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I've been kind of looking at a few of the successful game developers over the last 3-4 years and have noticed that the ones I've looked at and have had a lot of success worked in industry first before going indie. The developers in particular are:

  • 2D boy, EA
  • Notch, King.com
  • Jonathan Blow, Not sure but I think I read somewhere he worked in industry first.

I'm curious to know peoples thought on if it's better to work in industry first before going indie and by industry I mean game industry?

I personally have been a programmer for several years, so I'm not sure how much this adds to the equation.

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closed as not constructive by Tetrad Dec 21 '11 at 7:49

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As it stands right now, this question is based on opinions. Perhaps a better question might be "What advantages are gained by working in a gamedev company before doing indie?" –  thedaian Dec 20 '11 at 22:55
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2 Answers 2

Disclaimer: All of the below is my humble opinion. Do not take it as gospel.

As with many things, the devil is in the detail.

While it is increasingly easy to make a game these days without any prior industry experience, it's the little things that seem to require industry insight.

Having worked on several indie projects (none of which have seen the light of day), I'll say that making a working game is easy. Making a polished, releasable game that is fun is a nightmarish slog of hard work.

Personal story: I once spent 10 months working on a hybrid platformer/rube-goldberg game. It was mechanically balanced, had linear difficulty progression, interesting visuals, a well written storyline that incorporated and justified game mechanics and set-pieces. But playtesting revealed that it was not fun at all, I could not pinpoint where it was failing in that regard, and I ended up shelving it.

Designing a game that manages have both widespread appeal, and a unique selling point, involves more knowing what has failed than what could succeed.

Furthermore, knowing how to market your game and get enough exposure such that your game is profitable is more about experience than anything else.


That being said, getting into the industry is nigh on impossible, especially if you're not in a game developer hub city. Here in Brisbane, Australia for instance, most would-be developers have no choice but to go indie, because there just are no job vacancies in-industry. If you check out sites such as GameDev.net or Tsumea.com, you'll see very few job openings that don't requisite years of experience and/or published titles.

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I got into game development about a year ago after getting laid off. At this point, I had about 5 years of experience doing non-gamedev related software development. I had no professional gamedev experience, but had started (not finished...) a few small gamedev projects along the way.

I'm still in the process of making my first [big] game, so I can't yet tell you how "the recipe turned out," but I am compelled to encourage you to just do it. Gamedev is about passion, and the only effective way to nurture this is to emerse yourself in it.

Experience in the industry is certainly helpful. If I get a chance to make another big game, the experience I've gained over the last year will lend some tremendous contributions. No doubt these people you mentioned have leveraged their years of experience heavily in their games, and certainly this was crucial to their success.

However, don't take this to mean that you can't make a successful game without industry experience. There are probably many recipes for a successful game, but virtually all of them revolve around passion. You don't need industry experience to have passion.

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