The 10 Commandments of Independent Game Development
by Cliff Harris


1 Thou shalt not call thyself CEO.
Why do so many one man companies have a "chief executive officer?". If you are the CEO, where are the other executive officers? or for that matter the other employees? You can't have a chief without Indians. Don't pretend to be more important than you are

2 Thou shalt not charge $50 for Tetris
Price your game realistically. Sure Quake III costs $50, but Quake III took dozens of people years. it looks amazing, its rock solid and has huge replayability. The same ain't true for a Tetris clone, so please price accordingly

3. Thou shalt not brag about unfinished games
When your game is still in the design phase it always sounds cool. Anyone can do a design doc that talks about ground-breaking AI, zillions of polygons and real-time realistic nostril physics. Everyone hates hearing politicians harp on about what they would do IF they were in power, ditto games developers. Once you have a finished game THEN we will listen

4. Thou shalt not make Quake IV your first game
Quake wasn't even Carmacks first game. Black n White wasn't a first effort either. There is no shame in starting small, most of the guys you look up to now have spent time coding an asteroids clone at some stage. Start small.

5.Thou shalt not offer advice without experience
We all like to give helpful advice, but don't offer advice unless you are sure you are speaking from experience. Poor advice is worse than no advice. I offer advice on 2D games, and making shareware/budget games (and selling them). I can also offer help on Heavy metal guitar solos and BoatBuilding. In other areas I defer to the experts. Follow my example...

6. Thou shalt get a domain name
If you profess to be the CEO of Amazing Interactive Entertainment INC, then your website will look silly if it contains 'Geocities' ANYWHERE in the URL. Domains are seriously cheap. Please get one

7. Thou shalt learn to read books
There are lots of books on games programming, and even many free articles on the web. Please take 10 minutes to help yourself before asking your fellow geeks. If you are a newbie, save some money and buy 'Tricks of the game programming gurus' by Andre La Mothe. READ the whole thing, You will be surprised how many of your questions it answers.

8. Thou shalt experiment with shareware first
Your first game will not end up in stores. Prepare to deal with this fact. It is not the end of the world. Coding a small game which you sell a dozen copies of online for $10 each will teach you more about the games business than you can possibly imagine. It gives you a much needed sense of perspective when you move on to bigger things.

9. Thou shalt not order your Ferrari yet
Don't believe what publishers tell you. I have spoken to lots of them, and 90% talk garbage 90% of the time. If I ordered a Ferrari every time I was told I would earn the cash, I would need a bigger key-rack by my front door. Plan on buying a new video card from your first games royalties, a new PC from your second. This is called being realistic. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised, but don't count on it

10. Thou shalt not believe everything you read
Just because it's posted on GameDev, doesn't mean it's true. I have even lied in this very article. My first game (Star Miner) DID actually turn up in stores (I have the box on my shelf in the bedroom to prove it) albeit on a compilation. This just goes to show, that not everyone knows what they are talking about. Not even me ;)

Hey this article was meant as a bit of fun. Don't flame me, I'm a nice guy.

Cliff Harris
Positech Computing

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Date this article was posted to 8/23/2003
(Note that this date does not necessarily correspond to the date the article was written)

See Also:
Running your own Game Company

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