Indie game ramblings

Someone on the Blitz forum has posted an essay about indie games entitled Making, Selling, and Thinking Indie Games. draft 1. It’s interesting that they should choose to do this because, as far as I can tell, they don’t actually have any direct experience of making and selling Indie games, although clearly they have been “thinking” Indie games. I don’t particularly agree with many points in the article but I shan’t drag it though the mud. Go and have a read and see what you think.

I made a post that I thought was worth repeating here:

[Casual gamers] are the people that like off-line games like crosswords, wordsearch, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku etc who have money and who don’t pirate games and who don’t want to play violent games. They are well off, have computers and like playing buying and playing games. They won’t buy some Indie developer’s amazing shooter or physics inspired thing that all the coders think are cool, they’ll buy a well polished addictive puzzle game perhaps with a cliche theme.

Really there’s a problem with definitions. Indie may mean people making freeware shooters, or retro-remakes, or weird experimental games or casual games that are invariably clones. Guess which sort sells the most? Should that be your only critera for makeing a game? Of course not – it depends on who you are and WHY you are making a game. Are you making it for fun as a hobby? If so, great do what you feel like – do it for art. Are you making a game for a job? Yes, aha, well try to combine your art with sensible market research and business sense so that you can continue in your job for many years. Pretty obvious really…

I’ll add something else to that post by talking about “retro gamers”:

These are a group of (mainly) men who were once young, but are now in their 30s who played games on 8-bit and 16-bit home computers, early consoles, and in amusement arcades back in the 80s and early 90s. Many of them dabbled with programming too (yes I am describing myself). This market is very interested in either retro-games which look and feel old or retro games that have been modernised graphically and in other ways. *Some* of them will buy games like this, but many will just seek out similar free games and play those or else pirate games instead. Meanwhile they probably also play mainstream AAA PC and console titles too.

So this market doesn’t really actually spend much money on retro games despite being interesting in them. Furthermore this market is *shrinking* as people in it find new interests, have families etc. Unless new people can be brought into the market, it’s not hugely viable.

However, the casual game market is growing every day by a huge amount – so in terms of getting into an expanding market, casual games makes sense. Unfortunately, there is huge (and expanding) competition in the casual games market, so you have to get a lot of things right to make any money. BUT the same could be said for the retro games market; not that’s it’s expanding but that there are a huge number of competitors including tons of free games (and emulator ROMs!) – so to make some money in this niche market is also quite tricky…

Of course, if you are not in it for the money (maybe it’s just a hobby and not your full-time job) then sure, the retro game scene is probably good fun to get into – but don’t underestimate the sheer amount of hours that it takes to make a good quality game in *any* genre.

4 Responses to “Indie game ramblings”

  1. Stephen Says:

    At the moment I am planning to do 1 R-typeish game this year. Next month I am going to prepare the design document. Also I am pretty good at the art and design I feel. So I am going to test the space shooter theory. So if my r-type game tanks then I will be back to making games for girls.

    At the moment I am making those dreaded match 3 clones. I want to play it safe and make some money back. Our team is working on 4 games (2 completed as of May the 10th) and only one game is not clone like (has a newish idea/spin).

    But for the next batch of games I plan to do 2 experimental games and 2 safe clone games.

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Wow you sound pretty busy Stephen but the plan sounds good. Look forward to seeing your games, come back and post a web address when they are ready. Or let me know and I’ll blog about them on http://www.binaryjoy.com

  3. Stephen Says:

    Bought two marketing books this week and I have been trolling for info on blogs :) . Just read I will need a License agreement in the installer if I am to self publish? The business book comes next week so that should cover this area I missed. But the license agreement does not look to hard.

    I want to release the game before my wifes birthday :) . And the deadline is comming close :( .

  4. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Well good luck! Better really focus hard :-) The License agreement is not to tough, just copy another one and chage the bits. Or if the book tells you how to write your own, then great.