How to Create an Awesome Indie Game Trailer

Create awesome indie game trailer.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Trailers play a really important role in helping you to market your game to the world. They can be a great way to engage with people and to get them excited about playing your game. However, it’s not always obvious where to start or how to put one together so that it really showcases your game!

So, I’m Ninichi, a game music composer (check my game music stuff out!) and I’ve been involved in creating the music for various indie game trailers and game music soundtracks.. Through the work I’ve done with various super talented indie game developers, I’ve come to understand and appreciate just how challenging it is to put everything together. That’s why I’ve created this blog – to offer some tips, ideas and hopefully useful bits of information to support your game development. So, let’s take a look at a few ideas and steps to explore, which I hope will help you to create your awesome game trailer:

1. Create a powerful intro

The beginning of your trailer is super important since in those initial moments you have the opportunity to really capture someone’s attention. You’ll have around 5 seconds max to get them hooked into watching the rest of the trailer so think carefully about what you want to show them in those first few moments.

2. Focus on the gameplay

People will be watching your trailer because they want to know what your game is about and what it looks and feels like. So, besides from your intro and the call to action, the main focus of your trailer should be all about the gameplay. 

Include different clips and sections of your game and perhaps highlight any special features that you have in your game that set it apart from others. Build up a story perhaps and offer viewers a glimpse of what amazing things you’ve done so far and also try to create a sense of wonder of what’s to come also. 

Take your time in playing around with your game and choosing what to display. Try to find the most engaging and appealing gameplay situations that are possible so that people can really experience the best of what there is. 

3. Get great music and sound effects

The music and sound in your game trailer is the key to setting the right tone for your game. Music captures and drives the emotions within a game and is what sets the pace of it. So, it’s important to think carefully about what kind of music will help to get viewers excited about your game.

Choose music that reflects the rhythm of your game and that will help to maintain your audience’s attention and interest through your trailer. Work with a composer to create custom music for your game trailer and to ensure that it’s the very best that it can be. (Drop me a line if you’d like my help with this!)

The audio and visual components to your trailer are of equal importance and must work in tandem together. There’s no point in having great visuals alongside uninspiring music or the other way around, as that will just diminish the whole experience.  Remember that your trailer is there to sell your game and to build excitement around it. So, make sure that every aspect of your trailer – music, visuals, sound etc. all help to achieve this.

4. Keep it short

For game trailers less is more. Keep it short and snappy! People don’t have time to watch a really long trailer and also long trailers don’t tend to keep people’s attention. A great game trailer is usually less than 2 minutes long, which is similar to what people tend to get and expect from movie trailers. Aim for 60-90 seconds if you can as that should be enough time for you to get your message across, show some key aspects of the game mechanics and gameplay, reel people in and to work that call to action!

5. Build credibility around the game

Include reviews or short quotes from industry professionals if you have any, to help build a sense of credibility and authority around your game. This could be positive comments from another game developer, a game journalist, blogger, magazine or industry veteran perhaps.  It will add a bit of weight to your project and help others to take it more seriously.

Also include clear branding for your indie game studio, if you have one, so that people know who you are and to offer a sense of polish and professionalism. Include it at the beginning and the end of the video. 

6. Have a clear call to action

At the end of your trailer, always include a very clear call to action. Tell people what you want them to do after they’ve watched your trailer e.g. to visit your website, or buy your game (from Apple/Google store or Steam or wherever), or sign up to your newsletter etc. Pick one call to action and make it easy for viewers to do.


About the author: Ninichi is a freelance composer for indie games, films and media. She’s a great supporter of indie games and has created the music for numerous indie game trailers and game music soundtracks. To listen to some of her music see Ninichi’s game music.

Also follow her @ninichimusic & contact her to commission her for your project.

Introducing Ninichi’s Fantasy Atmospheres 1 (Royalty Free Ambient Music)

Fantasy Atmosphere 1-Royalty Free Music.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Have you been searching for atmospheric, mood creating music for your video game, film or videos? If so, Fantasy Atmospheres 1, could be just what you need! 

I’m Ninichi, and I’m a freelance composer! What that means is that I create music for games, films and other media (see my homepage). I’m usually commissioned to create custom music for different projects, however, I’ve also made some of my music available to license here on my website.

Fantasy Atmospheres 1 – offers a unique set of 4 beautiful scene setting tracks designed to create a sense of calm and magic for your projects. Each track has it’s own distinct melody yet all 4 tracks blend easily together to form the perfect soundtrack for any project.

