My friend and I recently decided to make a major, life altering decision. We decided to form our own indie studio. It is a very exciting and scary prospect for us: exciting because this is what we know we want to do and scary because we have no idea what the hell we’re doing. Out of the two of us, I’ve got the most experience with game design and that’s only because of classes I’ve taken as part of my major. Since making our decision we’ve been doing a lot of research into how we (and anyone considering building an indie from nothing) should go about this venture and these are some of the things we’ve come up with.
This is a big one. As Pink Floyd once said, “money makes the world go ’round.” Without some sort of funds to keep you afloat, your dreams will come to an end real fast. If you’re like us, odds are you’re going to be on your own when it comes to finding the cash to keep you going. One of the best sites we’ve found is IndieGoGo. IndieGoGo is similar to Kickstarter but you get to keep all of what is pledged regardless of if you reach your goal or not.
I would rank this with funding in terms of importance. At an indie you’re going to be working with a handful of people in a very intimate space. If you don’t get along with each other you’re not gonna last long. Also, one person is going to have several roles, so it’s important to make sure that everyone on your team is well rounded and has multiple relevant skills.
This bit of advice was delivered to us via Diana Hughes, an alumn from our school who was here a couple weekends ago and allowed us to pick her brain for a little bit. In our field there are several legal problems that can arise, especially when dealing with copywrites and IP, and a lawyer helps take one more worry of your plate.
Pretty much the same thing as a lawyer. Odds are you’re not gonna know all the ins and outs of taxes and all that fun stuff and an accountant helps to alleviate that burden.
Location, Location, Location
This is a big one. Different states and cities have different tax laws and vastly different costs of living. Picking the right place to set up shop and call home is important because if you hate where you’re living it will make going to work a chore. The route my friend and I decided to take, at least for the first couple years, is one that is becoming fairly common in todays world: working remotely. Having a brick and mortar building is all well and good but we’re poor and having your own building requires money. By working remotely we can cut down on expenses until we’ve got the cash flow for proper office.
Get your name out there
It’s important to your name and games out there. If people have no idea who you are, odds are they’ll be less willing to to donate to any fund raisers you’re doing and even less likely to play your games. Ever chance you get you should be promoting your games and why they’re better than all the other games out there. This will also help when it comes time to start shopping around for publishers to fund your projects. Speaking of which…
Publishers can help make or break you. There’s already been an article written on here about dealing with publishers and I’m not one to beat a dead horse.
That’s everything I’ve got, for now anyways. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the biggest things we’ve discovered in our research.