Making an indie game can be difficult, especially if it is your first effort. I’ve witnessed an unpleasant amount of indie projects that start off strong… and then fade away unfinished. There are a number of potential reasons. Certainly one involves the lack of retention (and attention) of contributors to a project. The trouble lies in the fact that indie projects are often volunteer-based projects. First-timers have no means to pay wages to their staff, and quite often other life priorities sneak in as distractions for these contributors (such as obtaining money with which to buy food).
But in my limited observation, the main reason indie projects can fail is due to a lack of defined structure. Leadership is needed in some form, and part of that leadership involves the determination of goals and achievements that help to carry the project and keep it going over the course of its development cycle. A game takes a while to develop, and there is a lot of work that needs to go into that. So by setting smaller goals, you can help alleviate the fatigue that can set in and discourage the volunteer staff of a project.
For us, in order to overcome this, the working schedule on “Tainted Sword” has been very clearly defined, with short-term weekly milestones set, and longer-term goals in mind. The past few weeks have been a solid demonstration of the benefits of such a process. Our latest milestone, achieved last Friday, left us with a fully-functional and playable combat engine – incorporating all the elements that the final product will have (including the inventory, techs, and our complete reaction system). It was with great satisfaction that we played through a test battle scenario and realized how well everything came together. And most importantly, how fun it was! It makes all the hard work worthwhile!
So what is our next milestone? Visual scaling and widescreen support. Milestone after that, we’ll polish it up and make it look prettier. Then we’ll have met our larger goal, and all of you will finally get to see the results! Then… back to work we go!