Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The Lone-wolf coder in a basement in Minsk.

I have a growing fear that the games industry, specifically the way indies are handled, treated, and reported, may be leaving a group of people behind. There are more indie devs now than ever before. I personally think we have an indie game crash coming. I see a lot of indie games that are unmarketable, unsellable, not viable as a commercial endeavor that supports a family. Yup, its great to be 20 years old and young and hip and hanging out in coffee shops with a laptop, and only needing money for coffee and wifi, but thats not a career, thats a hobby..

But regardless of inevitable indie crashes, I’m more concerned that game development, or rather indie-game development has become incredibly narrowly focused. If I was paid to enforce stereotypes for a tabloid newspaper, I’d probably say that all indie game developers are white, late-teens to twenties, english-speaking, liberal hipsters with iphones, who love breaking bad and game of thrones, who wear ‘ironic’ glasses, and spend a lot of time on social networking sites. They spend 25% of their time tweeting about cool game developers they have met and the other 75% of the time re-tweeting political/activist rants and memes.


They are developing a mobile game, or an ipad game, and its a platformer, or a puzzle game, or a walking simulator. Their marketing budget is of course zero, because they are *that* anti-establishment. They wouldn’t dream of charging > $5 for their game, and they are sure that somehow they will become a millionaire by age 25. They have spent a lot more time hanging out with other indies or going to conferences than they have, or ever will do programming. Obviously they code in Java or C# or something even higher level, and obviously they use unity. Their business plan on PC is ‘steam’.

Now obviously that isn’t *that* true, it’s a stereotype, but it’s a bit more-true than is comfortable. And the reason this matters at all (I have nothing against platform games, twitter, unity, or anything in that list), is that any group that can be described like this immediately becomes a group that repels outsiders.

Oleg is a 52 year old divorced ex-welder from Minsk. He taught himself C++ from books, and does not know anyone else who is a programmer. He lives alone, in Minsk. He does not speak English. He is very hard working, and very good at business decisions. He is an exceptional programmer, and has a fantastic eye for game design. He has never been to the USA. His project is a highly innovative strategy game that is better than anything else currently available.


The problem is Oleg doesn’t stand much of a chance at indie parties, and more worryingly, I suspect doesn’t stand a chance in the indie press. The indie press have decided what indies are like, and Oleg isn’t one, or at least not one that they will write about, and they sure as fuck aren’t going to fly to misnk to meet the guy, nor are they likely to ever hear about him, and more importantly his amazing strategy game.

Because Soooooo much press coverage comes from game shows, where indie devs show and ‘pitch’ their games to the press. That relies on them being Charismatic, friendly, extrovert, confident English speakers. That is A TINY TINY TINY subset of humanity. (Also it doesn’t help that Oleg is fictional…). I figure your chances of getting attention for an indie game if you are a white liberal english-speaking 21 year old guy in san francisco are 100x that of oleg. Am I wrong?

Journalists, prove to me I am totally wrong. Show me all those big articles on amazing indie games by people who don’t speak English. I bet there are some fucking amazing games out there we aren’t hearing about.


30 thoughts on The Lone-wolf coder in a basement in Minsk.

  1. Well said. I think is also partly journalists fault (not all, but many).
    You know well there are some indies that made much better selling games, yet the mainstream sites only reviews the same ones over and over.
    They prefer to post a news article if farted, than some unknown indie’s new game that took him/her 3 years of work fulltime in his/her basement in Minsk :D

  2. Yep agreed. It seems easier for the press to write about known indies they are already friends with/following on social media even if they didn’t do anything particularly newsworthy than seeking out new devs. Also the same thing happens when indies are asked for an opinion on something topical – the same devs get wheeled out. But perhaps writing about known devs also generates more clicks/shares of the article (as pointed out by @raiganburns)

    I know a lot of veteran indies (being one myself) who just don’t bother to interact with social media and go to shows for various reasons, including the fact they are busy making games :-) So if these indies never approach the press and the press rarely looks outside of the “indie clique” then you can see why they never get covered.