If you’re looking for a way to create some added depth and ambience to your project, check out Fantasy Atmospheres 1 music pack now.

Here’s a quick sneak preview of two of the tracks available in Fantasy Atmosphere’s 1…

All the tracks are ‘ready-to-go’ and can be looped seamlessly. You’ll get mp3 files that are easy to download and use straight away. There’s also a bonus track included in case you need that little bit more music for your project! 

If that’s not enough though, don’t fret – there’s Fantasy Atmospheres 2 available now also. 


About the author: Ninichi is a freelance game music composer and film music composer. She creates music for indie gamesfilms, podcasts, tv shows, commercials and more. 

She is an incredibly diverse composer with an extensive credit list to her name. If you'd like help with music for any project, feel free to contact her now.

Follow her @ninichimusic

11 Awesome Places for Game Developers to Learn Unity & Programming

Awesome places for game developers to learn unity.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

If you’re hoping to develop your own game, you may be thinking about which game engine to use and if you’ve chosen which one, you’re probably wondering where to start!

Unity is one of the most popular game engines around and as a game music composer (see more about me and my musicif you wish!) I’ve worked with many super talented indie game developers who I know would swear by it! I must confess, I’m not a programmer and so I can’t give you first hand advice or suggestions on how to go about creating your exciting game, but I have supported enough indie game developers to know that the road ahead may be quite a challenging one!

So, given the popularity of Unity, I thought that it could be useful to help compile some awesome places online where you can learn how to use it and how to get the best out of it.  

We all learn in different ways and you may know of or come across other resources that could suit you better, but I hope that these offer a starting point to your (hopefully wonderful), game development journey!

1. Unity Tutorials

If you’re looking to learn Unity, it makes sense to take notice of some of the tutorials provided by Unity themselves! Check out their website for a variety of tutorials covering everything from creating 2D platformers, 3D games, survival shooters and more. Their tutorials are designed to support people just starting out through to more advanced game developers. 

2. Udemy

Udemy is an online course website and catalogue with over 80,000 courses to choose from with new courses becoming available each month. Some courses are fairly cheap and there are regular sales – so keep a look out for those. A good one to start with for learning Unity and getting started in game development is:

Also check out, created by Ben Tristem, a Udemy instructor focusing on helping anyone wanting to learn about development, design and selling indie games. There you can see which courses he and his team created on Udemy and also access their gamedev community and blog for further support.

3. Brackeys Game Dev Tutorials

This is an awesome YouTube channel dedicated to learning how to make video games. New videos are uploaded each Sunday with Brackeys explaining his code as he writes it, and there’s a wealth of information and video tutorials on everything from Unity, programming through to game design and more.

4. Walker Boys Studio – Unity Training Series

This company, set up by 3 game developers offers a range of free courses covering game art, Unity, drawing and game development. The Unity Training Series is a step-by-step guide with over 50 hours of video, to learning Unity.

5. 3D Buzz

This site offers an extensive video training library covering programming, game development, 3D design and animation, mobile app development and more. The training tools on this site aren’t free but are reasonably priced and cover a lot of ground. There’s also a community and blog for added support.

6. Gamedev Academy

The Gamedev Academy is part of Zenva Academy, which offers a host of courses and online learning. On the Gamedev Academy website you’ll find a range of free ebooks and courses to explore. Check out these:

7. Unity Student

Unity 3D Student offers ‘bitesize’ modules alongside various challenges to help you learn the skills required to develop a game using the Unity Game Engine. The modules are short explanation/tutorials offering some insight into the game mechanics, which you watch and learn from, and the challenges give you tasks to get you actively learning and using your newly learned skills! Unity3DStudent is the brainchild of Will Goldstone who’s main aim is to provide new developers with a modular way of learning.

8. Catlike Coding

Jasper Flick, the man behind Catlike Coding is a Dutch independent softward developer. He’s written loads of tutorials, which you can find on his site designed to help you learn and make the most of Unity.  The tutorials on his site are all free but you can donate to him via Patreon if you want to.

9. offers a range programming courses and tutorials all in one place – from a basic introduction to programming, through to android development, Unity, artificial intelligence, blockchain programming, assembly language courses and more. 

10. Game Code School

This site has lots of lessons and courses to help the beginner through to intermediate game programmer. You can learn the different engines including Unity, Unreal, Game Maker and more. You won’t be able to download all the sample projects but you should have access to the final code, tutorials and written explanations to help you with your learning.

11. Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ is part of the Envato empire and offers easy learning courses online. If you search for tutorials covering Unity or any other parts of game development, you will certainly find some interesting and useful courses to look out and learn from.

