When I first started writing Escape from Enceladus last spring, folks would ask me how much money I thought I could make from selling it. The answer, to their surprise, was that if I only lost tens of thousands of dollars, I would consider it a great use of my time. The fact is that most indie games make a truly paltry sum of money, and what’s worse, most of those reckonings fail to factor in opportunity cost — the money you could have been making as a corporate sellout during your stint as an indie game developer.
It’s fair to say that I’m not in it for the money. I would like to imagine we lived in a world where the game I’m making would appeal to more than just the ultra-niche market who might care to play it, that it could make several hundred thousand dollars in sales, but that’s just not a realistic goal. The fact is, if I were trying to make money, I would be writing a very different game. It certainly wouldn’t be a Metroidvania, I wouldn’t be relying on my own meager artistic abilities, and it would probably be free to play with premium content. The latter in particular is the absolute antithesis of a Metroidvania. It’s sad, but the most reliable way to be financially solvent in today’s mobile game market is a total non-starter for my favorite genre.
The bottom line is that I’m just not worried about people “stealing” my hard work by either getting the game for free (I want people to play it) or releasing it themselves for money (I think the paper trail supports my legal claim to my work). This means that I don’t have to worry about secrecy and security the way that a lot of indie game developers do, which lets me do something crazy like put the entire game on GitHub.
From the beginning of this project, openness and transparency have always been important goals. Mostly, this has been a way of motivating myself to get something done on the project each and every day — having an audience helps keep me on track. The project is now going to be transparent like never before, warts and all, in a way that I hope other aspiring game developers will find useful. These project update blogs are nice and all, but there’s really no substitute for getting your hands on the source code.
Have at it!