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  • Why You Should Postpone Developing Your Dream Game

    [12.07.17]
    - Catalin Marcu
  • This post was originally published on roganews.ro, a news site dedicated to the Romanian Games industry. 

    Whoa, please, put you pitchforks down! Just hear me out first. I'm also an indie developer and I have these dream games I'd like to work on. But when choosing something to invest time and money into, I try to be a bit more realistic. So, please, let me tell you the reasons why I think you shouldn't work on your dream game and then I'll conclude with hopefully a better idea to approach a project. We're cool? Ok, let's start! Oh, and number 3 will blow your mind! Love it when they say these kind of things in clickbait articles.

    1. Too much time

    Let's face it, when we think about our dream game, we rarely think of a retro pixel art platformer* that can be finished by one person or a very small team in under a year. No, we usually think of hardcore RPGs, MMOs, FPSs, RTSs and other 3-4 letters abbreviations. The problem with those projects is, if you're a solo indie developer or even working with a couple of your friends, you're never going to finish them. At least not in a sane amount of time.

    The most probable scenario when working on such a long term game is that you'll be forced to drop it somewhere along the line.

    The bottom line comes to whether working on something that you'll release before growing old is important to you or not. If it isn't, by all means, follow your dream! If it is important and you think you can still make it, say in 3-4 years, well, I'm not going to say it's impossible, it's not... But your life can change so much in that time that this dream project might not fit into it anymore. And if you're working with other people, just think how incredibly hard it will be to keep them motivated working on the same thing for so long, usually with no paychecks or just something to keep them above the floating line. What if some of you get a great job offer you can't refuse? What if you'll start families or have another child or some other circumstances appear that reduce the amount of time you can work on your dream game?

    The most probable scenario when working on such a long term game is that you'll be forced to drop it somewhere along the line. If you're in it just for the fun of working on it and for the experience gained, then nothing is lost, but if you had other goals, you'll have wasted a few years of your life.

    2. Too much money

    Games take a lot of money to make. Dream games take insane amounts. If you don't have a big stash of money hidden somewhere or a very generous investor/publisher, then get ready for some difficult times ahead. Sure, you're willing to work for no money in your free time, many of us are passionate enough to do that without a second thought. But dream games usually aren't made by a single person. You can code and do art too? Awesome! Have you also considered who is going to write your texts, create sounds, compose music, do PR, marketing, test the game?

    Games take a lot of money to make. Dream games take insane amounts.

    That's the thing with the successful indie stories you keep reading about, they tend to omit a lot of things. Mike Bithell, the guy behind Thomas Was Alone, big indie hit, once said that he got that successful only because he knew the right people, especially at Sony and they helped him out a lot. Do you have all the right connections you need? And if by any chance you do, are they willing to help you for free?

    Another thing about money is that you might not need them that much now, but that doesn't mean you might not need them really bad tomorrow. I'm an idealistic person, but when I think I have a family to support, bills to pay and various unexpected events to account for, I tend to tip the balance slightly more to the realistic side.

    3. Too rigid

    Another problem with dream games I noticed through the years is that they're too rigid for their own good. You see, when you're working on your life defining project, you want it to be perfect, to make it exactly as you envisioned it and nothing less than that will do. But game development is very dynamic, sometimes changing the original vision will make for a much better result. Compromise might also be the difference between a good released game and a "would've been amazing" dropped project. And if you're working with other people, keep in mind they'll have ideas of their own and you need to be open enough to incorporate at least some of those in your game.

    Compromise might also be the difference between a good released game and a "would've been amazing" dropped project.

    4. Too much pressure

    Let's say you start working on this dream game of yours. And every single day you're likely to think that it has to be perfect. After all, it's going to define your career, your life even, right? It's the thing that generations will remember you by! Whoa, that's a lot of pressure you just put on yourself. And maybe when you're starting out you'll be hyped and full of energy, but at some point things will start to go wrong, they inevitably do. You'll likely think you're failing, you'll think that this was your shot to create that something you always wanted to do and you've messed it all up and maybe you won't get a chance like that again and so on. I don't know about you, but having bumped fists with depression a few years ago, I'm not keen to have those kind of thoughts in my head.

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