So, I hope that these 11 wonderful sites give you something interesting to check out! Happy learning and if you need any help with music and your game music soundtrack, do drop me a line!


About the author: Ninichi is a game and film music composer. She works on a range of freelance composing projects supporting talented game developers and film makers with their music. 

Want some great custom music for your game? Listen to Ninichi's game music or contact her now to discuss your game music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic

Game Development Tips from the Creator of Brass Bellow

128mhz image 1.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you an indie game developer working on your first game or perhaps you’re part of a games studio and you’ve created several games already!? Either way, a very warm welcome to my blog!

I’m Ninichi and I’m a freelance game music composer. I make music for indie games, films, TV shows and anything else that needs music really! I also have this blog on my website, which offers a place for people to learn, get inspired, share experiences, get tips and hopefully much much more.

Recently I’ve been sharing my interviews with various talented indie game developers who have been kind enough to share some of their top tips and experiences with us. This time we have the creator of Brass Bellow, an indie game currently in development right now by @128_mhz

Please tell us a bit about who you are and what you’ve been up to with your game development!

128mhz image 2.jpg

‘I'm, @128_mhz on twitter. I've been doing game development for coming up on 5 years now. The game I'm working on currently is Brass Bellow.

Brass Bellow is an open world seafaring adventure exploration game. You will find yourself exploring lush abandoned environments, and talking to fantastically strange creatures along your journey. I'm trying to take a deep dive towards making a world that feels like it has a pulse of it's own.’

Wow Brass Bellow sounds amazing and like a game definitely worth keeping an eye out for! What top tips can you share with us around how to build a following for your games and be successful as a full time game developer? 

1. Emotions: I focus on making things that provoke a emotional response in myself.

2. Being open to improvement: I'm always honest with myself about where I could improve my work in order to bring it closer towards the vision I have of the game. If it doesn't look like what is is my mind I keep reworking it until it does.

3. Not forcing yourself: When the creativity stops flowing I take a break, and do something else until I have some more energy to work again. It's not worth forcing yourself to work overtime, and compromise the quality of the game just to feel like you're not idle.

128mhz image 3.jpg

4. Staying positive: I try to get excited about what I'm making constantly. When I am in a more positive mindset, I find that I get a lot of useful ideas that wouldn't have otherwise popped into my mind.

5. Pacing yourself: Working on a large game is not a sprint it's a marathon. There is no glory in working yourself into the ground in 6 months, and never wanting to touch a line of code again. Pace yourself, setting healthy routines will take you a long way. Only you know what work schedule is best for you. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, you do what is best for you, and don't feel guilty if it's not the same as everyone else.

6. Questioning: I ask myself a lot of questions of about what I really want the game to be about. I find the final vision of the game in my mind, and work through it, fleshing it out, taking the time to visualize all the details. Going through this regularly gives me a accurate direction to work towards everyday, and solid goals to achieve.

Do you have any tips you can offer around using Unity that may help other fellow developers?

‘When I work with unity, I get in the habit of making small simple behavior scripts very reusable. I like stuff like being able to drop a script on a gameobject, and have it be a fully functioning container the player can loot.’

Do you have any final words of wisdom you’d like to share?

‘Game development is a winding road, and just because you're stuck in the woods today doesn't mean things won't be completely different in two weeks. Keep your head up, and work towards making something you love!’

Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us. To see more top tips from talented game developers see:


About the interviewer: Ninichi is an indie game music composer who enjoys creating soundtracks for video games, film & media. She composes in a wide range of styles & loves supporting indie game developers and indie filmmakers with their projects. Find out more about her game music or royalty free music and contact her to discuss your project and music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic

Game Art Tips from Game Artist & Designer Lucy Jamie


By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you a game designer, game artist or indie game developer? If so, welcome to my blog! I’m Ninichi and I’m a game music composer. I make music for indie games, films, shows and anything that needs music really! I also run this blog on my website, which tries to offer a place for people to learn, get inspired, share experiences, get tips and much much more.

I’m delighted to be sharing with you some thoughtful tips and insights today, from Lucy Jamie - a super friendly game artist and designer based in Melbourne. She has over 5 years of professional experience in the field and is currently

Who are you and how long have you been involved in game art and game design?