    I’d like to see the games press be more “egalitarian” in its press coverage but it’s not likely to happen any time soon. So for now it’s up to indies that want press to take action and contact the press with a pitch (or use a PR firm) and go to shows etc.

    Then again, perhaps press wouldn’t make much difference to some of them who are doing just fine plugging away making lots of money from their niche games.

    Of course the same entire thing applies to youtubers.

  3. I think you are dead-on, Cliff. Too many games, too little press to cover them and the same games, game companies get a huge majority of the press.

    Here is a big example of a gaming genre that the US gaming press has completely ignored:

    Take Tribal Wars. This is an incredibly successful game – one that created an entire genre (which I call Browser Kingdom War Sims), including Evony (which may have been the worst game in this genre) – and yet gets zero gaming press coverage in the US. Not just Tribal Wars, but every game in this genre. Chronicles of Merlin is another very successful 5-star game that has gotten zero coverage. Another, Travian’s Rail Nation has gotten zero coverage. Tribal Wars 2 Beta? Only thing you’ll find is PR reposts.

    So this is a huge category with millions of players and simply no coverage. Games like Grepolis, KingsAge, Ikarium, Stronghold Kingdoms Online, and more than thirty others. These games are very hard core, many requiring a 24/7 commitment and weeks/months of play. This category has expanded from browsers to mobile, too, generating still no press coverage.

  4. Actually, I suspect that this fictional Oleg can get a lot of press coverage. A lone coder from exotic country making a great indie game – that’s an engaging story right there! Oleg’s problem is that the press isn’t even aware he exists, an he probably has no real way of reaching it – what with him not speaking english and having no game developer friends…

    And there are people kinda inbetween these extremes – too different to fit into established narrative, but not different _enough_. I suspect they’d have the hardest time reaching for the press. Especialy if they’re making a game of, for a lack of better word, “unpopular” genre – casual, kids, browser-based…

  5. Sounds somewhat like the equivalent issue in local press. A lot of articles/news are translations from english sources. Possible bad side effect of this is that business people bring in all sort of undesireble get rich quick schemes from US that they read about in these news. And policy makers seem to be effected as well sometimes directly through US pressurizing (as seen in leaked cables) or indirectly through effect of the mostly US source translated media. I’d rather have more mediterranian life style than US lifestyle. Couple hours nap or going out mid day to have some non-work activity like swimming and non-competitive sort of social gaming should be mandatory in any creative company. Let the computers do the boring tedious stuff automatically, that’s what the computers were always for, not for me to spend all the time on the computer. There should be some global policy that says no one may get “too competitive” by doing any single repetitive type job for more than n. hours per day and there should be some break time (siesta, swimming in a company roof-top swimming pool, casual games). Spend the break time relaxing your brain to give it time to come up with ways to avoid doing non-creative work. Yeah that was complete BS – I love researching stuff, so I’d probably still be on the computer instead of using the swimming pool – the boss should make sure people like myself to stay fit as I find anything fitness related damn tedious and boring (or I get quickly so competitive that I’m going to injure myself).

    Random game related comment:
    Best games have many elements of randomness yet maintain great balance in gameplay.

    – Here kids tv shows were subbed and there was a demo scene for computers. “Indie”/shareware type games were thus largely in english always. Now the demo scene people who liked technological limits are doing mobile games. That’s big here now (mobile games) and I just read about some event that’s aimed at the networking in the industry. I can’t comment further as I’m not into mobile gaming.

    Some PC classics that aren’t perhaps that well known but popular in schools at one time or another.

    – Mine Bombers (some of the most fun PVP I’ve played – I usually get too serious about winning and then I end up hating losing – you can win either by money gained or by kills by config option), Liero (too competitive for me – it’s like quake pvp in 2D)

    – Samorost, Soldat, PAL (very good story/dialog even after fan translation from chinese, bad: insane amount of JRPG style mind numbing battles but I still managed to endure these for couple full days as the initial game and story didn’t feel too repetitive until perhaps 1/3rd of the full game – reduce the length, combat and replace the battle system, and this could be best light-adventure/RPG I’ve played)

    – I’d prefer more co-op PC games with space/sci-fi theme- the only really memorable non-fps experience I’ve had was a SC mod “defense of the temple” that to inspired SC mod that became war craft dota mod which really became the mainstream hit)

    – Unsure if there’s market for games I like with new gamers, I think current dubbed TV cgi-cartoons may have effects on future generation (I used to watch various stuff where some team saved the world from disasters with high tech gear – no lame fantasy stuff- all sci-fi, there were 4 different shows just like that shown each weekend! awesome! – Now there’s stuff with *FLYING HORSES* when I flipped through the channels…).

