It is no secret that game development has become an incredibly challenging industry where large studios invest millions and spend months or even years on a single project. Games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or World of Warcraft were in the state of development for between 3 and 5 years, let alone they were created by the joint effort of large-scale companies.
According to research, 17% of PC and console games were labeled “indie” in 2022, as opposed to 13% in 2021. So, is it possible to develop a PC, console, or mobile game solo? Let us start from the beginning. Well, the world-known classic Tetris was first created by a single person. The same goes for more modern titles like Pinstripe, Braid, or Axiom Verge.
Beyond question, making a video game solo is challenging, and not everyone is mentally prepared for it. Fortunately, this article has all the answers you may need before launching your first indie game project solo. Keep reading and learn more!
Mainly, making games solo requires changing a wide range of hats, from programming to 2D/3D art production, time management, and even marketing. Critical decision-making is also a must, inasmuch as you will need to make research-based and impactful decisions without consulting with reliable partners.
Moreover, insight into the market and knowledge of a tech stack account for other two essential features you must be aware of before jumping into your first solo project. At first sight, it may seem too much, but once you get into it and watch your dream game come to life, things start to pop up differently. After all, the choice is yours. You can always do all the work from scratch on your own or hire game developers to help you out.
First, make sure you have cherry-picked the best game engine that fits your project. Most likely, the choice will be between Unity and Unreal Engine. If you opt for indie solo game development, chances are Unity will become your best friend. It is a perfect match for beginners willing to create their first platformer, FPS, or a simple mobile project.
Second, learn C#, an object-oriented multi-paradigm programming language that powers Unity. Without this knowledge, you will be unable to create a back-end part of your video game because each game mechanic, enemy behavior, and other interactivity mechanism requires the use of scripts. These, in turn, are usually written in C#.
Third, master 2D or 3D art and animation, depending on the number of dimensions you want your game to occupy. Without a doubt, there are both pros and cons for each type. Primarily, your choice boils down at least to pixel, flat, vector, or cutout art for 2D, as well as voxel graphics or polygonal modeling/sculpting for 3D. Each style and type will imply using different software like Photoshop for pixel art, MagicaVoxel for voxel graphics, or Blender for 3D.
Fourth, once you master Unity, C#, and Blender, it is time to create a game design document (GDD), pouring your ideas onto paper. When backstory, mechanic ideas, and 2D concept art are ready, you can open up Unity to start doing magic. Level design can be done on physical paper with or without the blocking stage when you pile up gray boxes inside Unity to come up with a level layout.
Fifth, after having a level layout and a number of modeled low-poly 3D assets inside Blender, you can rig, skin, and animate everything. Another essential tip is to use Unity Asset Store, where you can find either low-cost or even free models for any taste. Solo indie game development unquestionably requires you to refer to third-party assets to save time making each asset from scratch on your own.
Did you know that Minecraft was a solo game project? It was developed in Java by Swedish programmer Markus Persson. Today, it is one of the most successful solo game development stories that inspires hundreds of people worldwide to launch their own projects. In contrast, today, you do not need to develop the entire system from scratch due to the existence of game engines. Given many tutorials, the process has become less challenging.
Another noteworthy hint implies learning from professionals. Look how large-scale game development studios finalize their projects and what publishers make deals with them. Also, visit their official websites to gain more insight into their portfolios and other stuff. For example, you can learn more about game development workflows by visiting the Game-Ace website, a professional studio with a prosperous project portfolio — game-ace.com.
Remember that you multiply your expertise by watching others do their job. Standing on the shoulders of titans is an excellent starting point from where more prospects come into sight. When you polish your indie game, research publishers that make successful deals with solo game developers and negotiate with them. Or merely upload your final product to Google Play, Steam, App Store, etc. The choice is yours when all is set up!