Indie Game Crowdfunding 101 (or two)

On June 22, 2011, in Business & Industry, by Steffen Itterheim

These days the game Interstellar Marines is making news. It’s an FPS that rivals top titles like Halo but it started out as a four-man project in 2006 and is entirely funded by the community. The game is available for free as chunk-size bites called chapters that can be played for free. And it’s being developed with Unity, probably the leading game development framework for indie developers.


Interstellar Marines – unbelievable but crowdfunded!

Crowdfunding platforms

The successes seen by crowdfunded games have created a demand that several crowdfuning websites try to fill. The latest addition is GamesPlant, founded by game business experts where projects can be created in any currency and relies on the Paypal platform.

Other indie game crowdfunding platforms include 8-Bit Funding, the Indie Fund (only selected projects) and Playism (Japanese, english version in Q3 2011). Of course there are more general purpose platforms that have also worked for games, like Kickstarter (creative projects), RocketHub (creative projects), Pledgie (general purpose) and Indie GoGo (general purpose).

Should you aim for a crowdfund?

It depends.

One indie developer nails it down to driving traffic. Obviously, just putting your game up on a crowdfunding platform and hoping for the best isn’t going to work. Hope is not a strategy. I cringe when someone uses the “hope” word in a sentence about the future of anything. If you have to rely on hope, you could as well start playing the lottery.

Driving traffic is the core issue, and I believe many developers seem to forget that. You have to have a website dedicated to your project and depending on where you are in your development cycle, it should be a seperate website apart from your personal blog and past projects.

You can have lots of “fans” of your project in someone else’s forum or website. But ultimately you want that traffic to go to your website. And once you have that, you can start thinking about funding your project. If you have a tight-knit community, then donations or pre-orders might work great for you. Or any of the other funding options. Or you could try crowdfunding as your primary option and simply direct your fans and drive your traffic to the crowdfunding website. It’s rarely going to be the other way around.

In any case, you will have to drive the traffic to the desired destination. Traffic does not come by itself, and without traffic there is no funding and no revenue. And for crowdfunding specifically, the more you have to show from your game the more likely it is that you are going to see a return in investment. It’s a constant give and take. Don’t expect to take first, then give sometime later. It’s the other way around, and this may be the ultimate misunderstanding of crowdfunding.

You do have to make payments in advance yourself. Without investing anything you won’t be getting anything back in return. That initial investment doesn’t have to be money though, it’ll be time and dedication that you’ll have to invest at a minimum. And you’ll have to show that with convincing screenshots, trailers, podcasts or vodcasts, frequent blog posts and so on. Convincing in two ways: one, you’ll be able to pull this off and show enough dedication for the project. Two, the game should promise to be fun and exciting and offer something new or refreshing.

Those are the ingredients for starting a game that can’t be completed without external financial support.

Prerequisites To (Crowd) Funding

I believe investments are often misunderstood by those who have never received an investment. To receive investment of any form, you first have to invest yourself. Quite literally: invest your time into the project, and if you can, your money. The more you do the more you show dedication. That’s step 1.

If you can’t possibly finance the whole game and you have to have an investment of some kind, your focus immediately has to shift from programming and creating game content to marketing. Only program and create content that you can show the world in some form or another. Anything that creates interest or buzz. A randomly generated world. A fun-to-watch teaser trailer. Anything you can make a story off of.

You will have to market something that doesn’t exist yet, except in your dreams and in your mind. I think this is giving some developers a bad stomach feeling, after all you’re taking money from others just on a promise. If you have that feeling, please re-consider your dedication for the project. If you don’t know whether you’ll be able to keep your promises and deliver, you may not be as invested in the project and convinced of yourself as you need to be. That’s what I mean by investing yourself.

Of course there will always be phases of doubts, so don’t stop on the first sign of doubt but know when you have to stop. Your best cure will be to keep on working. If needed work on something else that you’re not currently stuck on. I always have something else to work on, and some other website to post on, in order to be able to shift focus and just keep on working on something I feel like working on at the moment.

