How to start a career in indie game development
When it comes to forging a career in indie game development, some extra preparation can make all the difference in your first few years of work. While passion is certainly fundamental to finding success in this challenging industry, it needn’t be the only tool in your arsenal.
So, what do you need to get started in indie game development? We’ve compiled some key considerations for anyone looking to begin their journey.
Evaluate your finances
Regardless of the current stage of your game’s concept, understanding how much financial security you have will be a necessary step to advance your plan. Creating an indie game or launching your own practice will require you to be more self-reliant than if you were working in AAA game development – particularly at the beginning.
Ask yourself if you’re comfortable using savings to allow for more time dedicated to the creation of your game. You’ll also need calculate out how much time that gives you should that be the route you want to take. If not, evaluate whether you need to maintain another job during your game’s development, or if there are any other forms of support you can explore.
Examine your schedule and timelines
Once you’ve decided how to support yourself financially, you’ll be better equipped to set realistic timelines around your game’s development.
That being said, you can almost be certain that these timelines will extend as your game evolves – so don’t put unrealistic pressure on yourself. Find a balance between tending to your game and other responsibilities that makes sense to you. Don’t force a schedule that’s not sustainable for you mentally or physically.
Learn more about marketing
While it can be tempting to throw yourself into game development and decide to focus on everything else later, doing so could be a costly mistake.
If your objective is to create a game that others enjoy playing, realising the value of marketing is crucial. Don’t underestimate the benefit of building a following for your game while it comes together – this traction will help tremendously once its ready for release.
Plus, as an indie game developer, you are as much of a brand as your game itself. Knowing how to keep an audience engaged with your work lets you keep doing what you love.
Read up on business management
You’ll need to be familiar with cash flow modelling, securing investments, and more as you set up your own practice. This is where knowledge of business management will come in handy.
While this might seem like a distraction from your “actual” project, it’s actually an essential element in maximising its chance at success. By learning how to properly launch and run a small business early on in your game’s lifecycle, you help protect the time, money, and effort you and any potential team members put into the project.
Take stock of your personal and interpersonal skills
Regardless of what areas you specialise in, developing a game is ultimately a collaborative effort. As touched upon earlier, being realistic about your own capabilities is the best way to ensure you aren’t faced with any undue pressure.
No single person will have all the skills needed to see a game’s development through from start to finish. By identifying your strengths, points of improvement, and areas that might need delegating to others, you become better equipped to complete tasks, select teammates and partnerships, and much more.
By thinking critically about the points above, you can start mapping out a feasible plan to kickstart your career. While you may not have all the answers immediately – or find that the answers you do have change over time – understanding the full depth and width of a career in indie game development will help you navigate any challenges you face along the way.
If you’re interested in a tutor-led course that can support you in bringing your game idea to life, Falmouth Flexible’s entirely online, part-time degree might be an excellent fit. Our MA in Indie Game Development teaches students the creative and commercial abilities needed to become confident and capable indie game developers.