In today’s post I’m going to explain a little bit how my routine as an indie dev has changed in the last few weeks. I have experienced a really big change since New Sokoban was presented and released. I have gone from the lone wolf indie dev style to an intensive collaborative working style. And only in 2 months!
The lone wolf
My personal lone wolf story is not a very unique one. I have always wanted to create a game that could be published and played by some other people apart from family and friends. And finally, with the App Store, I saw a good opportunity.
However, I didn’t know about anybody else around me that would like to create a game for iPhone, so I started it by myself. I thought I would be able to do this: I can code (I have a Computer Science degree) and have some experience acquired from the development of paintingWalls. On the other hand, I always liked to play with Photoshop and Maya, so I though that I was prepared to face the development of an iOS game as a lone wolf.
I think that everybody knows what are the advantages and disadvantages of being indie: flexibility, procrastination, revenue, self-employment… At iDevBlogAday we have a bunch of articles talking about all these issues. I’m going to focus on the few things that have changed most from working alone to collaborative working.
The wolf gets a pack
Everything changed when I first took part in an iOS event as one of the speakers. I managed to present the recently released New Sokoban to the audience. It was a short presentation but it did the job. From that moment everything started to roll.
The most important consequence was that I started to meet people that was working as an indie like me. I met other developers and artists. And some people that founded small studios and that were living of making games (currently I’m working with Ravalmatic, a two guys games dev studio from Barcelona).
Now, I’m collaborating with different professionals working on different projects. So the first difference is that now I work simultaneously on different games. Another difference is that I combine my own projects with contract projects. But in all of them I’m a member of a pack.
The benefits are obvious: ideas flow better in a team, everybody does what they do better, socialization at work is good for human brain, etc. However, there are also some counter back things that have surprised me a little bit.
Yes, it may sound obvious but I was a lone wolf, remember? Meetings? What’s that? 😀 I worked on a team when I was doing research at the university, but now it is different: I need to meet up with people that are in another city. And this is time (and money) consuming.
As I said, I work with people that are not physically with me, so communication is an issue. Meetings need to be well prepared and I try to solve as many issues as I can on the meetings. However, there are always things that are left. E-mail and Skype to the rescue!
Project management is always important. However, when being a lone wolf you are the only one team member. So, you do some kind of “implicit project management”. It is not the best solution, but it does the job when you work alone.
However, when being part of a team, project management is not only an issue about getting things done, it is also an issue about letting other members to work. If project management is not well done, team coordination is lost and the whole development can got stuck.
At the end of the day, all these things can be summed up in one: planning. Planning is important when working as a lone wolf but gets absolutely mandatory when collaborating with other professionals. I’m working hard on my planning skills and I think that I’m progressing
I have always thought that when New Sokoban would have been finished everything would change. And, by first time in a lot of years, I was right 😀 Well actually it was not me. About 2 years ago, when paintingWalls was at early stages of development, I attended to a game conference for students and game dev beginners.
One of the speakers was Gonzo Suarez, creator of the Commandos series. I must admit that I’m a fan of Commandos and since that conference I’m also fan of Gonzo Suarez. Gonzo said a lot of interesting things (and also some crazy ones 😀 ) but I specially remember one of them: “If you want to make a game, make a game. Now!”
I have been repeating this sentence to myself during all the development of New Sokoban. At first glance, the sentence sounds dummy but I think that Gonzo deliverately didn’t finish it. I think that the complete sentence may be: “If you wanna make a game, make a game. Now! After finishing it everything will change“.
Mental note: this is, for me, one of the most important mental notes. If you wanna make a game, make a game. Now! After finishing it everything will change.
It doesn’t matter the genre of the game, or the platform or even if it is a good game or not. It is simpler than that: simply do it. Finish it. And publish it. The important thing is not the game itself. The important thing is to complete the process. Don’t wait for the right moment. The right moment is now. So, make a game now! And let the wolf live for a lot of years.