Make progress as often as you can – contrary to common project management wisdom what you work on does not always have to be goal-oriented or even useful. After all, we’re in a creative business, and creativity can not be had if you strictly follow instructions – whether they’re your own or someone else’s (your boss, your investor, your community). Just don’t piss them off too much. Quick bit of wisdom: it is much easier to apologize afterwards with something to show for than it is to ask for permission with only a promise and potential risks.

Finally, show that progress. That’s step 2. Rinse and repeat step 2 for as long as it gives you enough satisfaction. Notice that I said satisfaction, not revenue – unless your investor(s) call(s) for that. In which case you’ll have to be 100% ok with revenue generation being your central goal from the get-go. Don’t expect to be able to mix pleasure and business – it can happen but you can hardly ever plan for that, and business has a tendency to take away pleasure and fun from a project in the long run.

Luckily, in that regard you’re mostly off the hook if you use crowdfunding. And I believe that’s where its power lies – it requires a good connection between customers and developers from the start.

What’s The Best Investment Option?

Plain and simple: invest in yourself. Everything else follows from that.

Disclaimer

Take a time-out if needed to focus on other things. Don’t feel bad about that. Continuing to work for the wrong reasons and despite growing discomfort will result in the ultimate failure – be aware of the warning signs!

Burnout can happen everywhere, not just in big corporations!

Interview with Team Wanderlust

On June 1, 2011, in Interview, by Steffen Itterheim

A few days ago, I received an email from an Indie developer who are about to release their game. They were looking for ways to promote their game. So far, nothing special.

Except: their game is! Made with Game Maker, in development since 2006, featuring Online-Coop-Action in a game that on first sight looks like Diablo-gameplay meeting Asian RPG art. You might want to watch the game trailer before we proceed (and to know why I suggested to them on Twitter to call the game a “Diablo-Killer” in order to increase their chances of getting noticed) …


Wanderlust: Rebirth Trailer

I talked with (well, email-interviewed) Jason Gordy and Matthew Griffin of Team Wanderlust, two of the four developers of the online action RPG game Wanderlust: Rebirth. Together they provide intruiging behind-the-scenes details about the game’s development.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for Wanderlust, and why did that happen specifically on a Xmas Eve in 2006?

[JASON]: In September of 2006, we were messing around with the idea of creating a Nintendo DS game, which is why you now see that we have “two screens” in the final game. Shortly after starting this “DS project”, we decided to make it a PC game. This decision was made on Christmas Eve, 2006.

Q: The game’s subtitle is Rebirth, was there a “regular” Wanderlust and what happened to that?

[MATT]: The primary reason for the “Rebirth” subtitle is that this game is a re-design (from scratch) of our original Wanderlust title, “Wanderlust: The Online Adventure”. There are even Youtube videos of our original game on Jason’s Youtube account (d2king10). (see: Wanderlust videos dating back to 2006: 1, 2, 3)

Other reasons for the subtitle include:

  • Re-forming of Team Wanderlust (Jason Gordy and Matthew Griffin) after a brief breakup to pursue other ideas.
  • A consideration that we may, later on, do more Wanderlust games set in a different time period or with a different story, yet in the same ‘world’; we wanted to have the potential to build a “brand” (i.e. Final Fantasy or Dungeons & Dragons).
  • ‘Rebirth’ has subtle connections with elements of the game’s story


Hacking and slashing in a dungeon
(more screenshots of Wanderlust: Rebirth)

Q: Did you have any game development experience prior to Wanderlust?

[JASON]: We both had years of experience working on games, just not on any professional, published titles.

[MATT]: This is an interesting question for me. As Jason said, we both had worked on our own indie projects prior to working on “Rebirth”. I released a couple simple games called “Puckbang” and “Moon Turret” (both of which can be downloaded using the Wanderlust updater). I also worked within the Game Maker Community to release libraries that would help other members create online games easier.

