Tale Tuesday #17 – Is it tough to be a solo game dev?

Hey everyone! Today is the time for new ‘Tale Tuesday’ and a refreshed posting schedule! From now on, new ‘Tale Tuesday’ articles will be posted only on the website every two weeks. That means ‘Tale Tuesday’ will be more frequent!
For quite a bit we will stick to the topic of indie game development – today we’ll talk about the struggles of solo indie developers, but further on we’ll talk about choosing a game engine, the correct tools, some of the expenses and learning some of the skills that might be useful for game development. In short: we have a lot to cover! I hope you’ll like that mini series.

So – is it tough to be a solo game developer?
This is our first question we’ll try to answer today. The truth and the short answer is – it really depends.
But what does it depend on?

When creating a game, there are several factors needed to complete it. Each requires a lot of attention and will be thought about during creation of any video game. We’re obviously talking about design, coding and graphics. So how does it look like in each case?
When it comes to design, there aren’t any boundaries set. Basically anyone can create a game! The other question is, though, will it be popular? Often bad design results in a lack of interest in the game. However, it doesn’t stop some from creating whatever they’ve envisioned. When it comes to game design, the most tricky will be the game features designs and then game balance (we will talk about them more in the future). If you’re creating an RPG, you will have to face level and quests designs, which are very important in such games and tricky to get right. There’s a lot of online guides and classes on dealing with such things and even though lack of experience might cause trouble, you’ll learn the correct methods based on trial and error.

It isn’t that easy with coding though. Unlike design, coding is way more technical. First – used programming language plays a huge role. If you’re a beginner, some are easier to understand and have a clearer syntax than others. Some will be clearer for the developer. A lot of things depend on your perceival and previous experience. Personally I like Python the most thanks to its clearness – hence why any Python-based programming languages are just easier for me. Game engines don’t really use Python itself, but we’ll talk about the details behind it soon.
Obviously, just coding won’t do the trick. The code has to be optimized properly, so it doesn’t overuse the device components. Poorly optimized code can quickly come out and cause some serious trouble – and at some point it might be too messy to optimize. A lot of technical skill goes into coding – that’s why it’s a tough part of game development.

‘Market Dominion’ was our first game we’ve worked on with no experience – and it shows! There are a lot of things that could be improved on in the game.

Graphics will be tricky if you think about it from the wrong perspective. Creating your own graphics is often fun, but unless you have a lot of experience – you’ll probably end up with weird scribbles. But it doesn’t mean you have to be master of a drawing tablet! There are many ways to get around particular problems – only your creativity limits you on that one. Maybe we’ll talk about it one day.
However if you’ve decided that creating your own graphics is just too much – there is a solution! There are many websites for posting various game components, from tilesets to full animated characters. Probably one of the most popular ones is OpenGameArt. At this point we should probably specify: not only graphics, but also audio matters! Audio is probably even trickier to get (which doesn’t mean there aren’t any ways to work it out). Personally, recently I’ve started using OpenGameArt more. Some people create beautiful things! I’d just like to warn you: make sure you read what kind of credit the author would like back and if you can modify the art in any way. If you want to avoid that trouble, you should filter you search by CC0 license, which is a ‘Public Domain’ license and anything can be done with that particular art.

We’ve covered the most important parts: design, coding and art, which consists of graphics and audio. It isn’t all that goes towards the game, but it’s definitely the majority you’ll care about the most. And remember – game dev is supposed to be fun! Do it as you please and enjoy what you’re doing.
In the next ‘Tale Tuesday’ we’ll cover more of logistics behind video game creation – stay tuned!

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