Top 9 Tips for Indie Game Developers

by Michael Sacco Published December 13, 2023
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So you’ve decided to be a game developer. Congratulations! And welcome to the fun world of game dev community! You’ve done a lot of research, watched hours of Youtube tutorials and even tried to explain what it actually means to be a game developer to some friends.

You’re excited to turn your game concept into reality, and you want to be sure that it will succeed. Game development is fun work but it’s more than just designs and aesthetics. Having supported more than 30,000 game developers in our community, we know what it takes to get started. Below are 10 things to keep in mind as you start developing your game idea.

1. Set a clear vision

Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your game. Once you have the initial storyline and goal for the game, dig deeper and define the aspects that grabs your players attention. Try creating a moodboard to help you visualize your game’s aesthetic, don’t be afraid to get as detailed as possible.

2. Focus on user experience

An appealing look is just one dimension of what makes a great game. When developing your product, think of who you’re creating this game for.

Set a target audience avatar and build your game for them in mind. Market research is a crucial exercise at this stage so you know your user well. It’s important that you can clearly define what your audience will need, love, or dislike in a video game.

3. Find support

Game development can feel lonely at times. You will spend hours on end on your computer, interacting with nothing but your desktop, working on your game. Working on your game is important, but it’s also important to have a great group of people around you who you can lean on for support.

Discord is perfect for this. It is a great platform to find like-minded communities. Our Discord community is the perfect place to ask your game-development questions. Learn and share with like-minded individuals whose experience might expand your game concept.

Overall, Discord will make your experience feel more communal and supported.

4. Team or alone?

In game development, the choice between going solo or working with a team is important. Working alone means that you have full control over the direction of your game, but you will have to do everything yourself. As a result, your game’s quality might suffer as you try to balance making art, designing your game, and programming it.

On the other hand, teaming up will bring diverse skills and shared creativity. This can help you make a higher quality game. But, it can be tricky to manage competing ideas for how your game should look, feel, and play.

This decision shapes the trajectory of your journey, defining the balance between individuality and teamwork.

5. Make your game stand out

Be it the storyline, its characters, a fun mission, or even its aesthetics, find ways to make your game feel special.

Games like At Skies Edge made this happen with our tool Altos: Sky Rendering System to create a realistic, stratospheric environment that immerses players into the game, making it a fun, dauntingly beautiful game to play.

6. Learn from failure

To fail is to be human. You will make mistakes, especially early on in your game development journey. The most important thing is how you respond to failure. Don’t give up. Instead, try to understand what went wrong, learn from your mistakes, and define a strategy to avoid repeating it to improve.

Being adaptable allows you to learn from setbacks and refine your approach. Navigate your challenges with resilience, turning failures into valuable lessons that push you forward.

All game developers encounter a big failure at some point. The best ones learn from their mistakes and keep going.

7. Practice makes great

Year after year, you’ll find yourself on Google, searching for the same “how-to” queries from your early days in game development. That’s okay.

Over time, you will improve. As you improve, you’ll need less help from outside sources, and eventually you’ll be the one writing the answers.

Perfection is unattainable but we can strive to be great. Keep expanding your skills to fill out gaps in your knowledge and become a better, more well-rounded game maker.

Continuous learning keeps you inspired in ways to make better games.

8. Have a good time

When you have fun, you create fun games. Period. That’s not a science-backed statement but you would believe it, right?

It’s a cliché piece of advice that’s been constantly repeated. Game development is a difficult and long journey. But, you’re working on a creative endeavor to create something fun, beautiful, or inspiring. You will leverage all your creativity and technical prowess to make an experience that others can enjoy. Love the process and learn from the experience. If you don’t get out with an award-winning game, you’ll at least end up with something you’re truly proud of.

9. Promoting your game

Once your game is ready, here comes the marketing. Promotional strategy will depend on your brand, audience and the game itself, but here’s a general overview:

  • Create interesting marketing materials that you can publish in different channels
  • Make use of TikTok and Youtube to showcase your promotional video
  • Sharing your project with a Discord community is an excellent way to get notice, be sure to share your project with the community

We recommend starting your marketing as early as possible. For comparison, big games start marketing more than two years before release.

Try to start sharing your project as soon as you have something to show. Bring people with you during your journey as you build something incredible. When you eventually release, people will be so excited to finally play!

Conclusion

In the world of game development, remember these three things: set a vision, prioritize user experience, and keep learning. Also, don’t forget to have fun (so I guess that’s four things). As you commence this journey, remember that there will always be a support behind you. May you have an exciting game-making adventure!

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