Jason and I have tried to get our “foot in the door” in the game industry, but we are always shot down because we have “no experience”. Unfortunately for us, we’re stuck in some sort of, game-designer-experience paradox as a result: there is no way for someone to get their first job in the game industry while already having experience! It is a logical contradiction (I have a Philosophy B.A. so I know about these kinds of things)! We decided, long ago, that we make the games that we wanted to make, and eventually decided to sell them, too. Wanderlust is our first major release as a team.

Q: Did you develop the game in your free time?

[JASON]: We both did. I was still in High School when we started working on it. Now, I have a B.F.A. in Animation. I missed a few days of school due to lack of sleep from working on the game the night before, but it was worth it!

[MATT]: When we started on the game, I had just gone back to college. I already had a Programming A.S. but I wanted a B.A.. You can accomplish a lot in 4.5 years! Essentially, we both earned our degrees and created a video game in our spare time!


“Let’s Play” Wanderlust: Rebirth with the Developers playing coop mode

Q: Why did you choose to use Game Maker?

[JASON]: Six or seven years ago, this was the program of choice for a lot of young 2D-Gaming developers. Plus, Matt and I met through Game Maker in one of his projects (an online, 2D MMO). I bug him every day to try 3D programming, though!

[MATT]: I have always had great interest in online game programming, but my Programming Degree was for Windows Applications only; I don’t have the background to work with DirectX (which was my only other option back then, really). Basically, I’m dependent on an object-oriented development environment, so Game Maker and I were made for each other.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to address a stigma about Game Maker. People who play Wanderlust: Rebirth are often skeptical that we used Game Maker to create it, because the perception of Game Maker is that it cannot produce high-quality titles like Wanderlust. Well, I am here to say that if you “know what you are doing” (and I’m not even the most technically apt Game Maker user), you can still accomplish a lot with it! The greatness of the game depends on the the developer, not the engine (or even platform) being used to create the game!


Game Maker
See also: Featured Game Maker games

Q: Would you work on updates and future games full-time if the revenue allows it?

[BOTH]: OH HECK YEAH!

[JASON]: We’ve already been tossing around some ideas for our next project. Additionally, if Wanderlust is popular enough, or if the support is there, we’d love to continue the Wanderlust franchise!

[MATT]: As an indie developer, we have to generate income outside of our game. However, we’d love nothing more than to be able to take a break from our day-jobs and work on Wanderlust (or other titles) full-time. I can honestly say that money has never been a driving force in the development of Wanderlust, though we welcome the prospect of earning a living off of our video games!

Q: With almost five years in development, where did you get the motivation to keep working on the game? Did you ever feel like giving up?

[JASON]: I can say, for myself, there were times when I thought Wanderlust wouldn’t “see the light of day”, but I have a very supportive family and girlfriend; every time I mentioned the game, they’d motivate me to continue. Also, being a part of the development process is itself a huge motivation. As an artist, it’s really interesting to see my creations come to life when Matt codes them in. And last but certainly not least, the fans motivate me! We have some people who have been following our game for more than three years now! Clearly, our fans (at Reflectgames.com) are crazy, but if it wasn’t for them I don’t think Wanderlust would have come as far as it has.

[MATT]: Personally, I always knew that this game would be finished, especially after Jason completed all the artwork (late 2009). I knew it was just a matter of time; I just wasn’t sure when. The primary motivation, for me, has always been to finally play a great co-op RPG; one that would require players to work together, and where the success of the group is dependent on the skill of the player (and not the strength of the character). On the surface, Wanderlust seems like a “Diablo-clone”, but in reality, Wanderlust is truly unique in the RPG genre. When Jason and I want to play a co-op RPG, we don’t play Too Human. We don’t play Borderlands. We don’t play Secret of Mana. We don’t play Diablo… we play Wanderlust: Rebirth!


Criticals couldn’t be more critical!

Q: Tell me about the most exciting moment during development. What made it so exciting?

