If you’re an aspiring indie game designer, there’s no quicker way to get your spirit crushed than to visit an indie game design forum.
Thanks to low-cost widespread tools like Game Maker, setting out on the road to become an aspiring bedroom game designer is now easier than ever. Of course, actually finishing your projects is as hard as it’s ever been, and it doesn’t help that some of the development communities that have sprung up around these tools aren’t exactly welcoming. As Bradley Campbell writes in Issue 232 of The Escapist, while many naive hopeful young designers come to these places for inspiration and support, they may find the exact opposite:
Once offering a quiet but productive atmosphere for novice designers to hone their ideas, these forums have devolved into grim and ineffective emergency rooms whose influx of patients all suffer from the same delusion: that they’re only one good game away from both indie credibility and mainstream success. Like any place where creatives of all rank and status linger, discussions are hemmed by unwritten rules and faux-sympathies. Other developers may feel at home with you because they are in the same position with their works-in-progress. But they also know your game has a 1-in-100 chance of completion just like theirs, and another 1-in-100 chance of actually being worth playing. Soon, your laboriously written code needs to be complemented with things like art and music, and if you don’t have the hand for either, you’ll be shunned for even asking for help.
That’s when it hits you: You put yourself in game development hell, and everyone else is glad you joined them.
To read more about the trials and tribulations of indie game designers on indie game design forums, read “Game Development for the Damned and Delirious” in Issue 232 of The Escapist.