‘I’m Lucy (@LucyJamie3) and I’m a 22 year old Product Design student. I haven’t always studied this at Uni though. I use to study Social Psychology, however, at this point it was because I was scared of being rejected in the art field. Outside of this though I’ve been working freelance and contract for Indie Studios and Online Community for over 5 years. As a 3D modeler, graphic designer, photographer and concept artist. In this time, plus beyond in my free time I’ve built up a large skillset. This has helped me today find work in almost any art field, however my chosen areas outside of Product Design are Environment and Prop design for videogames and indie films.’ 

What top tips can you share with fellow game artists and game developers? 

‘1. Your work is not going to look good to you - you’re going to think it looks bad and that’s never going to change. However, don’t give up, keep pushing and working and it will get better. We as artists and developers are too critical of our own work. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, just don’t let it get you down. Never give up and you have already succeeded. 

2. Theory is important - what separates good artists and developers from bad ones is their extensive understanding of art theory. This is things such as light and perspective and anatomy. You can keep working and ignore these and you will get better, however you will always be held back from the great artists. Art is technical, study is required too, just like any other field.

3. There is no such thing as talent. This is a big one. Far too many people have a resistant attitude to starting art and design. Coming under the false guise of “I’m just not talented”, this is a lazy way out. Granted some artists start a bit better than others due to a whole range of unknown variables. However, everyone starts somewhere at the bottom. Just like riding a bike, you have to practice and practice. You have to increase your mileage and experience. It’s a process, you can’t just start good.

4. Self promotion is key - if you’re a freelancer or contract worker you’re going to rely heavily on self promotion. We don’t have the luxury of companies doing it for us, we must get out there. Showcase our portfolios and be constantly active in our field. This helps us to find work, increase our skills, network and even find full time work. Great services to do this are Art station, Twitter, Twitch and Discord. Yes, that platform that was built for gamers to connect with each other. A surprisingly large number of the gaming audience is interested in art and design and need work done. It’s a great place to get started and start people talking about you work’

What are the biggest challenges or mistakes you see people making? 

‘The biggest challenges come from your own mind and your doubt of your work. You can doubt your work and this helps you to get better. You must though realize it has to stop at some point you need to push past this and not let the emotions stop you from working. You must never give up if you wish to succeed, it won’t be easy and it will take years but it will be a fun and worthwhile journey.’   

What do you wish you knew before you started?

‘I wish I knew that art wasn’t a talent. This was a major hurdle that I had to get over. Realizing that even I can improve my skills and get better. I was stuck in the mindset of “I suck, I will always suck”. You might suck when you start, and realistically you probably do. But it’s unfair and unwise to compare yourself to top of the line artists. It’s just not realistic and it’s far too impactful on your mood.  It’s great to have goals but know your limits, just realize that you’re not going to be at this level forever. If you just keep going you will get better, and maybe one day you will surpass those you once admired’

Thanks for these awesome tips Lucy! I hope that everyone finds something useful from these. It’s great to have your thoughts and perspective given your growth and experience so far in your field.

For further reading - here are a few other articles from the blog that could be useful to check out:


About the interviewer: Ninichi is a freelance indie game music composer who enjoys creating soundtracks for video games, film & media. She's composes in a wide range of styles & loves supporting indie game developers and indie filmmakers with their projects. Find out more about her game music or royalty free music and contact her to discuss your project and music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic

10 Awesome Sources of Funding & Grants for Your Indie Game

Funding sources & grants for indie games.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you an indie game developer wondering how to fund your game? Perhaps some of these organisations and indie developer funds could be worth looking at. I’m Ninichi - a freelance game music composer (see my homepage) and as such have worked with many different indie developers and indie game studios on their projects. One big challenge that I’ve noticed is often the financial side of game development. There are many options available to you, including self-financing, crowd-funding, finding a publisher and so on, but one area that is sometimes overlooked or not really considered is that of grants and other funding sources.

Through this blog (see more articles), I try to offer as much support as I can to the game development community, where I can. Although I’m unable to help with all aspects, I have put together this list of potentially very interesting sources of funds, which I hope may help some of you with your next steps.

1. Indie Fund

Indie Fund was created by a group of successful game developers as a way to support new and up and coming indie developers with their projects. They offer investment in indie games and are an alternative to the traditional publishing funding model.

2. UK Games Fund

The UK Games Fund is a not-for-profit organisation offering support to the UK games development sector. They focus on games in early development and want their funding to help create jobs, promote diverse new teams and generally help to build the games community and IP in the UK.

3. IndieCade Foundation

The IndieCade Foundation is a non-profit organisation known for its dedication to the discovery, development and recognition of independent game developers around the world. Although it is a California-based organisation, it was created to encourage and support indie developers all over the globe.