[JASON]: Mine is RIGHT NOW. With the marketing of the game, Wanderlust could be successful or it could fly under the radar. And there’s a huge luck factor! Pretty much, it’s the idea of waking up every morning and checking my email to see if a new site has covered our game, or wants to do an interview for us, etc. I was really excited to see an email from indiepinion.com this morning!

[MATT]: It is an exciting time for all indie-game developers and the indie-community as a whole; there’s a lot more attention being paid to indie games due to the success of titles like Minecraft and Terraria. We hope we can add to the growing list of quality indie titles this year with our game!

Q: What was really, really hard or time-consuming to get right or working?

[JASON]: [LAUGHS] All of it! Specifically for me, the Final Boss was a pain! First, I created and animated a 3D model. Then I created the 2D sprite frames on top of the rendering of the 3D model! I doubt anyone will believe me, but the vast majority of my sprite-work was done in Microsoft Paint! That is probably why I have aching hands and fingers, now!

[MATT]: Working with Jason… [LAUGHS] Besides that, most things only took me a couple days to code in the engine. Other than debugging (which has probably left a permanent hand-print on my forehead by now), the only thing I can think of that took longer and required a larger amount of testing would be the Final Boss. It is, by far, the most complicated entity in our game. Plus, making an online game only complicates things further.


Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to today’s boss fight!

Q: What went wrong during development and what would you do differently looking back?

[JASON]: Development has been pretty smooth other than some hiccups in our personal lives interfering with it. After working on the original Wanderlust: Online Adventure, we took a look at what went wrong with that game and did things differently for Wanderlust: Rebirth.

[MATT]: Looking back at the past couple of months, when I finished coding chapters 5-10, I’m a bit shocked at how “little” was left to be completed in the game! I could have had this game done a year ago if I had known I could get the last half of the game done so quickly. There’s also the matter of how we went about soliciting help from outside sources. Since we weren’t getting paid to work on the game, we couldn’t really afford to pay our contributors, but I would say the ways I dealt with our contributors (without getting into the gory details) could have been better. With that said, I believe they all know that we are grateful for their support, and everyone who has put work into making our dream a reality will receive proper credit and support from us in their future endeavors.

Q: Likewise, what went right?

[MATT]: So many thing need to “go right” in order for any game to see a release. I mean, look at Duke Nukem Forever, Alien’s: Colonial Marines, True Fantasy Live Online… These are professional titles that have struggled to be released! Releasing a game is challenging, at any level.

Additionally, working in teams can be tricky. Unfortunately in gaming, it’s all but mandatory (with very few exceptions). A lot of young game-design-hopefuls believe that they have the ‘greatest idea ever‘ and that they’ll be a lone-wolf and become a multi-millionaire by using Game Maker to create their dream game; I know, I was there once, as well. An important part of becoming successful is having some sort of humbling experience, where you realize that by yourself, you’ll never be able to create that dream title. Jason and I, despite having our differences at times, make a really effective team because of our skillsets and work ethic. To create a game like Wanderlust by oneself… I can’t even imagine it.


Don’t pay the ferryman … but consider paying the developers!

Q: Anything you’d like to add?

The development of Wanderlust: Rebirth has been largely community-oriented. We love when our fans get involved and give us feedback! Consequently, a great number of their suggestions have influenced the final product you’ll be playing on June 1st! Help us finish the game by participating in the Open Beta, by visiting our website www.wanderlustgame.com this coming Wednesday, June 1st! We’ll see you all online!

Thank you, Indiepinion, for giving us this opportunity to speak about our game and its development. We hope everyone loves the game as much as we do!

You’re welcome and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! If you like to support the Wanderlust team and help them promote their game, you should check out the “4 the win” competition.

Reverse Engineering: From Indie to Employee

On May 14, 2011, in Interview, by Steffen Itterheim

There have been many reports of Indie developers leaving their employment to start running their own business making games. I always wondered if there aren’t cases where it’s the other way around? A very recent event, Zynga hiring the main cocos2d-iphone developers who had been making a living off their products, shows that in fact those cases are a reality.

