On being a noob Indie Developer

It’s kind of frustrating going from consummate professional in business to total noob in indie gaming. We got our rejection letter from the indie fund last month, and I have to say it was a bit of a bummer. We should have expected it, this was never a conceptual title, but I just had a fantasy that things would go a little like this:

Eagans fantasy-land expectations

After several weeks of checking youtube every 30 minutes to see if someone, anyone on the west coast looked at our project, the reality of being a noobie finally hit:

What reality more/less looks like

I have to admit – this part of the experience is, well… sucky. I imagined the indie community as a utopia of programmers and designers joining together to make great and affordable games. If one was misdirected we could band together and give them some sage advice to help them along the road. That’s what the indie fund is doing really, and they can’t do it for everyone. It occurred to me what kind of draw indie development must be for all of the geeks in the world. The indie teams probably have to sort out the geeks who don’t know anything about programming, or game design, from the ones who do and I imagine the difference isn’t always obvious!

It’s kind of like when you’ve got a stack of resumes to go through, and after a while you start throwing out candidates arbitrarily because it’s just not humanly possible to give each of them the time they would need. “What? A misspelled word? *Discard Pile*” “Improper verb conjugation? *Noooo thank you.*” A person (even one you admire) can only stretch themselves so thin – why didn’t I realize that?

Of course this gave me a lot of pause… Wow – are we totally clueless indie fanboys sucking the life out of real developers!? We might have seemed that way. I didn’t really expect praise so much, as I was looking for someone to say “No thanks, but nice effort. Have you thought about changing this or that?” I expect my emails with questions looked like this: “YOU CANZ LOOKZ AT MY GAMEZ?! PEEEZ?!” There’s so much to learn as a noob in this industry… So, what do we do? Should we just give up? Do we even finish our game if no one is going to look at it? O.o

After I finally stopped moping around the office (that we may not have needed to rent) saying “I’ve made a huge mistake…” (half for entertainment, half because I felt that way) – I realized that starting anything new is never going to be easy. For whatever reason we all have to do a certain amount of walking into walls before we figure out where the doors actually are. If that wasn’t the case, everyone would be doing this. So, after a short stint of the blues we decided to take what we learned and apply it in any way we can to make the game better. We’ve been reviewing our design in detail, and finding out what parts we can make more fun. We’re getting close to the point where we’re going to implement those changes and hit the final stretch – the game will finally be done, and getting rejected has actually made our title a little more worthy of a first serious offering.

That may mean accepting that the people we’d hoped would be interested in us just aren’t right now. There’s other platforms we can use, even if it isn’t what we’d been hoping for. That’s what life does with your plans, and I think if you keep looking for openings and ways to make them work – you’ll eventually get where you wanted to go.

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2 Responses to On being a noob Indie Developer

  1. Eli says:

    Eagan, don’t get discouraged!

  2. Kristian says:

    Hey there Eagan! I sympathize with your struggle, as being a indie game developer have also always been a dream of mine. I’ve had to put it on hold however while I attend my study and acquire some (hopefully) valuable skills.
    I wish you the best of luck and recommend that you just keep on working at it, the more you make, the better you get, and the easier it will be to prove what you can.
    When you succeed, be sure to tell me exactly how! :P

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