  6. Ah now I remember what game I wanted to play long ago:

    Play LucasArts original DOS Tie Fighter/X-Wing, then imagine playing those story campaign missions as co-op sitting next to your wingmen (or have some in-game picture-in-picture function so you can take a peek of what your wingman is doing, or ability to put their view on second monitor).

    The mission disk to Tie Fighter was so damn hard I never finished it… Same with some other similar classic games (I-War by UK company). All those ridiculously hard but classic old games should have had a co-op mode over internet with automated co-op match making pairing “lone-wolf” gamers of niche genres.

    I think in later version they did add some multiplayer but downgraded from 2D to 3D graphics so a lot of detail was lost (there’s a reason Doom used bitmap for monsters instead of ugly low poly stuff). I’d say only very recently has 3D caught up with 2D DOS games in terms of detail. (good measure of detail: scale down a game screen to 320x200x256 & gradient elimination, then compare file size to top notch 2D adventure game screen – I suspect 99% of 3D games to date turn out to have worse graphics than 2D games from 90’s).

  7. Poor Oleg.

    I wonder, how are these game journalists supposed to know about (poor) Oleg and his amazing game? Discovering a game made by a random dude who does not post about it, is going to be hard.

    Marketing is just an important part of running a business.

  8. There’s no such thing as a games journalist. I haven’t seen a real one since Kieron Gillen quit.

    A real journalist would do an experiment themselves. They’d create some phony screenshots/trailer of a non-existant game, put together a press release, and email it to all gaming websites (including their own) under a fake email address. They’d post some links on Reddit, etc, and analyse the results (which would be 0 articles). Or they could ask to track some unknown indie to save them the work.

    But, hey, patch of Diablo 3 just got released. It fixes a spelling error in the credits menu. News post time! (We can get into how they would say that’s “more relevant to their audience”, but let’s not.)

  9. (Apologies for vague wording but last time I was more direct I’m pretty sure my comment vanished after a day)

    One route to get exposure without losing revenue is not much talked about. I’d personally use it as it’s bar none the most efficient and cheapest way to get exposure, but it requires careful planning.

    You make a game that’s really a “hook”. The first game is just a hook to lure in audience and you *intend* that it gets exposure even through channels which publishers want to avoid but have historically bad record of avoiding. Then if some of the %% people who use such channels like it, some % of them will make noise about it.

    Logic here is that if % of %% of pc games are acquired through usual means, you want to use the %% (atleast what publishers often claim) to get free exposure so you can reach the %, especially if you aren’t going to use other channels.

    The only real problem here is if you don’t understand how the %% get their stuff, then you can only hope for word of mouth. If you *do* understand clever marketing, then you can game those channels the %% use in such way that will ensure they won’t get free lunch. It used to be “those channels” weren’t interested in indie stuff but these days they are even releasing old gog stuff as if it was new. Unless your game is in a browser or completely online, you can’t avoid it, so *why not take advantage of it*.

    There’s some youtubers who clearly seem to be in the %% and upload videos of every game released that’s goes through the channels that the %% use. (I notice their uploads are just hours after the %% of the non-market get their “releases”).

    Now of course, if you have a way to avoid your game getting into hands of the %% (eg. complicated online functionality) then *even* better. With eg. GSB, make the online part of the game so attractive that those who really like the game of the %% of non-market, will actually be persuaded to become in the %-of the market.

    With a new release, have the first release a lower cost one and more like “shareware doom 1 but with 3 levels”, and then after you got attention of the % of the truly interested, *make sure* that the first release that got through the %%-channels is hardcoded to market the online part of the game even if you haven’t yet finished it.

