Sat 30 Jul 2011
I released a game this week. It’s called Prime Minister’s Questions: The Game and it has you play as the British Prime Minister, David Cameron as you fight to the political death against the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Ed Miliband. Before releasing the game, I was well aware that telling people I was an independent games developer would just be wishful thinking, yet, with PMQs out there, I have been asking: am I a real indie developer now?
The game has managed to achieve quite a bit of press coverage, being featured first on Rock Paper Shotgun, then IndieGames.com, AGS Blog, Wired.co.uk but does sheer recognition alone mean you’ve ‘made it’ as an indie games developer? To try and answer the question I did a bit of research on Twitter. The general feeling was that recognition is important. Interestingly, I got the feeling that those that hadn’t released a game yet put more value on recognition than those who already had. I find myself in a place now where I still don’t feel like I’ve ‘made it’; I have only completed one serious project and I see myself as awfully naïve about the process of developing games. Getting some recognition for my efforts however, has left me in a position where a feel ‘ready to make it’.
One main reason for my lack of confidence is that I haven’t developed and released an original IP. Right now it doesn’t feel like I own anything. There are no characters, game worlds, unique mechanics that I have thought up, designed, developed and released out into the world. Twitter again provided some insight on the matter, with the main response being that an original IP is no better than anything else, unless it gets recognition for being good quality. Again, it comes down to getting recognised.
What about the question: But I’m not making money? This is a silly one really as I am already convinced a developer can be indie, and most likely would have to be indie, by only releasing freeware titles. Having said that, one very interesting point was made by Dane Krams in my mini Twitter consultation, when he pointed out that for many developers having ‘made it’ means finding “financial stability”. And on that note, I can’t think of anything closer to really ‘making it’ than being able to support myself by doing what I love doing.
If I were to conclude what I’d found out from this little thought exercise and Twitter discussion I’d have to say that, as a developer, one has to make ‘making it’ whatever one wants. For me, it’s clearly having the same success I have had with Prime Minister’s Questions: The Game with an IP I can call my own. For others it could be making a living. Steve Poulton reckons it’s about “consistent, high quality output.” So, let’s all keep doing what we’re doing and if the world can give us back a living, or even just an ego boost, then that’s a bonus.