Top 5 Tips for Indie Game Development
Whether you’re just starting out and eager to develop your first game or if you have made a few games already, these indie game development tips can help you in designing your next game.
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Indie Game Development Tip 1: Have a Clear Goal in Mind
Whatever concept you have in mind for your game, peel it back to the barest bones, which should help you answer these basic questions:
- What kind of game do you want to make?
For example: Is it a role-playing game? A platformer? A dating sim?
- What is the win condition of your game?
For example: Is it get the highest score? Collect a particular McGuffin? Beat the final boss?
- What makes your game fun for the players?
For example: Is it the mechanic that helps them earn points? Is it the gameplay loop? Will it be the characters you populate the game world with?
Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start outlining what the gameplay mechanics and features are going to be.
By taking the time to clearly plan and outline your game will help you more clearly define what is required for each core aspect of your game.
Indie Game Development Tip 2: Define Your Toolset
You can have the most unique and entertaining game all built out in your head, but if you don’t have the right toolset, it may never get to be experienced by anyone else. For that reason, we suggest these three essential tools for any project.
The one tool that every studio needs — from indies to AAAs — is version control as it ensures that all of your hard work will never be lost. In addition, version control also enables you to keep track of all the changes to the code, files, and digital assets that make up your game. This can help accelerate your development.
While there are many available options, Helix Core is recognized as the industry standard for version control as it seamlessly scales alongside your project and team — ensuring that there are never any slowdowns. What’s more, Helix Core can version huge files in minutes that can take hours on other version control software.
Project Backlog & Planning Tool
There are many different components that make up a game and being able to stay on task and meet your deadlines is essential to completing your game.
A project management tool — like Hansoft — can help you to better structure your production sprints and game jams, as well as keep all of your overdue tasks organized and top of mind.
In addition, a good project management tool should also be able to adapt to any challenges or roadblocks that you may encounter as you are developing your game. This way you can stay on track and meet your goals.
One of the first and most important decisions that you need to make when outlining what your game is going to be is what game engine is going to power it.
There are many different game engines to choose from, with Unreal Engine and Unity being two of the most popular. However, the decision on which one should you choose comes down to what sort of game you want to make.
For example: Some game engines are better at 3D — like Unreal — while others are more ideal for 2D — like Unity and Godot. It all depends on what you have in mind.
Digital Content Creation Tools
Digital content creation (DCC) tools are tools that can help with the creation of game assets, including models and model animations, environments, and even gameplay physics. There are a variety of DCC tools with some of the most popular being:
All of which can seamlessly integrate with Helix Core and Helix DAM.
📘 Related Resource: Learn more about Helix Core integrations
Digital Asset Management Tools
Once you have expanded the size of your team and added more artists and designers, a digital asset management tool — like Helix DAM — would be invaluable. Put simply, a digital asset management tool is version control for artists and designers — making it easy to find, use, store, review, repurpose, and share all of your creative assets. This will enable your team to streamline creative workflows and accelerate the review process.
Indie Game Development Tip 3: Prototype Early
Even the simplest game will have a few gameplay mechanics that can be iterated on. However, rather than iterating your entire game, it would be more effective to create prototypes for individual gameplay mechanics and work to refine them individually.
By doing so, you are able to ensure that key gameplay mechanics function how you envisioned. What’s more, by focusing on individual components rather than the whole game, you are able to more easily identify, isolate, and resolve issues before bringing them all together.
One of the simplest ways to construct a prototype is to use premade, free game assets, which can provide you with serviceable placeholders. In addition, by using premade assets, you won’t have to spend time creating new assets that you may need to replace later.
Alternatively, if you already have a collection of assets available, you can use asset recycling and reuse them.
In addition to helping you refine gameplay mechanics, developing a prototype also helps others to better understand what your game is, how it works, and what the win conditions are. All of which will help you to recognize what is enjoyable about your game and could spark new ideas about how to enhance those aspects.
Indie Game Development Tip 4: Simplify Whenever Possible
As you’re working on different aspects of your game — whether it’s a gameplay mechanic, a visual component, or the design of a level — refer back to your outline of what are the key, central elements of your game. It’s fine to be ambitious but you also don’t want to over complicate your game design.
If you want to add more, always do it slowly, one piece at a time, and start small with the core elements of your game. Once those are refined, you can start building off of those, and, if something doesn’t work, you will at least know that the purest form of your game works.
Indie Game Development Tip 5: Stay Positive
Whether you are a team of one or if you have the support of many, developing a game is no easy or simple feat. No matter how prepared you may be, you will still nevertheless encounter challenges and roadblocks — but that is OK.
Because every obstacle that you encounter provides you with an opportunity to learn a new skill or to refine your abilities. More practically though, running into those obstacles will help you learn what is effective in game development.
So, while it may be difficult when you’re frustrated and struggling with a particularly challenging aspect of your game, try to remain positive. Focus on the features and mechanics of your game that are working and build off those. Your game may not end up being what you envisioned but it could be just as great.
How Helix Core Can Help Indie Game Development
Trusted by 19/20 of the top AAA studios, Helix Core scales to your team’s needs and enables you to effortlessly manage all your art and game assets in one secure location to help you accelerate development. In addition, Helix Core features integrations with some of the most popular game engines, including:
What’s more, you can use Helix Core — complete with all the same features and functionality available to the AAA studios — for free with no end date. In just a few clicks, you can get Helix Core — complete with code review, Git support, and endless integrations and client options — for up to five users and 20 workspaces.