Typical mistakes Indie video game developers make
There are a lot of reasons why indie video game developers never get to see their dream of being able to live off the games they create come true. In many cases, the developers usually blame the lack of budget or lack of experience to raise awareness of and promote their creations.
It’s obvious that the lack of resources for creating a marketing plan and making it work is a large barrier that keeps games from becoming well-known, downloaded, played, and monetized. However, in this article, we’re going to focus on the reasons that are exclusive to the development of the video game, setting aside the game’s advertising for now.
When developing a video game, just as with any creative content, there comes a time when the creator must decide if the product is finished and to put it on the market. It’s a difficult decision, and in many cases, there must be a balance between desire and reality, between what is hoped and what is needed. In any case, when the developer of a game decides that the product is finished, it is often the case that the game still needs a lot of work
The devil’s in the details, as the refrain goes, and rightly so. It’s hard work to polish off a game, to really give it that professional level of quality. Many developers seem to forget this, but it is essential. Players will judge a game mainly on its quality, so it’s a good idea to maximize it.
Being too ambitious
And we’re not referring to trying to be the next Dong Nguyen. We’re talking about when you want to make GTA VI in a couple of months with a buddy at home on the weekends. You’ve got to be realistic and know what resources you have to finish a game with the necessary quality (see above point). Among those resources are concepts like: time, money, energy, personal relationships, professional relationships, physical health, mental health, etc. Also, in an ideal world, within those resources, there would also be a space for advertising, but that’s something we’ll deal with on another occasion. You’ve got to try to be realistic and set goals that are easy to reach and which allow you to polish your game as much as possible.
Focusing too much on technology and not enough on the game
A very common mistake among indie developers is the desire to create a game from scratch, with a game engine that can be controlled 100%. This increases the time and resources a project needs to be finished exponentially. Thanks to the boom in game engines we’ve been seeing over the past few years, this problem is disappearing, now that developers can decide to use an already-existing game engine to make their games. Obviously, you have to adapt to what the engines offer, and very demanding developers will always find some mistake or gap in any engine on the market. But it’s also true that most engines offer free versions so you can evaluate their features. We recommend WiMi5, of course :-)
The big advantage indie developers have when compared to the large video game publishers is that the former have a lot more freedom to create their games. They can be more creative and take bigger risks. You need to try to come up with innovative ideas, both in the graphics department as well as in playability, sound, or any other aspect of the game. If you can’t create something totally new (let’s be realistic), at least try to innovate in one of these areas. Creativity is the indie developer’s best weapon.
In free-to-play games, it’s important to design the game from the beginning keeping in mind how the elements we want to monetize will affect the game. For starters, you have to avoid offering virtual goods or power-ups that give advantages to those who’ve paid over those who haven’t. The player should be able to play and experience the whole game whether they’ve paid or not. The most important thing is to have fun with the game, and not to win just because you paid more money. For example, you could offer personalization to the elements of the game so players can differentiate themselves. Or you can ask for donations. Or you can offer elements that streamline the game play without having to wait for X amount of time. You also have to try to avoid putting in advertising that interrupts the game play. Many developers put the ads in at the end of a level or when the player’s character has been killed; moments when the game has naturally stopped. A good example is Badland, which offers advertising at the end of some of the levels, and allows the player to skip those ads by paying.
Technical mistakes and bugs
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? The best would be for the game to have no mistakes, meaning that it never hangs or unexpectedly closes. Its performance shouldn’t suddenly drop, and there should be no blue screens, and it should be coherent. When a game hangs for whatever reason, the gaming experience the player is having is abruptly interrupted, and that’s a major reason for the game being abandoned. As Jesse Schell says in his book “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses”, a video game designer creates experiences. It would be very sad if all the hard work that went into making that experience were dynamited by a development error.
Other interesting lists with mistakes or suggestions for indie developers:
This also includes a series of useful tips on how to advertise your game, such as tips for social media, press notes, etc.
More than a list, this is a mini-round table with a group of developers including Tom Vian, Alan Zucconi, Ashley Ross, Jennifer Schreidereit, and Andrew Roper.
A list of answers from the stackexchange community to this question.
Another list of common mistakes developers make.
A list published at Gamasutra, run by Simon Carless
06/05/2015 / Hafo / 0
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