    This way you can have the cake and eat it or whatever that saying means.

  10. I have to add though, with Steam being such a big channel , I’m not sure how much additional $ would it bring to capture part of the %% with the paid online functionality.

    Critical issues are, what functionality to have in the paid but not full release and how to set expectations of those paying for it such that they understand that it was just a taste.

    Problem with a lot of games is that they may charge $$ but then the really polished part of the game was just first 30 minutes. Now if paying customers pay more for the rest of the game, they expect to get a lot more.

    And if this payment thing requires more than one click of paypal button, I think you lose a lot of the potential market there.

    So I’m not saying this is best way to go but if you truly are some lone wolf who wants to maximize possible market share then that’s one way. Another thing is, the %%’ers have seen a lot of games, they may have higher standard than the %’s that may have not had exposure to as much. So this really only makes sense for niche games that already have small market and need to capture most of it.

  11. I just realized another big problem. This marketing plan may not work at all Steam. Eg. lets say %% gets the Steam release – you’d have to embed the marketing & paypal click code in that steam release. Ideally you could get email of the player against promise of free stuff for *customers*. This might be okay with steam policies. The email could be formulated based on whether the release is truly from steam (by updating the steam release with minor way just after %%’s get their “release”).

    That way steam customers get one email/no email and those in the %% who didn’t use steam get a marketing email that’s persuasive enough (%% discount not available anywhere else for online features – that persuaded me to buy Battlefield 3 download – haven’t even downloaded it yet… oh well).

  12. Oleg writes a browser game, gets a million users, does not care about the indie gaming press. Why should you care about some clique?

  13. I’ve a feel that PC users may also have got used to prefer a distribution channel they use most often. So there could be resistance to downloading executables from other places. Browser games certainly make an exception as there is no install dialogs.

    Personally I like downloading from locations that offer comments next to the download link… I don’t run any AV constantly as it wastes resources most of the time and is unlikely to catch anything new, but others do and having comments saves time incase there’s something exceptional.

    Just something of note if you’re thinking about setting up some sort of Steam alternative…

  14. So, why does fictional Oleg not sign up with a publisher?

    Being Indie is super and great, but gaming business is at least 50% marketing. If you don’t have the skills to market your game because you’re an introvert cellar-guy, find someone who can. Or, you know, not sell your game. To the world. To the players. To the press.

    I think there’s no shame in using third-parties who are just plainly better at this.

    Additionally there are a few PR firms that specialize on promoting indie games. Use them, Oleg. Let someone tell the world about your awesome stragey game.

  15. I’m a real indie-dev from Minsk, and you know, Even non-english speaking fictional Oleg can get some coverage via local press, but you know, the impact would be rather low.

    What concerns Stereotypes – they are usual. It’s the same for bands. You know there so much bands, you won’t manage to check a track from each one for your whole life. And why stereotype for band-mates looks similar to indie-dev’s one? Damn it’s just the era of creative hipsters everywhere, you should coup with that. Everyone has an access to internet and tools, that let you experiment and iterate fast. The bad side of it is that market is flooded with not exactly good stuff. You need to do extraordinary things to get noticed, plus people consume more(in very rare cases you’ll listen same album 10 times and more).

    With such state, press just checks really hot projects acting a bit like hobbyists and enthusiasts, they shouldn’t be objective. You share or not same tastes in games with them and thats your choice, i don’t see any reason to blame them for their work. You just choose whom you trust: a fresh youtuber, rps, or reddit.

    The only way to survive in current market is be always on trends, be able to sell your quality product wisely and continuously raise reputation.

