If you’re like me and just quit your day job to run your independent video game business full-time, you might be thinking, “What do I do now?”
That isn’t to say you aren’t prepared. You’ve done your homework. You know how to make games. You know business models. You know who you might need to know.
But you still need to know what you are specifically going to do. I don’t necessarily mean what specific game you want to work on or what sales system you’re going to build. I mean what do you want to make of yourself and your time? Who is it that you’re trying to impress? What is your end goal in this endeavor?
Some indies specifically want to hone game development into an art. See Jason Rohrer’s games Passage or Gravitation for excellent examples. John Carmack is an applied mathematician and 3D game engine wizard. Corvus Elrod is a storyteller.
Each of these people focused on excelling in some area, and the result is advancing games in a very specific way. If you want to have discussions about games as art, you’d do well to know about Jason Rohrer’s games as well as his life. If you want to make the best 3D game engine, Carmack was the pioneer for many techniques and methods for doing so. And if you’re interested in how games can tell stories in their own unique way, you would do well to have discussions with Elrod.
Some indies want to create fun for as many people as possible. Others want to focus on using games as a means to inform. Some want to make something to enjoy with their friends and family, while others just want to tinker. There are many paths to take. In their respective circles, they’ve made a name for themselves.
But what are you going to do? What do you want to be known for?
Seth Godin wrote 16 Questions for Free Agents, which can help you make that decision.
In my experience, people skip all of these questions and ask instead: “What can I do that will be sure to work?” The problem, of course, is that there is no sure, and even worse, that you and I have no agreement at all on what it means for something to work.
It’s easy to do what you see others are doing. Make that clone. It sold well, and you might sell well, too. Maybe. More likely, probably not.
Perhaps fame or legacy isn’t what you are looking for.
But if you only have one life to live, why settle for a cloned life of mediocrity?