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The Life of an Indie

Published on May 4, 2012 by

Welcome to Bitmen Studio’s Indie Game Developer Blog. What’s this all about?

My name is Mark and I’m an Indie. I’m developing games for iOS devices, so basically for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Being an Indie is an interesting experience, it is very rewarding (less so money-wise) but also very challenging.

Why am I writing this blog?

The reasons why I’m doing this are manyfold. I basically have three intended audiences.

Other Indies

First of all, like most Indies, I’m a one man army. Being an Indie means covering all aspects of game development, from early game design to promotion alone. That’s a challenge and requires a lot of different skills. During game development, a lot of decisions need to be made, some are quite hard.

But what makes this even more challenging is the fact that being an Indie is a lonesome job. It is hard to discuss decisions and design issues in a one man team. By writing this blog, other Indies can see what troubles I’m dealing with and it will sure help exchanging experiences or just simply realize that others are facing similar challenges.

Gamers

To most gamers, games just magically appear on, say, the AppStore. Without a development background, it is sometimes hard to envision what is behind “making a game”. This blog will provide some insight what it takes to write a game. It is not a technical blog (you won’t be able to write your own game after reading it), but it will show what challenges Indie game developers face, how they deal with them and how what originally is just an idea slowly shapes into a real game.

Alternatively, the blog obviously will contain information about my new game if all you care is the result.

Myself

I’m also hoping to draw some inspiration and motivation out of this blog. While it takes time writing things up (and time is something an Indie does not have in abundance), I’m hoping that publicly sharing the experience means that I can carry on when I feel like retiring my project or generally get some feedback whether things make sense in my head. On a meta-level, I may even find out why I am doing this? :)

Last but not least, the blog is a testimonial that I’m busy on some stuff and I haven’t dropped dead. :)

The Game

When writing a game development blog, there needs to be a game to write about, otherwise it is going to be pretty academic. I’m currently working on a SciFi based RTS (real time strategy game). For those not being familiar with RTS, think Starcraft, Age of Empires or Command & Conquer.

You can find some preliminary info in the Game Info section. It doesn’t contain a lot of pictures yet but I’ll gradually improve it.

About me

In real life, I’m a software engineer working for a major international software company. While I used to be a developer long time ago, I’ve since then moved to management duties. My current role is IT architecture but I’m also doing project management and that means I spend most of my daytime in meetings, coordinating, communicating, managing.

That having said, ever since we have off-shored development, I haven’t done any coding for the company. Still, coding is what I love most and what I’m best at, I’m known for pretty fast development speed with crystal clear code. I’ve been coding since I was 13 (back than in Assembler on a C64) and needless to say that for the first years, I’ve been writing games.

Ontop of that, my 15 years of experience in the software industry means that I’ve a structured approach to things. I’m not just sitting there and hacking in lines of code, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I write down a game design document to know what to achieve, I write specs for non-trivial implementation tasks (multiplayer comes to my mind) and I’m writing down the storyline before I try to put it into code. I also have the habit of organizing my projects and tasks in order to streamline development. This saves me a lot of time in the long run.

No strengths without weaknesses and the list of weaknesses is long: I’m not an artist, I’m not a composer, nor am I a sound engineer, writer or an experienced game designer. On a similar note, I’m not a salesman, PR and marketing pro or anything like that. Still, all these aspects need to be covered.

 
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3 Comments  comments 

3 Responses

  1. Don’t hesitate to comment.

  2. Ahh yes a one man army indeed.

    I know the feeling, I started fresh in June 2011 coding in Lua utilizing the Corona SDK framework. I never programmed before, no coding of any kind. My background is call center architecture and it exists in a datacenter. Over the years, I’ve deployed various systems and design to various datacenters. It’s easy *for me* and it pays very well. It’s not as satisfying as I would like though which is why I decided to make games. I’m in my mid 30’s married with an 8 month old son…working a real job and starting and LLC and trying to do EVERYTHING that goes along with it.

    TIME IS NOT ON MY SIDE!!!!!!!!! <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    As an "indie" I figured out that if I have an hour, which is really like an hour and 15 minutes (15 minutes to get settled in and power up the macbook pro, whatever) I can get a lot more done than I used to when I had ALL THE DAMN TIME IN THE WORLD. My son makes me work faster, smarter. I know when he goes down for a nap (he's napping right now, but I'm here commenting instead of coding lol) I know I have to have a "road map" and get things done. This isn't really any different from call center arch, or implementation of a new datacenter. Lots of moving pieces, lots of things to manage (servers, people, power, magic monkeys from the planet zoltar..etc).

    Making games, lots of things to manage, art, audio, coding, marketing, distribution (we have app store and google play for that thankfully), customer service tra la la la la (emphasis on the tra la la la la, that is KEY).

    Aggggghhhh. Makes me tired thinking about it, at least I know I am doing something that I like and doesn't "feel" like work to me. Even though I spend 4 hours a night coding or designing, or playing instruments (my other background is sound engineering, used to work in studios all over the place haha) to record a new soundtrack. Everything takes time away from something else.

    If you are coding, you are not making music, if you are making music you are not coding, or marketing or whatever the hell it is you need to do.

    Yep, I know the feeling!

    -Nick

    Twitter: @cellphonegaming
    @angrycarrot

  3. Rob

    I know *exactly* how you feel. I’ve tried to get some friends together to do some marketing… but I’ve been doing everything myself, and it is hard (especially since I am a terrible artist).
    But I enjoy the coding, releasing, and even making the sound effects.
    I definitely couldn’t swing it without working for Adobe during the daytime though.

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