"My advice is to identify your team's weaknesses early, and find a way to get expert help in those areas."
Five years ago this month I left a job at a large game studio to become the owner and (then) only member of indie studio Heart Shaped Games. The journey so far has been a rollercoaster, with many mistakes made and hard lessons learned. I often see new indie developers making some of my same early mistakes, so in the spirit of giving back, I've collected some of the most important advice I've received and lessons learned while surviving a half-decade in the independent games business.
Learning How and When to Grow
My earliest struggle was understanding when to spend money. Because I was self funding development, I was hyper focused on spending as little cash as possible.
[…] My advice is to identify your team's weaknesses early, and find a way to get expert help in those areas. […]
[…] Hiring is the most important thing you will do, but I don’t recommend growing for growth’s sake. My teams are generally 2-3 people. but we’ve been as large as 9 including partners. It’s important to grow when it’s needed to fulfill your vision of the game…. […]
Choosing What Games To Make
Gaining a feel for what type of game to make, and how large in scope it should be is another area I had to work at. Getting it right has had significant impact on my ability to survive.
I've found that the size of a game's potential hinges on three main factors:
1. Unique and clear hook.
2. Skilled/experienced team.
3. Quality of execution (art, tech, elegant design, etc).
Each of these factors contributes to the game connecting with a player, and the more players your game connects with, the larger your potential audience. […]
You are not in competition with other developers, especially other small independent ones. By being open with your work, and developing a mindset of giving back to others, you'll find yourself with a better game and support system for when you run into problems. […]
Stay In The Game !