This Week In Indie: South African Indie Devs Making It Big
According to a talk Danny Day, of Desktop Dungeons fame, gave at A MAZE, Johannesburg South African indie devs are isolated from the rest of the world by the South African market, which is minuscule. In order to get your game out there, you need to “break out” and attract a larger segment of the international market. Making it big internationally is the only way, according to Indie Statik and Danny Day’s talk, that South African devs can gain respect and “positive acceptance” from within South Africa and abroad.
Day argues that this is so because South Africa is isolated from the rest of the world, and international attention for a game is the only true measure of success and where respect lies for game devs in the country. But what can be done to break the assumption that South African devs have nothing to offer in game development? Day argues in order to attract the local player base to your game you first have to make a success with a game abroad. What Day proposes is “open development” that maximises the feedback from players whilst the game is in development, which helps you to learn about the audience for your game. In the end, this shortens the time and costs you put into the development of a game. Why this is great is because if your game isn’t reaching an audience and attracting new players, you can scrap the game and move on to newer projects and ideas.
Day describes the “open development” cycle as such:
1. Make a prototype
2. Put prototype online; make it accessible
3. Listen and evaluate feedback
5. Invest in a good idea – based on what your feedback tells you
It is through this process that a developer can produce a great game with a solid international player base, and can move on from there to attract newer players to the game. Day cites his very own game Desktop Dungeons as evidence of this development cycle working out quite well. He also cites Free Lives’ Broforce, which has been Greenlit on Steam and garnered critical success, and Runestorm’s Viscera Cleanup Detail which was spawned from a “joke” for a game’s design and turned into a fully fledged Steam Greenlit game in the process. Runestorm’s previous game Rooks Keep didn’t catch on in the same way, and once again proves the viability of the open development cycle model for future indie devs from South Africa.
The future does indeed look bright for South African indie devs, and if you are at all interested in South African indie game development do check out the Make Games SA forum. Make Games SA will be showcasing South African indie games at this year’s rAge Expo at the Coca-Cola Dome, Johannesburg. eGamer will be there as well, and we hope to meet some inspiring South African indie devs.