Realigning the Azimuth

Reflections on Being an Indie

It’s been a bit of a busy week last week - what with finally finishing up the work to get the Mac App Store version of Pocket Dogfights done & submitted to the review queue, along with the release of the 1.0.1 update for iOS coming out last Friday.

It’s given me a bit of a chance to reflect on a few things - some of which have been in my mind for quite a long time, and when I do so, there are a number of common threads as to what I do think about.

Primarily, there are the feelings I have in which I struggle with the feelings of legitimacy - that I don’t feel good enough as a developer (or that I deserve to even have a chance). But there’s also the feelings of frustration with visibility - the feelings of shouting out into the wider internet and only hearing the echoes of my own words out there. Plus, there’s just the frustrations of just dealing with & trying to grow a Fan base.

Whilst this has been swimming about for a while, I finally decided to put this together after a random conversation about some of it over the weekend. I definitely am not posting solutions, but I am hoping to at least reach out a bit - and hopefully make some connection with the wider interwebs.

Just Another Imposter?

As I explained in the intro - I always feel like I’m struggling with Imposter Syndrome. Feelings that despite going through the effort of creating a game, that both it, and the types of games which I enjoy playing (and the ones I most want to create) aren’t as worthy of existing as the works created by others.

It’s a hard one to clarify - but I’m unsure if it’s just my feelings on how I’ve been perceived at times when I talk about what I’m working on.

Because my initial focus is on games for mobile devices instead of the PC?

Or is it because I’m putting my energies into smaller games which aim for the arcade experience, instead of a longer-form narrative one?

Or maybe is it because I don’t find the trend towards creating abusive, glorified slot machines that rewarding?

Maybe it’s just a result of not having a story to tell about the human condition?

I don’t have problems with any of those - and I want them to exist (except the glorified slot machines - those should be banished to the depths never to be seen again). It’s just that when it comes to how I want to direct my energy, I prefer those things. This happened to be even more important when the available energy happens to be the left overs from a day job (as was the case for most of the development period of Pocket Dogfights).

Over the long term, do I want to expand the types of games I make? Certainly - but only when I’m ready for it. When I’ve gotten more games under my belt, and can demonstrate I can run a project successfully - one which can make its costs back (and then some).

It doesn’t exactly help that I don’t really have many peers locally who are into the same types of games which I am - so it means that there’s not enough of a chance to have those discussions framed about what will/won’t work, or even sharing leads or what not.

The Trick to Being Seen

The next big challenge is trying to be noticed. When you happen to be limited in your resources for marketing, then it becomes nearly impossible to be known. Even if I had those resources, it’s another question about knowing who is going to be the right people to talk to to help increase that visibility.

One of the hardest things to accept is simply the matter of apathy. When I did the mailouts prior to launch, it was incredibly disenhartening to find that what I did send out ended up falling out on deaf-ears. When that happens, it’s hard to accept, and to not take it personally.

But that also hinders in the learning process. If I happened to not get any feedback or notice the first time, then how do I improve for the next time?

Beyond that, I somewhat feel the same when just trying to connect with other developers in conversation. Finding that when I do reply or try to engage in conversation to get silence in return, just adds to my own doubts, and helps me question what exactly is my place in the wider community - or if I even have one at all.

Consequentially - if I don’t, then it becomes that much harder to want to risk reaching out with the intent to raise attention to my own games. If people out there aren’t that interested in a little conversation, then I’m not sure they’ll be all that attentive towards a tweet or a comment which is intended to just plug my work.


I should be honest - the transition I had to do over the last few weeks isn’t really the plan I had wanted to execute. It’s hard enough to be noticed to begin with, but when you’re just starting out, there are plenty of times it feels like trying to scale a vertical cliff-face.

As a result, I won’t deny that I do feel rather stuck. It feels like that my own attempts at trying to reach out have basically all but failed (with only one or two pieces) - and it’s hard to know who out there is going to be more receptive about what I’m working on in general by comparison.

I’m also feeling a little worn down by things - yes, I should certainly not be letting the process (let alone the internet in general) get me down, but it’s not easy. Putting all of one’s energy into a launch, and to see it eventually crawl down into a halt happens to reflect upon one in a negative manner.

Sometimes - the need to appear as though you have it all under control, and all is proceeding to plan is also as exhausting. The feeling that you shouldn’t admit your own feelings or vulernabilities is a killer. Or that, to be honest, you’re rather unsure what the next giant step in your plan is - because not everyone has the skills of a super-villain in that regard.

From this point, I want to feel like I should crawl back into my code, or such. Primarily to get a prototype together before I fly over to the US next month, but even on thinking about what’s next - whether it’s worth investing the effort into a smaller game instead of updates or the next Pocket Dogfights game.

So that’s my little (or maybe not so-much) ramble. I’m not sure if it’s one to be enjoyed, but I do hope do you get some value out of it. If you’ve not already, perhaps check out Pocket Dogfights and grab it on your appropriate mobile device :)

If you happen to have any feedback on the piece, or even on people I should probably be talking to, then do please get in touch - as I’m certainly interested in feedback, or even a few pointers on how to move forward.