My first 40 years (10 as indie)

IMGP0938I don’t have any decent recent photo so I’ll just go with this one, a few years ago :)

Today I’m 40, and it has been more or less 10 years since I’m doing indie games!

The Past

All began back in 2003, when I discovered the now defunct Dexterity forums. I was working as webdesigner, after the small italian software house where I was working before went bankrupt (they were making story-based games too, but more like point’n’click adventures).

To be honest I had sort of given up working on games, since at the moment the situation was impossible. Italian software houses were all very far away from me and I wasn’t ready to leave everything and move away from home, besides the situation wasn’t really good (in the next few years indeed more companies shut down).

But I thought I could still do them in my spare time, as hobby. Then I discovered about the online distribution, and being indie, and it was like a whole new world opening in front of my eyes! So I started using Blitz3d to make a soccer management game. First advice to new indies: don’t try to do a project too big as your first attempt!

In the end I managed to finish it, but was quite bugged and in general, did poor. After that, I made some smaller games to learn C/C++. A match-3 game called Spin Around, a platform/maze game called Ignazio The Frog :D I still laugh thinking at those games, but they helped me to learn coding and most importantly selling games online.

The “big step” was when later that year I made Universal Boxing Manager and The Goalkeeper. Both sports sims, rather simple, with art made by myself. But at those times the market was MUCH LESS competitive than is nowadays. Those two games gave me hope, even if I was still living with parents :)

I made some more games in C like Magic Stones or Supernova 2: Spacewar, before finally moving to python and open source dev. I posted about this already not too long ago.

The Present

In the “recent history”, the past 3-4 years, it was an up and down. I had some decent successes like Spirited Heart, followed by games acclaimed by “critics” like Bionic Heart but that sold poorly (same thing happened to the sequel).

I remember back in September 2010, when I had just released the two lowest-selling games I’ve ever made, both Vera Blanc titles, and the situation was rather critical. I didn’t expect it because the previous year was good, and I didn’t think that revenues could go down so quickly! I had only a few months of savings left before I had to quit and go back in a office work!

That was when I took two important decisions: make also more complex games like RPGs and outsource more people.

The first resulted in Planet Stronghold being frantically coded by myself in 4-5 months, including game design, writing and everything. The second decision lead to releasing games made with the help of other people, in particular in the writing department, but recently also coding.

One of them, Always Remember Me later today will debut on Steam, and I have two more coming shortly next month, for a total of four games. I arrived on Steam a bit late compared to other indies, but hey, at least I’m there now :D

I’ve written already post-mortems of my more recent games like Loren, Heileen 3,¬† Rommates so I won’t repeat myself here.

Even if things are going well now, I’m definitely not sitting on my laurels. What happened back in 2010 could still happen. Two or three consecutive flops, and things might look grim again. Of course I am more relaxed now, but I must still work a lot of hours every day. Luckily for me, I love this job :)

The Future

Is really hard to say what will happen in the next 10 years! Don’t know if the main gaming platform will be SteamOS or still Windows, or some console/mobile platform. But I honestly hope to be still around, and still make the kind of games I make now.

I love hand-drawn art, and while I can see the benefits of 3D for certain type of games (I always wanted to do a sequel of my boxing game with 3d for example) honestly I think doing a full 3d game is out of my reach, and probably couldn’t even be a good idea for a good return of investment¬† since doing 3d games is more expensive/time consuming.

While I have some ideas for other kind of games, like a tower defense game and a dungeon crawler, I think that most of my next games will be similar to the one I made recently: story-based RPG or dating/life sims, with a variety of romances for all tastes.

One thing I want to do differently is: make some gay/lesbian exclusive games. Won’t be soon since I have a big backlog of games to finish first, but once I’m done with them, I plan to do it :)

Thanks for reading, and for supporting me during all those years. Even if I went through some rather rough times, I never felt I was actually working for a single day since I went indie, and that is really something ! :)

This entry was posted in development tricks, game design, general, indie life, marketing tips. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to My first 40 years (10 as indie)

  1. Fortifel says:

    Happy birthday!
    May all your wishes come true.
    Do what you love to and be happy.

  2. Sunny says:

    Yes, first.
    Happy Birthday! Love your games. Keep up the good work and your ethical ideals (cats, kiva).
    Kind regards Sunny

  3. Albert1 says:

    Happy Birthday and congratulations! By the way: Ignazio was quite fun, seriously!

  4. Skaila says:

    Happy Birthday :)
    Enjoy your day

  5. Clarisse La Fontainne says:

    Hi! I am a twelve year old girl from Brazil, still learning how to work with Ren’py.
    Even thought it’s my first post, I want to say “Happy Birthday!” and that your games are a true inspiration to me, and, because of them, I want to work with Visual Novels, Sim Dates and RPGs in the future.
    Keep up with the good work!
    And sorry for my english =P

  6. Wyvern says:

    Happy birthday! I like point-n-click adventures, so I’m curious: what was the company you worked for that went bankrupt? Did they make any English-language games, or only Italian ones?

  7. Missy says:

    Happy Birthday!

  8. Rincewind says:

    Ten years as game developer… congratulations!!!

    Keep the good work!! Your games are fantastic! Hopefuly the future will bring you even more success!

    And…
    Lesbian exclusive games? That’s sounds amazing!!! Count me in for buying those!! =P

  9. Rai says:

    Cheers and greetz from Russia, my friend. I just would like to say “Happy Birthday!” to you, as one indie developer to another.

  10. Andrej says:

    Hi, better late then never, so congrats!

    It must be such a great feeling and satisfaction getting your games on Steam and in front of more people after years of work. I am looking forward to your future games.

  11. MR says:

    I just bought both Vera Blanc games the other day (2014).

    I think they are very good. The “mind-reading” function is particularly good. It seems to me the Vera Blanc games were underrated. Vera’s background story is great and Brandon is a good sidekick. The main characters felt very ‘alive’ to me.

    I’m in my mid 50s and Vera Blanc reminded me of my old Modesty Blaise comics. To me, the hand-drawn comics style is very appealing. Hand-drawn art becomes more personal than 3D. The supernatural themes also added to the positive experience. All in all I thought they Vera Blanc games were great.

    Thank you for the hard work and inspiration.

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