Should You Go To College For Game Dev? Here’s My Experience.

Should You Go To College For Game Dev? Here’s My Experience.

In 2007 fresh out of high school as a senior, if you would have asked me if I was excited for college, I would not be able to contain the emotion in my face. Hell yes I was excited. I had knew that I wanted to make games since the day I finished the Halo: Combat Evolved campaign. I knew that very day that I was destined to create experiences as magical as this one had been for me.

Games were epic. They were the ultimate form of art. Sure I loved making music (used to be a rapper yo!), sure I loved programming, sure I loved storytelling. But games…games were all of the above. Games were my chance to create the ultimate expression of the fragments inside my head that wanted to badly to be understood. Games were everything great about every art form all wrapped into a single fun and interactive package.

So the only choice for me was to go to school for game development. Here is my experience.

How Sharing Ideas Might Just Be Killing Your Motivation

How Sharing Ideas Might Just Be Killing Your Motivation

Sharing ideas with others is one of my favorite things to do. There’s nothing quite like coming up with something clever and sharing it with a group of people that acknowledge the cleverness, and sometimes even build on it. It can be exciting, motivating, and just all around fun.

But what if sharing ideas might be a bad thing? What if actually sharing your ideas with others makes you much less likely to execute and create? What if the very act of communicating your ideas and intentions can somehow kill your motivation to get them done?

I struggled with this for a long time. Here’s my story.

Indie Game Marketing for Introverts: 3 Tips for Social Survival

Indie Game Marketing for Introverts: 3 Tips for Social Survival

I’m an introvert. Being around people drains my batteries…and I consider my alone time some much-needed solitude. A lot of people (my extrovert friends especially) don’t really understand that when I tell them. They will all try to help me in their own way. They tell me I should get out more, or be more sociable, or make more friends. And I appreciate the intention behind those suggestions, I am thankful that they are trying to help, but really, my alone time is sacred to me.

Now granted there are many benefits to interpersonal relationships and networking and such, even for introverts. But that doesn’t mean that being an introvert is wrong or it somehow makes you broken, it just makes you different. I’m not going to get into my personal struggle here because that is a different post for a different day, but for a long time I thought I DID need to be an extrovert, and I thought that being an introvert contributed to my depression, loneliness etc. I thought that by not being great at talking to people or preferring to just be alone made me less likely to succeed.

And marketing specifically always scared me, because that was the ultimate extrovert thing right??

The Zombie Project Effect: How to Succeed By Quitting

The Zombie Project Effect: How to Succeed By Quitting

If you ask any developer about their zombie projects, they will instantly know what you mean. And not just in game development either, its a common thing with creators across the planet. Every person that has the ability to create things from the ground up invariably wants to create as many things as they can. It’s almost hard wired in our brains to seek out the fun parts of creation. The discovery, the experimentation, the planning. It’s a blast to sit down and prototype, or just get a bunch of ideas together and create the begining framework of something awesome.

But with game development specifically, “zombie projects” are a different beast, because it is so freaking easy to start a game these days, and yet it is so damn hard to finish one. And finishing is hard enough, but its difficulty gets magnified when you keep on starting.

And  dude…I’m not judging. I’m talking from experience here. And I’m going to share with you how I overcame this very problem.

The Deep Dark Cave of Game Development Depression (and How to Dig Yourself Out!)

The Deep Dark Cave of Game Development Depression (and How to Dig Yourself Out!)

Depression is one of those things that doesn’t really get talked about. But I’m going to talk about it. Because depression can destroy lives. It can mentally and physically destroy people. And worst of all, it can destroy dreams. I almost let it destroy mine.

Since I was little I always wanted to make games. It started with Halo, but after that I would get inspired by lots of other games. I always wanted to make myself, but no matter what I did it seemed like I couldn’t quite get there. This feeling of discouragement made me quit on my dream to actually make games, and it led to a life of me joining the business and marketing world.

I remember waking up one day, and I realized that years had gone by, and this thing I had always wanted to do, I wasn’t even trying to do anymore. The games that I always wanted to make were buried away years ago in old notebooks I hadn’t even touched. And my life became a constant blur of things I hated.

7 Of My Worst Game-Killing Assumptions, And What They Taught Me

7 Of My Worst Game-Killing Assumptions, And What They Taught Me

We’ve all heard the age old philosophy that if you learn from your mistake, it isn’t really a mistake. But what if you don’t learn from it? What if you continue on doing it because you thought it was the right thing to do, and no one told you otherwise? If everyone else is doing it, can it still be a major mistake?

