If you want to get into the games business working for yourself or a big publisher or you want to move from working for a publisher to being independent or vice versa, this is the most important question you can ask yourself. What are you doing right now to make it happen? The easiest thing to do is nothing, to make excuses, to wait for your big break to be handed to you, but if you don’t move forward, there are other people that are, and they will get what you want.
There are all kinds of excuses for not moving forward. Here are some hypothetical examples:
Joe Indie is waiting for his favorite $100 game engine to get Crysis-like HDR shaders, or looking for an out of box MMO engine, or super large terrains, or poly-soup collisions, or whatever feature his favorite AAA game has. He feels he cannot move forward until technology-X is implemented. This is simply not true. Even if he had access to that technology, there would just be another excuse for not moving forward. He needs to design to his game or product to technologies that are proven and available. Making cool games is technology independent. Look at flOw, Line Rider, or N. Those games were made in Flash, and have made the developers famous.
A CIS major is waiting for Career Day to get access to all of the waiting job offers and thinks his course credits will be enough, so chooses not to work in his off time to learn new technologies or make small games. This is a huge mistake. If he wants to stand out, be noticed, and get the good job offers or good indie team offers, he needs to get on the stick and start making a tangible resume. That could be getting involved in an Open Source project like Ogre or pyGame or making small Flash games. These kinds of projects are MUCH more valuable to a resume than getting an A+ in a database class.
A programmer working for a large publisher wants to explore going Indie, but is afraid of his agreement not to compete in his off time. Well, a lot of things that need to happen before he can go Indie would not be considered competition. First of all, his project will need a technology base. There are a lot of inexpensive options that need to be explored, i.g. Torque, Unity, Blitz, etc. Downloading and evaluating these technologies is not competing. Next up, he will need a team. Writing a blog, participating in communities and social networks to find potential team mates is not competing. Finally, just talking to his company and exploring the possibilities for what they would allow may find that it is easier than he thought it would be. In fact, talking may open up even more possibilities at that company once they find out about his drive to go independent.
These examples are pretty superficial, but there is no “one, true path” to moving forward toward your goals. Just make sure you are always doing something to move forward.
-Jeff Tunnell, Game Maker
Make It Big In Games