    I just don’t want Minsk to be like a city in the middle of jungle. It’s 2 mln people city in the center of Europe with lots of good studios and developers.
    Also we’re currently making the most off stereotypes indie game, check it at

  16. It’s so cool to get comments from minsk. FWIW, the reason I picked Minsk was because it’s where Commander Worf from Star Trek suggests people live in when they reach earth. I can’t remember the exact episode, but it’s implied he grew up there :D.
    I predict this blog post will become the go-to result for indie game developers from minsk :D

  17. I don’t know anything about your personal life Cliff so I’m going to ask you. Are you married with children? If not, do you plan to be? I can only imagine that the only reason you’ve written such a post is because you are and you hate those who aren’t putting themselves in position to do anything remotely close to supporting a family. From what you’re saying, some of these developers could probably barely support themselves, let alone a family. I guess you’re right. We all need to be as good as Oleg, right? It’s just that the industry might not identify him until it’s too late.

    Then there will probably be a crash in the indie games sector comparable to the 1980’s crash in the United States, an entire landfill full of Atari cartridges. If you own an Xbox One then look out for the documentary that was made about that. It’s called Atari: Game Over.

    Only with indie games it’ll be a digital landfill. But that’s the thing. Everything has its growing pain. That 1980’s crash didn’t kill the industry off and neither will this issue that you’ve mentioned. All the players that fell win that market crashed were out for good then along came Nintendo who basically saved the day. At least that’s what I remember from what little research I’ve been able to do. It’s also possible that there could have been no Nintendo at all and video games in general would already be long dead. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope though. So don’t despair too hard Cliff.

  18. Thank you Alexander Degtyarev.

    It is worth clarifying to all the Americans or Anglophones here that English is the marketing language because if you’re trying to sell games outside of your language market (which if you do not speak say, Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian, or German, is going to be comparatively small), English is commonly the way to go, because it is (at the moment at least) a very common second (or third, or fourth) language.

    Here’s an example of a kickass indie game from a non-anglophone country. IT’S A WTF COMPLICATED GIANT MECHA ROBOT GAME. You do not see these from indies commonly. And after ten years of backbreaking effort, they got on the Steam front page. I’m friends with three members of the team, and working on this game has shaped their lives.

    Perpetuum (Hungary)

    Oh yeah, and in the case of ridiculously famous indie games from nonanglo places:

    Machinarium and Botanicula by Amanita (Czech Republic)
    The Submachine series and the Daymare Town series by Mateusz Skutnik (Poland)

    If you want to name somewhere in the middle of nowhere, don’t name Minsk.
    Instead, give as your example Virgil South Dakota.

    Because your hipster bourgeois kids ain’t going to be from there, either.

  19. I mostly disagree with this summation. I have heard similar opinions echoed in the games sphere but in every case that I know of where I was able to substantiate both sides of the discussion, the developer just simply didn’t do the due diligence to market or develop their game, and then got upset because they didn’t get the response they felt they should have received. While I do agree that browser-based games (like Evony) get the short-end of the stick press-wise, I would be willing to bet that it’s because either the game is bad or generic (which nobody will dispute that a TON of browser games are terrible/generic) or in the case of something like Tribal Wars, it might already have a following so the press doesn’t think they need the coverage. Case in point: Crush the Castle barely got any mentions back in the day, but their game was copied to make Angry Birds, which got a ton of coverage. Crush the Castle did no marketing (that I recall), and Angry Birds did a ton of marketing. The only reason Crush the Castle got any coverage at all is because some writer decided it was worth their time to share. Rovio had their shit together marketing-wise, and the rest is history.

    In the short time that me and friends of mine ran a game news site, I found that there is no easy way to find news about most indie games out there aside from other aggregate news blogs, or just scouring sites like Kongregate, jayisgames,, or Tigsource every day for hours. If you’re not on the recipient end of press release mailing lists (which we were too small to get), I had to expend hours of time looking for something I really wanted to write about. I’m very well aware that there is a virtual infinite amount of worthwhile games to write about, but I simply couldn’t find them with much success on a consistent basis. In the case of browser-based games, you get ZERO notification on an interval anything more than a monthly newsletter, which is near useless. Going through all these sites got incredibly time consuming, and eventually I had to scale back my scouring and reduced the number of sources that I used. It simply took too much time for too little reward to find EVERYTHING I wanted to see. It certainly wasn’t because of discrimination or the idea that “this game won’t make me look cool so I won’t post about it”, it was just a balance of time invested vs. reward of worthwhile games.