Nobody likes making mistakes. And worse, most people are very resistant to changing their ways when they find out they’ve made one. But hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’re not one of those people. My goal with this article is that you can read some of the things listed here, and reflect on your development. Hopefully, you can learn from your mistakes and change your behavior to become the ultimate developer that I know is inside of you.

So here are 7 of my worst game-killing assumptions, and what they taught me.

Focus on Zero to One – A Game Dev Business-Building Philosophy

Focus on Zero to One – A Game Dev Business-Building Philosophy

I used to dream of making millions from a video game I created. I would wonder what it would be like for people to love and play my creations but pay for them. When I got into game development, I wanted to make the next Halo…I wanted to *BE* the next Bungie. And not just for the money, more for the impact.

But as I began what would later become my life-long obsession of making video games, and after losing all motivation to touch them anymore, I realized something. By aiming my rocket for the moon, I didn’t land among the stars. I simply quit before I ever launched, because the scope of what I wanted to achieve was too high.

If that sounds like you, consider what I have to say in this article.

I call that process of completing your goal (launching the rocket) “Zero to one.” And I call the process of scaling that goal (hitting the stars) “One to one hundred.”

Marketing is a Feature (And Why You Might Be Doing It Wrong!)

Marketing is a Feature (And Why You Might Be Doing It Wrong!)

Over the past few months, I’ve been on a content frenzy. Some of the recruits that read this have been with the underground since 2013 when it started (and they’ve seen more content in the last 3 months than the YEARS before hand.) Others are just visiting and finding us for the first time through the lens of that content. I expected a lot of questions on marketing and similar subjects when I began delivering information on it, but something strange happened that I had not anticipated. People asked me questions on YouTube or Twitter, sometimes even  Facebook, but the questions they asked indicated that most of the time, they and I had very different definitions of what the word ‘marketing’ even meant. This made answering those questions very difficult.

Now I’m no expert. I’m just a dude who likes making games, and happened to run a marketing company for a few years until I was lucky enough to sell it in 2015. Doesn’t mean I know everything, but it is clear to me now that I know quite enough to be helpful in the indie game community, so that is what I’m trying to do. But I feel that no matter what tactical and practical advice I share, what methods I give out, what platforms I recommend…if developers trying to market their game don’t quite get this one single concept, all of their efforts might be in vain.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Developers

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Developers

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with some amazing developers over the past couple of years. I got to watch in the shadows when I consulted with game companies, I got to work side by side with them when I developed web platforms, and I got to observe them when they worked for me. Being a developer myself, I’m always looking for the opportunity to learn something from someone, so I’ve paid keen attention to the things the guys I admired said and did.

Being a developer is one of those things you can never really be perfect at. There’s always more to learn and there’s always a next step. So as I was looking through my notes recently to review them as I do often, I found a list of things I had written down during that period of my life that could help me improve. After reading through them, I realized this list of commonalities goes way beyond just me, and I decided to share them. Here are what I call the 7 habits of highly effective developers.

 

Game Development: What To Do When You Have No Idea What To Do

Game Development: What To Do When You Have No Idea What To Do

I was staring at my computer screen like a senile old man stares into space. I was clearly looking at something, yet my focus was not present. I was lost in my head, thoughts and ideas racing past me like a cat that just saw a cucumber.

I had no idea what to do.

I was in the middle of this massive project. So many pieces, so many things to do…yet I had no idea where to begin. It started out great. I just jumped in and worked on the fun parts. But all the fun parts were done, and now I was dealing with the aftermath of getting slapped in the face with the big fat fist of reality. My project was bigger than my head could handle at this point, and it was driving me psycho. My brain felt like it was ruining my life, like a deranged vault dweller with a Fatman.

This had to stop.

The Anatomy of an Indie Game Press Kit

The Anatomy of an Indie Game Press Kit

A press kit is one of those things that just sounds intimidating to the new developer. It sounds like something that big corporations do, or some big complex project that you hire a PR firm to work on for you. But despite that bias and general resistance to making one, building a press kit isn’t all that hard. In fact, it’s so simple that I made an infographic for you to wrap your head around.

This article is going to attempt to make what sounds like a complex topic, quite simple, by listing all of the things that you need in a press kit. There are some essentials that you cannot go without, and there are a few things that are nice to have, but by no means required. Here are a few things to hopefully help you out on building one yourself.

