a step closer to a utopian perfection.[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]Starting out years ago and up to six months ago, I would read articles and dev blogs about how to be a successful game developer - how to start from scratch, build your own staircase to climb and finish a game.[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]Create prototypes. Work on your game everyday. Hone your skills. Week in, week out, those were the types of suggestions I'd stumble upon. Were they helpful? In intention, yes. Yet in reality it was a whole other story. The tips and tricks from seasoned game developers never really hit home, and perhaps rather late after having spent a number of months wandering around like a lost soul, I decided to abandon everything and go my way. Why?[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]I could never work on prototypes. If there was anything I made that I didn't like, I'd either abandon ship, or I'd spend long hours working on perfecting it. I'm a perfectionist. I could never grasp the aim of a half-finished game, and I still can't. Maybe it's sheer ignorance, or maybe it's just that I can't appreciate my own creation before having perfected it. Unbeknown to me, I was entering a school of thought and practice which was binding me to a tunnel-vision mindset.[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]Rather than embracing my perfectionist self and the indie spirit which I had fallen in love with, I was willfully choosing to surround myself with the voices around me, dictating what I should do. Earlier this year, I finally found a foothold and stuck with it - Winter's Coming. I didn't create any prototypes - I focused on my weaknesses and built on them. The results are showing. Rather than following in others' footsteps, I created my own. I went truly indie.[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]So choose what works for you and stick with it. Do what you love best and be the best at it. Be yourself and trudge forward.[/color][/font]

[font=georgia][color=rgb(51,51,51)]Just create.[/color][/font]

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The general idea behind prototyping is that you never know whats going to work and not work right when you enter into a new game project. Rather than expending enormous amounts of effort building something which turns out to not work, you can throw something together as fast as possible and see if it all works together (ie, game mechanics). If it works, then you can either throw away the prototype and build the real thing, or use it as scaffolding which you fill out and polish. Prototyping saves you time by helping you avoid traps early.

Sure, you can rationalize this away as "just another voice to ignore", but some of these voices are borne out of hard experience and are trying to help you avoid repeating our previous mistakes.

My best bit of advice... Don't have zero days. A zero day is a day in which you accomplished absolutely nothing. Zero progress made. Even one line of code is better than none. Make a little bit of progress every day, and given enough days, you'll get there.

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@slayemin, Firstly, thanks for your input and feedback. My argument wasn't against prototypes per se - it's more against the ideals passed on in guides. Reading 'getting started' guides, I was left with the impression that game development was a process, bombarded from all sides that linearity was key.


In my case (Winter's Coming), prototyping involves me finishing the physics engine first. While there will be prototyping, I'm holding it off until the engine is polished - I believe my game's mechanics will be interesting, so only some tweaking will be necessary. I'm mostly interested in physics games right now, so the physics engine will still be a must.


Regarding the 'zero days' - I agree with you completely. An addendum to what you said is that before going on your computer or laptop, before booting the engine, set clear goals. Ask yourself what you want to work on, before the internet get its grips on you and you end up procrastinating.

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