25 June, 2007
Eric Rhea, one of the minds behind the indie online game Wraith: The Iron Horse just posted up a fascinating look at indie online game development from a practical point of view. It includes some figures and other information about what the team learned in their trial by fire.
Not much more to add, but I have a quick comment after the break.
Unfortunately, some of the data is currently in black text on a dark blue background. I guess Eric is still learning about that whole “art” thing. ;) Just highlight the information to read it.
One serious issue he brings up is how indie games can compete with the bigger games:
I’m running out of time to explore this and the related issues, so I’ll just raise the indie-dev questions:
Your players experienced the functionality of the AAA titles and expect it from you, no matter what you say. What next?
You will have folks complain about your graphics quality compared to the AAA titles. As this rift continues to grow, what impact will it have on your title?
Think real carefully: how would your game handle comparison to other titles and folks saying that they won’t play until those similar features are in place?
The real answer is that you are competing with the other games even if you don’t want to. You need to find something you do better and focus on that competitive advantage. In the case of many indie games, there is an original setting to consider. You can’t just clone WoW and expect your indie game to be successful. Almost every single successful indie game has something they offer that nobody else had. Runescape had free play and cheap subscriptions, for example, which allowed them to attract an amazing number of players with a game that does not, in general, compete directly with larger games in areas such as graphical presentation. (That’s the nice way of saying it looks ugly.)
Further, you have to accept that not everyone is going to play your indie game. Some people are going to balk if you don’t have feature X they love. So, you have to adjust your expectations, and take advantage of the fact that you are going to have less (but most likely more rabidly dedicated) customers than other games do. A business model other than subscriptions will help you take advantage of this fact easier.
Anyway, go read the post. Fascinating stuff. Anyone else have any indie stories to share?