7 Signs You’re Stuck in the Dev Cycle of Doom

7 Signs You’re Stuck in the Dev Cycle of Doom

For a long time I woud tell people that I was a game developer. And then people would ask me what games I made. Shit!!! I realized that although I was developing, I wasn’t really developing to PUBLISH. And I got caught in what I call the Dev Cycle of Doom. To keep you from making some of the same mistakes I made, here are 7 signs that could mean you’re stuck there.

Finish a Damn Game!

It took me 10 years to finish my first game. I wish that was a joke. But life is full of surprises. You start a project, you work really hard on it, it loses its luster a bit…but then, maybe you play something that you LOVE, and BAM! The cycle can repeat itself. And before you know it, you have a folder full of unfinished projects.

The MASSIVE Indie Game Marketing Post (And How To Get Started!)

The MASSIVE Indie Game Marketing Post (And How To Get Started!)

Marketing is probably the biggest topic in the indie game universe right now. Even if you’ve never finished your first game, you’ve probably already given thought to the way you might get it out there and entice people to play. Because lets face it, one of the coolest parts about being a game developer is watching other people play your game, and it would suck if you released your game and there was no one.

So with that in mind, I wanted to compile my thoughts on first, what it means to “market” a game, but secondly how to do so. I thought Id write a post and compile a ton of marketing information all in one place, so that you can worry less about marketing, and worry more about making great games!

60 Tips to Stay Motivated and Finish Your Indie Game

60 Tips to Stay Motivated and Finish Your Indie Game

When I started programming WAYYYY back in 2005, making stuff was awesome. But more often than not, I found myself starting on projects and abandoning them when something else that was cooler popped into my head. When I eventually moved on to bigger more ambitious projects, I would find myself abandoning them deep into the build process, never wanting to look at them again. People would ask me what I did, and I would tell them I was a game developer. Then they would ask to see some of my games.

For a long time I felt like a failure, and it really bummed me out. I started to look around and ask for help on the internet, to see if any poor soul had the same issues I had. As it turns out, the vast majority of indie developers struggle with these very things. Finishing a game seems to be one of the single hardest things for an independent developer to do. The fact that such a deeply personal feeling was so common and universal blew me away. I know what that shit is like, it sucks. It made me feel horrible to work on all these things I was passionate about and never be able to complete them.

But one day not too long ago, I broke through and actually finished my first game. It took me 10 years, but I did it. Here are some things I’ve learned on that long, hard journey to stay motivated and finish my game.

 

59 Ways To Monetize Your Indie Game

59 Ways To Monetize Your Indie Game

Are you dead broke? Eating Ramen noodles? Trying desperately to make a few bucks off of your labor of love in the form of an indie game? We’ve all been at the point of no return in our development where we want to make some cash off of our games, but we’re not exactly sure the best route. In fact sometimes, we’re not even aware of all the options.

The question comes up a lot. I get emails all the time asking what the best way to monetize a game is, or should someone go paid or freemium. The truth is, you should try a bunch of different things. What works for your game might not work for others, and vice versa. And if you think about it…if your plan is to put your game up on a game portal, then push traffic to it, that’s not much of a marketing plan. I realized that most people we’rent really asking how to market their game, they were asking how they could make money from their game.

And today, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled my list of different ways that you can monetize and make money off of your game so that you’ll never question your options again. Here are 59 ways to monetize your indie game.

Why Being Broke And Having No Budget Is Great For Making Video Games

Why Being Broke And Having No Budget Is Great For Making Video Games

I remember it like it was yesterday. My bank account notified me that my balance was at $0.15 the same day that I had gotten an email about my largest client pulling my biggest project. In an instant, the  majority of my income went down the drain. Good times.

Now had I let that stop me and make me quit working on things I loved, I never would have learned a few extremely valuable lessons.

I’m not gonna lie, that winter was ruff. It was right around the holidays, and I was visiting friends and family at the time. But I got through it, and I kept working on my projects. And the things I learned that winter will be with me for the rest of my life. And lucky me, I get to share them now with you. Here are the 3 things I learned about why being broke is surprisingly awesome for making games.

Passion Does Not Equal Unlimited Motivation

Passion Does Not Equal Unlimited Motivation

People always told me that if I found something I was passionate about, I’d never work a day in my life. “Do what you love” they said. “Follow your passion” they said. After all, how bad could it be? I had found something I loved to my core; what could go wrong with diving head first into it and trying to turn my passion into a full time job?

It seemed pretty harmless, so that’s what I did. I worked non stop at what I loved for months going on years. I surrounded myself with what I loved and I lived and breathed my passion…