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You smell a journal entry. Move or shoot?

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Since the weekend I've been thinking about the plan for the short and mid term. I'm still in agreement with my present plan for the most part; at the moment I really need to be working on my skills. However, I'm starting to think I've forgotten to work on my weakest skills which also happen to be the most important to success; management and business.

I have to face it; my biggest obstacle at the moment is that I'm a shy, indecisive and totally disorganised person. Somehow I've managed to get through life so far without changing that, but in order to be a successful indie developer that has to change. It's very hard to modify your personality, but if I take it slowly I think I can do it. The fact that I am posting this is proof; a few years ago I would be mortified to be posting my plans and personality details on a public journal like this.

I'm just not sure on what would be an effective way to become more business like, as that's really not in my nature. I've been reading "The Indie Game Development Survival Guide", "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", and a few marketing books, which have got me a bit psyched, but I'm not sure if that's going to stick. Planning really isn't my forte, but I'm going to have to give it a go if I have a chance of success.

So in the interests of planning, here's an overview of how I will become an indie game developer in the next two years:


Phase 1: Becoming a Game Developer
Project: Project Nova (the space shmup; title yet undecided)
Duration: 3 months
The main goal of this phase is to prove to myself and everyone else that I can actually make a game. Project Nova doesn't have to be a great or original game, but it needs to be finished to the point where people find it fun. I'll also be revising my programming skills, working on art and music, and beginner's level project management.

Phase 2: Thinking Like an Indie
Project: Project Banjo (title yet undecided) or Project Aphid (tentative title: "Lawn Defender")
Duration: 3 - 4 months
This phase is a transitionary one between being a hobbyist and a professional indie. I'll start thinking like I'm running a business; working towards building up some business credibility. I haven't yet decided which project to use, but the result needs to be something that proves that I can produce original, fun stuff that people will be willing to buy. I'll use this game as marketing for the next project.

Phase 3: The Commercial Product
Project: Most likely Project Luxor (title yet undecided), may change
Duration: 8 - 12 months
This will be my first commercial title; it must be good enough to buy. Since I will have done the preparation work during the previous phases to condition myself into working like a business man, and have working on the skills needed to make this game great, it should be successful (at least by my indie standards). The main drawback of this phase is the uncertain nature of my life as a postgraduate student during this time (I may be overseas on conferences or exchange for a lot of this period, or writing up my thesis dissertation), which is why I'm budgeting for a year.


It's very ambitious, but I need to think for success and aim for this if I want to make it as an indie game developer.

I'm also spending this week to decide which 2D engine to use. I've had a look at the documation for ClanLib, and it looks pretty good to me (it's presently my front runner to use for Project Nova). I've also had a look at the demos for Torque 2D, which are impressive. I'll make a decision at the end of week which engine I'll use for my first project.
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It's good to see that you're planning this out so well, I know lots of people who would dive in head first, become overwhelmed, and quit. It looks like you've got a good plan for success.

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I'm also spending this week to decide which 2D engine to use. I've had a look at the documation for ClanLib, and it looks pretty good to me (it's presently my front runner to use for Project Nova). I've also had a look at the demos for Torque 2D, which are impressive. I'll make a decision at the end of week which engine I'll use for my first project.


While I'm sure that using a premade engine may speed up the development process of a game, I think it's also important to be able to write your own, even if it is worse than one you can buy or license, because you will learn a whole lot more that way than using a pre-existing one. But I really don't know what you've done so far, so if you're already past this step, disregard everything I just said[grin].

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It's good to see that you're planning this out so well, I know lots of people who would dive in head first, become overwhelmed, and quit. It looks like you've got a good plan for success.


Thanks! It's probably my engineering background that tells me to plan these things, even though I tend to be disorganised. Although the danger is sometimes I plan too much, and never get started. Earlier this year I planned on building a Tetris clone, but the planning stage went on for months as I had to get the engine architecture "perfect" before coding, and got overwhelmed that way.

There's a huge amount of stuff I don't know how to do, but I figure if I take it in small stages I'll get there in the end.

As for choosing the 2D engine, I've built one a few years back in DirectX. It was pretty bad in most parts, but servicable. That was the basis of that A.I. demo I included a screen shot of in the last journal entry.

But I figure it's best to get a game up and finished, so I should use an existing 2D engine for now. If I plan the code right, I can put a wrapper around it so from my game code it looks like my own engine, but actually calls external library functions. Then maybe later I'll put in my own code there.

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Certainly does sound ambitious, but it's going to be extremely fun from our (the viewers) position watching these games unfold. :)

I wish you the best of luck in this. If all goes well you'll inspire me to try for the commercial market too! :D

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