Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Rarely-Discussed Cons of 'Indie Gaming'

Written by Shiggins

A brief step out of my comfort zone.

Usually, I talk about films and anime but with the past few years being so poisonous due to gaming practices and myself adoring video games both AAA and independent, I decided to take a risk and try writing about something a lot of people don't take into account; The cons of creating your own video game without the help of a studio. Usually, people discuss the pros such as creative freedom, but I'm a special sausage. Let's take a blunt look at the cons, that I hope you consider before you go into developing your own game.

I feel like this picture could be a very fitting metaphor...

Finance Management

You might think this is an obvious one, but we've seen many games be taken down because of it. I'm sure we've all seen a Kickstarter project announced, but then it disappeared from existence and we are left with only a memory. Being human beings, we often overlook small details until someone else points them out to us and knowing where to put your money is one of the smallest but most important details we can forget to triple-check.

And then there are those games that should have disappeared, but didn't.
Whether it be paying taxes, developers, art assets, software or ordering a pizza for dinner tonight because fuck that salad, it is so easy to forget to put aside enough money for everyone and everything, resulting in losing track of your budget and making a huge mess. It causes panic in our hearts when we make a huge plan and then, just as phase 1 begins, we realise there is a huge gaping hole in it with nothing to fill. People panic, they run away and they try to forget they ever even started a game in the first place.

On a side-note, this disruption of plans can often happen in many other areas, such as forgetting to make sure that one piece of wall is hard instead of transparent. It can be frustrating to see someone start your work, and immediately find a fault when you spent so long working on it. Very frustrating.

Taking Advantage of Others

Did you know that you aren't the only person in the world who matters? It's true! In fact, there are people who want to be treated like you want to be treated! Scary, isn't it?

One thing you will often see when it comes to independent entrepreneurs is a brazen attempt to fuck people over through exploitation and manipulation. Studios often do this as well, but its far easier for the world to notice when a team of five is refused decent payment by an egotistical buffoon such as yourself... if you did that, I mean. If you did do that, we will find out.

Then again, you're not exactly promised a permanant job working under a big studio, are you...
As a writer myself, I've come across many times when the promise is "exposure". Video games make money. And no video game developer ever goes into it thinking they won't make any pennies whatsoever. If they can afford to make money, they can afford to give you money. Never let the promise of "exposure" compromise you, like it has done to me in the past. I've worked on projects for "exposure" before. And guess what? It hasn't gone great for me!

Personal Attachment

Say what you like about EA and Ubisoft, at least they can't get too personally into their projects. They often operate to an almost sociopathic degree of coldness when it comes to the games they sell, which is why they don't feel guilt or shame as they cut them open to fill them with nonsense and misery. Video games can have literally hundreds of people working on them in different ways, so it can be hard to be too invested.

An independent developer however, is the exact opposite. They are almost always attached to the project from its inception, and so they can spend almost every single day working on it. Perfecting it themselves. From expanding the size of the skyscraper to making sure the nipples of their masculine protagonist is just the right shade of red, the independent developer is a part of the game and can't as easily pass off every task necessary to someone else like a company can. And, as previously mentioned, the developer is a human who will be unable to resist getting attached in some way.

And often, one's love can lead to anger.

To the Dark Side, it will take you.
When we mock a company, we are not mocking an individual person. If I call EA a clown, I won't have Dr Euan Aardvark email me with various threats because I hurt his feelings. They already know that I mock their company practices and their game, but not the entire company of people who work there, from the janitor to the Dr Aardvark. Unlike Jaws; The Revenge, its not personal and they know that. Again, that is partially due to their detachment from it.

Independent developers however, can feel attacked. In fact, thanks to Twitter, some of them are! And this results in lashing out, trying to get vengeance on those who negatively review their materials. It can be daunting if you spend weeks or months on a project and have someone turn around to call it shit, but multiple developers have made things worse for themselves by trying to get the reviews destroyed, Twittering up a storm like an American president, or even trying to sue someone for giving them mean reviews. (Hello, Digital Homicide!)

Why do I have a bad feeling he's never going to just kill this series?
Every independent developer should aspire to be like Scott Cawthon, who got negative feedback for games such as Chipper and Sons Lumber Co, and then used that criticism to learn more about what his true talents are and created the hit franchise Five Nights at Freddy's. Using negative feedback to create something positive is almost inspirational! Don't be like Digital Homicide and destroy yourself in a tantrum. Be like Scott Cawthon.

Not Noticed by Senpai

If there was any problem on this list that I can relate to the most, it's this one right here. It's a lovely idea that we can just put our creations on Twitter, Youtube, Steam, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri or wherever and instantly get the recognition we think we deserve, but that doesn't automatically mean people will see it. I've seen amazing videos struggle to get half the amount of views that a dipshit badly playing a video game can easily, and it's heartbreaking.

Advertising is one of the most difficult areas of being independent, at least in my opinion. No company is going to pay to have your game's logo put on a bus. Night in the Woods might have some excellent storytelling and atmosphere, but it didn't exactly get the same amount of notice as Warner Bros' Shadow of War or Bungie's Destiny 2, did it? You could make the greatest game of your career and never be noticed. It's harsh. It's unfair, but you have to do your best and hope luck is on your side.


Does anyone remember Fidget Spinners? That thing that was made for autistic children, but some twits turned into a full fad for the longest ten minutes of my life, until everyone realised it was dumb and moved on? Well, it turns out there is a game on Steam called Fidget Spinner Simulator! It's shit, obviously, but it perfectly highlights one of the biggest pits that independent developers can fall into.

In an attempt to make money or gain attention, developers can often try and follow the latest trend or fad and make a game entirely around that. This often results in giving a game an imaginative countdown, where you can practically see the game ageing poorly before your very eyes. To make my point more clearly, imagine you played a game where you have to decide what colours the dress is. Or a game where you have to play as the Overly Attached Girlfriend. Dated before it was finished, no doubt.

Then again, I wouldn't be adverse to playing The Most Interesting Man in the World...
Creators, especially independent ones who don't have as much to rely on if things go wrong, should always focus on their own story and creation. Not what is currently enjoyed by the public, but what you have always enjoyed. When people rewatch South Park in 10 years time, they won't have a clue what's going on during the episodes with Jonas Brothers. They'll prefer the episode with Scott Tenorman. And I think deep down, we should all try to be the episode with Scott Tenorman.

Did you enjoy this article? Any issues I left out? Any suggestions for articles or reviews? Let me know in the comments below!

(I had to include my favourite indie game somewhere!) My spirit animals. I have the charm of Papyrus but the appearance of Sans. I am... Sanrus! Papysans. No. Um... Ah, I got it... I am Sapy!
Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page

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