When you’re a lone wolf indie game developer, it’s easy to slack off. No one is there to tell you that you should be working on your games instead of watching television or checking your email for the one millionth time today. You’re on your own to motivate yourself and make sure that you’re making progress.
Which is why communicating with other indies can be so great. Each of you may work independently, but collectively you can keep each other on track. If you’re wasting time, someone can point it out to you. If you’re floundering, someone might be able to shed some light on why. If you’re family isn’t enthusiastic with the idea that you’re “playing on the computer” when you should be doing something “productive” with your life, the encouragement from other indies can be the oxygen you need to breathe. It’s that important.
It’s why I really enjoy the #gamedevelopers channel on Starchat. Just point your preferred IRC client, like Gaim, mIRC, or my personal favorite, bitchx, to irc.starchat.net and /join #gamedevelopers. While I enjoy going to ##C++ on freenode for programming assistance, #gamedevelopers was great for keeping game development at the front of my mind. Like I said, when you’re on your own, it can be really easy to let laundry, dishes, dinner, and bills force development time to tomorrow.
Stay on topic, anything game development related, this includes no religious/political discussions and nothing that could cause a flame war. Keep in mind that programming chat is allowed but weâ€™d really like to keep it game-specific, or at least something related to something thatâ€™s related to games (for example, website authoring for your shareware games business). And you can keep it on any games topic, board games, crossword puzzles, console (video) games, pc games, mac games, pen and paper rpgâ€™s, if itâ€™s a game, you can discuss it!
People in the channel have shown screenshots of works in progress, announced new major projects, or discussed game design. I’ve made it part of my game development presession checklist to connect to #gamedevelopers. While you would think that the last thing a person needs is an IRC channel to distract from work, I’ve found that it helps motivate me. I don’t want to go to the channel and admit to the people there that I’ve wasted time.
If you’re an indie working either alone or with a small team, you would do well to come to #gamedevelopers. Say hello. If no one responds right away, we’re probably being productive at that moment. B-)