    When I have gone to see games journalists speak on panels or watched them online, they echo the same experience that I found; it just simply takes too long to seek out everything. So they welcome people to talk to them, and ask that games developers go to where they are to get a leg up. In most cases, it’s Twitter. It sucks these days that gamergate has dominated twitter conversations, and I am seeing that a LOT of developers are getting caught up in the crossfire and are being blocked from journalists because the journalists have gotten fed up with harassment and hit the block button all too easily. Because of the toxic behavior from the GG side, well-meaning devs have now got an actual reason to distrust the games media, and it causes even more problems.

    So then you run into this issue where developers can’t get coverage for various reasons (mostly shitty press releases from what I understand) and it’s an easier narrative to portray the journalists as elitists who only like to party with each other rather than people trying to use their time most wisely while still enjoying what they do. Your portrayal of the “average” indie developer is also something that reeks of elitism and I find wholly incorrect. You degrade them for writing in C#, FFS. It’s a whole lot of “get off my lawn” that is coming out of this post IMO and blaming the young for being idealistic. You should be celebrating that so many people are interested in games to the point of wanting to develop them and actively associate with others who do, rather than try to be “normal” and hide their hobby like most of us have had to over the years. Yes there are young people in it to get rich quick, but that will fade and the true enthusiasts will remain, enriching all of our gaming experiences as we gather more perspectives and variety.

  20. re: the “c# dig” – With tools that enable doing things faster (eg. homemade baking vs factory baked) there’s always some trade-off. With factory baked stuff it might be the time required to do the logistics that necessitates changes to recipe, or trade-buyers wanting a product with better margin to take it on shelf, so again changes made.

    With programming, I suspect the trade-off could be that with “knowledge”/assumption that the project will get done faster thanks to better/easier tools etc, there’s probably tendency to underestimate effort all sort of things in other disciplines. If all the disciplines required for the full product make use of the “factory bake”-tools, it will undoubtedly show up in the final product vs a “homemade” game that took much longer to do.

    I suspect the throughput of good ideas and honing them is also a constraint, so as industry moves to shorter development cycles thanks to tools/libs/engines etc middle-ware, this the “industrialization” of the game development. So things that are not effected by the improved tooling/mass production means get less time. Some companies are “solving” this issue by focusing on few products making multiple sequels. I doubt there’s a better solution but it does mean that the market is flooded with all sort of stuff and the work of journalists or DJ’s (for music) is certainly daunting if they went in wishing to check everything new that came out. I used to do something close to that for games and music but I burned out on it eventually as finding the kind of games and music I liked became rarer. For music I used to use the album name to judge whether I’d even listen it, with games I’d check some youtube video. But at this moment I’m only checking names of new games and then if it sounds interesting I may check a video.

    But mostly the kind of games I envisioned long ago take several years to produce and I doubt they could be produced at the salaries I hear about for less than $$M. One game idea I have is something like a Second Life in Star Trek universe, where players could have their own planets. The big issue for me isn’t the technical things, it’s about how to have user produced content so that a) high quality in-game content producers get paid enough to do it full time without need to set up a business b) how to ensure the quality of the content meets my high standards across the game universe if the players are actually both playing and getting paid to produce content c) if the game universe is full of planets, how does the most wonderful content get discovered.

    So the “second life in space” game I envision is really about solving these same problems we have in the real world. That’s the challenge that interests me a lot. First part of my solution to these problems is to become financially independent so I can spend all my time thinking about creative ideas & solutions and have other people implement them.

  21. I forgot d) big issue I’ve seen in various more complicated player/modder projects is that often things where more than one person is involved get complicated. So in “games within a game universe” where one could travel to another planet to play a game set up by owner of that planet, a lot of the problems to solve would be around content creation/sharing/ip/management.

    I have to say this really sounds like the “big fail” stuff that I’ve seen attempted in one form or another and the closest thing to this “game” is the web browser – each web site is a “planet” where the owner may’ve set up an universe of their own. It just doesn’t involve flying space ships and Tie Fighter-like missions with co-op play along with Star Trek like adventure/exploration.

