Friday, 11 May 2018

User Stories: How Founding An Indie Games Blog Changed Our Perception Of This Industry

As the term gained popularity, producers and consumers alike began to wonder: what exactly is an indie game anyway? Should we consider anyone who hasn’t been signed by a publisher independent? And if that’s the case, are solo developers and multi-million dollar self-publishing studios on the same plane?

Eventually, to answer these and other questions, my partner Elisa and I launched The Indie Toaster in May 2017. We began to review other people’s work, we attended events, we published summaries and - most importantly – we made an effort to meet as many creatives as we could fit into our schedule. Our final goal, you ask? To provide the community with all the guidance and assistance we could muster.

Almost immediately, we began to realize just how deep this specific rabbit hole goes. The indie gaming industry is not as simple as it might seem at a first glance. Whether you’re working on your first project or already have a few titles safely under your belt, here are three tips we feel could help you!

All Projects Have a Price

Once you open your door and let people know that you’re there to help, questions usually start pouring in. One of the most common we’ve seen in the last 400 or so days is about how much it costs to build a game from scratch.

Let’s be crystal clear about this one: there’s no such thing as a completely free effort to bring something to life. Regardless of your intentions to make money out of it, developing an indie game will cost you. Before you even attempt to move forward, you should get familiar with whatever requirement your project has.
If you’re only developing out of passion or are doing it to earn experience, time ends up being your most valuable commodity. In this case, the golden rule is to be as constant as you possibly can. Dedicating 8 to 10 hours a day into the earlier phases of your plan will serve you no purpose, if you can’t be persistent enough to see the end of it. 

Things get a bit more complicated when a commercial release is involved. You’ll have to acquire all needed licenses, invest in assets and marketing, maybe even pay your colleagues a few bucks to keep them happy. As such, building a realistic business plan remains one of your utmost priorities. 

Do that and you’ll be one step closer to becoming a successful indie games developer.  

Don’t Be The Jack Of All Trades

“Fine then! If hiring outsiders costs so much, I’ll just take care of everything by myself!” This too is an extremely common answer we get while talking to devs. Especially among first-timers, tackling every aspect of their project in a single sitting is seen as a final proof of honor and ability. 

Unfortunately, as players come to expect more polished and richer experiences, doing everything on your own often becomes impossible. Mind it: it’s not a matter of skills or willingness to sacrifice your free time. On the contrary, it’s the sheer amount of work that has the ability to trample your dreams. 

The average indie game takes several months to see the light of day. We’re only talking about the time needed to turn an idea into a working build. On top of that, you’ll have to account for marketing, community management, quality assurance, and shipping. Oh, and you should sleep too. You might feel invincible in your early 20s, but that won’t last forever. 

Once again, your final goal influences the way you work. For a non-commercial release, you can take as much time as you want. When you’re planning to sell your game, though, setting the right kind of deadline - and sticking by it - can make a difference. Delay your release too much and you might doom your title from the start! 

Maybe it’s time to drag a few more people into your project? 

Be Ready To Fight For Your Place

We talked about managing your resources, we discussed how you shouldn’t do everything by yourself, yet we left the most important question for last. “What exactly makes an indie game a success?”, we were asked more than a few times. Truth be told, there’s no clear answer to this one!

In its infancy, the interactive entertainment industry saw a couple of hundreds of new releases hitting the shelves every year. In 2016, SteamSpy counted more than 6000 titles seeing the light of day. The number was even higher in 2017, for which the site reports more than 7050 new product pages. That’s a lot of competition you’ll have to ride through. 

There’s no magic formula for success, but there are a couple of guidelines you should stick to. Among the others, always make sure you probe the market before you start working. Join development groups, visit events, ask fellow gamers what kind of titles they would like to play. You won’t have time for it once the project is underway. 

Finally, be prepared to fight for the attention of your crowds. Start marketing ahead of time, get in contact with the press - we have a guide on how to do both - and give your indie game as much visibility as you can; even if it means cracking open your piggy bank!

Alessandro Cossidente

Sunday, 29 April 2018

2000 Games and time of cleaning for a Party!

On indiexpo are hosted over 2,000 Games!!
It's great if I remember that it was born on very small communities and forums.
Now it's a big website with great and small projects.

But now... It's time to cleaning! (to organize the Party)

Yes, it is! It's not useful to be a big website with a lot of games with broken link.

In fact indiexpo wants to be different from other websites. Here you are totally free. You can upload your game on our servers or add an external link with a direct download.

Using this second opinion it's possible that your games will be removed by the web hosting that you are using. Or you need more space on your cloud and delete old folders with your game.

So we're contacting dev by dev. If there is no reply, we are deleting the game page.

