When it comes to game development, people frequently approach me with the question, “HAY DOOD! Where do you hang out? Where do you get info on stuffs?”
The answer to that is fairly in-depth. First of all, because I’m an awesome game dev journalist (who would never, ever speak wrongly of local developers Luma Arcade or shamelessly plug their URL in a completely unrelated article just because they made a game for the iPhone), I have about eleventy-threeve different news feeds which I check every day for the latest news on what’s hot, happening and of interest to me. To mention all of them would be lucrative (I get paid per word, folks) but not very conducive to an interesting article.
But a far more important factor (which I have mentioned before) is my desire to get into the thick of things by joining an actual game development community. Not only does it help me surround myself with like-minded people, but I actually have a platform from which I can get feedback on my games, provide feedback to other indie developers, and get the choicest news about fresh developments and game making tools.
I’m currently sitting pretty and posting regularly in two communities: one is South Africa’s very own Game.Dev group, kindly hosted on the NAG forums. The other one is TIGSource, an indie news source and developer community that’s headed up by a bunch of indie veterans like Derek Yu.
Aside from news gathering and feedback, joining a community can be important for a whole whack of reasons. For a start, it’ll force you to regularly correspond with other people online (which, let’s face it, you’ll be forced to do sooner or later if you ever want to show the Internet all the cool stuff you’ve made). On top of that, earning the respect of a community by getting involved and showing them what you’re made of will encourage them to help you when it comes to building and promoting your very own Best Game Ever.
Think of how you make friends in the Sims, or win allies in computer games. Whatever. In the same way that you can build a reputation in any self-respecting RPG, you can build a reputation in the world of indie gamers by participating and making yourself known on a personal level rather than coding up a storm in solitude before signing up at all the game development hotspots at the last minute to shout “PLEASE WILL SOMEBODY PLAY MY GAMES???”
Build up your foundations now. Networking as an indie developer will go a long way towards helping you to learn new things and gain recognition for your projects. Sign up with Game.Dev. Sign up with TIGSource. Start a blog. Follow other people’s blogs on Gamasutra. Leave comments on IndieGames.com. Buy yourself a goldfish.
Do anything that will make your name familiar to more people in more places – it’ll invariably carry you a lot further than reclusion and shyness ever will.