1) Tell me about yourself and your experiences as an indie game developer.
I go by the name of Indinera Falls and I’m the founder, director and game developer of Aldorlea Games (http://www.aldorlea.org), a one-man-venture that started in 2008 and which has released 14 games since then. Among the most successful ones are the Laxius Force saga, the Millennium series, Asguaard and The Book of Legends, which sold like hot cakes and ended up released on many gaming portals on the internet.
My experience as an indie game developer has been extremely rich and intense so far. It’s a very, very active job and I think being passionate about what you do is a key component of being able to keep going.
The job itself is extremely demanding and requires a pretty wide array of skills such as game making (obviously), but also the ability to set appropriate goals, to market your game, and to socialize with partners and portal owners.
2) How do you promote your games? What marketing methods have you found to be the most effective?
My games are usually first released “at home”, i.e. on my website. It allows me to test the waters with my followers and iron out the last, resistant bugs (very important before going to other places where people may not be as friendly regarding potential bugs).
Then starts the phase where you try to let the press know about your game, either via announcement or coverage. Getting yourself interviewed (case in point!) is also a pretty good way to keep people informed about what you do.
Finally, sending the game to different portals all over the internet. That helps long tail sales.
To me, what has worked best is to market the game directly to my community. I believe I’m a pretty consistent game maker, so chances are big that if someone liked 2-3 (or more) of my games, they’ll like them all, more or less.
3) How did Aldorlea Games come about?
Probably out of the realization that if I wanted to have a career as an indie game dev, I needed to get some initial commercial experience. That was Laxius Force in 2008. The game met with pretty incredible success, at least compared to what I had been expecting. From the first day on, I was able to make a living out of it.
Then, if I remember correctly, I set up Aldorlea for the release of the prequel “3 Stars of Destiny”, which also did pretty well.
4) You guys publish a lot of different games. Could you tell us about what your most successful vendors are doing to promote their games?
I think getting the word out (through press and websites) and releasing the games on several portals (such as Big Fish) is usually a very good strategy, even though I heard BFG has now stopped accepting most of the RM games. But one down doesn’t mean you cannot hunt out more portals. The internet is constantly moving and it’s really an application of the survival of the fittest!
5) What do you wish you had done differently as an indie game developer?
I don’t know. Honest answer. I wish I had been born in an English-speaking country to reduce proofreading which takes time and is difficult (even though I’ve got a fantastic person to deal with it now). But my birthplace is hardly something I could “do differently”. I cannot say I would really change anything.
6) What do you wish you had done differently with Aldorlea Games?
To me it sounds like a very similar question since Aldorlea is really me as an indie dev.
I guess I could have a more interactive website and a more recognizable logo (although I tried with the unicorn one). But my website is not too bad since it’s entirely coded by me, so I can update it more easily than if it was through a pre-made template or whatever.
7) What do you wish other indie game developers would do better/differently?
Set up their own website, build a community, develop more elaborate games (especially true since 2012)… a lot of new developers don’t really have a long term idea of what they want to do, let alone a business plan.
But maybe they are also not interested in becoming full-time indie. Everybody has their own goals and that’s fine as it is.
8) Do you have any advice for new indie game developers on what they can do to promote their games?
It’s hard nowadays to do something since the market is so saturated. I would recommend them to send their games to the press (big gaming websites) and hope they get lucky and their game picks up the attention of someone. But over 5 years I’ve found this method to be pretty random.
If you want to rely on yourself only, try to dedicate yourself as much as possible to game making for a full year and release several quality games, especially on websites like mine. Once you get a headstart, it can flow naturally, if you keep your effort consistent.
9) Let’s say you only have $100 for promoting your game. What would you invest in?
I’d keep them lol I’ve never tried a small ad campaign (or a big one for that matter) and I don’t think you can get very far with $100 unless you get very lucky.
I’d rather invest them in good artwork for my title screen.
10) Tell me about some of your greatest triumphs and failures as an indie game developer and with Aldorlea Games.
I don’t know if I’ve had any of that to be fair. My games have met with consistent success and all have been vastly profitable but to call them triumphs would be a bit excessive.
I guess Millennium 1 and Moonchild, both made in 1-2 months, are my best investments. I’ve noticed that unfortunately longer games don’t really pay off compared to smaller ones. They make more money but proportionally less than the small ones.
Not sure if this is a triumph either, but sealing a retail deal with Moonchild also felt very nice; I received a box of 10 DVDs of my game in German and I was pretty excited about it. Millennium 1 also got a retail release in the Celtic language, which is I’m sure a pretty rare feat, even for non-RM games (http://www.aldorlea.org/officialsite/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=209&t=8326). I was also excited to see Dreamscape translated into Japanese.
As for failures, I can’t really say I had any since all my games have made enough money to be vastly profitable. Probably not being on Steam is my biggest disappointment so far because for a fairly old and successful developer, it seems like it should be normal to be there.
Thanks for your time!