We want to create a clear place with games to play and discover!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

User Stories : LostTrainDude at Codemotion Rome 2018

or: How I went to give a talk about puzzle design in adventure games and came back with an interest in hardware programming.

On April, 18 you could find me in Rome, among over 2000 people attending Codemotion tech conference.

The event was held at the engineering department of Roma Tre University, a place I know very well, because that’s where I first attended a Global Game Jam in 2012.

I was there to give a talk about puzzle design in point-and-click adventure games!

Here is a handy YouTube video. You can find the presentation slides here.

Thanks to both my brother Syd and TheTMO for recording the video!

That said, let’s talk about the conference!

It was exciting to see my name there, but turns out there were a lot of things to be excited about.

First of all, I was going to meet some old friends from the indie gamedev scene.

Andrea Ferlito (who made all of this possible in the first place), TheTMO, Ciro Continisio (now Technical Evangelist at Unity in Brighton), Giuseppe and Francesca from Yonder (now working on Circle of Sumo), Giorgio Pomettini (who gave a great talk about Rust programming language in videogames), Augusto “KyserByte” from Motorsport Gaming, Tommaso from Caracal Games, and more!

From left to right: Andrea Ferlito, my brother Syd, me, Jeff and Giles

It all started here, end of Day 1, when we met Jeff Minter and Ivan Zorzin (Giles) from Llamasoft!

Needless to say: meeting Jeff and Giles was a blast. We laughed over a couple of drinks and chatted about stuff we love, in and out of the gamedev subject.

Yet again, it’s always nice to feel like part of a huge family.

In the back you can spot Ivan Preziosi (wearing a baseball cap), whom I met on this occasion and found out he’s developing Hard Times, a game about homeless survival in the big metropolis of indifference. A really interesting and deep game that sends out an important message, without compromising entertainment.

Also it reminded me of one of my favourite games of all time which is Rags To Riches from C64, but this takes everything of a whole new other, and higher, level.

Ivan discussing the game with Giles (Llamasoft) and Andrea Ferlito

Another thing this event may be responsible of is my taking my first step into hardware programming. Something I would NEVER expect to happen.

Amie DD was one of the speakers and when I attended her keynote, I couldn’t help but be inspired and curious.

I really like this picture, because it seems like she’s just out of a cyberpunk movie, her lines being: “Hey, fancy some hardware?”.

I asked for advice and she provided me some, also advising me not to fear hardware and offering to help me start, something I accepted with extreme gratitude!

Being mostly among the gamedevs I didn’t manage to be around many other speakers, who all came from different backgrounds.

Still, it was nice to meet them and share a few laughs at the Speakers Dinner. I’m very curious about the “Anxiety Driven Development” talk by Nicole Bartolini, which I could not attend to because I was giving my own talk at the same time.

Thanks, Codemotion Rome 2018, I won’t forget you and your excellent team easily, if ever.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Saying NO

It's hard to imagine certain situation until meeting those.
Designers who create might encounter different request - which won’t fit with their values.

What if you’ll be asked to design an anonymous ad against a figure.
If you’ll be asked to work at the expense of your family time.
If you’ll be ordered to sabotage files before sending them to the customer.

What if someone will try to use your access to a database with personal details of subscribers from a minisite.
What if someone will use you to know how to take advantage of a young designer starting out.

When working with people we encounter bizarre realities.
Sometimes it’s hard to stick to principles
Becuase it might cause us out job or hurt it.
We need to know how to say no.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Are you looking for a Cute and Colorful sci-fi Game?

Steel Zeroes is a free indie game in a sci-fi city. Cute and brilliant! Made by Pedrovin.

This is our cool cover!

It was an exclusive of indiexpo!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

indiexpo now also in Ukrainian!

Now indiexpo is also in Ukrainian thanks to quizcanners! Thank you again!

indiexpo дозволяє тисячам людей ділитися своїми досягненнями, та відстежувати оригінальні інді ігри від інших незалежних розробників. Indiexpo - це простір для спілкування, де ви можете поширити інформацію про свої розробки та надихати людей у всьому світі.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Improving the Recommended Area. The Algorithm Power.

More than 70 per cent of the games regular users play on indiexpo are discovered through the platform’s recommendation system, in the Home Page.

That means the majority of what you decide to play on this website is the result of decisions made by an algorithm.

As we said in a previous post, one of our goals was to improve the Recommended Area and we're still working on it!

indiexpo uses machine learning and algorithms to help break gamers’ preconceived notions and find games that they might not have initially chosen. To do this, it looks at games played, rather than relying on broad genres to make its predictions.

As Netflix, Amazon or so many other websites, we're improving this system day by day, thanks to the users feedbacks.

To discover and play the best games for your taste!