It’s no secret that I’m a US military vet, but after some reflection I have found out that what the military taught basically prepared me for indie game development, with the exception of the skills. I could get into everything and cover it all in one paragraph but I decided to go ahead and break it down into a few categories.
Before the criticism starts, keep in mind that this article is one of my own opinion and is by no means deemed to be “fact”.
No instant gratification
Over the past few months I have seen a dramatic influx of “new-comers” to the scene, those that know next to nothing about game development and may (or may not) have any background in programming. These individuals often get very upset when they learn that it takes longer then a month to get a game up and running.
When I was in the military very often we would have to work very hard on a project for an extended period of time before we saw any progress, I’ve realized this proves true in game development as well. Usually it takes a couple of months to get a prototype up and running (my past few took 1-2 months), and even then you are no where close to having the game done.
In this industry there is very rarely any instant gratification, usually it is long hours and meticulous (often aggravating) work before you get to the fun parts.
Hard work “sometimes” pays off
When I was still in service I was often designated to do these (seemingly) mission-critical tasks, and very rarely did I get any sort of recognition for them. It seems that this is true for nearly any profession. Within the indie community I see many incredible works of art, where the author gets next to no credit for their work.
One great example of this would be the Unity Asset Store. There are great and amazing works on the store, but more often then not Unity gets the credit simply for having ownership of the store. Most of the time, if you do something amazing for your game be prepared to pat yourself on the back as rarely will others do it for you.
This even shows after a game has been published and the development team is reaping the profits from it, usually the publisher will gain the spotlight while those that produced it fall behind (unless of course you are your own publisher).
Another thing I learned in the military, and quickly applied to civilian life once I got out, is delegation is key. When I was in, although I was only an E-3, I would very regularly delegate tasks assigned to me down to my subordinates in order to minimize the work I would have to do to accomplish the task. In game development the exact same could be applied. After all, why do the work if there is someone out there that can take some of the load off your shoulders?
This is usually a hard thing to do in this industry as most are only doing this as a “hobby” or a side-job while working a day-job to pay the bills; however, if you do happen to have the extra money why not hire a freelancer?
This has saved me more then once. I would much rather shell out a few hundred dollars to someone that can quickly do the task while I focus on more important things. A great example of this is concept art. While I was working on the prototype for Forgotten Ones, I had next to no time to even think about concepts, so I ran over to a freelancer site and posted a project for concept art. The results? In just a few short months I had completed the prototype and gotten nearly all of the concepts done as well. If you don’t know how to do something, or don’t have the time to, then always delegate! If you don’t have the money to hire someone, then try to collaborate with other developers through the various forums available.