How VVVVVV Saved an Independent Developer's Career

How VVVVVV Saved an Independent Developer's Career

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In a look back at 2010, VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh reveals that the world of independent development isn't all unicorns and rainbows.

With the enthusiasm and amazing creativity coming out of the independent videogame development scene today, sometimes it's hard to realize that there's still a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind each release. On VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh's blog, he recently offered a realistic perspective behind indie game development, and revealed that he nearly faltered until VVVVVV came along.

Despite garnering a strong following by creating titles such as Don't Look Back, Cavanagh says that things were looking bleak before the release of VVVVVV in January 2010. Cavanagh had taken out a €15,000 ($20,000) loan in 2008, ran out of money in a year, and was forced to go on unemployment for six months. By November 2009, he was flat broke, his credit cards were maxed out, his bank account was overdrawn, and he moved back in with his parents while taking out loans from friends and family to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, VVVVVV, once a side project, was ballooning. Cavanagh thought it'd be his final project as a full-time independent game developer, and wanted to make it good. In a way, it almost seems like Cavanagh's hardship translated into VVVVVV's development quality.

Cavanagh admits that he may have made a "mess" of VVVVVV's release, including a "misjudged" original price of $15, but despite this "fumbling" and the game's limited distribution through Cavanagh's website and Kongregate, it was a success. VVVVVV sold 312 copies in one day, almost 2000 in a month, and 3000 by the time it was released on Steam in September 2010 with a price reduction to $5. He's not able to share Steam sales figures, but says VVVVVV has been doing well on the platform. Cavanagh was able to pay back his debt and is now back on track as a full-time independent developer.

Cavanagh's current project is an ambitious, alternate-history RPG called Nexus City. Despite the chunk of change he's earned from VVVVVV, Cavanagh is happier about the simple fact that he can still make a living by developing games. His story is yet another example of how smaller operations are carving out a significant niche in the videogame industry by the skin of their noses.

Source: Terry Cavanagh's Blog

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Being an independent game developer is pretty much like being an entrepreneur in the physical world. It can take a lot of time and devotion (and money), and sometimes you're putting everything on the line for a risky idea that may or may not work. And sometimes it's the knowledge that you've passed the point of no return that can push you to create something highly successful.

Wow, I had no idea that Mr. Cavanagh was in such dire straits... I'm just glad that I, in some small way, helped by buying, enjoying, and telling my friends about VVVVVV. (By the way, it's really good; get it if you like Metroidvania games, self-flagellation-esque difficulty in places, great music, or supporting people who are financially screwed.)

Im glad that he got his debts paid up and is gonna release more games.
On a note I will use this article in the future against anyone that complains about dlc or games not being free...etc

I needed a feel good story after turning on CNN today. Good for him

Terry is awesome. I'm glad VVVVVV turned out as well as it did, for his sake and ours.

Finally an uplifting story after all the stories of people dieing..

I love it when life works out for someone who's really tried. I may even buy VVVVVV. In fact, i'll download the demo now.

I remember this game and the discussing of it's name xD turns out that it wasn't pretty lame. Word

But that is uplifting and good news!

Huh. I just played through the VVVVVV demo, and realized that the basics of the game is exactly what I had in mind for a platformer a couple of years back.

I never figured out how I wanted to do my level designs, though, so nothing happened with the idea. Glad to see that someone else had the same idea and managed to create such a success from it. :)

As someone who has been following Terry for quite a while, I was so glad that this game took off so well.

HankMan:
I needed a feel good story after turning on CNN today. Good for him

Anything particular on CNN, or just nonstop depressing news in general.

LeonLethality:
As someone who has been following Terry for quite a while, I was so glad that this game took off so well.

Your avatar, what is it from?

OT: Good for him. Yeah, it's short, sue me.

That's some good news, VVVVVV is one of my favourite games this year, so I'm really glad it got made, and that he can continue to make games. :)

three words: veni vidi vici

i managed to finish that level and it only took me 30 mins to do so

icame:
Finally an uplifting story after all the stories of people dieing..

Dying

Good for him. It's always heartwarming to read a success story, even if it's compressed in a news post.

That looks like a fun game, what are the gameplay mechanics? From that picture it only looks like another generic Shift game except not a flash game...

Wabblefish:
That looks like a fun game, what are the gameplay mechanics? From that picture it only looks like another generic Shift game except not a flash game...

One button inverts gravity for your character, get hit by a spike and it's back to the checkpoint for you. Far better than it sounds.

Here's the demo, on the web.

Simple yet effective is an understatement.

Never knew he was in trouble, good that he got things sorted out, VVVVVV was a great game.

heyheysg:

icame:
Finally an uplifting story after all the stories of people dieing..

Dying

-.-

 

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