Developing a game is no small feat — especially for a team of one. When thinking of single-developer games, many successful projects come to mind. These titles include Axiom Verge, Braid, Undertale, Thomas Was Alone and Dust: An Elysian Tale. Even Minecraft was born from a single developer back in its alpha stage.
With tools, platforms and digital sandboxes such as Minecraft, Steam, Roblox and now the Metaverse, it is now more than ever possible to ideate, design and publish a game as a solo act, especially for mobile and computer-based games.
This is a positive, hopeful outcome of increased accessibility in game-development and game development/coding becoming increasingly a part of curriculums in classrooms, afterschool programs and camps.
Or take Scratch for an even better example. With high use among educators and a target audience of 8- to 16-year-olds, the free program introduces novices to interactive storytelling, gaming and animation via its visual programming language. Even Harvard uses Scratch as part of its Introduction to Computer Science course.
Between Roblox and programs like Scratch, there’s bound to be an influx of successful young game developers who got their start in the digital sandbox.
With the growing number of self-taught game developers and indie distribution platforms, more and more people are choosing the solo route when it comes to game development. And as fun as it can be to wear multiple hats, going solo can also mean being a few people short when it comes to testing out your game and creative ideas.
But have no fear! There are a few things you can do to still create a collaborative process and environment around your game.
Crowdsourcing Creative Ideas For Your Game
So let’s talk about the power of creative crowdsourcing when it comes to your projects. Creative crowdsourcing is a fun, exciting way to bring people into the fold of your development process while getting a healthy level of feedback when it comes to game mechanics, creative assets, and more. And with the combined power of social media, creative crowdsourcing is also another good way to bring an audience to your game in its early stages.
Please note: this isn’t about exploiting people’s free labor to do the would-be jobs of a team. Creative crowdsourcing is ultimately about building a community of invested stakeholders among the people who have opted to join you for the ride in creating your project.
And for a solo developer that may not have access to robust (and costly) marketing tools, it is essential and valuable to have as many eyes on your product as possible. So, it makes sense to turn to social media to offer a transparent, inside-look at your process, from ideation to distribution.
And it’ll be amongst these audience members/co-collaborators that you’ll find those more likely to pay for your game, sit through your game’s ads, donate funds, etc., because of their personal stakes in your project. They want to see you win.
Crowdsourcing Pros and Cons
And let’s be real: staring at a screen all day can put a strain on the design process. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to uncover hidden design flaws/biases, come up with creative solutions and best optimize the gaming experience.
There are some other upsides and downsides to social media creative crowdsourcing. It is no secret that the Google Play and Apple App stores are packed with copycat games. This is the unfortunate reality of game development.
For a solo game developer, you may be cautious about turning to message boards, forums and Discord channels in search of feedback on game mechanics or creatives. But by getting on a social media platform like Instagram or TikTok to discuss your game, you are creating a living archive of your process that can help discourage copycats from running away with your ideas without accountability.
However, it’s naïve to say that this method we’re suggesting is 100% fool-proof, and you should know that there are other tools available to test out your games. A good place to start is PlaytestCloud, “your one-stop solution for playtesting mobile games during prototyping, development, soft launch, and after release.”
Nonetheless it is important to remember that even for single-developer games, it takes a village. And while success may very well look and mean something different to a solo indie developer, having a strong community of support behind you increases your chances of striking gold and strengthening your portfolio.
After Ideation Comes Monetization
So if any of this resonates with you, let us know! InMobi has launched our very own Discord meant to connect developers, gamers and publishers directly with our team.
And if you’re especially looking for best monetization practices for your game, please reach out! Join us online or via our various social media channels, and be sure to check out our page.