Indie Game Do’s and Don’ts

This list of do’s and don’ts for indie game designers is also incredibly relevant to anybody making an indie animated short. For example:

3. Design from the heart.
Write / design around things you’re passionate about. Put yourself into your work and show the world who you are. What do you love? What do you hate? Why? All notable film makers have a stamp, something that appears in their work and speaks to who they are. These themes will always come through to your audience, giving your work a sense of your self.

4. Take big risks.
Try to innovate the hell out of anything you make. From how your game plays to how it looks, be unique and you’ll stand out. Push your personal limits, try new genres, mechanics and aesthetics. Experimentation and risk are the keys to growing as an artist. Don’t be scared of failure; you don’t have much to lose and you’ll only learn from your mistakes.

(Thanks, Mitch Kennedy)


  • Tedzey

    Thanks for the advice! Currently i’m building up a good portfolio for art school, and that advice was definitely encouraging! Although it was aimed for video game designing, I think it was still relevant to what I’m trying to do in my art.

  • Peter

    Haha it might as well say, “Be a genius! Be a visionary! Be more talented than anyone who ever lived! Leap tall buildings in a single bound! Or else you will be damned to eternal failure.”

  • Christina S.

    @Peter: Not really… I mean, here’s one of the rules:

    5. Don’t bite off more then you can chew.
    If you’re just starting out, think small, then think smaller. If you start on something big you won’t finish it and if you do you’ll be burnt out and probably won’t make another. A filmmaker never starts his career with a blockbuster movie. One of the easiest mistakes to make starting out is letting ambition drive you down a path you’re not ready to travel. Slow down, take your time and start simple. Prototyping is crucial for all designers.”

    That doesn’t sound like “Be awesome!!!1″-type advice to me. That sounds practical.

  • somcol

    Hey you, yea you peter. Stop being such a negative peter. PETER?
    Great advice AMID.

  • Justin

    Wow, Peter, that was one hyperbolic buzzkill. Thank you for that…

    And thanks for posting such inspiring words, Amid.

  • http://www.pauloralvarado.com P Alvarado

    Fantastic!! Thanks for posting.

  • http://www.artofzacharyknoles.com Zachary Knoles

    I think both of these are spot-on. They’re both essentially saying that because you have a lower budget, you can afford to take more risks because there isn’t $150 million on the line if YOU fail (unlike if you were doing a big budget film at a studio). They aren’t saying “do this or you’ll fail, forever,” in fact, they’re saying that the ability to fail without huge consequences means you have the freedom to do what big studios can’t, and so you should take advantage of that.

    Along those same lines, I’ve always believed that indies shouldn’t try to do the same thing as big studios, either, because (for better or worse) they do tend to actually use their expensive production values. Not always for better, but if you’re an indie and you try to do Shrek on a budget, all you’ll end up with is a low-rent version of Shrek, and which one do you think the target audience of Shrek is going to go for?

    Also, what Christina said. The rest of the list is pretty great too.

  • Donald C.

    Didn’t expect to see this here.

  • http://www.kohrtoons.com Robert Kohr

    Really great post, I feel sad that I hadn’t seen it before. Even though these are guidelines for indy games, it should also apply to your usual art ethic. Working on an indy short and indy game right now this is totally relevant in both.

  • Ethan

    There was a great talk lately at the Montreal International Game Summit about the return of 2D in indie games productions. It makes a lot of sense about the importance of style when on an indie budget. ArsTechnica has a nice article about it:

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/12/the-art-of-2d-a-look-at-the-art-of-indie-hit-critter-crunch.ars