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Realistic expectations for indie game developer

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I'm considering becoming a full time indie game developer within the next two years. I plan to perform most of the work myself. I work as a programmer and would likely use Unity to create a 2D side scrolling game. I've  been working on my artistic skills for the last  6 years, so I plan to create the art as well.

 

The main concern I have is the possibility of getting in over my head.  What I need to know is what's a feasible scope of  game for one person to complete in 12-15 months?  Are their any examples of indie 2D side scrolling  games created by one developer within that time frame?

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What is your backup plan, in case your project doesn't make any money?

 

Game development is a risky business investment, and chances are the first few projects you produce won't break even unless you're extremely lucky or a marketing genius. This being the case, do you have something to fall back on financially to keep you afloat during the bad times until you reach the good times?

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What is your backup plan, in case your project doesn't make any money?

 

Game development is a risky business investment, and chances are the first few projects you produce won't break even unless you're extremely lucky or a marketing genius. This being the case, do you have something to fall back on financially to keep you afloat during the bad times until you reach the good times?

 

^ this ^

 

For a while the holy grail was get you game on steam but even that is probably not what it used to be. I remember watching the film about indie games and the Super Meat Boy guys were saying most of their sales would come from when they were on the front page of steam after initial release. I get the feel that green light will have broken that now as there is a tsunami of crap on steam now, most indie. So unless you have a unique breakout game it will be hard to rise above the rest 

Edited by WozNZ

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I'm considering becoming a full time indie game developer within the next two years.

Well you have 2 years to learn. Unless you mean in 2 years you want to be profitable enough with your game to go full-time. Or do you have money saved up to start full-time in 2 years?

There are a lot of games out there. You have to be unique. You will need art and programming that doesn't just look like garbage. I would check out "indie game the movie" just for entertainment. It's totally doable. I was good enough to program after 2 years to do any type of 2D game for sure. You just have to dive in and start solving the basic problems 1 by 1. There are game engines now as well (Unity, Unreal), though doing full-time indie they will take some of your profit.

At the end of they day any dream is possible with hard work. However many people just dream and are lazy. Just don't be lazy. It takes a lot of time. Lets say it would take me 1000 hours to make a complete 2d game with art and programming. 1000/40 = 25 weeks. I don't know how well that number is as I don't have a GDD in front of me to plan out a game and scope it, but just using that as a decent number you can see how much dedication is at hand.

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Going off famous two-man indie games according to Wikipedia: 

Braid took about 1 year to reach feature completion, but 3 years until it was released.

Super Meat Boy took 3 months to prototype and 2 years to release.

So, smaller scope than those?

Yeah. It would have to be smaller. I don't know if I could work on a game for over two years on my own.

 

If I did try attempt making a game of the same scope as the ones you mentioned, you think people would be willing to buy games in 'episodes'? By this I mean breaking up a larger game into pieces that could be sold as updates. That way, the time between starting and completing something  would be significantly reduced.

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What is your backup plan, in case your project doesn't make any money?

 

Game development is a risky business investment, and chances are the first few projects you produce won't break even unless you're extremely lucky or a marketing genius. This being the case, do you have something to fall back on financially to keep you afloat during the bad times until you reach the good times?

 

 I have a decent safety net. Assuming I could complete a game withing 1-2 years,I wouldn't be in the desperate situation you see in some indie game postmortems, even if it doesn't sell. 

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I get the feel that green light will have broken that now as there is a tsunami of crap on steam now, most indie.

 

That's not relevant. It doesn't hurt anyone for those extra games to be on there because they're rarely making it to the front page at all.

 

Also, this makes the fallacious assumption that 'my' work is losing out due to 'other' people's crap; but obviously every developer thinks their work is deserving and the other stuff is not. So now we get a pattern where someone release ssomething that everyone else thinks is crap, but complain that other people's crap is what stopped it selling.

 

Formerly, only good stuff was on there, so it sold pretty well. Those developers did well because their games were good; not because of the absence of bad games on there.

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