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Report RSS Uncomfortable tips for indie developers

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In other words, some of the pitfalls of game development. As an addendum to the previous blog post: Moddb.com


Underestimating quantity

Quantity builds up quality. What is the difference between a quality mesh and an poorly made, blocky mesh? (Unintentionally low quality, not purposely lowpoly art, naturally!) The number of polygons. Yes, the number itself, not just the way the mesh is made. What is the real difference between a replayable game and a game that you can finish just once or that you can't even want to finish just once? The number of possibilities, storyline or gameplay branches, numbers of enemies, levels, secrets, achievements... and more. (More, as in other things contribute to that irreplayability. Bad controls for example. Who can play a game with nasty controls for more than a few minutes? Only masochists or extreme e-sport fans, mayhap?)

So. Why play an unreplayable game?

Quantity makes up quality. Quite a chunk of indie developers choose to completely ignore that fact, and use that "quality over quantity" clichéd mantra as an excuse to avoid going an extra mile to give their own playerbase more content. The capitalistic "less is more" motto is extremely hostile to your players, and they can feel it when their money does not exactly equal purchased value. Aye, "less is more" is a good thing when you think about bugs and needless feature creep, YET it is truly something terrible when you consider cutting the number of levels, enemies, factions, perks, bosses, useful features, and so on. "Less is less" then, not "less is more". Gamerskind, pretty much like a Zerg hive mind, can feel someone is messing with them by giving them less content than planned or promised.

Too long indie GDDs never served anyone too well. Immensely important to know your limits, yes... immensely important to go an extra mile, however, too...


Giving up only after one failure and treating game development more like a hobby, not a real job

Game development is a job, you are supposed to continue developing games, not naively believe that your first game will be a huge hit. Stopping at just one single game is, well, preposterous. Continuing to make them, that should be the real purpose. Gamers hate developers who are only into it for money instead of being in it for both funds and passion. Real passion does not burn out after one failed game. Also to note, relying only on motivation may end badly. Game development, just like any other artistic activity, is like a fight, there is no good or bad mood for it, you have to push and continue it even when you dislike it.

Never give up if you really want to be a game developer.


Completely and totally ignoring the community's opinion while pretending to listen to feedback

Developers just like artists of any kind have the ultimate right to not give a damn about any players' opinions just like painters are free to ignore any suggestions made by their gallery viewers, freedom of creativity and all that jazz after all, but some issues may prove downright dangerous to ignore. Difficulty is one of them. Leaving critical bugs, scratch that off, no, many devs care about critical bugs, leaving less essential yet still annoying bugs as they are tends to be dangerous as well, just in the long run not the short run. Gamers can remember or recall better a company with bad reputation than the one with good one. Aaaaand to quote a certain artist, "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle". (Even when total pedantic perfectionism seems to be a bad idea too!)


Dishonest or only half-honest alpha and beta testers

Horrifying lack of objective, third party testers that can give you an honest opinion about your game. Just a couple of indie devs (and many more than a bunch of modders) feel insulted when someone constructively criticises their work, never realising that sometimes criticism is a blessing, especially when taken professionally, not personally. The above freedom of artistic expression blah blah still remains valid though, as an artist, nobody can compel you to do or make anything, it is simply safer to avoid implementing sucky things, you see, and criticism is supposed to weed out those sucky things... you see... criticism should always be valued. (Not just valued. Valued as in listened to.)


Letting your team members slack off

Projects either stagnate and die if left undeveloped for too long, or they are of less quality when shelved out for players. Unforgiving passage of time and the recidivist advent of new technology relentlessly beats crap out of those who dare to lag behind, too. Either way, if you let your team members do nothing for the project and you do not set an example by doing something of note (leader's example) or with your wallet (employer's example), then sorry, lions led by a sheep will get nowhere, and if your team members just laze around and only attend dev meetings, you can say goodbye to your dream game.


Treating alphafund/early access games as "released" games and thus requiring less attention

This is what plagued most alpha-funded games available on Steam's (ok, Valve's) Early Access. They were nuked by the community because developers suddenly found out how public pressure bores intolerably into them, barring them from further progress. So they just stick a "mission accomplished" and "not early access anymore" status on the game, when it did not even go through the beta phase properly. Remedy? If you care about reviews, you would have to take down your store page, and relaunch it when you are ready to roll out new updates polishing whatever needs polishing and fixing whatever needs fixing. Another way, while keeping the store page up, is to tie yourself to the chair, lock the door, severe the connection to the internet... no, not in that order... just to do one thing: to bear with external "fan" pressure that you (successfully) blocked out in the end i.e. started developing desperately needed updates for your game instead of hiding under the table away from the overly loud thunder of community.


Do you enjoy playing your own game? Do you REALLY enjoy playing your own game?

Take a step back. How does your game look? How does it play? Turn off cameras to stop recording gameplay, and play it purely for your enjoyment, just for a long while, not for youtubers, just for yourself. Did you truly enjoy the game? Most relatively bad games are born that way because that kind of developers fly through the game and play it solely as its developers and never or rarely care to play it as a bit more demanding gamers. How many hours can you play your game before you had enough?...

... you can expect most of your players to play at least around 1/8, 1/4 of that amount, depending on the game content, replayability and dynamic or key mechanics of your game.


I enjoyed the read, some good tips for new developers!

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