Respect for the Solo Dev

These days, most video games that you’ve heard of are built by larger development teams, backed by giant publishing juggernauts. The more manpower/cash/hype/credibility, the better for sales.

Yet, a select few brave souls go it alone. They are warriors.

The Ones You’ve Heard Of

There’s a decent number of prominent games that were created by just one person. Below are some titles that you may recognize:

The master mind behind this games dedicated years of their lives to bring their ideas to the real world. Their dedication and creativity paid off with a strong reception from the gaming community.

The Ones You Will Never Hear Of

I can’t even make a list here because: 1) it’d be a waste of time to create a list of things that no one has heard of and 2) there are too many games to choose from so I would suffer from choice overload, then give up.

Let’s face it. Building a video game that people enjoy is really hard. It becomes exponentially more difficult when you are only one person! Even if you manage to generate an exceptional product, you still need to have the money and/or network to market your game to the masses.

You probably have a better chance of beating the speedrun record for Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories than you do of creating a successful video game.

But people still try, and that’s what is great about this world.

The Independent Games Festival showcases some of the most unique video games by smaller development teams. Thousands of folks gather every year, hoping to catch a glimpse of what could be the next great thing. There’s always buzz generated for a select handful of titles but the rest receive only a small amount of press.

What This Means For Me

Even knowing the odds, my tiny video game-centric mind still wants to build a game.

I’ve had this idea in my head since the 90’s, back when I believed my career path would lead to becoming a cartoonist. I would sketch characters on any sheet of paper I could find. I remember typing elaborate stories in Word 6.0 (think Microsoft Word but in the early 1990s). Before long, I had convinced myself that it’d be easy to create a RPG myself.

Thankfully, as I got older, I realized how much harder this would be.

Like many video games in my collection, I have started on the path towards destiny but only made a small dent in the mound of work ahead of me. Here’s the steps I have taken in the last 20 years…at least the ones I can remember:

  • Downloaded one of the original RPG maker programs for PC and created about 80% of a starting town
  • Began writing down the storyline of the most epic RPG and then lost it
  • Signed up for a course in Unity to build multiplayer games and went through the first 18 or so minutes of video lessons
  • Bought RPG Maker FES a few months ago because it was on sale and I’m impulsive. Spoiler alert — it’s still in its wrapper stashed away in a drawer somewhere
  • Got an e-book about the 100 design aspects of a good video game. I’m blanking on the title of this book though. If you know what it’s called, I’ll give you a dollar

Lastly, but maybe most importantly, I have played hundreds of games. If I were smart, I would have been writing down things that I liked and didn’t like about each one. 

But I’m not smart, so maybe I will start that now. Maybe I will start that later this year. We’ll see.

Anyone else out there aspiring to create your own video game? Tell us some details in the comments section!

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