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Developing games is a dream, and what a time to start your journey in indie game development!

There are numerous tools and engines to get you started, countless tutorials online, and

platforms like the Switch and Steam filled with players clamouring for next great indie


When we first started making games, we were wide-eyed, committed, full of ideas and energy,

and nothing was gonna stop us.

And you know what - nothing did!

BUT we made more than a few mistakes along the way that cost us time, money, and opportunities.

In this video, well go over these mistakes, so that you dont have to repeat them!

We are Ask Gamedev, and here are 8 mistakes to avoid when making your first game

Welcome back!

If youre new to Ask Gamedev, we make videos to help you learn about the games industry

so that you can elevate your games and Inspire others.

If youre on a gamedev journey, consider subscribing.

Wed love to help you along the way.

With that, lets get on to….


Making a game for no one.

This isnt exactly accurate because you should be making your game for at least yourself.

What we mean by this is making a game where your potential audience is minimal.

Before embarking on your gamedev journey, it would be good to know that you have a potential

audience for your game, and what the size of that audience is.

To do this, look for sales or install numbers of similar titles.

If your game is going to be on Steam, use SteamSpy to see how many people own and play

similar titles.

If its on Mobile, Check App Annie for competitor data.

Another thing you want to do is see if youre going with or against any trends.

You can do this with a simple exercise: Step 1: Find the top selling titles that are

similar to yours Step 2: Write down the number of owners each

one has, as found on SteamSpy Step 3: Group the titles by release year

Step 4: Analyze - do the top selling titles this year still sell as well as the previous


If so, youre in a trending space!

If not, the market for your title may be dwindling.


Trying to create an engine

For whatever reasons, a common thing that weve noticed with devs starting out with

their first game, is a desire to make their own engine.

Some devs might just have that inherent need to create things from scratch.

Some just might love the thrill of the challenge.

Whatever the reason may be - its not a good route go down.

There are more than enough engines to use, and theyll all save you time and money.

Benefits to using an existing engine are countless, but here are few anyways:


Engines like Unity and Gamemaker have countless tutorial available online and even in print.

The knowledge base for engines likes these is fully developed and easily accessible.


If youre going through an issue, you can be sure that your issue is not unique and

that someone has probably posted about it a support forum already.

And if not, these communities are so vibrant and helpful, you should be able to find someone

to answer your questions in a forum.

3nd assets.

Need ready-made assets for your game?

How about a tool to build levels.

Or maybe you need a physics engine for more realistic water?

Engines like Unity have complete asset stores where you can buy tools and assets to use

for your game.


Building costly features and tech to support a huge user base before achieving any sort

of success

Its good to have high aspirations but its also important to ship!

Weve seen teams work on expensive features because they wanted their game to support

huge user bases - they then release, and instead of the millions they were expecting, only

hundreds show up.

Working on those extra features delayed shipping, and also may have been wasted work.

Instead, just focus on creating a minimum viable product, and scale once you have the

numbers to prove that it would be a wise investment.


Not identifying critical path and having a backup plan

This one is a two-parter.

First let's talk about critical path.

Critical path is the sequence of events, that if any are delayed, will delay the entire


Its important to identify critical path at the very start of your project.

Once you have that identified, its time to mitigate any risks that you foresee - you

need a backup plan.

For example, what if that a person crucial to a sequence in the path, gets sick or hit

by a bus.

If that happens, the cost of the whole team continues while development effectively stalls.

Not having a backup plan for situations like this can end a project.


Not planning for certification

Allocating time for certification can often be overlooked.

Certification is basically the process that your game goes through when submitting your

game to specific platform.

For example.

If youre developing for a unique console like the Nintendo Switch, there might be specific

guidelines on how your game should interact.

With the Joycon alone, one can imagine a number of scenarios that have to be accounted for,

like what happens when a joycon is removed mid-game?

You need to allot time to read over all of the certification guidelines, and then allot

more time to execute on them.

It might feel a little tedious, but doing this is only way to get on your desired platform,

and on the bright-side it makes you an expert on that platform for future titles.


Not reading postmortems.

What is a postmortem?

A postmortem is a process, usually performed after a game is released, to determine and

analyze elements of the project and document what went wrong, and what went right.

Organizations use them as tools to guide follow up projects.

A lot of devs have been where you are, some have failed, some have done ok for themselves,

and some have captured lighting in a bottle.

Whats great is that a lot of them tell their stories.

Thats whats so awesome about the indie community.

You have people sharing their mistakes and providing solid advice on what not to do,

and you also have other devs sharing their tools and secrets to their success.

Read as many post-mortems as you can - a post-mortem from a dev can be more valuable than any lesson

in a textbook.

This is 1st-hand experience in a market that youre about to enter.

The best place to read indie dev post-mortems is

A simple search forpost-mortemyields results from the devs of: Rogue Legacy, Shadow

Tactics, Epistory, Costume Quest 2, and more.

You can also check out the GDC vault for video post-mortems.


Being too secretive during development

One thing that we all have the natural tendency to do is keep our games a secret until we

want to show them to the world.

Either, were holding off because we want to make it perfect, were too nervous to

show people, or we think people will steal our ideas!

The problem is, you cant just flip a switch, and have the world see your game.

Getting people to just even see your game is a struggle.

In todays market, you need to start building an audience from day one, and sharing your

progress along the way.

Here are a few things you can do to be more public with your development.

Get social.

Create a social accounts for your game or studio, and get involved in the community.

Follow other indies, and spark or join conversation.

Use your socials as platform to slowly build awareness and distribute content from your


Have new concept art?

Share it!

Toying with new gameplay mechanics, post a video of it!

Create a dev blog.

Keep track of your progress on a dev blog.

Sharing your progress is a great way to keep your followers engaged with your game.

Attend meetups.

Every major city has meetups for game development.

Our city for example has meetups for indie development, vr development, mobile development,

and Twitch streaming.

Join them, bring your demo, and get feedback from your local community.

To find a meetup, just go to and search for game development.

And finally, 8.

Not optimizing your store page

Its not enough to just add your game on a platform, you need to optimize your store


In a recent video we shared 7 tips on how promote your game on Steam.

You can watch the video here, but if you want the gist of it, here are the 7 tips:

Time your discounts and take advantage of all of Steams sale opportunities

Optimize your visibility and page activity during Steams sales

A/B test your games thumbnail to make sure youre using the one that converts

Utilize Curator Connect Utilize visibility rounds

Utilize community coupons And start building your wishlist numbers early.

A lot of these recommendations came from post-mortems from other devs, and other can be found in

Steams documentation.

For more details on each one, check out the video!

If youre developing on mobile, do the same and read post-mortems from other mobile devs

and go through Google Play and the App Stores documentation on marketing and promotion.

We have links to each in the description.

Thanks for watching, we are Ask Gamedev, and we make videos on games, the game industry

and more.

If you like our content, please subscribe!

Well be back next week with a new video, in the meantime, let us know if you have any

gamedev mistakes that we should avoid!

Share your tips in the comments!

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