Making Games as a Solo Indie Dev

By September 18, 2018Game Dev Tips
solo indie dev

Can you really make hit games as a solo indie dev?

Absolutely! Many of the top games are made by just one person, especially in the Indie scene. So today, we’re going to discuss what it takes to make games as a solo indie dev successfully. And we’ll also reveal some of the top tips to follow when making games as an one-person indie studio.

If you’re ready to learn how to succeed in flying solo, these essential tips will help.

Let’s jump right in.

In this first episode of Inside the Box, Trey talks about making games as a one-man band and shares his top tip for game developers.

Try to Involve Others

Trey’s tips in the video are definitely worth following. Involving others in your game development even if it’s just to bounce ideas off of will often lead you in the right design direction. Seeking feedback from friends, family members, co-workers, or even strangers will give you the input that you need to help improve your game. You can also find other devs and gamers on game development forums and get their feedback as well. Talk about your game. Brainstorm different game ideas and ask others for their opinion.

Having people test and play your game can be a huge help as well. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn by just watching someone else play your game. Involving others and actively seeking feedback is also an excellent way to help you stay focused and motivated to finish your game.

Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses

When you’re making games solo, being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is also important. Just because you’re a one-person studio doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Keep your skillset in mind and only do what you can. Avoid overextending yourself. If you can learn to make game art or code in a reasonable amount of time that’s great. But if you can’t, hire an outsourcer to help. Trying to do it all will only hold you back. So, always be realistic with your game goals, set deadlines, and outsource when necessary. It’s the key to successfully finishing your game.

Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish like creating game art, UI layout, unlockable characters, level design, and coding, etc. Then decide which items you can do and those that you can’t. Anything that’s above your skill level or would be too time-consuming to complete consider outsourcing it. You can find artists, designers, coders, and programmers that can help you with your game on outsourcing sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer. There are also popular game development forums with game job postings and collaboration sections that you can search too. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help make the development process much more manageable.

Write It All Down

Everything begins with an idea. So, when you’re making games solo, it’s critical that you write down every new idea. You never know what concept or small detail will be the thing that takes your game to that next level. When you write it all down, you’ll always have a list of potential ideas that you can use. Always save your thoughts.

The best way to do this is by keeping an idea journal or notebook handy. You can use a mini-notepad for this or a note-taking app on your Smartphone. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Choose the method that suits you the best. Whenever a new idea strikes, pull out your notepad or phone and jot it down. Writing things down will also help to clear your mind allowing you to focus on the more critical tasks that need to be completed.

Budget = Awareness

Most indie devs are working with a limited budget. But having a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut corners and can’t have any fun. It’s more about making a plan and being aware of your limits. Budgeting simply means awareness. If you’re making games as a solo indie dev, try to keep your budget in mind as you go. As the financial guru, Dave Ramsey often teaches, “a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

Make a plan on how much you’re willing and able to invest in your game project. And try to stay within your planned budget. It’s easy to get carried away when you get an awesome idea, but instead just write it down in your idea notebook. You can always use it in your next project when you have more wiggle room. Focus on the important things that you need to help you get things done. If you can find free game art or free sound effects that work well with your game theme, cool. But, if you can’t and need to purchase or outsource, don’t be afraid to do that either. Merely stay aware of where it’s all going. And you’ll be well on your way to indie dev success.

Start Promoting Your Game Early

If you’re an indie dev launching your game solo, start promoting your game early. As soon as you have something to show, post about it, tweet, snap, and blog. Let the world know about your incredible upcoming game and how much they’re going to love it. There are tons of different game marketing tips from app experts that you can follow to help you get the word out about your game.

Documenting your game development journey is one of them. People love to follow your progress. Creating a game dev blog can help you not only build up some engagement but an entire fan base around your game before it’s even released. Game dev blogs also help hold you accountable. When people are expecting your game to come out, you’re more likely to follow through and deliver. Posting teasers and updates on your game on social media platforms and forums is also an excellent way to start promoting your game. You can reach out to social influencers and game reviewers to get press. There are also sites like Product Hunt that you can post your game on to generate buzz too.


Make it Fun!

When you’re flying solo as an indie dev, it’s common to experience burnout. So be sure to pace yourself. Don’t try to do too much at once. When you create a plan and schedule, don’t forget to add in breaks. Schedule off-days or ‘no game dev days’ to give yourself time off. Too much of good thing can be bad. Try to keep a balance. Use your day off to relax. When you return to the game again, you’ll have a clearer mind and will be able to tackle problems better. Taking brief periods to unwind, stretch, and step away during the day when you’re working on your game can also help.

It’s also important to keep things fun. Play a lot of games and stay active in the indie game development community. This will give you a motivational outlet to find inspiration and ignite your creativity. Passion is fuel. Get excited about making games and immerse yourself in the gaming world to help you stay motivated. When things get tough to remember why you started and your love of games. And don’t give up! You got this. 😉

Tiana Crump

About Tiana Crump

Tiana Crump is a journalist and social media manager at Buildbox with a passion for inspiring others and driving brand awareness. As a gamer and creator, she enjoys sharing game development insights, tips, and success stories from the Buildbox community.