With so many people becoming independent game developers, the question is, “Why?” What makes it so appealing?
McDonald thinks that being able to create a game the way you want to make it without worrying about appeasing Marketing or some third party investor should be the big reason. Being indie because you want to be indie.
He then argues that the goal of financial independence actually constrains you and makes you less indie. By allowing your game design and creation to be dictated by the bottom line, you necessarily restrict what you might develop. Perhaps, but there is no denying that worrying about the Marketing Department is completely different from worrying about marketing. When you’re indie AND trying to make a living, your customers matter most rather than a checklist provided by a separate group in your company.
On the other hand, maybe the definition of “indie” has been stretched. Is the freeware developer who makes whatever he wants any more indie than the shareware developer who makes what his customers want? It’s one way of looking at it.
McDonald finishes the essay with the following plea:
So to new independent developers, I encourage you to enjoy your freedom and make something you are passionate about. Like most things in life, if you follow your passion you will eventually find financial success. Itâ€™s not a valid business plan, but there is enjoyment and significance to be found in creating games with passion. The potential for those kinds of games is why sites like this exist. Do you think they really want to review another game packed full of casual mechanics and themes (or whatever else is the hot selling trend of the day)? No, they exist because they want to support developers who are free to create games that are expressions of their own appreciations and personality instead of what everyone else whoâ€™s bound to the almighty dollar is doing.
When I was younger, I wanted to make video games, but I never thought it would be to specifically make clones and derivative works. I’m sure most people wanted to make the “best-RPG-ever!!!!”, or some incredibly involved simulation game. Some people have gone on to make such games. Others might have forgotten to even think about what their dream game would be…
/me adds “Decide on dream game idea” to New Year’s Resolutions.