4. Creative Europe

Creative Europe offers funding for the development of narrative video games, helping to take them from concept stage to prototype stage. The fund is open to companies that have been registered for a minimum of 12 months and that focus mainly on video game production and that have developed at least one video game previously.

5. Unreal Dev Grants

Epic has a $5m development fund which offers financial support to innovative projects created in and around Unreal Engine 4. Anyone making something exciting using UE4 can apply.  You will keep your IP and can publish the game however you want to.

6. Cry Engine

Games being developed using CryEngine are eligible to apply for their Indie Development Fund. There are two rounds in the selection process but if you don’t receive funding the first time you can re-apply every three months.

7. Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust works with game developers and publishers to support the development of interesting digital games, in particular those that help to improve science and health research.

8. Ancient Games Fund

The Ancient Games Fund is a private games fund specialising in supporting indie developers making mobile games. The fund is open to solo game developers or small teams with a playable prototype of their game. Up to £25,000 is available, usually in 5 instalments and although the fund is a UK fund, it is open to all applications around the world.

9. Fig

Fig is a community funding and publishing platform for independent video games. People invest in games on Fig in return for having access to certain rewards or revenue generated via game sales.

10. Creative England

Creative England supports and invests in the games industry via their Greenshoots programme with Microsoft, and Gameslab Leeds, which focuses on supporting game developers and digital companies in the Leeds City Region.

The above list is in no particular order. I hope you’ve found some of these resources useful and if anything, they should at least indicate that there is support out there and various options open to you. Once you have established enough funds for your game development, don’t forget to allocate some to the music in your game – whether that is to be used to purchase stock music or to hire a composer. Make sure that some budget allocation exists so that the complete package i.e. your entire game is allowed to shine!  To explore working together on the soundtrack to your game contact me now.

Read next: 11 Places to Publish Your Indie Game

Also see my article on: 10 Crowdfunding Platforms for Indie Projects


About the Author: Ninichi is an experienced indie game music composer and film composer. She has worked on the music to a wide range of indie games, films, TV shows and more. Check out her music to get a sense of her work and contact her now to explore commissioning her for your project.

Follow her @ninichimusic

5 Awesome Game Development Tips from Dan Wakefield


Interview By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Hello I’m Ninichi, a game music composer, and I run this blog (check out the blog homepage to browse more articles)!

I have a real treat for you today, which is an amazing set of tips from the talented Dan Wakefield who in my interview with him, tells us a bit more about himself, the many many games he’s worked on and what to look out for and do in order to be successful as a game developer! Let’s check it out now…

Please tell us who you are and how long you’ve been in game development 

‘Hello! I’m Dan Wakefield (@dantagonism) and I’m based in Oslo, Norway and I co-own two small game studios. In 2014, I started working with Antagonist on a game called Through the Woods, which is now out on PC and consoles. After the game was released I started a new company called Corvid Studio with my friend Torstein where we’re currently working part-time on several unannounced original games.’

What games have you worked on? 

‘I worked full time on the Norse horror game called Through the Woods, which released in 2016 and I co-designed and released a mobile VR game with my new company, Corvid Studio, for NRK, Norway’s national broadcaster, (like Norway’s BBC) which was a very exciting project for us. 

Deflector Gif.gif

Other released games include an educational reading game called Poio (the Norwegian and Swedish versions) and a small game called Deflector, which I created with my friend Thomas (available on 

Unreleased games I’m working on, which I don’t think are secret include: Mørkredd, Vaesen, Poio (UK, US and Danish versions), Monsterminds, Capeesh, Seas of Fortune, BABY BASH!, Norse Noir: Loki’s Exile and Mari’s Road Home. There are also 10 games I’m working on that I don’t think I can talk about at the moment. Luckily these games are all spread out over the next year or two, so I’m not too stressed right now.’   

What are your best top 5 tips for fellow indie game developers? For example, what do you wish you knew before you started and/or what are some of the trickiest things you’ve had to learn or overcome? 

‘Tough questions! I’ve been doing this for a few years but I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on game development. Some things I’ve learned that could possibly be useful to someone out there: 

1. Make sure you’re making games for the right reasons. 

I think it’s common knowledge that more games fail financially than succeed. I don’t have the figures, but I suppose it’s the same kind of thing with writers and bands. Success is rare and very hard to achieve. A game failing to sell or find an audience, almost by definition, is something you don’t hear much about. So if you’re making indie games because you want to be rich, you would be much better off getting a job at a company with a salary.


