After the prototype stage you should have been able to put together a plan for main development, so you should have an idea about how long production will take.
If you want to be realistic then you should take whatever duration you have calculated and double it. Now you will begin to understand the size of the task ahead. Perhaps you are prepared to tough it out for a few months without pay, but what about the rest of the team, are they as committed as you?
Perhaps they are, or perhaps you have found a way of writing the full game without need for external financial support. Maybe you are at university, or you are working on the game during evenings and weekends, or perhaps you have some savings, or a rich aunt.
If you can afford it, and you are prepared to find your own solutions to the above issues, then there are some massive advantages.
If you go independent then creatively you will be free from meddling money men who’ll ruin your game as they pursue the latest trend. They
won’t understand your game (many of them
aren’t gamers) and you’ll get stupid requests that don’t fit your style – they
may for instance ask you to put cute faces on your Darwinian stick men.
Instead, you will be able to make the game that you want to make, and not forced to conform to industry standards that may be out of date or boring. You will own the game, meaning that you will retain a much greater stake in your own product – if it does well, you will be rich! You will also be able to license sequels or ports to different platforms that will be a great way to fund development of your next great title. You’ll build up your own relationships with the press
and your distribution partners, and you’ll be able to control and drive your own marketing effort.
There are also the long term benefits. When it comes to your second game do you want to have to go through the pitching round again, desperate for funding?
What if the publisher won’t fund your project, but has one of their own that they want you to work on? Will you take it? What does that mean for you creatively? Would you be happy as a developer for hire, working on other people’s game ideas? Isn’t that the same as working for an existing studio? Wasn’t that the reason you wanted to strike out on your own in the first place?
So which way to go? For those of you that want my view, take a look at this short clip
. It outlines everything I think needs to be said.
Going indie has been hugely rewarding for Introversion but has not been without a steep learning curve. We’ve learnt that if you want to strike it out on your own you will need to build a competent team that covers all of the major bases – a few programmers just won’t cut it! The decision comes down to whether you want to take the time to build a capable company that acts as both publisher and developer or if you want to spend the majority of your time coding video games (either based on your own diluted ideas or those of others).
If you are going to self-publish the road is very long and very hard, but ultimately, very satisfying.