Going Indie: Advice from the Pros

One thing that keeps popping up about this year’s Game Developers Conference (though frankly, I hear it said every year) is mention of the ever increasing presence of independent developers.

While one could argue all day long about what being “indie” even means (and many have done just that), everyone who attended GDC this year can agree that there were plenty of hobbyist developers, small teams, mobile developers, freelancers, and experimental projects to be seen.


Journey is not about the destination as much as the journey to get there.

For example, it was pretty hard not to notice the indie smash hit Journey, created by That Game Company, hauling in six of the eleven prizes at the 13th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. When you’re up against Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored, that is no small accomplishment.

But for everyone I know, the real meat of attending GDC is the socializing and mingling. When you’ve got the world’s best game developers all under one roof, it’s an inspiring place to be. Luckily for those who didn’t attend, David Silverman was kind enough to round up what he considered some of the best advice from professional indies this year : 9 Tips for Indie Game Developers I learned at GDC 2013

The author has divided it up into design, development, and business tips from the developers of games such as, Retro/Grade, Tiny Tower, and Star Fox. Even Vancouver’s own Shane Neville, who often works with students at Vancouver Film School, has some sound business advice to drop. Shane was responsible for the design behind the recently successful iOS game Shellrazer.


In Shellrazer you must march your battle tortoise through hordes of goblin foes.

While we’re on this advice train, I figure I’d drop another wonderful advice article; this one is written by Derek Yu, co-creator of the hit XBLA game Spelunky (and before that, co-creator of the award winning Aquaria). This article specifically gives advice for those going indie — troubles you will run into, expectations you should and shouldn’t have, and how to find satisfaction in what you do: Making it in Indie Games: Starter Guide


Aquaria tells the story of Naija as she explores the ocean in search of her memories and civilization.

Now with your brain all energized from soaking up all this wonderful advice, go make some games! Maybe you’ll be the next indie developer on the podium at the next award ceremony.


Chevy Ray Johnston teaches Flash and Advanced Flash