It’s a balancing act. Ideally you should make sure you can make a game without putting yourself into too much financial jeopardy. You hear about teams that quit their jobs, use all their money and remortgage their houses to pay for their game and their game becomes a huge success, but this is not normal or likely. So be careful and be sensible.  

If, however, you love to make games and are more or less financially stable, or live in a place with a good social safety net, then it’s a lot less likely you’ll become homeless. In Corvid, my friend Torstein and I talk about games a lot, and when we keep talking about the same game all the time, we work on it in our spare time and see if it seems fun. If not, we either drop it or put it on hold and work on something else. Obviously it would be great if any of our games made a little money, but really we just like making stuff and like working with each other.’ 

2. Being helpful and nice will pay dividends in the long run. 

‘Perhaps this sounds obvious, but I think it’s important. I think being open and helping people out with things is a great way to make strong connections in the industry. If you give advice or suggestions or share contacts freely, you don’t always need to think about what you gain from it short term; just know you’re putting good out into the world and it can often return to you in interesting ways. You don’t need to be secretive about everything you’re doing.’  

3. Write blogs and post-mortems about things you’ve learned.


‘This also comes under being helpful, I guess. I used to do this a lot at Antagonist but struggle to find the time now. I wrote a couple of pieces that got featured on Gamasutra about our Kickstarter and our first trip to GDC, etc. You don’t have to be a pro, you only need to have done something one more time than someone else for you to be able to potentially help them a lot. 

I’m bad at proactively putting things out there now but if anyone asks me about how I created a certain sound or how it was negotiating with our publisher and potential pitfalls to look out for, I’m happy to try to help.’ 

4. Learn a little about marketing and social media. 

‘It’s hard to know what will work for your game and the road to success will be different for every title. It’s never too early to try to start to get an understanding of what makes people interested in a certain post and the psychology of what makes people want to share your posts, for example. People like to share things that make them seem funny or clever, or if they think something might be useful to others. Posts with images often get shared more than those without. That’s oversimplified, but it’s basically what often happens to get the ball rolling. 

It’s hard to make every tweet or Facebook post work this way. I’ve tweeted about releasing a soundtrack on Bandcamp and no one really cared. I’ve tweeted an image once of my first little pixel art person and it got a lot of attention. I’m not an artist, but it’s a nice image and I guess people thought it was fun that it was my first attempt at something. 

Some developers tweet rarely and cryptically, some tweet about every little aspect of development. I’ve seen both be really successful. But there’s almost always a consistency to it that works for them.’

5. Try for a marathon, not a sprint. 

‘Games often take a long time to make and development can be incredibly taxing in terms of health, motivation and family life. Burnout is common. I personally was at the point of burnout in the run up to the release of Through the Woods, where I was trying to manage everything, finish and implement the audio and dialogue, write the story and deal with publishers. I also bought a house and had a baby! I felt like I wasn’t in control of anything and that I was being pulled in ten directions at once and there wasn’t enough of me to go around. It was essentially an extended period of crunch for all of us with too few employees to do the necessary jobs. 

In a perfect world, development would be like a steady walk and things like milestones and costs should be meticulously planned. Someone should be responsible for making sure that the team can hit those milestones at a steady pace, without subjecting people to overly long hours. Bad planning can ruin all motivation and enthusiasm. 

If you don’t absolutely have to, try to avoid painting yourself into a corner by announcing a too-ambitious release date, or revealing it too early. Lots of studios I know of don’t build enough time in the cycle for proper testing or for console certification, etc. This can lead to unhealthy crunch, or, if you end up having to delay, often you lose in terms of goodwill, enthusiasm and momentum from staff, fans and press. 

Talk to other developers who have made similar games and try to get a real sense for how long your game is going to take and what it’s going to cost, and get advice on things you may not have thought about.’  

What final tip can you offer that you think will really help a fellow indie game developer? 

‘I’m almost out of sage advice, but have fun and challenge yourself! Really, if you don’t love what you’re doing, there are probably other things you could do with similar skills. 

Thanks so much for having me! Hopefully someone finds something useful here. Good luck to everyone making awesome games out there.’ 

That’s awesome advice from Dan there which I hope everyone can find something useful from! A few follow up articles that could help build on some of Dan’s insights:


About the interviewer: Ninichi is a freelance composer who creates music for indie games, films and media. She is a great supporter of indie projects and runs this blog in the hope that it offers useful insights for the game development community.

She is open for commissions and would be happy to help you with the music to your game should you need it. Contact her now to discuss your project with her.