How to Become an Independent Game Developer in 4 Steps

The gaming industry has become much more accessible over the last few years for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is the wide number of platforms you can develop games for nowadays. You can develop browser-based games, mobile games, or even console games if you wish, since companies like Nintendo have made it clear that they want more indie developers to make games for them and have taken concrete steps to do so. If you want to make it in this industry and possibly release a successful title, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Get the Gear

You first have to invest in a machine that will allow you to make quality games. Your best bet here would be to go for a workstation. Companies like Lenovo have 3D modeling workstation laptop computers that are perfect for game development and they can handle pretty much anything you throw their way. Going for a PC like this will take the headache out of looking for the perfect specs as they’re already optimized for it.

Also, note that you don’t necessarily need the best GPU on the planet to make games. You can make solid games with a machine with integrated graphics. You could pick up something with a GTX 30 series card or something in Nvidia’s Quadro selection, however, if you really want to get serious.

Get the Software

The next step is to get the right software for development and learn the ins and outs of it. Don’t overspend here, however. There are tons of free and cheap tools for developers out there and they’re good enough to make commercial games. Games like Time Gentlemen, Please, for instance, were created entirely on Adventure Game Studio, and the platform is free.

It may not be as extensive as other platforms, but it will be enough at the beginning when you’re still building your skills. Other tools you could try include Construct and Game Maker. Once you’ve mastered these tools, you can start looking at more powerful engines like Unity and Unreal.

Choose the Right First Project

You need to be very careful with the first project you embark on. Here, we would suggest that you do something in a genre that you actually like and are familiar with. If you like FPS shooters or platformers, for instance, then you could take one of your favorite titles and do a simplified version of them. Getting inspiration from classic games is the easiest way to find a good idea and will allow you to tap into a built-in audience.

Work on Distribution

You will then need to get familiar with different distribution platforms. If you’re going to be releasing a mobile game, understand the app approval process on the app store and Google Play. If it is a PC game, Steam is the platform you need to learn right now. It has a low barrier to entry and is the most indie friendly of all. Other platforms you should check out include Direct2Drive and Stardock/Impulse.

Becoming a gaming developer is not that complicated, and if you have what it takes and love the field, you should have no trouble making a niche for yourself. Study the business as much as you can, refine your skills so you can become better at your craft, and you’ll hopefully manage to break out.

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