    Some sort of SC2+ME1+SL hybrid with seamless flight and planetary landing probably the most ambitious game ever but that should solve any unemployment problems globally. Question is however, is this really a good future? Everyone fully immersed in the “matrix” playing a game till they drop? I liked the idea 10 years ago but now I’m not sure anymore.

  22. Damn… I write mostly in C# and use Unity, though I am getting back into C++ and learning UE4 when I get home from work.

    I think the article hits the nail on the head. “They spend 25% of their time tweeting about cool game developers they have met and the other 75% of the time re-tweeting political/activist rants and memes.” Maybe 60% instead of 75%… and the other 15% on the game though.

  23. I’ve often wondered if my fucking stupid name has generally led most journalists to decide I’m some sort of furriner and not bother taking any interest in me or Puppygames. It’s definitely had an adverse effect on getting job interviews.

    Guess what I look like and who I am from my name, go on.

  24. After five years of working full time and on my own, I finally revealed my first indie game (a 700 player MMOFPS). I knew it would be difficult, and did my best to prepare. But even then I’ve only managed to get one significant mention that has driven almost all my traffic:

    I feel like I have had a lot of advantages. I speak English, live in the US, live in a city with a significant indie scene (Austin, TX), and had the privilege of being able to work on my game full time. Yet knowing all that the first two days left me stressed out and I almost lost my cool. I feel that since then I’ve managed to regain perspective. I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be to a non-English speaker living with much more significant financial pressures.

    I think this article does a good job at reminding us that not everyone is on equal footing and we need to do our best to help our fellow indie developers reach their audience regardless of whether we are indie developers or games press.

    I think we should also avoid attributing lack of coverage to laziness when the truth is usually that editors are both overwhelmed and video games are difficult to judge. It can take hours before you can form a meaningful opinion of a demo. And its even worse when all that exists is a trailer or some screenshots. With so many games failing to deliver on their promises picking out the gems before games are finished must be difficult. When you throw in language barriers then it becomes even more challenging for someone to evaluate or find your gem even when they are trying.

  25. I follow several indie gaming blogs, and it’s increasingly frustrating that every third post seems to be “Come to [game jam in a major US west coast city]!” Nobody ever, ever has a game jam in Kentucky, let alone Minsk. I don’t want to be down on the guys over there, they’re doing their best to form a fun and creative community, but it does bug me that the indie scene seems to be moving away from online interactions and towards purely face-to-face ones.

  26. Hi there,

    I can see where you are coming from, but even in 00s and shareware submission days, Minsk had a decent gaming scene with many small independent shops,
    back then you could also publish with Russian publishers (alwar/, for example) and could visit Kiev/Moscow games/shareware conferences meeting many overseas publishers.

    Now with this crazy social gaming money there are many “real” (as opposed to garage shops in shareware days) companies there with a lot of money in Minsk,
    and many local and Russian devs/publishers are hunting for ideas and/or experienced people.

    Local gatherings:

    GameDev Startup conf in Minsk 2011 (

    So these days even Oleg has a chance :)

  27. Well, that describes my feeling about the indie craze thing that I’m always bitching about to my wife. :)
    Call me old fashioned, but I still believe a games programmer should know C/C++, have an idea of what a pointer is.
    I accept using an existing game engine saves a lot of time, but if you are a programmer you should have at least an idea how it works. You shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, but you should have an idea how the wheel works, no?

    If you take a look at the new “Game Development” category on Twitch TV, it pretty much summarizes this article: Unity everywhere. java, C#. Drop some sprites in there, some scripting and call it a game.
    Hell, the top streamers are doing everything but real world development.

    Maybe I’m just butt hurt that I’ve been focusing on my programming skills for 20 years and I’m still not rich. :)
    Maybe I’m just butt hurt that half arsed games made with Unity get attention, while I’m struggling to get attention to something I’ve been working for over 2 years on my free time because I still need to work for the man to pay the bills.

    To be honest I can’t wait for the indie bubble to burst. Survival of the fittest.

    Fact: English is not my native language either :)

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