Five Mistakes Indie Game Developers Should Avoid
By Keval Padia
In recent years, we have seen a huge upsurge in the popularity of indie games. Actually, the gaming world spread with such unprecedented speed that the big AAA-rated games no longer hold all the success. Just look at the success stories of indie game developers in the recent years and you are bound to recognize them as a viable force in the gaming world. Indie developers, in recent years, gave birth to some of the most popular and inventive games.
The Curious Case of Indie Game Development
Yes, the rise, spread, and dominance of indie games is really a curious case; you could say it's even astonishing. Indie games became a contending niche thanks to the creative outpouring of developers. Often, developers working with an AAA budget cannot experiment much just because it is a question of huge risk with millions of dollars invested in the project. So, the indie games may lack the graphic power of games such as Dead Space or Call of Duty, but can deliver an exceptional game concept; examples are Braid, Limbo, Minecraft, and Bastion, are just a few. The big-budget game development companies may have the skills, tools, and graphic power, but indie games often excel in standout gaming concept and exceptional experiments doable within limitations.
But, in spite of this huge success, most indie game producers struggle to make enough to start their next development project. We have seen that many indie developers are just following the steps of the big developers, only to come up with games that lack any unique feature. If you are a budding game developer and think you are smart enough to get away with such a strategy, you are just making a big mistake.
Let us explain some of the key mistakes that every indie game developer should avoid at any cost.
1. Absence of Clear Business Goals and Planning the Game as Premium or Free Accordingly
If you have a game idea and you are going to invest your money and effort, there must be a business goal, a specific objective of earning something from the game, right? Well, long before your game development began, you needed to have a clear idea of how the game will earn for you. Is is a niche game and can you figure out your audience clearly? If it is, you can make it premium with a price. Otherwise, the broad field of Free to Play games will be ideal. Obviously, when developing a Free to Play game, you better have a solid monetization plan through advertising, piggybacking, or partnering other apps, in-app purchases, gated features, and so forth.
2. Chasing the Number One
Every game niche has its own stalwarts that fetch millions of downloads and game dollars. Often, game developers have a false impression that just by copying these games with a slight change of elements like levels or game graphics, they can produce another masterpiece with the least effort. It is a wrong notion that produces too many failures among game developers in recent times.
This typical phenomenon, which is similar to the hero worship we find often surrounding big celebrities in various fields, is a common thing among newbie or budding indie game developers. Besides the overwhelming effect of most successful games, there is some kind of logic behind this. First of all, the game concept has already found appreciation, proving that it can work great. Secondly, with a popular game in front of you, you can make or break things by following it as a model.
On one hand, by making an altered copy of a masterpiece game, you shrug off all the potential to become unique. On the other hand, there is a lucrative opportunity of producing a smaller or mediocre success just by following the footsteps of a big name. Well, the choice is ultimately yours. Even making a mediocre success with a copied game is not assured, and so, why not deliver a game that's truly unique? After all, a unique game can make a new stalwart, not another copycat among the swarming clones.
3. Embedding Text in the Core Files of the Game
Until now, we talked mostly about the problems related to principles in indie game development. Let us now focus on a technical issue common to many game developers. A common mistake committed by many developers is coding text within the very core game files. Many developers just prefer to embed text like the game title, menu text, and some game dialogue embedded into the screen to ensure a specific on-screen appearance of them during gameplay.
Now, why this is bad for a game? Is embedding text into the code of the game really a mistake? The main reason behind saying this is the limiting of the option to present your game in other languages.
Do you want your game to be really global with people from various cultures and places taking an interest in your game? In that case, you need to leave your game language open to translation and stay away from embedding text into the core code of the game.
4. Don't Go for Free Web-based Translation Tools
Just like the major AAA-rated games, indie developers must ensure easy translation of the game text. To make the game available in the gamer's language, is a necessity now to reach a wider audience. When it comes to translation, you cannot just depend on the free translation apps and free tools, such as Google Translate, which lacks accuracy. Moreover, online translation in games and apps are more susceptible to security threats, as we already have come to know from several such instances.
5. Think Big; Consider Various Cultures
Indie developers, you should not think your game market to be limited to a local region within a specific people and culture. With loads of indie games breaking the boundaries to become popular on the international scene, you should think big, think global, and incorporate elements to address various cultures. You should try to make your game title such that it can address the cultural sensitivity of various target audiences spread across the world. Apart from the game title, the same game character can have different names in different countries, making it closer to the local cultures. When your game enters a new market, it should take local cultures into account by tweaking certain names and game characters.
We must say the future of indie games is bright and they will continue to be a reckoning force in the game industry in the future. But, the vast majority of indie games still need to perfect things to make their way through the global game audience.
About the Author
Keval Padia is the Founder of Nimblechapps, a game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lure him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.