When I started delving into game development, I was already solo oriented. My first unnamed projects was made for the sake of learning game design and programming, therefore obviously not suited for a team, but I did not envision any involvement from others in my serious projects either. When I leaped onto my most ambitious project yet; Rushaug: Project Emerald, one of my criteria’s was to make it all by myself.
To me, it is a huge accomplishment and a source of pride to be the sole intellectual owner, and maker of a game. Every detail is consciously placed, every moment is thoroughly considered, and every feeling is carefully crafted, to tailor a personal and unique adventure, long desired to turn into a reality. Plot points are inspired from personal experiences, and certain characters are reminiscent of myself and people around me.
I compare game development to the making of a painting. Every brushstroke is an expression of emotion and skill from the artist. A collaborated painting made by multiple artist can be spectacular, but a personal touch is lost in the process, the identity of a single artist. As is such with video games.
This is not to say making a game alone is easy, and should be considered at any project. Despite what I believe, game development is in its nature a collaborative effort. To make a large-scope game on your own, is to take on a challenge greater than one person can handle. You will have to take on all the roles that comes along with it, even the ones you don’t want to. I have felt overwhelmed countless times, and I’ve fantasized about the idea of delegating certain aspects to other artists and programmers. I’ve hit multiple walls where completion seems like miles away, and continuing feels exhausting. But the reward of completion is alluring enough not to stop, and the task is indeed possible.
Take Joakim “Konjak” Sandberg as an example. What he has done is nothing short of amazing. His recent game; Iconoclasts is a solid platformer with beautiful graphics, gorgeous sound and music, clever design, topping it off with intriguing characters and a fantastic story. A truly great game, all made by one person.
A sane option for solo developers is to set a small-scope, making simple games without many features or large game worlds. Konjak, amongst a handful other talented solo devs proves this is not necessary. The only requirement is perseverance.