Many dream of creating their own video game.
Some actually dare to tackle the matter with the necessary ambition.
But only a few end up releasing their own game at the end.
And even fewer are actually successful with it.
In this post I would like to briefly point out eight common mistakes and how you can dodge them.
1) Being overambitious
Most of us game devs have been there at some point:
"I am going to build an MMO. Like World of Warcraft. But bigger. And better. On my own! In 2 years!"
Yeah... no. You don't. Not even close.
Although it is not necessarily wrong to reach out for the stars, it is highly unlikely that you, as a beginner, can create something big studios, with huge teams and budget barely can realize in a decent way.
If you go through some of the more successful indie games, you will see that they usually don't have huge worlds with hours of voice acted dialogues.
Stick to interesting and ceative game play!
which leads us to number two...
2) Wrong focus
Gamedevs tend to be creative. Full of cool ideas for fancy fancy features. And that's totally cool AS LONG AS they can focus on the core mechanics of the game.
Often you got this idea for an unique feature and directly start to work on it. And because is works so well, you improve it a bit.
And before you know it your planned racing game has a car that can not break but hey... you can customize the rear mirror in 256 ways.
Get yourself a plan on what the core features of your game should be. Start working on them when the main components are working as planned.
3) Reaching out for perfection
We players like to call the one or other game a "masterpiece". Be it because we love the lore, the graphics or the innovative gameplay.
But ask yourself, deep down a question. How many of them were actually perfect? I would say, none of them.
Because perfection is not reachable in that matter. It can be bugfree (although I doubt it will) and very well designed, but at some point someone will find a flaw.
A glitch in the texture, a weird mechanic or some illogical story part or simply a stupid bug that occurs randomly every dozend hours of gameplay.
You surely should try to deliver a product as good as possible, but don't give yourself up to the illusion to make it perfect.
4) Not knowing the market
You know the four riders of apocalypse in game dev?
Open World Survival
Even though battle royal as well as survival games are really popular ... at least at some point in the near past, many players instantly lose interest if they read those buzzwords.
The market is simply over saturated with "The next great survival experience NOW in early access".
It's like the point in the past where we had the feeling studios released 5 World War 2 shooters a year.
It might be hard to find a genre that is interesting and not overused at the same time, but it is much harder to sell a game that hast hundrets of competitors.
And we don't talk about micro transactions here...
5) Poor localization
Players like to play games in their native language. Especially those with a rich story line and a lot of dialogues.
No... I don't mean Call of Duty.
And offering your wonderfull lore to players all over the world sounds like a great idea, right?
If you don't mess it up. Yes... I look at you, german translation for Oblivion
Or a more famous example...
6) Lack of Communication
All aboard the hype train!
Ok, the train seems to be delayed. Or it? I could swear I have seen it somewhere...
You probably won't have a huge marketing budget for your game. Luky us, in times of social media and whatnot we can freely advertise our next project and reach out for prospective buyers.
In the best case, you can gather a community around you which follows the development of your game.
Now you need to keep them at it!
Players will start to loose interest quite fast if they don't hear anything from you and your game for months.
Share your progress, your ideas and collect feedback.
Don't only grow a community, be part of the community
Also, don't underestimate the value of proper marketing. And the effort that has to be put into.
7) Copying ideas
This one is tough.
Obviously, if you want, to can blame any game of beeing a copy of some other game. And after all, if your favourite game has a great feature which you always loved, why not recreate it in your game as well?
But this is a slippery slope.
If you overextend it, people will call you a "copy cat"
"The Great Giana Sisters" might have slight similarities with an other game Image Source
Making use already established game mechanics and improving them is perfectly fine. Anyhow an first person shooter consists of running aroung carrying a weopon in front of you.
And a Formel 1 game well... you can't reinvent the Formel 1, right? But you can add your own ideas based on this core mechanics (racing, shooting, bulding...)
8) Enforcing the release
We often lough if big companies reply with "When it's done!" when we ask for a release date.
And in my humble opinion, this is the best answer you can get.
I would rather wait one year longer on my beloved sequel than getting some half finished product cough Cyberpunk 2077 cough
And even if we impatient gamers will start to hate you a bit if you postpone the game that we are waiting for so long already, trust me, we will hate you even more if you force release it just to keep on your time schedule.
Point for us small indie devs:
We usually don't have any obligations to big investors or shareholders that will kick our ass if we don't deliver on time.
In a perfect world, games would be published when they are actually completed and not rushed out as we often had to face in the past.
But that's a different topic...