Back in August, Christopher M. Park of Arcen Games gave advice for aspiring indie game developers.
He has a number of observations after releasing his first game, A.I. Wars, and my favorite part is categorizing what class of indie game you might have your hands on. He separates them into three main groups: Indie Darlings, Undiscovered Gems, and Hobbyist/Nonprofessional.
Knowing which category you’re in is important because it allows you to realize what you can do to improve sales and get publicity. It is very important to recognize if your game is part of the last class. If you think you are running a business, but you don’t set your priorities so that you treat your business as one, it will be an uphill battle until you admit that you haven’t been dedicating the time and effort that a business calls for.
Another set of observations I liked: art is really important, but it’s usually not as important as most people think it is. Releasing a finished game with placeholder art is much better than not, and you can always release an update or a sequel or a completely new game with better quality.
As a side note, I used to think that graphics were much less important than I think they are now. Thanks to my time spent in the Game Design Concepts course and in Twitter conversations on the topic with Krystian Majewski, I’m now of the mind that the audiovisuals are as much a part of the design of a game as the mechanics.
Otherwise, you run into a situation where you have an addictive game with exchangeable, hollow visuals. A growing problem today.
Bottom line: art is really important, but don’t let it be an excuse for not finishing your game.
Park’s other big observation echoes what you might hear from any discussion about marketing and sales. Refine your story. Tweak your copy. I love that Park gives multiple examples of emails he has sent out over three months.
The article has some good nuggets of information, so I would suggest reading it in its entirety. It’s not going to detail a plan for you to follow, but it is always a good educational opportunity to see what someone’s business looks like when it makes contact with the market.