For technologically inclined creatives, making and releasing an independent video game is the dream. Online gaming platform Steam is home to more than 40,000 independent games made by small companies or lone creators working from the comfort of their own home. Some of the most famous video games from the past decade, such as “Slender,” “Limbo” and”Nyan-Nyan Cat,”were made by indie creators.
Here’s how you can join the hallowed ranks of indie video game creators in 6 easy steps.
Get the Right Equipment
Video game development requires the right hardware. Depending on what your game looks like, you’ll need a computer with enough power to process high-quality graphics. Even 8-bit video games must be made on good computers. Aside from the actual video, your computer needs to be able to handle intensive coding, music design and illustration, especially if you’re doing this all on your own.
Conceptualize Core Concept
Once you’ve secured your equipment, you need to come up with the key concept of your game. This conceptualization falls into two phases: conceit and mechanics. The conceit of a video game refers to its central theme. For example, Slender is a survival horror game and its supposed to evoke paranoia in its players. The mechanics refers to how you present the conceit. “Slender” uses darkness, limited options and time limits to put its players on edge. Having a concrete conceit and mechanic is important for the next step.
Design the Game
Designing a video game relies on your conceit and mechanics. The game’s conceit will help guide its visual design: the way characters look, the vibe of the interface and the music of the game. If you’re outsourcing your 2D game art, your concepts will be invaluable in keeping their output in line. Your mechanics will guide the coding of the game. Codes are the building blocks of all software and your conceptualized mechanics will act as their blueprints.
Build the Game
When you have the equipment, the concepts and the designs, its time to start building the game. This can get tricky. Unless you have a large bank account and can afford to devote all your time on this project, you’ll probably be supporting yourself with other jobs. This can stretch your development time from months to years. Focus on your finishing your game and polishing it to ensure it doesn’t languish in the development phase forever.
Once the game is finished, you should always put it through playtest phases: the alpha test and the beta test. The former is conducted by you and other members of the development team while the beta test is done by your end-users. Playtesting is essential to spot any deficiencies and bugs that will need fixing before you launch the product.
Market as Much as You Can
Don’t forget that you need to market your video game as much as you can. If you crowdsourced the resources for your video game, the methods you used to get funding may be helpful in spreading word of your game. Social media platforms will also help inform people of your game’s quality and existence. Remember to set aside a substantial portion of your budget for marketing purposes.
Designing a video game is a difficult path but hopefully these steps will make the process seem less daunting. Independent creators matter to the industry as much as large developers. Help keep video games fresh by contributing your own humble efforts.