Another example is Luke Rogers of Rizer Games, who graduated with a degree in Computer Science from UEA in 2009 and lives in Norwich, UK. For the past 18 months Luke has been running the freelancing and indie lifestyle, the result of the latter being his indie iPhone game Flying Cats Game. But eventually he found that he needed to get a full-time job for various reasons. I asked him about his motives, his life and work as an Indie and his expectations from his future working as an employee and after-hours indie.

Interview with Luke Rogers of Rizer Games

SI: Luke, you’ve been an indie and freelance iPhone developer for about 18 months. Now you want to go back to full-time employment. You explained your decision in the blog post Moving Forward to a Full-Time Job by going into detail on keywords like stability, structure, money, people, experience that can be found working full-time. Which of those was your driving motivator to become a full-time employee, and why?

LR: It was definitely a combination of all those factors, although I guess money and stability would probably be the main ones. There was a point at the start of the year where having quoted on a whole range of projects, not one of them came in. It certainly makes life interesting at times, but I think right now that I’d really appreciate not having to worry about where and when the next payment is coming in.

SI: One particular reasoning to become employed struck me as odd: Inspiration. You mentioned other indie developers who work full-time AND were able to create a lot more indie games than you while you were freelancing. You expressed the “if they can do it, so can I” attitude as a reason to become employed. Why do you think employment + indie development will work better for your when freelance work + indie development didn’t?

LR: There are definitely positives and negatives with both approaches. The main down side of going into full time employment I think will be that I’ll have a lot less time to work on projects than I do now – certainly fewer big blocks of time anyway. And I know from experience that after a long day at work sat in front of a computer coding, it can be hard to motivate yourself to come home and do the same.

On the plus side, structure is a nice thing. I know that I’m consistently going to have several evenings free each week, plus the weekend. Freelancing can swallow up those hours outside the standard 9 to 5 very easily if you let it. When I was busy freelancing, I could go for months without working on my own projects at all, which can often lead to a loss of momentum.

I’ve heard of other people being more disciplined and working on freelance projects 9 to 5 then switching to their own projects in the evenings, but with deadlines looming I always found it hard to have the discipline to stop. And if you’re going to freelance 9 to 5, why not just get a full time job? I never set out to freelance – it was always a back-up plan for when the indie income wasn’t enough.

Doing work for hire really isn’t that different to working full time. You don’t get much creative freedom – you do what you’re told. It’s hard to escape from freelancing too. The projects that you created you are responsible for, and you are responsible for fixing. Clients will still email you and phone you on your days off, and probably will do for months and years after the project is signed off.

Talking of inspiration and looking at people who successfully made great games whilst working full-time, I can think of no more inspiring story than Matt Rix’s. Definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.


Matt Rix talks about Trainyard at FlashinTO

SI: During your 18 months doing freelance work, which indie game projects have you started and which of those are complete?

LR: Counting up, it looks like I started 16 projects, and completed 2 of them. I guess that’s where all my time went!

I think it’s a pretty common problem amongst indie devs to have a plethora of unfinished projects, although I think to some extent that’s a healthy part of the creative process. It’s definitely an easy trap to fall into where you jump from project to project because the new idea is always more attractive than the one you’re currently working on.

Some of those projects I want to go back to, but most I know I won’t. I’d love to hear if anyone has any tips for how to finish more projects, or how not to get too deep into those you know ultimately you’re not going to be able to finish. I think I’m getting better, but I still have a lot to learn in that respect.

SI: What were the biggest motivational issues you’ve had in the last 18 months? Did you find it harder to work on the freelance jobs, or on the indie games?

LR: Freelance jobs always have a deadline, a nagging client, a clear brief and guaranteed money, so in many ways it’s easier to be motivated to work on those.

