Proper Techniques for Failing: How NOT to form a dev team

Besides just keeping a log of what I’m up to, I like to try to make these things useful in some way (You know, so you’ll read them). I’m learning a lot of interesting things as I go, and one thing I have done an excellent job of failing at, is building a team.

So read on if you want to continue to work alone, with no one to talk to, no one to pick you up when you’re down, no one to bring you cocoa in the cold, no one to– ahem. you get it…

Before I tell you my secret discoveries on how to remain a miserable loner, I’d like to take just a moment to talk about something a bit more positive, something near and dear to my heart…

FAILURE.

Failure is awesome! You should really get into it. All the best stuff gets learned through failure. If you just accept failure as a given, it takes the emotion out of it and it gets really easy to learn from. (Acceptance of failure is what enables me to write these ridiculous blog posts.)

Just go ahead and plan to fail 9 out of 10 times. Think about it, isn’t one success worth that? 9 learning experiences for 1 success? Sounds like a win/win to me. I could go on about failure for hours -I’m a HUGE fan- but this is starting to sound like one of those ridiculous inspirational seminars, so let’s move on.

Okay, so here’s what I did, why I did it, and more importantly, what I learned:

About a year ago (and like 90% of people reading this), I “pretty much had the whole game designed”… As such, I began researching indie devlogs to see who was getting the most attention and why. I came across a few small teams that seemed to be getting a lot of attention despite the fact that they hadn’t made it much farther than the preproduction phase. I realized it was simply because they had an artist on board. I came to the conclusion that giving people something to look at was the absolute best way to build a crowd early on.

So, despite the infancy of my project, I jumped on INAT and began to form a team. I did all the stuff you do. I wrote a ridiculously large design document with all kinds of references, set up a Discord server, set up a few nicely-organized Trello boards, and started this devlog that you’re reading.

I honestly didn’t expect it to work. Why would anyone want to spend their free time on MY unproven ideas? To my surprise, I suddenly had a team of a dozen really talented people all excitedly working on MY idea! It was pretty awesome.

…and then some months went by…

-Why would anyone want to spend their free time on MY unproven ideas?
We have since disbanded and gone our separate ways, but there is a long list of positives that came from this experience:

Due to the motivation of having a team to report to and be excited with, those months were by far the most productive for me, personally.
Bouncing ideas off of people who are actually invested in the project is invaluable. We had all kinds of game-changing discussions that I definitely would never have had with myself.
I made a dozen really talented friends who I have no doubt will go on to do cool things.

So after accepting and learning from my failure, I leave you with my new strategies for solo indie game devving:

  • Be adaptable. Try, Fail, Adapt, Repeat.
  • Don’t lose momentum. Write a shedule and put it on your desk and do what it says. No matter what. If you don’t, the floor turns to lava.
  • Code sloppy. Yeah, I said it.
    It can always be better, but always takes forever. Make it work now, make it pretty later.
  • Do it yourself. Similar to the sloppy coding. Just get it into existence. Sort it out later.

Speaking of DIY, I still believe art is key to early crowd-building, so for 2018 I’ve decided to learn Blender, and I must say that it is going swimmingly:

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back in 3 weeks with updates on Elle!

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