Can You Succeed As A Solo Developer?
Today, I want to talk about something that I’ve experienced a lot in my life. I’m a lone wolf. I like to do things alone. I like to work alone. I like to be alone. I’m an introvert at heart. I would much rather be alone on this camera talking to you than in any public place in any public setting. But I have learned the hard way that no great thing is ever the result of one person. Not to say there aren’t great people and fantastic creations by single people, but no one succeeds alone.
Because whatever you’re doing, whatever skills you have, whatever you’re building, there are always a series of things that you yourself don’t have— there are pieces, there are knowledge segments, there are pieces of experience, there are inputs, there are perspectives that you can get from other people.
And this was not news that I liked as an introvert. This is not something I wanted to learn. I was just like, “Nope nope nope! Not going to learn that. I’m staying alone, doing my shit alone. I don’t want to work with anybody.” When I got into business, especially, I learned the power of a partner. I learned the power of a mentor. I learned the power of people. And it’s something that you don’t realize on the surface. If you’re an artist, you go look for a programmer. That way, you make a good team for creating games because one knows code and one knows art.
And that can work really well. A lot of times there are things that people bring into a situation or into a game, or into a project such as perspective. These are the things that only other people in a team observe or contribute to the game creation. For example, they catch something in the UI that you wouldn’t have caught and they have a different vision for the user experience than you do. One of the reason why teams can make such awesome projects is because two brains is powerful than one. When you put two people together, it’s an exponential return. It’s not just 1+1, that partnership is worth 3 to 5 people and you wouldn’t think about the results that way but that’s how it comes out.
Every time that I’ve partnered with someone, my success has been well beyond what I thought I could achieve, EVERY TIME, although I’ve had some shitty partnerships. I had a partner once that was not the greatest. And honestly, most of my time in that partnership was spent cleaning up his mess. However, he brought value to the partnership. Together we were able to generate a lot of business. We had a five-figure check from our business before we were even incorporated. For some reason, even though we didn’t get along for shit and we fought and ended up going our separate ways, together we made a ton of money in that company not even a year into the partnership.
And that blew my mind! I understand the value of team members and the value of having these beautiful people work with you. But how can someone that you really hate don’t get along with, massively increase your success? I think it just comes down to understanding the value of having the right people around you. Right people can mean so many different things, depending on who you are. I always thought over all risks I would take. I had a lot of anxiety. I didn’t have any desire in to go into social situations and I’m normally not a risk taker. I was one of those kids that didn’t do alcohol or drugs growing up. Seriously, none of it.
But the guy I partnered with was the opposite. He was a gambler and an alcoholic. He was the type to go up and talk to people. He would just jump in and do things and take risks. Looking back, obviously, it was an explosive relationship and there were people problems from the get-go. But he taught me that there are qualities in people that you can learn to value and can learn from. He helped me so much in learning to take risks and to just put myself out there—to just try things sometimes, even if they’re scary. Just go do them. The worst thing that could happen is it won’t work.
I would recommend to all the solo developers out there stuck in their programming cave that they find a series of people to just either hang around with, or work with, or just act as a mentor or a person to give feedback on their game. Don’t look at this as a solo thing. Don’t look at this as you against the world because that is one of the worst ways that you can do when you build things. I happen to love making games alone but I know the value of having other people involved in various stages like with testing or with tweaking or with user experience or with, you know, whatever.
Even though I’m a solo developer, I include these people in my projects because I know as an artist it makes my stuff so much better. And if there’s one thing that I’ve really learned my entire life, all the experiences put together into a formulated jar, I would say that jar probably has at least to do with the value that people bring to you. Because people— doesn’t matter who they are—everyone has their own experiences. They have their own life; they’ve learned all the things they’ve learned. And these experiences are so different from what you’ve experienced.
When you bring two minds together, it creates something awesome. You can learn stuff from everybody. I think for real success—if you really want to be successful as in a better game developer—you really want to make this happen. If you really want to start a business with your games, you’re going to need more than you. I mean that very seriously. I don’t mean to discourage you. If you’re a solo developer, if you’re an introvert, if you’re scared of people, whatever it is—there’s value in people, and I want you to know that. This is a very targeted message; more so than some of my other articles.
I just I want you guys to know that real success is the result of multiple people, it really is. And if you want to build a business, and you want to grow, and you want to like build cool shit, you need to include other people. Again, this is coming from a lone wolf, solo developer, introvert dude that likes to be in his programming cave. So understand where it’s coming from, understand the gravity of what I’m saying. I’m not one of those super extra people person that says, “You need people—everybody people, awesome!” No, I’m not that guy. I like to spend a lot of time alone, but I’ve learned the value of people, and I hope that I’ve kind of helped you learn the value people as well.
So that’s my message for today. I hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment below. If you have anything to say, I would love to hear from you, on this subject especially.