I think the biggest thing that motivates me to work on my own games is dreaming of their success. There’s a lot of the game creation process that’s really fun, but I think you need that long term vision to get you through the boring and difficult bits. When you’ve seen your previous projects not reach your expectations for them, it can be hard to motivate yourself to keep going at times.

SI: What was your biggest failure and your biggest success in the past 18 months?

LR: My biggest success was making games! Nothing has been a financial success, or even anywhere close, but to hear from people that genuinely enjoy playing your game is a fantastic feeling.

One of my friends uses Brainz to help her teach maths to school children. And the reaction to Flying Cats Game has been great. I hear stories of people’s mums getting addicted to it, and see pictures on Twitter of little kids having fun playing it. That’s really rewarding.

My biggest failure was probably procrastinating too much. I look back at the number of games I’ve made in that time, and I feel like I could have done a lot more.


Flying Cats Game gameplay video

SI: Will you consider becoming a full-time freelance and indie developer once again?

LR: No. In my mind now I’m done with freelancing. My aim is still to go full-time, but only as an indie developer with no freelancing involved.

SI: Looking back at your time as independent developer, what would you do differently the next time around?

LR: Start off with a better plan and some money to keep me going for a few months. I didn’t really have much of either when I started.

SI: You also said regarding money that iOS developers are sought after and well paid, and that the wages paid by employers you were looking into are more than you could make from freelance projects. Do you think that employers generally pay more than freelance jobs?

LR: Not per hour, no, but factoring in all the time looking for freelance projects, fixing bugs, client changes, going over the quoted time and all the other time when you’re not actually getting paid (holidays for example), then in my experience full time work definitely pays better. Maybe other freelancers charge more – I’m not sure.

SI: Are you specifically looking for a job in the game industry?

LR: I didn’t actually consider going for a games industry job. In part that was because I didn’t want to relocate and I’m not sure that there is much in Norwich. I would have considered it if something had come up, but having now accepted a role as an app developer, I think it’ll be nice to have some variety between what I do for a day job and what I do in my spare time.

SI: In your very first blog post in November 2009 you mentioned that you’ve been employed as a full-time web developer. What made you become a freelance and indie developer in the first place?

LR: There were a number of factors. I came straight out of uni into the first job I could find, and in hindsight I think it might have been wise to look at other employment options. I went in to that job knowing that I had a strong desire to be an independent developer, and with a belief that I was good enough and ambitious enough to make it happen, so I had in mind that it wasn’t a long term career move.

The job itself involved doing a lot of HTML and CSS, which was all mind-numbingly simple and not at all challenging. To go from a uni environment where you’re constantly learning and being challenged every day to do doing stuff that I’d taught myself to do before uni really amplified the voice in my head that said I wasn’t reaching my full potential. So I left after about 4 months and went straight into seeing what I could achieve as an indie. Being able to live on a shoestring meant that I was prepared to risk not having a decent income just to give it a go.

SI: Also in the same first post, you said very openly that you want to be rich. Would you say that’s a valid goal to strive for as an indie game developer? Do you think that’s a goal an indie game developer can actively work towards, or does it depend mostly on luck?

LR: I think I’m definitely in a minority amongst indie developers to have that as a goal. Just to clarify the context of that post, what I’m talking about is creating wealth in order to use that to make a difference to the lives of others. Most people will tell you that it would be the wrong way to go about trying to become rich, but I also want to do something that I love and there are examples of people who’ve made significant incomes from making games.

I think it is something you work towards, definitely. It seems that some people get lucky, and that’s true to some extent, but you don’t “get lucky” without putting a lot of effort into making something exceptionally good. I’ve learnt that it won’t just happen over night, and if you look into all the overnight successes you’ll see that actually there is so much that led up to the point when they became a public success.

SI: In your New Year’s resolution for 2011 you said that you need to improve your marketing skills in order to make more than 5% of your life’s income from indie games. Why do you think marketing is the most important factor to sell more of your indie games?

