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What It's REALLY Like Making Indie Games


So I'm working on two indie games at once. And I would say that overall it's pretty typical of indie game development. Small team trying to do it all. Refactoring lots of code as we learn about better ways to create. Lots of coordinating to nail down new ideas, and then once you implement it, we realize something more interesting is worth exploring. It's fraught with lots of uncertainty that's for sure! This video captures a lot of what I do for a living.

So here's the reality of making games:

  • It's a lot less sexy than you think it is! If you got a team size bigger than 3, which we do, and if the team mostly works remotely, which we do, you will spend a lot of time in meetings and specing stuff out.
  • And the funny thing is, even though we are all gamers, and speak the same language, because of the differences in our professional backgrounds, we still don't quite speak the same language. Coders think and express their ideas quite differently than artists do. And finding ways to bridge that gap is a lot of what game development is about. It's amazing how often we had to change the way our terrain looked because we all had a slightly different visual of how it looked in our head, and how to build it.
  • Sometimes I work at night. Sometime I work when sunlight is out and I wished I could be enjoying it more. Then I realize I work day and night I never see the outdoors to begin with.
  • I do lots of play testing, which means fixing tons of bugs and tweaking game balance. Constantly. And no matter how much game devs fix stuff, someone will find a problem that we still couldn't catch.
  • Sometimes we create concept art, change it several times, and then go back to what we started with. And that's perfectly fine. You sometimes have to go full circle to realize what you had was really already working just fine.
  • And I spend a lot of time doing marketing and business development. You hear how often indie game devs didn't realize how much work goes into promoting your game. I realized this... and still it's more than I anticipated! In this day and age, it's easier to reach fans directly, but that also means you gotta keep up constant communication with them.

So there you go. Game development is a lot of EVERYTHING. It's complex, and few people realize how it consumes you. But truth be told: I still rather be doing this than anything else.

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About johnmasterleeone of us since 2:56 PM on 02.11.2013


I'm a game developer, and head up several gaming studios, including Wicked Loot and FitGoFun. Been in the game industry for many years now. It's the only life I know.

I pretty much done it all. QA. Marketing. Game Design. Coding. Editor. The guy who had to wear the (stank) mascot costume at a gaming event. The guy who drove a truck to deliver games to a warehouse. For the love of the game.

It's sorta about games. But mostly about my life.