To thine own self be true
It was 2006 when Muteki Corporation was first founded...based on the desire to make our own games and do what we've always loved doing. So why is it, 5 years later we still haven't really succeeded in doing that?
Well partially because we weren't playing to win...we weren't risking anything...we played it all safe.
Years of engineering effort went in to building up products for other clients, such as Loopt, ngmoco, EA, Pogo, Tapulous and many more. In those 5 years we've released over a dozen products for various clients, and helped on at least a dozen more. We've had our games win awards, had games we've made hit the top spots on all of the charts and even been named on some magazines' top-10 lists. And it still doesn't feel like we've succeeded. Why?
Because while we've spent half a decade helping everyone else be successful, we've only set aside tiny scraps of time for our own products. We've released tiny games with minuscule budgets and short schedules because that's all we could "afford" in between real (read: paid, external) projects. We've been succeeding, but we've only been succeeding on other people's goals.
So, I decided to share a few lessons we've learned the hard way in the past 5 years...if you want to "succeed" as an indie developer.
Ship Your Game.
This is important, and needs to be said 3 times, each time emphasizing the next word.
- SHIP your game. It needs to ship. It needs to get out there. A half-finished project sitting on your laptop might as well not exist.
- Ship YOUR game. It's about making the games you want to create. You'll never feel your success if you're successful making what everyone else wants to make.
- Ship your GAME. If you're an indie game dev, make sure what you're shipping is just that - a real game. Little demos and tiny throw-away wastes of time are cool and all, but you're never going to achieve something great unless you really strive to make something great.
Embrace what you are.
Embrace what you are. We spent the first few years of business trying to appear bigger and more impressive than we are. This is great and all if you're trying to build up a first-class consulting studio. It's much less great when you're isolating yourself from a huge, helpful community of like-minded people who just want to get to know each other, share tips, and make some awesome games. So be indie, be small. Be agile, be crazy. Be willing to say and do the things that the "big companies" never could, because they're stuck dealing with things like investors or lawyers.
Seriously, this is important. This work requires that you pour passion into it. You need to be loving what you're working on (at least for the first 90% of it...that last 10% ALWAYS sucks). You need to be excited to get to work on your game, and to be drifting into thoughts about your game and the next features or levels or whatever in your off time. You have to have fun with this, or it will crush you. Game development is hard, finishing a project is hard, and if it's not fun...most of you never will.