LR: Marketing seems to be the target for blame when a good game doesn’t do well. Maybe it is marketing that is to blame in the case of my games, but maybe it’s something else. I still have a lot to learn, that’s for sure.

One thing I have learnt is that you can’t just go to some marketing checklist on someone’s blog and expect that to work for you. They might be able to give you tips about how to get the word out, but in my experience it must take some extra ingredient. Seems strange that we try and be so unique when it comes to creating our games, but yet we want to do what everyone else does when it comes to marketing. I think I just need to be a bit more creative in that regard.

SI: You’ve blogged a lot about originality of games. I think a lot of game developers, indie or not, are very conscious when it comes to originality. For most it’s part of the spirit of being indie, to make game that are different. Why do you think originality is so important for so many game developers, yet most of them struggle to create original games respectively make those truly original games actually fun to play?

LR: I think originality is a little too highly prized in the indie community. It’s impossible to create a game that could draw no parallels to anything that has come before it, so don’t let that put you off making something you want to make.

Also, I think we can be original in ways other than gameplay. When Tiny Wings came on the scene, I saw a lot of people pointing out that it’s fundamental gameplay mechanic had been done before, but actual it’s a very original game. The way they treat achievements is pretty original, as are the graphics, and far more importantly than any of that it’s a real joy to play.


Tiny Wings gameplay trailer

I think it’s kind of cool that people make games that are totally obscure in their gameplay mechanic even if they’re not particularly fun to play because it pushes the medium forward. But personally I’d rather make something that might be a little similar to stuff that has come before it, but really delights the user. That’s not to say you should go round ripping off other people’s ideas – definitely don’t do that!

SI: One thing that I personally found very difficult was the often-repeated advice to make the game you’d love to make. But as with any love, what starts as a hot fling or crush doesn’t always end up as a “happily ever after”, to say the least. How did you know that a certain game was the one you’d love to make? What does such a game need, what does it make special to be “the one”?

LR: Good question. I guess I’m someone who’s flirted with a lot of ideas, but I’ve only pushed home with one or two.

I think it’s important that your games are a reflection of who you are, but I think it’s also important to remember that there will be other games. To see a game through to completion requires a decent level of commitment. My approach is generally to pick a really small project (most of my ideas never get started because the idea is too big for right now), and then not to think about it too much! Just put the blinkers on and go for it. Small projects are good because you can have lots of “happily ever afters”.

SI: Do you think the iTunes App Store is a great platform for publishing indie game titles? Would you publish on the App Store again or would you rather choose to publish for a different platform and store in the future?

LR: The App Store is a game changer, for sure. Essentially the other stores that are appearing at the moment are inspired by the App Store.

I keep an eye on what’s happening with other platforms, and I think it’s possible that I might develop for them in addition to iOS, but in my experience iOS is the most fun to develop for and it’s also where you’re most likely to make money, so I’ve got no plans to abandon the Apple ship.

SI: From your frustration with freelance job listing sites you started your own project dubbed Freelance House. How is it different from regular job listing sites and how did it work out?

LR: In my experience, the best freelance work comes from knowing someone who knows someone who wants an app made. Having some level of relationship there really seems to help, as both sides are taking a risk in entering into an agreement for the work. But in our digitally connected world that seems a little old fashioned to me.

Of course there are digital job boards, but often the clients advertising have very little budget and the freelancers are all trying to undercut each other. That’s no way to earn a living, and it’s a massive waste of time scouring all the postings on the many different sites. I wanted Freelance House to be the digital meeting place where I could introduce developers to clients, without wasting anyone’s time with nonsense jobs or developers that just weren’t able to fulfill the brief.

It totally flopped as I didn’t have a marketing budget, but I still think it’s a reasonably good idea. In hindsight, I’m not sure maintaining a site like that would have been something that I’d want to do, so in a way it might be good that it didn’t work out.


Thanks to Luke Rogers for taking the time for this interview. Be sure to check out his Rizer Games blog!

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