Top 10 Tips for Indie Game Developers
If you have ever made a video game and it wasn’t quite the hit you expected it to be, or if you just want to improve the video games you create, or even if you’re just getting started with game development, then this is the list for you!
- Testing: First off do not become one of the many Indie Game Developers that do not test their game (not just testing it themselves, but having others test the game as well). It will save you so much time in the long run and your customers will be so much happier, and theoretically you will have more games sold.
If you’re having a hard time finding people to test your game, ask some friends or find some people interested on a gaming forum. And if you’re an iPhone developer you can use TestFlight an iOS testing tool.
- Playability: You need to make sure the platform you chose to publish your game on (console, pc, mobile, etc), makes sense for your game. You shouldn’t put a game that requires dozens of buttons on an iPhone, and you shouldn’t put a game that requires an accelerometer on a pc.
- Fun Factor: With months or even years of hard work put into your game you need to stop and ask yourself, is my game fun? This question may be a little hard to answer as you were the one that had countless trial and errors of coding, a constantly changing Game Design Document, and endless cans of your favorite soda.
So what do you do? You play your game. Don’t just wait to do this after your game is completed, but do it after you add a new feature or a new game mechanic, and see if it fits well with the rest of the game.
- Controls: Your game might be a cool idea that everyone is going to love, but if the controls suck it’s going to sink. I know the first 3 rules pretty much say “Test, Test, TEST!”, but this is the one that you are really going to have to perfect.
If you can’t control the game you’re playing or what your character is going to do, then it becomes a game of chance, and it just frustrates the player. This isn’t to say that you should take out all factors of chance, as every game has chance in it. Just make sure that when the player tells the character to move left they move left, and when they tell the character to eat a chimichanga they eat a chimichanga.
- Story: Every game needs some sort of story. Even if it’s just some simple arcade style type of game, the story is still implied. You need to decide to either make your story realistic or non-realistic and stick to it.
If you follow that simple rule your game’s story will be “believable” and it will work for your game. Now you can throw some twists into the story to make it interesting, but keep from straying from your side to a minimal.
- Fresh Gameplay: Your game may be good but after a while it will start to lose its umph factor. Unless you create Fresh Gameplay. So how do you do this? By making new enemies, obstacles, items or the like.
If you’re stumped on making completely knew “things” for your game, try tweaking the ones you already have. Chances are this will definitely bring some new gameplay to the field.
- Sticking to a Theme: If your game is about Samurai warriors in Japan then don’t have a Futuristic Human Army with spaceships come down and fight them. It just doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t believable.
Also keep the items and objects in the game relevant to the setting of your game. The only real exception to this is Easter Eggs in your game, but even then you can sort of “disguise” whatever the Easter Egg is to fit in with your game.
- Cleanness of Art and GUI: Although art isn’t as important as the gameplay of your game, it will certainly show if your game art isn’t clean-cut. By clean-cut I mean that it’s in the same style as the other art and that the art looks finished and not just thrown together.
This especially goes for the GUI, as this is what the player will see constantly. If the player is going to see it 99% of the game, make sure it’s good.
- Clear Rules and Directions: When the player starts the game you need to teach them how to play your game. Some games need a lot more explanation than others, but every game needs some sort of instructions.
Remember you have been working on the game for a long time so all the controls are natural to you. Make sure you make it clear to the player the rules of your game, and what is “good” and what is “bad”.
- Grammar: This is a step many Game Developers skip. Make sure to proof-read all of your text in the game. I know this may not seem that important, but if you see a word misspelled in a video game it looks very unprofessional, and greatly degrades your product.
I hope you enjoyed the article and learned a thing or two on how to improve your video games. And I hope you imply these into your own games, and maybe even spread these tips to other game developers to increase the quality of video games.